Courtney Act: Well, it’s kind of still pre-RuPaul’s Drag Race, really! But things have been good. It’s kind of the calm before the storm. I think I have some insights as to what might become of my life after the season comes out, but things have been really good!
C.A.: That's a good question! Of course Ru is the ultimate veteran, and I love her! I love lots of the girls! I really like Raja, and Willam I love! I love Jinkx, because we're quite similar in our performance styles. She's a live cabaret performer and so am I. Those are the ones I'd say I really love the most!
D.O.: Alright, we have to ask. So, the pictures from your trip to the Seychelles that were re-used for your "trip to Africa to entertain the rich and famous" this summer during RuPaul's Drag Race season 6 filming.... how did you come up with that cover story, and did you think it was going to work?
C.A.: So, Seychelles is in Africa and I was actually there in January working for a prince, for which I signed a non-disclosure agreement, and when I was there I was away for a few weeks and I couldn't really use my phone much. I was actually supposed to go back around the time of filming, so I thought "Oh! I'll post a picture and just say that I'm back in Seychelles!" I didn't realize how thorough people would be about examining the picture and pointing out, "didn't she already use this picture," and "that's the same ship in the background." I was very upset that all the shrewd eyes out there caught me in the act!
C.A.: When I was 18 I had this sort of business where I'd go around to nightclubs selling chewing gum and cigarette lighters and such from a neck tray, and I approached some clubs about doing it. They loved the idea, but they said they wanted a drag queen to do it. Since necessity is the mother of invention, a friend helped me out and I started doing drag. I grew up with a background as an actor, so one of my friends helped book me in a Saturday night show in Sydney performing in drag. I did the show, and within just a few weeks I was working every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night, doing shows, winning awards, and I just sort of continued and grew to become the queen you know and love!
C.A.: Yeah, they really have! They've always just been loving parents, and that didn't change at all when I started doing drag. And I'm really blessed to have that support. When I came out, I had worked myself up into a knot. I just remember crying and not knowing what would happen. I don't normally drink, so I don't really know why, but there was a bottle of wine in my refrigerator. So I popped open the bottle of wine, and worked my way through it watching Touched By An Angel and I was just wailing my eyes out and just crying about absolutely everything.
This was back before text messaging was really common, but I sent my mom a text message "I am gay".... *Hit send!* And then I waited, and she just texted back something along the lines of, "we love you, dear!" I had always heard my family talk about their friends who were "The Lesbians," and their other friends, Jim and Rudy, who were a couple. But I guess for some reason I just never made the connection that that meant they were gay. So I really had nothing to worry about, and now it's really funny just how worried I was.
C.A.: So, I auditioned for Australian Idol in 2003, and I went initially as a boy, but got knocked back. So I went back in drag and made it through to the finals. I had always planned on going as Shane and as Courtney, so that was kind of a cool story. And I'd only just started singing live in drag, but it just sort of created a following for me in drag. I got to tour around the country and go on the Idol tour. It was just a really cool and fun experience that was kind of the real beginning of my professional career as a performer. It was less of an attempt at a 'drag career', and more of an attempt at an entertainment career that just sort of happened to be done in drag.
C.A.: Yeah, I saw that!
D.O.: How would you say the drag scenes differ in Australia and the United States?
C.A.: I've seen different evolutions of the drag scene in Australia over my career. When I first started out, drag was very "themed," I guess you could call it - like in Priscilla Queen of The Desert. And then my drag sister Vanity Faire came around and she was a supermodel of drag. And then I came along, and then our mentor Ashley Swift came along. And the three of us were sort of a new style of drag for Australia. It's called New Millennium drag, and it's more feminine and girly and fashionable, rather than just wearing sort of garish costumes and make-up. And there's a lot of tension between the two styles of drag. There's lots of other types of drag, too, of course. All over Australia there's a sort of different drag community in each city. But in Australia the drag is usually done in a production style show. There's three or four queens, and actors, and choreographed numbers, and costume changes. Also, the same show is done every week for three months or so. Whereas in America I've found it's much more about doing pop numbers and a large variety of different types of queens are performing at that bar that night. So, it's been kind of tricky trying to get used to creating a performance in the moment.
D.O.: Do you have a 'drag mother' or 'drag family' back in Australia that helped you get started?
C.A.: I don't have a drag mother, but I think that Vanity Faire and Ashley Swift were kind of like my two drag sisters. We were in a show together back in early 2001 and I kind of learned a lot of my drag chops through working on the show with the cast. We'd have big working days where we'd all be over at someone's house making costumes, and I kind of learned about the art of drag through Vanity and Ashley during that time. I also learned a lot from the drag community at large, of course.
C.A.: I came here in 2010 and did some shows. I had a single called Welcome To Disgraceland, and I did some shows here to promote that. But I got here, and I was just like 'Oh my god, this place is amazing!' I mean, just the diversity, the vastness, the number of people, and I just KNEW! It wasn't even a question! I knew that I had to move to Los Angeles. I had to make that happen. And I remember my manager saying, 'well, you've gotta do this, this, and this,' and I was like, 'you don't understand. I am moving to L.A. This needs to happen!' So we went about applying for the visa, I got here, and I just loved it. I think being on RuPaul's Drag Race was really just validation for moving. I don't have any plans either way about moving in the future. I just kind of try to focus on what's going on now.
C.A.: Yes! Well, there are a few. There's a really good video of me singing Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell at The Rockwell in L.A. I've only sung that one a handful of times, but it's just so beautiful. I think my favorite song to perform is When Love Takes Over by David Guetta with Kelly Rowland or Titanium with Sia. When I also have this ballad medley of Poker Face by Gaga, Can't Get You Out of My Head by Kylie, and Vogue by Madonna. It's just a really slow and sexy medley and I love that.
[Editor's Note: Check out the Both Sides Now video Courtney told us about below!]
C.A.: Haha! I don't have any "special man," no. I'm very career focused right now, and I'm kind of married to Courtney in some ways.
D.O.: We are so excited to see you in February. Outside the show, what else can we expect to see from you in the coming months? Do you have any upcoming projects you can or would like to tell us about?
C.A.: YES! I HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE FOR YOU! I only just remembered when you said that, actually! I asked my manager "Can I tell Drag Official this?" and she said okay! I have recorded a song called To Russia with Love, which is coming out at the beginning of February. And I am shooting a music video for it starting this weekend in Canada, which will hopefully look similar enough to Russia. It's not directly political, but it's about a love affair that takes place in Russia. For me, there's only so much you can do. I just want to focus on LOVE in Russia, the positive aspects, and looking forward. That's really the only way to bring about change. I am also going to be bringing my show 'Boys Like Me' to Sydney for one night only on February 25th - the day right after Drag Race begins. I’ll be at The Sydney Theater at Walsh Bay in Australia. It’s a show I’ve already done in New York and L.A., both of which sold out, so I’m really excited to be bringing that back to my Australian roots!
D.O.: That’s fantastic! We certainly look forward to the music video and we wish you the best of luck with your show. We know how busy you are so thank you again for sitting down to talk with us!
C.A.: Not at all, it was my pleasure! Thank you!