Rocking a bright pink mohawk, spiked shoulder pads and multicolored pump boots, Springfield drag queen Daya Betty introduced herself as a contestant for season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in December.
“People are really shocked to find out that I’m sweaty and I stink,” Betty said with a laugh, introducing herself during the “Meet the Queens” interview. “I stink; I smell really bad. I don’t ever wash my tights, but I want to invigorate all the five senses. I want everyone to see me, hear me, smell me, feel me … only certain people taste.”
Betty is one of 14 queens competing for the crown, including the show’s first heterosexual male contestant, Maddy Morphosis of Arkansas.
From a small farming town outside of Kansas City, Betty said she never felt like she could truly express herself until arriving at Missouri State University.
“I always say when I moved to Springfield … I felt like I was able to be more comfortable with my sexuality, and that’s when I really found drag — when I went out to the night clubs, started (to) experience gay culture. Then, I just kind of fell into drag.”
In a pink, sparkly bodysuit from Amazon and a friend’s pink wig — an outfit Betty said she would “never wear again'' — she performed her first show: Get Dusted.
Get Dusted is a former monthly drag show hosted by Crystal Methyd, a Springfield local queen and finalist on season 12 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” After her first Get Dusted performance, Betty became a regular performer, which was against Methyd’s original wishes for the show.
“I kind of forced my way because Crystal tried to switch it up with the cast; she always tried to make the cast different,” Betty said. “That was something she strived for. Every month there was a different set of performers. But I just kept annoying the shit out of her on Instagram every month, telling her I wanted to be a part of it.”
It didn’t take long for the two to become close friends. In a retweet on the day Betty announced her role in season 14, Methyd wrote, “GET DUSTED GIRLS FOR LIFE!!”
Different from that first Get Dusted performance, Betty classified her drag style as “underground punk club kid” but said she likes to avoid labels as her drag is ever changing.
“I call myself a human mood ring,” Betty said. “I don’t have any rules for my drag, and I think that’s what is important about drag. (Drag) is becoming more mainstream, and people have more of an idea of what drag should be, but drag is really about having no boundaries and just expressing yourself.”
Living with Type 1 diabetes
Expression is important to Betty, not only for herself, but also those she hopes to inspire.
In high school, Betty was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“It was one of those things I tried to hide away, so people didn’t ask too many questions about it,” Betty said. “My name really came from the fact that it was just this thing I didn’t like about myself, or something I wish I didn’t have. I decided instead of being all quiet and secret about it, I would turn it into my superhero name.”
While she may have to think extra about eating before a performance, Betty said she doesn’t let her diabetes slow her down and wants to inspire others to think the same.
“Life is so short and unpredictable,” Betty said. “There’s always going to be things that are thrown your way that you can’t change about yourself, and you should never let those get in the way of you doing what you want to do.”
Getting the call
Though filming of season 14 is complete, Betty still recalls how she felt when receiving the call about her casting.
“At first I didn’t know what to say, and then immediately my stomach hurt,” Betty said through a laugh. “I was very excited and a little overwhelmed, but I think all important life decisions will make you feel those emotions.”
Pinpointing what she was most excited for, Betty said the show’s camaraderie because she would gain over a hundred new drag sisters across the globe.
To Betty, being cast for season 14 means her hard work has paid off.
“You can feel alone or self-doubt when you try to pursue your passions, but if you stick to it and do what you want to do and stay true to who you are, you are valid,” Betty said. “You can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you work hard enough and don’t let things get you down.”
Watch Betty and the other queens battle for the title of “America’s next drag superstar” on Friday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. on VH1.
Follow Daya Betty on Instagram for updates @dayabetty.
Follow Greta Cross on Twitter, @gretacrossphoto
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