Halloween is upon us and for many, that means donning costumes and disguises. People look forward to this day, as it is “permission” to play dress-up. We engage in “make-believe” as small children, and judging from the popularity of games like World of Warcraft, role-playing never loses its significance. Combining role-playing with our erotic life opens the door to a whole other world of fun.
Erotic role-playing can be simple and spontaneous or researched and rehearsed, and the level of preparation does not necessarily correspond to the level of intensity that may be evoked. Spontaneously putting on masks to experiment with “anonymous” sex may be fiercely liberating and enable one to explore an entirely different sexual side of themselves that they were otherwise too self-conscious to explore. Meanwhile, putting on an elaborate renaissance fair costume for a reenactment of 15th century sex can be the most fun had this year without really plunging into the depths of our being. Costumes are not a requirement. This can be especially true of role-playing that emphasizes psychological relationships involving power exchanges. Power-exchanges are when one person consensually gives (or “surrenders”) their power or authority to another person. In the context of role-playing, this may play out as characters with innately imbalanced relationships- such as teacher/student, doctor/patient, or spy who has fallen into the clutches of a powerful and perverted interrogator. Age-play is another form of power exchange where one partner plays the role of someone who is much older than the other partner. In these types of scenarios, simply internalizing the role is often enough and special costumes are secondary.
However, costumes can also be integral. If one never wears a certain type of clothing, it can be especially powerful when intentionally worn for certain erotic scenarios. For example, tall heels, silky thigh highs, and a lacey garter belt may bring out the lustful vixen in one, regardless of gender. Gender play, after all, is another avenue to explore.
Then there is location. After being in a long-term relationship in the same place for many years, it can be fun to change up the location. A couple can pretend that they have never met, arrive at a bar separately, have a couple drinks before one gathers the courage to approach that cutie that made eyes at them from the other end of the bar, a conversation filled with sexual tension (where they share completely made-up details about themselves and their lives), which eventually leads to some passionate and hungry making-out in that dark corner booth.
There are many methods to erotic role-playing. There are “what if” scenarios where you remain the same person but are in a different situation. What if you were a pizza delivery boy delivering to a customer who’d like to give you a particularly generous “tip.” You can recreate experiences from the past that you have fantasized going in a different direction. That one adorable teacher who always gave you B’s? In the land of erotic make-believe, you can seduce your way into straight A’s!
Alternatively, you may want to explore being a different person with a different personality. If one is usually shy about asking for specific things during sex, playing an authoritarian character- such as a headmistress of a school- may give one “permission” to demand certain sexual services. Couples can even pretend that they are not human. Wild animal sex? An alien abduction scene?
There are also many different motivations for erotic role-playing: changing things up to get out of a sexual rut, taking things to a new level in one’s sexual relationship, exploring different aspects of one’s self or one’s relationship dynamic, and/or accessing parts of one’s self that is otherwise difficult to access.
Of primary importance to any erotic play, though, is enthusiastic consent and safety. A mere “yes” does not necessarily constitute consent, especially if coercion, manipulation, and/or pestering is involved. It is also important to know one’s own limitations and motivations. It may be one’s ultimate fantasy to be plowed by all of their teammates in the locker room, but in creating a make-believe scenario to fulfill this fantasy, they may find that their sensitive anal tissues may not be ready for all of that play! It is important to have a safe word in case you or your partner(s) want the scene to stop at any given point. Lastly, this type of play has the potential to leave us feeling vulnerable and unsure. Aftercare is important and is different for everybody. Oftentimes, it simply involves reassuring and reconnecting with each other in our “normal” roles.
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her at her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St. or reach her at AllyBooker@Jellywink.com.