‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Winner Nymphia Wind on Her Boba Tea Reveal

Ever since snatching the season 16 crown on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” life for Nymphia Wind has been nothing short of a whirlwind experience.

She has performed for the President of Taiwan, opened for Steve Aoki at the Gold Gala after party, joined her fellow queens at the Critics Choice Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema and Television and, earlier this month, performed at Vice President Kamala Harris’ Pride Celebration in Washington D.C. She has yet to sit down and have an “Oh God, I won” moment — and she has no intention of stopping for one.

“It’s been wild and crazy,” she says speaking to Variety over a Zoom call from Taiwan.

Here, Wind reflects on her historic win; she is the first-ever Taiwanese queen and the third API winner, following in the footsteps of Season 3’s winner Raja and Season 15 queen Sasha Colby. She also talks about meeting Jane Goodall on Earth Day, shares her hopes for the next year and discusses how her bubble tea balloon reveal almost went wrong.

Looking back, what do you think put you over the top and gave you the edge over Plane Jane and Sapphira Cristál?

I don’t really know. There’s so much that people can see. I was competing with my heart. I think that, combined with my interpretation of drag, might be what did it.

Your final outfit was a bubble tea reveal with balloons floating up in the air. What was the genesis behind that?

This was the final lip sync. I also wanted to represent my country in the clothes. I didn’t want to just wear a flag and call it a day. Also, the national drink of Taiwan is bubble tea. So using bubble tea was a way to represent my country but not be too direct and literal about it. I was discussing the idea with the designer and knew that I wanted this bubble tea cape. We decided it would be cool to have balloons fly out that would look like boba.

It was such an epic reveal, but there is a world where that could have gone disastrously wrong. Especially since you’re relying on balloons to float up. What was going through your head when you got to that moment?

I had the opportunity to practice with the balloons beforehand. I knew they were going to fly. I had filled the balloons with helium earlier in the day, and they had deflated just as I was about to do my lip sync. So, I had to redo them right before going on stage. That was very exciting and added to the experience of the final lip sync.

Then you’re announced as America’s Next Drag Superstar. What was going through your head when you won?

That’s the final moment you always dream of. You imagine in your head winning “Drag Race” and actually hearing it was a full circle moment. It was so wild.

It’s been a while since you’ve won, but have you had the chance to kiki with anyone since the finale?

I’ve had a kiki with quite a few queens. But it’s wild doing shows on the road and meeting people you’ve watched on TV throughout the years. I’ve met Jinkx Monsoon, Detox and Roxxxy Andrews. Meeting these historic icons is so fun,. You feel their energy and it’s crazy.

Well, you got to celebrate Earth Day with Jane Goodall and got to kiki with her. What was that like?

That was beyond my wildest dreams. I got to meet the President of Taiwan too. And it’s so unexpected. They are things you could never dream about. It’s even crazier than winning “Drag Race.” But it’s all happening at a speed I can’t comprehend. If this can happen in such a short amount of time, what is going to happen in the future? In the next year?

Speaking about the President of Taiwan, what does it mean to see the impact on young Taiwanese kids you have had on them?

I feel really honored to be able to have this platform to represent the kids in Taiwan or just Asians everywhere. Growing up, I never had representation in Western media. So being able to be that for them is such an incredible honor. I really hope to represent them more in different aspects in the future with this platform.

What are you hoping to use your platform for in the next year and beyond?

Hopefully, it inspires people to be creative and follow their passion and just be able to comfortably be themselves. I want to explore different kinds of collaborations. I’d like to look into how I could combine drag shows with Chinese culture and collaborations with different kinds of artists, maybe with performance art or dance. There are so many possibilities.

What changes have you seen to your world since winning, aside from the ones we’ve talked about?

A lot of people in Taiwan come up to me and say thank you for representing us. They thank me for bringing Taiwan to an international stage that hits home in a way that Taiwanese people have to fight to be heard internationally. Growing up, this has always been the case. So it means a lot to be able to be a voice for Taiwan.

Would you would you ever come back for an “All Stars” winners season?

For sure. I had so much fun filming the show. I would love to get an opportunity to go back again because there are so many things I would do differently. Most notably, I’d be more relaxed in comfortable in myself. Doing “All Stars” or “Drag Race” is just an opportunity to be creative and challenge myself to follow the prompt and really create within the limitations because I feel like sometimes that awakens the motivation to be creative and challenge oneself through competition.

Any last words on being the banana queen?

Eat your bananas. Get your potassium and, hopefully, that potassium will bring you joy. Welcome to the banana cult. Whether you like it or not, you’re trapped into it forcibly.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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