Karen’s Corner: Janet, We Made It

Queens know the best! We welcome Prague’s very own Just Karen to the team as she shares some #keepitreal wisdom to kick off her new monthly column.

Text by Just Karen aka Karel Vladyka

I was looking at my reflection in an enormous dressing room mirror. Drag queens and dancers were rushing around me, putting on more glitter, throwing around hip pads, touching up hair and make-up. But I was just standing there, holding back tears. I get a little emotional sometimes. I looked at my face and body, all painted crimson red, and the expensive suit I was wearing over that bare red body. Miss Thing.

I looked at my fabulous blown-out hair, the red latex thigh-high heels I was wearing. I looked and kept looking. I didn’t see a drag queen, or a man, or a woman. I saw the little boy who wanted to be an artist. The same boy who tried to write a book when he was six, danced every day when he was nine and tried to set his own shit on fire when he was eleven, just because he thought it would be fun. It was.

When they called out my name, my drag name—which is as good as any—I walked out on stage and just stood there for a second. And once David Bowie‘s “Life On Mars“ started playing, for the next four minutes, that little boy was everything I ever was.

 

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When I think about how much I’ve changed in just the past few months, a time where I’ve started performing publicly in drag and started letting my walls down in front of hundreds of people, it’s not much unlike the story of one Janet Weiss. (If you’re reading this and have not seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, first of all, how dare you, second of all, go and watch it.) I believe she, too, was that curious, wild little girl once, but as she enters Doctor Frank N. Furter’s gigantic mansion and observes the Transylvanian crossdressing convention happening around her, she is scared. She literally faints, that girl. What she sees is a room full of people being unapologetically themselves. Crossdressing aliens from the planet of Transylvania can be scary when you’re a repressed Homo Sapiens, one that grew up in a world where money is the anthem and gender is binary. But it also can be liberating.

I felt that way when I walked into a gay bar for the first time. I was out as a gay guy, but there were many ways in which I wasn’t out. As an absolutely fucking queer, emotionally unstable, constantly horny person riddled with anxiety and depression, I was still in the closet. I was afraid to be all these things at once openly, and I felt like a fraud. But Janet, we made it. We really did.

If I were to end this essay with a quote, it would be something Perfume Genius, the Great Queer Artist of our time, has said about going on stage: “Everything is kind of scary, but I do it anyway.“ So Karen’s advice of the month is this: Whatever you’re afraid of doing to release that inner child, you really should just go ahead and do it. You’re probably not gonna die.

 

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Text by Just Karen aka Karel Vladyka
Cover photo: Karolína Jirova
Performance photos: Radoslav Augustín

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