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The Divine Miss Richfield

June 27th, 2013

She's a summer tradition to both locals and visitors alike; she's unwittingly un-PC, hysterically clueless and the ingenious creation of her alter ego, Russ King. Celebrating her 11th summer in Provincetown, she's….Miss Richfield 1981! I recently met up with Miss R (and Russ as well) for an enjoyable and enlightening Q&A.

You can lose your money, you can lose your dignity, but if you have a smile, you'll always find a trucker who'll give you a ride home.''

Q: Now, Miss Richfield, what were you like as a child?

MR1981: Well, I was always pretty, always talented, and I always had the biggest hair in school.

Q: You're a single gal. What dating advice would you give to your single, female fans?

MR1981: The best advice is what my mother told me when I was five. She said, "Always pack a smile in your handbag. You can lose your money, you can lose your dignity, but if you have a smile, you'll always find a trucker who'll give you a ride home."

Q: What three words best describe who you are as a person?

MR1981: Single, young and available!

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

MR1981: Well, my church is always buying me a bus ticket to go someplace else, so I spend a lot of my time on Greyhound, visiting with the drivers.

Q: Any guilty pleasures?

MR1981: Oh yes, those would be Sanka, bingo at the VFW where I can look at my third guilty pleasure, veterans! I love a man in uniform….

Q: So, have you read any good books lately?

MR1981: Honey, I'm too busy living life to be reading about it!

Q: If you could do anything besides your current career, what would it be?

MR1981: I think maybe I'd like to work at the Wal-Mart Vision Center, where I could help the world see me better, and where I could get a discount on all those lovely quality frames!

Q: Ok Russ, you're a former journalist, communications and marketing guy -- HOW did you come up with someone like Miss Richfield?

Russ King: Well, at the time, I was communications director of the Minneapolis AIDS project, and once a Board member had a party at home for staff, partly a Miss America-themed thing, and I decided to go in drag, called myself Miss Richfield because I come from Richfield Minnesota, and added 1981 for the year I graduated high school. I was a hit! About six months later, again just for fun, I performed as Miss Richfield at a local bar, and again people loved it. Six months after that, I was working in cabaret shows. I finally quit my job in 1998, got along doing freelance writing and the act at night, and then I got my gig in Provincetown 11 years ago. I love Provincetown; this place gave me the opportunity to do this as a full-time job, and opened up a lot of other gigs, the chance to travel…I told my manager, "I will never do anything that takes me away from Provincetown permanently." I'll keep coming here till they don't want me anymore.

Q: Is Miss Richfield based on a real person or people?

Russ: I only realized recently that she's partly based on my grand-aunt Silva; she had that kinky black hair, dark features, she was a little deaf and talked in a really loud voice, and she had a big, kind of funny laugh. Also, I based her partly on Frances Faye, a cabaret and show tune singer from the 30s, 40s and 50s…she was a very "out" performer, threw in a lot of hints about lesbianism, would use her girlfriend's name in the lyrics of songs and so on. Those two really were the inspiration.

Q: Any closing words?

MR1981: Come see my new show "Sweet and Sour: Made in China" at the Crown!!!

Chris Daniels is a writer, photographer and office-guru-about-town who shares her life with a bossy cat and “Damon, the Dog With the Toy”

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