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Drag Race Winner Nymphia Wind Still in ‘Disbelief’ Over Performing for President of Taiwan (Exclusive)

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The season 16 winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ was invited to perform for President Tsai Ing-Wen after becoming the first East Asian winner of the competition show

Nymphia Wind couldn’t imagine a better homecoming.

The latest winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race — who was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Taiwan — traveled to the Asian nation last week to perform for President Tai Ing-Wen. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as Wind was crowned just weeks before Tsai left office after serving two terms.

“Her team reached out a few days after I had won Drag Race and they had extended an invite for me to meet the President,” Nymphia told PEOPLE exclusively. “I’m still in disbelief and truly speechless. This goes beyond anything I could have imagined or thought was achievable.”

After arriving at the president’s office in Taipei City, the nerves really began to set in for the seasoned drag performer.

“I was so, so, so nervous,” Nymphia recalled. “I haven’t been so nervous for a performance like this in so long. But also very excited first this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

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Nymphia performed a three-song set for President Tsai and her cabinet. Each lip sync routine had a special meaning.

She opened with “Chase Chase Chase” by Taiwan pop star Huang Fei.

“It was a really good opener to get the vibes going and a song that I love doing,” Nymphia explained.

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She followed with “Marry the Night” by Lady Gaga.

“This song to me represents the fight for oneself, a battle to live free, it’s inspiring and motivational,” Nymphia said. “I wanted to bring that kind of energy into the presidential hall … in a way shake things up because it can be serious in such an establishment.”

For the last number — set to “Wxmanly” by Jolin Tsai, another Taiwanese artist — Nymphia was joined by other performers from the House of Wind, all decked on in different colors of the rainbow.

“This song is singing about a primary school student who was bullied to death on April 20, 2000, and this sparked the conversation of LGBTQ rights in Taiwan,” Nymphia explained. “When I won the crown, it was 4/20 Taiwan time. Which kinda is this full circle moment that symbolizes the growth Taiwan has gone through. So we decided to use this song as a thank you gift to President Tsai for what she has contributed in the movement towards equality.”

Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have championed LGBTQ+ and legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, a first for any Asian nation, per Reuters. Following the performance Nymphia and President Tsai chatted.

“This is probably the first presidential office in the world to host a drag show,” Nymphia told Tsai. “Thank you for your contributions to this country, so that I could grow up to be like this today,” she added, tearing up. “Thank you for your eight years of dedication, becoming our Taiwan mother.”

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“Mother” is a term of endearment for performers who serve as teachers or matriarchs for other drag artists.

During the visit, Tsai told Nymphia “Shantay, you stay” and the other attendees, “if you can’t love yourself, how you gonna love somebody else?” — two catchphrases said by RuPaul on Drag Race.
For the occasion, Nymphia wore her signature color yellow, but her outfit’s floral design also had a special meaning.

“I wanted to meet the president in something that was representative of Taiwan, so the look is inspired by the Taiwanese yellow water lily. Like the lotus, it blooms from mud, which is a metaphor for how as a female president fighting for gay rights, going against the grain, she persisted and succeeded,” Nymphia explained.
Tsai completed her term this week and was succeeded by Lai Ching-te, who served as her vice president.

 

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