We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Munich and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, how do you think about risk?
I see risk taking an expression of vulnerability, innovation, and faith. We typically perceive risks as involving big life-changing decisions of no return— quitting that job, moving across the country, or asking out your best friend’s ex. But risk taking can be much more internal. It takes a lot of courage to look deeply at oneself and challenge one’s beliefs, values, or ways of being. Risk taking can be something as simple as having an uncomfortable conversation, telling yourself “I love you,” or signing up for that wig making class at the roller disco. The ultimate risk is when we risk what we know to broaden our perspectives and become who we are really meant to be. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken some major risks— coming out at the age of 16 (risking expulsion from a Catholic high school), dropping out of college in pursuit of a dance career (risking my father’s approval), and embarking on a last minute backpacking trip through Europe (risking my entire way of being). A deep believer of “leap and the net will appear,“ I’ve watched it play out in my life time and time again. My career as an artist, a healer, and an entrepreneur wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for risking the illusion of security that comes with a 9 to 5. Other life-changing risks I’ve taken include going to therapy, ending toxic behaviors, and seeking a more joyous and spiritual existence. Taking risks is a sign of faith. Synonyms for risk include peril, hazard, and liability, but more often than not, risk exists as an internal conflict (unless you’ve decided to leave out some raw meat while you’re camping in the mountains and like, those bears that show up will be very real and very external). As humans, we want to know what lies on the other side of our decisions. Better yet, we want to be in control of it. Sometimes the hardest part isn’t taking the leap but surrendering to the unknown. When this feeling of fear begins to stand in the way, I like to ask it “can you prove it?” The answer is no. It’s always no. This feeling of danger typically arrises when one of my soul’s desires wants to be fulfilled. It tries to convince me that it’s not safe, too difficult, or unattainable. It’s TOO RISKY. But the truth is, I’m just taking a step further into myself. To find freedom, we must challenge the old belief systems we’ve inherited so that we can clear the space to build our own. Taking risks has supported me in coming into better alignment with my purpose and who I truly am, as well as shown me that my soul’s desires are much more powerful than the lies I use to protect myself. But it can be much more subtle. I take a risk every time I’m willing to be vulnerable or give up a piece of who I think I need to be. This year, I took a leap when I quit my job mid-pandemic to start my own business— STARDUST. I’m not sure how much of the net has appeared just yet but I know I haven’t hit the ground! For a while, I felt called to build a platform that gave people permission to be fully expressed, chase all of their soul’s desires, and invoke a spirit of adventure and curiosity within. I see the need for this more than ever during quarantine, both for myself and others. It was clear to me that I needed to quit my job and start a business. It was also clear that the details of that business wouldn’t reveal themselves until I did. Leap and the net will appear. Taking risks breeds creativity and innovation. Ultimately, we’re risking it all every time we’re willing to be authentic. Risk is growth.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Originally from Minneapolis, I moved to LA at the age of 19 with dreams of dancing for Britney. I watched my dreams become a reality and although I was never a slave 4 her, I got to dance for several of my divas— Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Kylie Minogue. I fulfilled another teenage dream of mine when I moved to West Hollywood (ie: gay Mecca). As my dance career was taking off, I went through a gnarly breakup and began experimenting with my appearance— makeup, nail polish, daisy dukes. It wasn’t long before my walk was sissy-ed and I inadvertently found myself with a drag mother. I have this weird super power I call “catnip for queens.” It’s not cocaine, I swear. I can’t describe it. But if you leave me alone in a room with drag queen, it’s a matter of minutes before we’re cemented together for the rest of the night. I experimented with drag but didn’t see myself as a full time queen. Instead, I lived in close proximity by directing, choreographing, and performing at bar shows with my drag mother and touring the world with several RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. Inspired by the queens, and wanting to harness the momentum I built from dancing for Gaga, I decided to venture into music in 2011. It was time to become the Britney. So I got got it, started writing music, and spent 4 years touring the pride circuit in the years before the terms non-binary and genderqueer had been added to the zeitgeist. Masc for masc culture was thriving. I remember having emotional breakdowns out of fear that no one would love me for exploring my artistry because it was too… gay. One of the things of which I’m most proud is pushing through this, honoring my authenticity, and expressing myself fluidly. Through my performances, I aimed to blur the lines of traditional gender roles and queer archetypes. My songs were upbeat electro tracks filled with hidden themes of desperation, addiction, and escapism. I spoke to the pain of the gay experience through dance music á la Robyn. During my time as a recording artist, I began receiving messages from gay men around the world thanking me for unlocking something within them. At the same time, friends of mine who were thriving in the queer community started telling me how I had been their only gay friend when we first met. Additionally, I realized I had been booking dance jobs for years that hired me for