From door queen to pageant queen and everything in between, this fierce and colorful young drag diva is Getting the Gigs in NYC. Buy your life with Shiny Penny!
Thotyssey: How’s it going today?
Shiny Penny: Hi, love! Going well today. The weather is beautiful.
By the way, do friends call you “Shiny” or “Penny”?
Most friends call me Shiny, but some say Penny. I would say I prefer Shiny, though.
Good to know, Shiny! So, many congratulations on your strong showing for the second Mr(s) BK prelim recently! I understand that was your first pageant?
Thank you! Yes, it was.
How did you enjoy the experience?
It was amazing! I really enjoyed curating my looks, and putting on a show for people on and off the stage.
Pageant hostess Alotta McGriddles certainly praised your performance.
And I am definitely thankful for her doing so!
What was your talent number?
I performed “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks, and wore a white wedding dress. During the performance, I spray painted the rainbow flag across my dress.
Wow that sounds amazing! Do you look forward to opportunities to be political and make statements with your performances, or is that only for special occasions?
This was the first time I had ever done anything of the sort. Given the current political climate, I had learned our community should take every opportunity to be as political as possible and make our voices heard.
Where’s your hometown?
I am originally from a small town called Benson in North Carolina.
What was growing up there like for you, and what were you into as far as crearive interests?
It was quite interesting. I am an only child, and the only boy grandchild on my dad’s side, so it was just always assumed I would grow up and marry a woman and have grandkids to “carry on the name.”
However, as a child I was involved in very “gay” things you could say. I took dance classes (ballet, tap, jazz and clogging) for eight years, art/drawing lessons for at least five years and voices lessons all through middle and high school. Thus, people in school assumed I was gay.
If I may ask, how do you identify?
I identity as queer and with he/she pronouns.
I see from your social media that you have a very trendy Grandma who has a birthday today. I can tell just from your pictures that’s she’s extraordinary.
She’s lovely. And yes, today is her 86th birthday! She was my babysitter every day for almost four years from the time I was born. We spent a lot of time together in my childhood, and from the time I was five until eight or so (maybe older, ha!) I would dress up in her clothes: bras, dresses, heels… and even put on her makeup! I guess you could say that was the start of my drag, and I didn’t even know it. We always spent New Years Eve together, and one year she let me wear her mink stole!
I just assumed it was normal. I finally realized it wasn’t when my mom took some of the clothes and heels to the thrift store to get them away from me. It wasn’t long after that I hit middle school and went back into “hiding” until I moved to NYC, and welcomed Shiny Penny.
My grandma’s style is very classic and clean. Purses, matching shoes, lip color to the outfit. I try to do the same, but of course I will always think she does it better. Whenever I visit home we go thrifting, and she always finds a cute something to buy for Shiny. It’s always comforting to wear something like that when performing.
And when did you discover the “adult” version of drag?
I had just turned 12, and when I was visiting New Orleans with my mom and stepdad I saw [a drag queen] on the street. It wasn’t until I was 18 and went to the gay club in Raleigh that I saw a drag show.
What do you think it is that attracts you to drag as a performing art?
I’m not 100% sure. I was just fascinated by people being able to use makeup to transform themselves into something society perceived only people born with specific body parts to be. It also just felt right, the idea of me wearing “women’s” clothing and performing this specific gender.
And when did you first go out as Shiny?
It was the summer of 2015 at TnT.
You’ve had a lot of success as a door queen in NYC, and I think a big part of that is due to your striking array of looks.
Thank you! So nice of you to say that. Shiny’s style definitely spans the gamut of past and present, always trying to be chic, classy and coquettish.
And what’s your favorite number to perform these days?
“Collect My Love” (fearing Alex Newell) by The Knocks.
So, right now you co-host the “EMO? GEE!” Monday happy hour at Easternbloc with B. Hollywood & Ms. Ter, plus Bar Babe John! Emo hits from the late 90′s and early 00′s play from 8pm to 11pm. Was this the music you grew up with?
Actually, no. I know some of the songs on the weekly “EMO? GEE!” playlist, but they were all curated by Ms. Ter.
I know people of a certain generation who live and die by that music, and they’d definitely be very happy there. What do you think the key is to being a good nightlife host?
I think it’s important to always be on point. Walk into the room ready to greet the crowd and get to know them. Always act like you’re the life of the party, while making your guests feel the same way.
Werk! Do you like balancing hosting, door queening and performing, or is there one of those you’d rather being doing than the other two?
I enjoy it all! It allows me different avenues to meet people. Whenever I’m a door queen, I meet every person who enters the venue. Hosting allows me to work the room, and having conversations with people who I continually see out and performing is like the icing on the cake. When I am performing, I find my energy from having worked the room and seeing people I know I’m the audience.
What doors are you minding these days?
And something new has just been announced!
I am so excited to join Ruby Roo and Ragamuffin and the entire Mondays on Mondays crew [at Macri Park]. They are both two performers whom I admire very much, and was in complete shock when they asked me to join as official door goddess and performer. I look forward to this opportunity to challenge my drag and produce multiple looks and numbers each week.
So, what else is going on, now or later?
I’m always looking for new gigs, and have a few things in the works that I hope to announce soon. Starting next month, [Ms. Ter, B. Hollywood] and I will have a weekly Drag Race viewing at Easternbloc.
I was! It was amazing to be part of the first Nightgowns post RuVeal.
So who’s team will you be on this Drag Race season?
Of course I’m rooting for all the NYC queens, but I am Team Brooklyn (Sasha and Aja) all the way. Aja really works the stage with her dance moves, and Sasha continues to transform and revolutionize traditional notions of drag seen on Drag Race in past seasons.
It’s gonna be a real exciting season! Okay, last question: if you were an X-Man, what would your superpower be?
I would say I would want the power to fly. I hate taking cars and public transportation to the gig, so being able to fly would allow me to get around on my own.
Gurl, you already fly! Thanks, Shiny!
Shiny Penny currently co-hosts “EMO? GEE!” with B. Hollywood and Ms. Ter at Easternbloc on Mondays (7pm), and they are all scheduled to co-host a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party there in March (TBA). She’ll be the door queen for “Mondays on Mondays” at Macri Park starting this week (midnight), and also the door queen for the monthly shows “Failure” at Bizarre (first Thursdays at 10pm) and “Wallbreakers” at Macri Park (second Thursdays at 11pm). Follow Shiny on Facebook and Instagram.