When you hear the word “cosplay”, images of freaky exotic costume sex often come to mind. The word sounds taboo. But “cosplay” is simply the short form for “costume play”. Halloween is cosplay. Medieval theatre is cosplay. A masquerade party is cosplay. Carnivale is cosplay. We have all engaged in creative fun cosplay in some way or another.

In Tokyo, cosplay is considered by many to be a form of performance art. In addition to donning full dramatic costumes, cosplayers embody the role of their characters and interact within everyday life. The role playing experience itself is unifying and creates a subculture within the people. There are cosplay districts, conventions, subgroups, theme parties, and exhibitions.


Cosplayers often gather at Harajuku Station, Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons

If you portray a character of the opposite sex, this is called “crossplay”, and if you only dress as the opposite sex without taking on the role, the term used is to “crossdress”.
What about the sexual aspect?

If you wear a sexy costume with the intent to create sexual arousal from an onlooker, your results will be visual and reactive. First, think of a fashion model. A lingerie model is hot and attractive to look at, but there is no interaction between the viewer and the model. There is a gap.

As a couple, oftentimes it is fun to put on an erotic fashion show for your partner. They react to what you’re wearing and get excited. Maybe it’s the skimpy teddy that you’re wearing, a strappy garter belt, sexy costume, or some seductive peekaboo panties. When you turn them on, you share in their excitement and enjoy an intimate experience together.
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However, if you don a sexy costume AND also engage the role, you are now creating interactive play that encourages you to perform new actions, not just your usual reactions. When you roleplay various fantasies together, you can experience intimacies of a wider range. Maybe you try opposite roles, character roles, dominant/submissive roles, or whatever else peaks your interest. With each new role that you embody & experience with your partner, your relationship expands. Why not try going beyond your usual self? Cosplay is not new or taboo to any of us really. Consider cosplay to be your own intimate subculture.
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