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Viking Katherina

It's not always easy to be a viking woman in a modern day world, but every now and then I get a chance to let my inner viking out to wreak havoc.

In 2012, Viking Cookware and Whole Foods held a'Cook Like a Viking' contest, in which the public was challenged to send in a picture of yourself grilling like a viking.

Naturally, I rose to the challenge and with the talent of brilliant photographer, Patrick Weishampel behind the wheel, along with Kevin Ward as firewrangler, Misty Post as propmaster, Joseph White as dog wrangler and Cholula the Wonderdog being her best doggie self, we won ourselves a super fancy a** barbecue. I love my new barbecue and try to cook as many whole animals at a time on it as possible.

I am also the official viking mascot for the ski resort, Granlibakken, in Lake Tahoe. I won that privilege in a contest a few years ago. (See full story+ pictures and video below.)

It is not that hard to convince me to jump out of a birthday cake in viking garb.

Should you find yourself in need of a professional viking, I'm your girl! Contact me with all of your viking needs at 415-847-7295 or viking[at]kpetunia[dot]com

See the story of how I became a professional viking and watch the video that landed my first viking gig below.


I Never Wanted to Be A Valkyrie

Viking KatherinaI never wanted to be a valkyrie. American girl culture encourages us to be little girls and big boys. Thumbelina. Tinkerbell. Big girls are just not cute and sometimes they’re downright scary.

I never had a chance. I was a humongous baby. My first sentence was, “Kathy Eat Now.”

Let’s fast forward through childhood and go to the Canary Islands. I am 24 and it’s my lost year. It was probably the beer goggles, but I felt almost waiflike among my willowy Latin American girlfriends as we danced the nights away then nursed our hangovers on sunny beaches. After a year of debauchery, I awoke with a jolt on my 25th birthday on a dormant volcano in my sand covered little pink silk dress with fresh lava rock impressions etched into my face and decided it was now or never if I was going to do something with my life. My friend Majo gave me a necklace at my going away party. It was a rune with the symbol for warrior on it. Because I was her amazon warrior friend. And I had totally thought I was being a nymph.

Back in the US, I got a job at the Exploratorium, a great science and art museum in San Francisco. One night, we were having a big art event. It was my job to set up the audio and video for guest artists. The turnout was huge. Thousands of people milling about. One of the artists was late. The director of the arts program told them to find me for audio help. They asked how to locate me among the throngs of people on the museum floor. She told them to look for the woman who seems like she should be wearing braids and carrying a sword. They made a beeline right for me. And I was even wearing a girly dress at the time.

Sometimes I let my inner Viking nature shine. For example, I greatly enjoy belting out a lusty version of Happy Birthday in Norwegian for my friends’ birthdays. When a friend of mine turned 30, I wanted to do something special for her. I built a big hollow birthday cake and hid it in the backroom of the venue where her party was taking place. I suck at small talk in social settings. That year I was focused on improving this skill. Before the performance, I was rummaging around inside of a South Bay accountant’s head in a desperate attempt to find a common point of interest for us to explore. I thought it was going pretty well. He didn’t have that look as if I were mentally raping him. Then it was time for my performance. I excused myself, went to the back room, got naked, painted myself gold, put on a loincloth and my horned helmet, I grabbed my sword, climbed into the cake, lit the candles and got wheeled out. I leapt out and sang the birthday song. She loved it. After my performance I went back to the accountant to pick up our conversation where it had been left off.

“Sorry about that, you were saying that the Costco Premium membership really is worth paying the extra $29?” Except now I was barebreasted, gold, and draped in animal skins. He was looking at me like I was a psychotic clown and I realized that we would probably never be friends. A big hairy old man kept coming up and telling me I was spectacular but all of the normal sized men around my age maintained a safe distance. The women at the party wanted to dance with me and pose for pictures like I was a Disney character. I went home.

