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Pepper MaShayA Dash of Pepper
Dance Diva Pepper MaShay Adds Spice to the Club Scene.
BY qvStaff

SHE’S BEST KNOWN for the mega-hit club track “Dive in the Pool,” a song that was the unofficial anthem of the HBO series “Queer As Folk.” And now, Pepper is taking things to the next level with a new hit single and video. qvMagazine spoke with the spicy performer about how she got her start, and what she thinks about her huge QV following.

Pepper’s success has been a long time in coming. In a music industry that is obsessed with younger artists, Pepper has come into her own at the age of 50—an age which she is proud of. She explains, “Darling, I decided to make it my prerogative not to hide behind certain numbers just to make a career easier. I’ve always been the kind of person who hasn’t been afraid to go into unknown waters with the fact that I’m 50 years old, even though I do look like I’m in my mid-30s.”

Pepper has been involved in music for many years. In fact, she got her first gig when she was just 18 years old, and known by her real name, Jean McClain.

Many would probably be surprised to learn that back then, Pepper was not into dance music, but rather, good ol’ rock and roll. I ask her if there is still a rock and roll queen in her trying to get out, to which she laughs, “Baby, you know what? I’ve done so much music over the years, it’s like it’s all just taking from each other now. I try not to put myself into any kind of label. I know where my audience is right now, which is more of a dance crowd. I love dance music.”

It was that dance music that really turned Pepper’s career into gold. Specifically, her hit song “Dive in the Pool” sent Pepper into the top 5 of the Billboard Dance Club Charts in 2000. The record became a QV anthem and changed Pepper’s life.

She reflects, “Oh my god. That song just basically threw me in front of a whole bunch of people that I never thought I’d ever get in touch with in any kind of career. To have so many people tell me their lives were changed in a very positive way because of that record has been really incredible.”

Pepper never envisioned that she would become a “QV icon,” but to her surprise, the song did exactly that. She says, “At the time, I didn’t even know what a ‘QV icon’ was. I knew people like Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, and Cher had a large QV following, but I didn’t know what ‘QV icon’ meant until I was proclaimed that in some of the magazines. But you know, I feel a tremendous responsibility to that.”

Pepper’s connection to the QV community goes beyond lip service. She says, “I’ve had family members over the years who have come out. So I just feel that my role, other than just the music, is to tell people to realize their dreams and live life to the fullest. Don’t hide behind what other people say. Don’t hide.”

QV issues are a big priority for the diva. She says, “I’m really devoting a lot of time this year to benefits. I have a Matthew Sheppard benefit that I’m doing and I’m also helping out a lot with Project Angel Food. This year is all about the fundraisers to help the organizations that help people in need.”

As for the Latino community, Pepper has certainly done her part to stay connected. She says, “I just did Krash in New York which has all those Puerto Ricans…and you know that! It’s the bomb!”

With a name like Pepper MaShay, it’s not unusual for people to think that she’s a drag queen. But in truth, Pepper is very much all-woman. The name came about years ago when her manager suggested that her name, Jean McClain, was just not going to cut it. He noticed that she had freckles that looked like little peppercorns and he suggested changing her first name to Pepper. Pepper soon just turned into Pepper MaShay.

Turning to the music, Pepper has a hot new song out entitled, “I Can’t Stop.” The video for the song was directed by legendary QV porn director Chi Chi LaRue. She reflects on the shoot, “It was a blast. I felt like I was on cloud nine from the time I walked on to the set. I had never felt so taken care of by someone. He knew exactly what he wanted. He made me feel so comfortable it was incredible.”

Now that the song and video are out, I ask Pepper what’s next. She responds, “Right now, darling, album. I’m getting a full-length ready with 15 or 16 songs.”

It’s obvious that Pepper is enjoying her music career right now, but she admits that she’s very concerned about the recent events of the world. She explains, “You know we’re really in unsettling times right now. I’m a little worried about this war situation. But I just tell everybody to keep their heads up because we need to have everybody pulling for each other right now.”

For more on Pepper MaShay, visit


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