Darling, a lot of people call me a pioneer

SHE is an Aussie living legend and at age 74, Carlotta exhibits no signs of toning down the feathers or taking off the bling.

Over a five-decade career that began in 1963 in Kings Cross as a female impersonator with the all-male Les Girls revue, Carlotta has gone on to become a cabaret performer, television celebrity, a much-loved Australian icon, and perhaps, most importantly to her, a transgender advocate and political activist.

"Darling, a lot of people call me a pioneer," she said "I don't know about that, but it's a shame the government doesn't hand out awards for people like me. I want one of those medals. No, I want two...for earrings."

What keeps Carlotta performing today after all those years is simple. She loves what she does.

"I feel sorry for people who are in a job they don't like," she said. "I have always liked what I do."

Aussies too have liked what Carlotta does, following her career from the Les Girls days that drew international visitors to Sydney's King's Cross and motivated her to tour Australia with the all-male revue, a tour that inspired the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Later, television appearances included a sassy role in the raunchy soapie Number 96, then as a regular panellist on Beauty and the Beast, and a celebrity guest on Come Dine with Me Australia. Carlotta has lately been one of the cast of Channel 10's Studio 10, a role she has just stepped away from.

It was Carlotta's much-publicised sex change operation in the early 70s that paved the way for others to follow and opened up discussion about the transgender community.

She acknowledges she could never have envisaged the change in attitudes today towards transgender people and same sex marriage.

"It's good but as much as we have equality now with same-sex marriage, there is still that bit of prejudice. The 'yes' vote was wonderful but I wouldn't want a husband now. I like (my own) money too much."

Living quietly on the Gold Coast in between jobs suits Carlotta at this stage of her life, but she never envisages retirement.

"People who retire often get sick," she said. "I don't like just sitting around. I look after myself. I don't drink or smoke. Gardening is my exercise. I am always out and about. I keep fit that way. I have cut out a lot of Sydney (work), it gets too much. I am happy doing what I am doing now."

Carlotta will be in Noosa in July to perform a dinner show, Carlotta, Queen of the Cross, part of the NOOSA Alive! festival.

The show promises a whirlwind ride with songs and stories from 50 years on and off the stage. Carlotta will be accompanied on piano by Michael Griffiths as she sings the classics by Berlin, Rogers & Hart, Sondheim and Peter Alan.

"I'm looking forward to meeting everyone in Noosa," she said. "I enjoy working with the audience. I have a sense of humour that comes naturally...I talk about things that are happening in life. I'm very fortunate now because of my age. I know how people tick, I bring up subjects (in the show) that I know. I don't just stand there and tell jokes, I tell stories, always with a laugh."

Carlotta, Queen of the Cross

Dates: Monday 23 July

Time: 6.30 pm Dinner - 8pm Showtime

Prices: $95.00

Inclusions: 2 course Dinner, glass of wine and cabaret show

Venue: Noosa Waterfront Restaurant, 142 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville


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