Connect
To Top

Meet Kay Bae

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kalyn Sanderfer, also known as Kay Bae. She shares her story with us below:

Kalyn AKA Kay Bae is an entertainer , community organizer, & entrepreneur born and raised on the Westside of Detroit. She is most well known for her reputation as a music artist & event host. Kay Bae has always been engaged in the performing arts, starting dance classes as early as pre-school. She attended performing arts schools and community arts programs throughout her life; participating in an array of dance, music, theater, and modeling opportunities.  She credits  mother for recognizing early on that Kay’s public speaking abilities & charismatic energy were gifts to be cultivated. Kay Bae has won competitions as a member of the Michigan Xtreme hip hop dance team, participated in fashion shows with designers who have gone on to become household names and was named Miss Teen Detroit during in 2009. She has been writing and recording music since the tender age of 15; laying down her first track as a teen with the help and encouragement of fellow Detroit artist Serenade Tha Boss (Jeremy Paull).

A graduate of Detroit Public Schools (c/o of 2011) , Kay Bae attended the University of Michigan -Ann Arbor as a first-generation college student. She left for college at the age of 17, just two weeks after graduation from high school.  Once she matriculated, her focus shifted from performing arts to social justice work.  This was in large part  due to the discrimination she was experiencing as a Black student at a pre dominantly white school. Throughout her college experience and adulthood, Kay has taken on a number of leadership roles in social justice work; starting out by participating in student demonstrations and eventually moving on to community efforts in Detroit.  During undergrad, she was offered an opportunity to be a dialogue facilitator where she took on a role of teaching classes about social justice concepts. This was a significant moment for Kay’s educational journey. The position helped her build her confidence as a leader, and she would continue to grow in this way as time went on. Kay became a student org. president in graduate school with The Association of Black Social Work Students ; a role that has continued to influence her career choices and brought many long lasting connections.

Kay Bae graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work. She worked in a corporate health care setting for 5+ years following school, continuing to advocate for those identities most impacted by our social systems. Her passions include working with Black families and individuals experiencing hardship due to physical and mental health issues. She has worked as a case manager, mental health counselor, professional advocate, and presented at a variety of professional conferences.

In 2018, Kay Bae was re-acquainted with her now business partner, Oceania Cavazos, whom she attended undergrad with. Both ladies hold multiple degrees from U of M Ann Arbor and hail from Detroit. They share a passion for creating safe spaces and facilitating resources for the communities they come from. Kay Bae and Oceania worked together to build up an educational program called Bloom Bodies, which focuses on providing educational resources to low-income students from Detroit. In 2019, the two ladies received a grant for Bloom Bodies to create “The Black Healing Retreat”. This retreat experience included a weekend getaway for 15 Black young adults from Detroit, who wished to pursue higher education. During the retreat, attendees were able to participate in group exercises around life planning and do a variety of self-care activities including yoga, plant care, painting, dance, music, and writing to promote healing and growth. The entire experience was led and facilitated by Kay Bae, with the help of the Bloom Bodies team.

The success of the Black Healing Retreat motivated Kay Bae and Oceania to move forward with their next business venture, Free Body Entertainment. In 2020, Free Body Entertainment was created; a social club and entertainment company whose mission is to coach, uplift and protect people in the adult industry. Free Body Ent. is a twofold business; 1.) A booking service that facilitates safe and legal work opportunities for adult entertainers while also providing them with coaching that can elevate their brand, and 2.) A social club that is open to non-entertainers who identify with Free Body’s mission and values. As a social club member, you get the opportunity to attend educational workshops, team bonding events, and receive a variety of other exclusive perks. The business primarily works with women erotic entertainers and vocal artists, whom are commonly exploited in the adult industry.

Free Body seemed like a natural next step for the budding business women, since they both have a background in performing arts and natural leadership abilities. In addition to being an owner and director, Kay Bae is also a music artist under the Free Body Ent. brand.

What makes Free Body different from the average entertainment company or local club, is the mission. Providing coaching to entertainers helps them improve their brand in hopes that it will result in better work opportunities. Free Body Ent. also provides booking support, security and secures payment prior to entertainers working. This model is a departure from the typical work scenario for adult entertainers who usually have to pay to work, as well as abide by arbitrary and confusing rules regarding physical appearance. Free Body’s model recognizes the value of women’s bodies in the entertainment industry, and shifts appreciation from businesses and owners, back to the entertainers themselves.

Free Body also focuses on including those identities traditionally excluded from erotic spaces in their community. When attending a Free Body Event, you will experience talented entertainers of all shapes, sizes, sexualities, and ethnicities. Kay Bae and Oceania are currently working to secure a physical space for their business. In the meantime, you can find The Free Body entertainers  throughout the city performing and socializing at events of all kinds, or you can book them for your own. Free Body Ent. host the MONDAZE Open Mic at The Michigan Squeeze Station in Detroit. It is a great opportunity to engage with their community and witness the talent that exists there.

