color binds

Candis Cayne + The White Queers Bathing In Blackface

If Candis Cayne reaches back to the 1970s and finds an actual Blaxploitation figure to mimic for photographer Mike Ruiz — OF A-LIST: NEW YORK OMGZ!!! — can she get away with donning an afro and blackface without everybody finding it terribly offensive? Or do white folk, even those who know first-hand the type of minstrelshowness that goes hand-in-hand with being a minority, need to lay off the dark make-up?

In the above clip from James St. James web show, we see Ruiz working on one of his “Transformation” shoots with Cayne, who’s dolled up to play 1970s Blaxploitation icon Cleopatra Jones, who was played in two films by the late Tamara Dobson. Dobson was black. Candis is white. Does ironically playing in the sandbox of Blaxploitation give you a pass?

Or is this just what all the clever queers are doing now?

AJ Sarcione, a MTV publicist-cum-singer, has his spinning ladies in all sorts of blackface in his new “Rochambeau” video. Art?

UPDATE: When asked about the use of blackface in his video, Sarcione responds: “The three girls in the video represent silhouettes. Their look was created to make them uniform, to showcase the personality in their eyes, not the way they look, makes the connection. For artistic merit, they’re differentiated by different types of wigs and have different colored lips to accentuate the words of the song as they sing along, and matching heels to highlight the spinning action of the bikes.”

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  • Hilarious

    Can’t wait to read the replies to this. I’ll get the popcorn ready.

  • Black Pegasus

    So is this queen trying to be another Shirley Q Liquor, or is he really paying homage to Black iconic Women?

  • kayla

    As a black young woman, I just want to say who gives a f&%k?? I certainly don’t! Maybe it’s because I’m from the Caribbean where during carnival celebrations, many people, especially minstrels, don white face!! As a child I’ve donned white face, playing “Kiddies Carnival” so it just doesn’t offend me. It’s just MAKEUP people!! I think if the Politically Correct crowd were to go to my native isle during Carnival they would have seizures; black people dressed in full Native America gear, doing pow wows, black people dressed up in Kimonos and white or yellow face, yeah all the bleeding hearts would definitely have heart attacks!!

  • StayTrue

    Kayla I completely agree with you. My brothers always play the race card, but when the racism is subjected towards the other group; they dont give a crap.

  • Hilarious

    @kayla: I think the difference is the intent.

    If you mean to offend white people doing “white face” then you’re every bit as bad as the ignorant sacks who do “black face”.

    If you’re not doing it to perpetuate nasty stereotypes and maybe even saying something good about people then there’s a huge difference.

    Black face as in the kind done in minstrel shows is highly offensive and I don’t think it should be remotely taken lightly.

    That kind of hate being ignored is what gives hate groups the power to run amok. Small things grow larger very quickly and people have given their lives to help end things like that.

    @StayTrue: The same can be said of Queerty on a regular basis and many in the “gay community”.

    That said why do you feel racism towards black should be ignored at all for any reason? Your brother’s hypocrisy does not negate ignorance nor does it make it any less dangerous.

    Ignoring hate is why many young males have been committing suicide lately. It’s the same thing.

  • kayla

    I [email protected]Hilarious: Racism doesn’t bother me, I generally don’t give a f&^k if people hate me. So why should I care if a bunch of white people want to put black paint on their faces and act stupidly??? Why should you care, even if their intent is to perpetuate negative black stereotypes!?? Life is just too short, I just don’t understand why anyone gives a f*&k about dumb assholes!! They want you to react, then they know they have power over you!! Don’t give them the satisfaction. As for racism on Queerty, I find it fascinating and rather entertaining to read all the racists comments, human nature as a whole fascinates me!!

  • Miss Understood

    There’s a terrible history of blackface in American that most of us are too young to remember. It was a demeaning caricature which played up exaggerated stereotypes about black people. Considering the status African American people had at the time it was like rubbing salt into wounds.

