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VIP Lounge: Peppermint

by Lawrence Ferber
Peppermint - VIP Lounge

As cool and refreshing as her name implies, Peppermint (www.peppermintonline.com) is having a moment.

by Lawrence Ferber • (photo: James Michael Avance)

As cool and refreshing as her name implies, Peppermint (www.peppermintonline.com) is having a moment. A longtime fixture in NYC’s drag and LGBTQ nightlife scene, Peppermint (real name: Agnes Moore) went international thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine, finishing in second place. As the show’s first openly transgender-identified contestant she went on to appear in scripted TV series like Pose, Deputy, and a two-episode arc of CBS’s God Friended Me as Pastor Olivia, a transgender pastor. Peppermint also broke new ground in entertainment, and on the boards, as the first openly trans actress to originate a Broadway role, as Pythio in 2018’s Broadway musical, Head Over Heels.

For 2020, Peppermint has put a focus on her music career, with a long-awaited album release (a follow up to 2017’s Black Pepper) which saw its first single, “What You’re Looking For,” released on Valentine’s Day. She’ll embark on a tour this summer. Meanwhile, on the activism side, Peppermint is spearheading a trans visibility campaign, #WeAreHere, for which she recruited a roster of fabulous friends and collaborators including Laverne Cox, MJ Rodriguez, Bob The Drag Queen, and Sander Jennings, brother of I Am Jazz reality series star Jazz Jennings (Peppermint has appeared on the show). Peppermint joined us in the VIP Lounge to spill tea on her projects, travel, and the tastiest kind of mint.

How did #WeAreHere come about, and what’s its ultimate goal?
It started with attacks on the LGBT community, so it started a long time ago, but the last straw, at least for me, was the effort of the Trump administration to make it legal to fire LGBTQ people from their jobs. There were three cases that went all the way to the SCOTUS that challenged Title VII, which is the protection we already had in place. The SCOTUS hearing was this past fall, which I was lucky and fortunate to attend in person, and the thing that really stuck out to me was there wasn’t much involvement from the general public. So I gathered some friends who have platforms, are concerned, and want to use their voices and brainstorm to see what we could do. It was Sander Jennings who had some of the most useful ideas as far as the social media strategy, and the goal was to get awareness out.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from being on Drag Race?
Don’t read the online comments.

You played a transgender pastor on God Friended Me. Have you met any in real life?
It’s no mystery that many queer people feel alientated by the church, but there are definitely churches popping up that are welcoming. Somebody like Pastor Olivia only exists in my world on TV, but hopefully we’ll be finding queer, trans, nonconforming, and nonbinary pastors and preachers at different churches, whether considered a “queer” church or not.

What was it like being on Pose?
Amazing. Oh my gosh, Pose was a fantastic. It was so surreal to be on a working set inundated with queer people, trans people, queens, and gay folks in front of and behind the camera! My episode was directed by Janet Mock, and it felt so good to see that, if given the opportunity, we can rise to the challenge and exceed expectations.

Should everyone see a ball in real life?
Yes, just like Grace Jones says: every man should be penetrated at one time in his life. But take some comfortable shoes, darling, because the few balls that I’ve been to are all-day events. They’re an opportunity for people to do their thing and show all the way out, and they’re going to take their time. It’s not ten minutes. It’s like ten hours.

Tell me about your new album, which you’re touring with this summer.
It’s about the ups and downs of love and relationships, which is universal. But this has a little extra ‘oomph’ because sometimes that queer love story is something we haven’t heard very much, especially in mainstream music, so I’m going to do my best to bring it to you. The first single, “What You’re Looking For,” is all about selfempowerment, and the road to the perfect, great partner leads back to yourself.

What’s the most trans-friendly destination you’ve visited?
Aside from my apartment? I would say outside of NYC, London for sure. I’d say the places I’m surprised still have work to do are some [cities] in Eastern Europe and South America, but as a tourist and traveler I haven’t had that many negative experiences. I’m a Drag Race queen who has been on tour, and an actress on Broadway, so I live a pretty privileged life.

What do you always travel with?
Everything! What don’t I travel with? I have a miniature version of everything, from a luggage scale to hairspray to reusable battery chargers. Honestly, you name it, I have it. And a lot of the queens, especially when it’s a drag gig, make fun of me and my big tote bag and call me Mary Poppins and think it’s so funny. But they’re the first to ask, ‘Who has duct tape? Who has a safety pin? Who has extra foundation?’ And I pull it right out of my bag and they’re happy.

What’s your number one travel tip?
Definitely get into programs like TSA Precheck, Clear, and Global Entry. Those things are lifesavers because time is of the essence. And I think it’s a really good idea to have a quick change of clothing in your carry-on bag, and a toiletries kit, and phone charger, and adapter for different countries.

If you could take a vacation with another fabulous sister, who would it be and where would you go?
I’ve actually thought about this. Ivy Winters is who I’d want to be stranded on a desert island with, because she can make anything, cook anything, build anything. You can have a whole new wardrobe and fabulous vegan feast made with just the bushes. She’s the craftiest queen I know.

If playing a tour guide, what are a few NYC spots you’d take a visitor?
The Highline for sure. It’s just beautiful and a perfect mix of city and park. I guess we’d go to the Thai restaurant Room Service. And then I’d take them on a bar hop of Hell’s Kitchen: Posh, Therapy, Industry, and Hardware. We’d end up at the new gay bar in the Village, Playhouse, where I’ll be this weekend.

Whose life story would you love to play?
I’d be into playing Josephine Baker. I’m really interested in what happened at the turn of the century for African American people and entertainers. They had to get out there and endure a lot of the same pain and problems everyone else did, and then shine on stage. Plus I’d love to go naked in a banana skirt.

Do you actually like peppermints, or are you more of a spearmint gal?
Peppermints are my favorite candy. Being related, I love all the mints, even wintergreen, which isn’t a real mint. Anything that’s mint you can bring me, especially Starlight mints which I love, and my favorite thing is the purest mint possible, which is mint tea.

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