In addition to running her business, Kay Bae is also busy at work building her own brand as an entertainer. She hosts many different events throughout the city, and her debut EP, Westside Gemini is on all music streaming platforms. Kay Bae’s music gives us some insight into her life growing up in Detroit, and her journey of becoming an entrepreneur. What’s next for Kay Bae, you may be wondering? Of course, new music. She has another project in the works that is set to be released at the end of this summer. Kay Bae will be hosting and performing at a variety of events this season, including presenting at the 2022 Allied Media Conference in Detroit. She is also hoping to transition into professional acting. You can follow her on Instagram @KayBaeMusic to keep up with her! Kay Bae is currently available for bookings. You can contact her through social media or on her business site, FreeBodyEnt.com

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest challenges to becoming the artist and entrepreneur that I currently am include:

-Transforming the way, I think about my possibilities in life. As you know from reading my story, I started out as a performer and moved into social justice work after I left the city for college. During my time in school there were plenty of opportunities for me to stay engaged in entertainment in some way, but I felt obligated to focus solely on my studies. When you grow up low-income you are taught to focus on the things that will make you money immediately, and alleviate the realities of that. That mindset made me view my performative talents as unrealistic career options for me, and my love for performing arts as a hobby. I was a first-generation college student. No one in my immediate family had been to a university prior to me, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to focus on my studies and cut out the extras. I spent 6 years straight as a student, so once I graduated there was a mind shift that had to happen. First, I had to remind myself that I was artistically talented. That I could do more than write papers and sit behind a desk. This required me to explore my creativity in ways I hadn’t in a while. I started writing again.  Then I had to reintroduce myself to the arts scene that was happening in Detroit, where I was reminded of the business that exists behind the talent. I was inspired by other local artists/entrepreneurs who are doing the work, to bet on myself.

-The second biggest struggle I have encountered on the road to entrepreneurship is financial barriers. My business partner and I are two women of color from the inner city. We come from low-income communities. While we’ve been blessed to attend a university with a large network and lots of opportunity, it has still been a struggle to find support for Free Body Ent. At its core, our work with Free Body addresses the fact that there are many human rights issues that exist within sex work, and we are shedding light on those atrocities. Finding genuine support from community members, businesses, investors, etc. has been a difficult journey at times.  We are currently applying for a number of grants and programs that can help us fund our business. I also recently quit my corporate job so I could have more time and energy to invest in my work. While it has been extremely liberating, I’m also faced with the reality of bringing in enough money to supplement my previous income. That is a hard thing to do. It takes a lot of work.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As an artist and entrepreneur, I believe what sets me apart from others is my authenticity.  I just want to work with communities that I see myself in, who deserve to thrive, and do work that leans into my natural gifts. Creating Free Body has allowed me to do that. It merges my passions for social justice work and entertainment. It allows me to serve others, and myself as an artist. That balance is important to me. I think that people who take on service roles as a career have a misconception that we are supposed to be burnt out all the time and never do anything for ourselves.  I don’t believe that. I actually think it’s illogical and kind of crazy. I want other women who share my same values to know that it’s possible to serve others in a way that is fun, fulfilling, and empowering.

In my music, I try to take my experiences and speak on them all without putting myself into boxes. I feel that Black women are always being put into these archetypes that are inaccurate and outdated. I don’t care to be digestible for a particular audience. Rather, I talk about each part of my journey, whether it’s a blessing or lesson, with an equal amount of intention and respect. I try to be as honest as I can about what I’ve experienced in the hopes that people can learn from each part of my journey. I want to be a real-life example of someone from my community who is doing the work to be successful and happy and talking about the ups and downs of it in a real way. As a woman artist, my physical appearance can range from sexy feminine to masculine. All of those energies exist inside of me as a human, and I seek to honor them all as necessary. No matter how I present to the world, all of it is authentically Kay Bae.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memories are with my family. I have a huge family and I spent a lot of time with my cousins as a child. I was always at a cousin’s sleepover or birthday party. Community has always been a core piece of who I am.

I was raised by my mom and grandma. I grew up in a house full of outspoken, powerful, hard working women.  I just remember being with them everyday, and being free to be myself. There were no men in my home environment for most of my life. We were so free at home. I could walk around naked if I wanted to and it wasn’t a weird thing. I was safe in my feminine village. We made a lot of jokes and laughed a lot. We were loud. We spoke our mind when necessary. There wasn’t a lot of daintiness or softness about the women I grew up around. They were full of love though, and had joyful spirits. They made me strong and gave me a positive outlook on life. My siblings and I would make up games all the time. We would have talent showcases and make up songs. We would “roast” each other and play the dozens often, which sometimes hurt my feelings but mostly gave me thick skin. I also think it helped me become a slick talker and get more creative with my wording of things. Timing and delivery make a good joke, and a good rap punchline.

Pricing:

  • Hosting gigs – start at $50 an hour (depending on event)
  • Musical performance/ features – start at $50 an hour OR per song
  • brand modeling – inquire with artist
  • acting – inquire with artist

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Derek Dandridge
Arielle Mock
Renea Di’Bella

Suggest a Story: VoyageMichigan is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories