Stephen Mark Land Jr., or “Cake Boss” as I call him, is a two-time Glam Award nominee best known for his exuberant dancing, outspokenness, philanthropy and, well, that big big booty. I asked Land some questions I wanted to know the answers to, and some I thought you might want to know as well! You can catch Stephen at Stage 48 Saturdays, at Fly Sundays and a lot more of your favorite parties in NYC.
How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing in nightlife for seven years as of October.
What is your favorite thing about dancing?
My favorite part about dancing is being able to really let go and leave everything on the box/stage. I started dancing as a way to release stress when life became too difficult for me to face.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you while dancing?
In 2013 I fell off of the pole while pole dancing at Spunk Party at The Monster.
What’s the nastiest rumor you’ve ever heard about yourself?
Honestly, the rumors I hear about myself aren’t really bad, they are just childish and usually are meant to hurt a relationship I have or a friendship I have rather than me directly.
What’s some advice you could give some of the fresher dancers on the scene?
Be yourself, be honest, be respectable, and always be friendly, because you’re not just representing yourself but you are representing every venue you work at every time you work.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about you or go-go dancers in general?
People assume we are uneducated whores and will do anything for a dollar, none of which is true. We dance for the love of dancing. We make more money dancing in less hours compared to the jobs we hold working 40 hours, and some of us get to travel all over the world with all expenses paid.
What’s the shadiest thing that’s ever happened to you during a gig?
While working here in a local NYC venue, I was drugged and taken advantage of – just this year actually. Something I will never forget, and something that I wish I could have had more control over.
Who is your favorite dancer on the scene right now?
My favorite go-go boy? I think that’s impossible to answer with just one name. I have a family here. We are close, and we always have each other’s backs. These boys are Seth Fornea, Jared Bradford, Vinny Vega, David Emmanuel, Samuel Lemar, David Lacostia, Ramon Molina, Jeremiah Paul, Alyosha Eberle and Ben Resnik. Dancing in this city would not be the same without them.
There’s a lot changing in New York nightlife right now. What do you predict for the future?
I am not much for being someone who can predict things, but what I do know is that me and my family of dancers are all working together on something big, which could change all of our lives forever, so we shall see.
You’ve been very candid about your sexually abusive past. Why was that important for you to share?
Being a male who has survived sexual abuse is something that most people are terrified to talk about, because it comes with so many negative stereotypes. It is important to tell my story, because it only takes one person to stand up to allow other to have the opportunity to stand. I was sexually abused at six years old for the first time; my whole life has been wrapped around self-hate and being terrified of who was going to hurt me next. Being sexually abused became normal, a daily activity at some points in my life. It drove me to attempt suicide, and it drove me to run from everyone and everything, because I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself. It became clear to me that no one deserves to carry that type of burden on their shoulders, so if I can create a space to allow people to feel safe, to talk about their experiences with abuse, then maybe I can create an opportunity to save someone from attempting or committing suicide.
With 2016 fast approaching, what’s next for you?
I am working on a few big projects that I can’t really talk about just yet, but they are right around the corner. Also, I am hoping to travel a bit more in 2016 and work on another fundraising project if I can get the right sponsors to bring back the Real Men Wear Pink calendar.
Do you have a favorite memory from dancing?
The most memorable time I have from dancing was probably the first time I pole danced seven years ago, because that night is what made me fall in love with being in nightlife.
What is your favorite song to dance to right now?
Favorite sound right now would have to be “Uptown Funk,” or anything Beyoncé.
What do you do when a guest gets a little too handsy?
They get one warning, and then get kicked out of the bar. I don’t deal with inappropriate drama lightly.
You’re one of the founding members of the “Haus of Cake” alongside Seth Fornea and Jared Bradford. How do you keep that booty so plump?
Well, I do squats, box jumps, lunges, sprints, power clean, dead lift, quad and hamstring raises. I was a competitive track and field athlete for 13 years, and I competed in squat and deadlift power lifting in high school, so my booty was a long time in the making.
What’s one thing you wish you could eliminate from gay culture right now?
The segregation of the community and the inability for the community to come together to support each other when we really need it.
What’s your favorite emoji?
With so many dancers in New York, what do you think the secret to your success is?
I am very personable, I am silly, I have fun, I am true to myself, I am honest and people love my costume changes. Every set I change, which gives everyone something to look forward to.
How competitive is the scene?
Well, there are so many different types of dancing in the scene: go-go, burlesque, strip, male revue, circuit and pole. For me, I have worked in all of the scenes except strip, because I don’t do nude, and I have to say that it is always competitive, but it’s only super competitive when you only fit into one of those scenes. The more you can branch out, the easier it is.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I work every year to give back to charity in some way, because I come from a super large family who could not afford much. Most of what I had growing up came from charity, Goodwill, the Angel Tree program or I worked my ass off to get it. I’ve held a job since I was nine years old, building my first business from the ground up. I sold the company to help my parents pay rent, bought new clothes for my siblings so we didn’t have to have used clothes for the first time, bought my first car in cash and had enough left to cover my first year of college. Giving back is important for me.