With his dramatic, androgynous look, Nina Flowers brought his tattoos and talent to the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and made it to the top three. A native of Puerto Rico, this beautiful blossom sat down to chat with us about his drag origins, his most loca moment and a great beauty secret – and shared some tales from the set of RuPaul’s Drag U. Plant yourself at your computer and gain the seeds of drag knowledge from this fierce flower!
Socialite Life: Let me just start by saying that you were robbed of the title of America’s Next Drag Queen on season one!
Nina Flowers: Thank you! You’re so sweet.
SL: How has your life changed since you first appeared on Drag Race?
NF: Since the show, my life has turned around in a positive way and I’m constantly working. The show was great because it gave me a chance to showcase my art on TV and worldwide – the show’s been seen everywhere – and it’s opened so many doors for me. At times, it’s overwhelming, but it’s been so positive.
SL: I’ve read that your drag inspirations are Annie Lennox and Boy George. How would you describe your look?
NF: My look is very androgynous, but I think the best word to describe it is edgy. It’s a shocker for some people. Most people think drag is just pretty and female. In my opinion, there’s so many different styles – (drag) is an art form and I like to bring it to a different level. I consider my style edgy and fierce – definitely different from the others.
Check out more from Nina after the jump!
SL: In addition to being a drag performer, you’re also a DJ and musician. Can you tell me a little more about that?NF: I started in music when I was 12 years old. I got my first job as a DJ at 16 years old. Music has always been an important part of my life. Being a DJ was my introduction to the club scene and it was there that I discovered drag. I saw how the performers got ready – and it woke up a monster! I really got interested in the art of makeup. I practiced on myself and initially, I just did drag for fun, just to see how it felt dressing up for fun. It was when I was just dressing in drag for myself that one of the performers at the club told me to try performing and my drag career began!SL: How did your song “Loca” come about? NF: “Loca” identified my character on the (Drag Race) show. I didn’t realize I said it so much. In the Latin community, “loca” means the same thing as “girl”, and my friends and I would say it a lot to each other. I didn’t know I said it so much until I watched the show! After the show, I had a few offers from DJs to make records, including DJ Ronnie (who went on to produce “Loca”). Since that word is so catchy, it identified me from the show and the song became a big hit. When people recognize me, they yell “Loca” more than they yell “Nina”!SL: In Spanish, “loca” also means crazy. What would you consider your most “loca” moment?NF: I’ll never forget…I’ve done some crazy things in my life so far…as far as drag, I remember the first time I dressed in drag. I was 16 years old and I was challenged by my friends to go to a mall in the daytime dressed in woman’s clothes. My friends kept saying “Do it! Do it!”, and I thought to myself “What am I getting myself into?” It was lots of fun, but it was crazy – I come from Puerto Rico, where it’s not common to see a man in a dress. My makeup was terrible, I had a wig and a girl gave me a dress – I really looked like a man in a dress! When I did it, I had no interest in becoming an entertainer, it never crossed my mind. It’s a crazy memory I’ll never be able to forget. Who would have thought I’d end up here?SL: What can audiences expect at a Nina Flowers show?NF: I never like to give up much about my performances. I bring a lot of color and energy in my show. I love to connect with the crowd and make them smile. I really go for that energy and I like the crowd to see what I’m doing.SL: How did you feel when you got the call to do Drag U?NF: I was so excited! Drag Race was the highlight of my career – it elevated me to a new perspective – something I never thought I’d accomplish. I was overwhelmed to work with RuPaul again – he’s so gracious and such an icon. The things I was able to absorb from him were amazing, and he helped me learn so much. I was excited to see some of the girls I worked with on season one and get to know the girls from season two. It was also great that it wasn’t a competition between us, and that we could share what we’ve learned with biological women. It was all so interesting. SL: Your episode was called “Dateless Divas”. Was it a challenge to work with these women?NF: A challenge? Yeah, at the beginning, it was a challenge. When the lady I was working with first saw me, it was a bit of a shock to her because of my look. It took time getting her to trust me as a teacher. I think I used my personality to win her over, and I helped her accomplish her mission. In the end, it really paid off and we both got some satisfaction. It’s different with my severe image and my tattoos…we all have ways to show our art and once she was able to see that, it made it easy for her to feel comfortable with me – and the result was great! From my experience, it was so much fun seeing (the students) come out on the runway and knowing they’ve absorbed techniques from us. SL: Did you learn anything from the women you mentored on the show?NF: I can’t say I learned anything. I’m always open, but the particular women on the episode were so broken, their self esteem was so low, they had no confidence at all. That was the most challenging thing. It’s hard to let go and open yourself to new things and experiences. You could tell they’d had a rough time – it’s hard to learn from someone like that, they feel so defeated. Never let anyone take away that confidence, that’s all you have. SL: Do you think the women had any idea they would be coached by drag queens or did they just think they signed up for a makeover show?NF: I’m not sure. I think they all knew they were going to RuPaul’s school. I don’t think some of the women really knew what they were getting themselves into, especially when it came to the challenges. It was like that on Drag Race. We all got there knowing what we were going to do, but didn’t know anything about the challenges. I think that’s the chemistry of reality shows – that element of not knowing what you’re in for! SL: RuPaul places a lot of emphasis on positive affirmations on the show. Do you have your own affirmation?NF: Every single day, I wake up and thank God for everything. I look in the mirror and say I’m great – and grateful for everything I have. I think everyone should do it – you have to feel that way about yourself. I tell myself all kinds of things like “Keep your head up high” and “be positive” – with all of the work and drama in entertainment, you have to keep your head held high and keep your confidence up. It’s hard to make things happen without it, I think it’s important. SL: Out of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, which do you feel is the most important?NF: That formula is perfect – you need to have a little of everything. You have to be talented, you want to make your own thing. You should be approachable and likable…talent…uniqueness…oh…NERVE. You definitely have to have nerve to try new things in life. You never can be sure it’s worth it if you don’t try. It’s always worth it trying new things – sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. SL: Do you have a beauty secret you can share with us?NF: As far as beauty tips, in terms of skin, it’s always important to drink water and keep your skin moist. Your skin changes as you get older – it’s sad, but it’s a reality! You always have to have it looking fabulous and amazing. I’m 36 years old now and I experienced a drastic change in my skin after I moved to the states. I’ve been in the US for 2 and a half years and in Puerto Rico we had the humidity, and here I don’t – and my skin shows that, and I really have to keep it moist. Keep your skin beautiful and flawless!SL: What does the future hold for Nina Flowers?NF: I definitely hope to be doing more TV and I’d love to do movies. I had the opportunity to work on a short film in 2009, I don’t know what happened with that. It was called On the Border, and it was a very fulfilling experience. I also want to continue singing lessons and making music, taking that area of my career to a whole new level. I’d see myself growing in the industry and I see it happening! Keep in touch with Nina and get all of the latest news and tour dates via his website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, and don’t forget to tune in to RuPaul’s Drag U Monday nights at 9pm EST on Logo!