I try my best at everything that I do. That cake jump wasn’t perfect and it niggled at me. I could have done better. When another friend begged me to jump out of a cake for her, I agreed. The trouble was, I had just started dating someone. He wasn’t Viking sized and he didn’t have an oversized personality. I outweighed him by 50 lbs. But he liked me! He really, really liked me! We were very new and fresh. This time, Ride of the Valkyries was blaring as I was wheeled in. The cake was fancier. The candles were fierier. My sword was shinier and my helmet had real horns. Instead of sticking around after the song, I marched into the night immediately. Luckily a bus was coming by just then. I jumped on. No fare, no shirt, no shoes. But who was going to deny service to a sword wielding valkyrie? I hopped off a mile up the road at a friend’s house where I showered off the gold bodypaint and got back into my civvies. To no avail. My new boyfriend looked at me like I was a big overwhelming cartoon character. He dumped me a couple of months later. I was too much woman for him.

Being a big woman has its advantages. While I know in my heart that I’m a lover, not a fighter, I also know that I could take most men in a fight if push came to shove. It’s the can do attitude that counts. I am always left alone in clubs to dance while my little girlfriends are continuously being harassed by drunken pursuers. The poor girls have to leave their spots on the dance floor to cluster like scared bunnies at the bar while the wolves surround them, leaving the floor to me and the gay boys.

Big women lost their evolutionary edge about the same time that humans started living in houses. Small has been in for about 10,000 years. When I worked as a commercial fisherwoman in Alaska, however, I celebrated my superabundant energy and strong muscles every day. My body made sense to me when I was fishing. I loved working myself down to the dregs ripping and tearing salmon out of nets, throwing 10,000 lbs of fish from point a to point b, and manhandling all of those big heavy ropes. I felt like I was born for it. A delicate little flower would have a hard time with that job.

A few years ago, I moved to Portland, Oregon. It had been more than many years since I’d even been kissed. I took the plunge and posted a personals ad on Craigslist. My strategy was to just tell them everything and show them a picture, so that they would know what they were getting and wouldn’t be disappointed or scared off when we met. I titled the ad, “Reluctant Valkyrie Ready for Love”. I got more than 1000 responses. Portland loved my vikingness. I felt like a rock star! I sifted through the e-mails and chose Joseph, who loves all of me with all of his heart. I can’t believe I found him.

It makes a huge difference, having one person in the world who believes in you and loves you that much. Maybe its because I’m getting older and probably in large part because of Joseph, I’m okay with being a Viking now, although Planet Tinkerbell continues to rub me the wrong way.

A month ago, my friend Kristina sent me a tantalizing proposition.

Kristina is my dream collaborator. I secretly think we could be the next Spielberg and Lucas. Unlike me, Kristina does not dive into every opportunity that comes her way, torpedoes be damned. She weighs and plans, dons a swim cap and goggles and then executes a perfect swan dive into the water after it has been deemed safe by the proper authorities. I really wanted to make a movie with Kristina, and this opportunity, it was meant to be.

The ad read:
Vikings Wanted: Tahoe Ski Resort Seeks Tall, Ruthless Scandinavians For Ad Campaign.

The ad instructed applicants to send in a video. It should be 60-90 seconds long and demonstrate why we should be chosen as the representative Viking.

Here's the ad:

Joseph and I flew down to the Bay Area to make the movie with Kristina. I rented a Viking outfit and Joseph got to see me for the first time in the outfit I look most natural in. He did not look at me like a panda on the loose. He looked proud and kind of horny. The three of us spent five hours rampaging College Avenue, storming Oliveto’s restaurant, pillaging Bionovo’s corporate headquarters and trashing Kristina’s apartment. I got to eat a whole chicken with my bare hands, drive like a maniac and scare passersby. I was so happy.

The video was due on April 17, 2009. We submitted it around midnight on April 16. Kristina made it perfect.

Now, the ski resort owners will look at all of the competitors’ videos. They’ll select the top 10. The ten of us go to the resort to meet them in person. They narrow it down to 3 and choose 2. The 3rd viking will be audience choice. I hope it doesn’t come down to that.

This thing is meant to be.

My delusions of grandeur have run away with me. I want to be a YouTube sensation. I want to be a special guest on Ellen and David Letterman. I want to be the crazy Viking lady.

Here’s the link:

Love Kat

Here's Part II, Where I Win the Thing

And Part III, The Photo Shoot