When Cosplay And Drag Collide

When Cosplay And Drag Collide

How far can something still be considered ‘cosplay’? The roughest definition of cosplay has always put it as the art of dressing up as a fictional character — but does it still count when it’s a well-known drag queen using her considerable make-up skills to transform herself into animated characters? Drag Race’s Phi Phi O’Hara says yes.

This year Phi Phi has committed to a project called “365 Days Of Drag”, which is pretty much as it sounds. The first month of the project was more or less conventional drag — if often a little more avant-garde. February, however, started with a series of incredibly unnerving, though undeniably talented portraits of various My Little Pony characters. (Before she uploaded the first picture, Phi Phi notes, she had no idea what a brony was.) The internet, understandably, went nuts, but interestingly it also led to this little gem from Phi Phi partway through her week of ponies:

While the ponies aren’t cosplay in the way that we’re used to — they’re definitely uncomfortable in their mix of human and pony elements, like the weird middle images on the Animorphs book covers — they’re as perfect a mix of drag and cosplay as you could imagine. Looking back at January’s non-cosplay drag looks, only some of them are the perfect glamour that many expect from drag performers, with others easily crossing into uneasy, almost unnerving territory.

Phi Phi isn’t new to cosplay, either, which makes sense considering that the skills needed for cosplay and for drag have quite a bit of overlap. Her past costuming efforts have included gems like Power Rangers’ Rita Repulsa:

My #PuttyPatrollers too! #RitaRepulsa #PowerRangers #RPDR #cosplay

A photo posted by Phi Phi O'Hara (@phiphiohara) on

From the teasing comments that are being posted on her Facebook page, these ponies aren’t going to be the last cosplays we see throughout her 365 days of drag. Directly after finishing up the My Little Pony set, she embarked on her 90’s cartoon week with a version of Daria that anyone who was alive during the 90s would have to love, along with other nostalgic powerhouses:

Up next, she’s hinting at more cosplay-related looks — including a full Sailor Moon week. So while some people might refuse to believe that drag can also be cosplay, I’m just excited to see what she comes up with next.


    • Drag queens refer to themselves with feminine terminology (usually) when in drag, and others don’t care either way. Sometimes even out of drag

  • Only slightly.. It’s nightmare fuel.

    Nothing wrong with drag.
    Love Cosplay.

    But dear god…

    The Rita repulsa is all sorts of awesome, though.

    • There’s rumours of a new Power Rangers movie with Rita Repulsa.

      It’ll either be not for man-children (Which would be crap) or some kind of dark reimagination by Michael Bay… Which would be crap.

  • Behold the future of cosmetic surgery!
    Lots of talent, slightly unsettling results…

    Can Drag be Cosplay? Absolutely.

  • Those MLP cosplays are nightmare fuel.
    Everything else is amazing, especially the Rita. Wow!
    But those pony cosplays are going to haunt my dreams…

  • cosplay requires the playing of the character from another creator, so I’d say no,they’re different, even in cases of genderbending. still awesome and adjacent, but in the interest of distinctions. Drag is more of a style these days I think anyway, so I guess these would be pony cosplay in the drag aesthetic? makes me jealous of the makeup skills all the same.

    • Drag isn’t a “style”, because there are huge varieties and styles of drag within the drag world. This is just like the “Cosplay is just Halloween costume or dressup” argument.

      Drag queens can cosplay, just as cosplayers can just dress up or put on a costume for Halloween

  • If you’re dressing as a character of the opposite sex then it’s commonly referred to as crossplay. I’ve seen some impressive and fantastic crossplays before but Phi Phi’s work is top notch. Those Pony cosplays though… full Furry costumes always freak me out.
    (Note: I don’t have anything against people who are Furries, it’s just the costumes themselves that freak me out)

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