    I don’t think dressing up as a tribute to an beautiful woman has anything to do with blackface. It not mocking or degrading, it’s a gorgeous homage to a fabulous iconic style.

  • Hilarious

    @kayla: We live in a time now where it’s easy to fall into forgetting the past and when you forget history tends to repeat itself.

  • Jeffree

    My first, gut reaction was “OH NO,” we really don’t need this.
    My second reaction –which I’m still sorting through, is that Mike Ruiz had a greater role to play in the concept and execution than did Candis Cayne.

    I’ve read several articles/interviews with her, and she comes across as a very smart and thoughtful woman. She’s had more success than any Trans person I can think of in recent memory—on TV, stage (serious dramatic work), and modeling. Correct me please if I’m wrong. [I know RuPaul is a contender].

    My point is this: she signed up to do a modeling job and at that point she’s a “canvas” more than a co-contributor. So I think that any aspersions cast would better be directed at the “A Lister”–cough, cough– Mr. Ruiz (himself a POC) than at Ms. Cayne.

    What do other people think?

  • kayla

    @Miss Understood: What exactly is this “terrible” history?? YOu mean white entertainers putting black paint on their faces, and acting stupidly in an attempt to entertain white audiences by perpetuating black stereotypes?? That is the “terrible” history of which you speak?? Oh the humanity!! I know that in my adopted country of America, it’s become politically expedient for everyone to assume that all black people have very thin skin and actually give a f&%k about trivial shit like this, and maybe it’s my immigrant mentality, but I just don’t see what the big f%$king deal is, and I greatly doubt that blacks who actually lived through the height of black face spent a lot of time worrying about it either. They would have been too busy worrying about TERRIBLE things like um…lynchings, lack of voting rights etc. But I could be wrong about that.

  • Polyboy

    Okay Kayla, you actually don’t know what you’re talking about. Blackface isn’t just about perpetuating stereotypes, it’s about the systematic dehumanization of a population and economic disenfranchisement.

    My parents and grandparents lived through that time and it was not that long ago.

    You have distance and you did not grow up here especially in the south. Don’t presume to know history you obviously didn’t read for the sake of appearing post racial.

  • Hilarious

    @Polyboy: Thank you.

    I read over that post and cringed.

  • chris

    @ everyone whining: Get over yourselves and get with the 21st century. It’s because of petty bickering like this over an ARTISTIC expression that we will never be able to live in a post-racial society, because….YOU DON’T WANT TO. Once the game is over, no one can use their “hurt feelings” as a bargaining chip. Get with it people, the Brits do blackface humor all the time, and what a racist backwards country they are(sarcasm implied) unless the argument is about the denial of basic human rights not being given to a certain race creed religion or sexuality, culture is fair game for parody

  • like

    painting someone black does not equal “blackface.” Traditional blackface attempted to caricature the features of black people. This is simply people painted black.

    get over it.

  • Ralph

    From my experience of the carribean, seems like the culture of self hate and xenophobia, machismo, colorism and homophobia runs deep, a lot of the diaspora thinks so, they are indeed hostile towards natives,afro-americans, africans and asians and have major “euro fever” for lack of better term. About the blackface, we live in a postmodern world were every one wants people to connect to them but not the other way around (ie. The brother that calls out racism when it’s convenient for him). And the I don’t give a fuck attitude is just that, guess what, it’s not that cool and not a sutanable social personality (hipsters).

  • Ralph

    @kayla: it’s really easy to dismiss that this cultural history is it’s all intertwined with economy and violence, if you get the choice of being mocked for your heritage and getting lynched, you’ll take the ministrel act, but how people potray you does have an impact in how they will interact with you. Candis will not lynch a black person. She’s probably going to have a great time with them but thing is if you exploit someone heritage for laughs or “artistic pursuit” (die oscar wilde! die!) how much do you actualy respect them? Do you think about how people without black people in their social circle will intergrate your work? And yes painting someone in black does not equate blackface but if you look at real modern blackface acts, it’s doesn’t quite look like ministrel acts of the 19th/20th century either.

