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Meet Xunami Muse, the Headliner for Yonkers Pride Festival

We talked about everything drag with Yonkers Pride Festival headliner and RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Xunami Muse.

Xunami Muse
Photos courtesy of MTV & Metro PR.

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Westchester’s cities and towns are gearing up for their annual Pride events. With drag story times, flag raisings, and parades on the horizon, standout performers are heading into Westchester to be a part of the action. Drag queen Xunami Muse will headline Yonkers Pride Festival on June 8, so we sat down with the star to learn more about her story and lively drag career.

Muse is a Panamanian-American drag queen who starred on MTV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16. Muse was asked to sashay away in episode eight after a lip sync battle versus close friend Morphine Love Dion. Although the season wrapped early for Muse, she was crowned “Miss Congeniality” alongside Season 16 runner-up Sapphira Cristál in the finale.

Not only is Muse is a beloved queen and performer in the States, but she’s an inspiration for queer individuals in her home country of Panama. During Pride Month, Muse travels to cities around her hometown of Manhattan to headline festivals and celebrate with the community. No matter where Xunami Muse takes the stage, she brings her runway-inspired looks and radiating energy for all to enjoy. Luckily for us, she will be performing right here in Westchester County this weekend.

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“I’m really excited to get to perform for Yonkers Pride and bring the drag experience to people that might not be around it often. I’m also very excited to meet everyone and have a great weekend,” says Muse.

Xunami Muse
Xunami Muse. Photo courtesy of MTV.

Tell us about your background and introduction into drag.

Xunami Muse: I was born in Panama. I came to New York when I was 13 years old, and New York has been my second home basically, the second part of my life. I first tried [drag] in 2010 at Escuelita, a black and Latin club that no longer exists in Manhattan. That’s when I first saw the girls of the time. There was an amateur night called “star search,” [and] I entered. It was fun, but I was still very scared and green to it. I stepped away from it for about eight years, then I came back again in 2018 and have been doing it since. Then somehow, I stumbled on RuPaul’s Drag Race and ended up on TV!

You and Geneva Karr made history as the first DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race. What was that experience and opportunity like for you?

XM: At first it was a little bit scary because when you live in this sort of legal limbo, your existence is not fully there, as the government goes. It was scary to be exposed to everyone and let everyone into your life. But it’s also very freeing to just share struggles and hurdles and not let that keep me from doing what I love, which is drag. Drag is an artform that makes me feel so free. I was telling my mom the other day that I’m in the most freeing phase of my life and I just want to share that with the world. That’s where I am physically, mentally, spiritually.

Xunami Muse
Xunami Muse. Photo courtesy of MTV.

How is queer culture different in Panama than in the U.S.?

XM: I moved here in 2002 when I was 13. Then, there wasn’t queer culture. There was, but it was very underground with one bar. I don’t remember ever being exposed to it besides from the one token character on TV that was used as the mechanism to make fun of us. So, coming here and seeing how welcoming and celebrated it was, it was like night and day.

Now in Panama, they have many gay clubs and drag brunches. I got so many messages from people in Panama telling me that they started their first drag brunch because they were watching me on the show. It was night and day then, but I love that now being part of the LGBTQ+ community is just one other aspect of our lives, because at the end of the day it’s all the same. The easier and faster we get rid of those notions, it will be better for everyone.

Where does the inspiration for your designs and your music come from? 

XM: Aesthetically my inspiration comes from the runways. I used to work in the fashion industry for 10 years, and I was in the front row for a lot of these moments. I got to work with Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu…I did two Victoria Secret fashion shows. Seeing the process of those designers creating their looks is where I go when putting Xunami together. As for music, I grew up listening to Latin music, and then coming to the States with pop and hip hop, my music is a mash-up of all of that.

How is performing at Pride festivals different from your year-round shows?

XM: For us drag performers, we’re always doing a show; this is our nine-to-five. Then there are people whose lives are different, so they don’t get the club experience because of their schedule. These [Pride festivals] are the times they come to see us, celebrate with us. Especially now, being on the platform that is RuPaul’s Drag Race, it exposes you to more people, and more people want to see you.

I love the energy. I get so drunk on the energy of the people, and that’s my favorite part.

How would you describe a drag show to someone who has never been to one?

XM: I would describe it as this inner mirror that tells you that you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously, because we’re all seeing the same things, experience the same things. It’s like, look, you may be doing whatever but when you come into this room and drag queens are talking to you and they’re doing their numbers, you forget where you come from, where you want to go. It’s all about that moment. I feel like it’s the most human experience anyone can have.

What do you hope people take away from your performances?

XM: Anytime I do a show I hope that people leave energized and feeling way more confident about themselves in whatever it is that they want to do. That’s what drag did for me.

What is your favorite part of performing? Do you have any signature moves?

XM: If anything, it’s my walk. My favorite part about performing is looking at people’s faces. When they’re watching something that either wowed them or that they like, that’s my favorite part.

What are three things you can’t live without during Pride Month?

XM: Definitely a fan, because when you’re corseted, padded, and with a wig on, it’s hot. If there was a portable AC I would buy it. So, engineers out there trying to make it, please hurry up! Hydration is key, so water, Liquid I.V., anything like that. Third thing, maybe some ChapStick, you know what I mean?

Related: A Guide to Pride Month Events in Westchester County

Our CEOs & Business Leaders Golf Outing is August 5!

Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

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