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NSW, Australia
I'm made it past 50! married for over half my life, have 3 kids all grown and I'm loving this part of my life.I was a nurse in my younger days but an unhealthy dose of rheumatoid arthritis put a damper on my career,so I'm at home with the internet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carlotta- He did it her way

He did it her way,that is the title of Carlotta's biography.I really enjoyed this read, her complete honesty is apparant behind her wicked sense of humour. The thing that made me laugh the hardest in whole book, was that she is such a glamour puss, she doesnt feel at home without a feather boa, so to speak,so, when she was cast on Beauty and the Beast as a panelist,she hated it as they made her look like a librarian.Funnily enough, to me she looked the best she ever had and I took her seriously as a woman. She hated it though, she lives to be on stage.

Carlotta was born Richard Byron sometime in the 50's....a girl never gives away her age.
In 1963 she began her career as an original member of the long-running Les Girls cabaret show, performed entirely by scantily clad and glam dressed males, which started in 1963 in the heart of Sydney's Kings Cross.She Eventually became the show's compare, which is how I saw her back in 1980 when I was 17.I can tell you there was no "political correctness" back then and Carlotta delighted in giving the homophobic a hard time.
She did put on a great show, we were all amazed...'where do they put it? etc It was all a bit of a giggle at ouryoung age.
I lived in a bubble,I had only just realised that lesbians and gays were real people the year before!
Ha! I was at the very first Mardi Gras in sydney in 1979.......only it was a New Years eve mardi gra and the gay and lesbian group had a protest march in the crowd...I didn't notice !!! People saY Hey your a 79'er... wow.......but really I didn't know anything about it!!!

I digress...back to Carlotta.
Sometime in 73 or 4..she can't remember(honestly???) She went to Hong Kong and came back with breast implants and it was widely reported she had a sex change while there but she hadn't. That happened in Australia.Carlotta was in fact one of the first three people to have gender affirming surgery performed in Australia. It was performed by a British surgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. She was the only celebrity of the three and her story made huge headlines here. She paid just $5 for her op - for legal documents, waiving any right of compensation from the hospital should the op go awry. She signed,happily went under the knife, the op was a success, and she's never looked back.
Around this time there was an Asutralian Soap called Number 96 which was literally a shocker. It liked to shock the Asutralian asudience. I wasn't allowed to watch as a kid.It was set in a block of units and floowed the lives of the tennants. there as the gay guy, the first gay kiss, plenty of boobs and bums and Australias first full frontal female nude.inot this mix is the character of Arnold, mild-mannered and puny , oddly, young Arnold would be hit on by a stream of glam young women falling at his feet.Arnold's new romance was with a lovely blond showgirl Miss Robin Ross, played by a glamorous newcomer named Carolle Lea, Arnold was surprised to learn Robin had been born male and was a transsexual. At the time it was a daring and contraversial, they had secretly cast Carlotta in the role.
quotes from her bioraphy:
The joke was that Arnold fell in love with me without realising I was a man. He thought I was a genuine showgirl. I remember Abigail(another acress on the show..blonde...boobs and bum ) used to turn up to work in these baby doll nighties. She was always getting into trouble for being late, but she was so pretty"
“Number 96 was my first real acting job and I was petrified. What made it worse was they kept me locked up on set because my true identity was supposed to be a secret. Pat McDonald, who played Dorrie Evans, was wonderful. She would pick me up in the mornings and tell me to just be myself. The funniest scene from Number 96 was when they had me in the dressing room and my flatmate walked in and caught me shooting up with this hypodermic needle that must have been fourteen inches long. And she asked me if I was a drug addict and I said ‘No, I’m just injecting some hormones’. Which I thought was hysterical because the only hormones I ever took came in pill form.
“Eventually Arnold Feather asked Robin to get married so it was essential to the plot that I revealed that I was a tranny. The way they did it was for Arnold to put his hand up my dress and say ‘Miss Ross, I mean, Mister Ross’. It was quite scandalous for its time. As soon as that episode finished the phones didn’t stop ringing with people complaining.

“The original ending would have shocked them even more. It was planned that I would be in the bathtub when Arnold walked in so I stood up in surprise. They were going to film me from behind so you’d see Arnold having a look and then fainting. It would have been a better ending but you might have had half the viewers fainting as well. Fred Nile would have had a coronary.

“Because my identity had to be kept a secret they locked me in this very small dressing-room on set. I called it a cupboard, it was so small. When it was time to film one of my scenes they would order everyone out of the studio except the crew and the actors involved. At lunch breaks I would have my meals sent in to my room, while all the others went out to eat. It wasn’t exactly fun."
“Abigail once said that she thought I had better tits than she did, but hers were pretty damn good, and they were real. She had trouble relating to me as a man (this was before my sex change) so she always referred to me as a she.” Producer Bill Harmon had always insisted that Carlotta’s true identity be absolutely kept secret, to the extent that Carlotta’s contract specified she could not reveal her involvement with the show to anyone - not even her closest friends. TV Week reported that the day after the revelation that Robin was transgendered the switchboard at Channel Ten was jammed by amazed viewers wanting confirmation as to whether Robin’s portrayer was male or female."
Carlotta says she was pleased that the script was not in poor taste and did not ridicule “female impersonators”. “I was delighted when I saw how beautifully the writers handled it. Various ways of revealing my true identity were discussed. But the final outcome was that I would confess to Arnold - an ending I much prefer. Sadly even Number 96 was not ready for a transgendered character full time, and Robin made no returns to the story. “Although I love stage work I would really love to be given a chance as a serious actress. People like me are seldom given an opportunity to prove themselves on television and I think Number 96 has been a real breakthrough. I’m hoping now that other doors will open for me. I wouldn’t mind playing a female impersonator, but naturally I would prefer to play a straight female role.”

Carlotta returned to Les Girls and has been with the show in one form or another ever since. seh has made jsuest appearances on TV her most recent being a panelist on Beauty and the Beast.

I had this wrong, I thought Priscilla was inspired by Carlotta but its the other way around,her show continued in the Les Girls building until 1993, then,inspired by the film "Priscilla Queen of the Desert", they took the show on the road. The show is still touring, though I haven't seen anything on her website since Dec last year.

I must get her book and reread it now,with a new insight :)


  1. It sounds like a great book!

    I like what she says about wanting to play a straight female role. That would be a real breakthrough.

    The book I'm reading now is written by someone who went from male to female. She did have the surgery. I don't think it's mentioned in the book, but I looked up the author on Wikipedia, and they mentioned it there.

  2. it is a good read :) carlotta is an icon wouldn't be anyone over 40 who didnt know her lol

    yeah wonder if that will ever happen? anytime a trans girl gets a movie role its as a trans girl. bugs me when they cast a biological female to play as trans girl though !(ugly betty for eg)

    what is the name of your book? I'd like to find a copy.

  3. The book is called Sydney. It's a history of the city...very interesting. The author is Jan Morris.

    I don't watch much of Ugly Betty. I didn't know about the trans character. I guess another example would be Nip/Tuck. They had a woman playing a trans female.

  4. Does anyone have any idea where I can get an e-copy of this book for my Kindle app?
    amazon aren't very helpful :-\

  5. sorry Julie you may have to get a hard copy, I've been unable to find a digital version

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