Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



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

This article shared 732 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 732 times since Thu Oct 14, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Gaga/Bennett, 'House of Gucci,' Leslie Jordan, Murray Hill, Lil Nas X 2021-12-05
Videos below - MTV announced that the special MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga will air on the music network Thursday, Dec. 16, according to The performance, which was filmed in New York earlier this year, features ...

Gay News

THEATER Michael Dalke makes Pretty Woman: The Musical happy and gay 2021-12-04
- The fairy-tale story of Pretty Woman was brought to life as a musical by openly gay theater director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell in 2018. He debuted the original production of Pretty Woman: The Musical premiered in Chicago at ...

Gay News

Moises Kaufman takes audiences to 'Paradise' 2021-12-03
- Paradise Square is a new musical that opened in Chicago last month at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. This is based on a true story set in New York City in 1863, when Black and Irish immigrants lived together in a ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions to present Christmas Dearest Nov. 27-Dec. 31 2021-12-03
--From a press release - CHICAGO (December 2, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 20th anniversary season with the return of one of its most popular holiday musicals: Christmas Dearest, featuring book and lyrics by ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Wicked' returning to Chicago in 2022 2021-11-30
- The blockbuster musical Wicked will return to Broadway In Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., on Sept. 28-Dec. 4, 2022. Now the fifth longest-running show in Broadway history—and featuring songs such as "Popular" ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2021-11-29
- "The obvious one would be A Little Night Music. I know I could do that role very well now that I've gotten to this stage in my life, and you know it's a beautiful song in there. It's perfection."—Sarah Brightman reveals ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Netflix, Kal Penn, Dennis Rodman, 'The Voice,' 'Euphoria' 2021-11-28
Video below - Terra Field—one of the Netflix employees who organized the walkout around Dave Chappelle's comedy special The Closer—has resigned from the streamer, Deadline reported. Field, along with B. Pagels-Minor, organized an ...

Gay News

Broadway titan Stephen Sondheim dies at 91 2021-11-27
- Stephen Sondheim, one of the giants of Broadway songwriting, died Nov. 26 at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, according to media reports. He was 91. Among the works in the legend's oeuvre are Company (1970), Follies ...

Gay News

EVENTS John Grumpy Co. presenting 'Black Sunday' Nov. 28 2021-11-24
- John Grumpy Co. is hosting "Black Sunday," which will take place at HVAC Pub, 3530 N. Clark St., on Sunday, Nov. 28, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.. This event will feature celebrity DJ Jamal Smallz. "Black Sunday" will ...

Gay News

MUSIC Grammy nominations announced; GLAAD comments 2021-11-24
- On Nov. 23, the nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards were announced. John Batiste, the musician who also serves as the bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, led among all nominees with 11 ...

Gay News

MUSIC Controversial rapper DaBaby postpones shows 2021-11-24
- DaBaby's return to touring following fallout for making anti-gay comments at the Rolling Loud music festival in Miami this past summer has been postponed, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The rapper's been promoting his "Live Show ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ '9-1-1,' Billie Jean King, Lena Waithe, singer Mary Lambert, White Party 2021-11-21
- Actor Rockmond Dunbar left the Fox show 9-1-1 after four seasons over a vaccine mandate, Deadline noted. His gay character, Michael Grant, was abruptly written off in the Nov. 15 episode, leaving fans of the first-responder ...

Gay News

Rainbow Railroad plans 'When I Am Free' benefit concert to get LGBTQI+s to safety 2021-11-20
--From a press release. Videos below - Chicago, IL (November 12, 2021) - The annual Chicago 5 Lives Fundraiser hosted by Rainbow Railroad is proud to return this year with "When I Am Free", a benefit concert offering attendees a premier evening of ...

Gay News

MOVIES 'Dante and Beatrice in Florence' Nov. 28-Dec. 5 2021-11-19
- Porchlight Music Theatre is partnering with Hershey Felder Presents: Live from Florence and its second season of productions. The launch of this new season from Hershey Felder is the new musical film Dante and Beatrice in ...

Gay News

Lil Nas X part of 'Jingle Ball' on Dec. 7 2021-11-17
- Queer rapper Lil Nas X will headline KISS FM's Jingle Ball Presented by Capital One this year, run in coordination with iHeart Radio. The event will take place Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Allstate Arena at 7:30 ...


Copyright © 2021 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      OUT! Guide     
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      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      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.