Last week, Derrick Barry sashayed away after failing to impress the judges on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars with her celebrity impressions during a talent show on the first episode.
The premiere centered heavily on the famed Britney Spears impersonator and her fraught relationship with fellow contestant India Ferrah, who was accused of speaking ill of Nebraska Thunderfuck (Mackenzie Claude), one of Barry's partners.
Below, The Advocate spoke with Barry about her polyamorous relationship, the drama with Ferrah, and being a Vegas entertainer during a health crisis.
The Advocate: Where are you right now? How are you holding up?
Derrick Barry: I am sitting on my couch in Vegas, and it's been almost three months since [the show] RuPaul’s Drag Race Live was closed due to COVID. So I am patiently awaiting my return to the Strip.
Do you have any update about that?
[The venue] Flamingo reopened last Thursday, on June 4. They are still selling August tickets for the show. Anything can change, obviously, because it's kind of gone month by month. We're just seeing it happen, and hopefully August or September the show will be back up and going. That'd be amazing to see that.
Are you nervous about performing again in the middle of a pandemic?
I'm ready. I think that if they're taking the appropriate measures of caution, then we have to at least see what's going to happen. And if there is a second wave, then obviously that would come, and then we'll deal with that as we go. But I think that people need entertainment. I think they need comedy. I think they need inspiration. And if people are willing to go down to the Strip and gamble, then hopefully they're willing to go down to the Strip and see some live entertainment as well.
Well, thank you for providing that entertainment that so many need right now. And I was so sad to see you go so soon from All Stars.
Me too. I bet I was more sad!
Can you talk a little bit more about how you're feeling about the elimination?
Because we filmed last summer, this is something that I obviously knew was coming, and it played out pretty much exactly how it happened. I can't regret anything. I wouldn't want to change anything because I do feel like even being there as an All Star was something that did help lead me to the Vegas show. And then being the only cast member from All Stars 5 to be in the Vegas show is such an honor. So, instead of feeling like I'm missing out on the rest of the season, I'm looking at so much more that I have gained from that experience. And my real talent show, my Britney number, is in the Vegas show. And so if people want to see what I actually do for a living besides having fun with impressions, then they can actually come and see my actual talent on the Las Vegas Strip.
It wouldn't be a Vegas show without you, so I'm so happy that you're in that.
Yeah, me too. I'm honored. I'm looking at the magazine right now and it's got six of us on it and I'm the only one known for impersonations. I moved here in 2004 for An Evening at La Cage when the only way you were going to get on the Las Vegas Strip in a drag show was to be an impersonator. So to see someone like Yvie Oddly that won season 11 already starring in the Las Vegas show and having a host like Asia or seeing someone as beautiful as Naomi or can dance like Cameron or has that energetic personality shine through like Vanjie, that's just amazing to see these drag personas that were created and then shown on television end up on the strip as their own celebrities. So I'm just so proud to even be a part of it.
Do you wish now that you had brought your Britney impression to All Stars, seeing as how your other impressions went in terms of the judges’ response?
I would have loved to. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do Britney because of clearance issues with music. So that's why a lot of the girls during the talent show you see were singing their own music or they were having songs made with their own quotes or things like that. But I was OK with that because I know that people know I can do Britney. So to go back to Drag Race and walk in as Britney and then first episode talent show do Britney is like, OK, well, what else do you really do? I wanted people to see a different side of me, and I actually loved that I was the only one that came out on a live mic [and] talk to the audience. There's no backing tracks. There's no laugh track. There's no vocals that I have tracked. It was just me with a mic and that's something that I've gotten so comfortable doing when I host events, or perform, or both. I love engaging with the audience. So for me, I loved the reactions from the audience when I was there. It felt really good to be out there, kind of like naked, and just feeling vulnerable and relying on the audience to give me back some of that feeling. I'm happy that they did.
A lot of the episode was also focused on your relationship with India. I'm curious what the status of your relationship with her now is. Have you reconciled?
I'm very happy I was able to talk more about [that issue] with Monet on The X Change Rate. She's the previous All Stars winner for season 4. I got to talk with her about my experience with India and why I felt the way that I did. I don't know if that's something that can be fixed overnight. Even though it happened a year ago for us, it happened a week ago for the audience. And before I fix anything with her, I'd really like to see how things play out this season. …
She said she has changed. I don't always believe that it's easy for people to change so quickly, or overnight. I know that I've had issues with her in 2019, but right before filming. So I wasn't aware that she had gone through such a massive change since her season because I was still seeing that same India that has a lot to say online but then nothing to someone's face. So we'll see. I guess we're gonna have to find out more in the season if she's actually changed, and then I can base my opinion on her actions throughout the season.
I love that we got to see a video of your partners, Mackenzie and Nick. There's still so little visibility of polyamorous relationships and a lot of stigma. What message do you hope that you and your relationship can send to the world?
I've always wanted people to understand that love is blind, and now it's even more evident for me that love comes in so many different ways. I feel so fortunate to be able to showcase my relationship not only through Drag Race; it was talked about a little bit on season 8, but obviously having the video from them on All Stars 5. They’re my cheerleaders.
I want people to understand that I would never push for someone to be in a three-way relationship. It's not for me to say. It's for everyone to try because I don't believe that. But I do think that if there is a couple that maybe had been wondering what that would be like or wanting to introduce a third to their relationship, I think it needs to happen naturally or organically. I don't think it's something that people can go search for. I'm very lucky that I have had what I think are two loves of my life. I've been with Nick for 13 years now, and we've been with Mackenzie for eight, and it just really does show that you can't put a title on a relationship or on love. As long as you're not hurting anybody else, and the three people or more are communicating, and they're honest.
I feel like my relationship with three people sometimes has been more successful than when I had a relationship with just one person, because now there's always a mediator, there's always someone to check the other person and say, "Hey, you should apologize, that was too far. You hurt their feelings." When two people are fighting, sometimes it's not easy to see the other person’s side. So many times, even for me, they've said, "Hey, that was too far." And then I recognized that, and it was not always easy for me to do that one on one.
We're in the middle of an extraordinary moment right now of protests for Black Lives Matter. Has this made you think about your own platform, and how you can amplify marginalized voices?
Absolutely. I feel that the LGBT community has always been a minority. I feel like it's shocking for me to see some people not be outspoken because we've been there. It's still surprising that in 2020, we're still discussing racism because I can't believe that people can't just see that we're all human, we're all one race. Together, we're going to go further than going separately. I think being a voice in the LGBT community that can stand up against racism and speak out — I've definitely had conversations with people that have shocked me because they don't think that there's still a problem.
This is obviously the most vocal that I've seen it in my lifetime. I'm only 30-something years old. So this is the first time I've seen it at this caliber and I couldn't be more happy to witness in my life because I'm still shocked that it exists. The only way that things are going to change are to have allies and voices that are that are sticking up for marginalized people. I have been so lucky to work with every race, every ethnicity out there. I will always speak up for what's right and I am on the right side of change. It's my job to put that out there on my platform, and even more so in conversations with family or friends, to make sure they understand that, that this is not the same time that they used to live in, and things do change and things do evolve and people are hurt by the words. We’re seeing so much happen now because of social media, it's right away. It's right away in our timeline. And if we ignore it, then we're no better than the people that are doing it.
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars airs Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern. Watch Barry in Willam's Britney Spears parody, "Derrick," below.