Carlotta the Australian Icon. An Interview

Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Carol Spencer, also known as Carlotta the Australian Icon. I am not an interviewer but I’ve watch Kerrie Anne…. I can do this!

My nerves dissipated the moment I start talking to Carol. She is really lovely!

Carlotta the movie was release on 17 June 2014 and will be released on DVD 2 July. The movie is based on the amazing life of  Carol ‘Carlotta’ Spencer (played perfectly by Jessica Marais). It follows the journey from confused young boy to the iconic Les Girls headliner and Australian transgender pioneer. If you aren’t already a fan, this movie will make you fall in love with the extraordinary Carol ‘Carlotta’ Spencer.

Carlotta the Australian Icon. An Interview

Jessica (Marais) was gorgeous and amazing in the role. Did you get to help in the casting?

Yes I did, I mainly wanted Jess. For the simple reason that there was a bit of backlash, not a backlash, but a few critics saying ‘why did I pick a woman’ to do it. The reason is that… the types of female impersonators in those days are completely different to what they are today. They all had boobies, they wanted to have sex changes and they were in the beginnings of that role. A lot of people said Jess looked like me when I was younger and so she was a good choice and she pulled it off fabulous.

Is there anything you wish was included or left out of the final movie?

The only thing I wish had been in it….was my other mother, Hazel. Because that was a funny period, that would have been a bigger role for the little child that played me as a young boy

You lived with her until you were 12 and she wasn’t mentioned at all in the movie?

Yes, I lived with her until I was twelve. They pulled that part out, but they did have it in one of the scripts originally but they had to condense it into an hour and a half.

There were some scenes that had me reaching for tissues…

When those scenes came up…I went into the kitchen and said “Anyone want another scone or anything” because I had lived it and it was too hurtful to watch…it was too hard for me to watch, so I didn’t watch it!

You’re quite a private person, was it hard to have the movie putting your private life out there again?

I thought the time was right. I want to tell the story of how tough it was to get where I was today….I became very strong and I thought, I’m 70 now and it’s time to tell them what really happen back then, what the struggle was. It’s a bit of a legacy for me.

Did your relationship with your mother improve?

Not really. She loved the money but that’s understandable. You’ve got to understand, she came from that period, they didn’t even know what a gay boy was. That wasn’t a period she was brought up in. She was a Mudgee girl. She was born on a farm and she had me on 1943 at the end of the war.

And she was very young wasn’t she, 18?

Yes, very young. I understood that later in life but in those early days it was a battle with her. She always had boyfriends, she had one right up until the day she died, I wasn’t worried about her not having company.

You’ve said in other interviews that Carol and Carlotta are two different characters that form part of you. Carlotta seems so strong and outgoing, is it hard to switch her off when you get home?

No, no, she gets switched off as soon as I get off that stage

Is it a relief to switch her off?

Oh yes, definitely. She is exhausting, she’d wear out Aunty Mame.

What do you think about transgender awareness and acceptance in Australia and how it compares to when you were younger. Do you think it’s improved at all?

I think it’s got a lot better, Darling. But there will always be that negativity out there and that’s understandable because there are lots of people not brought up around it. Unfortunately, there will always be a slight negativity. We have such wonderful freedoms in our country. If you look at a lot of countries, it’s gone backwards. Look what Russia was trying to do during the Winter Olympics. I mean, that was the most ludicrous thing I had heard in my life! He was sending everything back to the 14th Century

What advice would you give to a young person struggling with their place today?

Just be proud of yourself, life is too short. Go ahead and do what you want to do. You will lose friends, you will gain friends.

When I think of Carol Spencer. I think of resilient, iconic and inspirational. I know you are very modest and you don’t like to toot your own horn, but how would you like to be thought of?

A nice person. I’m too generous but just a nice person..hopefully. That will be good enough for me.

Carlotta the Australian Icon
Thanks to Roadshow Entertainment, next week I’ll have 5 copies of Carlotta on DVD to giveaway!!

Carlotta is available to own on DVD from 2 July 2014


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  1. What a fabulous interview. I feel like I’ve had an insight into an amazing character. X

  2. Carol-lea Morgan says:

    My 15 year old daughter and I watched it and bawled like babies…it was so moving, and such a great insight into that period. Incidentally, my Mum was very attractive when she was young, and she said the only woman who ever intimidated her in the flesh was when she saw Carlotta walk onto the stage at Les Girls…she was instantly jealous of how beautiful she was Lol !!

  3. Fantastic interview Rachel! I absolutely love Carlotta AND Carol. I caught the tail end of the movie the night it was on. I hadn’t realised it was on and was so annoyed I had missed most of it. I really enjoyed it and Jessica was fantastic in the role which didn’t surprise me because I think she is a fabulous actress! I really want to see the whole movie. I grew up with Carlotta. I used to see her on TV quite a lot and was always in awe of how beautiful she was and probably still is. I can hear her saying ‘Darling’ as clear as a bell. :-)

  4. Fantastic interview! I have always had a soft spot for her. Saw her at les Girls at the Kings Cross years ago. And now I am KICKING myself I didnt see the movie!!
    Great insight in the person behind the flamboyant and outgoing woman that we know. I love her even more now! Thanks for sharing. Xox

    • I wish I saw her live in Les Girls. That would have been awesome!! I’ll have some DVDs to give-away next week, so you might still get to see the movie :)

  5. What a lovely interview. I feel I got to know Carol a bit more. I can’t wait to see the movie. A real shame that had to cut the part of the story of her other mother, that made me tear up just reading what she said.

    Hopefully one day everyone will be accepted for who they are, we can only strive to continually aim for that.

    Cheers, @Kanga_Rue

    • I was disappointed not to see her Aunt Hazel in the movie. I understood it was a happy time in her life and it would have been lovely to see. I just want to see more! I think they need a part 2

  6. Loved reading more about Carlotta. I first came across her years ago when she was on this day time talk show with Stan Zamaneck (I think) and a few other ladies – Beauties and the Beast? I can’t recall the show but I loved her personality and she is so insightful and smart!

  7. I’ve always loved Carlotta/Carol…but I love her even more now. What a fantastic interview, Rach.
    “Just be proud of yourself, life is too short. Go ahead and do what you want to do. You will lose friends, you will gain friends.” – such brilliant advice, thank you Carol. x

  8. I’ve been meaning to read this since I saw you interviewed Carlotta. I saw the movie. Jessica is amazing as Carlotta. What a brave woman Carol is. She battled with so much at such a tender age. Such a remarkable person. Jo xx


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