Dusty Ray Bottoms Talks New Pop-Punk Song, Her Emotional Coming-Out Journey & More After 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

Krista Schlueter
Dusty Ray Bottoms photographed on March 21, 2018 at TRL Studios in New York.

On Thursday night, the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race continued with a grim message for its queens: The world is ending thanks to climate change. So RuPaul decided to throw a ball, asking her queens to come up with three different looks revolving around summer, winter and space and to serve them on the runway.  

After 33 looks were dished out, the judges picked which girls were out of this world and which ones didn’t make it out alive. Aquaria took home a wine for her graphic runway looks, while her fellow New York queens Monét X Change and Dusty Ray Bottoms landed in the bottom two. Lip-syncing to Nicki Minaj’s high-energy hip-hop bop “Pound the Alarm,” Monét was crowned the winner, leaving Dusty in the bottom.

Dusty talked to Billboard the day after her elimination about the exhaustion queens feel before a lip sync, her emotional coming-out story she shared on last week’s episode, her new punk-pop song “Neva Lavd Ya” and more.

So how are you feeling after watching your elimination?

I feel good. Today's been a good day! I've been dancing around the house to my single "Neva Lavd Ya," I've been playing my music video over and over again. I feel like that was just my graduation to being able to slay on my terms now.

Well let's talk about "Neva Lavd Ya," because I absolutely love it. It's so cool that you did a classic pop-punk song. What was the inspiration behind it? Can we expect more more music from you?

Oh, absolutely you can expect more music. I am working on at least seven more songs to release. As far as the inspiration behind the music, it's just an anthem to deal with your bullies. To deal with all of the noise and all of the people coming for you. And honestly, I didn't think there was a better day to release this than on my elimination day, because I knew there would be some people who had a lot to say. This is mic drop, saying "You actually don't have anything to say here."

In Untucked last night, you said that the words to "Pound the Alarm" were starting to blur together for you based on the stress, not to mention that you're having to lip-sync to a Nicki song. Did that affect your performance at all?

I don't think people realize that we are very very exhausted by the time we get to that lip sync. Thirty-three runways went down on that episode! It is just the most nerve-racking, magical experience, and it's so weird. I gave it everything that I have, and it is what it is! [Laughs]

I'm gonna be biased -- you were clocked by the judges for not fitting the space theme with your look, and I completely disagreed with them. Did you understand or agree with their critique?

No, I didn't agree with them at all. I didn't get their criticisms. That's why in my "Whatcha Packin," when Michelle was like, "Do you think you should have stayed?" I was like, "Right now, I think I should have, but I wanna wait until I'm a viewer and then I'll tell you if I did or not." And after watching it, I'm still like, "What the fuck, come on! I shouldn't have even been in the bottom!" I just didn't get it, but that's all right.

I wanted to thank you for opening up about your coming-out story last week. That was a really special moment. Why did you want to talk about that in that moment, and what has been the response from your fans?

I thought it was a very important story to share because I needed that when I was younger. I needed to have someone say, "You're not broken, the things that you're going through and people are telling you are not true." I needed to tell that story so that people could feel like they're OK, and the response that I've gotten is overwhelming. People are thanking me, saying that they do think they're ok from hearing my story. I have been getting hundreds of messages every day since that episode, and I know it's only been just over a week, but I still haven't been able to get through and respond to all of them. The response has been from people who are going through it right now to people who went through it like, 30 years ago! It's struck a chord with them, and they needed to reach out.

It makes me feel good, but now I need to do more than just tell that story. I'm looking forward to working with The Trevor Project to actually help end conversion therapy and make an actual physical change instead of an emotional one. I have a few upcoming meetings with them, but no plans yet.

Based off of the music video and your performances, I think a lot of people know you as a punk rock queen. But you are theater-trained, and a bit of a low-key Broadway queen. How do you think those two areas intersect?

Oh, they absolutely intersect! The band Queen is not the best representation of theatre-meets-rock and roll. Their music is so theatrical, it's so story-telling and so inspiring, and I think they really go hand-in-hand. When I do  a musical theater number, I don't do it necessarily the way that the script intended it to be. I always have my dark, twisty view on it. It's always like Tim Burton does musical theater, you know what I mean?

How did you get into theatre?

Right when I popped out of my mom, I was tap-dancing. I was in the church plays, I went to school for musical theater in college at a state university in Ohio, and that's how I ended up moving to New York; to be an actor and to be on the stage. I didn't want to leave the city because I wasn't getting any kind of work or offers that would keep me in the city. They were all taking me out for, like, a small tour, and I wanted to have a home. So I just stopped doing it, and that's how I became a drag queen! I had to create, I wanted to give my voice. I would go into an audition, and I'd be too tall, not fit enough, too skinny, too gay. So I was like, "I wanna look and dress the way I want to do it, and no one's gonna tell me what I can say or what I can create. That's how Dusty came along.

Who of the remaining girls are you rooting for?

Monique Heart. No question, I just love her. I love my sister Monique Heart. Right when I walked into the Werk Room, she was one of the girls that caught my eye that wasn't one of my New York sisters. If it can't be one of my New York sisters, it would have to be Miz Cracker. I love Miz Cracker so much, I think she is witty and she is everything.

We're asking all of the girls this season -- who is your favorite NYC queen?

Oh, I would say Miss Shuga Cain. She is everything. Like, if she got on the show, I think she would slay, and she would also be a great representation for her community. And plus, little do people know, but she's an older queen. She's older than you think, but she looks so young, and she would just slay all of these young bitches.

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