Friday marked the finale of season 12 of RuPaul's Drag Race, and Jaida Essence Hall walked home with the crown.
However, 28-year-old finalist Crystal Methyd still feels like a winner, baby. Her kooky charm — epitomized by an unforgettable lipsynch to Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" as birds in addition to piñata drag — continued to shine through in the finale.
Below, The Advocate spoke with the drag performer's incredible journey to the Top Three, the origins of her unique performance style and drag name, and comparisons to El DeBarge.
Disclaimer: Methyd spoke with The Advocate just prior to the finale's airing.
The Advocate: It's been such a joy to watch you ascend this season and to see what you're capable of. I'm sure you feel similar.
I feel blessed for the journey that I had on the show.
How do you feel heading into the finale?
Going into the finale, I'm feeling really excited. I'm so happy with everything that I created and showed. I feel excited to represent the kind of drag that I love. I think everyone in the Top Three definitely represents a different type of drag perfected. And no matter what happens, just the amount of love I've seen from fans, I feel like a winner already.
What I really love about your drag is it really just turns expectations on its head. We've seen you presented as a man, as a woman, as a toy, as an object. How did you refine that aesthetic?
I'm not really sure. It's funny cause whenever I first started drag, for Halloween, I went out as the female Gremlin, but in drag. That's right around the time I was just talking to my boyfriend and I hadn't told him I did drag yet. He was like, "When I saw outfit, I just knew, because ... it was a drag queen in a costume." It's almost like all the looks that I do. It's like Crystal is her own person and then she gets dressed up in weird outfits — if that makes any sense!
El DeBarge, the "Rhythm of the Night" singer, has also followed you throughout the season. RuPaul's been a pretty big fan, and your mullet reminded him of him. What did you know about El DeBarge before you started the season and what do you think of him now?
Before when Ru was talking to me about El DeBarge, I had no idea what he was talking about. I just knew that Ru thought it was funny and it had to do with my hair or something. And so I was always just trying to flip my hair around whenever it got brought up. But after the fact, and now that I know who they are, it's so funny. "Rhythm of the Night" definitely follows me around everywhere. And [it's] definitely gonna be one of my signature lipsynch performances. I just want to be a part of the DeBarge family for real now.
And you introduced a whole new fan base for them!
Yeah, it's so funny. I feel like I'm not sure if he enjoys all the attention or not. I follow him on Instagram, but I haven't heard anything.
So you've got a one-in-three shot of being America's Next Drag Superstar tonight. How would you feel if you won?
It's so wild. It would be truly so amazing. I think everyone that goes into the competition, I think we all went in wanting to win. And for me, I was like, I just want to do my best to not go home. The longer that I was there, just the more I wanted it. So now that we're here, I feel like it's anyone's game. People talk about the track records. And I only have one win, but Yvie Oddly won with just one win. I feel like I was just improving every week and I feel like that stands for something too.
You being America's Next Drag Superstar would make a statement about what drag is to America and to the world. How would you use that platform differently from the other champions?
I think that the drag that I represent is so special, so weird, so specific. I would really like to inspire other out-of-the-box thinkers and other types of drag queens to audition and get on the show because drag has no rules and it has no boundaries and it's more than just trying to look pretty and wearing a beautiful dress. It's always been a way to rebel and to create whatever your imagination can possibly dream of. And I just know that if I won, Crystal would become even wilder and crazier and more magical. Because $100,000 is a lot of money!
How would you spend it if you got it?
I feel like I want to invest it back into my drag. But number one, I would have to pay off my house. I would still have money left over after that. But because we haven't been able to tour and all that I feel like I haven't been able to make as many connections with other drag queens or designers, because it's hard to really get to know someone through chatting on Instagram. So, I think my plan is, once we can start touring around again, I just want to go anywhere and everywhere that will have me. I want to meet all the creative people around the world. And then I want to really work with a bunch of fun people to create things that I'm not able to do myself.
I'm sure they're excited to work with you as well. You shared a little bit about your backstory this season. Your parents were Trump supporters. Has that changed since you've been on the show?
It's hard talking about politics with my family. And it's so funny because after every episode, they'll call me the next morning to talk about it. My mom is so obsessed with the show. She reads everything and anything that has my name attached to it. She's on Reddit. She's on Tumblr. She knows the fanfic. But there's just some things that I feel like we still just don't agree on. I don't really know how it all works, but after the political episode, that was the one where I was kind of nervous to talk to my parents about after they've seen it. But they seemed totally fine. They didn't seem upset at all.
I know that my parents have good hearts. I really think that watching the show has changed their mindset a little bit because before the show ... they knew I did drag but I don't think they even really knew how I did drag. There was a whole part of me that they weren't able to really connect with. So I definitely think it made it easier for me to talk to my parents about these kinds of things. I don't think they've changed their minds on switching over to being Democrats, but little by little, I'll hopefully break them down. I mean, if anyone can do it, it's me!
Your name has raised some eyebrows among some LGBTQ+ people because there is a crystal meth epidemic in our community. I'm curious what your response to them might be on why this would be in your name.
I think when people say that there's a crystal meth problem in the gay community — it's not just the gay community it's the world, right? Especially where I live in central Missouri, it's one of the meth capitals. It is a huge problem. And so I just think that the reason I chose the name was because, in a weird way, I wanted to represent my community in a positive way. And although it's something that's like, obviously, really harmful and terrible to think about, it's also something that we do need to talk about and discuss and let people know that they can get help.
In Springfield, I'm really active in the community. I go out to community events. I dress up like a little princess and take pictures with kids. I think [about] how positive and kind I'm always trying to make myself look to everyone. When people hear "Crystal Methyd," I think they expect something way different. I mean, I am crazy looking, so that's on point. But I think they think I'm gonna be a little bit more provocative or crude. But I don't know. To me, the name is just a name.
That is a really hard question because I've had people talk to me about how they think that it's inappropriate — they don't think it's funny to make light [of] that situation. But then I've also had messages from people who are recovering from meth and they applaud the name. So, I think that drag is supposed to be controversial, and so that is why the name is there.
And people are talking about it, and they're talking about you.
And drag queens love it when people talk about them!