She sings, she dances, she acts, she writes, she advocates and educates and she’s one of Australia’s most famous cultural exports. Since winning the 1987 Mr Tiny Tot crown as Shane Jenek and taking Australia by storm as drag artist Courtney Act, the sharp-as-a-tack glamour queen has racked up writing and performing credits worldwide.
With singer Casey Donovan, Act will co-host Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert (featuring Kylie Minogue) on Friday, 24 February.
Shane Jenek, aka Courtney Act, tells us about his must-visit Sydney places.
Poof Doof at Ivy
“Ivy is one of Australia’s premier venues for a big Saturday night. Upstairs is really fun pop, handbag sort of music and there are often drag shows and it’s a fun vibe. Downstairs, there’s a big dance floor, the music’s a bit harder and more serious. On weekends in the summer, they have fun, queerproduced pool parties. There are lots of restaurants in the area so it’s great to have dinner and then go up to the club.”
“This Vietnamese street-food restaurant in Potts Point is very bustle-y and busy and has amazing food. I don’t eat meat so I love the vegan net spring rolls and the coconut pandan dessert is just… perfect. The owner is a real character and her Google reviews are iconic. She will sometimes go in and reply to critics in a non-traditional way, like: ‘You might want to pay more attention to your girlfriend… she looked quite bored by your company tonight.’”
“North Bondi is historically known as the gay bit of Bondi Beach and on the grassy knoll on the weekend, drummers gather with all these different percussive instruments and start drumming just before sunset. It’s the most magical time.”
The Bearded Tit
“I’m almost reluctant to mention this queer bar in Redfern because it’s perfect just the way it is. On Wednesday nights it’s called Queerbourhood. They have some great burlesque performers or circus acts, you get nice cocktails and meet gorgeous people. The staff and management are really lovely and inclusive. It just always feels nice.”
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade
“The best way to see this jewel in the crown of WorldPride is to be in it. But to do that you’ve got to know someone in the queer community. There are often floats with spaces for people – or get into a fabulous outfit and hair and make-up and march in the parade. You feel like a pop star because there are thousands of people screaming and cheering. Such an exciting vibe. If you can’t be in it, get tickets to viewing areas. Failing that, go to the toilet, get a milk crate, get in early and bring refreshments because you’re in for a long night.”
Image credit: Kristoffer Paulsen