Sashay Away: Derrick Barry on Vegas, Coffee, and Britney (Obviously)

Drag Race

This week, the queens of RuPaul's Drag Race were read to filth at "The Book Ball." Challenged with creating three looks that told their life stories, culminating in a couture look made entirely of books, they were joined by sibling writers, Amy and David Sedaris. They also did the best Jerri Blank tribute we've ever seen.

Related | The Drag Race GIF-cap Xtravaganza: 'Me Tuck Pretty One Day'

Now that the comptetition is narrowed down to the top four, one more queen had to go home. We were all on the edge of our seats at the thought of Bob packing his bags as it was his first time in the bottom two. But it turned out to be Derrick Barry who said goodbye. We recently caught up with Derrick to talk about life after Drag Race:

How did you catch RuPaul’s attention?

Well in my second audition video, I changed up my look for every single interview question. The first season I did it, I did it as me in my dressing room in Vegas, and that was pretty much my look. That’s all I would do. So when I auditioned for season eight, I wanted him to see different wigs, different costumes, different makeup, and I did character voices. I heard back within an hour of auditioning so I think you just have to take risks and take chances, and I was comfortable doing that for season eight.

Do you remember your life changing Britney experience that led you to impersonate her as a career?

Halloween 2003 was the first time. And then two weeks later when she was on The Tonight Show, she actually talked to me while she was being interviewed and I was sitting in the audience. And as soon as she locked eyes with me, that’s when I knew that I had to do this. Cause she was so loud and her mouth dropped and she said, “Oh my god!” She just covered her mouth and stared at me. As an impersonator and as a fan of her, there’s no better acknowledgement than to shock the person you’re impersonating in front of them, and I just knew that day that I had to do this as a career because it caught so much attention not only from people in the audience, but obviously Britney and Jay Leno as well.

Do you remember when you first discovered Britney?

The first time ever was her “...Baby, One More Time” video. I was getting ready for school, and I would always have MTV or VH1 on when I was eating breakfast. I saw that video, and I was just mesmerized. She’s so captivating. I loved that she was a gymnast and a singer and a dancer, and she took risks with her “...Baby, One More Time” outfit, you know the schoolgirl outfit that was a tied-up shirt which is so not something that you should be wearing to school. I just thought she was edgy and so sexy and provocative. I just couldn’t believe that a 16 or 17-year-old girl was doing that. It was so cool.

Who’s your favorite queen from a past season?

Chad was the first drag queen I ever met, and he is such an icon in my eyes. He’s the one who really helped me get my start. I started at the nightclub he was working at, Mickey’s in West Hollywood. He helped with my auditions and has really just been a part of my entire career. Watching him on the show, he’s just so effortlessly talented and so kind and genuine. I have a lot to learn from him on how to handle people and situations because where I may get in a fight with someone about something, he takes the high road, and I have so much respect for how he handles himself and how classy he is.

What was it like seeing yourself on TV?

It was so weird. I feel like I was always stressed out and I learned how much I say “Oh lord” and “Oh my god.” And I’m always surprised and shocked by things so that was weird because I’ve only ever been in drag on TV so this was the first time I got to see how I interact with people as myself. And you can tell I always have a lot of coffee. It put me through it. The competition really is draining.

It seemed that you didn’t really get along with a lot of the other queens. Was there more to it than what we saw?

I think that the problem I had with people was that I wasn’t taken seriously from day one. And they’re just like, “Oh, all you do is Britney and you shouldn’t be here. This isn’t drag.” There were so many mean-spirited things at the beginning. And I just think it’s funny because I got cast just like they did, and I never said that people shouldn’t be there or they don’t belong. I just think that they started off with a lot of animosity toward me because I do already have a career, and a lot of these girls, this is their first break. And this is just one more stepping stone for me or one more platform. I think it pissed a lot of people off that I was there so that set the tone for me right away. It was just awkward. A lot of my responses ended up being catty but I was raised in a Vegas dressing room, and we don’t hold back there.

As far as the other queens, are there any that you might want to reconcile with?

I’ve actually made up with everyone. When we did the premiere party, Naomi and I had a heart-to-heart in Austin. Chi Chi and I talked in Austin as well. And Bob and I are fine, obviously, but I think that last episode is really where things had come together and went full circle. Bob and I won the challenge together in the previous episode so we were on such good terms. Naomi and I made up, and she wanted to help me with my makeup. Because when you get eliminated and you don’t get to see the girls again, I think there was still stuff inside that I either felt bad about, or just wanted to clear the air, so I feel really good about the place I’m at with them.

If you had a second chance, what would you have done differently?

Everything (laughs). I would have been more confident in design challenges. I wish I would have taken more risks. I wish I would have stepped out of my comfort zone and just let my creativity flow instead of being scared that I was gonna make a decision that was wrong or that people weren’t gonna like. So much in the world of fashion is taking risks, and sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. I wish I would have just gone bigger.

What have you been up to since you left the show?

I actually did my first single with Chris Cox and it’s available on iTunes now, and I’m super excited to see where music is gonna take me. And I filmed my first movie with Alexander Skarsgård last year called War on Everyone, and that’s being screened right now. And I filmed Graves with Nick Nolte which is coming out this fall. And all of these are small roles but hopefully they lead to other projects. I’m having fun doing drag and being a different character and stepping outside of my comfort zone. And that’s why I did Drag Race.

Who are you rooting for now?

I believe Kim Chi is the ultimate winner because of what she’s bringing as an entire package. I mean everyone can’t be perfect at everything. So her walk may not be perfect and she doesn’t have confidence dancing, but I think the artistry and the makeup skills and just the way that she conceptualizes everything is so much bigger than anything I’ve ever seen anyone else do so I think she’s the ultimate winner. But there are winning qualities in everyone that’s left.

With four queens left the competition is heating up. Who will be the next to go? And what surprise does Mother Ru have for the remaining queens? Catch all new episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race Mondays at 9/8c on Logo.

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