This promising newcomer barely began as a drag queen in her native NYC before lockdown happened. But judging from the fabulosity this “Plus-Sized Sexpot Diva with Wit” has digitally served us this past year, we are ready (and not ready) to get soaked by the ferocious Nani Tsunami!
Nani Tsunami: Baby, if it ain’t Beyoncé, it’s not on my radar, lol!
Ha! Fair enough! So, how have you been enjoying our crazy Covid 2020 and early 2021?
It certainly has been a ride. I actually started doing drag a month before lockdown, so 99% of my drag career has taken place in this pandemic. Drag kept me sane; there were some points where my sisters, my art and faith were all that held me together. For that, I am truly grateful.
This has been the great test on us all! It’s probably going to be a bit scary to return to live drag soon… actually, limited capacity indoor dining returns to New York on Friday!
I’m absolutely scared. I’ve been taking extreme precautions, so 100% of my drag is digital. Hopefully this vaccine is effective and the rollout is handled well! Better life is on the horizon, though.
So where are you from originally, and what were the things you were into that led to drag?
I’m a Native New-Yawka! I’ve grown up around Broadway and passing by studio trailers, trying to sneak and catch whatever they’re filming. I’ve been a performer since I was in diapers. I actually modeled a bit as a kid! I was that very expressive child–flamboyant, and always witty. I was that kid. Still am that kid, honestly!
I did chorus and theater during middle and high school, which I loved. But when I found a love for makeup in college, it was a wrap, mama! For years it was me, some eyeshadow, YouTube and a dream.
Gorg! Do you, or did you, work as a professional makeup artist?
I worked professionally but sporadically: a wedding here or there, birthdays, other special occasions. But I wasn’t as good as I am now. I took a break a few years ago and focused on myself… hence the face you see now! Because, *oof* It was a struggle a few years back.
How did drag enter your life?
I’ll never forget seeing Drag Race when it premiered: me and my mom parked In front that TV in 2009, and I haven’t taken my eye off of it since. Seeing drag would be my escape when I was down; it was what lifted me up, and lit this inexplicable fire to press on in life. I always walked away saying I’d be on stage one day doing drag. As I grew up, I started going to see drag shows. I always made the effort to interact with local queens and get to know the ins and outs. drag really saves lives!
And how would you describe your drag now–keeping in mind that you’re still a young queen who will evolve a great deal, of course!
I would say Nani is the Plus-Sized Sexpot Diva with Wit. Being a plus-size person, you’re almost always seen as nonsexual, demure, and damn inanimate, lol. Nani enters a room and demands attention. She can arouse you with a look, beguile you with a smile, and her performance will linger in your wet dreams.
Do you have a favorite musical artist or a specific favorite number to do?
I aim to showcase the girls who don’t get enough shine in music, as well as lesser known old-school divas. My favorite number so far has been my Teyana Taylor number–it was so freeing to be that sexy on camera. I love Justine Skye, JoJo, Sade, leiekli47, Tinashe and older divas like Anita Baker, Betty Wright, Marilyn McCoo, etc. But she’ll pop off on some female rap or a showtune at a moment’s notice, too. Depends on the vibe at any point… my taste is truly a mixed bag!
That’s an excellent musical lexicon! I’m assuming you got to do some of the weekly competition shows in the city… did you enjoy that experience?
Oh, I loved It! I did one before the pandemic and snatched that right up! Funny story, I actually injured myself in my very first competition [at the Ritz]… but still won, lol! I was shocked. I had too much liquid courage and messed up my lil’ stunt, and badly sprained my knee.
But I saw many competitions in preparation for my debut: UDP at The West End and “Reign” at the Ritz were my favorites. I saw some of the best NYC has to offer: girls like Tina Twirler, Islaya, Zarria the Diva, Hibiscus, Inita D and my sis the amazing Janae SaisQuoi.
And now you and Janae will be part of the digital cast of “Amore Noir” on Friday, February 12 (folks should DM you for the YouTube link). What an amazing cast of POC queens on that bill! What can we expect from that show?
You can absolutely expect variety–all of our styles are so different. You’re getting different concepts of love from different perspectives. This cast is near to my heart; I love these girls. They’re all so talented!
We’ll definitely be tuning in! Anything else to report?
This has been such an interesting season. I love Tamisha, she’s definitely coming back soon–she has All-Stars written all over her. And Olivia is so gorgeous… I’m obsessed. She’s definitely gonna be a sleeper hit this season. Who’s your money on to win it all?
Ohhh Baaaabbbyyyy, this is a Symone stan account!
Which brings us to my last question: if you got on the show, what would your workroom entrance tagline be?
It would absolutely be one of two things: 1) “Let’s do this right the first time.” Or, more in line with my name, 2) “Let’s ride this wave, straight to the crown!” No wait, lol… my tagline would absolutely be: “She’s wet and dangerous–Nani Tsunami!”
That’s the one! Thank you, Nani!