Remembering Kim Jones, the amazing drag star Karlotta


Drag star Karlotta, one of Perth’s pioneering drag performers, has passed away.

Kim Jones, better known to many in Perth’s LGBTQIA+ scene as drag star Karlotta, passed away unexpectedly last week.

Jones, who was living in Tasmania at the time of his death, passed away in his sleep, just a week shy of his 60th birthday.

Friends and colleagues have remembered his wild performances over the decades, and a never-ending love of his idol Tina Turner.

Karlotta, spelt with a K to differentiate from the east-coast based performer, first began performing drag in the 1970s and was regular performer at Connections Nightclub in its early days. Not only was she a pioneer of the drag scene, she was also one of the few indigenous drag performers.

“I first started performing with Lisa Gibson and Cinnamon Ryan in Girls, Girls, Girls! at the Swan Brewery Hotels, there was also the Raffles in the early 1970s and I was one of the original Stray Girls at Connections.” Karlotta told OUTinPerth back in 2009.

Taking part in the regular column Tea With Miss Katherine Karlotta shared that she went through a few drag names over her early days of performing including been known as Crystal and Jedda, before settling on Karlotta.

In the 1970s and early 1980s she performed at Connections Nightclub, longtime friend Michael Edwards recalled the elaborate parties that used to occur at Connections in the 1980s.

“I met him at Connections in 1981, and we became good friends.” Michael recalled. “There was quite a posse at that time with Strykermeyer, Audrey Woodstock Rose, Candy Conrad, Natasha and Karlotta.

“Kim was always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” Michael said. “He was pretty well-known as a mischief maker, and was often in the chorus line.”

Karlotta’s moment in the spotlight came at Connections tenth birthday in 1985.

“The whole club was transformed into Mad Max’s Thunderdome, it was incredible. When you walked in and walked up the stairs it was all covered in chicken wire and Paper-Mache, it was an absolutely huge event.

“Karlotta was always known for Tina Turner impersonations – so who else was going to get the lead role? It was absolutely marvelous for him, and it really validated him,” Michael shared.

For the tenth birthday celebrations Karlotta got a big entry, flying across the club from the DJ box to the stage via a flying fox.

“It was very exciting and a wonderful time, and the show ran for a good week afterwards, because they’d put so much effort into decorating the club.”

Michael shared how Kim had been a great friend over the decades and maintained many close friendships with people in Perth, and around the country.

Over the years Karlotta returned to performing drag regularly. OUTinPerth captured her at Replay an event hosted by Lost Gay Perth in 2015, where she delivered another classic moment of Tina Turner inspired magic.


Graeme Watson

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