By Rita Bratovich

Legendary entertainer and activist, Carlotta, has been named a Member of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day Honours List. 

The honour recognises and reflects on the achievements of individuals who make extraordinary contributions to communities across Australia, and there is no doubt about Carlotta’s extraordinary contribution to visibility, acceptance, and equal rights within the LGBTQI community. 

Carlotta’s career began in the heady 1960s in Sydney’s hub of bacchanalian delights, Kings Cross. She led a troupe of showgirls who performed cabaret and burlesque at the world famous Les Girls club. Les Girls became a popular tourist attraction, and the sharp-toothed compere, Carlotta, became an international celebrity. 

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She enjoyed a guest role as a transgender woman on the infamous Australian series, Number 96, which was set in Kings Cross. Later, Carlotta appeared as a regular on the panel show, Beauty And The Beast (1997). 

The incredibly successful film, Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert was inspired by a Les Girls road tour, with one of the characters being modelled on Carlotta. 

In an interview recorded in April, 2018, Carlotta said it wasn’t easy forging a living, let alone a career, in 1960s and ‘70s Sydney. 

“I worked bloody hard to get there, I tell you. I put up with a lot of prejudice in the early years.”

Her ultimate achievement was breaking through the stigma.

“I feel accepted. That was the biggest hurdle for me.”

Carlotta’s journey has been driven by joy and passion and determination. 

“It’s very important that you like what you do.”

The LGBTQI owes a debt to her courage and grit. 

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