CeCe Peniston scored five number one Billboard dance hits within three years. Her signature song "Finally" has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. ( She wrote the massive hit song when she was only 21. ) Now, at 45, she enters a new chapter in her life with a fashion line. Windy City met Peniston at her hotel room to discuss her new projects.
Windy City Times: So you are originally from Ohio?
CeCe Peniston: I was born in Dayton, Ohio, and [was] a military brat. My dad was a master sergeant in the Air Force. We moved to Arizona when I was about 9; I have been there ever since. I lived in L.A. and New York for a year, but came back to Arizona. I figure I can hop on a plane and go wherever I need to.
WCT: I love that taco stand outside of Charlie's, the gay bar in Phoenix.
CP: It is the best!
WCT: How did the new Sew Unique Swimwear line get started?
CP: I went on a cruise and my friend had brought some bathing suits with her. I liked one with rhinestones and was showing it to my friends. They suggested I do a line. I had some friends join me. It evolved naturally. It didn't feel like a job. I enjoyed it.
WCT: Did you sew growing up?
CP: No. I have to do some sewing now. There are times I like things shorter or they are too long. There has been some trial and error.
WCT: It must be a learning process.
CP: It is. My different slant to the line is I take what people will throw away and use it as a treasure. It could be a necklace but I put it on a bathing suit. The mink suit that we have was actually my grandmother's mink coat. I kept trying to give it away because it wouldn't fit me. We just tore it and made it into a bathing suit.
WCT: So someone could bring you an item and it could be custom-made into swimwear?
CP: Yes, absolutely. Sometimes people just don't want to get rid of an item or it is stained in one area. We can use all of that.
This right here [pointing to one of her items] was made out of pieces of leather and can be used as a cover-up. You can use it over jeans or a bathing suit. It is not about getting in the pool but looking good standing there!
WCT: What size range?
CP: Some are size eight, some are size zero. I had a friend that wanted something custom-made and her boobs are triple-Gs. We put rhinestones on it and hooked her up. These are just samples for the fashion shows to get the interest up. If someone wants something special then we can go from there.
WCT: What about clothing for men?
CP: I would like to. We just talked about that because I had an Adam and Eve thing with leaves. I wanted to write on the leaf "coming soon!" I know there is a big market for that. I figured with me having such a big gay following that it is a great idea.
WCT: Maybe work with Andrew Christian.
CP: Yes; me and Andrew could come together. I want to make something different.
WCT: Do you have a separate website than the CeCe Peniston one just for fashion?
CP: I haven't finished a separate website yet. I want to get the visuals and pictures done. People will be able to see the fashion shows and runway stuff. Then they will know I am serious. They don't want to hear about it. They want to see it. This Chicago fashion show is the first one.
WCT: So you will be traveling around with more fashion shows?
CP: I would like to. These are the only two I have booked so far. I am the face of an energy and beer drink called SHE, so I would like to incorporate that. I would like to do a "Sex and the City" thing where the girls lay down and have rhinestones on them, along with food. There would be my swimwear and SHE. It depends on who is doing what.
On July 10, we are doing the CityWalk at Universal Studios, where I will be doing another fashion show there.
WCT: Let's talk about music.
CP: I have a brand-new single with Frankie Knuckles. It is called "Love Don't Take Over."
WCT: When did you work with Frankie before he passed away?
CP: My friend had sent him this track. Since I had never had a song remixed like this except for what Eric Kupper did with David Morales for "Finally." When they had this one they put the director's cut on it. He loved it so the song came out of that.
I just performed at House of Blues last week with house music artists. A lot of people think EDM is still here, but house is coming back.
WCT: What else are you working on?
CP: I am doing a fitness competition in November and will be making a workout video. I wanted to not only get healthy but reinvent myself. Next year is the 25th anniversary of "Finally," so I am going to make a new video with my little pants. I still have them in my closet.
I just did a movie also, called Where Is Good? It is a play off words with Good instead of God. The plot involves date-rape drugs. It is an independent film. We just did a red carpet for it. The previews have been really great for it.
WCT: Are you still performing at gay street festivals?
CP: Yes, absolutely. I have a show I getting ready to do at the Queens Festival. I will definitely do more festivals and gay Prides. Call meyou know I love performing!
WCT: How was it seeing your song in the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?
CP: I felt like it gave new life to my song at that point. The mix was like seven minutes long and I didn't know the skit with the guy would be like that. I felt like it gave it a new push.
In fact, I was in London with my mom one time and they were doing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert from Broadway. I kept thinking I am the little girl at 13 years old with a dream and a poem, and here it is onstage. That gave me chills.
WCT: It has been great hearing about your projects.
CP: I don't want to stop. I can lay down when I'm in my coffin!
Visit www.cecepeniston.moonfruit.com for more of Peniston's projects .