A final bow for living legend

17 June 2021

Cabaret icon Carlotta will give her farewell performance at the Perth International Cabaret Festival, after six decades on the stage. She chats with Rosalind Appleby about a life spent following her heart.

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The star of Les Girls and inspiration for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Carlotta announced her retirement this year on her 78th birthday. The Australian transgender activist and icon will perform at the Perth International Cabaret Festival, taking to the bright lights of the stage for one last time, as she bids farewell to Perth audiences.

A person made up with makeup, white elegant wig and feather boa smiles at the camera
Cabaret legend Carlotta will perform ‘The Party’s Over’ at the Perth International Cabaret Festival. Photo supplied

Rosalind Appleby: Carlotta, your extraordinary story has been told in films, books, magazines, and now through cabaret, the perfect vehicle to recount a life spent in song and dance. What can audiences expect from your show “The Party’s Over”?

Carlotta: I’ve had such a wonderful life and I don’t take any of it for granted. And it isn’t over yet! We were such trailblazers back in the day – I remember lots of hard work but boy we knew how to have a good time. Audiences can expect to hear stories from Les Girls and Kings Cross, my time on TV, some of my favourite showtunes, fun, gaiety and a bloody good laugh. With COVID hanging around it’s never been so important to have a good time when you can.

RA: After almost six decades years in the entertainment industry, do you have any advice for our readers, many who are performers, or aspiring to be?

Carlotta: Stick with it and work hard! Showbiz isn’t easy for but you have to follow your heart, do what you love and be true to yourself – otherwise, what’s the point?

RA: Who will your show appeal to?

Carlotta: If you ever came along to see Les Girls, watched me with Stan Zemanik on Beauty and the Beast, or have already come to catch one of my cabaret shows, you’ll know what you’re in for – I’m politically incorrect and I tell it like it is. I love a first timer too because it means I can tell some old jokes!

RA: Tell us about the creative/rehearsal process for the show.

Carlotta: At my age – serious! Actually, I’m not always sure what my show will be until I get in front of an audience, then I see where they take me… I try to make sure every show is special. Back in the day we used to mime at Les Girls but since I started working with Michael Griffiths I’ve been singing live and I just love it. I mean no one comes to hear my Streisand voice but I can carry a tune. And we both pay tribute together to my old friend Peter Allen which is always such a special part of the show, he really knew how to write a tune.

RA: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing at the 2021 Perth International Cabaret Festival?

Carlotta: I’ll see as many shows as I can cram in while I’m in town. The entire programme looks FABULOUS! Michael is always telling me how wonderful Steven Oliver so I’ll definitely be catching him.

RA: What is your favourite playground equipment?

Carlotta: I’ll have to say a Merry Go Round. Because they’re camp.

Carlotta will perform The Party’s Over at the Perth International Cabaret Festival, 22-23 June 2021.

Learn more about the festival in this podcast with artistic director Michael Griffiths.

Pictured top: After 60 years of performing, Carlotta is taking her final bow. Photo supplied

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Author —
Rosalind Appleby

Rosalind Appleby is an arts journalist, author and speaker. She is co-editor of Seesaw Magazine, author of Women of Note, and has written for The West Australian, The Guardian, The Australian, Limelight magazine and Opera magazine. She loves the percussion instruments which can be found in the uber cool parks.

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