Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



'Tapping into Ca$h' : CaSera Heining lives double life as DJ Ca$h Era and radio producer
by Kayleigh Padar

This article shared 1311 times since Thu Oct 14, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Minutes before DJ Ca$h Era hosted Lollapalooza's first drag show, the Black queer woman behind the stage name was pacing nervously behind the scenes and listening to a drag queen animatedly remind her they were "making history."

She knew she couldn't cry before taking the stage, so she "tapped into Ca$h" and focused on performing. Once she stepped off the stage and took her first deep breath, she was bawling.

"It was so overwhelming for so many reasons," the 26-year-old said. "For one, I think representation is very real. I'd never seen someone that remotely even looks like me play Lollapalooza. Someone who's a woman, who's Black, who's queer, who's very masculine in their queerness, take the stage at Lollapalooza. Who would've seen this shit coming?"

CaSera Heining, DJ Ca$h Era by night and a part-time WGN producer during the day, didn't predict her life would consist of curating music at various events then waking up in the morning to create radio segments.

A Chicago native, Heining was the first in her family to graduate from high school and attend university, where she studied radio with a minor in television but fell in love with DJ-ing during a required elective course.

"So much of my career still feels like an out-of-body experience," Heining said. "I never envisioned this for myself, so I just continue to struggle with taking limitations off myself and opening my mind."

After graduating college, Heining started working part-time at WGN, producing podcast segments in the early hours of the morning. For months, she'd finish DJ-ing around 3 a.m. Saturday night then pick up food, nap for an hour, and get into WGN by 5 a.m Sunday morning.

"A lot of people never saw that," Heining said. "Some people thought, 'Oh she's DJing tonight' and other people thought, 'she's coming into work this morning,' but they didn't think about the logistics of that, like that I hadn't slept all night."

Over time, Heining developed a certain persona for DJ Ca$h Era that propels her forward when she comes up against performance anxiety, busy schedules and other obstacles. "Ca$h is like, that cool version of me I'd always envisioned for myself, like that older kid you look up to and think is so awesome."

Before most sets, Heining's hands still shake and she gets quiet until she's on stage. But then, she channels Ca$h, "who's out for revenge in the healthiest way possible." Ca$h lives in the moment and has less emotions. She's "the asshole CaSera can't be."

"When someone tells CaSera she can't do something because no one like her has ever done it before, she's quiet and she takes it," Heining said. "Ca$h is like, "Oh really? Well, then I'll show you some shit." That's where Ca$h came from."

Once the mic is in her hand, Heining said she feels like she has to "reiterate and prove" why she deserves to be there and how much work she did to make it there.

Heining doesn't plan anything ahead. She has playlists with her favorite decades of music and others named after Chicago neighborhoods. From these lists, she chooses songs based on her audience's engagement.

"A lot of times, I notice who's not dancing in the crowd and I focus on them," Heining said. "If I'm playing new music and you're not phased, then I'll play '90s music. If I switch to Britney Spears and your head got to bopping a bit, first of all, shame on you. You should be singing Britney Spears, but at least I know I'm in the realm now."

After Heining's professor helped her book her first few events while she was still a student—DJ-ing poetry slams on her college campus hosted by Louder Than A Bomb—Heining's mother pushed her to think more strategically about her hobby.

Heining's mother encouraged her to purchase equipment with a credit card then pay off the debt by DJ-ing various events. She gave her advice about getting business cards, a stage name, a logo, and helped her to build her brand from the ground up.

"My mom really played an integral part in helping me get everything together," Heining said. "I never thought DJing would become a full-time job ever, and I don't think my mom did either, but she would just drop subtle hints. She never pushed anything. She's always just said, 'Find something that you like and do it, whatever you want to do, do it.' She's majorly supportive in that way."

In both her careers, Heining said she "sticks out" and is often the only Black, queer woman in the rooms she walks into. She said she feels "honored to be a focal point for some people," but hates being "put on a pedestal."

"My biggest thing is that I want to see more people like me go even further than me," Heining said.

Heining said she usually doesn't think about her identity until it's brought up to her, but "it hits hard" whenever she has a moment with someone who tells her that her visibility means a lot to them or helps them feel represented.

"I've always looked at it as, this is me, this is who I am as a person," Heining said. "I joke about Ca$h and CaSera being separate people, but they are one person at the end of the day. I am CaSera, I am Ca$h, simultaneously, always and forever. I've been gay, been Black, been woman, been masculine all of my life. At this point, I'm not changing for anyone."

