9 year review…

I think it is a special number. 3x3x3.


It marks the end and beginnign of a 9 year cycle.


I’ve spent much of the last day or so looking over cryptic facebook posts, tribe.net profiles, old journals and just sitting and thinking about the last 9 years.


Kind of like my year review but more exhausting!


Here’s what I’ve summed up.


2003-2005 18/19/20yrs old

The BVH years.

I graduated highschool, moved into a anarcho-punk-queer squat, helped organize food-not-bombs. Experimented with boys and substance and spent a LOT of time alone wandering around Santa Rosa and the Bay area learning about my own interests and views on life. I danced and danced in a few shows at the community college I went to. Stopped painting and started dancing. Worked at a Natrual Food Co-op and went in and out of depression. 2004 I traveled to PDX to visit friends and met the Sissyboys and some Faeries at a club called Booty, the next May of 2005 I went to my first gathering (lightning-tane) which in a flash, literally and otherwise lit up many individuals, archetypes, shadows and interests I’ve held for the next 6 years. June of that year I moved to PDX.

Now that I reflect on this it is interesting for me to think I was being led by a invisible hand to go to places and experience people to prepare me for the coming years in PDX.. all the while at the time I felt aimless, listless and often trapped in my own chaotic fantasy world in my head.


2005-2008 SISSYBOY/Love jail/turning point

20/21/22/23yrs old

I’ll save the minutae for the book I’m gonna write but I’ll sum it up like this:

Queer punk from Santa Rosa sneaks into a nightclub in SE pdx wearing a purple thai wrap and a nasty blond wig. He see’s 3 queens dancing on some speakers to “goodbye horses” he see’s not only their young and writhing bodies wrapped in ripped skits, duct tape, and slathered with glitter and krylon and MAC make-up… he also see’s the archetypes, demons and spirits swirling and flowing through and around them. He is hit by lightning again. He is given a choice… give up your idealism, sensitivity and yes safety to join them, be them, love them…. or walk out of the door right now and never come back.

I sacraficed a part of myself that flash.

Sissyboy was 2.5 years of fantasy realness bootcamp. I was never the most popular, nor the loudest but I do think I was interesting. I spent a lot of time struggling between wanting to feel safe  and being swept up along the fast rushing deluge of booze, drugs, glitter and glamour. I showed up almost unable to speak.. you see I had a tic. A verbal tic and I would yell out non-sequitor words along with a few key words which came to define my drag…POODLE!

I remember having BIG visions about elaborate dance numbers and mulit-media cacaphony. I remember wanting everyone to cry— for real— onstage– not cause I’m a sadist but because I felt the ecstatic wild call of passion and pain singing out from each of us.

Not only did you have to be a crazy queen to be in sissyboy you had to have the most beautiful of damage and a willingness for it to be seen and made fun of every month on stage in front of 800 of your best friends!

I think once I was given an container to express a very specific part of myself it came out whether I was driving the chariot or not. I think I had A LOT of energy but no focus or interest in being focused. I was Delirium…I had half body in this world and half my body in a free associative underworld inhabited by drag demons and queen angels. I think I was sober most of the time during sissyboy… disclaimer *MOST of the time is very relative as is what constitutes sobriet for queens of this caliber.

It’s hard to convey exactly how intense it was…and how meaningful it was to be a Sissyboy. How precious and unique it was to have a group of other intensly creative queens take over the town, intiate me into my womanhood and drink blood from satans cup. At times it was pure magic and the rush of the crowd heals all wounds, publicity mistakes and broken promises.

Sissyboy ended for me in 2007 and I left feeling empty and in need of something to fill the void.

Once I gave myself permission to learn I started my manic dancing artist explosion. Dancing for Mizu Desierto Buto Theatre, Linda Austin and Katrina O’Brian….that felt strong and amazing.

2008 was also the year I started training in Butoh with Mizu Desierto, Diego Pinon and doing numerous workshops with artists like The Tamanos and Katsura Kan.


Lovejail. Look it up. Think about it. It happened to me. It gave me many tools. It took my willingness to create art away for a moment. I had to break up and out of love jail to go find my inspiration again.


After I broke out of lovejail I turned a corner moved downtown and woke up. No one was going to do the work for me so I decided to work very hard. I started doing nothing but dance and work.



2009-2010 Unicorn, Re-Birth, Endless ammount of energy before the crash

24/25 yrs old

I think I dyed my hair platinum on my birthday in 2009. I became a unicorn. This was also the year I auditioned for every dance project I could, started going out every weekend in drag, going to the woods to dance under the stars and work multiple jobs. A unicorn has boundless energy. A unicorn is untouchable. A unicorn will fuck your shit up if you cross hir boundaries. A unicorn is precious. A unicorn was the original don’t-give-a-fuck. This was the year I traveled to NYC-DC-AUS-SF-SXM-SEA and other fine pit stops along the way finding ways to travel on a dime, tour with The Genderfluids and rebuild my esteem and capabilities as a performer. 2009 was so manic I over exhausted my ankle to a point where I could not walk. and even then I continued to dance. I continued this process of constant activity well through the year. In fact I went from dancing in one big show to directing another  in the course of a month.


