Interview with Pawlu Borg Bonaci

Photo: ivan pierre vella

Have you always been the centre of attention even as a child?

Yes, it’s always been like that. I don’t know if it’s something I love or hate, but it’s a fact. I grew up in a family of four having only one elder sister, and being the youngest in the family, it was natural, I guess, to steal the attention. I was a real menace, mum can write volumes about how many times they had to rush me to hospital because of something stupid or mischievous that I had done. Apart from that, I suffered from asthma, so at home, I think, I had that little extra care from everyone.

Growing up, I was one of those always surrounded with people, always cracking jokes and starting up something. I’ve always been good at telling jokes and that has always been my forte. Like any other thing this trait has its downside too. With time I realised that my character can either be loved or really despised. I had a couple of experiences that showed me that, so I had to learn how to control it and at times contain it.

Is the private Pawlu the same as the one in the public eye?

Well, Pawlu is very moody. I’m not always the cheerful person people see on stage. I like my privacy, I like being alone as much as I love being surrounded by my loved ones and friends. I realize that sometimes I surprise people. I had a lot of people telling me that I’m very different to what they had originally perceived. That’s because people sometimes don’t realise and see the difference between reality, or better the real life, and the stage or TV. Having said all that, both are the real me. I never lied to my audience. I love the stage and yes, all that happens on stage comes out from the heart, I don’t need to push it or fake it. There were times when the other side of me came up on stage, very rarely, but it happened; and other times when I’m more crazy and all over the place than when I’m on stage.

So it also depends on my mood, on the persons I’m surrounded with, the environment.

Who or what has made you laugh the hardest to date? Can you share?

For this, I have to give credit to all my friends, and Fakawi. Time with Fakawi is always fun – there’s Reuben who is the person who always comes up with something really funny, be it a catch phrase he invents, or a story of one of his adventures; Mark is a super tongue-in-cheek person, very fast and witty and can spin any situation or word into something super-hilarious – Mark is really funny; Ryan is the nervous type, and even though he is super-funny when he comes up with a spontaneous rhyming phrase during a song, or a crazy idea, I think – and he will hate me for this – he is mostly funny when his nerves reach the limit …he reacts and that makes us, him included, laugh about it. Even worse, it’s when he feels the urge to let his adventurous Indiana Jones soul out – like when he tried rock climbing for the first time. I’ll leave that to your imagination; Antonio is a box of surprises. He either comes into the rehearsal room, sits down and starts playing, or else, especially when we connect, he makes me piss in my pants.

I also mentioned my friends… and yes, the funniest days of my life were always with them. BBQs or nights out are always funny. Just to mention one really funny moment – it was a BBQ night on the roof of Jonathan’s house, one of my best friends. There was about 15 of us and we decided to try and fit on one of those plastic, folding, camping tables that have the benches attached to them, yes, the really flimsy ones. The table top was full of bottles, left-overs, plates, cups, etc, and – like any other BBQ – we were telling joke after joke. Suddenly, while we were all laughing our hearts out, one of the legs of the table/bench, decided that it was time to give up, and we ended up piled on top of each other, together with the bottles, food and everything that was on the table. Still laughing, no one tried to move a finger to help the situation.

Ah yes, I can also mention when Jonathan and I succeeded in overturning a sailing boat in the middle of Mellieha bay, though on second thought… I’d better not.

Which personality do you admire the most and why?

This is difficult to answer specifically. I admire people who are honest and hard working, people who are creative. I admire fighters, those who use their energy to make the world and life a better place, those who fight corruption and are not afraid of speaking out. I admire people who risk and are not afraid of risking everything for the one thing they believe in. I admire simple people, those who don’t seek anything else in life but happiness.

However, the persons I admire the most have to be my parents, and any other parent who makes sacrifices for their children, who love their children no matter what.

It’s not easy to be a parent. I believe that we, as humans, have to fight and work hard to keep good parental values at heart. If we lose that, we will end up in a real F!@#*$-up world. Most of the problems we are facing today, are all attributed to bad parenting. I believe that this is everyone’s responsibility, even people who have no children to call their own have the moral and social responsibility towards the younger generation, linking them with the older generation. We need to pass good values to the ones that will come after us. We need to instill Love and Respect in the hearts of our children. We need to help in both academical and cultural education, but mostly, we need to make them believe in themselves.

