Well known for her performances at Les Girls in Sydney’s Kings Cross and multiple television appearances, Carlotta has delighted audiences with her wit, cabaret routines and stunning costumes for many years. Don’t miss your chance to see Carlotta Live and Intimate, at Port Panthers this month.
A lot of people know you from the famous ‘Les Girls’ Cabaret show, performed in Sydney’s King Cross. How did you actually become involved with the show?
It originally all started in The Jewel Box across the road, with Lee Gordon. Lee died, and Sammy Lee opened Les Girls in 1963. I was a part of this show – and I actually ended up being there for 36 years, on and off. I went overseas in the meantime and had a couple of breaks away during those years.
What was it that kept you performing with the show for such a long time?
The thing is, you have got to like what you do. I like what I do, and I always feel sorry for people being in a job they don’t like.
A lot of people would remember you from ‘Number 96’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Obviously performing for television is a very different kettle of fish to performing live. How did you face this challenge?
I took to it like a duck to water. It was nerve-wracking to start with, but then I just fell into the fold. I was with Beauty and the Beast for 10 years. I had a very good rapport with Stan Zemanek – we set off one another. When you clash with someone, it does make good TV!
So which do you prefer – television or performing live?
I love my live audiences – they’re the best. I just adore doing what I’m doing now with my one-woman show.
You performed so successfully with your big show, ‘Carlotta’s KingsX’, in Luna Park in Sydney. Why did you transition from such an immense production to your small, intimate new show?
That was around 6 years ago now. I put so much effort and such a big part of my life into those big shows … I packed up and moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast around 5 years ago, and I decided to go out on my own. I gave it a trial for 6 months, and it just took off like a rocket! I average about 3 or 4 shows a month – and that’s great!
How much work was involved with putting your current show, ‘Carlotta Live and Intimate’, together?
I was very fortunate. I work with a lot of film footage in the show as well – and it’s more or less an autobiographical show, where I talk about Les Girls right through. This coincides with a lot of the film and TV things I’ve done – This is your Life, Sixty Minutes, The Today Show.
I’m very fortunate I had the footage from all of those that I can use in the show. I tie this in with songs and stand up comic stuff too.
Your costumes have always been fabulous. Can we expect more of the same with this show?
Most definitely – I’m known for my costumes! One of my favourite designers is Ken Williams. He doesn’t sew any more, but I still have a lot of his frocks. I do quite a lot of sewing myself too.
Your sense of humour has left many people in stitches over the years. What kinds of things inspire your comical sense?
I usually keep up with what’s happening around the world, and I play it from there. During the first three minutes on stage, I know which way I’m going to go, based on how the audience is reacting. There are a lot of things always happening in the world to feed off – especially in the political scene!
If you were playing music on your stereo right now, what would you be listening to?
The classics. I like Tony Bennett; I like the older singers. I’m not mad for a lot of the new stuff – but I do like Katy Perry. I think she’s sensational!
How’s ‘Carlotta Live and Intimate’ been received by audiences so far?
It’s been going very well. The audiences have been great. I always come out on stage and say, “Don’t die on me – I won’t have an audience left!” A lot of my audiences are people I’ve grown up with and have followed me over the years.
The show’s a good laugh – it’s very glamorous and funny. And I’m looking forward to getting to Port Macquarie – it’s such a beautiful spot.
What’s in the pipeline for you in future?
I’m getting a new show ready for after Christmas, because I only run my shows for about a year now before I change them. Costumes and things are already in the works for that!
Interview by Jo Atkins