Drag Race’s Courtney Act...Tough to Follow
Everyone greatly anticipates (perhaps) the most eagerly awaited episode of every new season of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." No one would dare miss the "Snatch Game" episode where the competing season’s cast of queens must come up with their own celebrity impersonation to appear on the send-off of the classic TV game show hosted by RuPaul himself. On the eve of the airing of this cycle’s "Snatch Game," "Drag Race" Season 6’s standout starlet Courtney Act took a minute to acquaint the uninitiated with her skyrocketing stardom to headlining moves!
With the final remnants of winter still clinging desperately in the mighty canyons of Manhattan, Courtney Act wasn’t prepared for the still bitter temperatures that were trickling into the first days of spring when she arrived in New York to appear on her current live tour. "We went out...without a plan," Act admitted during our phone interview as she was seeking shelter from the cold beneath her the warm bed comforter. "I’m under a blanket on the bed, and now I’m toasting up." The image alone is sure to send most of her admirers into a tailspin, to which she coyly added: "I can only hope."
No stranger to the tele-event reality competition format, Courtney Act is the alter ego of performer Shane Janek, a pop-vocalist from Sydney. Janek as "Courtney Act" cut his teeth appearing in 2001 on "Australian Idol" the down under version of our hit music talent show that bolstered the profile of one Jennifer Lopez while sinking the ship of another developing diva, Nicki Minaj. While many insist that this cycle of queens is proving the most formidably assembled talent that the show has ever had, Courtney Act is relishing in the spirit of the competition, and enjoying every minute of her turn on "Drag Race."
The Los Angeles Lass takes NYC
At the recent premiere event held in New York City to celebrate the season’s launch, none of the ladies was more difficult to engage than the glamorously coifed Courtney Act, who effortlessly looked every bit of a Hollywood "hot list"! As a performer on the scene in Los Angeles, Courtney Act already came to the competition with a popular fan base. "I went though the whole ’fame thing’ back in 2001 with "Australian Idol," she said. "Dealing with people knowing who I was and seemingly like there were no longer any more strangers left in the world was one of the most challenging things about the whole experience."
Though with "Drag Race" there comes an entirely new layer of popularity and mainstream crossover appeal isn’t always guaranteed. But, for Act the thrill of the experience is not lost on her. "The interesting thing about it is that I actually am finding it pleasant this time around," Act is referring to a loss of anonymity that comes with appearing on national television. "It’s fun and people are so supportive. They’re enjoying the show...and they’re enjoying me - It’s lovely to be recognized for what you do best."
Every year when a new cycle of personalities are brought together to compete on the hit Logo TV show, audiences are always left wondering to what length RuPaul is going to find such unique and varied characters. With the club scene seemingly overflowing with up-and-comers vying for night-crawlers’ attentions, appearing as a contestant on the show is quickly becoming every queen’s holy grail. "It’s like so many things in life - you can imagine what it’s going to be like," Act says about being chosen this year to compete, " and then it takes on a whole different meaning when you experience it." And she insists: "Already it’s been so much fun."
Story continues on next page, but in the meantime check out Courtney Act’s latest video for the single "To Russia With Love."
In his male persona Shane easily is able to turn heads; he’s as handsome as Courtney Act is beautiful, though he still blushes at the idea. He prefers to discuss Courtney’s popularized beauty instead. "I can happily talk about how Courtney is beautiful and it seems [to me] like when an artist does a painting - like Look at this great painting I can do. I really love this painting! - I can talk about Courtney like that, and not have the element as if I’m talking about myself." Regardless of that, Courtney Act is undoubtedly the most beautiful competitor that "Drag Race" has seen in a very long time.
The sheer "realness" of Courtney Act’s act has landed her the unique position of representing Sheer Cover makeup as "the face" of the brand, and named among the "World’s Top 100 Sexiest Women" by FHM Magazine.
With that impressive a resume already in her favor, one wonders if it colors the way Courtney Act behaves for the cameras - we all understand the depths of playing things up for the benefit of the cameras, after all. "I feel like the representation of who I am [on "Drag Race"] is as accurate a representation of the real me," Courtney says. "I really made it my goal to stay true to myself. Hopefully, that will continue to serve me well throughout the season."
And as for dishing on her ably qualified cast - "We have so many skills sets, some are better at comedy; others are better at sewing...I am not!" - Courtney Act avoids gossiping about the ladies, but does offer a glimpse behind-the-scenes. "Some people on the show who portray these kinds of characters - who may not completely portray who they are in real life, may have to struggle with what the public will be expecting of them ."
To Russia...With Love
Certainly, Act’s unique charm and stunning looks, coupled with her incredible talents, are easily moving her up the block as a likely contender among this season’s top crop of queens. "I’ve always used the term ’gender illusionist’," Act says to describe the type of drag that embodies her public performance image. "There are so many different types of styles, but I really do feel that there isn’t really a line at the edge of drag where drag stops and real life begins." As Courtney Act, she appeared in "Rent" in the role of Angel, and has opened for pop-royalty Lady Gaga during the Australian leg of her club tour.
"I think that people are wearing drag of sorts in their everyday life." Act suggests that in daily life we all wear "suits" or constructed versions of socially acceptable drag. "The fact that men wear ’men’s clothes’ and women wear ’women’s clothes’ kind of seems like drag cause society has dictated that a man should wear pants and women should wear skirts - but we weren’t born with that. It was applied afterwards."
As for exactly what comes "afterwards," Act has been actively keeping busy and avoiding the dreaded lip-syncing for her life. She released another single this year, a dance track with a very important message. On Valentine’s Day Courtney Act treated her fans with the politically charged "To Russia With Love," a track she is presenting as a protest to the discriminatory attitude that is coming out of Russia at the moment. "People get understandably angry, and beat this drum," she says of the world’s vilifying of Russia’s President Putin. "I wanted to write a song that might have a slightly idealistic approach," the song narrates the tale of a Russian love affair, "but to when you focus on the positive aspects of something, you get to the solution much sooner."
She’s dedicated a portion of the profits from the track to the Russia Freedom Fund (russiafreedomfund.org) an organization dedicated to combating the discrimination and violence against the LGBT community in Russia.
Through her art Courtney Act not only hopes to inspire her audience - "Even frivolous and fun can create the right energy." - but also her intention is to always be genuinely dedicated to entertaining the crowd. "It’s so much fun to be doing a show that is built for a drag queen - it’s so much fun, but authenticity is the number one thing for any artist. People want to connect. Working out who you are and taking that the world is what’s important."
Proving that she’s dedicated to winning the title of "Hardest Working Hard Body in the Business" and because she’s not one to sit on her laurels, Courtney Act is touring the world with her current live show entitled aptly enough "Boys Like Me" hitting major markets international. She’s opened to raves all across the country and recently warmed up to such a wonderful reception in New York City, she plans to return to the Big Apple in May, but meanwhile you can tune into more of the authentic Courtney Act on "RuPaul’s Drag Race" Season 6 every Monday @ 9pm on Logo TV and see how the competition is shaping up as the queens head into the final countdown to the crown.
Download Courtney Act’s single "To Russia With Love" on iTunes and visit courtneyact.com for live appearances and more info.