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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite

Well hello there Sunny Dee-Lite! I am flabbergasted to be talking with literal drag royalty today, the reigning Miss Continental 2023! Happy New Year! How are you doing today gorgeous?

Hello and Happy New Year to you as well, thank you so much for having me! I am doing wonderful, thank you for asking.

Did you have a nice holiday season?

Yes, it was action packed with the kickoff of prelim season and the ongoing press tour for the Continental reign. I spent Christmas in New York with my partner and family and I celebrated the New Year in Chicago, performing at the Baton Show Lounge as the reigning Miss Continental. I’m blessed.

So let’s talk about Continental.  Since you were crowned on Labor Weekend in Chicago, you’ve had an absolutely exhausting schedule, taking you overseas and across the country for appearances and press tours. You’ve really hit the ground running since your win. How has your experience been so far?

It has been absolutely amazing. Winning the Continental crown has been my dream so this has truly been an honor and a privilege. I have already met so many lovely people throughout the world and I am truly humbled by the public response.

What went through your mind when they announced you as the winner?

Disbelief for finally hearing my name and then a complete loss of balance. It was like an outer body experience. When I watch the video I can truly take in the fact that I wasn’t fully present when my name was announced, it wasn’t until I walked over to the Baton for the after party that I realized that I really won.

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

Your personal journey to the crown was a long one. When was your first time at Continental and what was it about the system that made you want to stick with it and continue to compete until you finally won? Did you ever think of quitting anywhere along the way?

My first time at Continental in person as an audience member was in 1999 when Tommie Ross was crowned. My first time competing at Continental was 2009 where I finished in the top twelve and Armani won the crown. From the first Continental tape that I watched, which was Paris Frantz‘s winning year in 1996, I knew that those beautiful ladies were who I wanted to become. Continental not only molded my professional career, it also set a standard for me to uphold as Sonia in my everyday life. My hope and dream was that one day I would be as beautiful and talented as Mimi (Marks), Monica (Munro), and Cezanne. Throughout my journey of competing at Continental, I had moments of doubt and despair where I thought I would never capture the crown. However through determination, trial and error, and my perseverance, I was able to realize my dream.

Let’s hop in the DeLorean and get back in a time a bit, shall we? Where does your story begin?

Well, I was born in Miami Beach, Florida to a family of Cuban immigrants.

What was your earliest memory of seeing drag? 

That is a great question. Seeing it and understanding are two different things. The first time I saw drag was on an episode of Phil Donahue when I was very young. The first time that I understood it was in my teens when I started sneaking into nightclubs. Don’t tell anyone!

I feel like Donahue and many of the other talk shows of the day subconsciously inspired a whole generation of drag artists!

I have an extensive collection of tapes which include episodes of Donahue, Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael, etc. Geez, I’m really aging myself Those shows were the only visibility of drag at that time.

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

I think we lost some of the readers at the word “tapes” Sunny!

**Laughs** They have since been converted to DVD’s which is another antiquated technology. **Laughs**

Besides being Miss Continental and holding numerous other prestigious titles including All American Goddess 2014 and National Entertainer of the Year 2015, you wear several other hats, including owning your own hair business, Dee-Lite Dee-Signs Hair. How did you get started doing hair and how do you find the time to whip up so many amazing pieces? Every time I turn around, you’ve made another piece for another major queens around the country!

I started doing hair because of the need to create new looks for myself. The business started by accident, people would ask me for my hair at different shows and pageants so I started traveling with a bag of wigs, or as I like to refer to them ‘units’ to sell. After a year or so of traveling and performing while selling wigs the pandemic hit and I faced the stark reality that my career to that point as a showgirl was effectively shutdown. I knew that I needed to come up with a plan and after a few days of sadness and despair I took a chance and decided to sell hair. Ever since the earliest point of my adult life I have been a hard worker and this has been no different. I decided that for this year I will have two full time jobs. As an entrepreneur with Dee-Lite Dee-Signs and as Miss Continental. I do manage to sleep a little as well.

In addition, you’re also a trans advocate. How concerned are you in how backwards this country seems to be going when it comes to trans rights? What can people do to support our trans siblings?

I am not sure if I am a trans advocate but I am definitely an outspoken trans woman who supports the community. I am deeply concerned by the political direction as it relates to trans rights and that is why it is absolutely imperative that we use our power to vote in all elections, both local and federal. The best way to support our community is to check in on the most vulnerable. There are so many wonderful organizations that are focused to the community but individually we can reach out to the people we know and see to help.

I’d like to take a stab at where your drag name comes from. Is it a combination of a popular late 80’s citrus drink and a popular late 80’s/ early 90’s House music group?

That is an excellent deduction and fairly accurate. I was a club kid in the early 90’s and loved wearing yellow and orange. Sunny was the perfect name for me as it suits my personality.

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

I hate to spring this on you but we have reached…..THE LIGHTNING ROUND!

Oh no…

Lightning Round

Must have makeup item?  

Diorshow Volumizing Mascara.

4 AM post show food craving?

Deep dish pizza!

The best part of drag?

Seeing the happy faces when performing

The worst part of drag?

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

Traveling with 200 lbs of luggage! All those beads!!!

Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?

That I used to make puppets and animated videos as a child.

Former national title holder you would pay the most to see?

Monica Munro. And she’s my Mom!

Last movie to make you cry?

Miss Continental 2022! Everytime.

Death Row last meal?

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

Staying consistent, deep dish pizza!

Streaming Binge recommendation?

Ozark or Breaking Bad. Brilliant shows!

Disney character you relate to the most?

Princess Aurora.

In the movie of your life, who plays you?

70’s Cher

Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

Where Are You Christmas?” From the Grinch Soundtrack. Epic.

I mean….Martha May Whovier is ALL the fashion goals!

I do love some fashion!

What advice would you have for someone who wants to take her first steps into competing in the Continental system?

Be true to yourself and trust your vision.

Where can people find you online if they’re interested in learning more about Continental or maybe in acquiring some of your stunning hair?

For more information on Miss Continental, I would refer you to my Facebook page where I provide updates on all that is Continental including upcoming preliminaries and events. My Facebook page is also a great starting point for Dee-Lite Dee-Signs as it remains the platform for my Hair Sale LiveFeeds. You can also visit my hair page, Dee-Lite Dee-Signs Hair for all of the available colors and styles. I am also on Instagram where my page is linked to my Facebook account. If you are interested in pageantry I would love to hear from you to provide advice and guidance. If you are interested in hair, please reach out as well, I am here to help and provide beautiful hair solutions for my clients! (Follow Sunny on Instagram here)

Well my dear, I think we have just about reached the end of our time together but thank you so much for talking with me. You’re an inspiration to aspiring pageant queens all over! Do you have any final words of wisdom to leave the Universe with before we part?

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The Interview: Sunny Dee-Lite 15

Thank you so much for having me, this was really fun. And thank you for the kind words, it truly is humbling to see the impact that my reign can have. As I stated earlier, all I ever wanted was to be like Mimi, Monica, and Cezanne. That fact that a young aspiring queen may view me in the same light is truly an amazing gift and one that I will never take for granted. Have a great afternoon and remember, Continental, Continental, Continental!!

Featured image by Tios Photography

Written By

(she/her) Despite being a drag journalist for over a decade, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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