Copy cat

Tyra Banks ripped off a ‘Drag Race’ queen and the Internet’s coming for her crown

Art is one long game of creative telephone, but when you draw inspiration from a contemporary, and especially if you’re a rich and famous celebrity taking inspiration from an artist who’s a member of a marginalized community, it’s definitely nice to give a shout-out!

Enter Tyra Banks, stage left.

The supermodel/actress/TV host recently partnered with Paper Magazine for a super sexy ‘Queen of the Jungle’ shoot.

Paper shared the most striking photo, which also happens to be the one used to promote the feature, on Instagram with the hashtag #BreakTheInternet:

????? #BreakTheInternet

A post shared by Paper Magazine (@papermagazine) on

Almost immediately, fans noticed something a bit strange about the look — something even stranger than the fact that Tyra transformed into a spiked bikini-clad tigress.

“This is very @nina_bonina_brown,” wrote one commenter.

“Ooooh @nina_bonina_brown they done stole yo look,” chimed another.

“Silence!! I’ve made my decision. Nina Bonina Bonham Carter Brown shantay you stay, Tyra Banks sashay away,” wrote yet another, channeling Ru.

Nina Bonina Louis-Dryfus Brown made a name for herself on season nine of Drag Race with ultra-creative makeup transformations (her Georgia peach was everything).

One of her most memorable getups was this, ahem, similar look:


Over on Twitter, it’s a similar story:

What do you think? Is this a purrfectly reasonable coincidence or did Tyra (or her makeup artist) think Nina’s look was the cat’s meow and get her claws all up in it?

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  • ejmac

    “Molly, you in danger, girl.”

    • arj

      Can’t stand this arrogant, conceited, mediawhore. No talent, no personality, just down right “Look at me, I be purty…..”

  • gskorich

    if that’s the case then nina stole the look from andrew lloyd webber and cats. so she stole twice

    • Minerva Pomerantz

      Who stole it from Verushka in the 60s who was transformed into trees, snake, leopards and the rest. It is a standard makeup transformation that cannot be coopted by the drag community.

    • Dymension

      There is not a goddamned original thought or idea left in this world! They need to stop this madness.

  • skilos

    Tyra may have borrowed the idea, but hardly a rip-off. You’d have to say Nina Bonina ripped it off from ‘Cats’, who would have ripped it off from the feline community. Besides, Tyra’s rendition is much better thanNina Bonina’s. And was this Tyra’s idea or ‘The Paper’s’?

    • skilos

      Plus Tyra is a tiger and Nina Bonina is a leopard.

  • throwslikeagirl

    I’m completely on board with the “Cats” refs. Also “The Lion King” and countless other animal costumes. She looks great and the photo makes for an excellent magazine cover.

  • Bellerophon69

    Yeah, I think accusing Tyra of ripping off a “look” is valid, IF every time anyone uses a “Cat” themed costume they’re accused of being a “ripoff”. Much Ado about Nothing.

  • Pleakley

    Oh puz-leeze. Dressing up as a tiger is not a concept owned by one individual.

    The so-called outrage is made even more ironic when you consider that drag queens regularly imitate other’s looks, such as when doing celebrity impersonations.

    • phallictomato


      Painting your face to that of an animal, and wearing something with animal print, isn’t anything new. Man, people these days get so uptight about the slightest thing. OMG TYRA BANKS LOOKS LIKE SO AND SO. Urrrgggh. People need to grow up and grow a brain and some common sense.

  • Scorpjr

    To quote Oscar Wilde:
    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

  • Ksb1978

    Three tweets with hardly any likes or retweets does not equal the internet coming after Banks.

  • JCalvinius

    That look is NOT Tyra’s look. That was the look of the costume designer and the photographer of Paper magazine who paid for and ran the damn photo shoot. If you want to make yourself look like a cat then EVERYONE who makes themselves look like a cat is gonna… what? Look like a damn cat. These petty shady bitches hatin’ cuz they is petty and hatin’. Nothing more and nothin’ new. Why give them daylight at all?

  • mgconlan

    That makeup looks to me an awful lot like the one the dancer Lola used in the 1945 film “Pan-Americana,” in which she appeared in a skin-tight costume, though it was more snake-like than cat-like. It had the same all-over body stripes which Tyra Banks’ costume had and Nina Bonina Brown’s did NOT. Lola’s appearance in “Pan-Americana” comes as part of a dance number featuring Miguelito Valdés doing “Babalú” — and if we’re gong to talk about appropriation, it was Valdés who introduced this song and Desi Arnaz who outsold him with his cover version.

  • dinard38

    ZZZZZZZZZ!!!!! Who da hell cares? Geez, people get upset over nothing these days.

    • Bob LaBlah

      Agreed. Especially when it comes to the criminally self Rupaul look-a-like Tyra Banks. Had it not been for Rupaul I bet there would have never been a Tyra Banks.

  • KyleTsmith14

    Clearly both these bitches are trying to be Maureen Ponderosa

    • Brian

      Meow yes.

  • CarlIsle

    Did Nina Bo Nina Brown invent face and body painting? No.

    All the Drag Race fanatics who are attacking Tyra need to get educated beyond what they see on Drag Race.

  • Xzamilloh

    See?? THIS is what happens when your only point of references is Drag Race… Kim Chi was right on when she tweeted about some of the fandom only knowing Drag Race queens and not any drag queens that are around them locally. You aren’t drag fans, you’re Drag Race fans.

    • Xzamilloh

      And besides, even if Tyra Banks copied Nina Bonina Brown, she fulfilled the only rule of stealing someone’s look: Do it Better

      And Tyra did it better.

  • DCguy

    Also something even bigger. I think it was the Ancient Eqyptions that really started the use of make-up commonly. So both Tyra and Nina ripped them off.

    The Spirits o Bask, Ra, Amon, and Anubis are filing claims of infringement later today and their spokesperson Gloria Allred will be holding a press conference.

  • Mykey

    People have so much time to whine over nothing on the internet! They both look fabulous, btw!

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