Gok Wan, the man who encouraged women and men to get naked, is revealing on a new tour, Naked & Baring All. Ahead of his stop-off in the region, he talks to Kate Gould

What can audiences expect from the new show?

The Naked & Baring All Tour is the truth behind the truth – all the stuff I haven’t talked about in the past. The show is full of surprises. In 2009, I wrote my autobiography, Through Thick And Thin. I put it down and walked away for nearly a decade. Then, when I was asked if I wanted to do the stage show, I picked it up and read it back and realised that there was a lot about my life I hadn’t revealed and I felt it was time. It’s going to be really funny, emotional and ridiculous and packed with anecdotes. There will be laughter and tears!

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Are you going to talk about your whole life?

Me and my director Owen Lewis – who is brilliant, funny and actually quite hot – came up with the idea to use the different tools that I’ve used in my career as the basis for Naked & Baring All. There will be lots about fashion, body shape, style, cooking, that kind of thing, but there will be other surprises, too. If I did my whole life, I’d be on stage for a week. I have had a very colorful life – let’s put it that way!

Tell me about How To Look Good Naked. You helped thousands of people feel good about themselves in all sorts of ways.

It was really successful, incredible, just a great show. We did six series and I loved it. We went out on a massive high as we were still getting great figures and if Channel 4 said let’s do some more, I would make it again in a heartbeat. I have been very lucky and worked on so many different and exciting projects - Gok’s Fashion Fix, Gok’s Style Secrets, Gok’s Clothes Roadshow and lots of others such as Gok Cooks Chinese and the documentaries.

What did you do before your TV career took off?

I went to the Central School of Speech and Drama, but realised I wasn’t cut out to be a classical actor. I have a skill at doing a different kind of performing on stage. I was a recruitment consultant, worked in restaurants, bars, lots of different things and then I fell into hair and make-up and being a stylist.

I think taste comes naturally, but styling is like any art form. It is entirely subjective. But you have to learn the technical side of styling - the relationship you have with PRs and designers, understanding how far you can push it with a client and understanding the logistics of building a business around it. Also, learning social media, your personal brand, accounts and how you get repeat business, or a new client, all of that stuff you don’t get taught at college. I had taste, and I think I’ve got taste, but had to learn the other stuff as well.

Is there anyone you would like to style?

I really enjoy makeovers. They are the things that I get a lot of buzz out of, dressing real people with real bodies and real self-confidence issues. For me it’s far more empowering than dressing a celebrity as they can afford any of the clothes they want, they have a body a trainer has given them and they eat nothing but dust for months on end. I’d much rather be with Barbara from Bolton. All the stuff that comes out of a makeover is just gold. Most people I dress are worried and afraid, but it’s my job to show them it’s for the best. It’s also my job to show them how to use these new tools and how to find confidence with them.

Who were the people that inspired you?

I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life. My agent Carol taught me about business and about standing up for what I believe in. Also Linda Leeming, who sadly passed away two years ago. She was a brilliant stylist. I worked for her as a make-up artist on a lot of her shoots and she taught me the ropes on styling. She was a great inspiration. But the biggest influencers have been the bullies. You know I thank every single one of them because had they not made me feel that way, I would never have found the confidence I have now. It drove my success. Absolutely - my biggest inspiration has been my bullies. I credit them with everything I have achieved.

How do you find time to relax?

I hate rest, sleeping and days off. I’m not keen on holidays, but I do try to have one night off a week to relax. I’m really fortunate that I still love my job. I also have hobbies, stuff that I’m really interested in, although it always turns into something bigger. For instance, some people are quite happy buying a lump of clay and making an ashtray for their living room. I’d want to create a vase to go into Tate Modern! I’m just one of those people who is very proactive and ambitious.

Fashion is my job, DJing, painting and magic are my hobbies. I have always drawn and sketched and find it very relaxing. I am also studying with a magic teacher and learning some card tricks. I have lessons whenever I can fit them in.

Five or six nights a week I’ll be doing something, going to dinner or for drinks, the theatre or I cook at home. I go out to the theatre quite a bit.

How do you keep in shape?

My work keeps me fit as I’m constantly on the go. I used to go to the gym regularly, but I hurt my back and have had to ease off with that.

Do you get people writing to thank you?

I get a lot of people who do that. I’ve also had a lot of kids with eating disorders come up to me and say I’ve inspired them as I’ve been frank about what happened to me.

So what’s next?

I’ve got a couple of goals next year. I am in talks for a new fashion project which is being developed at the moment. I’d like to take the Naked & Baring All show out to more places next year, including internationally. I think the next thing, though, will be a business - I really fancy a restaurant or nightclub. If it’s a restaurant, it will be Asian food. All I know is I’m starting to get those butterflies about it and once I get them, I know it’s the right thing to do.

  • Naked & Baring All is at The Forum Theatre, Billingham, on Wednesday, November 1. Box office: 01642-552663; W: forumtheatrebillingham.co.uk