Karen says beat it

'SKY' magazine is 10 years old, and with it, 'Dear Karen', the rudest, sarkiest agony column there is. Looking back, Karen Krizanovich is pleased with how it's gone

Margie, Margie, Margie, you're among friends here. You can tell us the truth: he's got spots, a tiny willy and really bad breath. Ah, doesn't it always feel better to get a dirty rotten lie off your chest? Don't you feel relieved of a burden now?

- Karen advises Margie from Yorkshire, December 1996

Goddess, gay icon, the best thing since sliced Kleenex or Britain's Agony Aunt With Attitude, that's what I've been called in my role as "star" columnist with SKY magazine. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, SKY magazine is internationally famous as a glossy bible for the hipper-than- hip youth of today, well ahead with its reportage on celebrity and style news. And they have me, comfortably slinking around the back page and firing verbal bullets at those with personal problems.

I get letters from all over the world - every continent - and so far my readers love "Dear Karen"; well, probably not those who write in with hate mail which gets intercepted at the office. Even George Michael pulled me aside at a party a few years ago and begged me to be kinder in the column. Well, I reckon if people don't like what I write, they're idiots to read it - sort of like a bumper sticker I saw recently in the States which said: "Against abortion? Then don't have one." Now that's a bit of truly useful free advice.

Writing for SKY since its inception hasn't always been agony, Through SKY I've met the famous untouchables of the media, people I wouldn't normally have had the pleasure of talking to: Alanis Morrisette, Sharleen from Texas, Justine from Elastica, k.d. lang, among many others. I even got to write the most difficult article of my life: my brother's death.

Being SKY's agony aunt is a roller-coaster ride. I get stalked in stores by people who pounce: it sounds crazy, but people really do jump from behind cosmetic counters to say, "I love you!" I'm never prepared for this. I don't know how truly famous people do it. All I can think is, "I must have spinach in my teeth," or "Why didn't I wear scent today?" I want to run away, really.

Even worse is when I go to parties. I get treated normally until people make the connection. Then it all goes haywire: men's body language changes to a lurid openness (as if I sleep with everyone who's nice to me) while the women drag me into the corner to get advice on the peculiarities of their boyfriends. It's sort of like being a car mechanic, stockbroker or GP: everyone wants your advice right now. The fans I like best walk past with a nod and whisper, "I like your stuff." That's cool. Having my privacy taken away is one reason why my photo in SKY is me under a half ton of make-up.

SKY has changed a bit since my early days of roughing up the customers. The average readership age has always been 23, evenly split between the sexes. Still, issues with a girl on the cover outsell those with a boy. All of its former editors - including the current head honcho, Mark Frith - have kept the magazine a flexible success. Of course I'm biased, but SKY has been innovative: irreverent when other style mags were po-faced, fun when others were stuffy. "Dear Karen" - invented by Simon Mills, now at GQ Active - was the first agony column meant to be a nasty joke, something between "The Playboy Adviser" and my own rotten party stories. While the column aims at being funny and naughty, I've had to become a hardcore professional. The persona of "Dear Karen" has been on UK Living, The Time ... The Place, This Morning, MTV and about 40 other television programmes. Just goes to show what you can do if you write a lot, read even more and talk like a machine-gun.

Agony-aunting, like being the editor, I suppose, is a daily eye-opener. Growing up is getting harder. As for sex, there is a lot of it going on - mostly over the legal age, informed and safe. I am still angry and horrified by the letters I've received from sexually-active nine and 10-year-olds, or from children abused at home or school. Almost always anonymous and untraceable, I respond if I can and give help numbers to the most desperate. If they are brave enough to write in - "Dear Karen" is not a nice person - they are probably in serious trouble.

The best thing about writing agony for SKY is that its readers usually abound with good humour and good sense. It was only about a year ago that they started to write funny letters in kind - which, while it doesn't particularly help anyone, is certainly more fun. There are plenty of squishy, motherly agony aunties out there for those who want to be coddled. For me, I think putting the problem back into the lap of its owner works best. Call it American Can-Do, but if people come away from my column laughing at their problems, then I've done my bit for humanity. If they're even more confused, well, at least I triedn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us