This article shared 1311 times since Thu Oct 14, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

WORLD Pope Francis, non-binary minor, athlete dies at 35, Taiwan 2023-01-29
- Pope Francis made headlines when he told the Associated Press on Jan. 24 that "being homosexual is not a crime," although he also described being gay as sinful, Gay City News noted. The pontiff called on ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lil Nas X, Sam Smith, tennis items, Oscars, Queerties 2023-01-29
- Famed children's entertainers The Wiggles sent parents into a frenzy when they posted a photo with out rapper Lil Nas X to their Instagram account and wrote, "New collab in the wind?," according to LGBTQ Nation. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Planet Sex,' Critics Choice Awards, Madonna, Theo James 2023-01-22
- The show Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne will debut on Hulu on Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), Out noted. Planet Sex is a six-episode docuseries following the model/actress. "On this immersive journey, she puts her mind and ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Indigo Girls, LGBTQ+ films, GALECA nods, Jeremy Pope 2023-01-15
- Indigo Girls will perform at an opening-night celebration for the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19 in Park City, Utah, Variety reported. The Grammy-winning lesbian folk-rock duo are debuting their new documentary, It's Only Life After All, ...

Gay News

Jordan Vasquez treats Chicago to Fosse's Chicago 2023-01-12
- Actor and openly gay performer Jordan Vasquez, an Illinois native now living in New York City, is giving Chicago audiences "the old razzle dazzle" in the fabulous musical Chicago. This dynamically talented performer brings with him ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Diversity report, Dave Bautista, Leslie Jordan, greatest singers 2023-01-08
- The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's latest "Inclusion in the Director's Chair" report analyzes the gender and race/ethnicity of the directors behind last year's 100 highest-grossing movies in the country, while the San Diego State Center ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Best in theater, TV, film and music; Obama's favorites; 'Glass Onion' 2022-12-31
- Deadline's Broadway critic revealed his picks for the best of 2022. Leopoldstadt topped his list, but other productions included Kimberly Akimbo, Some Like It Hot, Into the Woods, Hangmen, Ain't No Mo', A Strange Loop, Topdog/Underdog, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Janelle Monae, Harvey Guillen, Whitney Houston, 'Drag Race,' Greg Berlanti 2022-12-24
- Janelle Monae has teased a new album, joking that they now has a "clone" for music who has been hard at work in the studio, NME noted. Monae—whose leading part as Helen Brand in the new Glass Onion: ...

Gay News

WORLD Ghana funding, Latvia measure, Russia items, trans princess 2022-12-18
- Some Western governments who pledged to support LGBTQI+ rights have also funded supporters of a controversial bill in Ghana that could introduce harsh sentences for advocating for sexual and gender minorities' rights, CNN reported. In the ...

Gay News

Life is a Cabaret for James Harkness these days 2022-12-14
- Out performer James Harkness is one of the many performers in Cabaret ZaZou's Luminaire, the latest project from the creative team behind the successful show Teatro ZinZanni. Currently in an open run since Sept. 7, 2022, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, 'Heartstopper,' Lena Waithe, Gyllenhaal, Cher 2022-12-11
- Out comedian Jerrod Carmichael will host the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Deadline reported. After a yearlong hiatus, the three-hour telecast will air on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on NBC and ...

Gay News

Filmmaker reworks locally-produced holiday film Scrooge & Marley for upcoming stage reading 2022-12-07
- It's been 10 years since Chicago writer/musician/perfomer Richard Knight, Jr. co-directed and co-wrote the LGBTQ+ holiday film Scrooge & Marley. "One of the most memorable nights of my life was the premiere at the Music Box, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bros,' awards, Bjork, video-game love story, 'White Lotus' 2022-12-04
- The gay rom-com film Bros started streaming on Peacock on Dec. 2, Out noted. Written by Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller (and directed by the latter), Bros was produced by Judd Apatow and starred Eichner along with an all-LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elton John, Leslie Jordan, Joel Kim Booster, Janelle Monae 2022-11-27
- Elton John gave Los Angeles concluded a three-show run on Nov. 20 back inside Dodger Stadium, taking a final bow as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The concert ...

Gay News

MUSIC: Sophie B. Hawkins talks LGBTQ+ youth and living an authentic life 2022-11-24
- In the '90s, singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins made quite an impression on people with the entrancing song "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and its accompanying video. She also had hits such as "Right Beside You" ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.