As a contraction of the term costume play, 'cosplay' is the practice of dressing up as a character from a book, comic, film or video game, which is now a global phenomenon that plays a huge role at pop culture fan conventions, including the world-famous Comic-Con. For many devotees, cosplay has no sexual subtext, but for an increasing number of fetish men, the lines are blurring between cosplay and an emerging new kink.
Mainly concentrating on superheroes, such as Spiderman, Batman, Captain America and Superman, fans of cosplay fetish take the identities of iconic characters and incorporate them into play. The superhero genre has exploded over the last couple of decades, spawning countless movie, TV and video game franchises based on the original comic book characters from Marvel and DC. For example, Marvel's The Avengers (2012) is currently the fifth highest-grossing film of all time, so it's clear superheroes are large in the public conscience.
It's clear that the superhero genre is hugely popular, but is this why cosplay fetish is also gaining such a following? We've taken a closer look at some of the scene's motivations and the reasons it's becoming more and more widespread.
Superheroes and fetish
It's not difficult to make a leap between superhero costumes and fetish – they're skintight and traditionally worn by powerful, muscular leading men. Fetish superhero gear is a growing section of the market, with costumes available in spandex, lycra and latex, with many featuring cut out sections around the crotch so costumes can be worn during roleplay. Though the increase of superheroes in popular culture isn't the only reason why more guys are getting into cosplay, the higher visibility of such characters is bound to have an impact.
But there's more to cosplay fetish than simply dressing up as your superhero of choice. Although not strictly part of the BDSM scene, there is a lot of crossover between cosplay fetish and bondage, and many fetish men bring in play that involves being bound, cuffed and gagged while in costume.
The narratives of superhero stories lend themselves well to a power play between partners, with scope for scenarios between heroes and villains, and the subversion of the archetypal hero into all manner of situations. As symbols of strength and power, superheroes can be both dominating and dominated by their nemeses, providing ideal roles for a Dom and a sub to adopt.
Mainstream embodiments of superheroes are largely devoid of sexuality; their duties as a power for good tend to take priority over their sex lives. But this fetish allows fans to explore a sexual side of these iconic characters in whatever way they like, and include other kinks at the same time.
Ways to get involved in cosplay fetish
Just like the pop culture that inspires this fetish, the forms of expression it takes are many and varied. Cosplay fetish pioneer Pablo Greene (howtokillasuperhero on Recon) has penned a series of hugely popular novels focusing on superhero fetish and bondage, including the original How to Kill a Superhero: A Gay Bondage Manual.
Cosplay fetish groups are creating and hosting fetish parties and events at the same time as comic and fan conventions around the world, and the appetite for theme nights at gay fetish clubs is only increasing. Websites dedicated to cosplay fetish porn and online stores selling cosplay fetish gear are both on the rise. It seems that this is one kink that is only going to expand its influence on the fetish scene.
We'd love to know what you think of cosplay fetish, have you had any experience of this kink or is it something you'd like to try? If so, please get in touch via our email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
As ever, if there is a particular fetish or kink you'd like us to cover, let us know by sending your ideas and/or articles to the email address above.