100 Women We Love 2016

Here’s to this year's class of the women who inspire us, give us hope, make us laugh and make us want to get up and dance. 

KAT CUNNING

“Oregon-grown” singer-songwriter/actor Kat Cunning (also known by her birth name, Katrina Cunningham) started out in baroque-burlesque cabarets with Company XIV—a sexy, stylish dance company with a focus on queer themes. She’s been called “an hour-glass chanteuse, with whom an hour is never enough.” Cunning’s current gig is Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour,” in which she plays Lila, and she co-wrote her character’s score for her own singular voice. “I once sang Daughter’s ‘Youth’ during a burlesque performance in a gown that never came off, and the drunken coos of a testosterone-filled room melted into tears,” she remembers. “I believe this is the function of art.” As an independent artist, she writes original music, evocative of indulgence, theatricality and sexuality. Cunning has sold out venues like Joe’s Pub, leading up to the release of her upcoming debut album; and her band includes drummer Mickey Vershbow, her girlfriend. “I’m often met with disbelief when I declare my sexuality to a new group of people,” she says. “I’m trying to carve out the niche for women who do not look masculine but are just as gay as the rest of us.” –SLO