Courtney Act has had a big 2018. Her candid conversations about LGBT issues on Celebrity Big Brother educated millions and went viral. She fronted a groundbreaking new dating show called The Bi Life. And literally on the day I am writing this, she was announced as a contender for Australia's entry in next year's Eurovision Song Contest (I am still getting used to Australia being in the contest but this is good news).
And then, this Christmas Eve, she's presenting the Courtney Act Christmas Extravaganza, a British variety show featuring guest appearances from Drag Race stars Bianca del Rio, Adore Delano, and Darienne Lake. Oh and Little Mix. She's had such a career, it seemed just fitting for her to take part in BuzzFeed's First Times. And it was fucking great.
The first job you had...
Courtney Act: I think my first actual real job was a door-to-doors salesperson for Foxtel, a cable TV company, and that lasted a couple of weeks because I got held, like I wouldn’t say at swordpoint, but I was kept in someone’s house against my will and she did have a sword and was sort of brandishing it.
It was kind of in a fun-jovial way but as an 18-year-old I did find that quite confronting and as soon as she turned around I did make a dash for the door and I no longer worked selling cable door-to-door.
The first time on the Drag Race set...
Was walking into the Work Room when I said, "Is this America’s Next Top Model?"
I think the thing that you are really taken by is that you realise it is actually a set. I genuinely had always thought, this sounds dumb, I always thought that RuPaul's Drag Race was shot in the basement of RuPaul’s house.
I always pictured him up upstairs in his sunken living room and he’s like, "Alright, time to go down and see the girls," and he trapes down the steps into the basement (a well-lit basement, but a basement nonetheless). And then I was like, "Wait a minute, these aren’t real bricks! These are just photographs of bricks printed on to fabric."
It's all an illusion!
First Drag show you ever attended...
CA: That would have been at the Albury Hotel in the year 2000. Now the Albury Hotel and Sydney was in a post-Priscilla Queen of the Desert era. If you haven’t seen Priscilla, stop what you are doing. It won an Oscar for Best Costume, it was a very formative film in my life. And I remember going to the Albury to watch the drag queens.
I just remember watching them on stage. I also remember being quite confused because they were very draggy looking, in a very Priscilla way, big makeup and big hair and quite garish and quite masculine.
And I remember that they all wore, I don’t think you can say this word - it will definitely be bleeped now with YouTube’s censorship laws, but they had what we called ‘cunt corsets’, which was sort of really high cut tight corsets. And I remember being quite fascinated by the idea that all of these men had their penises removed to do drag and then I later learned about the ancient art of tucking, which is sort of like somewhere between gift-wrapping and stuffing a turkey.
Actually, let’s take that out, I’m supposed to say that in the Christmas Special and I want you to think that I’m original and spontaneous.
The first film you ever saw...
CA: I remember seeing Disney’s Fox and the Hound. I was really young. I won two tickets for that because I wrote into a morning television show, but by the time they got to my house they had already expired, so I wrote them a letter and they sent me some new ones.
And then years later I was on that show for something. I remember drinking a strawberry smoothie and then telling them I was allergic to strawberries, which I wasn’t, so they just said that I could sniff the strawberries instead of drinking it, which is pretty lame.
The first song you ever performed in drag...
CA: The first song I ever performed in drag was "Dance Ten, Looks Three" from A Chorus Line [Courtney Act starts singing]: "Tits and ass! Bought myself a fancy pair! Tightened up the derriere! Did the nose with it! All that goes with it!" That was a good one.
The first time you met a celebrity...
CA: Paris Hilton in 2003 at film The Matrix launch at the Sydney Opera House. I was on Australian Idol at the time and we turned up at the party. We had been invited and we got to the door and they were like "I’m sorry, you are not on the list."
So I texted the publicist and she came out and she like "I’m so sorry, is there anything I can do?" And I was like, "I would love a photo with Paris and Nicky Hilton, thanks," and she was like "sure" and introduced us to Paris and Nicky.
We ended up hanging out all night and dancing until the sun came up and hung out a bunch whilst she was in Australia.
There are other stories about Paris that I talked about on Big Brother, which I am not going to say is a cease and desist but I shan’t be talking about any further, thank you.
