Showgirl Carlotta, best known as one of the stars of Sydney’s Les Girls cabaret show in the 1960s, has pulled out of performing at this year’s Tropical Fruits New Year’s Eve Festival in Lismore.
The 76-year-old icon has been accused of promulgating harmful views about trans issues, leading some in the local community to call for Tropical Fruits to officially distance itself from her politics.
Earlier this year, Carlotta told morning television show Studio 10 that she disagreed with the “ridiculous” Victorian bill to allow trans people to change the sex on their birth certificates without undergoing surgery.
“It is a different generation today, but I really believe that unless you’ve had the sex change [you shouldn’t] have your papers changed… because anyone can do it,” she said.
“’I do not believe that [trans people] have the right to go and have their birth certificates changed when they haven’t had the changes.”
She also said she disagreed with young people being allowed to transition, wrongly suggesting that trans children receive hormone treatment.
“I have a lot of people writing to me about little kids – a little girl wants to be a little boy, or a little boy wants to be a little girl – and they go to school dressed that way,” she said.
She said she is “strongly against” hormone treatment for children – although hormones are typically not prescribed until late adolescence for young trans people, with transition generally involving only social elements such as changing name and clothing.
Young trans people may be prescribed hormone blockers, a reversible treatment that only postpones puberty, preventing physical effects that may be distressing and difficult to later change.
Carlotta said that children “should not be put on treatments” until they have “matured and are of age”.
Members of the Lismore area trans community reportedly contacted Tropical Fruits with their concerns about the star’s appearance at the festival.
“I approached Tropical Fruits back in early November about my concerns about giving Carlotta a platform after her harmful comments,” said local Lisa.
“Carlotta took aim at trans folk [who have not had surgery] and then trans kids.
“I asked Tropical Fruits to release a statement saying that they do not support the views of Carlotta.”
Lisa told Pink Advocate that organisers said they did not support Carlotta’s views and that after a board meeting they would release a statement, but this did not eventuate.
“No statement has been released, and now after community pressure… Carlotta has cancelled her show,” said Lisa.
“I have been labelled a troll and transphobic.”
Tropical Fruits general manager Marie Reilly this week confirmed that Carlotta has cancelled her show “due to unforeseen circumstances”.
“We are very sorry that the show will not be happening, but we are going to continue working so that the rest of the festival is a great success,” she said.
Event coordinator Penny Clifford has stepped down following the controversy, citing the “hate and trolling” in her decision.
“I hope that everyone who attends the festival or is performing because of my involvement still has an amazing time,” she posted on Facebook.
Clifford told Pink Advocate that she was disappointed with the outcome.
“[Carlotta] did say stuff on television that she didn’t explain correctly, and she is from the old school and has a different view on things,” she said.
“But I love and respect her.
“Tropical Fruits was not being totally supportive of her behind the scenes and with a threatening protest by the Northern Rivers trans community it was all getting out of hand.
“But let’s be reminded that Carlotta has done over 20 other shows since the Studio 10 interview and all of them were sold out and no drama.”
Clifford said she was disgusted by the “abuse and negativity” and that Carlotta’s withdrawal from the festival was for the best under the circumstances.
The Tropical Fruits festival will take place over four days, kicking off next Sunday 29 December with a pride parade through downtown Lismore.
Special guest DJs from around Australia and the world will provide entertainment, including Kitty Glitter, Queen of Hearts, DJ Joelby, and more.
This year’s theme, Haus of Fruits, pays homage to the ballroom culture made famous in Paris is Burning and Pose.
Revellers will be able to enjoy cabaret performances and an LGBTIQ art exhibition.
Tickets and volunteer registration are available online now.
Carlotta has made no public comment about withdrawing from the festival.