A simple question, finally answered.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to the latest season of Treasure Island: Fans vs Faves. We could talk about the reveal that Josh Kronfeld has a tramp stamp. We could talk about Dame Susan Devoy’s inside-out eyelids. We could talk about how our own Jane Yee tried to wink at Lance Savali but definitely shut both eyes at once.
In fact, we have talked about all of this, and will continue to talk about all of this on The Real Pod, our weekly popular culture podcast.
But today I am not here to talk about any of the above. I am here to answer a simple question about Monday night’s episode that has plagued me ever since I watched it with one eye open (jealous, Jane?) in bed on my phone: why oh why oh WHY was TrueBliss’ own Joe Cotton inexplicably doing Harley Quinn cosplay on the island and NOBODY even MENTIONED it?
Cotton cackles over the phone when I put the question to her. “I honestly don’t know. There’s something wrong with me I think.” Compared to her first stint on the island, where she carefully packed with advice from her outdoorsy father, she says her outfit planning was much more rushed this time around.
“I waited until the night before and chucked a bunch of stuff into a bag and then forgot,” she says. “And so when I got to the island, I was just unpacking like, ‘oh no, no, this is no good at all’.”
The Harley Quinn T-shirt was an item that Cotton says she has owned “for a long time”, and she swears she had no intention of doing Harley Quinn cosplay when she arrived in Fiji. “I was going through my suitcase like ‘what have I brought to wear? Oh, a Harley Quinn T-shirt? OK, well I’ll do the eye makeup and I’ll just be Harley Quinn then’.”
I wondered if the parallels ran deeper than appearances. The DC character Harley Quinn is famously bubbly, not unlike Cotton, but harbours a maniacal streak. And, when Dame Susan Devoy broke the rules by visiting the other camp, Cotton was quick to discuss red flags. “I don’t like having a red flag up over someone who I think is amazing,” she lamented. “But it’s there.”
You know who else did a dramatic monologue about red flags after getting warning signs from someone she loved? Harley freaking Quinn.
“Absolutely not,” cackles Cotton at the comparison. “If anything, it was a distraction tactic because I know that my physical prowess is not the greatest. So I thought maybe I could distract people with my crazy face and then win something.” She puts the look down to what she calls “island madness” – a condition she also blames for her cheetah outfit in episode five.
“I had cheetah print top and shorts, and then Lana [Searle] gave me a cheetah cap so I did cheetah print makeup. It was a huge vibe but, again, I don’t know why I did it.”
Of course, Cotton’s vintage TrueBliss singlet (immediately gifted to Josh Kronfeld) is another fashion moment that caused a hubbub both on the island and off, with competitor Lance Savali remarking that it was a “sick shirt” and legions of fans messaging Cotton on social media to purchase one. “I genuinely did not bring it for promotional reasons,” laughs Cotton, “it was supposed to be my pyjama top.”
Alas, there are no current plans to do another run of TrueBliss shirts, and Cotton says fans will have to “hit up the other girls” if they want to get their hands on one. While Kronfeld left the island with the TrueBliss tee in his bag, Cotton says there’s a few more Treasure Island looks she is still to serve audiences – rainbow socks for one, and a “How you doin’” Friends slogan tee for another.
“Look, my name and ‘fashion icon’ have never been in the same sentence together and I think that will continue to be true after this,” reflects Cotton. “I’m glad my outfits have brought some joy to people, but I’ll just say this: it gets even worse from here on in.”
Treasure Island: Fans vs Faves airs 7.30pm Mon-Wed on TVNZ2 and here on TVNZ+