THE SEX FILES: Playing Dress-Up at Comic-Con
Arguably the purview of heterosexual males who hardly ever get to ogle that much bare feminine skin in their everyday life, the cosplay exhibited at Comic Con 2012 (held this past weekend) in San Diego makes even the most ardent fetishist thrilled. What is cosplay you ask and how and why is it so rampant at a comics/gaming/anime-manga/fantasy movie convention?
The term cosplay is short for costume play, where participants wear costumes, accessories and an attitude-even sometimes engaging in temporary body modification like applying temporary tats or contact lenses with the intention-to specifically represent a character. Donning mostly homemade costumes (the ‘art’ of the activity is the difficulty in replicating a costumes’ details) cosplay, basically begun in Japan in connection with men and women dressing as their favorite anime/manga characters, sees its Western participants borrowing primarily from science fiction and historical fiction. This is why San Diego’s Comic-Con with all its Hollywood blockbuster tie-ins is such a cosplay Mecca and is considered the largest gathering of the tribe outside of Asia (in the UK it is the London MCM Expo at ExCel London.)
Now if you happen to be a comely young lass, gym-bodied hard or breast augmented, sporting a desire to tease, shimmy and preen in a revealing costume (lots of female super heroes and anime characters sport very little clothing or wildly sexy outfits drawn by men who like to fantasize their main female characters) you realize you will see unmatched attention at a Comic-Con from the nerds (I do not use this term as a prejorative, when watching Comic-Con’s coverage on G4 this weekend the attendees declared themselves nerds time and again and even wore T-shirts proudly declaring the fact). Advertisers also realize hiring an attractive model for the weekend dressed in some latex superhero garb or festooned bikini will certainly bring patrons to their booths.
At Comic-Con as in the world in general…sex sells.
There is also a section of cosplayers who enjoy “crossplay” a cross-dressing element where men dress as women (and women as men), stemming from those Japanese manga characters drawn with androgynous features, the archetypal elfin Asian boy character we see more readily represented in the west by magical ‘boys’ like Peter Pan.
Whatever one’s reason for dressing-up, to tease themselves or others, to garner some attention, to work a booth or just generally enjoy the company of the like-minded, there is no denying there’s some sexual element to cosplay, certainly at times an underlying fetishistic tremor and always a provocative element of fun and danger in all the displayed boob-age and bulging copious codpieces. And I say we are all the better for it.