Before Season 8 even began, Derrick Barry was one the most hyped new contestants of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Previously a contestant on “America’s Got Talent,” Barry is well known on the Vegas strip for his uncanny impersonation of pop star Britney Spears — and it’s “just make-up,” he says. Barry has never had any cosmetic surgery to look like the “Toxic” singer.
Unfortunately, Barry’s “Slave 4 U” dance moves were not enough to keep him in the competition. Zap2it got to speak with him after him his elimination on Monday (April 25), and we discussed why he started dressing like Britney in the first place, his real-life celebrity fans and who he thinks is going to win “Drag Race” this season.
Zap2it: How was watching the episode last night?
Derrick Barry: I was in Chicago with fans, friends, and family. There’s nothing like exiting the stage, and having an audience there live cheering you on. It’s just the beginning of my journey. RuPaul took me from a Vegas headliner to an international star.
You threw serious shade towards Naomi Smalls. Do you feel the cameras were biased?
Nope! That was all pretty real. That’s how it happened. Naomi and I come from very different styles of drag. She basically [grew] up watching the show. I started doing drag because of Britney Spears. She really just didn’t understand why I was there. It’s not fair to say someone doesn’t belong or doesn’t deserve to be there. At that point, I had just heard it so much. I was tired of it. It boiled my blood.
What’s the difference between female impersonation and drag?
Drag makeup, it’s so exaggerated. That just wouldn’t work me and for what I do as a living. If I showed up and didn’t look like Britney, I wouldn’t be doing my job right. That’s my living.
[Naomi’s] is different. She can sell anything, because she’s selling herself. It’s offensive that she called my make-up “very real girl,” because that’s not a bad thing. It’s [actually] a part of drag. But that’s why I did the show. I wanted to step outside that box and do makeup that didn’t look like Britney. Maybe it wasn’t enough, or I didn’t exceed that level of expectations, but that was my journey.
Do you think Britney watched?
I hope so! I know a lot of her dancers were. It’s always fun to see comments from them on social media. I’m one degree away from Britney through them. They come out to my shows, and dance with me, so I’m hoping word got back to her. But I really don’t know.
What’s your favorite Britney look?
The circus jacket. I love the shoulders, the jacket with the tail. The big “B” on the back which is all crystals. It’s so costume – it’s such a fun look.
How do you study Britney?
I can watch anything online. I saw her Vegas show on the friends and family opening night. I saw it again during Vegas Pride Week. I haven’t seen the re-vamp yet because everything with “Drag Race” is so time consuming, but I want to catch it this summer.
Are you mistaken for Britney all the time?
It used happen at night clubs. Just random people come up, talk to me and they really think I’m her. It’s so uncomfortable. I’m like, “No, really. I’m not her,” and they’re just like “Yeah, right.” But it’s fun!
Like Katy Perry, when I worked in her music video, she called me Britney the whole time. Working with Eminem, in his video, he couldn’t believe it either. Madonna [once] pulled me up on stage, and said, “You’ll always be Britney to me” during “Unapologetic Bitch” while she was on the Rebel Heart tour in Chicago. Everyone’s been really cool.
Have you met Britney in person?
On “The Tonight Show” in 2003, she talked to me. I was in the audience. She signed a poster at her welcoming event in Vegas. She sent a CD and signed photo during the Circus Tour era. There’s been about half a dozen interactions where we’re in the same place at the same time, but we’ve yet to do a meet-and-greet photo. So that’s going to have to happen.
When did you realize, ‘Oh my God. I look just like Britney?’
It was her Skechers ad. She was in all denim and there were three pictures of her. My best friend covered her hair and was like, “Oh my God, this looks exactly like you.” And I was like “Whoa, I see it!” That was in high school. But when I told other people they were like, “No. Britney is so pretty. Derrick can’t look like her.”
But then when I was living in L.A., I was like I need to do this. A girl I was living with was going to school for makeup and she dressed me up for Halloween. Literally, traffic was stopping to come and take a picture with me. It was unreal.
Who do you think is going to win?
I think Kim Chi is aesthetically a winner. She just looks like she deserves a crown on her head. She’s got my vote, for sure.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Logo.