In the world of androgynous drag, Nina Flowers is at the top of her game. Her popularity grew after being the runner up on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nina Flowers was voted Miss Congeniality at the end of the season. Now Nina Flowers is touring the world doing both drag performances and rocking nightclubs with her amazing beats.
Abby: Today I am with the very creative and multi-talented Nina Flowers, aka DJ Flowers aka Jorge Fores. Do you mind if I call you Nina?
Nina: Not at all, not at all.
Abby: Nina, you are so vibrant in both color and in energy when you perform. Have you been vibrant and colorful since you were a child?
Nina: I think it’s fair to say that I was always artistic since I was a kid. I was always drawn to everything that was related to stage and theater. I was always involved since I was very little in talent shows in school. Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve always been drawn to receiving that attention from people and being creative and vibrant and colorful. Yup, I would definitely say it.
Abby: How does your family feel about you doing drag?
Nina: My family is very supportive with my career. Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. There was a period when I was first coming out of the closet that was a bit of, I wouldn’t say a shocker, because as a child I was a pretty feminine kid. It’s always difficult for parents even though they might have always known, it’s difficult to say it’s definite, he’s gay. At the beginning was a bit of a rough patch. It wasn’t all nice and pretty but after a year my mother finally accepted that I wasn’t going to get married. She finally realized that my happiness was being gay, and she was totally supportive about it and my father as well.
I came out of the closet really young, 16 years old. I started doing drag at 19. At first it was all hidden. I really kept it to myself. I worried about how to break it to them. How are they going to take it? Coming from a Latino family, the machismo is a really big factor of our culture. It was difficult for my father to find out that I was dressing up in women’s clothes. I guess it was also a matter of time for them to realize that I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to change my sex. I didn’t want to become a woman. That’s the first thing that crossed their minds.
Abby: When I’ve seen you out of drag you radiate machismo. So when you tell me that as a child you were very effeminate, it kind of blows my mind.
Nina: I’ll tell you where that comes from. As a child being discriminated for being feminine, I didn’t want to be rejected. I was basically forced to tough it up, and just to try to fit in and try to avoid other kids from bullying me. So I can say by the time I became a teenager, before I came out of the closet, there was a big transition in my personality. I just started acting a little bit more masculine than when I was a child. I just wanted to fit in. I didn’t want the kids to bully me any more. I basically developed this new personality. I was able to change a little bit and so I became who I am today.
Abby: I really like who you are today as a drag artist.
Nina: Drag is an art form. When I discovered drag, drag became for me a way to vent and just release all that energy. It is absolutely a relief for me. I love who I am. It was very difficult when I started doing drag, to find out that even in the gay community, some people would discriminate against drag. It’s so difficult and tough to find out that even within the same community that people would look down on you or not necessarily understand that what you’re doing is in your heart. That was a bit of a bitter-sweet experience. But thanks to the love of the people that were around me, I was able to overcome that, and just learn to love myself for how I am and who I am.
Abby: So the rumor is not true that you are retiring from drag?
Nina: No. I have said that my passion is music and that’s where I see my future. I have expressed that quite a few times in several interviews or to people I have met. That probably has made people believe that I’m saying that I’m retiring drag. I’m not retiring drag. Drag is something that keeps me going because of all the love that I get from the fans and all that positive energy that comes back to me. So as long as I have strength and energy to keep doing all that together, I will still do Nina Flowers.
Abby: Your roots are very deep into music. Do you have a favorite musical artist?
Nina: I have so many, actually. I love Annie Lennox. I love, love her voice. I love, also, Cyndi Lauper. And I also love, love, love German punk rock artist Nina Hagen. She happens to be the reason why I named my drag persona Nina. I named my drag persona after her because she’s amazing. She’s crazy. Her personality… I would give anything I have just to meet her. She’s very, very fun, and she’s just crazy. She’s one of my inspirations.
Abby: If you were on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, what would you do to bring something new to the show?
Nina: I’m going to speak now from the heart. I don’t have any strategies. If I would be lucky enough to be part of RPDR All Stars, I would just be me. I just think that that’s the best way to do things. I think, by personal experience, you can’t have a strategy because of this kind of competition. This is a game and they are so unpredictable. So with that said, I think I would just go there and just be myself, be wild, but at the same time have class doing it.
Abby: Which 12 queens from previous seasons would you like to compete against?
