Despite serving a quirky personality and a dot-filled signature aesthetic, Dusty Ray Bottoms sashayed away on this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which saw the queens compete in the “Last Ball on Earth.”
In her short time on the show, the New York City queen made quite an impact, bringing lots of laughs and sharing her own experiences with conversion therapy. Bottoms spoke to INTO about her drag aesthetic, the response to her candidness on the show and who’s the hottest queen out of drag.
What was it like to walk in and see so many NYC queens?
It was great. I was glad to walk in and see someone that I knew. It’s such a whirlwind of an experience so it’s nice to walk in and know someone so you can lean on them and know where you're headed. It was a little scary though, I didn't know there would be five of us so that was shocking but I was very happy to see them all there.
One thing I think fans responded to is your quirky personality and you also seem like a jack of all trades. How do you define your drag sensibility/aesthetic?
I would just define, my drag is as you say, it’s quirky I would say that when I approach things, it kind of has a dark undertone to it. I would also say that my drag is outlined in big black Sharpie. She’s a storyteller.
Let’s talk about your musical theatre background, which you hinted at a bunch in the show. Did musical theatre influence the character Dusty Ray Bottoms?
Oh, very very much so. I would say through my performance, I am very animated. I use my body a lot. And Dusty is theatrical, that totally comes from my upbringing and in the way I present my numbers and in the content I choose. Because I don’t like doing any Top 40 numbers, I like to do a number where I can live in the circumstances of the number or tell a story.
There seemed to be an issue on the runway sometimes with conveying your drag aesthetic to the judges. Did you think there was a disconnect between who you are and what the judges’ interpretation?
If we’re talking about the first episode, I think they had a hard time understanding my look and for some reason they didn’t get it, which I thought was a little too early to do. But I thought that critique shook me throughout the competition because I’m looking around the workroom and all these girls are painting like girls and I’m the only with dots on and that was in my head. Should I try to be looking like everyone else or stick to my guns and do what I do?
Very quickly in the season, in the first episode, you said you couldn’t spot the booger in the workroom. Which queen did you think was cutest?
The Vixen. He is some man!
Were there any queens you got particularly close with?
Monique Heart, for sure. And I was able to get close with Miz Cracker, I leaned on her a lot. She was really great to me for my time on Drag Race. And also Asia O’Hara. Those were the three.
You were comfortable enough with the queens at one point to speak about your own experiences with conversion therapy openly on the show. What made you feel that level of comfort and intimacy with the girls?
Well, I had, it was just that it felt right. It was that time. Blair was talking about her family and how supportive they are and how they actually come to Blair St Clair’s show and it was just the time to compare and contrast. I do say I’m from Louisville, Kentucky, but my mom and dad live in Southern Indiana, that’s technically where I’m from, but the closest city is Louisville. [Blair and I] are from the same place, we have the same upbringing. It was a compare and contrast moment.
Did you go into the season preparing yourself to possibly talk about this?
Absolutely, and I feel like every single one of us has a story and it’s our duty to tell our story on our time on the Race. It was my time to share.
Have you gotten any feedback from fans about your decision to share?
I‘ve gotten an overwhelming response. Hundreds of emails every day. I haven’t been able to go through them all and respond, but just from people reaching out to say “30 years ago this happened to me,” or “I’m going through this right now, and it’s so nice that you told your story, it made me feel comforted to know there is a tomorrow and know that it can get better.” It’s been crazy. I wish I could respond to everyone. I wish I had all the words this day to make it better. I’m just trying my best to live by example, to live a happy healthy beautiful life and to raise money to help stop conversion therapy and raise the light on these issues.
OK, obligatory question: who would you have done for Snatch Game?
Dot Goddard from MADTV. That's who I really wanted to do but since she's a character I probably wouldn't’ have been able to do her, so if I had to choose a real person, it would be comedian Deven Green.