Shane Jenek, AKA Courtney Act, is a queen of many things – a legendary drag queen for one, a pioneer for discussions surrounding gender and sexual fluidity for another. Now, after adding Celebrity Big Brother 2018 winner to an ever-expanding list of television show appearances, such as Australian Idol, Rupaul’s Drag Race and Single AF, Shane and Courtney are most-certainly television royalty.
Now, Australia’s most iconic drag queen is back to host what is arguably the most trailblazing show of their career: The Bi Life, the UK’s first ever dating show that centres around bisexual, pansexual and questioning folk. Nine singletons looking for love without a preference of gender.
The first episode is warm, inclusive and littered with non-judgemental conversations. It features a cast that builds each other up, in their own respective endeavours to explore their sexualities, rather than tearing each other down in true reality dating style. It’s a show I wish was around when I was a questioning teen.
PEDESTRIAN.TV got on the phone with Shane last week to talk about The Bi Life‘s premiere and the importance of true minority representations. Shane also managed to drop a hint about an upcoming Australian LGBTQ reality show.
P.TV: First off, what would you prefer – Shane of Courtney?
S/C: I’m actually a bit of Shourtney right now, because I was just at the first screening of The Bi Life with a whole bunch of queer organisations here in London. So, I’m currently wearing Peter Alexander pyjamas, but I still have my full face on, so you can all me Shourtney.
P.TV: Shourtney is divine. So you get the call saying you’ll be hosting the UK’s first ever bi, pansexual and questioning dating show. What goes through your mind?
S/C: I was a bit scared because it is a sensitive topic. It is an often misrepresented topic, a misunderstood topic, and it’s important to me that queer themes in particular, but also minority themes in general, are portrayed as best they can on television and in media. That was important for me – appropriate representation was important, and I really wanted to focus on the positive sides of things, and to make a really important television show that informed people in a healthy and realistic way.
S/C: I’m really proud to say, having just watched the first episode, that it’s actually just a really heart-warming and wonderful TV show. In some ways, I think it’s not just defining in that it’s about bisexual people, but it also feels a little bit defining in that it’s a dating show that’s warm and fuzzy and it’s entertaining and I feel invested in all the characters. It’s not trashy or sensationalised – it’s actually just beautiful. I’m really excited for the world to see it.
P.TV: If The Bi Life could send one message to Australia, what message would you like that to be?
S/C: That who you are, and who other people are, is correct – it’s right, it’s appropriate. Sexuality is much more fluid than I think people think. I think that sexual fluidity is much more of a thing. I think that when people watch the show, they’ll be like, ‘Ah, that’s a guy going on a date with a girl. That same guy is going on a date with a guy. Oh, yeah, that makes sense.’ Like, when you watch the show, you realise there’s not a lot to understand. It all just makes sense.
P.TV: In some ways it’s just easier to understand because it just seems like such an incredibly natural and comfortable thing, you know?
S/C: Yeah, I think the cool thing about the show is that audiences will understand because they’re watching someone’s experience. It’s not like they’re being told what bisexuality is. They’re actually experiencing, through someone else’s experience, what it is.
P.TV: It seems like such an incredible time for LGBTQ representation on television overseas, but sometimes I can’t help to feel that LGBTQ representation on Australian reality television is not as progressive. Do you agree?
S/C: Well, all you’ll need to do is hold your breath for a couple more months. Dun, dun, dun. [laughs]
The Bi Life premieres on E! tonight at 7pm, via Foxtel and Fetch. It will be made available to stream on hayu on November 6.
Image: Courtesy of NBCUniversal / E! Online UK