Xunami Muse (@xunamimuse) is an NYC-based drag artist, model, and fashion industry veteran whose audiences get “swept up in a storm” when she performs. A self-proclaimed ‘90s supermodel at heart, Xunami is extending the possibilities of drag performance in her pursuit of opportunities in other industries such as modeling and entertainment. Despite an impressive fashion industry background, Xunami finds the most freedom and fulfillment from drag.
Before becoming a drag sensation, Michael Alexander White, AKA Xunami Muse, was born in Panama before moving to New York at the age of 13, where he experienced “a complete culture shock.”
Working in the fashion industry helped White adjust and cemented his status as a proverbial New Yorker. “When I’m not in drag, I work as a stylist’s assistant, and during [New York] Fashion Week, I work as a collection coordinator,” White tells In The Know, describing the business as cutthroat, difficult, and a place where he’s seen “many people cry.”
Performing drag, however, is a pleasant departure from the intensity of the fashion industry. White discovered drag at a club called Escuelita. “I remember seeing Princess Janae Banks; may she rest in peace. She was doing a ballad. All she did was stand in the middle and emote, and the whole room was just so captivated. It was like seeing stars, and I could not stop thinking about it.”
Consequently, White decided to try his hand at drag performance at Escuelita’s amateur night. “I just wanted to try it,” shares White. “That really was all it was. But then, I discovered that I was good at it. I discovered that it was [also] freeing. From that moment on, it was like I just met me.”
Despite this epiphany, White had to conquer a dilemma faced by many performers—stage fright. “There was a point where I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ The fear made me push myself away from drag,” White explains.
In 2018, 8 years after that first experience, White decided to give drag another go, ultimately becoming Xunami Muse. She’s “the outgoing party girl that everybody in the room wants to meet,” explains White. “They all want to know her, and she also wants to get to know everybody.”
Performing as Xunami Muse has opened up a lot of doors for White beyond drag performance. “There’s drag that you find in a bar. But then [there are] all these other opportunities that are being given to us drag artists outside of bars,” White says. Recently, Xunami signed with the modeling agency New Icon after they requested a meeting. “I showed up. I had this portfolio, and I just had this because, to me, that was my fantasy. I’m going to treat Xunami as a supermodel of the world, and [they] were like, ‘You know what? Yes, we would like to take you on board.’”
Signing with New Icon led to even more breaks. With stints at the Tribeca Film Festival, Opening Ceremony, and ODDA Magazine, in addition to two shoutouts in the New York Times, White marvels that “there’s something about where drag takes you. Places that you didn’t know were there. Places where so many cool people from all over the world gather, and [places] I’m so excited to explore.”
When it comes to future performances, White sees Xunami moving beyond the realm of drag. White sees his drag persona “doing runway shows, photoshoots, ad campaigns, [etc.] That’s kind of like what I’m working really hard towards—to model as a drag queen and have these sort of multiple identities. It makes me feel like a superhero.”
Beyond performing, White loves the confidence he can access through Xunami in and out of drag. “It allows me to break out of my shell,” shares White. “Because of Xunami [and] the draw that she brings into my life, I get to meet so many other people, and it’s this sort of new world that opened up that [makes me] thankful that I came up with Xunami. It means the world to me.”
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