Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



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

This article shared 1526 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 1526 times since Thu Oct 14, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Organizers found the Cure for the Riot (Fest) in Douglass Park 2023-09-23
- Picture it: Chicago, 2023. There were punk rockers, some in their golden years, attending Riot Fest in Douglass Park on Sept. 15, 16 and 17. Split between South Albany and South California Avenues, along West Ogden ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ John Waters, Madonna, Miriam Margoyles, Angelica Ross, 'Cassandro' 2023-09-21
- Openly gay film director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, Cry-Baby) received his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Reporter noted. (Actors Ricki Lake and Mink Stole as well as photographer Greg Gorman were ...

Gay News

Chicago musician, producer and DJ Don Crescendo killed in Avondale stabbing 2023-09-20
- Chicago's LGBTQ+ nightlife community and allies have rallied around the family and close friends of local longtime musician, producer and DJ Rodney Donovan Taylor, a.k.a. Don Crescendo, in the wake of his death by stabbing last ...

Gay News

Jann Wenner comments on women and Black musicians, later apologizes 2023-09-18
- Openly gay Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner apologized for telling The New York Times that, for his book The Masters, he chose interviews with white male musicians who he called the "philosophers of rock" because ...

Gay News

Marge Summit's life to be celebrated Oct. 15 2023-09-15
--From a press release - A celebration of the extraordinary life of Marge Summit, the legendary Chicago bar owner, promoter of live music artists, political advocate and much more who passed away on May 16, 2023. Born Sept. 3, 1935 in ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Kim Petras, LGBTQ+ movies, TIFF, canceled shows, yachts 2023-09-15
Video below - Ahead of her Feed the Beast world tour, Grammy-winning international trans pop singer/songwriter Kim Petras has shared reimagined, symphonic, seven-piece string-ensemble performances of fan favorites from her debut album Feed ...

Gay News

THEATER Queer actor Kyle Patrick reflects on leading 'American Psycho: The Musical' 2023-09-14
- American Psycho—both the Bret Easton Ellis novel and the Mary Harron-directed film led by Christian Bale—would seem ripe for a musical treatment, given the omnipresent campy elements (despite, or maybe because of, the gore). And, in ...

Gay News

Chicago Opera Theater starts 50th-anniv. season with 'Soldier Songs' 2023-09-13
- Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is kicking off its 50th-anniversary season with David T. Little's Grammy-nominated Soldier Songs—described as "a haunting, heavy-metal infused theatrical cantata about the psychological impact of war." ...

Gay News

Porchlight Music Theatre's announces 29th season 2023-09-12
--From a press release - This past Friday at our special event, Porchlight ICONS: Celebrating Ben Vereen, we shared the exclusive announcement of our 29th Season! The new season launches with The Cole Porter Festival - A Celebration of the Man ...

Gay News

Billy Masters: Russell Tovey and the new Superman both go to the dogs 2023-09-11
- "I just can't believe I will be 80 at some point, sooner than I wish. And I will still be wearing my jeans. And I will still be wearing long hair. And I will still be doing the same stuff I've ...

Gay News

Protest action to be held at site of Sept. 9 Jason Aldean concert in Tinley Park 2023-09-08
- The Revolution Club Chicago has announced a protest action against 46- year-old country music star and Nashville resident Jason Aldean outside of his Highway Desperado Tour appearance Sept. 9 at Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre. The protest ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Sex Education' star, Rotten Tomatoes, Jessica Lange, Queer/Art 2023-09-08
Video below - Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa officially came out during an interview with Elle UK, according to Out. "I remember being at Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it ...

Gay News

Theater Review: A Taste of Soul brings music and food center stage 2023-09-08
By Brian Kirst - We all know the sluggish quagmire of weekday work mornings. Often the only thing that gets us moving and able to face the day is our favorite songs. While all of the Black Ensemble Theater productions ...

Gay News

'Saltburn,' 'Rustin' to be shown at Chicago International Film Festival 2023-09-06
- The 59th Chicago International Film Festival announced select highlights of this year's festival, running Oct. 11-22. Films will be presented at venues throughout the city, including the AMC NEWCITY 14, the Music Box Theatre, the Gene ...

Gay News

Painting Chi-town P!nk at Wrigley Field 2023-09-01
- P!nk got the party started on a Saturday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Aug. 12—and it didn't stop for almost two hours. Thanks to leftover outfits from Barbie movie screenings, much of the crowd knew ...


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.