Nymphia from Drag Race: ‘I always wanted to be the first East Asian queen to win’

Nymphia Wind checked off a lot of firsts when she was crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16. She’s the first East Asian queen to win the top prize (season 3 winner Raja is of South Asian descent), the first international queen to win the show in America (she was born in LA but raised in Taiwan), and of course, is the first banana queen in Drag Race herstory. The significance is not lost on Nymphia, who meticulously crafted looks and performances for the finale that represented her culture — in the campiest ways possible, as she told Entertainment Weekly shortly after her win:

On being the first East Asian queen to take the crown: As an Asian kid brought up in Asia, we’re not taught to be vocal or voice ourselves. We’re taught to be subtle, quiet, and keep to ourselves. I’m not one to boast about being good at this or that. I’m a wallflower. Self-confidence has always been a thing throughout my life. Even after winning, you wake up some days and you’re not feeling yourself, and other days you wake up super confident. You have to remember to acknowledge the good and the bad and see it as a whole. When you have those bad days, remember the good days are going to come. The bad days aren’t forever. Be graceful, and know that people are out there just like you, even if they may seem confident in themselves. There are things in them you have to find time to see. Winning and this validation is beyond. I always wanted to be the first East Asian queen to win and now I’ve achieved that.

The tea on her boba tea costume: I obviously came here to represent my country, and I’m not going to do it by putting a flag on my dress. Boba tea is the national drink of Taiwan. We invented boba tea. Put that in your brain! That was my way of being camp and still representing my country and finding a fun way to do this lip-sync, because I knew I was going up against Sapphira and Plane. I knew I had to be a pride float and bring something because this is my first time lip-syncing.

Those “tapioca pearl” balloons were tricky: Mama, did you see the waddle? [Laughs] I had helium in there, so they didn’t fall from the bottom, like they were floating. I had to blow them up twice before the lip-sync. It was stressful. The cape was heavy enough to hold everything up. Inside, my hands were shutting it tight so it didn’t leak, and there were f–king stairs behind that stage, so that was a hurdle.

Her solo number was inspired by Peking opera: For that song, “Queen of Wind,” I was thinking of being weighed down by weights, and eventually unburdened and inspired to be free like the wind. The tiger mask and costume is traditional Peking opera general outfit, and that mask is a fantasy character inspired by rich Peking opera [in] Asian culture. It was a tiger general, she was shot by a lot of arrows and worn down, battling, tearing away to become the Queen of Wind. It’s a metaphor for shedding your self-doubt.

What does the future hold? More yellow and bananas: I just want to be Jane Goodall’s friend. I’m going to make this world more yellow and bananas. I really want to venture out into performance art. Maybe an FKA Twigs collaboration, maybe a Marina Abramovic collaboration. This is such a good platform for me to collaborate. I’m going to be on a call with her [Goodall] tomorrow, after Good Morning America. No tea, no shade, I was excited for that. She knows my existence. I’m gagged!

[From Entertainment Weekly]

For those who didn’t watch this season and are like, “Wait, how did Jane Goodall walk into this story?” Nymphia played Dr. Jane Goodall during the Snatch Game and bombed. Hard. All the energy and rhythm and banter just fell flat whenever Ru turned to Nymphia. So it was very good-natured of Jane to agree to meet Nymphia — which really did happen! They filmed a video call timed for Earth Day, with Nymphia dressed in her Jane Goodall drag and introducing herself as “Dr. Jane Not-Good-At-All.” Jane was gracious and playful throughout the conversation, while still at times seeming utterly perplexed by Ms. Wind. I came away loving Jane even more than I thought I could.

And of course I continue to love Nymphia! I’d say the sky’s the limit for her right now. A performance art piece with either FKA Twigs or Marina Abramovic would each be fantastic, but I’m gunning for Marina. Can you imagine it? Super serious ARTISTE Marina emoting theatrically… with Nymphia in a banana costume right there next to her?! I’m gagging for it!

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8 Responses to “Nymphia from Drag Race: ‘I always wanted to be the first East Asian queen to win’”

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  1. CommentingBunny says:

    I love Sapphira and Nymphia! And Plane! Basically I love everyone. It was a great season.

  2. Square2 says:

    I enjoyed most of Nymphia’s costumes during the season. You could see she is not only just a person can saw but also really has studied fashion design. The final 3 were all fantastic performers. Nymphia picked the most important day to peak; Plane Jane picked the most important day to be so-so (by Plane Jane’s standard).

  3. lisa says:

    I felt like through out the season they edited Nymphia almost out or to look like she wasnt killing it so that it looked like she was coming from behind.

  4. Pina says:

    Where can i watch the last season?
    Im based in Europe

  5. DeluxeDuckling says:

    FKA Twigs or Marina Abramovic lololol I love her.

  6. BeanieBean says:

    That conversation with Dr. Jane Goodall & Dr. Jane Not-Good-At-All was sweet! What a thrill for Nymphia!