Following their sold-out European and Australian tours, fan-favourite drag performers Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfuck and Courtney Act are teaming up once again as The AAA Girls to tour with their album ‘Access All Areas’. The AAA Girls will take their songs from the album onto stages across North America and give fans their fiercest, most humor-filled performances to date. The tour kicks off on September 20 in Dallas, Texas and finishes on October 14 in Portland, Oregon.
CelebMix had the pleasure of discussing the upcoming North American tour with Courtney Act. Since appearing on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ three years ago, Courtney has released an album, toured the world with her one-woman show, and can also be seen this fall on MTV’s new celebrity dating show, ‘Single AF’.
CM: You, Alaska and Willam are going on tour next week, what can fans expect? How is it different from other ‘Drag Race’ tours?
Courtney Act: This tour is really exciting because, you know, there’s been a lot of amazing ‘Drag Race’ tours in the past and generally they’re like variety shows where each girl does a number, and they’re really fun, but the thing that we’re excited about is that this is actually a concert. The Squared Division created and are directing our show, and they created and directed Katy Perry’s world tour, they’re producing ours at the same time. It’s just amazing to be putting on a show of our album ‘Access All Areas’, and we’ve got sets, we’ve got props, we’ve got choreography, we’ve got amazing costumes made by Marco Marco and Ashton Michael who, you know, they’ve dressed everyone from Beyoncé to Katy Perry to.. you know, basically everyone (laughs), so it’s kind of our, well at least my, popstar dream coming true. We’re going to be touring in a big tour bus all around North America from city to city, and we’ve just been rehearsing 8 hours a day for the last week and we leave on Tuesday to head out to Dallas. Willam, Alaska and I have decided to get together at least one hour between now and when we leave just to rehearse everything. We’re just so excited by how, I guess, high-quality and fabulous the show is and we want to make it the best it can be. For a lot of our fans this could be one of the first concerts they’re going to and we want to give them that magical experience that we had when we went to our first concert when we were their age.
CM: What do you like the most about touring?
Courtney Act: I think it’s getting to have that shared experience with your friends. Like being on the tour bus, getting from city to city, getting up to shenanigans, having fun on stage – you know, getting to perform all of these songs that we’ve written together and just have fun and take the audience on that fun journey with us. We’re going to be filming all of our shenanigans, and we’re going to have an episode on each of our YouTube channels every week. So if they [the fans] can’t come to the concerts, they will always be able to watch the backstage and tour bus shenanigans on YouTube.
CM: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Courtney Act: I, well, I guess it’s a pre-show ritual, putting on makeup is important (laughs). I do my vocal warm-ups, normally I’ll sit down to get ready, I’ll shave, I’ll do my makeup and as I’m doing my makeup I’m doing my vocal warmups and get dressed, getting into my costume and just make sure I’m in the zone.
CM: One of the first tour dates is in Houston, where Hurricane Harvey devastatingly hit recently. Do you have any plans to reach out to a charity to help the victims?
Courtney Act: Yeah, we’re actually donating our fees from the show to the Harvey Relief, and we’re also, we’ve been talking the past few days about doing something a little extra special as well, which we haven’t finalized yet, but Willam, Alaska and I have discussed it and we feel like we have to do something other than donating to the Relief.
CM: You’re touring with your album ‘Access All Areas’, what was the process like recording it?
Courtney Act: It was interesting because we sort of each had different parts of it, for example ‘AAA’ was my kind of lead, so I spoke to a producer that I’ve worked with who’s an amazing artist, Sam Sparro and we all went into the studio with him and we discussed what sort of song we wanted to write. He gave us some sounds and some beats and we all wrote a bit, stuck it all together and recorded it all. With other songs like ‘Pride or Die’, we just kind of came up with this title, we thought we’d want to write a pride-themed song, and we came up with the title ‘Pride or Die’, and then Alaska wrote some lyrics and we went to the studio. Actually, I recorded [it] in a different studio – I was over in the UK when it happened, so I wasn’t even in the same room as Willam and Alaska when we recorded it. I just went in and I was horribly jet-lagged, but it was the only day I could do it, and I remember actually falling asleep while recording the song, I just sat down in a little chair that was there and the studio exec was just like “um, wake uuuup, we need to finish this song” (laughs). And then, you know, Willam’s parodies, there’s a lot of material that did not make the album because Willam loves singing about, you know, penises and things that I cannot bring myself to say out loud – and I’m not a prude, I just think that there’s a time and a place and I don’t know whether or not a stage in front of teenagers is the time nor the place. But there is a medley, I have a feeling Willam and Alaska are going to perform some of those songs, they promised they won’t but I don’t believe them.
CM: Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Courtney Act: I think my favourite song is ‘AAA’ or ‘Pride or Die’; I really love both of those songs. I love ‘Pride or Die’, I have it, I had the whole record on my pre-show music at my show I was doing at the Edinburgh Fringe all summer, and it was all Australian music as my pre-show – because it was a show about Australian music, and every time ‘Pride or Die’ would come on I would be like “the Scissor Sisters aren’t Australian, why are they on the playlist?” and I was like “oh, that’s not the Scissor Sisters” so that was cool.
CM: You’ve shot music videos for both ‘Heather’ and ‘A Lacefront Like This’, do you come up with the video concepts together?
