Quantcast

'Great Sex Happens When They Respect You': A Quickie with Cassandra Hunter

Cassandra Hunter is a 26-year-old half black/half Thai Brooklyn-based creative whose strength is storytelling. I fell in like with the...

Love & Relationships

Cassandra Hunter is a 26-year-old half black/half Thai Brooklyn-based creative whose strength is storytelling. I fell in like with the budding and beautiful talent when she was recently chosen as one of Refinery29's 19 Most Eligible Bachelorettes in NYC and said her ideal guy would be a "smooth-talking nerd" and uses writing to explore her own humanity. Dope.

As a child, she discovered her loves for acting and writing, and has been dedicated to the pursuit of those crafts. But recently, she has fallen for a different form of media behind the camera as a producer and director. In short--she's a woman of all trades. As for her life ambitions? Dropping knowledge to men and women on the importance of female empowerment for the advancement of gender equality. That's right, she's dope.

I was able to have a quickie with the young queen about her views on sexual liberation and identity. Here are some things she had to say:

xoNecole: What is great sex to you?

Cassandra: Consensual, judgment-free, fun, and with someone that respects you.

xoNecole: I feel sexiest when…

Cassandra: I've showered and brushed my teeth. I know, I know...super sexy answer.

xoNecole: When was the moment that you became sexually liberated?

Cassandra: I don't think there is one specific moment, but rather years of experiencing things that helped me identify what I like and don't like. It wasn't until recently when I took sex out of the equation for a while that I felt liberated. Before, I would find myself in these situations with guys who were just awful jerks: casual racists, watered-down misogynists...that really broke me down, so I took a step back to get a clearer view on things that have made me feel true to myself and my own desires, and I eliminated behaviors that left me feeling hollow. I guess I took the hype out of sex that our society shoves down our throats and learned for myself what I wanted and that it's okay if I don't always have it. It's been a lot of “unlearning" the archaic views on what men and women should be like and allowing myself the freedom to think and feel about things without worrying about slut-shamers.

I don't buy into the double standards where men are encouraged and applauded for having an adventurous sex life while women are chastised for it.

xoNecole: Who are some women that have inspired your sexual liberation and what are some words you would use to describe their embodiment of that?

Cassandra: You're going to laugh because they're so different (laughs). Firstly, it's Tina Fey. Bossypants was like a golden handbook that I read at such a pivotal time. She made me aware of this other type of sexually liberated woman, and that's the woman who's not having a ton of sex and is happy with that. She's selective and doesn't make a fuss about not having it as often as she thinks everyone else is. And then there's of course the wonderful array of female rappers from the early 90s, such as Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, who flipped the script and made music about sex without infantilizing themselves. They talked about sex in this very proud and unapologetic way without feeling like it was written for male attention, but rather female empowerment.

xoNecole: What's your advice to women who want to be more in tune with their sexuality?

Cassandra: Listen to your gut. Be open, but never force yourself to do something just to please someone else. Don't hang out with close-minded people who will encourage you to sexually suppress yourself! They're the worst and they're probably having bad sex. Don't give into slut-shaming and don't box yourself into a category. Sexuality can be fluid so explore what appeals to you, and be safe!

xoNecole: Biggest turn on?

Cassandra: Someone who listens and isn't just waiting to talk again. Someone funny, social, and confident without being cocky.

xoNecole: Turn off?

Cassandra: Catcalling and men who think they are entitled to attention simply because they want to speak to you. Also, long, dirty fingernails.

xoNecole: And what are you up to these days?

Cassandra: I'm an actor and writer, so I keep busy with whatever projects I can get my hands on. Up until now, my background has almost exclusively been fashion related, but I've written a series with my close friend, Richard Lietz, called “No Reason" set to release in Spring 2016. We're previewing the first episode then going the crowdfunding route to complete the rest of production. It's a dark comedy that has a lot to do with sexuality, gender roles, race, and status. I play one of the central characters who helps her closeted best friend by pretending to be his girlfriend. She's actually quite awful in the beginning, but throughout the series she has these moments of redemption as she finds her voice and claps back at others. We start filming in January!

Find Cassandra via her official site or follow her on Instagram @cassandramhunter.

Photography by: Haruka Sakaguchi

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

To be or not to be, that’s the big question regarding relationships these days – and whether or not to remain monogamous. Especially as we walk into this new awakening of what it means to be in an ethically or consensual nonmonogamous relationship. By no means are the concepts of nonmonogamy new, so when I say 'new awakening,' I simply mean in a “what comes around, goes around” way, people are realizing that the options are limitless. And, based on our personal needs in relationships they can, in fact, be customized to meet those needs.

Keep reading...Show less

Lizzo has never been the one to shy away from being her authentic self whether anyone likes it or not. But at the end of the day, she is human. The “Juice” singer has faced a lot of pushback for her body positivity social media posts but in the same vein has been celebrated for it. Like her social media posts, her music is also often related to women’s empowerment and honoring the inner bad bitch.

Keep reading...Show less

I think we all know what it feels like to have our favorite sex toy fail us in one way or another, particularly the conundrum of having it die mid-use. But even then, there has never been a part of me that considered using random objects around my house. Instinctively, I was aware that stimulating my coochie with a makeshift dildo would not be the answer to my problem. But, instead, further exacerbate an already frustrating situation…making it…uncomfortable, to say the least.

Keep reading...Show less

Gabourey Sidibe is in the midst of wedding planning after her beau Brandon Frankel popped the question in 2020. The Empire actress made the exciting announcement on Instagram in November 2020 and now she is spilling the deets to Brides magazine about her upcoming wedding. "It cannot be a traditional wedding. Really, it can't be. I don't want anything done the 'traditional' way," she said. "Our relationship is very much on our terms and I want it to be fun, like a true party."

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Latest Posts