AFL legend Warwick Capper gets real about his escapades
IN the words of the man himself, "the golden boy of the Gold Coast" is cutting his final formal ties with the city that helped cement his fame.
After an almost three-decade love affair with the Glitter Strip, including stints as a meter maid, male stripper, stop-and-go man, accidental porn star and unbelievably talented footballer, Warwick Capper is selling his self-labelled "famous bachelor pad" at Surfers Paradise.
The reason? Business and pleasure in AFL-mad Melbourne.
"I came down here almost four years ago but I've kept the place at Surfers just in case I decided to move back," Capper says from the Melbourne home he shares with long-term partner Lisa.
"I love the Gold Coast and do miss it. That's why I come back four times a year. I miss the sunshine, the vibe, the hot bunnies (women) - even though I've got one here.
"I'm a bit sad (to sell) but Lisa's from Melbourne and the opportunities have been great for me down here so I've decided to put the money into my life here."
For casual observers of the Capper story, the nature of that life may come as a surprise.
A walking publicity machine, the 53-year-old continues to portray himself as a flamboyant, heavy-partying playboy. "I'm a bit like the Hugh Hefner of Australia," he told the Bulletin in 2012.
The reality is somewhat different. He's not a big drinker, he's been with the same partner for a decade and he'd rather hang out in a gym than a bar.
"He's never really been someone who needed to clean himself up," says Gold Coaster Andy 'Toggsy' James, who's been friends with Capper since the 1990s.
"If there was a party happening, Warwick would be in the middle of it but it's like he's on a natural high. It's more that he's just partying inside his own head. His energy is infectious.
"He has this unique ability to think in his mind that it's still 1986."
Capper arrived on the Gold Coast in 1988 as AFL's first million-dollar man.
Having soared to incredible heights with the Sydney Swans, he was a prize recruit for the Brisbane Bears playing out of Carrara and was one of the biggest names in Australian sport.
Just ask him.
"I had a good 20 years," he says. "I started playing when I was eight, kicked 100 goals (in a season), played in the finals and got in the (Swans) Hall of Fame. What more could you want?
"I've also had a No. 1 record and No. 1 book. At least I left a mark on the game."
He sure did but the mark he left on the Gold Coast was arguably greater. In a city that prided itself on not taking itself too seriously, Capper was the ultimate ambassador when he made it his home after retiring in 1991.
"I deserve a statue at the end of Cavill Avenue," he says. "A gold statue in the Meter Maids shorts taking a Capper mark on someone's shoulders. Put that in the Bulletin. They'll love it."
That's Capper - always looking for a laugh.
But even he struggled to find one a few years ago when his son spoke to a women's magazine.
THE FAMILY MAN
"He can't face the fact he's getting older and just won't grow up … he's a disgrace … he has no respect for women at all. He thinks that impresses my mates but they laugh at him, not with him."
They were the words of then 16-year-old Indi Capper in 2010, a serve that his famous father says is the thing in his life that has caused him the most heartache.
More than his divorce from Joanne, Indi's mother. More than a leaked sex tape. More than being the first contestant voted off The Celebrity Apprentice.
"It wasn't great but we're all good now," he said of his 23-year-old son, who calls the Gold Coast home but is presently on a working holiday in North America.
"He rings every two weeks and he comes to Melbourne every three months (when he's home). He actually rang from Canada last night and I'm going to see him in June in downtown Seattle."
What of his very public critique?
"He was 13 when we divorced and that's a tough age for any kid. At 13 they're just starting to mature and it was hard on him.
"It was also Joanne getting back at me. He was just copying what she was saying. I think she got paid a fair bit for that interview but that's showbiz … I haven't spoken to her for about 10 years."
Capper's move to Melbourne has also allowed him to be closer to his own family.
"I came down to be near my sister who's a bit sick and my parents are just around the corner," he says.
"My sister had open heart surgery 18 months ago. I've only got one sister so I don't want to lose her. I hope she'll see old age like my parents. My old man is 87 and Mum's 85 and they're still kicking."
Then there's partner Lisa, the investor he met through friends a decade ago and ultimately moved states for.
"I used to be a playboy but I've changed a bit," Capper says. "It's one dog, one bone, big kennel."
"They're just a fun couple," says friend Toggsy. "Lisa's great for him. He's very lucky but she is too because they have a lot of good times."
"It's much better for him down there for work," Toggsy says. "You'd walk through Surfers and people would stop him for photos, but down there it's 10 times bigger because they're AFL mad."
As he has done for decades, Capper trades off his famous name.
He and Lisa are two of 10 shareholders in Capper's Big and Tasty Food Diners, a container shop business launching across several states this year. He's selling his Surfers Paradise unit to help fund a property venture south of Melbourne.
Then there's his bread and butter, the dozens of functions and parties he gets paid to attend each year simply because he's Warwick Capper.
"Corporate gigs, charity lunches, buck's parties, hen's nights, 21st and 40th birthdays," he says. "I can charge them $2500 for two hours … they just want to get a photo taking a mark off my back yelling 'Capper!'."
And his old mate Toggsy says it's a sight to behold.
"He just walks into the room and dominates," he says. "He gets them all in the palm of his hand and I just sit back in amazement.
"I've had people say to me 'Isn't he a dickhead?' but when you hang out with him that quickly disappears and you realise he's just filled with fun energy. His mind is childlike but in a good way. He just always wants to have a good time … and he takes time for everyone. He's so sincere.
"One of the best qualities you can have is to make people laugh and he does that all the time … whenever you're with him you're laughing - either with him or at him."
Weekend at Warwick's
"I'd charge blokes $5000 and let them stay at my place in Surfers for the weekend. I'd take them out in a Ferrari, have a barbecue and go to Hollywood Showgirls. I'd just speak s- with them and then watch my footy highlights, which would go for 12 hours because I was so good."
"I sometimes have lunch with Geoff (the socialite and former Swans owner) and he'll tell me how rich he is and the hot bunnies he's with … he's still playing ball and wearing my type of suits. He thinks he's Warwick Capper. He thinks he's 40, not 73."
"I'm 53 but I still look 39. I'm training five days a week - four days weights and five days cardio … you've got to look after the temple. I want to get another 20 years out of myself."
Gary Ablett Jr
"I'm a mate of his. I met him on a plane a couple of times. He's a good bloke but he's got to be (reserved) because he's had a hard life with his father. He's got to be cautious, not like me."
"I don't care. I've achieved greatness. I don't really give a s- what they think of me. Ten per cent mightn't like me but they're just the jealous ones. The rest love me."
"You've got to have life after sport. That's why I have so many projects. You've got to keep busy and stay positive … I'm good at reinventing myself. I've got money in the bank, no debt, and a lot of people can't say that."
Toggsy: "We went to Bali and I've come back from the bar and I see Warwick talking to two local girls in their 20s. I then realised he was showing them footy cards of himself from 1986. The girls were saying 'Who's that?' and he's like 'What do you mean? That's me. Warwick Capper' and they just looked at me like 'Who is this guy'."