Marijke Rowland: Not a girl, not a woman, but a darn good Britney

Derrick Barry appears on ‘Talent.’
Derrick Barry appears on ‘Talent.’

Oops, Derrick Barry almost did it again.

The former Modesto and Sonora resident made it into the top 40 finalists of the hit NBC reality contest "America's Got Talent" by impersonating America's premier pop princess, Britney Spears. While the 25-year-old performer was voted off the top 40 in the first live judging round at the end of last month, he said the exposure and feedback he got from his two appearances on the show have been overwhelming.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome and the light they portrayed me in," said Barry, who impersonates Spears as part of the Las Vegas show "An Evening at La Cage" at the Riviera Casino.

"I am so pleased to know that (celebrity judges Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff) couldn't have been more thrilled by what I do for a living. I wasn't sure what to expect from anybody."

Both Osbourne and Hasselhoff complimented Barry on his performances, with the latter even stating that it made him question his sexuality.

"It should play with someone's mind," Barry said. "There is no better person to impersonate right now than Britney Spears. While I wasn't voted through on America's behalf, I am still so happy to see that America got to see a glimpse of what female impersonation looks like in Las Vegas."

Barry, who performs as Spears six nights a week in Vegas, said he had never even tried female impersonation until Halloween 2003, when a friend who was enrolled in beauty college asked to dress him like the singer.

"I said, 'OK, dress me up and put makeup and let's see if I could do it.' So I got a blond wig and costume from the 99-cent store. It is was so well-received, people took pictures and screamed 'Britney Spears' at me from the street."

Later that year, he went in the same get-up to a taping of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" when Spears was a guest. Leno pointed out Barry to Spears and the rest is, as they say, history.

"It was nothing I set out to do. I never dreamed as a little boy of being a female impersonator. But I always wanted to perform," he said.

Barry had been a gymnast and was active in theater as a student. He attended California State Universities Stanislaus, Fresno and Northridge before transferring to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is working on completing his theater and psychology degrees.

Since appearing on the show, Barry has been inundated with fan response. After leaving the show, he opened his MySpace.com account to find 10,000 hits and hundreds of friend requests.

He said while his experience was overwhelmingly positive, he is disappointed that the producers didn't show him outside of his Spears persona. Barry lives his life as a man and dresses up only for performances.

"They never got to see who I am as a person. That's one thing I wish they would have talked about," he said. "But I could not be more grateful than to have the fans I've made across the world. In the times where we live right now and as things become more acceptable, I'm lucky to have done what I did on national television."

Barry said he hopes to parlay his "America's Got Talent" exposure to doing more comedy, improv, dancing and singing. He also would like to branch into other female impersonation acts like Amy Winehouse, Katy Perry and Madonna. But he said his ultimate dream job would be as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live."

"I know it's a competition and there is only one winner on the show,' he said. "But we're all winners in the act. That is going to be something that will always be remembered."

Elsewhere around the Scene:

While the official Stanislaus PRIDE Day celebrations are under way this weekend, several offshoot parties also have popped up.

Tonight, enjoy the Pink Party at the Brave Bull, 701 S. Ninth St., Modesto. The pink-themed event will feature drink specials for those in costume and other giveaways. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with no cover charge. Call 529-6712 or visit www.myspace.com/gaybull.

Then on Saturday, enjoy two unofficial PRIDE Day afterparties in Modesto. Hop over to the no-cover-charge event at the Brave Bull starting at 7:30 p.m.

Or you can see drag performers at Club Axis, 822 Ninth St., (inside Banana Joe's). Doors open at 6 p.m. with a $10 cover charge.

The event will be hosted by Miss Gay Sacramento 2007 Mizz Monique Moore and include performances by the former Miss Gay Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Merced Counties Miss Anjali and others.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.

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