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

Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Administration Assistant / Office Assistant

£18 - 20k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An Administration Assistant / Office Assistan...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution