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Cae Monāe is the artist finding strength in black trans power

TextZooey Gleaves

We speak to the multi-talented creative about Courage the Cowardly Dog, finding beauty in nudity, and wanting to create an everlasting anal cleanser

The Dazed Beauty Community is our ever-expanding encyclopaedia of creatives and emerging talent from across the world who are redefining the way we think about beauty. From supermodels to digital artists to makeup prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.

A computerised voice repeatedly asserts ‘Cis people scare me’, in CISPHOBIC, Cae Monāe’s defiant club anthem that rings with her musings on the importance of rarified space and self-determination. The track is infused with pulsing beats and primordial growls, creating a futuristic sound that marries both technology and nature.

As a multi-talented musician and make-up artist, her aesthetic expands this creative universe; highly pigmented skin that looks like freshly cut marble and arched imperious contours that accentuate Monāe’s naturally doll-like features, are inspired by a mixture of pop culture and fine art, with The Cheetah Girls, Leigh Bowery, Cruella Devil, and Jean-Michel Basquiat merged to create vivid portraits of a character that seems to exist outside of time and space altogether.

Based in Chicago, she has become an icon of the city’s queer community, standing beside the likes of Imp Kid, Wanna Bon Bon, and Eda Birthing in a new generation of creatives making colourful waves in beauty, fashion, and music. But in a world where social media has increased the expectation for regular content, Monāe drip-feeds us with look after look to keep our mouths watering, and as fans, all we can do is wait with bated breath until the next visual confection appears on our screens.

Here we spoke to Monāe about her inspirations and her predictions for the future of the beauty industry.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself and where you grew up?

Cae Monāe: My name is Cae Monāe, I am what they consider, an international transsexual woman. I grew up in North America with my mother and dog.  

What’s your earliest beauty related memory?

Cae Monāe: Getting spanked for wearing the best dresses during play-time in pre-kindergarten.

What is it you do and why do you do it?

Cae Monāe: Profoundly exist, mainly, because it is my responsibility. 

How did you get into it?

Cae Monāe: Vaginal birth, as I’ve been told.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Cae Monāe: Publication, people financially supporting my work, and being a muse for other creators. 

Describe your beauty aesthetic in 3 words.

Cae Monāe: Black. Trans. Power. 

Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?

Cae Monāe: Courage the Cowardly Dog; Bold, fearful, looks great in lavender, protects the girls.  

What does beauty mean to you?

Cae Monāe: Ugliness. 

When do you feel most beautiful?

Cae Monāe: Naked. Only wearing lashes, oils and butters. 

It's 30 years from now. You stumble home at 3am and catch your reflection in the fridge door. What do you look like? 

Cae Monāe: Hungry.  

If you had to choose one surgical enhancement, what would it be and why?

Cae Monāe: Invisibility Skin Graft. 

It’s the year 2100. You’re the owner of the largest beauty tech company in the world, what five products or treatments will you dedicate your resources trying to invent?

Cae Monāe: Facial Feminisation Serum, Everlasting Anal Cleanser, Illuminated Eyeshadow, Digital Color Changing Contacts, DIY Temporary Fillers

You’ve had an accident which causes you to lose your sense of smell. The doctors can’t return it fully but can give you the ability to smell one scent. What do you pick and why?

Cae Monāe: Water – oceans, lakes, seas. No smell brings me more happiness. Maybe Cinnabon. Fuck. Can I choose two? 

If not your body then, is there anything you would want to leave behind? An artwork you haven't done yet, a book, a bloodline?

Cae Monāe: I want to leave behind an iconic legacy. Whether it’s my art, music or words. 

You have to replace your body with that of an animal or a mythological creature. What do you go for and why?

Cae Monāe: Shark, octopus, crab hybrid. Imagine a transsexual Ursula but with crab arms and shark teeth. That would be cute. 

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