Cosplay Porn Is An Industry: We Talked To Its Titans
Ever since the nerds took over the world back in 2008, it's become increasingly profitable to cater to them, leading many a special young lady to think, "Well, I was going to dress up as Ramona Flowers and masturbate anyway, so why not take pictures and charge people for them?" We spoke to one such lady, Shodan, who models for an adult cosplay website. She told us ...
You Can't Simply Show Boobs -- It's All In The Details
Make no mistake, this is not a "spray paint a bikini gold and call yourself Leia" kind of operation.
"For a lot of us, part of the fun is planning everything down to the letter -- costume details, props, location, undergarments, makeup, even down to the way we strip and the posing we do," Shodan says. "We had a Marge Simpson set recently where she had everything perfect -- the kitchen curtains, the dinner they always eat, Duff beer, donuts, Marge's nightgown, everything. It made what would have been a kinda weird set really spectacular ... Sets are regularly denied from publication for not being accurate enough."
"Do the the curtains match the curtains?"
Some girls merely throw on a tank top and shorts and try to sell themselves as Lara Croft. But the days of horny nerds being satisfied by a hot woman who vaguely resembles a video game character are over. Now, the slightest inaccuracy will murder their boners. "Honestly, most of the time a set is rejected for accuracy, it's because of really obvious stuff -- usually bad wigs, shoes, missing key pieces like accessories, or locations that don't match the source material," Shodan says. "The classic mistake is Harley Quinn's diamonds -- there are three of them, but sometimes people put four."
Hey, if you can still climax from a four-diamond Harley, more power to you. But some of us have standards.
What's next, nine diamonds? Where does the madness end?
"A lot of the time, the nitpicky comments are the typical pissing contest of them trying to out-nerd everyone," Shodan says. "A couple people commented on my use of a banjo instead of a bass in my Marceline photoset, and I got to school them by pointing out the specific episode I was doing. Who's the fake nerd now?!"
"BUT SHE PLAYS LEFTY!" -- some nerd, probably
Still, the models do make mistakes, and this being the internet, they are not forgiven. "We had one guy get violently angry at one model because her Misty (Pokemon) ponytail was on the wrong side and she shot it in a room that wasn't quite fitting to the character."
And rightfully so. If we wanted to masturbate to garbage costumes, we'd watch Sesame Street. Get it together, Misty.
Sorry, we're being too harsh. Some of the models are practically sex heroes. "We used to have a costume reimbursement program as part of payment, where you could get reimbursed up to $100 for a costume, but we raised the pay to a straight $400 about a year and a half ago and did away with that. Depending on the costume, it can easily cost more than [we pay]."
Yes, these women occasionally lose money to get you off in a canonically accurate manner. Not all heroes wear capes (they stain easily).
There Is Oddly Specific Criteria For Being "Porn"
Most cosplay porn isn't porn, technically speaking. "'Pornography' has a pretty specific definition and regulations, and we do not fall within it. Pornography is way more complicated to legally produce. For one thing, we would all have to get STI panels, my bosses would have to pay more taxes, and we could only film/shoot in certain places in the country."
Specifically, California or New Hampshire. Due to the special regulations of Los Angeles County and the overall New Hampshireness of New Hampshire, most porn is shot in the San Fernando Valley, which is not only expensive, but an actual circle of Hell that would give Dante PTSD.
But since this isn't porn, sexy Daenerys Targaryen is free to do absolutely nothing wherever she likes, wearing as little as she likes.
So this isn't porn. It's hard to imagine how Harley Quinn face-humping Poison Ivy could be categorized as anything else -- interpretive dance, maybe? -- but the devil is in the details. "If a male model has an erection in the set, neither he nor any model in the set with him can be touching it," Shodan explains. "We can't do 'spread' shots, which is when you basically just get all your business right up in the camera lens."
So full dick is okay, but you can't touch it. And you can touch your vag, but only coyly. Gotcha.
People are somehow OK with this. Even with zero diamonds.
Touching other people's bits is, of course, completely out of the question. Instead, all sexual activity between the female models is simulated -- as closely as possible without crossing the streams. "I've posed with my vagina hovering right above another girl's vagina, but we couldn't actually have them touch," Shodan says. "I've also posed with my face an inch away from a vagina without actually touching it for extended minutes before, which looks like believable-enough cunnilingus. It also means the other model has to make a face as if they're being eaten out. Obviously, it's pretty comical stuff."
Yes ... comical.
There Is Lots And Lots Of Public Nudity
"We used to publish a lot of sets shot in hotel rooms, but these days, we mostly deny them, because they look super boring and match just about no characters at all," Shodan says.,.
