Our Hero doesn’t need a cape, she’s happy with heels, a fab wig and a tidy tuck
For all the fl aws of reality TV and the way it has seemingly permeated every corner of our culture, every now and then someone comes along — between the fame- hungry, fl ash- in- the- pan wannabes — with genuine star quality and something to off er that speaks to an audience and furthers the conversation.
At the start of this year, when the UK was being buff eted by relentless cold fronts and the January blues were never more than a sigh away, the 21st series of Celebrity Big Brother proved a welcome distraction and, as the monthlong show continued, a sure- fire way to warm our hearts.
After four weeks in the house, the final vote was between Shane Janek, the pansexual Australian performer best known for his drag alter ego Courtney Act, and regressive right- wing former politician Ann Widdecombe. A more polar pair would be diff icult to fi nd.
Thankfully, the voting audience ultimately gave the crown to Shane ( we like to think that Attitude’s sustained social media campaign helped a little), who had used his platform on the show to have thoughtful and nuanced discussions about sexuality and gender identity, introducing viewers and fellow housemates to concepts such as the gender spectrum and the Kinsey Scale.
Of course, Courtney was familiar to many LGBT+ viewers from her star turn on season six of RUPAUL’s Drag Race in 2014, where she finished as runner- up in one of the strongest top threes in the show’s herstory ( Bianca Del
Rio won, with Adore Delano completing the trio). But in that show, perhaps due to editing or otherwise, Courtney sometimes came across as slightly spiky and ruthless.
However, in CBB,, she wasn’t reduced to soundbites, and we got to see a more rounded character, full of humility, intellect and honesty. Her fl irty friendship with Apprentice star Andrew Brady challenged perceptions of sexuality and masculinity, and her win over Widdecombe was a victory for love and acceptance, a “validation that it’s OK to be diff erent”, as Courtney said afterwards.
Since the show, Courtney has toured the world with her solo show, Under The Covers, and set up home in London. She’s set to return to TV screens as the host of E!’ s The Bi Life, a new bisexual dating show — the fi rst of its kind on British television — which starts on 25 October.
Funny, frank and fabulous: Courtney Act is a perfect reminder that not all heroes wear capes — some wear tucking panties, wigs and six- inch heels.
S UPPORTED B YWords Tim Heap Photography Leigh Keily Styling Frank Strachan“S OME HE ROES DON’ T W E A R C A P E SB UT W I GS A NDS I X- I NCH HE E L S ” Courtney wears dress, by Missguided, feather jacket, by Nikita Karizma, shoes, by River Island, earrings, by H& MNOVEMBER 2018