Before there was Caitlyn, there was Candis. In the 90's in New York City, a group of wickedly talented performers were entertaining the masses of New York City, and Candis Cayne was one of them. Her traffic stopping performances took the streets of New York by storm, and those watching her knew that there were big things ahead for Ms. Cayne. From supporting roles in feature films like the drag buddy comedy "To Wong Foo" to the gone-to-soon ABC series "Dirty Sexy Money", Candis Cayne was shooting to stardom. As a co-star on the groundbreaking docuseries "I AM CAIT" Candis sat down with us to chat about the good old days of New York City in the 90's, what it's like helping educate on "I AM CAIT" and her wish for the trans community as a whole.
Candis, as a fellow East Coaster, I cannot tell you how proud we all are to see that the young girl we used to see tearing up the stages at the Barracuda and the Palladium has gone on to such huge success!
Well thank you! Wow, those were the days!
Speaking of those days in "old" New York City, does it seem like it's world's away or does it still stand as one of the best times of your life?
You know, it's both. It does seem like it's a hundred years ago, but it does feel like it was yesterday too. It really is what kind of created who I am as a person. I started my transition then, I found out who I was, and it was just a magical time for me.
You were known for literally leaving the nightclubs to dance in the streets and literally "stop traffic". What performers can say they literally stopped traffic?
LOL hey you know, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!
How has the limelight of being such a big part of "I AM CAIT" been?
It has been a whirlwind, but it has also been such an incredible experience. I was always so solely focused on my career, and being part of a show where we are touching the lives of countless people and shedding a light on fantastic organizations has fulfilled me in a way that I didn't think was possible.
There is a great deal of criticsm from people regarding the trans community, mostly because i feel it's something people don't undestand completely just yet. Since you've been living your life this way for so long, is there ever a time you still may question your path?
You know what, I don't. I have lived this life for so many years. I know my life, I know my truth and nobody can tear me down for that. I know Cait has received criticism though, but she just started her transition. She is going to make mistakes, but she's also learning from the best kind of girls who have done this and know about this. We are all there for her, we have her back. Even if she does make a mistake, she understands that she is really just starting out.
It seems that some of the problem people have with Caitlyn now is while she is transgendered, she is also a Republican, and has been very vocal about her views. I think people are finding it hard to maintain both viewpoints simultaneously for some reason.
First of all, there isn't a rule book on how trans people are supposed to be. We're a really diverse community, and we really run the gamut. It would be completely naive of us as a community to say that as soon as you transition you are supposed to adapt to the general feelings and political beliefs of the community at large.
On the next season of "I AM CAIT" we really get into it. We talk about politics, we talk about dating. We talk about alot of the things that people are confused about, and I think alot of the questions they have will be answered.
It looks like this year on "I AM CAIT" we will be getting to peek a little bit into the lives of each of the ladies. How much of the "Candis Cayne Experience" are we going to get to see?
This season they really take a journey with each of the girls and what's going on in all of your lives. The producers, Andrea Metz and Melissa Bidwell, do a really great job of getting to the issues and showing each of the girls in a diverse way and really showing what's going on in their lives.
When people hear "reality television" many people still think of compeition shows like "Project Runway" or the "Real Housewives" franchise. "I AM CAIT" however, is taking a different approach, and looking at the trans life in a very unique way. This show demonstrates to a young trans person living in somewhere like Topeka, Kansas that there is a life available to them that they may not have been aware of previously.
Exactly! We really hit the hard topics with this show, you know? This season though, we also start to get a little light and talk about some more frivelous things. This year we all go on a road trip and are showing trans across America. By all of us going to these smaller communities, we're opening the eyes of the cis population in these areas to give trans people and chance, a fighting chance to get ahead and be seen as viable human beings in their community.
The suicide rate with trans children and teenagers is very high and a show like this can be absolutely crucial to those that may not have access to knowledge or information about trans. This show is doing such a service to the community. Are you able to see your impact from inside the "I AM CAIT" bubble?
You know, I know that when I frst started my transition in the early 90's there was nothing "trans". There was no internet, that wasn't even a word. We went to doctors who didn't even know what we were. We had to figure out ways to get hormones who should have been and are illegal. If I had had a group of girls on a television show that I could have seen in my own likeness, it would really truly have been incredible. Not only for the kids, for the boys and girls who are in the transition, it's just putting the word "trans" on the lips of people all over the world. In places where there are no out trans people at all. It's a really revolutionary show in that way.
So many people got to finally experience "Candis" when you co-starred on the ABC show "Dirty Sexy Money". Many of us are still mourning the abrupt ending of that show!
Thank you so much, I miss it to ! The writers strike, the economy collapsing, I think everything contributed to it ending. it was really cool to do though.
Are you still managing to squeeze in some acting?
Oh yes! I just did this huge role for this new NBC show called "Heartbeat" where I play a trans woman who gets breast cancer. It shows her fight, how she has to deal with her identity. It's an incredibly risky show and a very juicy part. I am so excited for this.
Who would have thought that five years ago you would have been starring in a show with all trans women documening your lives? Where would you like to see Candis Cayne five years from now?
I love what I do. I can't imagine not working. In five years, I want to be working on amazing roles that have diverse parts. I want to play cis roles, play trans roles, it really doesn't matter. I just want a healthy work environment, not just for me but for all trans actresses.
"I AM CAIT" returns Sunday March 6th on E! (check local listings)