July Feature: Getting Spicy with Dasha Cayenne!

Brian Vodashapost2
Welcome back Hunny Bunny Burlesque fans! It is very fitting that for the very sultry month of July that I have the privilege of interviewing the similarly sultry, amazingly stunning, spicy with a kick, Dasha Cayenne!

Dasha Cayenne
(she blushes)

Brian Vo
Surely you are used to such praise! I mean, goodness. I should be the one blushing here.

Dasha Cayenne
Giving and receiving compliments never gets old!

Brian Vo
It’s something we definitely need to do more of in this day and age I think! So Dasha, thanks so much for setting aside some of your time for this, Standard question to begin: So how exactly did you settle on the name of “Dasha Cayenne”?

Dasha Cayenne
The name Dasha Cayenne (luckily) came to me in a dream. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, always into the spicy. I wanted my name to reflect me in that way… not particularly precious, but something with a serious kick!

Brian Vo
You also mentioned a busy schedule. Are these exciting things our readers should know about?

Dasha Cayenne
The Minxes and I always have things up our sleeves, but we’re not performing as a group again until 9/24 at the Uptown Nightclub for Hubba Hubba! BUT lucky for me (and you), I do have plenty of solos coming up! You can catch me at the Uptown for Hubba on 7/23, at the Upstairs DNA Lounge for Hubba on 8/15, and the Stud for Red Hots Burlesque on 8/19. And I’m performing at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival in September!

Brian Vo
Wow, sounds like quite an opportunity, and while lucky for you, I’d say it’s more lucky for them. Hmmmm….. what am I doing in September….

Dasha Cayenne
Flying to New Orleans to watch a bunch of babes sweat their pasties off.

Brian Vo
Tres risque!

Dasha Cayenne
I’ve heard it’s so hot in New Orleans that time of year, it’s not a matter of if but WHEN the pasties fall off!

Brian Vo
(hurriedly looks through calendar before getting back to business)
So I see you’ve been doing this since 2012, is that right? What prompted this jump into the performance world?

Dasha Cayenne
I’ve been performing onstage since I was 2 years old. I started dancing straight out of the womb and was a nationally competitive rhythmic gymnast for 10 years, so pleasing a crowd is in my bones. It totally revs me up!

Vyxen Monroe actually got me into burlesque in the first place. We had been dancing together for a little bit (mostly contemporary/jazz) and she invited to me join her in a holiday cabaret. The rest is history. The Wily Minxes were officially born 4 years ago, and I embarked on the solo journey maybe a year and a half ago.

We have really yummy chemistry as a group because we come from similar dance backgrounds, but everyone brings a slightly different flavor to the table. It feels really special.

Brian Vo
I have to admit I haven’t had the pleasure in person, but from what snippets I’ve seen on Facebook, I’d have to agree wholeheartedly.

Dasha Cayenne
Well… you’ll have ample opportunity! No more excuses.

Brian Vo
Yes, definitely. Can the Skylark expect to have you back again in the future?

Dasha Cayenne
OF COURSE! My favorite part of performing is engaging the audience, and what better place to do that than from the floor rather than from a stage?
AND Hunny is tops in my book!

Brian Vo
Thank goodness! I really look forward to all those upcoming times.

How did you get introduced to Hunny by the by?

Dasha Cayenne
We met backstage at a Red Hots Burlesque show. She’s so calm and kind and her blue hair was totally magnetic. I also come from a gymnast/contortion background so I felt a kinship with her right away.

We’ve shared a few lineups since then and it’s a total treat to be around her. She just does her own thing and is an absolutely captivating performer.

Brian Vo
That is awesome. I love it when great people get together to work.

Back to working with The Wily Minxes and the solo act, how’s it different? What are the different considerations when putting together an act?

Dasha Cayenne
With the Minxes, we are 5 women working collaboratively, sometimes with different ideas about how we envision an act looking and feeling. We help bring each other out of choreographic ruts, build on each other’s ideas. It’s a dream to be in a collaborative group. Especially with 5 powerful women. We live in a world that breeds competition and cattiness among women, and I wholeheartedly believe that we’re all better off encouraging each other and building each other up.

It feels powerful and subversive, in its own way, to want the best for each other.

Individually, I usually fall in love with a song while I’m in traffic and my act begins with “car-eography” (most of my solos are choreographed in my head while I’m stuck in traffic). Sometimes my imagination gets me into trouble when I try some of the car-eography in real life (like no, I can’t actually do 10 pirouettes like the music seems to be calling for), but it really works for me to fantasize about how I want to move before I actually move sometimes. It’s easy to fall into ruts with movement and rely on muscle memory which can have the undesired effect of creating acts that all look the same. I use improvisation as another tool to keep my body guessing.

Brian Vo
That is great and you are so right about the way that society creates this narrative of “cattiness.” As a quick aside, I was wondering as a fiction writer, what is a big thing that writers should do to subvert that, or something else they should focus on in portraying positive relationships among women?

Dasha Cayenne
Have you heard of the Bechdel test?

Brian Vo
Any writer worth their salt has!

