After a Conversation with Derrick Barry

First off, the family resemblance to Britney is uncanny. Derrick’s sat in his home in Las Vegas after a sapping six-day work week, but I am still startled by the alikeness. Even though this is his one day of the week where he doesn’t have to wear that silken blonde wig and the Baracuda-like corset, he is inexplicably Britney. With his short hair and all, right now he’s maybe more of a 2007 Britney – which I assure him is a compliment – but the image of Britney loosens as I begin to talk to Derrick Barry. Out of all the queens I’ve interviewed, Derrick is by far the most professional. He doesn’t interrupt, he is very courteous, and each of his sentences comes to a hush when he decides he has said all he has needed to. The person who often appeared to be oversensitive and tumultuous on RuPaul’s Drag Race is now very composed and sedate. For someone who can take on Vegas six nights a week with such command and confidence, I hadn’t expected Derrick to have found his experience on Drag Race so difficult. He tells me that he felt completely out of his comfort zone in an environment which he describes as ‘adolescent’. When packing his suitcase the night before Drag Race, Derrick tells me that he was breaking down, that he didn’t feel ready to go. He had no hesitancy in telling me so either. This is why Derrick is a Drag Racer that we’ve not yet seen before. As I’ve seen, he definitely has the composure to remain professional at all times, but he is incredibly generous with his vulnerability also. There is no shame in trying something and having it not work, there is no shame in being homesick, and there is no shame in feeling like a victim. Yes, we love drag for these so-called Glamazonians, these self-sufficient beings who can ‘love themselves’ in any situation above anything else. But drag is about the transition as well as the end-product. Most nights Derrick gets to perform as Britney Spears – one of the world’s greatest cultural icons, and Derrick’s personal muse. With all the love he has for Britney – who he discovered one morning whilst eating cereal before school – it’s not difficult for him to love himself as faux-Britney. However he admits to me that he didn’t have the confidence on Drag Race as he does on stage in Vegas. Derrick likens performing as himself to being naked, and when he performs as Britney he feels as though he’s put on a cover-all superhero cape. Although it’s convenient to play someone else, to base your life on conclusions that you haven’t yet come to – but as Derrick is learning – eventually it is necessary to become yourself. In Derrick’s case, he was truly birthed into the world when he first drew on those godawful brows in his final Drag Race episode. A year on from filming now, and not only are the brows well and truly on fleek but it is clear to see that Derrick Barry is finally mushrooming into himself. I listen to his latest single, BOOMBOOM as I write this and it’ll no doubt be the song that gets me out of the house over the summer. As well as the single, he’ll be acting in multiple projects, as well as submitting an audition tape for SNL. Derrick is no doubt learning that he doesn’t just have to play Britney to take over the world.


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