CARLOTTA Life of the party

Since first hitting stages in the 1960s, Carlotta has forged a performance career hardly matched in Australia. Beginning as an original cast member of the long-running Sydney-based male revue Les Girls cabaret show, Carlotta made a name for herself over six decades as an actress, author, producer, TV personality and more, which saw her honoured with an Order of Australia for her services to the performing arts and the LGBTIQ community last year. Now after announcing her retirement on her 78th birthday, Carlotta is bidding farewell to fans with The Party’s Over, hitting His Majesty’s Theatre on Tuesday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 23 for the inaugural Perth International Cabaret Festival. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Carlotta to share in the celebration of a truly remarkable career.

It’s great to have you back in town for the Perth International Cabaret Festival. How will it feel hitting the stage for the final time here?

I’m very excited because I’ve always loved Perth. I lived there years ago across the bridge on the south side in a gorgeous Spanish style apartment on the water when I was working at Arthur’s night-club. I used to pop over to Rottnest all the time, it’s all so beautiful. And the audiences are always good! I reckon it will hit me when I’m on stage that it’s the last time and I’ll get all emotional. Right now though it’s just excitement.

I imagine you must have saved your best for last, what can the audiences look forward to from this show?

I’ll be getting a lot off my chest! Because I’m retiring I’ll be able to say what I want and tell a few stories I’ve been saving up for last. Look forward to me being very politically incorrect and having a good laugh.

It must be amazing to think of where your career started and where it has taken you. How were you inspired to pursue a life on stage?

I never aspired to be on stage, I actually wanted to be an artist because I love painting so much. A promoter called Lee Gordon was opening up the first ever drag show in Australia and came up to me at a party in Sydney and told me I’d look good in a frock. Then I got on stage and found out I enjoyed it and it all went from there.

As someone who has been part of the world of cabaret for some time, how have you seen it grow and change over time to what it is today?

I love seeing all these new Australian artists emerging. Remember I was always isolated in a drag show for many years and didn’t get to see other artists until I went out on the road. We’ve got so much incredible talent in this country and that’s what inspires me.

And what is one thing in cabaret that has always stayed the same – and you hope it never changes?

The wonderful audiences, that feeling when you’ve won them over and shown them a good laugh. There’s nothing like it.

What’s next for you? Any big plans for life “off stage” or are you just looking forward to kicking off the heels for now?

The main reason I’m retiring is my age. I won’t be touring these longer shows anymore but I reckon I’ll never stop completely, I’m sure there’ll be little corporate gigs here and there or I’ll sing at a party, I’ll still keep myself out there. Retiring also means I’ve got more time to concentrate on my painting, I had an exhibition in Sydney last year and I sold out all the works so I’ve got lots more to do!