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Dragula winner Niohuru X: ‘Growing up, I was judged for all the things I’m celebrated for now’

Exclusive: The trans "Vampire-Chinese" queen says her move to the US helped her discover who she really is

By Dale Fox

Composite of drag queen Niohuru X wearing a crown and a wedding dress holding flowers
Niohuru X is the Dragula season 5 winner (Image: Provided)

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula season 5 has just crowned a winner, with the ghoulishly stunning trans queen Niohuru X taking the title of World’s Next Drag Supermonster and a cash prize of $100,000.

Featuring the show’s most diverse cast to date, the latest season of Dragula also saw Manchester queen Anna Phylactic compete alongside drag queens and kings from around the world.

Here, “Vampire-Chinese” beauty Niohuru chats with Attitude about what her win means, the importance of bringing her culture across in her art, and whether she has her eye on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

Futuristic, high-fashion and hauntingly beautiful.

What would the epitaph on your gravestone say?

She couldn’t do much, but she served cunt.

How did it feel to win?

A drag queen wearing a pointed crown is drenched in blood
Niohuru X takes the (blood-drenched) crown in The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula season 5 (Image: Provided)

At first it didn’t feel like it was true, even seeing myself being drenched with blood on the screen. And then I took some time by myself and I told myself, ‘Niohuru, you really did it. Your hard work paid off.’ Now, my heart is filled with happiness. I’m really happy right now.

Did you think you were going to win when you walked in on the first day?

I know I’m a very strong competitor and I know I have something very sickening up my sleeve, but winning isn’t where my mindset is. I always do my absolute best and have no regrets. That was my mindset from the first day through to the last.

Tell me about your finale look

The floorshow was inspired by leftovers in a Chinese takeaway box, which I think is such an iconic symbol of what being Chinese in America is. Grimy, greasy, transgender meat doll coming out of a leftover Chinese chow mein box is my idea of how it feels to be an Asian trans woman living in a Western country.

Sometimes, I feel fetishised and sexualised for being Asian and being trans. Sometimes I feel like I’m nothing more than that, so I wanted to take the ugly side of the social concept and flip the story and turn it into something filthy but super gorgeous.

Are you treated differently in the US than in China as a trans person?

I hadn’t started transitioning before I moved to the US. I was still very male-presenting and where I come from, there’s not a huge queer community at all, so I didn’t really explore my gender identity or my creativity back then. I was still trying to figure myself out.

Back then, I didn’t even know being transgender was a possibility. I saw men dressed as women performing, but I never thought I could live like that full-time and be transgender. Coming to the US and getting to know people who could educate me really opened up my mind.

Does your heritage play a part in your drag?

Drag queen dress in black leather Asian-inspired outfit with a Japanese sword
“I have a complicated relationship with my cultural heritage” (Image: Provided)

Absolutely – very, very heavily. I have a complicated relationship with my cultural heritage, because when I was back in China, I thought my culture was boring and lame. I never really appreciated how beautiful and rich this culture that shaped who I am was. After coming to America, I realised it’s what makes me unique. I’m beautiful because of where I come from. My whole brand is ‘spooky, Chinese, transexual – AKA Vampire Chinese.’

How is your drag look different from your daytime look?

I’m the same person in drag, just a more extreme version of myself. I don’t see any change in my mentality; I don’t put on a different personality. When I don’t want to spend time doing makeup during the day, I just pour blood on myself and go to the grocery store. I actually do that!

How have people in China reacted to your drag?

“Growing up, I was judged for all the things I’m celebrated for now” (Image: Provided)

One of my biggest fears is coming onto the stage and worrying too much about what my family would think of me and what my peers would think of me. Growing up, I was judged for all the things I’m celebrated for now. But after the show aired, I received so much love from the queer Chinese community, and the queer Chinese community in America. I received messages saying I inspired people to express themselves more and be more proud of who they are. It’s a very beautiful thing.

What are your plans for the future?

My focus in life is to keep creating art, perform more, and put more energy intro my fashion brand NUWA 1997. It’s named after the ancient Chinese goddess 女娲 (Nuwa), who fixed the sky when the universe was collapsing. She’s part-demonic, part-divine creature, part-human, part-snake. I feel very related to that character because I’m drop dead gorgeous, but I’m also evil and spooky-looking. I’m Nuwa and I make spooky, gorgeous fashion.

Why should people watch The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula?

“Anyone who watches can by inspired artistically from all the looks” (Image: Provided)

It’s a safe space for artists to explore their emotions and conquer their personal demons. It’s a spooky show but also a super wholesome experience. Anyone who watches can by inspired artistically from all the looks, and also by the personal journeys of how the artists are battling their inner demons. That’s what makes Dragula so special and so beautiful. It’s about human inner girls and artistic creative girls.

Would you consider appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race?

I’m not actively pursuing it but I think Dragula and Drag Race aren’t competing with each other. We’re both a fabulous queer force that celebrates each other and elevates each other. I’m not saying no completely, but it’s not in my plan at the moment.

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is available to stream in the US on AMC+ or in the UK on the Shudder app, as well as through the Shudder channel on Amazon Prime Video.