Author: Deborah Nelson
Shane Jenek (Courtney Act) loves a glittered nipple and will be featuring two, three times a week, since Shane will be starring as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the Woodlawn Theatre’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” The production runs from October 16 to November 1.
Frank-N-Furter is a sexually aggressive man who dresses in clothing style somewhere between a man and a woman and who seems to like girls as much as boys. Courtney Act is a fishy, beautiful woman (Shane Jenek in drag). She likes to talk about sex – mainly with straight men – but we never really see her do much in that arena. (Oh except that one time at the Logo Pride party when she shoved that guy’s face into her bosom…)
One thing they have in common is that both sing. Courtney sings in a bubbly girly voice. Frank-N-Furter, despite his fondness for stockings, garters and a pearl necklace, still goes deep into that lower register.
All in all Shane – an admitted teenaged Rocky Horror fanatic – has landed his dream role but also his most challenging. I caught up with Shane, fresh off a gay cruise, as he took a break from rehearsals. Shane was a late addition to the cast, replacing Adore Delano who is, unfortunately, having extensive emergency dental work which renders her unavailable for the run of the show.
Here’s the tee on how it all went down:
Deborah: The last time I saw you, which was only three weeks ago, this role was not even in the pipeline for you. How did this this come about so quickly?
Shane: A while back I heard that Bianca, Adore and Michelle were doing this production. I was planning a special trip to just come and see them because I love Rocky Horror. And then I started wishing that I was in it, playing Janet. Then suddenly I got the call that Adore had to pull out because she was having some dental issues and they wanted me to play Frank!
I was thrilled but I also realized that it was less than two weeks to opening night when I found out about it. I got the script on Saturday and I was on a gay cruise on Sunday. I did my show (on the cruise) on Sunday night and I just locked myself in my room and just learned the lines.
D: Wait – you spent your gay cruise locked up in a room with a script?
S: With Sherry Vine, running lines. (laughs) Then I got to San Antonio and had my first rehearsal just one week before opening night. I always feel worried when it’s not as scary as you think it’s going to be. It went quite well! The cast is great. The set is amazing. Everybody looks great in their costumes. It’s exciting to be playing Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror!
D: That might not a role you would ordinarily get, given how fishy Courtney is…
S: It’s kind of cool because you would cast me as Janet if you were just looking from afar. You wouldn’t go “Oh let’s make Courtney Frank.” But Frank is one of the most ultimate roles ever. Rocky Horror is in my blood. I’ve loved Rocky Horror since I was 13. I love the music, I love the movie, I love the musical.
D: What are your costumes like in the show? You look pretty naked in the publicity picture!
C: My wig is a Wigs By Vanity “Marilyn” wig. For costumes at first I was going through my Courtney things. But then, as I was learning my lines, I was like “No, all of these costume are wrong! These are Courtney’s costumes. These are not Frank’s costumes. Frank is not a drag queen. Frank is a sweet transvestite. He is a man who puts on women’s lingerie and women’s clothes.” So we went to the sex shop when we got here. Michelle and I went shopping for garters and fishnets!
D: What about the famous Frank pearl necklace? I noticed you are not wearing it in the publicity photo.
S: That was the final missing piece of the puzzle. We found the day after the photo shoot at a store in San Antonio. And it’s actually called the “Betty Rubble” necklace!
D: Not to be creepy but what’s the purple on your nipple? Is it glitter?
S: It’s a glittered nipple. I love glittered nipples! A glittered eyelid, a glittered lip and a glittered nipple! At any opportunity I like to glitter my nipples.
D: And as Courtney you don’t often get that opportunity…
S: I know! I glittered them on Drag Race. On the episode where we had the mini challenge where we had to guess the word. The Pit Crew all had letters on their bums…
D: You just did a “Transformations” with James St. James and you said the best way to get glitter off was to use duct tape. You were talking to James about eyelids but does that apply to nipples too?
D: Doesn’t it hurt?
S: No. Because you’ve got that layer of glitter and glue it takes that off before the skin. You can use the duct tape and it just lifts the glitter and glue and leaves the skin.
D: Are you modeling your Frank-N-Furter off of Tim Curry’s famous one?
C: Tim Curry is the most iconic Frank. He’s just the perfect mix. He’s not like a straight man trying to play a girl role. He’s not gay. He’s sexy and he completely owns the character.
D: You are so used to getting into drag and playing a woman. What are the challenges of playing Frank rather than Courtney?
S: It’s not so much a challenge as just something completely different. As I was learning the lines on the ship it just became obvious to me that “this character is a man” and as I was doing the lines it just kind of took me over. Yesterday we ran Act I and it just seemed really natural. There were a few times where I was sort of doing Courtney and I was like ‘Hang on. I can stand with my legs more open. I can be a bit more aggressive.’ It’s fun having that creative license to be wild. To grab Rocky by the crotch and push people around and yell at Bianca and Michelle!
D: Do you sing “I Can Make You a Man” in the show?
S: Yes. I was singing in the car the other day with Michelle and I was singing (incorrectly) “In just seven days I can make me a maaaan.” And Michelle said, “No, you’re not making you a man.” And I thought, ‘Well we are making Rocky a man but also me! We’ve got seven days to make me a man because that’s when we open!’
D: This is the fifth year that they have done Rocky Horror at the Woodlawn Theatre and every year they have theme for the show. So what is this year’s theme?
S: Circus! The show is amazing! There are about twenty cast members all in clown outfits. Some have aerial skills, some jugglers, some stilt walkers. There’s a bearded lady. And Bianca is an evil clown Magenta!
[quote]If there’s something that you love doing and it feels right then you should just do it. All you have to do is just do what you love to do and it always seems that the piece of the puzzle will unfold for you. That’s what I did and now 14 years later I’m on the other side of the world having all of these amazing opportunities. Whether it be playing Frank in Rocky Horror or singing with the San Francisco Symphony or being the face of American Apparel. I always have to keep stopping and pinching myself.”[/quote]
D: You mentioned on Transformations that you felt for years that that there was something dishonorable about doing drag.
S: In the beginning I was dealing with society’s opinions about drag and those opnions were louder in my head than my own passion. I was lead to believe that being a drag queen meant that I couldn’t be a legitimate entertainer. Once I started listening to myself rather than everybody else that’s when I realized how much I loved it!
Go see Shane doing what he loves – making “the best entrance ever” singing “Sweet Transvestite!”
The Rocky Horror Show runs at The Woodlawn Theatre in San Antonio, TX from October 16-November 1. Shows are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The cast also includes Michelle Visage as Rif Raff and Bianca Del Rio as Magenta.
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