RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Courtney Act (aka Shane Jenek) will be serving up a dystopian Christmas cabaret this Sunday when she joins Flip Phone for a night of commiserating over this horrible year. "It’ll be a good hour or so of group therapy with fun and costumes and fabulous songs,” says Act.
Act first started putting her drag act together in Sydney, Australia, around the year 2000. “My drag sister Vanity and I were having lunch,” Act recalls. “I said I wanted to be called Ginger Le’Bon, because I thought it sounded like a shag-cut red-headed smoky-voiced nightclub singer that I envisioned I would be,” she says. Vanity thought Act should pick a cuter name, like Courtney.
If you say “Courtney” in an Australian accent, it sounds kind of like “caught in the.” Act had an a-ha moment, and decided on “Courtney Act,” a play on “caught in the act.”
Act has been singing since she was five years old, but when she first started performing, she would lip synch her songs. “I thought that’s what drag queens did,” Act says. “Somebody was like, ‘But can’t you sing?’ And I was like, yeah, but drag queens don’t sing.”
When Act auditioned for Australia Idol in 2003, she auditioned as a boy, and got cut. “I came back the next day as a girl, and made it through,” she says. “I pretty much sang live from then on, and haven’t really lip synched since.”
Act’s career exploded after appearing on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Being on the show was really fun, especially because she was with “all these other people who were experts in the same field I was an expert in different ways,” she says. Since then, “I don’t think I’ve had more than a week off in the last four years.”
For the show this weekend, Act will be singing some holiday tunes and non-denominational pop songs. One of her favorites is an Australian carol called “The Six White Boomers.” “It’s about how when Santa gets to Australia, because it’s so hot, he trades in his red velvet Santa suit for something more weather appropriate, and gets rid of his reindeers for six white kangaroos which we call boomers,” Act says. “ It’s a really fun upbeat Christmas song.”
IF YOU GO:
8 p.m. Sunday
Lumber Exchange Event Center
10 Fifth St. S., Minneapolis.
$30; $45 meet and greet.