The beginning of 2010 was known as THE LEARNING CURVE.

I felt like a superstar and acted like one too. After traveling a bunch in 09′ started 10′ off by visiting New Orleans to visit my dear sister Lee Kyle.. I missed Mardi Gras by a week but I got to coast on the fumes so to speak… which only gave me a whiff of the carnal barbeques to come.

The order and the virtue of Feb made way for competition and drag explosion in June. All the while contemplating the machinery of the Culture Machine. I worked on Ordo Virtutum (pt 1) Miss Thing and Culture Machine in tandem through the beginning of this year. I rehearsed 3-5 days a week, worked 3-6 days a week and once fall it I was dancing in, producing, competing, directing, or choreographing between 3-7 different shows at the same time. There was no room for love. There was no room for me, there was only room for Kaj-anne Pepper and the dancing. Between Sept 2009 and June 2010 (when I wont Homo’s Got Talent) I sustained 3 concussions, a bruised rib and had the gnarliest of black eyes. I also found out my father had died, and after curating and creating my first gallery exhibition/installation/performance I found out I had scabies, and was in much need of a break. This is the inverse of feeling like I was being led while being aimless. I was leading myself driving myself so hard, trying to prove and be seen and validated that I was losing my center and becoming truly aimless. How many times did I have to crack open my skull before I learned how to slow down… well… like I said a few sentances ago… 3. Just enough I’d say. I couldn’t slow down there was too much momentum the unicorn was moving at full speed.

The unicorn was moving full speed til I cut off her hair and skipped town.

2010 ended with me shaving my head in a foreign country crying after watching The Temple Grandin story on lifetime.


2011-Genderfantasy and the end of a 9 years cycle.

2011 started with me in the Caribbean healing from the inevitable crash of working 18hours a day for 200 days in a row will bring. This was a special time when I realized I was no longer in my early 20’s. I in fact was getting older. I had put the unicorn to bed. I started to embody a larger vision.

Discrimination is the virtue of manifestation.

And you can’t make love in a vaccum.

To feel supported you need to let people come within at least 5 feat of the emotional wall built to protect the squishy soft parts while flying at the speed of fierce.

Jan-May 2011 was 5 months of taking down the barriers I had erected in the last 3-5 years. I cried a lot. I shaved my head grew a beard and looked like a man for the first time… I recognized my vulnerabilities and the strength it takes to keep the heart open in a battlefield. Friendship intimacy and grace were the medicines I needed. I didn’t dance, or really do anything besides support myself, journal, cry and work out. No dancing, not theory, not criticism, no 10 hour a day rehearsals. No 3 feet of blonde hair. Not lipstick. No corsets, not highheels and no stage time.

Saying no to the addiction created the YES for the fantasy.

June -Dec 2011 I produced, choreographed, directed and organized my first big art baby with a group of dancers and few supportive collaborators. I managed 2 fundraisers, schedules, interests, growth patters, and became very aware of the spirit of teaching being the humble learning. To speak from the heart, to dance from the heart and to embody what bubbles out…

Another learning curve.


In the last 9 years I have been given the gift of shelter and retreat more than once. I have been broken down and beaten…literally having been attacked twice in the same day.I have cracked my skull open. Layed a foundation for excellence and healing. Failed at some basic interpersonal pleasentries. Excelled in some passionate flights of fancy. I have moved across the gender spectrum numerous times… even considered medical intervention to support my desire for a new trajectory. Won the show. Won 3rd place in the show. Had my crown stolen. Lost a grandfather, a father. Lost 4 friends to suicide. Healed family wounds. Celebrated chosen family. Called on a tradition and lineage, my ancestors and teachers to support me. Cast a circle, licked the salt, felt the fire and caught the whirlwind and felt the flower. I am so thankful for those of you who have held me and challenged me. Those of you who know the secrets and have forgot the secrets. Danced in blood, glitter, glass, grass, sunlight, moonlight, firelight. Teased, tossed, grunted. Lied cheated craved. Wished, manifested and witnessed. I know it’s precious. I know you could make any number of Portlandia jokes about so much of this. And if I got on national TV for being an art queen BRING IT ON. But, this comes from the heart. I’m moving out of this foundation cycle and moving into a new cycle of being. What’s next? For the next 9 years…


About Kaj-anne Pepper

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