The first time you went on a date...
CA: I went on a date, with my first-ever girlfriend. We went to see Titanic.
I remember, during the film, making out with my then-girlfriend and then umm… Do you remember the film Fear with that hot guy Mark Wahlberg? He and his girlfriend are on the rollercoaster and they are going up the rollercoaster and he is doing something to her and then when she gets to the top she is like 'UUGGHGHGHHHHH' and then...
[Courtney imitates a rollercoaster]
Yeah that was in Titanic with my girlfriend. Sorry about that. Also we both had braces and she kind of kissed like a helicopter.
[Courtney imitates helicopter with her tongue]
The first moment you had in the Big Brother house...
CA: I was otherwise distracted because my skirt had fallen off and I was trying to compose myself. It was kind of all puffed and rushy and then I was telling them, "Oh my god, my skirt had just fallen off," and they were like "Oh I’m sure that nobody noticed, it's fine," and I was like "No no no, my skirt had literally [Courtney imitates her skirt coming off]."
And it fell off again in front of Ann Widdecombe, which is sort of poetic I think.
Your first time bombing on stage...
CA: I remember being in a production of a "show" that was at a shopping centre. It was called Back to School. I was singing ‘You gotta go back, back back back to school again’ whilst stepping backwards, not realising that there was no back on the stage and just fell off the stage and came to, laying on the ground saying, "What the fuck just happened?"
That’s a form of bombing.
Your first Pride experience...
CA: I remember my first Mardi Gras. It was in the year 2001. I decided earlier that day that I was going to go in drag. It was my third time in drag.
It was so much fun. It was the first time I had ever been amongst so many people who were like me but were also so diverse. It was a very queer space but there were bears, dykes, twinks, older people, younger people, people with different body shapes, and people with different skin colours all together at this giant Mardi Gras party of 18,000 people. This was after the parade, which is the real party.
The parade happens, which is where millions of straight people just all stand by and gawk at the gays just walking up the middle of the street, and support — they are there in support and acceptance and understanding but then the real party happens afterwards.
Normally when you go to a queer space the people often look like you, they are the same age as you and so on, but at Mardi Gras and at queer events in general, everybody is different, everybody comes together. And that is what I love about Pride and Mardi Gras and those sort of events.
The first CD you ever bought...
CA: This is an awkward subject because I remember getting a CD player in the '90s.
It was an Andrew Lloyd Webber "best of" CD, but then when I got it home I remember that it was an instrumental version and it wasn’t like the original Broadway cast recording, so I was really pissed off.
Now I don’t know whether you want to know what specific what CD I bought or whether you are just being ageist, but the first music I bought was a cassingle, a cassette of a band called Frente!
Your first ever mobile phone...
CA: It was a Nokia. I was in high school. This was in the '90s, so my dad still had a car phone that was hard-attached to the car.
I remember this one time, this was before I had this phone. I remember being in the bike racks, where the kids ride their bikes to school. My friend Scott was there. This other kid started bullying me. This boy was like shoving me and I was like "Don’t do that?" and he was like "Why, what are you going to do about it?" and I was like "I’m going to call the police" and he was like "What on?" and I was like "My mobile phone."
I was like "Scott, get my mobile phone out of my backpack thanks," bluffing because I didn’t have a mobile phone and the kid was like "ERRRR" and ran off. Thank god he didn’t call my bluff calling his bluff, as it could have gone horribly wrong.
And then the kids thought I had a mobile phone, which kind of made me feel cooler, but then I didn’t, but then I did later!
Your first pet...
CA: Would have been Honey, a German shepherd. She was my best friend.
I remember that she got really old and my dad told me that she would have to be put down. I got the Handycam and filmed her for a day. I still have the VHS. It was her last day before we had to take her to the vet and put her down, which was really sad.
First pet stories are never going to end up with a happy note, do they? Because they are all going to be dead by now, unless it's like a turtle. A Galapagos turtle that lives for 400 years and it will probably end up telling you a story about how you died one day.
Because one day sea creatures will probably take over the planet once the humans are gone, and they will find our old technology and learn how to talk or something like that.