With his cabaret Boys Like Me having sell-out seasons in New York City and Los Angeles, Jenek was bestowed the honour by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board in recognition of his support to the annual festival, with Mardi Gras chief executive Michael Rolik saying he was a “shining example of what can be achieved by staying true to yourself and being proud of your individuality”.
Speaking to the Star Observer from Los Angeles recently, Jenek said he was proud of the honour, a position he felt he has been in one way or another ever since he first came under the public spotlight over a decade ago on Australian Idol as his alter ego.
“It’s great. It’s nothing I’m not already doing,” he said.
“I just can’t wait to be back.
“Mardi Gras for me is Sydney at its best. Sydney in the summer is just a magical place, and then when you add Mardi Gras, it just takes it to a whole new level. People from around the world are visiting and there’s this buzz.”
As ambassador, Jenek will represent Mardi Gras at other events around the world but he believed Mardi Gras remained the world’s best pride festival.
“It’s also a cultural event, it’s a great time to get out and go to cabaret, go to live music and live theatre … and then it just culminates to just one of the greatest pride parades in the world,” he said.
“Now that I’ve been to a lot of these other pride parades, I realise even more how magical our Mardi Gras parade is. It’s just so much fun.”
Jenek is currently preparing to bring Boys Like Me for a special Mardi Gras show, which is based on personal experiences of men mistaking him for a woman while in drag.
“At first it seemed a little bit risqué to write primarily about sexual experiences,” he said.
“But when it all comes together it just helps to articulate the diversity of sexuality and gender, because we live in this polarised world where it’s male or it’s female, it’s black or it’s white, it’s gay or it’s straight.
“It’s actually all sort of in the grey area, or the colours of the rainbow. And that’s what Mardi Gras is all about, celebrating that.”
He also reflected on his success in the USA, which has included netting a place on the latest Ru Paul’s Drag Race season and spending time with Lady GaGa and Cher.
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