Dasha Cayenne
I’d encourage a fiction writer to think about what they’d want for their daughter. Is she in a position of power? You’d probably want her to be a fully autonomous human who thrives in a world full of other strong, vivacious, autonomous women. So let’s write about women in this way!

Sadly, many of my favorite stories don’t even pass the Bechdel test. I don’t think it should be that hard to portray a woman as existing outside of her relationship with a man!

Brian Vo
It’s really a shame, it’s such a simple thing to incorporate into a story.

So, related to narratives, there’s a lot of interesting things going on in the world of burlesque, and some of them rather problematic. We had the whole yellowface thing with Dita Von Teese, and now there’s been this blackface thing surfacing with a German performer. There’s just so much to be said about all of this.

Dasha Cayenne
Yeah, it’s totally repulsive. Use your own face.

I think white performers, myself included, especially have a responsibility to acknowledge our privilege and actively condemn this kind of oppressive, racist crap.

It’s not creative or funny or glamorous to hearken back to an era in which people of color were legally and socially marginalized.

Brian Vo
And yet it continues to happen. I was really glad in the case of the blackface example that so much of the community was outraged from the start and reacted rightly. I kind of want to see what advice or thoughts you had for people who did these things. What should they do afterwards. What’s the right way to apologize, sincerely and meaningfully?

Dasha Cayenne
Well, starting by saying you didn’t mean to offend anyone perpetuates the issue.
It’s like saying “I’m so blind to my privilege and the history of racism, oppression, and appropriation that it never even crossed my mind that this wasn’t OK.”

Brian Vo
Yeah, that non apology is almost becoming rote for the follow up to this sort of event.

Dasha Cayenne
I defer to what many other POC performers and allies have said: Don’t do it. Don’t hire people who do it. If you see it, say something.

We’re all responsible for putting an end to it.

Brian Vo
As a POC myself, those are sound points. I hope this becomes increasingly rare.

Dasha Cayenne
Me too! I try to be a gal who speaks up against that kind of shit, so I promise to do my part!

Brian Vo
Thanks so much. (Also I’m glad to hear you use the word gal. I use that a lot and my other friend called me out for being old fashioned.)

Alright, onto happier things. I think saying you have an enthusiastic following would be an understatement. How do you foster this relationship?

Dasha Cayenne
I love people. I love connecting. It’s important to me to love on the people who come to my shows. To thank them for participating.

I hope people can feel that from the stage, and I make a point of doing it during intermissions or after shows. I don’t ever expect people to come see me perform, so when they do and they’re thrilled, I’m thrilled. And grateful. It’s all about being in the moment, inviting people to be present. I feel that is my responsibility as a performer.

Brian Vo
That is an awesome positive feedback loop it sounds like. I’m really glad to hear all this.

Dasha Cayenne
It is! My favorite feedback is when someone tells me they feel inspired to start dancing again. Then I feel I’ve done my job. I laid it all out on the table, and you felt it, and you want to do the same. We could all use more of that!

Brian Vo
Agreed! Would “inspiring someone to dance again” be answering my next question of what your favorite compliment is?

Dasha Cayenne
YES!

Brian Vo
Alright, let’s move a little bit more intimate perhaps here. What would you say your favorite day is when you’re focused more on relaxing?
Your hobbies, activitives, and the like.

Dasha Cayenne
I’m in massage school, so one of my favorite things is learning more about bodies and how to work with people.
Now that you mention relaxing, I should probably get more bodywork done than I do. You know, for research purposes.

I’m also a caregiver, so I get to practice massage on the woman I take care of. It’s exciting to see how effective it can be!

Brian Vo
That is wonderful, I’m sure she appreciates those results.

Dasha Cayenne
I also try to move my body a lot. Keeps me sane and centered. My favorite day involves dancing or running up in the hills by my house and losing a sense of time and responsibility.

I’m a kinder and more patient person that way!

Brian Vo
To activity! Do you have a favorite beverage?

Dasha Cayenne
Whiskey. And champagne.

Brian Vo
Scotch, bourbon?

Dasha Cayenne
Rye whisky is my favorite.

Brian Vo
Sounds like you have something in common with the Skylark Bartender Jordan! Any particular age or brands?

Dasha Cayenne
I’m no aficionado.

I usually ask the bartender what they think is best. But I always have a bottle of Bulleit Rye in my kitchen.

And apparently in my trunk, which is where I found a full flask that my lover had given me to take on a trip.

Brian Vo
I am suppressing a “wonderful junk in the trunk joke.”

Dasha Cayenne
Nailed it.

Brian Vo
(coughs) Alright, finally, let’s wind down with some shout outs. Any up and coming performers or tough veterans you’d like to give a holler to?

Dasha Cayenne
The Wily Minxes, of course… Vyxen Monroe, Whisker Rose, Honey D’mure and Luna Luxe for keeping me inspired.

Dottie Lux for giving me my first burlesque stage, and the many fabulous local producers for always being in my corner!

It’s not easy being a woman in the world, and I’m inspired by anyone who is in hot pursuit of the things that stoke their fire. Luckily, the Bay Area is full of those people!