Pre-Gaming With Kandy Muse and Calvin Klein

Pre-Gaming With Kandy Muse and Calvin Klein

Story by Matthew Velasco / Photography by Dakotah Malisoff

Pre-Gaming With... is PAPER's ongoing series exploring the nightlife rituals and getting-ready routines of some of our favorite names in entertainment. We go behind the scenes to get the lowdown on what it takes for your favorite stars to look their best and steal the show wherever the night takes them. From splashy parties to intimate events, here's what happens just before — and during — the madness.

Kandy Muse has had a whirlwind year, to say the least. Since making the Top 2 on Season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race, the outspoken Bronx-born queen has been booked and busy — acting cameos, high-profile gigs and an Emmy nomination for good measure — quickly emerging as a force to be reckoned with across fashion, reality TV and pop-culture.

Just before making her way onstage at Lower East Side hotspot The Flower Shop on Thursday (Calvin Klein's "Moments of Pride" event in Central Park, which was the original plan, was canceled due to inclement weather), Muse filled us in on her on-screen success, the keys to getting ready for a night out and the viral meme of her "sitting alone in the VIP." Close friends of the brand gathered spontaneously to see impromptu performances from Chika, Haus of Tisci and Muse herself.

"It's important that such a big brand like Calvin Klein is supporting the LGBT community not just on Pride, but during the entire year. Because we see brands that always support the LGBT community when it's beneficial for them," Muse tells PAPER. "It's great to have LGBTQ+ allies and Calvin Klein has been a really big ally, I've been working with them for a very long time. And this shows other corporations the importance of being an ally 365 days a year."

After putting the final touches on her Britney Spears-inspired Calvin Klein leotard (styled by Mel Ottenberg), the superstar spilled on just how rewarding the last few years have been. Below, in a series of exclusive photos, read more on what Kandy has to say about acting, becoming a meme and her future plans.

"Getting ready for gigs has been hectic since getting off of the show. But that's just the name of the game and it feels amazing."

Photography: Dakotah Malisoff