Nymphia Wind attends RuPaul's Drag Race Season 16 Finale Screening Event at The Edge at Hudson Yards on April 19, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images for MTV)

Nymphia Wind Slays the Competition to Win 'Drag Race' Season 16


The battle for the crown on Season 16 of "RuPaul's Drag Race" saw the battle between Nymphia Wind, Plane Jane and Sapphira Cristál, come down to a lip synch between Nymphia and Sapphira.

For watchers to the show, Nymphia rise from the silly queen set to be sent home at any minute to being one of the final three was an exercise in her restraint and a modesty that bordered on gaslighting the other girls. When she paraded around the work room singing nonsense, she seemed doomed to come home early. Yet aside from being a expert designer (her runway was an awesome series of highly original looks), she proved to be a deft comedienne, strong dancer, and – in the end – something of a lipsynch assassin. Plus in episode 14 Nymphia revealed a vulnerability that was catnip to the judges, setting her up to to be dark horse in the finale. As People Magazine pointed out, "She also represents a side of drag we haven't seen win the crown before. She's the first Asian winner since Raja and the first fashion queen to take home the crown since Aquaria. She represents the international scope of the Drag Race franchise and hopefully opens the door for more global queens to compete on the original stage."

Not long into the episode, it was Nymphia's to lose as she triumphed in every way over her competition, first coming out as a giant banana that peeled open to reveal a stunning gold gown accented by the flowing banana peels she used to an herself. This was followed by an expertly choreographed and resonant musical number to a song of her own. It was too bad that Plane Jane's clever bodysuit song paled by comparison, and her lackluster costumes were not finale worthy. Plane Jane's rep suffered from her being portrayed as the season's villain. (It wasn't hard, her bitchy workroom interactions with the other girls got nasty and her wane attempt at redemption – giving Nymphia her immunity potent – just came at the wrong moment. Plane Jane was far more vulnerable that week than Nymphia and her giving away her protection felt like she wasn't picking up on the judge's vibes.

Sapphira came on like gangbuster in a Beyonce-styled number that was certainly athletic and flashy. Sapphira can move to be sure, but her ferocious dancing lacked grace and she appeared to be bulldozing her way to the crown.

The final lipsynch felt like an anti-climax, but as Nymphia pointed out early in the show, she was never in the bottom so never lipsynched, and her quite extraordinary lipsynch to "Padam Padam" solidified her trajectory to victory. Her moves had grace and a style consistent with her wacky style. In comparison Sapphira offered one show-offy move after another in her "Sweating to the Hits" choreography. How gratifying it was to see the show's most unique talent this season take home the crown.

Post-show Nymphia told The Queer Review that it "means a lot to be able to represent (a) whole community that is very under-represented in many aspects of Western media. So it just means a lot to be able to you know showcase a different flavour to for Western media."

The Wrap writes that "Wind walked away with the one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills Cosmetics and cash prize of $200,000. The runner-up did not leave the floor empty-handed, walking away with a $25,000 cash tip. Jane, a polarizing competitor who was both loved and labeled a villain this season, landed in third place and also left with a $25,000 prize."

In addition, there was a tie this year for Miss Congeniality with Cristál and Xunami Muse each walking away with a $10,000 cash prize. The show also surprised the other contestants this season with a special cash prize of $2,000 cash prize each "for slaying all season."

The MTV show, hosted by RuPaul Charles alongside judges Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley, also paid tribute to queer icon Cassandra Peterson, also known as Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, with the Giving Us Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the LGBTQ community and past appearances on the celebrated reality series.

The show also featured a touching tribute to Mothers who supported their drag and queer children; and the return of last year's winner Sasha Colby, who lipsynched Megan Thee Stallion's hit song "Her"

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