→ Oscar Jonsson
This is an extract from EGO – BSP’s 2016 nonfiction anthology, which explores the meaning of identity and the self through essay, commentary, opinion and visual art.
How long have you been doing drag?
I’ve been doing drag for pretty much three years on the dot. The first time I went out was for a friend’s thirtieth birthday. The theme was dolly, denim and diamantes. I got dressed in a look from Savers and just looked like a monster. So that was my debut.
Did you wear full make-up?
Yeah. It was all wares from the Hot Potato Two-Dollar Store. I used everything. My face was transformed but I looked like a monster. [laughs]
Do you have photos?
Yeah. It’s pretty unique for a first look in drag. Normally a lot of people look really basic and simple but I was way over the top. I mean, the make-up was terrible, I looked like a clown.
Were you Karen back then?
Yeah. That was the first time that I’d used the name Karen from Finance.
Where did that come from?
Well it came a few months earlier, before I’d even thought about doing drag. My housemates and I were going to a party and earlier in the day we’d found a rack of really cheap dresses at the Salvation Army. We each bought one and thought we’d wear it just as guys to the party. We were super wasted later that night and we started giving characters [to the dresses], trying to work out the ladies that would have bought them when they were fresh on the shelf. The lady who owned my dress, her name was Karen, we decided, and she worked in finance. We developed a whole backstory for her. For us at the time it was the funniest thing, and it was never meant to be more than that. But when this thirtieth birthday came along I decided to use that name and it stuck. It’s a good one. It was a diamond in the rough for me. [laughs] I was very lucky to have come up with it.