LA based entertainer Shane Jenek, aka Courtney Act, loves coming home to Sydney.
He can reference his favourite Yellow Pages commercial from the early 2000s and everybody understands.
“In LA, I say, ‘not happy, Jan’, and people don’t have a clue what I’m talking about,” Jenek said.
The Brisbane-born performer, shooting to fame as drag queen Courtney Act in the first series of Australian Idol in 2003, moved to LA six years ago to work on a gay cruise.
Falling in love with the sprawling Californian city – unexpectedly – he stayed on and has since enjoyed an eclectic string of work.
He has shimmied in cabaret, launched a wig line and struck stardom in RuPaul’s Drag Race competition in 2014.
He was also one of the first drag queens to become an ad girl for fashion label, American Apparel in 2014 and now stars in a US political video series.
Adding to his hectic schedule, Jenek returns Down Under for Fringe World Festival with Courtney Act cabaret show, The Girl from OZ!
“It has taken me five years to understand how I am different to everyone in America and then to work that difference to my advantage,” Jenek said.
“It’s very challenging for Americans to understand me sometimes – my accent and cultural phrases etc – because their knowledge of Australian culture begins with Crocodile Dundee and ends with Steve Irwin so I wanted to do my bit to try and be the cultural attache to Australia and educate the Americans on all the wonders of Australia.”
Jenek first dressed up as Courtney Act at a 2001 New Year’s Eve party in Melbourne.
“I found a new way to express myself that I really enjoyed; it was never a conscious decision to create a character but more a way for me to express myself that happened to have a different name,” he said.
“Courtney and Shane feel like two different ends of the same stick.”
What: The Girl from OZ!
Where: Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, The Pleasure Garden, Northbridge
When: February 15-19