Kat Cunning Always Says It Like It Is!
Written by Frank Louis
Photographer: Frank Louis @franklouisphoto
Model: Kat Cunning @katcunning
Stylist: Mike Stallings
MUA: John Fabulin @johnfabulin
Hairstylist: Mideyah Parker @mideyahparkerhair
It’s been called the “it factor”, the “X factor” or that “Je Ne Sais Quoi” feeling. It’s that hard to describe feeling you get, but you know exactly what it is when you feel it. Several minutes with Kat and you feel it. She arrives exactly on time; hair pulled up and back, and immediately fills the room with positivity. She is easy going, open and warm, and immediately falls in love with my dog. There is so much immediately available and yet somehow you just want to learn more and more about her. It’s a Je Ne Sais Quoi rush. Kat is charismatic, sexy, keenly self aware, fun, professional, and her eyes are (pardon the pun) Kat like.
“I wanted to be a Backstreet Boy”
Born in Oregon, a self-proclaimed tomboy, and obsessed with dance. “You don’t understand, I wanted to BE a backstreet boy. I actually wrote them a letter asking to audition”.
Fast-forward just a few years and her resume is already chock full of credits, enough for someone twice her age. She graduated from SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory, and joined a Baroque-Burlesque Opera with Company XIV. She made her dramatic debut playing Emilie in Les Liasison Dangereuses with Janet Mcteer and Live Schreiber on Broadway. Then her official Broadway debut was made in 2016 playing Lila in Cirque Du Soleil’s Paramour for which she co-wrote Lila’s score. She recently concluded a North America Tour opening for LP and Naah Kahan, collaborated with Juno Calypso in Refinery 29’s sold out show 29 Rooms. She then appeared in NYC’s Avant-Garde Sleep No More (if you haven’t seen it, it is a must). On top of all this, she has also released several singles and music videos.
“I’m desperately romantic”
“Sex plays a big role in everything I do” says the openly gay singer, actress, musician and performer. “I use it in my acting, singing and song writing. My new single “Stay On The Line” is about phone sex.” When asked if she worries her sexuality might impact her career (think Melissa Etheridge and George Michael) she sharply says “I mean, I am fully aware of who is our president, and there are some crazy beliefs out there, but I gotta just be me. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. It’s important to me to be authentic. I just tell my story. Fuck it.“
When asked how her family reacted when she came out she say’s “well, my mom is gay too. As a matter of fact, when my mom told me that she was gay I got angry. I think my exact words were ‘well that’s a slap in the face’. At that time, I didn’t identify as being gay or queer. I had my first experience in my first year of college. When I first shared the news with my mother she didn’t believe me. It took her over a year before she realized that this wasn’t a phase. I was more worried about telling my father. When I told him that I was worried about his reaction, he was actually sad that I thought he wouldn’t be supportive ”.
“Sex plays a big role in everything I do”
Soon to be seen in the new season of HBO’s The Deuce starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. “I think my red lipstick got me the job. I still can’t believe it. I spend half my time trying not to be intimidated by the cast, who has been nothing but amazingly supportive and helpful. Margarita Levieva has been so sweet and is so talented. It’s truly a dream role and certainly a life changing experience. I play a character by the name of Christina Fuego. I can’t reveal any secrets (because it hasn’t aired yet) but I will tell you she is an actress and a burlesque dancer. I really identify with her, she is a lot like me; curvy, short and a ‘lil quirky. I play her with a lot of heart, passion and pride”.
When asked the dreaded question ‘so who is on your playlist right now?’, Kat groans. “Oh, I hate that question ‘cuz my musical tastes are so eclectic. Ok, I’d say there is definitely some Annie Lennox, some Nina Simone and let’s throw in some JT (Justin Timberlake). I’m also really into King Princess. Her song Holy is amazing and the video is everything. I gravitate toward music that feels real. I write from my personal experiences. I started writing poetry and have even been published in the Young American Poets.
“Hmmmmm, what makes me cool?….”I’m the anti apathetic hipster… I think it is cool to care. I’m desperately romantic. I’m a freak and want to make room for all the other freaks in the world”. Backstreet Boys, wherever you are, eat your hearts out.