Not since Season Four finalist Chad Michaels strutted into the runway has there been a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” that bore such a striking resembling to a celebrity as Derrick Barry. While Michaels forte was the original “Dark Lady” Cher, Derrick Barry has chosen to take his eerie resemblance to pop princess Britney Spears and weaved it into his full-on career. While Derrick has been giving the judges of “Drag Race” a different side of him on the runway thus far, we somehow think his signature Spears moves will somehow creep onto the runway soon. We sat down and chatted with Derrick about how Britney came to be his “spirit animal” of sorts, what being in a trouple relationship truly is like, and how Derrick Barry plans to use this platform to take his career to the next level.
Q: You’re one of the most high profile queens to hit the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” workroom. How did you get started doing drag and incorporating Britney Spears into it?
A: I got really lucky because I actually wanted to do Britney for Halloween one year and it was the first time I had done Britney. I had been told in high school that I looked like her and I was living with a makeup artist at the time and I asked them to dress me up for Halloween in 2003. The makeup was basic, she really didn't change any of my features or “carve anything out “as people like to say. The reactions were pretty incredible. I walked Santa Monica Blvd and I could not believe the reaction I was getting. People were screaming and asking me to take pictures, it was crazy! One person actually screamed “Jessica” but I didn’t stop; I mean, I clearly wasn’t Jessica Simpson!
Q: You were one of the queens that was long rumored to be joining the cast. Had you wanted to be on “Drag Race” previously?
A: You know, I had always wanted to do the show. Season One, I was doing “America’s Got Talent” so there was no way I could have done it, and Season Two I was doing my own show following Britney Spears’ “Circus” tour. As the years went on, I got busy doing things with my own travels, and then I started impersonating Lady Gaga and was following one of her tours around. I had always thought that this would be the best route for me to take to get more exposure, but in the beginning I would not have had really anything to wear except Britney replicas. I started doing drag in Vegas and I was able to experiment with things, and then having Gaga be one of my characters, I was able to branch out of the box and not just do Britney Spears. I realized that maybe I was suitable for an actual drag “show” because I sometimes thought people would not think it was the same thing. I just have to tell them “I tuck just like you do”! I always just thought it would happen at the right time.
The first time I tried out was Season Seven and I did not hear back, and then I had to change my direction. I realized I had to go outside the box and do things I wasn’t comfortable with. I spent the next year experimenting with looks and having fun, and I didn’t want anyone to know I auditioned for Season Eight, because for Season Seven, I let everyone know that I was doing it. I think sometimes the element of surprise is really the best element of all.
Q: As the show airs, you are starting to become a fan favorite. What do you think is one of the best parts of the whole experience for you?
A: I think it’s actually seeing RuPaul that close. Interacting with him as a boy out of drag and then again in drag. It’s such a unique opportunity that now only one hundred of us have actually had. There is nothing more exciting than feeling like he took me under his wing and feeling like what I do is enough for the show and having his respect. There are going to be people that have different opinions on my casting or trying out, but RuPaul thinking that there is something in me that needs to be shown; there is nothing more that I could expect from him.
Q: Conversely, what do you think was the least favorite part of the experience?
A: I am always going to be most scared to design anything that intimidates me! I come from Vegas and am usually costumed. It’s not something I ever thought that I would need to be a seamstress, so I was always scared to put any sewing skills to the test. I have sewn before, and sewn very well, it’s just not my strong suit. When people ask my strength, it’s singing, acting, dancing, anything like that, I am totally confident in that. The one thing I don’t have a background in is sewing and it’s the thing that scares me the most.
Q: Operating out of your comfort zone is many times where you exceed the most also, don’t you think?
A: That’s what I have noticed the most. In times that I have had to challenge myself the most, some of my best work has come from that. If I have to challenge myself in sewing, maybe you can expect a Derrick Barry Couture line in the future! LOL.
Q: Have you actually met Ms. Spears herself yet?
A: I have not had a one on one conversation or a personal meet and greet yet. We have been in the same room plenty of times dating back to "The Tonight Show” and she talked to me on the show, She signed a poster for me, I was at her welcome event in Las Vegas, I was at her “Good Morning America” announcement in the desert in Vegas, and I was there when she had Britney day at the Lync. There have been plenty of times I have been next to her or in the background, but have yet to meet her.
Q: What do you think it is about Britney Spears that really makes her so important to you?
A: I love Britney; I would not be doing drag if it was not for Britney Spears. It’s not a career that I had ever thought about, and I had not met a drag queen until I met (“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season One Winner) Chad Michaels the night of “The Tonight Show”. Chad was the sweetest person I had ever known, there is no one that has his energy. When I think of an “All Star” I think of him; there is no one that deserves that crown more. When I met him and he told me I was the most amazing Britney impersonator and he is dressed as the most amazing Cher impersonator, I thought to myself “why would I want to do anything else”?
Q: In your intro video and on “Untucked” you mentioned that you're a member of a “trouple” relationship. Is it hard to have your relationship be something people are talking about?
A: Not at all, I am totally open about it. After “America’s Got Talent” and they had asked if I was gay, I was concerned about what to say. I had already been in a relationship with Nick San Pedro for well over a year. The actor and the performer in me thought it would be bad for it to come out. I did finally say that I was gay and from then on, I thought that I was a drag queen that impersonates Britney Spears for a living. If anyone has a problem with my lifestyle or my choices, than this was not for them. There is other entertainment that they can look at and find entertainment in watching.
Q: In this culture, we know that the many different kinds of relationships exist, but you don't hear about them as much. I personally feel it’s admirable that you are brave enough to come out and talk about it.
A: There are a lot of people that have kept a relationship this way. Some of them are open, some are not. When Mac (Mackenzie Claude (aka “Nebraska Thunderfuck”) came into the picture four years ago, it’s been exclusive since then. I have to always explain to people when they judge it or say it’s “gross” when they say that I have two boyfriends. I always say “bitch you can’t even get one”! I mean sometimes you laying in bed and it’s like “which way am I gonna go tonight”? Otherwise, how boring, you roll off the one side of the bed!
Q: You are at the precipice of a very big turn in your life with this show, where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: Well, I know five years ago I would have told you I would have wanted to be here, so now that I made that happen, I want to do so much more in film and television “Saturday Night Live” has always been a dream of mine from watching Jim Carrey and then watching “MadTV", I have always loved comedy. I would love to be a realistic drag queen in a variety type setting. Not a man in a wig with lipstick, but a passable drag queen that really messes with your head. ‘I’ve already done by first film with Alexander Skarsgard called “War On Everyone” that comes out this year. We shot in Iceland and I knew that this would just be the beginning. I got a couple television shows under my belt with Nick Nolte called “Graves” and I star with him in a couple of the scenes. I am so interested to see where this goes, because drag was always my way to be different; impersonating Britney was my way to stand out. Now I feel I can take drag and stand out even more. Of course, I could always do things as a boy; I am not opposed to doing things as Derrick. I know right now i don’t have a lot of competition with other people doing Britney, so I would like for that to be the same in drag. Where I could read for a role and I get it because I have a background in film and television and theater. This isn’t something I just stumbled upon; this has been something I’ve been doing and loving my whole life.
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