Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



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

This article shared 462 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 462 times since Thu Oct 14, 2021
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

MUSIC Elton John's 'The Lockdown Sessions' now out 2021-10-22
- Elton John's The Lockdown Sessions is now out, courtesy of Interscope Records. An album of collaborations recorded remotely over the last 18 months, The Lockdown Sessions features UK #1 single "Cold Heart (PNAU remix)," with Dua ...

Gay News

THEATER E. Faye Butler to star in 'Fannie' Oct. 25-Nov. 14 2021-10-21
- Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., will host the run of Cheryl L. West's Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer), which will run Oct. 25-Nov. 14. E. Faye Butler stars as U.S. civil-rights ...

Gay News

Lyric Opera presenting 'Florencia en el Amazonas' Nov. 13-28 2021-10-21
- During Nov. 13-28, Lyric Opera of Chicago will run the company premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas—the first Spanish-language work to be presented as part of Lyric's mainstage opera season. There will be evening performances on ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Superman, TheWrap, Oscar Wilde, Billy Porter, Cher, 'Dragula' 2021-10-17
- The ongoing comic Superman: Son of Kal-El, by writer Tom Taylor and artist John Timms, launched in July and saw Jon Kent officially take up the mantle of the Man of Steel now that his father, ...

Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24 2021-10-15
- North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...

Gay News

MUSICALS 'Pretty Woman' tickets go on sale Oct. 15 2021-10-15
- After a pre-Broadway run in Chicago and being on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood's most beloved romantic stories of all time, returns to Chicago. The production will run at the CIBC ...

Gay News

MUSIC Janis Ian's last Chicago concert May 14 2021-10-13
- In what is being advertised as her last concert in Chicago, LGBTQ singer Janis Ian will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets ($48-$50) will ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' running through Nov. 6 2021-10-12
- Black Button Eyes Productions is welcoming back live audiences with the popular internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog—an authorized fan production to benefit the Chicago charity Season of Concern—playing through ...

Gay News

Lyric Opera running seven performances of 'The Magic Flute' Nov. 3-27 2021-10-11
- Lyric Opera of Chicago is running seven performances of The Magic Flute, Mozart's final opera, on Nov. 3-27. There will be performances at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3; matinees on Nov. 7, 11, 14 and 17, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race' winners, Playboy, punk band, The Dinah, Daniel Craig 2021-10-10
Video below - As part of VH1's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth project, five winners from the RuPaul's Drag Race winner's circle—season one's BeBe Zahara Benet, All Stars 4 winner Monet X Change, season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, season 12 victor Jaida Essence ...

Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out 2021-10-09
- The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...

Gay News

Book about musician Tori Amos' works coming out 2021-10-07
- The book Tori Amos: every album, every song—by rock journalist Lisa Torem—will be out in the United States on Friday, Oct. 29, courtesy of Sonic Bond Publishing. In 1992, Amos—an acclaimed singer, pianist and composer—achieved fame ...

Gay News

MUSIC Rachael Sage at Uncommon Ground on Oct. 14 2021-10-06
- Rachael Sage—described as an "award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and member/supporter of the LGBTQ+ community"—will perform at Uncommon Ground-Lake View, 3800 N. Clark St., on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. ...

Gay News

Opera singer Ketelson to give Center on Halsted performance 2021-10-05
- World renowned bass-baritone opera singer Kyle Ketelsen will perform Italian arias at the Center on Halsted to raise funds both to support his alma mater, Clinton (Iowa) High School (Vocal Department) and Care for Real Pantry ...

Gay News

Pride Fest sees rainbows over rain 2021-10-05
- After last year's COVID-related cancellation, the LGBTQ+-focused outdoor affair Pride Fest returned to Lake View after a delay of a few months, as it usually takes place in June. An additional full day was added to ...


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.