Over the last 25 years, Kenneth Cole and his advertisements have been topical and relevant to our ever-changing world. His recent campaign continues to raise social awareness and the exquisite Nina Poon is front and center when it comes to this non-uniform thinking. As a transgender model, makeup artist and illustrator, she has a few things to say about money and a-wear-ness!

1. “We all walk in different shoes” is the current tagline of Kenneth Cole. What did your shoes cost?
Fortunately I never paid a personal price for walking in my shoes. The best things have happened to me because of being who I am. I could make a list but I’ll save that for next time!

2. What did growing up as the son of Chinese immigrants teach you about money?
SAVE, SAVE & SAVE!!!

3. What was your very first job?
Oh lord, it was at Universal Studios in Orlando working at a concessions stand selling hot dogs and lemonade. I was paid something like $5 or $6 an hour.

4. How do you like to spend your money?
I spend my coins on mainly bills and food. Occasionally, I will splurge on certain things like a bike I just bought for $800. I also love spending my money on technology. It makes me very happy and nerdy.

5. Did changing your gender have any impact on your financial status?

I would say yes because it gave me the confidence that I needed to be in touch with society.

6. What is your most significant memory about money?
Haha. Getting the whole amount for my srs!!!

7. Which is your preferred way to make a living: illustrating, modeling or doing makeup?
Since I love doing all three, I would say all three, but modeling pays the most and you get to be treated extra special.

8. Do you think Kenneth Cole has paid a price for his advertising activism?
Absolutely not. He is just teaching people that there are people out there even though we look different, we are all the same. With the same feelings, wants, needs, dreams and goals.

9. Do you think there are gender rules and stereotypes based on finances?
I think so. Yes. But if you work hard and give 110% at what you do, then I believe you will be rewarded fairly.

10. What’s the craziest thing you ever did for money?

Suck cock and fisting some dude.

More about Nina Poon
Born in 1975 in Saigon, Vietnam, the oldest son of traditional Chinese parents, multi faceted media artist Nina Poon immigrated with her family in 1978 to Orlando, Florida at age four.

At age five she began showing prodigious talent with her childishly animated, Disney inspired drawings. It was during this initial stage of childhood that Nina first remembers identifying as female and experiencing viscerally, the knowledge that she was assigned to the wrong gender. Nina’s authentic, innate femininity made her the target of frequent abuse at the hands of her father. Alienated as a child by both her family and her peers, Nina immersed herself in her sketchbook and looked to fashion icons like Coco Chanel, with whom she shares a birthday, for inspiration.

On the basis of her abilities as an illustrator, Nina gained entry into Miami’s International Fine Arts College and at seventeen, left home to fulfill her dream of becoming a fashion designer.

While at college, Nina entered into the South Beach club scene and began performing with drag impresario Kevin Aviance. During the day she went on castings which led to an appearance on an international commercial for H&M with Marcus Schenkenberg and time on the runway for Hugo Boss’ 1994 Spring Collection. Nina soon became a regular on the Miami club circuit, where she befriended many local celebrities, among them Gianni Versace and Madonna, whose brother Christopher Ciccone cast and directed her in the Lonnie Gordon video IF YOU REALLY LOVE ME.

Nina moved to New York in the summer of 1994 and expanded her social network to include party promoters Richie Rich and Michael Alig. It was at this time that she caught the eye of Lady Miss Kier, who cast her in the Deee-Lite video PICNIC IN THE SUMMERTIME.

In New York, Nina found her true element. Despite having lived as a woman for the majority of her life, she completed her full surgical transition. She became a muse to designers Thuy Pham of United Bamboo and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, both whom she briefly lived. While living with McCollough, Nina decided to try her hand at makeup, as a natural extension of her interest in fashion illustration. After assisting makeup artist Tracy Murphy during New York fashion week in 2000, Nina began honing her skills for the legendary Patricia Field at her signature Manhattan boutique, which led work on music videos, celebrity appearances and a position as key makeup artist for the HBO short film BETTY LA FLACA, winner of the 2006 Latin Film Festival Best Short Film.

Nina currently lives with her boyfriend Robert Jason, an Emmy award winning producer and filmmaker. Nina appears in Jason’s forthcoming docu-series on the lives of transsexual women in New York entitled BEING T. In addition to making appearances on the Fuse Network’s PANCE OFF DANCE OFF and Style Network’s SPLIT ENDS, Nina has been cast in her first motion picture speaking role in director Dito Montiel’s FIGHTING starring Terrence Howard and Channing Tatum. While there is an ongoing interest by casting agents in Nina, she also continues to enjoy her work as a makeup artist, fashion illustrator and has recently added photo retouching to her list of talents.

Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.