Special Report from Cherries Jubilee
CHICAGO – Stardate: 26-28 April 2013. Location: C2E2-McCormick Place, Chicago. Mission: to dress boldly, and go make connections with new intraplanetary fetishists: Cosplay Geeks.
As a kinky Costumed Player myself, it is hard to describe what it is exactly why we spend hours fretting over, designing, and making a particular outfit to show off at a convention like C2E2 that took place over this past weekend. Is it a fetish? For many people like Steve Malek, whom I interviewed as he dressed as a replica of Daryl from the Walking Dead TV series, it is just a hobby. The dress up was something fun to do as a mini vacation from his day job of being a technical engineer for Dell.
Of course that doesn’t explain why he had to search out and find an exact match for the character’s Red Wing boots, leather vest, and brand of crossbow. Steve also has several other characters he brings out at events like the Comic Con that he researches obsessively. He insisted that it was just a hobby and that being Captain Jack Sparrow and Daryl, etc. was just play to him. “If I got paid to dress up like this it would take all the fun out of it. I already have a day job. This is a vacation.”
He admitted the thrill of dressing up for the public makes it fun. Another visitor waiting to take a picture of “Daryl” mentioned that for some people, getting up close and personal with a CosPlayer like Steve is a way of connecting to their favorite celebrity or fantasy. Steve agreed, and he also joked that he does dress this way sometimes for private views. Ahem, um yes thank you Daryl [I did giggle and blush at this, cause hell yeah…who wouldn’t want to get up close an personal with a hot man in Red Wings and a crossbow.]
There were booths at C2E2 that catered to CosPlay fetishists. Their content was mainly pin-up geek like X-men female characters in spandex catsuits or Laura Croft from Tomb Raider. CosplayDeviants.com spokesperson “BlackWidow” said our site is like Playboy for Geek fetishists. PixelVixens.com had a Shibari demo going on while wearing a gamer’s wet dream outfit. Turns out they are on Fetlife and regularly have the TNG Kinkster girls pose for their content.
Other general Cosplay groups were also represented, but the 501st Star Wars Regiment is not geared towards “sexy.” They are a not for profit group that raise funds for local charities, but they are globally represented. Their costumes are extremely regulated and must be authentic to specific categories of Star Wars characters. There was also a booth with Zombie players who offered zombie make-up to passersby, but they were not sexuality based either.
There were no websites specifically for the male-to-male Cosplay Fetishist or Lesbian Geek at this event. Any sexuality represented was mainly hetero-oriented. Geared toward the gamer or fetishist demographic teen to dirty old man. The best representation of Queer sexuality was a booth called: GeekOut.com. They had a guest actress at the booth in a fabulous Wonder Woman costume, This was SaroSpice and she was visiting from ComicBookQueers.com. The group did offer an after-party that was queer centric for those who were GLBT and considered themselves “geeks” or “nerds.”
Most of the people who dressed in costume for the C2E2 event seemed to just want a way to have a good time and be someone other than himself or herself. I went on Saturday dressed as Evil-Lyn a character from He Man Masters of the Universe. I not only enjoyed the attention from people who knew who I was, but I made the costume out of latex. So my little bit of Cosplay also was my own personal latex fetish. I felt sexy, but then again I still felt sexy out of costume and was greeted by a new acquaintance with “woo hoo.” And believe me I did a LOT of perving on the other characters in costume. There is something about a sexy man in a barbarian codpiece with a big weapon or a sweet young Anime with legs up to heaven that gives me some tingles. One girl stopped me for a photograph and I took one of her. We both enjoyed flirting in a “safe” space.
Many of the costumes weren’t what most people would call sexy. One of the best costumes was a young man who made himself a cardboard Optimus Prime outfit out of boxes, duct tape, and paint. There were at least fifty different Doctors [either the tenth or the eleventh] in various forms of the Timelord. And when I blinked, there were two weeping angels next to the booth in front of me.
I can understand adults wanting to have a way to be a little sexier, or act out a fantasy in costume. But that doesn’t explain the six-year-old girl wearing a full on Ghostbusters uniform with a working backpack that played the Ghostbusters theme. Her mother said the girl enjoyed playing dress up, but that it was mom’s idea to go so far into the manufacturing of the outfit. The kids at C2E2 had their own costume contest and it wasn’t just “princesses.” The three foot tall Boba Fett and the seven month old 11th Doctor with a bowtie and fez makes me wonder if the CosPlay will become a fetish for the children later.
This year’s C2E2 was my fourteen year old son’s first ever convention. He is a gamer and obviously my son, so he had a fun time coming up with a costume himself. He had asked for a Portal Gun for the holidays from his grandparents and with a little ingenuity and a gift card we got an orange jumpsuit and Portal licensed socks from online. He went as a Test Subject Friday night of the event. Stopped regularly, he posed for pics and completely lost me in Portal Speak [who is Chel?] with aficionados of the game. On Sunday I made him a latex bowtie and he dressed as the eleventh Doctor carrying his Sonic Screwdriver.
I’m sure he hasn’t fetishized this, yet. He does have a love of Anime and naked girls since he and I share a computer. He had a number of cute girls stop him when he was dressed up at the event and they game spoke. So I don’t think he is far off from Cosplay on his list of fetishes. Especially since during the first evening he turned to me out of the blue after people stopped him for his pic and said, “Mom…I GET you.”
Overall, Cosplay appears to be a public safe activity at these events. Here, only a small percentage of people actively fetishized the hobby in public, or for a particular sexualized audience. For most people at C2E2 though it is just another way of expressing yourself, connecting with others, and getting some positive attention.
Creating the costumes and sharing your love of the “geekiness” is really helping bring generations together. Wearing a costume is a publically acceptable creative outlet for most of the players. Only we know in our minds whether we are truly fetishists, or just having a chance to relax and take a break from reality for a while. In the end, it was about having a good time among the spectrum of Geeks and feeling like we belonged in a galaxy not so far away.