Crystal Methyd may have not taken home the crown like she promised on I’m That Bitch, but she did get one bit right: that fans would come out in droves to scream her name.
The Missouri-based performer won the hearts of Drag Race viewers around the world with her infectious personality and kooky, unconventional aesthetic, earning a place in the coveted final three alongside Jaida Essence Hall and Gigi Goode.
She also turned RuPaul into an uncontrollable fangirl with her El Debarge-esque mullet, and delivered one of the most batshit crazy performances in HERstory when she reenacted the life cycle of a bird and regurgitated in her mouth.
We can always count on Crystal Methyd to gag us with the unexpected, which is why we’re desperately waiting to see what madness she’ll concoct for her performance on It Gets Better: A Digital Pride Experience on 24 June.
Hosted by fellow Drag Race alum and trans activist Peppermint, the show will bring together a diverse slate of talent across genres, including fitness, lifestyle, fashion and beauty, gaming, music and drag performances.
“I was really excited to join the line-up just because we can’t have the Pride celebrations that we normally have,” Crystal tells GAY TIMES over the phone. “It’s still important to celebrate Pride. It’s a reminder to take ownership of who you are.”
To celebrate her upcoming appearance for It Gets Better, we caught up with Crystal to discuss her time on Drag Race season 12, how she’s coping in lockdown and how she plans to conquer the world post-lockdown.
Hi Crystal! How are you coping in lockdown?
Oh I feel like I’m going crazy, but I feel like everyone feels like that!
Condragulations on reaching the final three of Drag Race season 12!
Thank you! I still can’t believe it’s real? Especially since I’ve been stuck in the house. Part of me is like, ‘Am I making all this up?’ My house is still kinda messy from the finale, but I’m working on cleaning it up!
Is that why we’re not on video?
[Laughs] Perhaps! I’m just an artist, you know? I make a lot of messes and piles.
When you were on Drag Race, at which point did you think, ‘I could win this whole thing’?
You know, I don’t know if there was ever a moment where I thought that. After I got home and we had to start preparing for the finale and stuff, that’s when I started feeling like I might win. I remember coming home from filming and thinking, ‘Oh no, was I terrible?’ but I feel like a lot of artists put a lot of pressure on themselves.
I remember thinking you could go all the way after your brilliant Madonna tribute.
[Laughs] Yeah, that was one of my favourite challenges. All the ones where we got to sing and dance, which is not something I usually do, it just felt so fun.
I did not expect to see you whip your hair so ferociously?
Oh my gosh, that is so funny because all of my friends were like, ‘When did you learn how to do that?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, it’s just been inside of me all along.’
How has it been navigating this crazy journey in lockdown?
I feel like… I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s so weird, because all of my interactions are just done online. I see my numbers of followers or comments and stuff go up, but I’m not really a numbers person so I don’t really know what any of that means! I just feel grateful because a lot of my fans are die-hard, they’ll support me no matter what, and I love that community; people who make art that are inspired by my stuff or little video compilations. All of that makes me so happy.
What about El Debarge? Has he been in touch yet?
Not yet! And I felt like he was going to send me a video message at the finale – and he didn’t! I follow him on Instagram, it was his birthday a few weeks ago, and I sent him a birthday message but I haven’t heard anything yet.
C’mon El Debarge!
He’s a busy man, I’m sure!
Season 12 really was RuPaul’s Best Friend Race slash RuPaul’s Best Friend Race All Stars because the talent was so strong – how are you and your sisters keeping connected throughout the pandemic?
We have our group chat, where we always send each other all of our newest projects or pictures so that we can go and support it. We’ve been trying to do Zoom calls as a group. Sometimes it’s hard to get all the girls at once, because you know, scheduling. It’s not my expertise! It’s been really fun and I love our Zoom calls because it lets you know what all the other girls are up to. It just lets you know that you’re not the only one… we’re going through a lot! It’s nice to have those people to vent to and talk about upcoming things.
12 queens in one group chat – how is that?
It’s really intense! Although I have been doing some Zoom parties, where everyone is just muted and then one person is the DJ. It’s so fun and I didn’t know I could have that much fun just dancing in front of my computer, by myself.
You’re going to be doing that for It Gets Better – why was it important for you to join their upcoming digital experience?