Seedy Best Westerns might exist in a thousand years, but don't expect Leela to seduce a gender-swapped Fry in one.
And this means bringing the sex to the people: "We shoot in a lot of public parks and abandoned buildings ... Tell security you're only going to be there another 10 minutes or so, and try to finish as quick as you can."
That last part is never a problem for us.
But there are problems with this approach: "Abandoned buildings are especially fun, because you have to watch for A) needles, condoms, broken glass, and human/animal shit on the ground, B) territorial bums, and C) what graffiti you shoot in front of."
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
Then there's the whole public nudity thing, which is generally ill-received, if our own past experiences are anything to go by. "I'll usually have an assistant standing by with a blanket to throw over me in case of passersby, but ... I find that if you act very nonchalant about it, like it's no big deal, you can get away with a lot," Shodan says.
Certain costumes have a stronger "Shut up and keeping walking" vibe than others.
But not everybody minds when beautiful ladies strip down in front of them. "One time, I was shooting a girl/girl set with a friend on a pretty public street over there, and we ended up drawing quite a crowd. As the set progresses, you see one or two cars in the background, and by the time it ends, there were close to four of them, and we had to shoo people out of the background."
There's always the risk that one of those people will alert the authorities, but as a matter of fact, "when we finished and were packing up, one of the security vans came by, and the guys inside high-fived us and told us we made their year."
Not Everybody Loves A Beautiful Woman Dressed As Smurfette
You'd think nerds would love nothing more than gorgeous women hanging around conventions wearing nothing but spandex and deep-cut nerd references. But alas, "a lot of people hate us and think we're ruining cosplay and conventions," Shodan says. "I've had people at conventions tell me to my face that I am to blame for women who get harassed at conventions, even though we run an anti-harassment organization."
If you've been to a con lately, you've probably seen something like this:
Well, Shodan's people run the Facebook page for the "Cosplay Is Not Consent" movement. They also do a lot of activism on convention floors, which some find hypocritical. "At Anime Expo in 2013, we paid to have a card put in every attendee bag that had a Cosplay Is Not Consent guide to convention conduct on one side and a coupon for our site on the other. Some people were furious. [They] thought it was contradictory." Telling people that sex is okay, but sexual assault isn't? How very dare you?
The hate doesn't stop on the con floor:
Sex-shaming, advocating rape, pretending to hate rape, mansplaining, unsolicited terrible advice ... we've got Asshole Bingo!
Here's a gift from a person who is clearly very satisfied with their life:
The perfect button for your Con Shithead cosplay.
"We [also] get angry girlfriends/boyfriends sometimes when handing out fliers/business cards," Shodan says. "My boss got an angry email from a guy whose girlfriend had been genuinely interested in our booth at one show last year and had discussed modeling with one of my teammates, saying we were trying to exploit people or whatever. I don't know why people see porn (ahem, age-restricted content) and assume the stars are going to try to steal their partners, but it's a disturbingly common thing."
It's a real concern. To this day, we live in constant fear that Ron Jeremy is coming to steal our women.
You May Never See Your Favorite Character In Cosplay Porn
Sadly, you may not see a woman dress up (and then down) as your favorite character anytime soon. Copyright can be a bitch. Models usually get around it "as long as we don't name the character or the source," Shodan explains. "A Harley set might be called 'Mad Love' or 'Clown Princess,' and the blurb will say something like 'Watch your back around this mad lover, puddin'!' so it's obvious to anyone who knows the source material."
"Kawasaki Flynn's ready to rock your world, no joke."
This can be annoying to customers. "They want to be able to just search through the gallery for 'Harley Quinn' instead of having to go through all the pages upon pages of sets looking for her, or if they could just look at the bottom of the set to see what character it was if they don't recognize it. But yeah, we can't do that."
Some things are totally off-limits, though: "If a character appears in Disney parks in the outfit, it's under heavy copyright, and they will come after you with lawsuits and pitchforks, even if you don't name the character or movie/series it comes from." This is particularly troubling for the nerd porn community, because General Organa is now technically a Disney princess, but "I doubt they're ever going to put Slave Leia in the parks, so that one is fair game."
And the rapidly aging libido of '80s kids everywhere heaves a huge sigh of relief.
Legality isn't the only reason you might not find pics of your favorite comic book reference humping a banister:
"Underage characters are ... a gray area," Shodan explains. "We for sure do not support the sexualization of children (obviously), but when it comes to content, it really depends on the characterization. They told me yes for Ellie from The Last Of Us, who's 14, because she curses a lot and is presented as more mature, but if a character is super childlike, it's off-limits. They've told us no Powerpuff Girls, not ever."
... not even Mojo Jojo? There is no justice.
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