A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

298 Laura Hart – The Dog, The Rockstar and the Beach

A sleepy beachside town is the unlikely setting for Laura’s wildly unlikely, memorable meetcute.

Laura Hart is a drag king, comedian & improviser who has been performing for yonks. They are the founder and host of popular drag show The Kings & Drag King Bingo, and have toured around Australia and internationally. They perform and teach at Improv Theatre Sydney, and in 2022 they won an Honour Award for Arts and Culture.


Maeve: Hi, I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories. If you can spare a few bucks each month to help me continue to produce this podcast, because you love it, or you love me, please check out Queerstories on Patreon and consider supporting the project. Also, follow Queerstories on Facebook for upcoming events, pics and other good shit.

Laura Hart is a drag king, comedian & improviser who has been performing for yonks. They are the founder and host of popular drag show The Kings & Drag King Bingo, and have toured around Australia and internationally. They perform and teach at Improv Theatre Sydney, and in 2022 they won an Honour Award for Arts and Culture.


It was a sweltering mid-summer day in a sleepy little beach side town, which is precisely the most unlikely place to be the setting for what happened. 

Two friends, my dog and I were on a lazy road trip – our only plans? To be on the beach. 

It was on one such beach day that I met her. I volunteered for the ice cream run, pulled on an oversized tee that barely covered my sweat chaffed thighs, and took my dog for the short uphill walk to the corner store. I tied her up outside briefly while I nipped in to grab the treats. As I exited the store I noticed someone kneeling over her. I immediately commenced a low-key panic – the kind only us sensitive dog owners know – “no she hasn’t been there long, look she’s in the shade! Yes I tested the temperature of the concrete with my hand, she doesn’t have separation anxiety – I mean she has separation anxiety but it’s totally under control…”

The person was turned with their back to me, obscuring my dog. When I finally reached them she turned around…I swear I heard music, like a harp and a choir and some tiny drums. The sun shone behind her dark, perfectly cropped hair, her all white linen pant suit fluttered softly in the breeze, and her eyes (oh my god her eyes!) were framed with smudges of charcoal black eyeliner that gently pooled in her delicate wrinkles. 

“Oh hey” she said. Her voice was dusky but smooth, deeper than I expected, and… American? Some kind of accent. She continued in my semi-stunned silence. “I noticed your dog here and I thought I’d give her a quick drink”, Side note – I will be continuing this horrendous attempt at her accent for the rest of this story. Apologies in advance. 

“Th-thanks!” I spluttered, “She was only out here for a minute. I was getting ice cream, this isn’t just for me, I have friends. I mean, my friends are here. They’re not here they’re down there, and I’m bringing these, for them…”

“I’m heading that way too – shall we walk together?” 

Be cool, be cool, be cool, casual, unaffected, but not rude. “Yeah sure”. 

She took my dogs lead (my hands were occupied with ice cream) and we began our slow stroll. I told her about my friends, campsite antics, and she told me about her travels, her love of art. Just as we reached the path down to the sand our conversation was interrupted by a woman, who nervously approached us “I’m so sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to say your work has meant so much to me, you’ve really changed my life”. 

Old mate linen pant suit just graciously smiles and bows her head, “not at all, thank you”, and we continue walking. 

I’m sorry, what? Your work? Changed her life? Who am I talking to?! The white linen all of a sudden is giving me cult leader vibes, but she seemed so normal… or maybe that’s what she wants me to think? 

“You’re melting” 

“What? Oh, right. Well I better get these to my friends” 

“You do that. I’ll see you round” and she just, does such a cool wink and turn and sashays away. I mean, I’ve ever seen anyone else pull off a wink and turn and I don’t think I ever will. 

I take the soggy cones back to my friends who are lifelessly splayed out on our tiny kmart towels. I try to tell them about my strange encounter but they’re barely interested – too sun sleepy to care. 

After a while I leave my friends to their expert level leisuring to take my dog down to the water.  

I look around me and decide it’s quiet enough to let her off the lead. She seems calm, cool, in an obedient mood, but of course as soon as I do she runs off in the opposite direction. I do the typical guilty dog owner gait, a half trot half jog calling her name under my breath not wanting to cause a scene. “Juno! Juno!”

Juno trots up the sand bank and sits smugly on a towel. On a towel next to linen pant suit. 

