Mike Pence Lookalike Glenn Pannell Is Raising Money For Planned Parenthood & LGBTQ Organizations In Times Square
Over the summer, 51-year-old New Yorker Glenn Pannell's coworkers told him something unexpected: He looks a lot like Mike Pence. And, as the internet resoundingly confirms, Pannell does indeed share an uncanny resemblance with vice president-elect Pence. "My friends, my family, my coworkers — it was coming from all sides," he tells Bustle in an interview. Now, as "Mike Hot-Pence," Pannell is turning that funny resemblance into action and change on behalf of his community. (Want to compare? That's actual Mike Pence up top; then, scroll down to see Pannell in his lookalike costume. Astonishing, isn't it?)
"Like a majority of Americans, I have real concerns for vulnerable people and causes that will suffer even more under a Trump-Pence administration," Pannell explains to Bustle. So, in order to help, he is collecting donations in a "hot" Pence getup that involves a traditional suit jacket and tie paired with some very short shorts. "So far I’ve collected money for Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Trevor Project. My choice of which charities to raise money for is informed by Mike Pence’s policy decisions over the last 15 years," he says. As Pannell points out, that record "is hostile to women’s health, the LGBT community, the environment, and refugees." In the future, Pannell hopes to add the International Refugee Assistance Project to his regular rotation. He tracks the donations he's gathered on Twitter under the handle @MikeHotPence.
Pannell collects donations primarily in New York's Times Square, which means he interacts with a diverse range of people from all different backgrounds at every turn. So far, he's had largely positive experiences in his donation efforts. "Generally New Yorkers try to avoid going [to Times Square], so most of the people I meet are from other parts of the country — Florida, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, you name it — and even from outside the [United States]," he says. "Almost everybody recognizes me as Pence, though a few folks get confused and wonder if I’m raising money on behalf of Pence," he adds, joking, "Look at the short shorts, people — I’m not Mike Pence. I’m Mike Hot-Pence!"
Pannell has been collecting stories as he goes, too — stories that offer hope in a world that often seems unfathomably dark. "One young man was watching me from a distance on Saturday. He finally approached and asked if he could read the sign on my back about the Trevor Project, a wonderful organization that provides support services for LGBTQ youth in crisis," Pannell recounts. "He asked a few questions and told me he was visiting from South Korea for two weeks. And then he pulled a 1,000 won bill out of his pocket and said, 'This is less than a dollar, but I want to give it to you because I think what you are doing is good.' This young guy lives halfway around the globe and is just visiting for two weeks, but he donates because he feels solidarity with our LGBT young people who need help. I almost started crying."
As a gay man himself, Pannell understands why people are terrified in this post-election climate, and knows there is a great sense of hopelessness and fear running through many circles. "I really despaired after the election last month. I even questioned if I wanted to live here anymore," he says. "But this country is great because you can make your voice heard and make change happen. So that’s what I’m doing: changing into Mike Hot-Pence and working for change. And," he jokes, "hopefully fives and 10s and 20s, too!"
Ultimately, Pannell encourages people to turn their grief and anger into action. "I understand people’s fear," he says. "I understand people’s sadness. I get it, I was right there with you the last couple of weeks. Now turn that despair into action."
Image: Getty Images