Courtney Act: Well ‘A Lacefront Like This’ (laughs), it’s funny. Sometimes we’ll embed similarities to Donald Trump, not so much in the right-wing white supremacist little ways, more in like his alternative facts or fake news kind of way. We would talk about something like “hey, do you know what could be really great? What if in ‘A Lacefront Like This’ we’re all in bald caps?” and then a few days later, Willam was like “hey Alaska and Courtney, I have this great idea; what if in in ‘A Lacefront Like This’ we’re all in bald caps?” and I’m like, yeah, that was actually our idea we told you a few days ago (laughs). No, but we all just like text back and forth. We scheduled [‘A Lacefront Like This’] around DragCon because Vanity, my business partner and friend – you know the high goddess of the wig, was in town so she could do our hair and make our makeup look beautiful. ‘Heather’ sort of wrote itself, it came together the night before we filmed it. We had the visuals to film it but we didn’t actually have a location, and then Willam found this amazing location that created the perfect set for us. The video just, you know, I guess sometimes when you’re working together with people, you don’t always say stuff out loud but you’re sort of on the same page, and it just came together looking like high-class AAA girls, like really expensive, sexy prostitutes – like, Amsterdam red light district (laughs).
CM: What’s your favourite part about shooting music videos?
Courtney Act: Actually shooting them is, sort of a bit, really exciting. Like coming up with creative ideas and then watching them come together on the day is really fun. Not to say that the destination is my favourite part – obviously the journey is my favourite, but there’s just something amazing [about it], they always look so much better than you think they’re going to because you’re there and you see the reality of everything, and just seeing what the magical little cameras can do, like they just take something that looked like real life, something that was real life, and they turn it into this gorgeous sort of lush fantasy land. The music video is kind of like how you picture it to look in your brain and then when you’re standing there in real life you’re just looking in the mirror thinking “oh, what are we doing” and my makeup’s sliding off my face. But then you see it in the camera and you’re like “oh, I still look so glamourous,” it’s sort of an illusion.
CM: You’re also appearing on MTV’s ‘Single AF’ in the fall – what can viewers expect from the show?
Courtney Act: Oh my God, one of the editors texted me this morning telling me that they were editing Marnie (Simpson) from ‘Geordie Shore’ and I in Amsterdam and he said he couldn’t stop laughing so I can’t wait to watch that. Basically, the concept is seven celebrities, and I use the term loosely – mainly because we were flying coach and I know that if there’s one thing I know about celebrities it is that they don’t fly coach, especially all the way from London to Sydney in a middle seat. But it’s celebrities flying around the world going on dates. It’s myself, Farrah Abraham, Marnie, Casey Johnson, Jedward, and Elliott Crawford – we’re all single and going on dates with strangers, we went to Sydney, Amsterdam, Milan, Dublin, London – and then we picked one person to come back to live with us on the coast of France and it’s kind of like a ‘Big Brother’-style house. Going on the dates was actually really lovely, really as normal as flying around the world and going on dates can be. But when you get to that house it becomes like ‘Big Brother’; it was one of the most extreme experiences of my life, I felt like I was stuck inside a reality television show that I couldn’t switch off – maybe because I was.
CM: There are a lot of big and different personalities on the show! Did you bond with any of the other celebs? And were there anyone you didn’t get along with?
Courtney Act: Yeah! We all got paired, so we all got the opportunity to sort of bond. It was really interesting having our individual friendships and then coming together in the house and seeing it all play out. Farrah Abraham from ‘Teen Mom’ and I oddly got on really well in the beginning. We were surprised at how we were able to respect each other’s differences so much, and unfortunately, that only happened to a point – I don’t wanna ruin anything that happens in the house but I guess it is hard for a conservative, Trump-supporting, Christian leopard to change its spots. Let’s just say that white wine was thrown.
CM: Apart from the tour and the TV show, do you have any upcoming projects?
Courtney Act: I have so many upcoming projects, I’m going to be playing Teen Angel in an Australian Arena production of ‘Grease’, which is pretty cool. My manager called me about it and I was like “oh my God, I’m gonna be playing Sandy?!” and he was like “..no” then I was like “I’m going to be playing Rizzo?” and she was like “no” and I said “I’m going to be playing Teen Angel, aren’t I?” and she went “yeah..” (laughs). Bianca (Del Rio) and I had just been talking about it before, about one of her friends who played Danny years ago and he’s just been cast as Teen Angel and he was like like “oh my God, my life is over” and then all of a sudden I was playing Teen Angel and I had to tell Bianca and we both just cackled. But I’m going to be lowered from the ceiling in an arena so that’s pretty fun.
Check out the dates for the Access All Areas North American tour below:
- Wed, September 20 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
- Thu, September 21 – Houston, TX – Fitzgeralds
- Fri, September 22 – Austin, TX – Empire Control Room
- Mon, September 25 – Orlando, FL – Venue 578
- Tue, September 26 – Atlanta, GA – Centerstage
- Thu, September 28 – Washington, DC – State Theater
- Sat, September 30 – Brooklyn, NY – Roulette
- Sun, October 1 – Boston, MA – Machine
- Tue, October 3 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
- Wed, October 4 – Detroit, MI – Garden Theater
- Thu, October 5 – Chicago, IL – Logan Square Auditorium
- Sun, October 8 – Denver, CO – Oriental Theater
- Tue, October 10 Los Angeles, CA – Globe Theater
- Thu, October 12 San Francisco, CA – City Nights
- Sat, October 14 Portland, OR – Bossanova Ballroom
Don’t forget to get your tickets to see the AAA Girls on tour here.