  • kayla

    @Ralph: You are completely ignorant!! Self hate?? I think if you want to see self hatred at work you should go to any inner city in America. A people who love themselves would not allow themselves to live like that. I certainly cannot speak for every West Indian, but I can only say that on my little island, which by the way isn’t Jamaica, because all Americans know about is Jamaica. There is no rampant homophobia, some of our most celebrated artists are well known to be gay, everybody knows it, and nobody has, as far as I know, tried to mete out violence to them, my mother is a staunch Catholic, who thinks homosexuality is a sin, and yet our gay neighbour was more than welcome to a tasty Sunday lunch. It’s certainly true that many middle class West Indians look down on African Americans, but that has more to do with class and culture clash than anything else. I myself have a distaste for black American urban culture, but darling it’s not self hate, because that’s not MY culture!! My culture is tea before bed and a good cricket game! All black people are not the same sweetie!!

  • RLS

    I think the question that should be asked here is why it takes a white woman to recreate Diana Ross in the first place. Were there no black trans people available. The real story is the fact that authentic black beauty is so devalued it takes a white woman putting makeup on herself in order for the community and Mike Ruiz to find it “beautiful.”

  • kayla

    @RLS: This pathetic desire for white people to appreciate black beauty is truly sad, who gives a f&^K if white people don’t find black women attractive?? As a black woman, I certainly don’t care, why are you people so pathetic!? Why are you soo concerned with how whites view blacks!? It’s like a mental disorder, black Americans really need therapy!! I actually think that desegregation is the worst thing that could have happened to black Americans, it’s caused a major brain drain and intergrated blacks are bitter as f&^K. As someone who grew up in a country with mostly people of African and Indian (from the subcontinent that is) decent, went to schools, until coming to the U.S. for University 4 yrs ago, with only black and Indian kids, I just don’t understand this sick desire to be in the company of whites, and to get white approval. It’s truly a sign of low self-esteem! Segregation would probably do black America some good!! Get as far away from white people for a while and fix your shit!!

  • toddinsf



    Um – the ignorance displayed in your post is truly appalling. Segregation a GOOD thing?! Do you even know what word you are using? Do you have ANY concept of what social conditions were like in this country under Jim Crow laws? Better not to associate with whites? Um, try not being able to go to a school that could afford books because the money for THAT went to the white schools where you were not permitted to go. Sound better? Or being forced to stand in the crowded back of a bus while there are empty seats in the front, or not being able to eat while shopping downtown because none of the lunch counters would serve you, or….

    You talk about how Americans wouldn’t understand the culture of your native Caribbean country? Maybe, just maybe, before espousing some half-formed idea about what would be ‘better’ for another culture you might try learning something about it next time. I’m trying to keep my hypocrisy intake to a minimum, thanks.

  • OrchidIslander

    I’m not sure which is the most offensive!!! His singing, his cheesy playing to the camera or the fact that this video cost as much as a Haitian’s hourly wage to make!!!

    I want my ears back as I tore them off to escape the vile sound that was issuing forth from my computer!!!

    I’ll take Blackface or Fuchsiaface even – just don’t force me to endure that poor excuse for a pop music video again!!!


    “Kayla” is an attention-seeker, who gets off on making inflammatory pronouncements, and everyone is feeding his/her/its neurosis. I wouldn’t be surprised if all this was one of the little people inside Jason’s head causing a ruckus.

  • George


    To start:
    I agree with your post. This isn’t really blackface. This is people painted black. Of course, that only applies to the second video.

    On the FIRST video, there’s a thicker line on whether it constitutes blackface. While she’s clearly made-up as to look like a black woman, the intent is clearly not to caricature black features (in my eyes, actually, it seems like they’re downplaying black features, which can open a whole can of worms about standards of beauty in relation to race, blah blah). But on the flip side, why didn’t they just get a black person?

    My opinion in a nutshell: done somewhat blah, but at the same time without too much insensitivity.
    And stop feeding the trolls.

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