I was really excited to join the line-up just because we can’t have the Pride celebrations that we normally have. I feel at least I’m now part of something big involving a lot of people, that will reach a lot of people. I think it’s still important to celebrate Pride. It’s a reminder to take ownership of who you are. Normally in my everyday life, I take pride in how I dress and express myself. I had an art teacher in elementary school, and they really influenced me. I’ll never forget Miss Fletcher! I always say that I wanna live everyday in the hopes of giving someone a Miss Fletcher moment, which is letting them realise that they can dress and be whatever they want.
Fans need to thank Miss Fletcher then, because they were loving your out-of-drag fashion on the show.
[Laughs] It was so hard for me to decide what clothes I was going to bring to the show! My suitcase were already so full of drag. I remember I only got to bring two pairs of shoes, some tennis shoes and boots. I was devastated! I love getting dressed up, that’s one thing that’s also been hard. I usually go to the thrift store three or four times a week, just to look for little knick-knacks or get inspiration, so that’s been kind of hard. I’m also a hoarder so I have a lot of fabric to pull from. I’ve been trying to use all of that, which is why I was a piñata and a bird in the finale. I was using all the craft supplies I have stocked up.
Your performance of I’m Like a Bird was one of the most bat-shit crazy things I’ve ever seen on Drag Race and I was living for it.
[Laughs] I thought of the idea and I thought it was going to be so funny. I remember before it aired, I texted Jaida and Gigi and I was like, ‘I’m so sorry for how stupid my performance is.’
Where did the inspiration for that come from?
It literally was just… I was trying to figure out the song and I read ‘I’m Like a Bird’ and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I could do it like a bird!’ From there I was like, ‘I’m just gonna reenact the life cycle of a bird and throw up in my own mouth!’ I don’t really know, it just kind of happened and I’m so grateful that the regurgitation made it. I was fully expecting them to cut it out.
Just when I thought you couldn’t top your Madonna moment…
It was so funny reading the comments of people’s reactions being like, ‘I’ve never done drugs before but I imagine this is what experiencing psychedelics is like.’ I was like, ‘That’s what I hope to bring with my drag every time.’
What has been your favourite meme on social media throughout all this? There’s been so many.
Yeah. One of my go-to favourites is a clip from when I started making YouTube videos of my makeup, and there’s a bit where I’m texting on my phone. Someone took a picture of it and they put text over it that says, ‘Who is El Debarge?’ like I was googling it. Then it became this long chain and more and more people kept adding, so then it was RuPaul saying, ‘Who is Poppy?’ Then it was the Statue of Liberty saying, ‘Who is Brita Filter?’ It was so long and it kept going and going.
Was that on Incorrect Drag Race? I’m so glad that account exists.
It could’ve been! Me too, I’m glad they’re Crygi stans.
What was that like, having all of these conspiracy theories about yours and Gigi’s relationship?
Gigi was one of the girls I immediately became friends with, and I didn’t really know of her before the show. We just clicked a little bit and she was so much fun, so I was not upset about all the Crygi gossip. Especially because watching back, I didn’t realise we had so many side moments where we were just giggling and holding hands!
I think fans are hungry for more Drag Race romance after Brooke Lynn Hytes and Vanjie last year.
Oh yeah. Me and Gigi are just in a long distance relationship right now, but we’ll see how things go!
In the future, if you both sashay back into the werkroom for All Stars, will you take it easy on her? Or are you not taking any prisoners?
[Laughs] Oh my goodness, it’s so funny because I was just joking with her about that. I was like, ‘Let’s just both go on All Stars and then we’ll do another double crowning.’
I don’t think fans would complain about that.
I don’t think so either!
So, we’ve established that you think outside of the box for your performances – what can we expect for It Gets Better?
It’s just as weird. Ooh. I’m wearing one of the outfits that I wore in the finale, but I won’t tell which one yet! I just wanted to do a fun number for a song that people might not have heard of before. It’s all about body positivity!
It feels like I can’t remember a time when digital shows, especially digital drag shows, weren’t a thing – do you think they’ll live on past the coronavirus?
I hope so! I think that the digital drag platform, the way the shows work, is so fun because you can have artists from anywhere, you know? It’s been so fun. I’ve been trying to create some of my own and it’s fun to work with people that you may not have been able to fly to you to be part of your event. I love how they’re like music videos, like a one-shot performance. I’m loving how people are using digital shows to change the ways they tell stories, so I really hope they don’t go away. I was talking about how maybe it might be fused in with drag shows, once they start happening again? Maybe there will be a big screen and they can just air someone’s performance. I’m not sure, but I definitely think drag will change from now on.