Nina: Well, that’s a tricky question because I love all the girls on the show, some more than others. I have been given the chance to know some of these performers more than others, and I know what they’re capable of. So with that said, I’m going to respond to your question. So if I was to choose 12 people to be on the show, I would pick Tammie Brown, Ongina, Shannel and Victoria Porkchop. From season 2, I would love to have Raven, Morgan McMichaels, Jujubee, and of course the Puerto Rican queen, Jessica Wild. I think she’s adorable. And she’s very talented too. From season 3, I would love to see on the show, Yara Sophia, Mariah Balenciaga and Manila Luzon. From season 4, I’d pick Chad Michaels and Latrice Royale. I gave you 13 but I just couldn’t leave any of these girls out.
Abby: If I could interject. I would love to see a runway walk off between Raja and Nina Flowers. If anyone could take her on, I think it’s you, Nina.
Nina: Thank you for that compliment. I actually didn’t mention Raja, BeBe or Tyra because from what I’ve seen in previous All Star shows they never bring the winners back. But I love all of them.
Abby: Speaking of RPDR, do you have a favorite to win season 4?
Nina: I think the winner, in my eyes, it will be either Chad Michaels or Sharon Needles. They’re the two entertainers that stand out for me the most. And if I were able to pick a third on, I’d say Latrice Royale. Those are my three girls from the show that I think that they definitely would be good candidates for winning. It’s tough to pick just one because they all have different things that I really, really love. Sharon Needles… I love the fact that she’s just bringing something new, something different, something spooky. But just the way that she carries herself, and the way that she executes her art, it’s just so well put together that it just makes you like her. I don’t think she’s a beauty queen, she’s not a beauty queen. But she has been able to make people see that this is not a beauty pageant. This is about the art, and she definitely has a real strong point of view as an artist. I think that’s fascinating. So I would say that I think, from the three names I gave you, I believe that she’s on top of the game with her persona and the way she portrays herself.
Abby: She’s definitely entertaining.
Nina: Oh yeah, definitely entertaining. New, refreshing, and it’s like a breath of fresh air, because it’s different. It’s not something we’ve seen over and over and over. I’m all about that. I see something I’ve never seen before, and it immediately captivates me. I wish all the best of luck to all the girls. They’re all fantastic in their own way.
Abby: You are right. Sharon Needles comes from a small town and put up with a lot in order to do drag. You live in Denver, Colorado, not exactly a Mecca for drag.
Nina: I’ve been here for four years and a half now. The reason that I decided to come to Denver was because of my partner. My partner and I met back in Puerto Rico and we just had an immediate connection. We did the long distance relationship for about six months. He said I’d love it if you’d come to Denver and we could try to make this work. I agreed. I was a little scared at first because Puerto Rico was all I had ever known. Everyone back home supported me. I committed myself to be here for at least one year to try to make things happen. I knew it was going to be a challenge and it was going to be tough. I was very insecure about my language barrier and being in a new place. I would have to start from scratch, from the bottom. I wanted that experience. Plus I definitely wanted to be close to Antonio. So I came here and I was miserable for the first couple of months. Not because it didn’t work out with us. He was amazing. He was very supportive and very understanding and patient. I was miserable because I didn’t have a car. I was homesick all the time. I couldn’t find a job. Nobody wanted to open the doors to what I did, neither for DJing or performing. Four years ago drag here was nothing. I’d come from working five nights a week, and I was financially established. Just coming here and not seeing that anyone would have me, I was just totally frustrated. That’s when they started casting people for season 1.
Abby: So you lived in the US when you were cast?
Nina: Yes, I was already living here when I got cast for Drag Race. A friend of mine, he saw the promotion, publicity ad on Logo, and he called me immediately. He said, “They’re doing a reality show for drag queens. You have to try. You have to go. There’s voting on line, and people have to go and have to vote.” Immediately when he told me that, I was like, “Okay, I’m intrigued.” I got my spot on RPDR Season 1 because I was the winner of the on-line voting. After we did the show, when I returned to Denver, I decided, okay, let me just wait and see what’s going to happen after RPDR airs. And it changed my life. All the people that had shut the doors in my face were all “we want you to come and work for us.” I started traveling and doing my thing until today. I am just really happy that I was able to stay strong. Things happen for a reason. And they will happen. When you have faith and when you have patience, everything comes your way in the way it’s supposed to.
Abby: You forgot one thing in there… Talent! Let’s face it, you have talent.
Nina: Thank you Abby, I appreciate it. I love what I do. It brings a great satisfaction to know that your work has affected other people. I always say that, and that’s because that’s how I really see it. That’s what really keeps me going.
Abby: I really hope to see you on All Stars. Nina, that’s me speaking from the heart!
To keep up to date with Nina Flowers you can find her at: www.ninaflowers.com