Times, They Are A-Changin'...
So, soon after I got assigned to recap Dirty Sexy Money, I was scrolling around on IMDb and saw that Candis Cayne has a recurring role on the show. For those not familiar with the name (probably the case if you're not gay and from New York City; almost certainly not the case if you are), Candis has been a fixture in the New York gay world for many years -- she's an extremely accomplished dancer, and she puts on a tremendous one-woman show. In addition, she's a transsexual, as is her character on the show. I was intrigued by all of this, especially given that the show is on network television, so when she recently performed on Fire Island on a weekend I happened to be out there, I approached her about doing an interview for TWoP. She couldn't have been nicer about it, and following is the result, after the typical greeting pleasantries:
Couch Baron: You were born in Hawaii, under the name Brendan McDaniel.
Candis Cayne: Yes.
CB: What was your childhood in Hawaii like?
CC: My childhood was actually really gorgeous. You know, it was a little tough -- Hawaii can be tough for new families moving there, white families, but I assimilated pretty well. My parents are Waldorf School teachers, so they come from an art background, and they're really liberal and really open about everything, so it was a really easy, fun childhood for me. They let me be who I wanted to be. If I wanted to play with a Barbie, I could play with a Barbie.
CB: Are your parents still there?
CC: Yup, they're still in Hawaii. I talk to them every other day.
CB: That's great. So speaking of playing with Barbies, at what age did you sort of feel that you were different in terms of gender identity?
CC: My first conscious thought of "I should be like that and not like this" was probably at about six, and I was playing with...I have a twin brother, and we were playing with our twin cousins, who are a boy and a girl.
CB: Wow. Is your brother identical?
CC: No, fraternal. And he would play with Tyler, and I would play with Tanya. [Laughs] And I remember thinking, "I'm supposed to be like Tanya."
CB: Right. And your parents were totally fine with that?
CC: Well, they didn't know. I didn't talk to them about it. But, you know, for me, my parents were always so creative and open and artistic and liberal, I never had any pressure, so I didn't even think in terms of gender, I didn't think "I'm supposed to be that way," because it was just who I was, you know? Like, if I'd been in a really masculine house, then it would have been different -- I would have been forced to stand and be who I was, but I never had to feel that pressure. So it was really nice.