Arts and CultureNew York

Meet Shiny Penny, The Southern, NYC Drag Queen

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There is no shortage of drag queens in NYC. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some twink in a dress who thinks he’s got what it takes to shantay down the runway just because he’s seen every season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race while practicing YouTube makeup tutorials. There’s a difference, though, between learning how to just paint your face and turning that face into a work of fucking art. This interview series highlights the New York queens that stand out from the crowd, work their assess off and rock those heels til they bleed.

Meet Shiny Penny.

How did you come up with the name Shiny Penny?

This one friend of mine knew that I loved to get my ass eaten, that’s one of my favorite things,  and he tried it for the first time and I was like “Oh, how was it?” and he said it tasted like a new shiny penny and I listed that as my Scruff name. Another friend of mine saw it and said ‘Wouldn’t that be funny if that was your drag name?”

What was it like growing up gay in North Carolina?

I grew up in a small town south of Raleigh. I knew that I was different. I knew I wasn’t like the other kids. People picked on me and made comments even when I was in kindergarten and elementary school. Growing up I was taking dance classes and singing in the choir in church and taking art lessons. I think people just kind of knew. I came out my senior year. I knew that this is who I was. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t put myself in situations where I was surrounded by people that didn’t think like me.    

Who, in your family, is your biggest supporter?

My grandma. She just had her 88th birthday and she’s been one of my biggest supporters even when I came out. I feel like she’s known my whole life. She just flat out asked me one day “Do you have a girlfriend?” and I said no and she said “Well, do you have a boyfriend?”. She’s very intuitive, she picks up on everything. She likes to see photos of me and likes to critique my makeup.

What’s the drag scene like in Brooklyn?

It’s anything goes from raunchy grunge to high whore fashion drag. That’s why I’m able to flourish. We are the outcasts. You can find your own group, your own home, within Brooklyn.

So many NYC girls have been on Drag Race. Do you feel pressure to eventually end up on the show?

If you’re doing drag to get onto Drag Race stop doing drag now. That should not be your end goal. If you aren’t doing drag for that then you shouldn’t feel pressure. Some girls don’t want to be on the show and I think that’s great.

So then why are you a drag queen?

I’m a drag queen because I’m living out my childhood fantasies of being a performer. I would look at magazines all the time to see what women were wearing. I would watch award shows all the time and all I watched was the red carpet. I didn’t give a shit about who won, I just wanted to see what they were wearing. This is what I wanted to do I just couldn’t figure out how to do it and then I was drawn to drag and now here I am.

Follow Shiny Penny on Instagram and Facebook

You can catch Shiny Penny on Mondays at Macri Park with Ruby Roo and Ragamuffin , the 2nd/4th Wednesdays “LIVE” with Ms Ter at The Vault, Thursdays Ru Paul’s Drag Race Viewing Party at Nowhere Bar, Fri/Sat/Sun Lips Restaurant and  2nd Saturdays: “Spare Change” at Macri Park.

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Joe DeLong - NYC Editor

Joe DeLong - NYC Editor

Former stand up comic, radio show host, mayoral candidate and fetish webcam model. Now I'm the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady.