Words by Seb Morgan
Just over a year ago, Nymphia Wind hit the ground running as one of the freshest new drag acts in Taipei. Combining camp, glamour and perversion with her background in fashion design, she’s quickly forged a reputation for herself as a household name in the local community. Top that off with a recent win in the NYX Face Awards and you can see why they say a strong wind is blowing in from the East. Taiwan Scene had the pleasure of sitting with Nymphia for a quick ki-ki about her art, the Taipei drag scene, and up-and-coming queer venue Belle Taipei. (Read more: Taiwan Pride 2019: 5 ways to celebrate with Taipei’s LGBTQ community)
Q1.The first time we heard your name, one of your sisters told us you were the freshest new thing to breeze through Taipei. So, you’re fairly new to the scene, right?
Yes, I’ve been performing as a drag queen for about a year, but it’s been pretty quick.
(That’s the thing: We can google you now!)
Q2. How did you get into drag? What’s the story behind it?
My interest goes back to high school and middle school. We would do these dance performances dressed as the k-pop girl group, Girls Generation, and I guess that’s what instilled this idea in me of dressing up and getting creative with makeup. I actually wasn’t sure about the makeup at first though—I know, hard to believe, right? In time though, I caught the bug, and by university, I’d started practicing on myself.
Q3. Were there are any queens that inspired you?
Not really. I’ve definitely been inspired by certain artists and performers but it’s always been a fairly transient thing—I never hung onto one idol for too long. I just kind of absorb different influences, let them melt it into me. Whenever I see something that appeals, I’ll just lock it away in my subconscious and then draw it later when I’m doing my own thing. (Read also: A happy accident: a first experience of Taiwan Pride)
Q4. So, what kind of influences are we talking about?
Concept-wise, I’d have to say it’s quite eclectic. Sex and plastic are definitely a part of it. You know: sex dolls, toys, dominatrixes, but also barbies, dolls, robots… death too—I have a bit of a morbid streak. I did a recent show at B1 where I came out as a sex robot and had my back-up dancers beat me up on stage and drag me out. I definitely like a big combination of different things. But then there’s another side of Nymphia who is much more glamor, pop and high-energy. That’s the kind of drag I like to present when I’m performing at Belle’s Bar in Taipei.
Q5. So Nymphia isn’t really just one character. Who is Nymphia?
Actually, when I put Nymphia on, for me, it’s just another part of me: Leo and Nymphia are fuzed, we’re one. When I put her on though I can act, have more fun and I can be different. She’s like an extension of me, an extension that pushes me to express myself. She’s always there in some way, actually, even when she’s not on my face.
Q6. Tell us about Taipei drag.
If I had to describe it in a word, I’d say it’s “fresh.” It doesn’t have the same long history as say the US, but I think that also leaves it more open for us to make it our own. It’s fresher here because we have a different take.
(Yes, and the scene is growing quite quickly, isn’t it?)
Oh yes. Ten plus years ago it was more of a foreigner’s game. Now though there is more of a mix, more locals, more people doing drag. But nightclubs are definitely the platform we work off of a lot of the time. You’ll see many more dance numbers than an easy comedy routine. But at the same time, I think it’s worth saying that you don’t have to be a professional dancer to be a drag queen. What’s important—especially for new queens—is just getting up in drag, having fun and expressing yourself. It’s not as serious as it seems. (You might also like: Pride Hopping this Fall? Here’s Why Taiwan Should Be Your First and Only Stop)
Q7. Where can we go to see different types of drag in Taiwan?
Café Dalida is most people’s first stop. It was the first drag bar and what they’re doing now is bringing new queens in with events like DragLabs most Fridays, which is great for the drag community. The monthly Werk parties at Triangle are a great place to see both comedy and dance routines, and drag events at B1 on Civic Boulevard are much more experimental—that’s where you’ll likely see a more morbid side to Nymphia. (You might be interested in: 【LGBT+ Tour】Taipei Hipster Tour)
(You also perform fairly regularly at Belle’s Bar in Taipei too.)
Yes, they definitely specialize serving a more glamorous side of drag. Belle is very showgirl, very cabaret. It’s all about bringing energy, hype, and pizzaz in more of a members’ club kind of setting.
(But it’s not members only, is it?)
Oh no, it’s open to the public. But what you’re getting is much more of a late-night, elevated vibe. They place a lot more emphasis on the glitz of drag. It’s also opened up the scene to the straight community and it’s a good step forward towards people understanding us and letting them know who we are. (Looking for some fun? Try【LGBT+ Tour】Underground Taipei Tour)
You can catch Nymphia and her cohorts at Belle’s Bar in Taipei, Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm-3am.
“No matter how torn apart you are between being a happy person or a person affected by negativity, is to always take pride and love all parts of yourself. Going back to that innocence of just enjoying life.” — Nymphia Wind, 2019