Thursday, 22 December 2016


Candis Cayne was the first transgender actress to play a recurring trans character on prime-time TV (Photo by Scott Everett White)

Bugs' interview with Candis Cayne orignally ran in the Montreal Gazette on August 6, 2015.

Before Caitlyn Jenner began documenting her gender transition on E!’s eight-part reality TV series I Am Cait, there was Candis Cayne, the American actress and performance artist who came to international attention in 2007 for portraying transgender mistress Carmelita on ABC’s prime-time drama Dirty Sexy Money.
Cayne made history then, becoming the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime-time television.
Now Cayne is back on television, in Jenner’s reality show. She is a close friend of Jenner, who tells the show’s producers in one episode: “Candis is a beautiful woman, but as far as dating in the future, I have absolutely no idea.”
Needless to say, Candis and Cait are two of the most talked-about transgender women alive right now.

“All I can say as far as Caitlyn is concerned is we’re very close and she is a dear friend of mine,” says Cayne.
About transitioning in the public eye, Cayne says: “It is definitely not for everybody. You have to be a very strong person with deep resolve and character to be able to transition so openly. I think Caitlyn is handling it really well. She has a great group of people around her — including myself and some other girls — who are helping her along this path. We’ve all become really close to her. I know she’s going to be fine and she’s doing it right.”
The landscape was much different when Cayne, 43, began her own transition at the age of 25. Born Brendan McDaniel, one of two male fraternal twins, she moved from Maui to New York in the early 1990s and became a popular choreographer and drag performer in gay nightclubs. She also performed at Wigstock, and remains friends with drag legends Lady Bunny and RuPaul.
“I met some girls like me in New York, and even though when I was young I realized I felt like a girl, I really didn’t know how to do anything about it,” says Cayne. “There were no computers, no one in the media was like me. I was wondering why I wasn’t happy, because I’m a happy-go-lucky person. So when I was in New York and saw this for the first time, I put two and two together and thought, ‘That’s why nothing is working in my life.’
“I really wasn’t a gay man. I realized then I wanted to grow older as a woman, not as a man.”
At first Cayne was wary of transitioning publicly.
I met some girls like me in New York, and even though when I was young I realized I felt like a girl, I really didn’t know how to do anything about it. I was wondering why I wasn’t happy, because I’m a happy-go-lucky person.  — Candis Cayne
“I was concerned about how audiences would react, because I have always been career-driven,” she says. “That was my only concern. I knew my parents would be fine, knew my family would be fine. I did my transition then, did it openly in front of New York audiences, and it turned out they were very supportive of me.”
After landing her history-making role in Dirty Sexy MoneyCayne was cast as transgender character Alexis Stone in Season 6 of Nip/TuckWhile she achieved mainstream success as a transgender actress playing transgender roles, she acknowledges she did feel typecast.
“Oh yeah, there is definitely a trans ceiling, but boundaries are being broken right now,” Cayne explains. “My form of activism is actually going to auditions, teaching producers and others on the set, going on news programs and talk shows and talking about being a trans woman.
“I may not have been marching on the White House, but I was doing my part. Dirty Sexy Money was a monumental feat, and that only happened eight years ago. That’s nothing in the timeline of life. We’ve come so far that now the E! channel is airing Caitlyn Jenner’s docu-series.”
Cayne co-hosted the free outdoor Never Apart: Village Paradise concert at Montreal Pride 2015 with Montreal nightlife legend Plastik Patrik, with guests Queen of House Barbara Tucker, queer rapper Cazwell and trans icon Amanda Lepore.
Cayne says her Montreal show was a throwback to her old performance days in New York City.
“I perform at Gay Pride (festivals) often. I realize my community — the LGBTQ — has always been my family, and I will always perform for my family,” says Cayne. “It is something that is in my heart. They get it, they get what I do, they get my glamour, and I love them back.”

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