The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is known for being ooky and spooky, but amongst all the blood, guts, and gore, there is one familiar face gracing the silver screen this time around: Houston’s beloved bearded beauty Blackberri.
The drag performer is one of 11 contestants on season five’s lineup who will compete in battles that test their fortitude and bring audiences to the precipice of stomach-churning challenges.
“It was a really fun process. It’s something that I would have never expected, and it’s something I had to really prepare for mentally,” Blackberri says. “I went in with a positive outlook being confident in what I do. I showed my style of drag and what makes Blackberri who she is.”
Dragula is known as an alternative to competition shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. Instead of contests that pit the glitz amongst the glamorous, the contestants have to compete in the macabre. Challenges have included piercing body parts, stapling dollars to one’s body, swallowing a jar of spiders, receiving randomly assigned tattoos, and other vomit-inducing tasks.
As Entertainment Weekly describes, “Since its humble 2016 debut online, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula has evolved into one of the foremost queer competitions on television, thanks to its horrific challenges, as well as its consistently eclectic roster of oddball contestants, ranging from ex-RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Jade Jolie to winners Vander Von Odd, Biqtch Puddin, Landon Cider, and Dahli.”
In other words, Dragula is not for the faint of heart. But that didn’t stop Blackberri from staking her ground or any of the other contestants. The cast includes artists from Argentina, China, and the United Kingdom, as well as seasoned stars from the realm of American drag, but any adoring Houston-based fan will automatically recognize madame Blackberri—as well as a few of her cast mates.
The same goes for Ms. Berri.
“I actually knew a couple people prior to being on the show,” she says. “I worked with Cynthia Doll a couple years ago, and I met Fantasia before the show. It was good to see some familiar faces going into filming, and that made us more comfortable and more excited to compete.”
The complete lineup includes Anna Phylactic (UK), Blackberri (Houston), Cynthia Doll (Kansas City), Fantasia Royale Gaga (Miami), Jarvis Hammer (Atlanta), Jay Kay (Brooklyn), Niohuru X (China), Onyx Ondyx (Philadelphia), Orkgotik (Argentina), Satanna (Los Angeles), and Throb Zombie (Boston).
Blackberri is known for her comedy chops, so the question immediately arises about how she competed on a show known for its R-rated and ewww-inducing factor. The performer quickly counters that she is a fully realized character with depth, complexity, and an imagination that allows her to fully capitulate to any given situation.
For someone who seems to have it all, Blackberri notes that her beginnings were very humble.
“When I started, I got a lot of backlash from a lot of older queens. I never had that person who helped me with my drag. It was all self-done,” she says. “No one was helping me when I did my drag, so I always aspire to be that person to help others, which has kept me going.”
And she has. She has created a live performance competition to spur up-and-coming talent and brought in a Rolodex of professionals to provide advice for the aspiring drag stars of tomorrow. In a way, their drive mirrors Blackberri’s own drive.
“I always thought I could do anything. I can make a mountain out of a molehill and turn trash into treasure,” she says of her enterprising attitude. “After this process of competing on television, I’ve realized that if you put your mind to something, you can do absolutely anything you’re trying to accomplish. As long as you have the confidence—or the delusion—you can do it.”
While this writer hesitates to call Blackberri delusional, he recognizes the star power behind her name. She has been featured on commercials for Facebook, a model for Lizzo’s clothing line, and now she’s making her presence known on television.
Is there anything she will back down from? It turns out, the answer is a resounding “No!”
“Maybe the next step is world domination…or possibly a record contract? I don’t know, honestly, what comes next. It could be a BMX gold medal. Anything is possible,” she quips.
Blackberri is the latest of Houston starlets to experience their media moment. RuPaul’s DragRace recently featured Mistress Isabelle on its cast, and Muffy Blake Vanderbilt III was cast on Camp Wannakiki.
While we’ll have to tune in on television to see if Blackberri captures the title, we still have the pleasure of watching her perform locally. Catch her at Rich’s on Sundays, JR’s on Tuesdays, and at The Room Bar in Spring once a month on a Saturday.
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula season 5 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 31 on AMC+.