Image Courtesy of Candice Cherry
Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Candice Cher
Affiliation(s) (past and present):
I am a proud member of the Feral Showgirls Performance Group and the owner of 24K Imaging, LLC.
How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?
My name is Candice Cherry, aka Kitt Fatale. Trying to put who I am into words can be overwhelming. I feel like I have checked all the boxes of life as I evolved through the many upgrades of Candice. The current version is a mom, a widow, a college student, photographer, performer, podcaster, and sometimes a blogger.
I feel my burlesque and photography story go hand in hand. I started following online a local business, Hipnotic World Fitness Center, because they had a burlesque class taught about six months before I stepped inside the studio. The course was on my bucket list so I signed up for an eight-week intensive and loved every second of it. May 2018, Kitt Fatale, my performance persona, was born. After the recital, I was hooked on how burlesque helped me feel sexy, confident, and strong in my body, so I officially joined the Feral Showgirls performing troupe. About a year into this journey, Rachel, along with other amazing women in my life, encouraged me to go after my dream of being a photographer. I picked up my camera and began photographing birth, a moment that women embrace their power and are also most vulnerable. A few months later, I had the opportunity to photograph a group of women in boudoir style. Boudoir is another moment when women are powerful and vulnerable. These women honored me with the ability to capture them in their authentic form; strong, confident, and their version of sexy.
Today, I perform as Kitt about once a month around Hampton Roads. I also photograph women several times a year during a weekend photography event, in tandem with Suilean, another fantastic photographer.
How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?
14 years. I moved to VA from NYC for a country feel that still gave me access to the city.
What advice would you give young women going into your field?
My advice would be to just do it. Be bold! Be brave and make the leap. There is only one you and the world is ready for you to shine.
Does your gender influence your relationship to your work? In what way?
Definitely! We are shown in the media that sexiness and a woman’s sexuality are specific to the male gaze. As a burlesque performer and a photographer who captures boudoir, I get to present how I feel sexy and what makes other women feel sexy. I am in control of the narrative. I get to take power back from those who wish to define women by old standards, and I get to showcase not just myself but others in their authentic, raw beauty.
Have you faced challenges in your field because of your gender or have you found your gender to be an asset? What kinds of challenges or advantages, and how have they affected your life?
Being a woman is an asset for me. Surprising to many, the audience makeup for a Feral Showgirls show is majority women. I feel I have an advantage of being able to showcase a woman who is not a size 2 on stage embracing who they are and feeling good in their body while doing it. I believe that when you see someone who looks like you being brave and stepping away from societal norms it empowers others to want to do the same.
Has parenthood impacted your career or shaped your perspective as a professional? In what ways?
I was a single parent for many years. I was under the impression that I couldn’t be an effective mom and be Candice. I ended up tabling things that I thought would take time, energy, and focus away from my kids. I was so wrong. Kids need to see their mom taking chances. They need to know that we are whole people with hobbies, careers, and aspirations. They need to see us laugh and cry. They need to know that we are human. Since putting myself out there with 24K and as Kitt Fatale, my kids see me as a multifaceted person. I am their mom; however, I am so much more.
What accomplishment is your greatest triumph?
I’ve had some impactful moments especially over the last 3 years. Performing for Hampton Roads Pride on the stage that was touched by Duke Ellington, being a part of a panel with my fellow Showgirls “Coloring Outside Your Lines” at BlerdCon and performing for The Maine Attraction when she came here to teach a workshop are just a few. And of course taking a leap of faith with photography.
What has been your greatest challenge and what have you learned from it?
If you asked me this question a year ago, I would have had a different response. My husband passed away in November 2020. I felt like my life imploded and had no idea what to do. Nothing made sense anymore. Over the last year, I became a bit of a hermit, according to my family. This time allowed me to evaluate every part of my life. I realized that we only get one chance at living, and we should live it to the fullest. I started weeding out all things that didn’t bring me joy. Yes, there are things that we must do, pay bills, “adult,” and whatnot, however for me, saying “I don’t have time” or “I will do it tomorrow” is no longer an option. If it is something that makes me smile, no matter how small, I’m doing it.
Any closing thoughts?
Find your tribe! These are the women who will welcome, encourage and celebrate you with genuine love and acceptance. I am grateful for having the crazy, uniquely beautiful friend group who have stood by me through so much. We have laughed. We have cried. We are each other’s support system. There is nothing better than having a circle of women that you can sit in your pj's together and simply be.
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