It hasn’t been the easiest road for Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry on season eight of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Nevertheless, her season-long nemesis/frenemy Bob The Drag Queen told the judges that she was Derrick’s “biggest cheerleader” after she defeated Derrick in this week’s lip sync. byteclay.com caught up with Barry to talk about her time on the show (and, of course, Bob).
byteclay.com: What was going through your mind when RuPaul asked you to sashay away?
Derrick: Obviously it’s never the outcome you want, but I knew that I made it far. I was so happy with me challenging myself and I think it took that episode to do it for me. I have to believe that [RuPaul] is ultimately right in his decision and I’m not going to question anything. I just thought, ‘now I can finally get some sleep’ since I hadn’t slept the night before and it had been an exhausting month of competing. I felt defeated but at the same time I felt like a weight had been lifted because I did the best I could do and I didn’t have to wonder ‘what if’ because I put my hardest work into everything that I did that episode.
byteclay.com: Do you have any regrets?
Derrick: I wish I would have done bigger with the showgirl look. I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time being meticulous on the corset part of what I was making. I wish I could have made a backpack or a headpiece or something that competed with the size that Kim Chi wears because she’s so over the top with her drag and she’s so big that it’s hard to compete with a look like that.
byteclay.com: Were you sad to miss out on the music video challenge that’s taking place in next week’s episode?
Derrick: Of course! I love dancing and I love performing and I love music videos. That was so my lane and when we heard the concept of what was coming up next, I thought, ‘this challenge is going to be so fun.’ I think that I would have just killed any of that stuff, that’s definitely my strong suit. It was sad to go right before that, and that also lives forever. That music video is going to be iconic and I think it’s probably going to be Ru’s best video because he’s working with really amazing people on this one.
byteclay.com: Do you feel like some queens were judged less harshly than others this season?
Derrick: I think I was definitely judged harshly because I already had a career going into it. The level of professionalism that I have being an impersonator is so high because that’s all I’ve been doing for years, so the attention to detail I have to that craft and those costumes, those wigs is so perfected. But I haven’t really spent the time doing that for myself and my own drag character, which is obviously what they wanted to see more of. That’s what kind of got me, I hadn’t really spent that time on me and I think that’s what they were seeing and what they wanted more of. They wanted to see what I do and they wanted that same confidence I have as Britney in my drag. I only feel that they judged me more because they expected a lot, and they should [have]. It’s what I’ve been doing as a career, I do drag for a living, so of course they were expecting to see a lot from me. If you haven’t been doing drag that long, like someone like Naomi [Smalls], even though she was fading into the background [at first], she really took a turn during the “Wizard of Oz” challenge. It shocked all of us, not just them. So they definitely give praise where it’s due. It’s hard to see good critiques go out to people and not get such good critiques yourself, but you can only learn.
byteclay.com: After you were eliminated, Bob told everyone on the main stage that he ended up being “your biggest cheerleader” and that even if you’re “afraid of something, [you do it] harder than anyone.” What are your thoughts on that?
Derrick: That’s so true and I’m glad that he picked up on it. Kim Chi [also] said something very similar. During the “Wizard of Oz” challenge, she said that, “Derrick is working harder than anyone here.” It’s because I did have to prove more and I think that even though it’s a competition, that the other contestants can really see that. I had to change my make-up, I had to change my look, I had to change everything about what I do. And it’s so nice to have that from Bob because even though we went through a lot in the beginning, we really became friends through the race and worked so well together. I think he’s so talented and I think he sees a lot in me and it was really nice to have him say that in front of everyone and for that to be shown. It’s one thing to happen there but it’s another to actually air like it did. I’m just so happy that he said those things, it made me feel a lot better.
byteclay.com: So you and Bob are still on good terms now?
Derrick: Oh yeah. As soon as we got to the political challenge, we put everything aside because we knew that we wanted to win and the only way to win is to work well together, so you can’t hold grudges. Even if there was a fight that happened or a disagreement, usually we were over it right away. You can even see that sometimes in the episodes, like the next day we’d [come] in together skipping. I just didn’t want to have any bad blood with anyone there and so I tried to always put differences aside right as they happened or to make sure the next day it was already fixed.
Examiner: So does that go for Naomi as well? You two were going at it a bit in this week’s episode.
Derrick: Yeah, we were even fine that next day. She came and sat next to me and said that if I needed any advice or any help that she’d be there for me. That means a lot, she’s really young to want to help someone. I know when I was 21 I thought that I knew everything, and you don’t when you’re that young. She’s got a really good grasp on drag and there’s a lot that I could learn from someone like her because she comes from such a different world than I do. We couldn’t be more opposite in our career choice or in our aesthetic and what we do. It took a big person to come up to me. I look at her as probably one of the best make-up artists from the show, besides Kim Chi of course. But Naomi’s [make-up] is so high drag but still so relevant in today’s make-up style so I could learn a lot from her. What happened the day before was the day before.
byteclay.com: Of the four girls left, are you rooting for anyone in particular?
Derrick: I’m always going to root for Kim Chi just because [she’s] so different from [everyone who’s been] on the show before. But I think there’s so many qualities in the other girls that if they were to get the crown, I’d understand it. Chi Chi [DeVayne] is an underdog and everyone roots for her because they want to see her elevate herself, so there’s winning qualities in her. The same with Naomi, she’s really come full circle and made a name for herself in the competition and everyone loves a high fashion model, which is what she is. And if you want a comedy queen, there’s nobody better than Bob. There are winners in all of them and I’d be happy with any decision, but I do think Kim Chi has done so much that is over and above the expectations in drag and she’s incredible.
byteclay.com: What’s next for you?
Derrick: My single is out now, it’s called “BOOMBOOM” and Chris Cox produced it. I’m just excited to perform it and do the music video and put my own drag out there. Last year I shot “War On Everyone” with Alexander Skarsgard and that’s being screened right now. I also shot “Graves” with Nick Nolte. I just really want to get into film and television and start doing more on the acting side. I love doing drag and it’s fun doing drag in different roles and now I get to do that with music and film and television. I couldn’t ask for more, I’m so happy with everything.
byteclay.com: So are your Britney days behind you then?
Derrick: Oh, absolutely not. They never will be. That will always be a part of my drag. I would say 50% will always be doing a Britney show because that’s what I love and that’s why I do drag. Without Britney, I would never have been a drag queen. It will always be a part of what I do and I still book so many Britney shows. Even after [“Drag Race”] is airing, so many of my shows this summer are Britney shows because she’s coming out with a new album and that’s what people want to see. There’s always going to be a calling for that for sure.
[However], last time I was at [the “Divas” show in Las Vegas] full time was last March, so it’s been over a year since I’ve been in the show. I’ve gone in for special events and occasions [like] anniversary shows, press nights, things like that. But I can’t commit to a full time schedule anymore because I’m traveling so much, I’m in a different city four to five shows a week. I love being on the road, that’s way more fun for me. Vegas was my start and it’s what got me to where I am but it’s definietly not where I want to stay.
[I’ll also be at DragCon May 7th and 8th in Los Angeles] and then I’ll be doing the finale [taping]. [After that] the top six go to New York for the crowning event. So it’s going to be a month full of “Drag Race” adventures next month.
TW: @DerrickBarry, IG: @derrickbarry
The next all new “RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs May 2nd at 9/8c on Logo, when the final four queens take part in RuPaul’s new music video. For a Sneak Peak, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1OeNSftTNE