Karen From Finance drag queen 1

Meet the Drag Queen: Karen From Finance

Karen is no ordinary queen.

Yeah, sure, she puts on wigs, paints her face, pads-in her womanly bits with endless metres of foam; but it’s what lies beyond the façade and beneath the exterior that truly shifts what it means to be a drag queen in Melbourne’s growing scene.

Karen From Finance drag queen 3

The on-stage persona of Richard Chadwick, Melbourne theatre personality and gay events figurehead, Karen goes by the full stage name of ‘Karen from Finance’.

The first thing to note about the combination of Richard and his drag character is that everything, from the aesthetic to the performance and all of it in-between is a considered and calculated interpretation of a life other than his own.

It’s truly what defines Karen and gives her a third dimension in addition to the theatrical miming and comedic pantomime of her performances. Through Karen, Richard not only becomes a drag queen, but another person with a story to tell, a tale to explore and to a degree, an agenda to push.

Karen has an hilariously crafted backstory of a lesbian lifestyle in Melbourne’s affluent suburb of Kew. Paired with her budgie Dante and her painfully autonomous love life it’s what makes her both so relatable and so foreign.

She has no social life other than after work drinks with the girls from the office, which lead to her drunken tirades and idle ramblings of love lust. This is when she shines on stage and sets it to music.

Using the real-life pressures many in her audience know, Karen becomes an immediately likeable character: eternally sexless and single whilst facing the raging anguish that is searching for a partner, Karen’s performances are in a way her intoxicated relief from the hardships of her life.

Richard’s conceptualisation and eventual creation of Karen came about by chance.

“The idea came from a vintage dress that some friends and I wore to a house party once. They were these gross 80s dresses and so we started naming and identifying the people who would’ve bought and worn these in their day,” he said. “That’s how Karen kind of came to be.”

It wasn’t until shortly after in 2014 that Richard donned Karen’s outfit for a house party and she hasn’t left his side since.

Karen From Finance drag queen 2

From that time, Richard has evolved Karen’s character, as he thought was most natural. Karen’s archetypical role of the cross-dressing femme fatale with an addiction to alcohol and desperation all her own, gives her performances a certain success.

“It’s been an incredible journey so far that I never saw coming,” he said.

“I was encouraged by a fellow queen, who first kind of kicked-off the alt queen scene back in 2008-09, to first get on stage. Since then, it’s just stuck and I love it.”

Karen most noticeably hones-in on the comedy of drag, while the undertone of political queer culture equality is never far off.

“She shows compassion and understanding while she’s on stage, but at the same time, she’s comedic relief for her audience and someone who breaks the ice.”

In that way, it all works for Karen. She’s never been one to put music together herself, conscript someone to do it for her or dance to it, so in that way, dialogue is her best friend.

“I struggle to put music together and if I had my way, I’d do only spoken word performances, but I have to keep people entertained and interested,” he said. That in itself is what drives Karen’s lewd and theatrical performances and has bumped her easily and quite quickly into the realms of the seasoned professional.

You can see more of Karen From Finance at her Facebook page.

James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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