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These Seven NSFW Cakes Are the Most Disturbing Things You’ll See Today

Katherine Dey has gone from sculpture to making cakes featuring bloody brains, roadkilled possums, severed heads, and unhealthy-looking butts.

by Harry Cheadle
15 April 2016, 4:00am

Brain cake. All photos courtesy of Katherine Dey

Brain cake. All photos courtesy of Katherine Dey

Making extremely fucked-up, realistic cakes to liven up a party with, for instance, a confectionary version of a plucked, glistening red swan, has been a cottage industry for a while. But even by the standards of depraved desserts, the stuff Katherine Dey comes up with is pretty, uh, strong. A gallery of her cakes was featured on the New York Post website this week, and after seeing some of them—like the bloody brain/spinal cord combo and the diseased-looking butt with a thermometer—I had to know more about her.

Possum cake

Over email, she told me that she went to the Rhode Island School of Design, where she focused on illustration and sculpture, and then went on to work for a robotics company that built humanoid robots. Since then, she's become a registered nurse in Rochester, New York, but she's still making art. Here's the rest of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

VICE: How did you start making these cakes?
Katherine Dey:
Cake making is a fun challenge for me because it is a food product, and I have a limited amount of time to work. And it is fun because when it is done, I get to feed people cake. One of the first cakes I sculpted was for the Rochester Area Mycological Association (I am a member of the local mushroom club in Rochester). I wanted to make it something really mushroom related, so I made a tree stump covered in Lycoperdon pyriforme, or puffballs. Over time, I have been gaining more control over the materials and developing the process.

The mushroom cake

What does that process look like?
I decide on what I want my cake to look like. Then I choose my materials. If there is danger of it falling over, I make an armature to keep it in place. I typically bake the cakes and then freeze. When it is frozen, I carve it into the basic form. I freeze again and then do detail work with either marzipan, fondant, or modeling chocolate. I use fondant as little as possible because I think it tastes gross. If I have elements that need a lot of detail, I go with the Rice Krispies covered in modeling chocolate for those parts. When I am sculpting heads, I tend to go with that approach because I can be very precise. I do surface painting with colors I make out of a food coloring and frosting mixture.

Lamprey cake

Butt cake

Do you make them for fun, or are you planning on turning it into a business?
I make these cakes mostly for fun. Sometimes I make them for friends and special occasions. I would like to start my own business, so I will be able to sell them. However, I need to cook out of a certified kitchen, which is difficult to do because I live in an isolated log cabin in the hills of upstate New York. So I am having fun making them and sharing them with people however possible.

Baby cake

I saw that one of the cakes was based off your husband's head—are the other cakes based off of specific models?
I have made a couple cakes of different people. I love portraiture. I don't think I really see someone's face until I attempt to make a portrait of him or her. I did a cake of my dad that came out pretty well. I am working with a couple right now on their wedding cake. They want their guests to feed on their severed heads! It is a fun project.

A cake of Dey's husband's head. That's rice krispies inside.

What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I am working on filming my very first video. People have been asking for a tutorial type cake video, so I am giving it a shot. A good friend of mine is going to do the editing. It should be ready for viewing in the next week or two!

A medical simulation of tertiary syphilis Dey made

Can you tell me about the "medical simulations" in your portfolio?
I started helping out in the simulations lab at nursing school. We had pretty terrible props or no props at all, so I would make different things for the manikins that we would use during medical simulations. I did different wounds, blood clots, stuff like that. The students would be led through a scenario and have to make decisions about how to respond, and then we would discuss what could have been done better. The props help to make it more lifelike. I am always excited to work on medical simulation or moulage projects as they come up.

You can check out more of Katherine's art here.

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