my queerness (Adam Lambert, Christina Aguilera, Glee). I was named “an architect of the next decade” by The Advocate for my work in music, a title I don’t take lightly. And then it all clicked. Through my work, as well as my relationships, I was giving permission to the queer men around me… to be queer. With this revelation, a sense of responsibility rose within me. I wanted to be a beacon of light for the community. I wanted to encourage others to let their freak flags fly. And I wanted to dismantle the idea that to be queer is to fit into a subculture. Simultaneously, I underwent a deep spiritual awakening. The old ways no longer served me and I decided to walk away from nightlife. I craved a queer community but I needed something more meaningful than what I found at the clubs. There were gays in the spiritual circles I frequented but I found it difficult to find queer, spiritual communities. However, I found more and more gay men leaving the clubs in search of this same sense of community. And then I found myself passing along the information I had learned and mentoring others in overcoming their traumas and frustrations of queer culture. Several years passed before I decided to turn this into a career or a business. Then inspiration hit. While on tour with Oprah earlier this year, I realized I wanted to create a gay summer camp series. Queue the pandemic and events were like, cancelled. Knowing this inspiration came for a reason, I wanted to explore how I could build the community I’d been seeking. So I held this inspiration and asked it how it would like to manifest. Music has always been my driving force. It empowered me to express the feelings I couldn’t speak. For years, I joked about how the universe spoke to me through Kylie Minogue. Her soaring vocals made me feel light and free, her energy was pure and joyous, and her music proved to be a highly effective anti-depressant. Having experienced the healing power of this diva for almost two decades, I began exploring music as a healing modality and STARDUST was born. My new initiative STARDUST uses divas, imagination, and music to uncover the truth of who you really are. I work with clients to awaken their sense of curiosity, wonder, and adventure by using the energy of their diva to explore the areas in which they feel blocked. Each session includes a guided meditation, a 3 card oracle pull, and a visualization process followed by a compelling diva song. After the session, each client is prescribed a 12 song playlist encoded with the energy to cleanse their energetic field, activate their chakras, and open their channel (all set to 432 Hz— the frequency of the universe). Divas are literal stars. And so are you. We have the secrets of the universe living inside us on a deep molecular level. The first step is awakening to the the memory of who you really are (an abundant, magnificent being that is here to thrive and experience joy). Freedom is the truth of each and every one of us. Throughout the different stages of my career, there is a common thread— I was courageous enough to honor my authenticity and in doing so, gave permission to others to do the same. This was an overwhelming epiphany that can still brings me to tears.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
NATURE ADVENTURES: West Street Beach (Laguna Beach), Joshua Tree National Park Griffith Park (hiking + observatory), Oak Glenn (apple orchards), El Matador Beach (Malibu), Bellevue Park (Silverlake), Idylwild (hiking)
COFFEE: Cafe Tropical (Silverlake), Cafecito Oragnico (Silverlake), Fratelli’s (WeHo)
FOOD: Crossroads (WeHo), The Butcher’s Daughter (Venice), Casa Vega (Studio City), El Cid (Silverlake), Grand Central Market (DTLA), Mercado (Universal City), Jones (WeHo), Gracias Madre (WeHo), Mendocino Farms (several locations), Ta-Eem Grill (WeHo), Open Sesame (Hancock Park), Laurel Hardware (WeHo), Yeastie Boys (food truck)
CULTURE: LACMA The Broad Museum Anything @ The Hollywood Bowl, A movie @ The Vista Theater, A concert @ The Palladium
SPIRITUALITY: 5 Sense Collective (Malibu), The Integratron (Joshua Tree), Lake Shrine Self-Actualization Center (Malibu), The Den (Studio City)
SHOPPING: Wasteland (WeHo), Johnny Cota Studio (DTLA), Abbot Kinney (Venice), Opening Ceremony (WeHo), House Of Intuition (multiple locations),
BARS: Tiki Ti (Los Feliz), Motherlode (WeHo), The Whiskey Lounge (DTLA), LONO (Hollywood), The rooftop @ The Ace Hotel (DTLA), Mama Shelter (Hollywood)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to one of the most magical beings I’ve ever met— Nicholas Pratley! Over the past year, Nicholas has taught me how to stand in my power, speak from a clear and open and channel, and listen to the intelligence of my body. One of the things I love so much about Nicholas is his focus on energetic intelligence. He’s deepened my understanding of emotion as energy in motion and taught me how to let it flow through me fully, without attaching meaning to it, as well as how to hold the space for others to do the same. Nicholas has this amazing ability to dream bigger for others than they are able to dream for themselves. Through his essence, he activates the people around him to step into their purpose. He’s opened my mind to goals, possibilities, and paths of execution that I would have never seen on my own. With a focus on energy and messaging, Nicholas has guided me through a really beautiful process in building my business by letting the process unfold in a way that feels good to my soul (even when my ego tells me otherwise) and he encourages innovation and the forging of one’s own path. Nicholas has been so supportive in acknowledging my accomplishments, even when that accomplishment is taking some time off. Not only is he my friend and mentor, but he’s shown me what is possible for gay men— that spirituality, success, and romantic love can coexist. We can have it all. Every day I feel his love and support, even when we don’t speak. He’s guided me in reclaiming my power and activating my soul’s purpose. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
Photo of me jumping — Derek Wanker (IG: @ahorsewithahorn)