Chances are, if you follow the drag scene at all, you know about Nina Flowers.
Since coming in second during the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she also won the Miss Congeniality award, Flowers has become one of the biggest names in the drag scene. The edgy performer has helped push the popularity of a less traditional approach to drag, one that relies less on stereotypical forms of femininity and more on creating art.
There’s more to Flowers than just drag, though. Flowers – a.k.a. Jorge Flores – has a second career as the successful DJ Flowers. Flowers’ career as a DJ goes back to his time as a 12-year-old in Puerto Rico.
Currently in the midst of a busy schedule, Flowers took the time to speak with David Magazine about getting her start as both a DJ and a drag queen, as well as dishing a bit about – what else? – RuPaul’s Drag Race.
How did you get your start in the drag world?
I started doing drag, after attending a beauty school in Puerto Rico to become a make-up artist. It touched my creative side and I ended having a love for makeup. I practiced on myself and like how I evolved into a new persona by using make up.
Did growing up in Puerto Rico shape who you are as a drag queen?
I think so… Puerto Rico is a small island with a smaller gay community when compared to other U.S. cities. The drag queens in Puerto Rico have to be very creative with their work, and polished to keep the audience’s attention. Drag there is very competitive, and considering I’ve been doing drag there for 15 years that did impact my approach to drag. For me it’s important to keep my work fresh and new.
Who are your influences?
What influences my art has been the fashion and music from the 80s. While that has always been my base, I continue to get influenced and inspired by art, cartoons, comics, and nature.
You’ve definitely been one of the more notable figures in androgynous drag. How does it feel to see that style become more popular among up-and-coming drag queens?
Thank you for the compliment. It feels amazing! I’m happy to have inspired other queens to approach a different style of drag than what would be considered traditional. I would hope that I’ve let other performers know it’s okay to be different. Everyone should respect each other’s choices when it comes to drag art.
Have you seen any change in the perception of drag since your season or since RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a bit more of a mainstream hit?
Absolutely! I believe there is a greater appreciation for the diversity of drag…with that a respect for the hard work that goes into it as a profession.
How did your participation on RuPaul’s Drag Race change your reception from audiences?
Reception has been incredible! To be recognized both nationally and internationally has been incredible! Definitely has done wonders for ongoing work. I can’t wait to return to Atlanta.
What do you think makes the first season of the show stand out from subsequent seasons?
Well, it was ground breaking and unheard of as a reality show. Though, the current season is nothing compared to what we had around sponsorships, advertising, and prizes. In any case, I’m very grateful to have been one of the first entertainers showcased.
Who are your favorite contestants from the other seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Wow! So many to choose from…so this is a difficult question, but from season two, Jessica Wild, Jujubee and Raven; from season three, Raja, Manila Luzon and Yara Sofia; and from season four, Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels and Latrice Royale.
With RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars coming up, who do you want to see in the competition?
Well, all the one’s I’ve already mentioned, but to include season one I’d say Ongina, Shannel and me, of course!
In addition to being amazing in drag, you’re also a notable DJ. How did you get your start in that scene?
I was a DJ way before I started doing drag. I had a very strong interest very early on. My dad bought me my first turntables at 12 years old. In my early teens I started getting gigs doing private parties, and was recognized within the community, and by age 16 I was spinning at many of the big name clubs around the island.
Have you been able to book more gigs as a DJ since your time on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Absolutely! As a performer I always introduce the fact that I also DJ. The word continues to grow. I’ve DJ’d in NYC, Boston, Miami, Tampa and Palm Springs to name a few [places]. I also have several residencies such as the one I have in my hometown, Denver, at Tracks Night Club; included is also Boston, which many think is my second home. I’m in Boston every other month spinning for EPIC Saturdays, promoted by “Chris Harris and Gay Mafia Boston,” and I’ve also done some repeat appearances at Club Score in Miami, FL. Most recently, I was honored by being invited to spin for Jeffrey Sanker’s White Party in Palms Springs…an amazing event. I’m also now scheduled to spin at Matinee in Las Vegas for Memorial Day weekend. You can always keep up with what I’m doing, spinning or performing at www.ninaflowers.com or on my Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/ninaflowersfans or www.facebook.con/djflowersfans). By the way, I finally downloaded some of my sets on SoundCloud, so you can look me up there too.
What would you like to do in the future with your DJ career?
I would like to take it to the next level and start producing for other great entertainers.
Do you have any major plans coming up as far as your drag career is concerned?
Well, so far I’ve released 4 singles and one EP. You can also find these on www.ninaflowers.com. I’m currently about to release my 5th single, “Rock the Beat” produced by DJ/Producer William Umana. Keep an ear out!
What advice do you have for up-and-coming drag performers?
Be unique, original and true to yourself. Also, learn to appreciate other styles of drag. There is some incredible talent out there.