When I spoke to The Vivienne, she pointed out how these shows might catch the eye of club promoters, who could potentially hire up-and-coming performers based on their online performances.
Yeah! And it lets you perform for the fans who aren’t old enough to get into the clubs.
Do you have quite a young fanbase? Is that something you’ve noticed?
I do. I have noticed that, which I’m okay with – of course I love it! It was never something that I intended to do, but with my shows that I have here at home, they were always all-age shows anyway. It was always great to have parents bringing their young teenagers. I’m so glad that I’m able to reach the young audience.
It is wild to see how many young people love the show, especially when you look at the crowd at events such as DragCon and DragWorld.
Yeah. It’s so crazy. I went to DragCon one time and I was blown away by how many young people and parents and families there were. It was so sweet!
Are you ready for DragCon whenever it opens up again?
Oh my goodness, I don’t know! I was trying to think about what my booth for DragCon was gonna be and then it got postponed, so I’ve already got ideas and things planned! I’ll definitely be ready for when it happens. I know it’s a long day of meeting lots and lots of people… which I love. I love the interaction with fans, that’s what I’m starved for right now. It’s fun to get into drag and film these performances, and of course doing cameos and other things like that to interact with fans, but I miss a huge crowd cheering for me and telling me how gorgeous I am.
You must be excited to see the rest of the Drag Race family, too? At this point, you’d normally be touring the world and meeting the rest of your sisters.
Yeah, I can’t wait to get out there. I wanna meet all kinds of drag performers and different designers, and I want to be able to find more people who are like-minded like me, who can help me create visions that I wouldn’t normally be able to do by myself. Of course, I’m such a fan-girl for so many of the queens that have been on the show, and I always get starstruck and awkward! If anyone has been on TV, I get awkward around them. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, they’re famous!’ so the fact that people have started getting that way around me, it’s so weird. I’m just like you! I used to have to drive to Kansas City to see some of the other queens perform, which is like three hours away. Whenever I would do the meet-and-greets, I’d be like, ‘HI!’ and that’ll be all I can say.
The spirit of Pride is being kept alive in numerous ways this year, thanks to digital shows – but how can we make sure we are supporting the disenfranchised in our community, such as Black and trans people?
It’s important for us to realise that not everyone in our community has equal treatment, and that the activism is not over. It’s still here and we’re still doing it. Now, more than ever, we need to be supporting our trans brothers and sisters and of course, our Black brothers and sisters. I’ve been doing my best by reading up, educating myself and donating to Black and trans-led organisations, who have already been working for a long time. It’s important that we all stand together and help our community. I was listening to a podcast and Widow [Von’Du] was on it and she was talking about… I’m not going to be able to say it the way she said it, because she said it so good, but she was just saying that this is basically not a moment, it’s a revolution and that we still have a long way to go.
What’s next for Crystal Methyd? Obviously, it’s hard to say because of COVID-19 and lockdown, but how are you planning on conquering the world after quarantine?
Ooh yeah! World domination is definitely on the list. It’s one of the things I plan on doing. Right now, I’ve also been working with my drag sisters to create drag movies, which I think we’ll still continue doing. Just yesterday, we found out that our home bar is closing which is sad, so digital shows might be happening for a while now! I also want to start doing other things that maybe aren’t super drag related. I would love to create art installations that are interactive with smells and sounds when you walk through. That’s always been something I would like to make. You know, maybe music? We saw on the show that I am very good at singing! I have some songs that I have been thinking of, but I just need help to produce them so I’ve been looking into that.
What kind of sound would you go for? Spill the T.
[Laughs] Urm, it’s not really music… I would say. It’s… my own thing. I don’t know how to say it without telling you exactly what my idea is, but it would definitely include some of the girls from my season. I wanna get them involved as much as I can. Do you remember Kim Chi when she came out with a single? I think it was called Single. It was kind of like a joke and it was a bunch of random sounds and cat meows. It would be similar to that, but not exactly!
You’re gonna have to give me a date for this, we need Crystal Methyd music ASAP!
You know what? I wanna Beyoncé it. It’s gonna have a full visual moment too.