Famous Sharron was interviewed by James Burnside for Buzzcuts.
The full online article is here.
Famous Sharron, a Perth local celebrity, is a remarkable entity to witness in motion, bringing to mind characters like Dame Edna with her over-the-top outfits and liberal use of makeup.
“I’ve always been inspired by the drag queens,” she explains. “I think they’re amazing; their makeup is phenomenal. Whenever I’m next to a drag queen I start to feel plain again.”
On stage Sharron charms the audience with her larger-than-life persona of glamour and fame that is as bubbly and excitable as her costumes would suggest. But even as she packs up her act for the night and wanders around the city, that aura doesn’t go away – for to someone like Famous Sharron, the entire world might as well be one big stage, and she is the star of it.
Despite this she remains remarkably down-to-earth and approachable, having no problem sharing her humble beginnings that led to where she is now. In her words the journey to fame and recognition began at a young age, and it was not always easy.
“When I was a kid and when you know you’re special – like you’ve just got something – my mum put me through ballet, dance, Jazz Ballet, acrobatics, Jazz acrobatics. I was meant to do ‘finishing school’ but I never started. And I never quite… won anything. I never got noticed. I was very average.
“Then I discovered makeup and everything changed. So it’ll probably shock people but before that I wasn’t popular in high school; I wasn’t even bullied. I wasn’t even noticed. It was horrific.”
Despite such humble beginnings, Sharron has no shame when it comes to the question of how her career started, cheerfully remarking, “to be honest I feel like I just nailed it the whole way.”
Her celebrity angle, such as it is, is being famous for absolutely nothing.
“I think people love that!” Sharron crows. “And I think I kind of capture the spirit of the times. I feel like it’s very topical. And everyone wants a bit of fame in their lives don’t they? Everyone wants a little recognition, a little celebration of themselves.”
This angle has certainly taken Famous Sharron far in her career, such many now consider her the face of Fringe World. Between running several performances, hosting a few others and being the MC for the launch party, the festival this year feels very much like Sharron’s show. Unsurprisingly she adores Fringe and her part in all of it.
“Oh I love it! I love my fans, I love every moment of it. I love the Jet Skis. I love the private jets. I really hope that I never stop being able to be part of something like Fringe. When you’re touring or on TV or doing lots of bits and pieces all over Australia you don’t often get to see your fans face-to-face, and this year I’ve had a lot of people say to me “Oh Shazz I’ve never seen you in real life”, “So exciting to see you in real life”, so it’s just wonderful. And I’m loving the ‘fame game’. I’m loving being famous but I love seeing my fans in real life as well so I’m happy to be the face of the Fringe; I think I’m nailing it.”
While she is no stranger to confidence, Famous Sharron is still very willing to admit where she feels she fumbled this year. Her schedule includes three shows, one of which had what she considers a ‘trainwreck’ of a preview.
“When you do the first thing of anything it’s never quite right,” she says. “But that was lots of fun.”
With her friendly cheerful persona, Famous Sharron appeals very nicely to a variety of audiences. This year she says she wants to spend a bit of time focusing on children’s shows, as she feels that is a demographic she’s neglected in the past when at least some of them seem to look to her as inspiration.
“I kept having kids coming up and asking me when the kids’ show was and I didn’t have one. I couldn’t handle their little devastated faces,” Sharron says. “I actually recently hosted the Cat Haven charity event, and I had a little girl come up to me – she must have been six or something – she came up to me and she said, ‘Sharron I have something to tell you.’ I said ‘yes darls?’ And she said ‘This has been the best day of my life.’ And you can’t deny them all the best days of their lives, can you darls?”
Just as Famous Sharron has grown and evolved over the years, so too has Perth Fringe. Sharron has witnessed it go from a very humble arts festival to the cultural phenomenon it is today. She shares her delight at how much it has changed and ushered in all new acts each getting their chance to be famous as well.
“Before Fringe World we had the Artrage Festival but there wasn’t anywhere near as many supporters or people coming to events. So it was just fabulous to see it happening – people handing out flyers and creating new work and just being gorgeous.”
In some ways the enormous success of Perth Fringe World may come as a surprise. Perth is still in many ways a ‘small city’ and often not considered as having much significance by the rest of the world, or even the rest of the country. Fame and recognition for Perth remains comparatively rare, the more well-known success stories tending to come from the eastern states. Famous Sharron has been all over the country, to cities much larger and with a much bigger focus on the arts. Despite this, she never feels like she’s ‘outgrown’ the WA festival; nor does she think Perth is at a disadvantage for fame and celebrity status like other better-known cities. Indeed she rather optimistically believes that the Fringe Festival is a sign of things to come and that Perth is proving itself just as capable of fame and recognition as any other big city in Australia.
“In the past you used to have to leave Perth to make it but these days we have the Internet to connect us to people all around the world. And suddenly it’s all possible darls. I feel like Perth is grownup now and is starting to believe it can happen, and I’m one of the pioneers just traveling around and having a fabulous time. I never feel like a little fish in a big pond, I just feel like a fabulous fish in a bigger pond.”
Famous Sharron offers a final tip for people struggling after fame and recognition.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to repeat the message. So just tell them what you’re famous for. Me, I was famous for nothing, just telling people that over and over… So you’ve got to keep repeating the message darls and then when the message gets repeated back to you – that’s when you know you’ve made it.”
An amusing statement; but one that reflects on the nature of Fringe World and the Perth Arts scene as a whole. The Festival, much like Famous Sharron herself, is glittery, exciting and fun. It owes at least part of its success to the repeating of a message: ‘Perth is a vibrant artistic place’. Eventually, the citizens of Perth took it upon themselves to contribute, creating and inviting new vibrant performances each year, until that message was made full reality. Now Perth’s Fringe is the third biggest in the world. Like Sharron, Perth is not a small fish in a big pond; it is a fabulous fish in a much bigger pond.