Focus Taiwan App
Download

INTERVIEW/Nymphia Wind blows into RuPaul's Drag Race as the First Taiwanese Queen

12/22/2023 04:47 PM
To activate the text-to-speech service, please first agree to the privacy policy below.
Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind performs on stage in a New Taipei temple on Oct. 21. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind
Taiwanese drag queen Nymphia Wind performs on stage in a New Taipei temple on Oct. 21. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind

By Evelyn Yang, CNA staff writer

With sunglasses stacked in her hair piled high, Nymphia Wind (妮妃雅瘋) swept onto the stage and made her debut as the first Taiwanese drag queen to feature in the internationally acclaimed RuPaul's Drag Race.

"I'm happy to be on the show, but it's also quite stressful because I don't want to let Taiwanese people down," the 28-year-old queen told CNA in a recent interview.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly released a few days ago, Nymphia called the competition a "crazy ride."

"[Season 16] is very stressful, but also it's very fun," she said.

"The twists are twisting up and down like a tornado swinging you around and you just have no idea where you're at. And then you're trying to find some sort of path to not getting eliminated. You're just like, where am I? Am I still here?"

RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition television series created by iconic drag queen RuPaul Andre Charles premiered in 2009. Now in its 16th season, the battle to be crowned America's next drag superstar will kick off on Jan. 5, 2024.

Her drag journey

While recalling her journey to becoming a drag queen, Nymphia told CNA that she was first inspired by K-pop girl groups like Girls' Generation during high school, which prompted her to head to London to study fashion design.

While studying in the city, the Taiwanese queen soon discovered that drag allowed her to shine as a new person and combine the different art forms that she loved.

She said she was lucky to have a supportive parent, noting it was that support that helped spur her towards clinching awards in several competitions, which subsequently upped her popularity.

Nymphia Wind wears traditional opera makeup to mark the end of Year of the Tiger. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind
Nymphia Wind wears traditional opera makeup to mark the end of Year of the Tiger. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind

Her mom has backed her since she first took to the stage five years ago, often watching her shows, helping make props, and doing her makeup.

"Every kid wants the support of their family," Nymphia said, adding "It's possible to continue doing drag regardless of whether you have it or not but it can be hard without that backing."

When discussing the concept of "wind," which features in her English stage and drag family name, and features as a theme in her performances, Nymphia said she initially wanted to portray a sense of freedom because wind is something that people can feel but not see.

"Wind is what brings everything alive," she said.

However, the queen said that because she has a contrasting personality on and off stage, some of her friends said she was "crazy" when being Nymphia. As a result, the word "wind" (風) switched to the homophone "crazy" (瘋) in her Chinese stage name.

Falling in love with yellow

When discussing her look, Nymphia said she first tried incorporating the color yellow into her costumes in 2020 because "I just fell in love with the color." Then she began experimenting by adding bananas to the designs.

"Bananas can be quite camp, and the whole vibe feels a bit like pop art. The fruit in itself is also a sexual innuendo," she said.

Her dedication to the fruit has led to her being dubbed "banana budha" by her fans, with many donning yellow clothes and accessories when watching her shows.

In addition to the yellow, shiny look, the queen also tries to incorporate elements of Taiwanese culture, for example, traditional Chinese opera and the cheongsam, into the designs.

"I like to create clothes that include aspects of Eastern culture," she said. "I am more familiar with Western culture so that's what makes Taiwanese culture fascinating to me."

"I also like wearing traditional opera makeup," she said, adding, "Chinese opera makeup is a masculine concept, but I want to combine it and use it in a feminine way."

The Taiwanese queen also insists on making each of her costumes herself. From headwear to props to costumes, each look tells a story of its own.

"Also, I know my body shape the best." the queen explained.

Showcasing Taiwan

After establishing her style as a wild, creative drag queen in Taiwan, Nymphia was hungry for a new challenge, and so decided to move to New York in late 2022.

Although life in New York was a challenge, it gave her a chance to experiment a bit more and she was able to introduce Taiwanese culture to a wider range of people.

In October, the queen returned to Taiwan to put on an unprecedented show in a Taipei temple with her Taiwanese drag family "Haus of WIND," to celebrate Taiwan's annual pride parade.

Nymphia Wind (center, front) poses for a photo with her "Haus of WIND" drag family members as they put on a show dubbed as "The 8 Rainbow Immortals" on Oct. 21 in a temple in New Taipei. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind
Nymphia Wind (center, front) poses for a photo with her "Haus of WIND" drag family members as they put on a show dubbed as "The 8 Rainbow Immortals" on Oct. 21 in a temple in New Taipei. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind

Dubbed "The 8 Rainbow Immortals," the show, which attracted hundreds, featured all her "family," with each dressing up in different colored outfits.

"I'm still so happy looking back on the show," she recalled. "It felt like all of us -- performers and the audience -- were at one."

She added that the collective atmosphere reminded her of that at a traditional Taiwanese temple fair.

While she may have hit the big time by bagging a spot on Ru Paul's, the queen says she also wants to perform more eye-opening shows that highlight Taiwanese culture, and that she hopes to be a Taiwan "tourism ambassador," and introduce her island nation to those around the world.

Enditem/kb

Nymphia Wind dresses in traditional Chinese cheongsam as she loves to incorporate such elements. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind
Nymphia Wind dresses in traditional Chinese cheongsam as she loves to incorporate such elements. Photo courtesy of Nymphia Wind
View All
We value your privacy.
Focus Taiwan (CNA) uses tracking technologies to provide better reading experiences, but it also respects readers' privacy. Click here to find out more about Focus Taiwan's privacy policy. When you close this window, it means you agree with this policy.
172.30.142.27