05-JAN-2012 My discussions with cosplayers about the inevitable duplication of the same costumed character at an event unveiled one story about a HARLEY QUINN that shows the heartfelt sincerity within a fan of a character.


Uniqueness seems to be a particular goal of Dragon*Con with the exception of specific planned groups like the Dawn contest and the Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy photoshoot. Each costumer that sent in their comments mentioned how they prefer to make the character reflect something individual. Harley Quinn costumers can be seen in any number of varieties from traditional clown girl to ame-comi to video game versions to prison garb. There’s been a great deal of leniency with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy over the past few years where any red and black outfit is called Harley and any girl wearing green with orange hair is called Ivy. Narrowing the focus to one of those groups like the traditional full spandex harlequinn style, the cosplayers try to out-do each other with pop guns, large mallets, rubber chickens or toy hyenas. It’s often that distinction of props that makes one Harley distinguishable from the next. The over saturation of Harley Quinn is partially due to the availability of mass produced costumes. You no longer need to commission someone to make a $300 exquisite Harley Quinn if you can be satisfied with a $50 sweatshop version.

Any woman who’s got a favorite quote from BEETLEJUICE has to be born for costuming. “Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: Live people ignore the strange and unusual. I, myself, am strange and unusual.” That’s one of Diana’s favorite quotes and seems apropos for this discussion.


Ever since I was little, I always loved Harley Quinn. As I grew up, I continued to love her, and always knew that one day I would do her costume. The problem was I couldn’t sew.

Two years ago I was going to SDCC, and I thought ” Why the hell not?” and got my Harley suit commissioned. It was gorgeous (made by Holly Messinger) and it was mine.

The day came and I was debuting my Harley. (YAY!)

Knowing it was SDCC, I knew there was going to be lots of Harley’s there. It didn’t deter me…at first. The one thing I could pride myself in with my Harley costume (the makeup) was giving me nothing but issues. The mask would barely stay on.

I get in line for the con, still feeling pretty good. Get into the doors at the con, still feeling pretty good. See another fantastic Harley…and froze.

Crap. She is gorgeous, and epic, and everything I’m not.

Maybe it was the fact that it was my first time wearing Harley at a con. Maybe it was the fact that it was SDCC. There are a lot of maybe’s, but one thing was for certain: I irrationally had a mental break down, and was a sad Harley.

I let insecurity get in the way that day. I got back to the hotel, regrouped, and vowed that the next day would be better. The next day I was dressing up as Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

What an ego boost! While many people didn’t get the reference, the ones who did certainly were appreciative. I soldiered on, went to the Harleypalooza, and felt like my regular kooky self again.

After SDCC, I regrouped. I thought about all the ways that I could improve the costume (accessories are a girl’s best friend) and perfected my makeup.

I also vowed that I would never be THAT person. The one who, when seeing a duplicate costumer, shuns them or gives them the evil eye. I know the anxiety and insecurity that may rise up from that experience, and I wouldn’t want to wish that upon anyone.

The Harley Cosplayer Legion is strong though..and pretty damn supportive! (There’s a Facebook group and everything.)

I’ve been on a pretty good roll as a Harley cosplayer these past few years and have had some great times. All I needed was a Red Bull, my bag of tricks, and I was unstoppable.

Until this past NYCC, where I was approached by a gentleman who thought I was another Harley cosplayer.

“Hey, fancy meeting up with you again! Did you find XYZ that you were looking for?”

Sorry, I’m good with faces, but I never saw that man before in my life. He apologized though, and said we were both just so great and alike.

Here it was. Another moment of weakness. Crap. I’m a clone. 

I didn’t let that stop me from having a good time the rest of the day, but it irrationally just nagged in the back of my brain.

I know what to call it: Insecurity. I got insecure about my Harley costume…and then I vowed to only use it for smaller, more controlled events.

Duplicate costumes at a big con are a guarantee. Especially with a cult hit like Classic Harley (said classic for a reason :x). I don’t hate it, I really don’t! Big gatherings of the same character can be fun (I know from experience)!

I feel like if there was a smaller, controlled event (i.e. a charity event) and there was duplicates…well. It would make me inwardly cringe a bit at the idea that it would seem like a competition, because to me it would feel like one.

It’s just that I get insecure sometimes, and need an ego boost. I readily admit that alongside the love of the characters, the fandom, and the effort behind cosplay – sometimes I just like the ego boost.


Thanks for your story, Diana! See you on the con floor!


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