My parents were always there for me and my sister, they did their best to keep a tight-knit family, they worked hard, they always brought our needs before theirs, and they never made us feel alone or abandoned. My parents are always there, even for my gigs, getting drenched in beer and finding themselves in the little mosh pit! They are always there for my nephews, the new generation. They are always there even when they don’t agree with my views, they still back me up. The best lessons – I always got them from my parents – so yes, they are the persons I admire the most in life.

Do you see yourself primarily as a musician or actor?

I don’t see myself as a good musician, neither the best of actors, but I’m a natural-born entertainer.

I love music as much as I love theatre, I simply love the stage. As long as I’m on a stage, I feel safe, I feel good knowing that I can control the feelings of the crowd that is watching me. I feel the responsibility to give the audience something back. The bigger the audience, the greater the energy, however, even in front of a small crowd, I feel really good. The stage is a magical place, as those who perform on it can testify and only they can describe. I’m happy and grateful that I manage to transmit what’s on the inside to the audience.

Are you paying a price for fame or do you lap it up?

Well, fame is a big word, and I don’t see myself as being famous. Known is more adequate.

So to answer your question, yes, being known comes with a price. There are times when I really hate it, and if I could choose to do what I do without all this “success” I would opt for it.

Picture me in a pub’s bathroom, me being a bit too fussy regarding hygiene and all… and suddenly, the guy who’s emptying his beer belly next to you, decides to not only shake your hand, he even slaps your face to tell you “proset” and after that he puts his jewels back into his trousers, making sure you take a good look at it, not washing his hands. Yes, wipe your hands on my face… and you expect me not to react?

Imagine when I’m in one of my worse moods, somewhere I don’t really feel like being, and suddenly, a group of drunk, sweaty, unknown aliens surround me to take photos with me, pulling me from my shirt, making sure I smell their arm pits and rubbing their make-up on my face. How on earth do you think I should react? I’m very patient, but there is a limit. After all I don’t really understand all the hype.

On the other hand, I love it when people stop me and talk to me, POLITELY. I like it when they criticize me too, its easier to start a conversation with someone who contradicts you rather than just saying thanks to someone praising you. I got to know a lot of people from all walks of life through this and it opens doors that might not have been possible otherwise – if I wasn’t the person I am, doing what I do.

The best aspect of it has to be the fact that sometimes I meet people who open their hearts to me and tell me that I make a difference in their lives. I do find myself really frustrated with something at times, and then I go home, open the mail and read a letter from someone telling me how I helped him indirectly… One letter that really affected me was a letter from a friend of mine telling me that his dad, the week before passing away, spent time watching my video clips on Youtube which made his last hours a tad more comfortable.

I guess, like with everything, this career has its ups and downs, and the only thing I can do is accept it, learn from it, and keep doing what I do.

Ps. Don’t get offended if you piss me off and I tell you to F*** OFF!! ; ) I do that because I love you : P

Do you believe in the supernatural? Have you ever experienced a supernatural event?

Of all questions, I wasn’t expecting this! I’m a very skeptical person, not spiritual at all, and I believe that there’s always a rational explanation for everything that happens around us. The things we don’t understand, either scare us, or we try to look at them through the perspective of faith.

Still, I’m very intrigued with the subject. And even when young, I inquired about things like, exorcism, out-of-body experiences, etc. There are phenomena that until now, I cannot, and not even science can, explain. So yes, I’m very curious. I never say whether I believe or not, I just try to find rational explanations.

Now, with me being the super-skeptical person that I am, I still can’t actually explain a couple – five to be precise – of things that happened to me. Funny thing is that when I hear stories from other people, and I’ve heard some really plausible ones, I’m still cynical and skeptical about it, but then when things happened to me, I got scared to death. Don’t worry I didn’t see any floating girl in white, or people passing through walls, or ouija boards that communicated with me, nothing of the sort. Don’t ask me to tell you what they are here, as they might sound really ridiculous – one of them I experienced with a friend, so I know that I’m not crazy. Having said all this, I’m sure, that whatever happened to me, has a rational explanation.