She was once a pop princess with a national profile on Australian Idol.

Nowadays Courtney Act is used to more modest arenas, hosting the DNA magazine model competition at Stonewall and opening the Sydney run of her new cabaret show Boys Like Me at the Civic Hotel next week.

Some might see it as a career downgrade. The self-proclaimed gender illusionist says it’s all about control.

It’s something that I wanted to do for a while, and it seems like a great opportunity to do something a bit creative and what I want to do, she says of Boys Like Me.

I do lots of gigs, but they’re always what other people want, not what I want.

The new show, which has already toured Brisbane and Melbourne, will see Act escape drag stereotypes as she sings live.

There’s totally a bit of everything, from Doris Day numbers to Kylie Minogue, she says.

It’s not completely gay and crazy, it’s just good old-fashioned entertainment really.

The show also tells parts of the Courtney Act story, from her beginnings as a one-off at a gay dance party in Melbourne in 2001 to her arrival on the Sydney scene.

Act has also enlisted at least one suitably camp guest star for her Sydney solo cabaret debut.

Former Les Girls stalwart Carlotta has graciously agreed to perform The Boy From Oz duet Only An Older Woman with her younger counterpart at one of the Civic Hotel shows.

After its four-night Sydney run, Boys Like Me will head to Adelaide, Perth and Townsville.

Does the entertainer who pushed drag into the country’s living rooms on Australian Idol have a message for national audiences this time round?

I guess it’s more subversive, Act says.

There’s a lot of stuff about being yourself and enjoying yourself in the show, and there’s a few torch ballads that raised some tears in Brisbane.

Basically it’s a great opportunity to affect the way people think.

Boys Like Me is on at the Civic Hotel, Sydney, on 8 and 9 February at 7:30pm and 10 and 11 February at 8pm. For bookings call 9209 4614 or visit the Boys Like Me website.

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