Karen From Finance to bring a dozen drag stars to Mardi Gras

Karen From Finance hosting drag gala at Taronga Zoo at Mardi Gras.
Images: Supplied

It can be difficult to wrangle a dozen Aussie drag queens on one lineup, but hostess Karen from Finance says it’s worth it.

For Sydney WorldPride this year, the Melbourne corporate queen brought a lineup of Aussie drag talents to the outdoor stage at Taronga Zoo for an inaugural drag gala.

Next February, Karen will be doing it all again. She’ll join reigning RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under champ Isis Avis Loren as well as Spankie Jackzon, Art Simone, Jojo Zaho, Maxi Shield, Beverly Kills, Alexander McKween, Ellawarra, Gabriella Labucci, Hollywould Star and Carla from Bankstown.

With Sydney Harbour at sunset as a backdrop, the queens will lip sync, dance, sing, do comedy and lots more on Taronga Zoo’s outdoor stage. All proceeds support the zoo’s wide-ranging conservation work.

Karen from Finance explained the first drag gala during Sydney WorldPride was the “biggest and most exciting event” she’d ever worked on.

“I wanted to produce a WorldPride event that was something a little bit different,” the drag performer explained.

“We wanted a venue that had never seen anything like the drag gala before. Something out of the clubs and away from the typical venues you’d usually see drag. Taronga was happy to have us.”

So many drag queens in one place can be “pretty intense to wrangle,” Karen said.

“When they get together, it’s a little bit outrageous. You get them overstimulated, putting them somewhere like the zoo,” Karen laughed.

“But last year everyone was so excited to be doing something so different.

“Everyone really put their best foot forward. As crazy as the energy is backstage, it made the show electric as well.”

Karen from Finance talks RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under

The Melbourne-based queen was a runner-up on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under back in its first season.

With casting for season four underway and with trans queen Sasha Colby’s long-awaited crowning in the US version earlier this year, what should we see in the next seasons of our spinoff?

“It’s fantastic that [Drag Race Down Under] exists. It’s showcased some incredible talent that we have,” the drag queen explained.

“Unlike some other iterations of the show, I don’t think it’s really perfected its casting just yet.

“Such a big part of the local scene is the diversity of the scene. We’ve got, not just drag queens, but drag kings, showgirls, trans performers, and subversive performance artists.

“Our performers are so diverse and so quirky and so interesting. That’s something that we always try and show when we’re producing our own events. We want to give the audience a true sample of all we’ve got to offer.”

‘A match made in heaven’

Karen from Finance’s corporate working girl persona has its origins in an op shopping trip with friends for dresses for a fancy dress party.

Giving the various outfits backstories, the drag queen’s alter ego Richard Chadwick decided the frock once belonged to an office worker named Karen from Finance.

“I invented the character long before I started performing the character. She was an idea that had been with me for a while,” Karen explained.

“I never really knew the right sort of avenue to project her into the world. Drag came along and it was a match made in heaven.”

Now she’s toured around the world and after a recent one-woman tour Doing Time, the drag performer says another big solo project is already in the works.

“I always say to all performers, make sure you know and understand who you are and what makes you different, and why you love doing what you do,” Karen said.

“Make sure that that’s at the forefront of your mind. That’s what’s going to get you the furthest through [Drag Race], but also on your own personal journey as well.”

The Twilight at Taronga 2024 Summer Concert Series runs from February 2 to March 2, 2024, with the Drag Gala on Thursday, February 22. Tickets are on sale now.

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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