Vice President Mike Pence is well known for his opinions when it comes to matters like homosexuality, women's rights, and immigration. Most of those opinions are the polar opposite of those held by Glen Pannell.
The 51-year-old graphic designer and occasional actor lives in Manhattan and spends his spare time raising money for Planned Parenthood and refugees. And like any of the people asking for money in Times Square, he wears a costume.
His costume just happens to be Vice President Mike Pence.
Pannell, who came out in his twenties, told Howard Sherman that he was first compared to Mike Pence by his sister during Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
"My sister joked with me about it, a friend posted on Facebook, somebody at work made a comment – it all seemed to happen at the same time."
After President Donald Trump's election, Pannell decided to start dressing up as Mike Pence and raising money for causes he cared about.
“The depression kept feeding on itself so I finally decided I had to do something," Pannell said. "And it had to be bold and immediate, something I could point to at the end of the day and say, ‘Here’s what I did to make change.'"
As of October, Pannell has collected over $50,000 for "causes like supporting LGBTQ youth, ending gun violence, protecting the environment, standing up for refugee rights, and keeping sexual and reproductive healthcare available and affordable."
“These are all groups and causes that suffered when Pence was in office, so I worry about them in the next few years under a Trump-Pence administration,” Pannell said.
“Simply dressing up as Pence didn’t seem original. And then I thought there could be fun to be had with a sexy Mike Pence costume.”
To help raise as much money as possible, Pannell decided to make Pence a little more sexy by keeping his top half business, while wearing a pair of athletic shorts.
“I had never thought of them as ‘hot pants’, but Mike Hot-Pence rocks that look,” he said.
Pannel said that so far, the response has been positive. “People want to give and they want to talk,” he said. I’m 51. I never expect anything I do to go viral online. I do understand why people respond to it. It’s funny, and it’s hopeful, and people need that right now."
When asked about how he felt about the negative responses, Pannel added:
"I can only control what I put out there, not how people receive it. I’m trying to provide as much transparency for the fundraising part of it so that people know it’s legit. 100% of the money I collect goes to the charity. Some people might not care for it or may think I’m being opportunistic. Yes, I am being opportunistic! I’m using this opportunity to raise money for people that will really need it over the next couple of years."
"I do promise to heed Michelle Obama’s words, 'When they go low, we go high.' And that was tested on my first fundraising outing. Even with the short shorts, Mike Hot-Pence is a classy guy at heart."
What would Pannel tell the real Mike Pence? "You have to represent all people, not just the ones that look like you. And me."