We had the good fortune of connecting with Cat LaCohie aka Vixen DeVille and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cat LaCohie, how do you think about risk?
Whenever someone mentions risk, I think of the front cover of “The Big Leap”, by Gay Hendricks, the fish jumping from the small bowl into the larger bowl. There is no way you are ever going to progress in any aspect of life if you don’t ever take a risk. Not taking a risk means you stay in your comfort zone and life is just going to be ‘more of the same’. I can think of two major risks I’ve taken in life which have been integral to putting me where I am now. Firstly, deciding to move to the US in 2012. Back in London, UK, I was making an OK wage, with an OK career, living an OK lifestyle. But that was it…… JUST ‘OK’. Not ‘amazing’, not ‘exceptional’, not ‘better than I ever could have imagined’… but.. ‘OK’. I looked around at my life and thought if I don’t make some big changes then the next five, ten, fifteen years is just going to be more of the same. Being ‘OK’ and ‘comfortable’ is a dangerous place to be, there’s no incentive to hustle, nothing to push you to the next level. You find yourself resting on your laurels and hitting a plateau. It took me 11 months, but I packed up that life, spent huge amounts of time and money on petitioning for work visas, paying lawyer fees, and uprooted my life to a whole other country where I knew no-one and had zero contacts or reputation. But it was that risk that lit a fire under me, to hustle, to build a career, to make connections, to succeed. There’s nothing more motivating than raising the stakes. The second memorable and pivotal risk I took was when my roommate moved out of my LA apartment in 2016. Initially there was the fear of how I was going to find someone ASAP to move in and help pay rent, but then…. I took a moment. Rather than have a knee-jerk reaction going into ‘repair mode’ to keep things ‘the same’, I could choose to look at this event as an opportunity and not a problem to fix. Yes, I could find another roommate to keep costs down, (the standard normal) but think of the cost of having to live with a whole new person, who may not jive as well with me as the previous roommate did! Yes I’d save a few hundred dollars a month but I’d be potentially sacrificing a really stable Homelife, which, as a person who doesn’t have a workplace to escape to 9-5, is infinitely valuable. My home is my office, my rehearsal studio, my costuming workshop, my writer’s room, I need it to be as pleasing and productive environment as possible. Then, the opportunity of the situation hit me. Phrases like “dressing for the job you want” came to mind. Yes my home WAS all those things, but living with a roommate meant in actuality MY BEDROOM was all those things. What if I, as CEO, expanded my company? I had launched my burlesque classes in 2014 and was now teaching more regularly and paying to rent a dance studio to run sessions. This took a huge chunk of profit. Having no-show students would mean having to cancel and still owe the rental, plus a wasted trip for me to and from the studio. On top of that, I would sometime lose out on last minute private bookings because the studio was unavailable. Just as I risked everything in 2012 to jump to the larger goldfish bowl of Los Angeles, now I wanted jump into having more space in order to expand my company. I spent the last $1000 I had in savings putting down a new wood floor, painting the room, and taking on the extra rent on the apartment because the risk of that monetary investment was worth the gain. I felt like a crazy person, spending money on renovating an apartment that I didn’t even own?? But I wasn’t investing in the property – I was putting my money where my mouth was and investing in myself. I now had a dedicated space for my craft, both performing AND teaching, A dedicated space to create and store all my props and costume, to rehearse, to shoot self-tapes, to teach private classes whenever I wanted, I had gained multi-layers of freedom. It turns out the risk paid off many times over, just as I had finished ‘moving in’ to my new workspace I was contacted by Airbnb as they were about to launch their new Experiences programme, but they needed people who not only had enough space to hold participants but also the flexibility to hold an experience at any time. BOOM I had just gained all of that by risking my last dollar and the income I made from teaching and running events through Airbnb just in the first few months was more than enough to cover the renovations and rent increase. To me, risk is not just making the leap to the larger fish bowl. Risk is all in, no going back, fully committed to creating a new world for yourself. It’s breaking the egg to make the omelette, destroying your current situation of comfort giving you no choice but to embrace, and succeed as, the newly regenerated you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My most recent achievement was producing my solo show “Vixen DeVille Revealed” in 2018, which went on to tour the US in 2019 winning numerous awards, and is currently being produced as a TV Special. Premiering the show was terrifying, taking it on tour was terrifying, the idea of it being on TV and available to be criticised by the masses, is terrifying. But again… it comes down to the rewards outweighing the risk of failure, and the risk of failure being far preferable to the failure of never taking a risk. What I have learned is what I teach my students. Create to please YOU, to fire YOU up, don’t create to please others, or to fit other’s standards or to deliver what you think is expected. If there’s something you want to do or be, go do it. Don’t listen to those who tell you that you can not, will not, should not, and, instead, surround yourself with those who KNOW and remind you that you can, will and should.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First, they have to meet Katie Anne Mitchell! Either we’d go for drinks at family-run “Antonio’s” on Melrose ave or we go for a hike around the old LA abandoned Zoo and hang upside down in the monkey cages and run around like little kids in the old lion enclosures. I would for sure take them to Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine to soak up the quiet peaceful atmosphere. .. and then I would share my favourite activities: – playing with fire toys at Wednesday night Burn Club in Culver city https://www.free2funla.com/event/l-a-burn-club/ – check out fabrics and trims at the LA fashion district downtown. – take an aerial class at Aeriform Arts https://www.aeriformarts.com – check out a burlesque show, depending on the night of the week but TripTease at Trip on Lincoln Blvd on a Wednesday night is always a good variety of acts.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Can’t say enough good things about the book, “The Big Leap” By Gay Hendricks, shout out to Christina Morassi who recommended I read it – http://christinamorassi.com Shout out to Bonnie Gillespie – http://bonniegillespie.com – not only was her course “6 Weeks To LA” a life saver, making the move here feel so much less scarier (and possible!), but her ongoing training continues to inspire me, motivate me and keep me somewhat sane. Airbnb Experiences -https://www.airbnb.com/s/experiences/online – who continue to support me, having adapted immediately to the current climate by bringing their offerings into the virtual world and allowing me to connect with students online. Lola Boutée of Lola Boutée Presents – one of the first companies to hire me in LA, to petition for me to get my green card three years later and who continues to create numerous platforms for me to express my creativity ( and get paid for it!) Katie Anne Mitchell – https://www.katieannemitchell.com/ there is not enough space here to say the amount of words that would do justice to the part her friendship has played in my life.