“We meet again!” she says. 

“Huh! Yeah. I totally had, I mean we were just going for a bit of a run, chase situation, she’s usually really good with her recall and I know this isn’t technically a dog beach” 

“Are you always this anxious?” she smiles. “Uhh… yes. Yes I am” I say as I sit next to Juno and clip on her lead. We sit and watch the waves. It’s an idyllic start to what I’ve decided is our queer love story. A beach meet cute. She begins talking about her life, difficulties with her ex partner, her place in Malibu, and music. 

Musician. So much better than cult leader. Well? Yeah, no yeah. Better. 

Her manager arrives to wrap things up – she has to go get ready for the show. “You should come!” she says, “I’ll put your name on the door – bring your friends” Her manager shoots her a disapproving look. 

“Yeah I mean, I don’t think I have anything else on” (good job – casual, cool) 

“Great – I’m Chan by the way”

Chan. I have to do some American to Australian English translation in my head. I think she’s saying Shaun? I skip back to my friends who are packing up, and tell them I got us free tickets to a random local gig by Shaun, a country singer maybe? I reassure them that if it’s terrible we can leave, and anyway the place probably has aircon. 

We head back to the campsite brick showers, wash the day stink off us and put on our best version of “good clothes”. The venue is only about a ten minute drive away, it’s a quaint but beautiful local theatre – around 100 seats. As we pull up we see a sign out front “Cat Power – One Night Only”

Wait. But she said her name was Shaun! Not Shaun – Chan. Her name is Chan Marshall, Cat Power is her stage name. 

I know what you’re thinking – how did I not recognise the billboard top 10 charting, musical powerhouse whose had a decades long career and collaborated with the likes of Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder? The muse of fashion icon Marc Jacobs, last year touring with Alanis Morrisette? (For younger folks she was on the Juno soundtrack with “Sea of Love”, yes the same movie I named my dog after.)

She looked different! Kind of? I had listened to her music a lot before but never really looked at photos, at least the ones I saw of her she was younger and my brain was caught off guard by her presence in Mollymook. 

We saunter up to the door, I say my name, and we are led through to a row of seats separate from the rest of the audience, right down the front. So this is how the other half live. 

The show was magnetic. It was perfect. She was an absolute star – plunking dramatic chords on an old piano, serenading us with moody, husky ballads. At first I didn’t understand why someone like her would perform in a tiny place like this, but then I remembered her history of stage fright. At bigger gigs she has been slammed for her erratic behaviour, performing in the darkness, with her back turned, or just outright leaving the stage. But she didn’t that night. 

I, ofcourse, felt like she was singing the whole thing to me. Which I often do, at concerts, but this time it felt different. She did her final encore and then looked directly at me mouthing the words “meet me backstage”. 

Okay. Backstage. How does one get backstage? I mean, seriously, I have heard plenty about this elusive place but how do the common people get there? Is there a secret curtain? A code word? 

We walked out to the foyer and I sheepishly approached the person at the merch desk. “I have, um, been invited backstage. By Cat. My name was on the list”. He looked at me suspiciously “Give me your last name and wait here”. 

After about ten minutes (forever) I see him walking back down the hall with another person, but it wasn’t Cat, it was her manager. He raised his eyebrows, looked at me, and sighed. “You know, she does this a lot, we have a big flight ahead and I just don’t think the timing is right. You can’t come back with us” 

I heard music, but this time no harps, just violins. Tiny, sad, violins and rain. I nodded, my face flushed with embarrassment. We had a meet cute, on the beach, my dog found her, twice, we talked deeply about our past loves, and her linen pant suit and her eyes. 

My friends and I slowly wandered back to the car. “It’s ok” my friend attempted to console me, “I’m sure she really wanted to see you”, “yeah, that manager was a total clit blocker, screw him”. I smiled. 

So, I’m sorry to report that we never fell in love, in fact, I never saw her again. As I zipped myself into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes for the night, my phone pinged – the screen illuminating my face in the darkness – Cat Power has requested to follow you on instagram. 

Maeve: Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to check out Queerstories on Patreon where you can support the project for as little as $1 per month. Follow Queerstories on Facebook for news and event updates, it’s been a weird couple of years what with the pandemic and me becoming a parent but I’m planning some big things in 2023 and I’d love you to be part of it.

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Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.