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24 January 2013

Candis Cayne (1971–) dancer, actress.

Brendan McDaniel and her twin brother were born in California and raised in Maui, Hawai’i to parents who were teachers. In her late teens McDaniel was trained as a dancer in Los Angeles, and then moved to New York and won a scholarship to Steps Dance Studio.

McDaniel ran into Sherry Vine, whom she had previously met in Los Angeles, and was introduced to the New York drag scene. Her first job in drag was selling cigarettes and candy at the Roxy. She then started performing at Boy Bar as Candis Cayne. Candis, performed at the Wigstock drag festival with an elaborately choreographed act and then was asked to do the choreography in the film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, 1995. She acted in Stonewall, and performed in Wigstock, both also 1995. At her performances in New York she would talk about her transition, and a tip bucket went around to pay for her surgeries. Candis completed transition in 1996.

She was the title character in the film Mob Queen, 1998. In 2001 she was the winner of the Miss Continental USA pageant for transgender performers. From 2002 she was informally married to Marco McDermett, a New York DJ who worked with her in her show, and had a child from a previous marriage.

She was in one episode of CSI: NY in 2007 and was a recurring character in Dirty Sexy Money, also 2007, and in Season 6 of Nip/Tuck. In all of her films she has played transgender characters. She continues to appear in film and television and does live shows in New York and Los Angeles. Her marriage to Marco broke up in 2010


There is a question of how, if she became a woman in 1996, she was able to enter the Miss Continental USA pageant in 2001.  However unlike Miss Gay USofA or Miss Gay America which bar transgender contestants and/or those on female hormones,  Miss Continental USA encourages such contestants.

Of course Candis was not the first trans women to play a trans woman in a television series.  There were a dozen of so previously – see especially Carlotta in Number 96, in 1973.  See my detailed list.

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