Nymphia Wind Wins 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 16 & Continues To ‘Dream Big’

Photo via Nymphia Wind, Instagram.

Whether proudly paying homage to her Taiwanese culture or showcasing stunning fashion on the main stage, “RuPaul's Drag Race” Season 16 winner Nymphia Wind remains on a banana-hued high right now, post win.

A meeting with the Taiwanese President in the books, Wind has her eyes firmly placed on the future and continuing her mission of "cultural drag fusion." I caught up with Nymphia post-win to chat about her path to the Season 16 crown, her feelings during the competition, and that absolutely epic finale lip sync showdown!

You just won the crown on "RuPaul’s Drag Race" Season 16. How does it feel right this very moment?

I have two answers; the real answer is that I want to sleep (laughs). The more presentable answer is that I am feeling great, on top of the world, and really excited to achieve this dream of mine that I have not really been very vocal with. With this show, I was negative and always think the worst of everything. Sometimes when you have a big dream, you are not necessarily courageous enough to say it out loud because you feel like you’re going to jinx it, and you want to be sure that it's going to happen. And confident (laughs).

As the first Taiwanese contestant and the first East Asian winner on "RuPaul’s Drag Race" flagship version in the United States, being able to win it, as you said, “for Taiwan,” must add a completely wonderful layer to it also, correct?

Yes, definitely. This is not just a win for myself, for my personal gain. This win represents a whole community in Taiwan. I know that this win for me, I definitely hold it with a great deal of importance.

Tell me about the Taiwanese community that you come from.

The queer community is poppin’! A lot of Westerners that come to Taiwan compliment the queer scene in Taiwan. Taiwan is very small so it’s kind of like this big family, where everyone kind of knows each other. If you go out, it's a really tightly packed community. The drag scene there is very lively and vibrant; it is just a fun place to be, at least for me. I obviously left Taiwan because it was a very small place, opportunities are limited and it is easy to feel like you have done it all. I came to New York City to really challenge myself.

I have said before that you and so many other queens are part of a New York City drag renaissance. You won the much sought after contest "Mother" in New York City and that is when so many other people truly got to know who you are. What is it like being part of such a vibrant NYC scene?

It’s crazy because the drag scene here is so diverse and so big, and compared to Taiwan, which is way smaller and not nearly as diverse in many senses. Being able to be in New York and really experience drag here is on a different plane, it's really crazy. You really feel the hustle and you see how hard the queens work.

Every time you came around the corner to put a foot on the runway, you were displaying drag excellence, including your final lip sync. Was it a challenge to you to consistently surpass what you did the week before during the competition?

Thank you so much! As an artist or as any creative person, the only person that you have to be better than is yourself because then it will go better and better. That is also a stress in itself for any creative person to be better than what you did last time. I don't think really too much about it because as stressful as it is, you still have to live in your creative realm and even if it isn’t better than last time, it's still okay.

You are a developing human and as long as you are doing something that you are passionate about and that you love, you always find ways to top what you did last time and make it better. It doesn’t have to necessarily be better, but it can be a different iteration or a work in progress, a slight development from what you did last time. And it can always consistently be developed.

For example, Iris Van Herpen the fashion brand, they always work with 3D printing. Every collection is not necessarily drastically different, but it is iterations and different versions of the same concept, they are developing that idea.

What was your rose and thorn of your "RuPaul’s Drag Race" journey?

In the competition, my high was definitely the ball. The lows, it was very contradicted because I feel like it’s an acquired taste. Some people like it and some people think it’s absolute shit, and that’s fair; so I think my Snatch Game character.

I don’t think your impersonation of Jane Goodall was actually bad, it’s now become a bit of a pop culture moment!

Right, you either think it’s really bad or you really enjoy it, it's definitely an acquired taste. After Snatch Game, the lows were probably around after Snatch Game and midway through the competition where I am trying to stay afloat and ridden with self-doubt. Doing this show though, I have learned one thing; you can’t please everyone. Let the idea go that you have to be everyone's best friend. Everyone's going to have an opinion, you just have to be centered in yourself.

Its challenging during the "Drag Race" experience to get past so much of the self-doubt and challenging your inner saboteur; did you find that to be one of the most challenging parts of the experience?

I think it really is because during the competition, I was constantly living in fear because I didn’t want to go home, obviously. There is this idea of “Fuck, I don't want to go home.” You are constantly worried, and you want to do your best, but is someone else going to outshine you and are you going to fuck it up? Basically, my process is self-doubt in the werk room and right before I have to go on stage, I am the most confident bitch ever. Before I went onto the main stage to perform or do anything challenge-related, I have to kind of hypnotize myself in a way. "I am good, I'm great, have fun, you can do this. Just breathe, relax into this, you’re that bitch.” It’s very back and forth between all of this.

There were so many comparisons during your final lip sync to Shea Coule and Sasha Velour’s epic lip sync during the Season 9 finale. Those balloons during your final lip sync were definitely a surprise, and it was epic that way they all simply soared above you as you performed!

There could have been more, I wish there would have been more, but…

You’ve won Season 16 of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." What’s next for you?

A king-sized bed. I don’t know, there are so many opportunities to really explore. Ultimately, I want to be a cultural tourism ambassador for Taiwan. I want to put ion these annual shows in Taiwan that really incorporate my Taiwanese culture for instance things like night markets, temple fairs and try to combine that Taiwanese way of life into drag performances; like cultural drag fusion!

It is so refreshing that you consistently bring your Taiwanese culture into your art and craft a beautiful fusion. What do you say to the kids in Taiwan and beyond that have such a small community and feel that they are outgrowing it a bit. What do you say to them?

Dream big, you can do it alone, you can do this even if you’re alone. I came to this country alone and somehow managed, As long as you are on the path that excites you and you are passionate, everything will work out. Even if it seems like it's not going to work out, be consistent. As long as you are happy, the world is going to follow. Dream Big, and always have fun.

Follow Nymphia Wind on Instagram @66wind99.


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