She has been a household name Down Under since 2003 when she when she wowed Australia with her killer vocals, but it’s only been 3 years since the world was introduced to the super talented and beautiful Courtney Act, season 6 runner up on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since launching to global drag-stardom, we had the opportunity to catch up with Courtney about her love for Toronto, Drag Race and her new gig with the AAA Girls!
What are some of the things that you love about Toronto?
There’s something about it. Maybe it’s because I’m Australian and Canada is part of the Commonwealth, and even though Toronto and Canada is so close to the US, I think Australians and Canadians grew up with more similar pop culture references. There’s something about being in Canada that makes me feel like I’m home. It’s such a lovely, fun place. The audience and vibe feels so familiar. I feel like Canadians just get me more.
On Drag Race you were super polished and definitely one of the more experienced and professional queens, but in hindsight is there anything that you wish you had done differently, or that you feel the judges just didn’t “get” the vibe that you were going for?
Yeah, I think I went into Drag Race trying to do my best and I guess as someone who grew up in the theatre, when you’re on stage you always put your best foot forward. When you’re on stage performing you don’t want people to see your flaws, you want them to see the show and the fabulous illusions that you’re doing, and I think over the last few years I’ve learnt a lot more how to be okay with being…what’s the word I’m looking for?
A little less than perfect?
Yeah. I guess when you’re on stage, or at your job, or doing anything else you’re always trying to do your best, and on Drag Race I was just trying to do my best. I can see how that was portrayed as a lack of vulnerability or lack of something that people really couldn’t connect to it. In fact, because of that experience I kind of had a bit of a break down and a break through that I’ve realized that always trying to be the best or trying to be perfect isn’t very relatable. I’ve noticed that in other people. The people that I loved were themselves, making mistakes and I’ve learned that it was okay. And more than okay, it was important. It’s been a fun journey. The things that I thought that I didn’t like about Drag Race turned out to be the things that in the end that I loved the most. I wish that I had learned those things a different way, but I’m glad that I learned them. It feels really cool and I am really grateful for that part of the experience.
I guess being in the moment is a lot different than watching it back.
Yeah, and I’ve been on reality TV before. Idol was a lot different, and it was also 10 years before Drag Race. It’s cool to realize that in fact showing your flaws is actually one of the more important things that you can do because we all have flaws and that helps other people see that having flaws is okay and makes everything feel a lot more human and real.
There’s also a lot of speculation about All Stars 3, so we were just wondering, are there any Queens who you feel got eliminated before their time or that you would like to see on All Stars 3?
Yeah, there always is. Mariah Balenciaga, Jiggly Caliente. I love Gia Gunn, I love BenDeLaCreme, I mean there’s so many. Trixie Mattel is amazing, I love her.
You’ve kept the momentum going with the Drag Race girls, you’re performing with Willam and Alaska now in the AAA Girls. How did the girls come to form?
American Apparel actually approached Willam and I to t-shirts for them and we said yes. They told us they were going to ask Alaska as well and we were like that’s okay we can actually do it with just us. They were like oh too late we’ve already asked Alaska. We were like that’s fine, we love Alaska!
There was a song by Capitol City called “Farrah Fawcett Hair” that I was obsessed with that Willam loved and we were at a photo shoot and were like, let’s put that song on, because it mentions American Apparel ad girls in the song and I think Willam was like, why don’t we do a song, like a parody of this song about American Apparel ad girls, and so we did. It was just meant to be a fun one-off thing but everyone loved it so much that they wouldn’t let it stop so we wrote the Christmas song, and then another Christmas song and then we were like, we have to do this album that everyone wants, so we did!
What was the writing process like?
I reached out to Sam Sparro who is amazing and we all went to the studio and we talked about what we wanted and what sort of vibe. Sam put down some sounds and some beats and we all sat there fitting it all together and then other songs, like the parodies, Willam spearheaded. Private Eye and Water Runs Clear were Alaska’s babies and we all sort of contributed little bits. We went into the studio and recorded them all. I recorded part of Water Runs Clear when I was in London. I ran out of time when we were in LA and I think I had just flown in that day, and I was so jet lagged and I remember falling asleep in the studio while recording Water Runs Clear. It was a fun process. We’re three very different personalities and I think that’s why it works in many ways. I think it’s been outside of our comfort zone. We all do what we do very well, and love what we do and so leaning into other people’s territories has been outside of our comfort zone and a real learning experience.
Have you all been able to bounce ideas off of each other. Was there any advice you gave to the other girls?
It was more of the concept. There was a selection of songs that I refused. When we were piecing together the album, Willam would send ideas and I would say pass. It became kind of a joke that I would always pass. She would be like, what about a song about big black dicks? Alaska would be like, “pass on Courtney’s behalf.” There’s a lot of songs that I passed on and a few of those songs have been included in a medley in the show where I’m not apart of. It’s been a fun sort of process, seeing how Willam and Alaska work. We all bring in different elements.
If you guys were to do a sophomore album, who would you want to work with next?
Jade from Little Mix would be a good one. We loved her. We think it’s only fair that she should be in one of our videos and one of our tracks since we were in one of hers.
When you’re performing in Toronto, the Shady Queens will be performing the same night. Is there any friendly competition with the girls?
We’re disappointed that it got scheduled that way to be honest. Willam, Alaska and I did Shady Queens last year and we loved the event so much. I guess the powers that be that organized it on both sides weren’t aware that it was going to be on the same night and it just ended up with bad timing. I’m sad because the Shady Queen kids are so talented and I’m sure their show is going to be fabulous and our show is going to be fabulous and it’s unfortunate that the audiences have to pick and choose.
We’ve read a lot of the fanfare you’ve received online and it seems like a lot of people have really taken a lot from the fact that you’ve been open about being pansexual and being open about gender fluidity. If there was one sentence that you’d want the world to know and stand behind as your message, what would that be?
Our similarities are greater than our differences. I like telling my story and hearing other people’s stories because the more that you find out about people, you’re like, wow, even though I thought you were really different it turns out that we’re actually more similar than I thought that we were. It kind of brings the world together I think. We all just want to be seen, we all just want to be loved and have that connection.
How do you go The Xtra Mile?
I think when you do what you love to do you can’t help but go the extra mile. I just love performing, I love being on stage. The AAA tour is a lot of fun and the solo shows that I do is my passion that I love, love, love doing. It’s inspired me to create, perform and tour and push myself and work harder. I think that when you’re inspired by something, going the extra mile is inevitable.
Check out https://www.aaagirls.net/ to get your tickets for this must see show and to grab a copy of their debut album, All Access Areas.
[Review and interview by Jessica Anelli]