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Milo Hartill for Black, Fat and F**gy
Photograph: Milo Hartill/Laura Du Vè

Black, Fat and F**gy? Milo Hartill chatted with us about her daring new solo show

A defiant reclamation and a hilarious celebration of everything she has been othered for, don’t miss this cabaret at the Old Fitz

Alannah Le Cross
Written by
Alannah Le Cross

How do you tell the story of a mixed race, self-proclaimed fat, bisexual underwear model, performer and accidental Instagram influencer? You sing the shit out of a fistfull of killer songs in a brand spanking new cabaret, of course. Introducing Milo Hartill’s debut solo show – the boldly titled Black, Fat and F**gy. You can catch the world premiere of this subversive romp at Sydney’s Old Fitz Theatre (the last remaining pub theatre in the country) from April 3–13. 

“I love to sing with people, and I love to make people laugh. I wanted it to feel like a live podcast where I happen to sing for half of it,” says Milo. The charismatic performer recently took a breather from rehearsals to sit down for a chat with Time Out Sydney’s Arts and Culture Editor, Alannah Le Cross.

Terms like “rising star” get thrown about often, but it’s a pretty accurate descriptor for this multi-hyphenate entertainer (who is also known as That Fat Diva on Instagram). Graduating with a musical theatre degree in 2018, the now 24-year-old Milo was catapulted to national attention in the most unlikely way – by starring in an advertisement for Google, where her big smile brought so much joy to people living through pandemic lockdowns that she was interviewed on morning television about it. 

Being black, fat and queer is fucking joyous – and the negatives that come with that, under certain framing, are fucking funny!

But Milo shines the brightest when performing live. In addition to shaking her booty at queer parties (sometimes dressed up as a sparkly Milo tin), they’ve had scene-stealing turns on the stage, including MTC’s Cyrano, and most recently The Lucky Country at the Hayes. Milo is also famously outspoken, especially when it comes to the challenges of being in the public eye and navigating the Australian entertainment industry as someone who sits at the intersection of multiple marginalised identities.

In Black, Fat and F**gy she’ll be kicking around some “undoubtedly controversial” opinions on the current state of the influencer, theatre and singing scenes in Australia. Encouraged (or perhaps enabled?) by Andrew Henry (co-producer) and Robin Goldsworthy (collaborator/”head chef”) – who Milo describes as “my magical white men that are behind me in everything I do” – along with legendary queer theatre maker Dino Dimitriadis (co-producer), this new show strings together a series of true stories drawn from Milo’s life, punctuated by songs that range from funny numbers that “take the piss” to classics that are “yummy and juicy to listen to”. 

The evening’s set list draws on songs made famous by artists ranging from Mousse T to Nina Simone, with some clever rewrites that allow Milo to inject her distinctive humour and flair. Watch out for a cover of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Something Stupid’ with interjections of stupid things that people have said to her in real life (it sounds like the most stupid things were uttered during courtship and other intimate moments). “I've also had people drop in that they didn't realise they had ‘jungle fever’ until they met me,” says Milo, as an example. We’re shuddering with anticipation for what else will come out.

“The show for me is sharing things that could be considered traumatic, but that I just find very funny,” explains Milo. “I think sometimes there's a trap when you're talking about being queer, or being black, or being fat. You could get into sad ‘woe is me’ trauma land – which I definitely think has its place – but for this show, I just want to embrace the comedic side of things that I think people would consider detrimental to me and my life… But being being black, fat and queer is fucking joyous – and the negatives that come with that, under certain framing, are fucking funny!”

Milo is also taking this show as an opportunity to share “that darker, grittier side of me that I think makes up a large portion of who I am”. Especially to the general public who know her as “that happy-go-lucky guy” from the Google ad. Little do they know that, while she was being interviewed on TV about being “the happiest person in Australia”, she was actually on what she describes as “the highest dose of antidepressants I would ever be on”

Milo Hartill for Black, Fat and F**gy
Photograph: Milo Hartill/Supplied

While it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as you’ll see, a certain level of darkness makes for far richer stories, and much deeper laughs. By using the magic of cabaret to curate an unfiltered environment, Milo is able to reclaim things that have been used against her – including that particular f-word: “faggy”. While many people would associate that word with how it has historically been used to deride gay men, or any male who leans to the more effeminate side, Milo explains that it’s also a word that has been used to describe her, in both negative and positive ways.

“I get called it all the time, by nature of actually being gay. But also, it elicits a strong response, and I feel like the vibe of hearing that word is going to be the vibe of coming to my show,” she explains. “I feel like ‘faggy’ and ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ have had such a gear shift [within the LGBTQIA+ community], where it's like, we can use those words to mean good things now. I am so grateful to be a part of the queer community.”

As Milo puts it, she straddles “pretty much all of the hottest 2024 minorities''. Her outgoing nature and training as an actor have lent themselves well to her career as an influencer, something that she naturally fell into, which is where she makes the majority of her income. But the same authenticity that has made legions of followers fall in love with her online also means that getting work in the local theatre industry – which she feels isn’t really delivering on the promises made about “doing better” off the back of the BLM movement – is not always smooth sailing. 

“There are so many companies that say they are committed to doing the right thing, and then will proceed to, you know, post bloody news articles saying that they can't find any one of a certain diaspora in the country, which is just simply not true. We are here, and we are talented. But if you just don't like the black people here, just tell us, so we can move on,” she says.

“I tried for the last six months to not talk up about things, just to see what would happen. And I was like, ‘No, it hurts my heart more than it's worth’. I would rather be unemployed and speak out against injustice, than be working all the time and be like, *smiles vacantly*.”

Meanwhile, while we wait for the rest of the industry to catch up (and before she releases some of the original music she's been recording), you can see this superstar performer in her element, totally fiery and unfiltered. Part cabaret, part song-cycle and part influencer-takeover, Milo promises that Black, Fat and F**gy wil be a tonic for our times and a Queer Black fantasia that will leave audiences screaming with joy.

Black, Fat and F**gy is playing at The Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo, from April 3–13, 2024. Tickets range from $30-$40 and you can snap them up over here.

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