The Worlds of “Drag Race” and “The Little Mermaid” Are About to Collide

You betta work, Ursula.

Zaldy Goco has dressed plenty of queens, but he’s never taken on a Disney princess—until now. The Emmy-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race costume designer, who uses the single name Zaldy, has revealed that he will head up the costume designs for The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live!, which ABC will air on November 5.

The live production stars Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel (Cravalho was also the voice of the titular princess in the 2016 film Moana), Queen Latifah as sea witch Ursula, and Shaggy as the Jamaican-accented crab Sebastian.

Zaldy was one of several drag-scene movers and shakers who attended the third annual DragCon NYC, held September 6 to September 8 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. DragCon attendance was at an all-time high for this latest edition of the event—more than 100,000 people turned out this year, according to World of Wonder, which co-produces DragCon with RuPaul. On the panel “Fashion Talk With Carson Kressley,” which was moderated by the effervescent Drag Race judge on September 8, Zaldy announced, “I’m designing The Little Mermaid right now, which will be coming out ABC.” He was tight-lipped about the details but said we can expect more info “very soon.”

Zaldy during the 2019 RUPAUL DRAGCON NEW YORK, Day 3, held at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City, Sunday, September 8, 2019.
Photo by Jennifer for World of Wonder

The show (produced by Done+Dusted) will be a hybrid of live musical performances and the broadcast of the original feature film, with “beautifully intricate sets and costumes,” along with music and lyrics from the film and Broadway production of The Little Mermaid, according to an ABC announcement. Meanwhile, Zaldy is heading to the 2019 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which air September 21 on FXX, as the reigning champ for Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction, or Reality Programming. He won the prize in 2017 and 2018 for RuPaul’s Drag Race and is nominated again this year, this time with fellow designer Art Conn, for the Drag Race episode “Trump: The Rusical,” which featured the contestants doing a musical parody of the Trump administration’s effects on famous women.

“The Fashion Talk With Carson Kressley” panel also featured Drag Race Season 11 runner-up Brooke Lynn Hytes, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, and Garo Sparo, who was the third-place finalist on Project Runway Season 17.

Hytes, the first Drag Race contestant from Canada, revealed that it cost her at least $32,000 to be on the show. “I spent about 12 grand,” she said when asked how much she shelled out for her Drag Race wardrobe. “It was a lot, but I saved up. I put aside money for it for years.” She later added, “It cost me about $20,000 to get into the [United] States to work on Drag Race,” and said that she thinks her best category lewks were “Orange Alert” and “Farm to Runway.”

Mizrahi said that out of all the Drag Race contestants so far, Season 10 winner Aquaria is the biggest standout for him. “I love the way she looks the most. She’s so fabulous to look at.” Meanwhile, Zaldy discussed one of the Drag Race lewks he thought absolutely slayed: “I loved Brooke Lynn’s transformation outfit where she spun and the hair came off. It was amazing.”

Sparo also dished on his Klarna STYLE360 show, which takes place September 10 at New York Fashion Week. “It’s the 15-year anniversary of STYLE360,” he said. “It’s going to be an amazing show—men, women. It’s very genderfluid. I have Amanda Lepore walking [the runway] and Miz Cracker. It’s going to be an amazing affair.”

Even with all of his experience as a fashion designer, Sparo added, “Project Runway was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life—and I’ve done many, many hard things.”

To which Kressley quipped, “Lucky you!”

The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live! airs November 5 at 8 p.m. ET.

Writer and editor whose work has appeared in,, Lifetime, People, and Billboard.