Karen from Finance — the Other 'Drag Race Down Under' Finalist with a Racially Problematic Past

Wednesday June 23, 2021

Karen from Finance (aka Richard Chadwick)
Karen from Finance (aka Richard Chadwick)   (Source:Instagram)

[Editor's note: This story contains spoilers, including who won "RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under" Season 1]

While finalist Scarlett Adams was forced to address her racially offensive past on the recently completed first season of "RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under," it was another of the top four who competed on last week's finale that also has some inappropriate baggage.

Though it wasn't publicly addressed on the show, which concluded with New Zealand contestant Kita Mean taking the title, Karen from Finance (a.k.a. Richard Chadwick) had an offensive tattoo of a "golliwog," which she says has been removed.

"A golliwog is a racist caricature of Black people in the form of a children's doll," reported the website Pedestrian earlier this year. "The dolls themselves were super popular in the past, but have fallen slightly out of fashion in recent years when white people started acknowledging how racist they were. Unfortunately, you can still find them in some corners of Australia."
When it was revealed that the tattoo existed, Karen from Finance took to Instagram in February and wrote:

"In the spirit of being open and upfront with my friends, family and followers I would like to address and formally apologise for a part of my past — something that I've long been remorseful for and admittedly ashamed to share.

"Eleven years ago, I had a collection of golliwog dolls — a collection that began when I was two years old — and I made the uninformed, ignorant and regrettable decision to have one of these dolls tattooed.

"In the years following, and more notably after being interviewed by someone writing an opinion piece in a tattoo magazine, I realised how insensitive and hurtful this was."

In responding to criticism on Twitter, Karen from Finance tweeted at the time:

"Such awful memories... I had that tattoo covered over and erased years ago. I was mortified when I eventually realised how ignorant I'd been in learning about its origins and inflictions and was devastated at the thought of any pain that it may have potentially caused to others."

But some on Twitter doubted the tattoo has been removed since Karen from Finance did not post a pic of it when asked.

In a 2015 feature story about the golliwog doll on the website Things & Ink, Karen explained her fascination with the notorious icon, which began when she was two years old and received one as a doll. This led to her collecting an extensive number of golliwog dolls (for which she posed with for the story) and getting the tattoo.

Karen from Finance (aka Richard Chadwick)  (Source: Instagram)

"When I asked my family why they got me such a taboo doll for my second birthday, they told me that it was because I just really loved him. To me he wasn't a black caricature or black doll, he was just a doll, and he was my best friend,'" Karen said.

She continued: "Whilst I was concerned about the repercussions of people seeing the Golliwog as a tattoo without knowing why it was there, I was more excited about the prospect of sharing my feelings and ideas with people that were curious, and I hoped that it would spark an interest in people, as opposed to invoking a distaste."

What she learned on a trip to the United States was what a lightning rod the tattoo was, and it turned his head about owning it. "Travelling to America early in 2013, however, was a different story. I was pulled up quite a lot by angry people wanting to know what I was about. At clubs, gas stations, public pools: the response there was a lot different to what I am used to back home in Australia. I just had to be mindful and respectful, and I wore pants to cover it in places that I thought I might offend. That said, I was also approached by a lot of people that were happy to hear my story," she told Things & Ink.

Prior to the last weekend's finale, Karen from Finance spoke to Attitude Magazine about being on the show. The interview touched upon the tattoo controversy: "I was shocked when the information came out and the internet started talking about it. I'm grateful it was brought up. Personally, it's old news. It's something I dealt with and got rid of and [moved] on from a long time ago. But having it thrown into the public sphere like this gave me an opportunity to reflect on myself, who I am, and what I do with my every day as well as with my platform."

She continued: "And it's given me an opportunity to reflect on what more I can do. I released a statement earlier this year which was more of a response to the public finding out about my past. I talked about committing to a journey of doing better. That's a journey I've been on for a very long time.

"Now with the Drag Race platform, I've really got an opportunity of making an example of myself for the community and I want to use that platform to make a good example," she added. "It's also been traumatic."