This weekend, over 100,000 people gathered together in New York City to experience the excitement of the annual New York Comic Con. If you rode the train, you may have encountered someone dressed as a favorite video game or science fiction movie character, even though it’s not yet Halloween. The women, especially, were quite sexy in the costumes they assembled with geeky devotion and nerdy appreciation. While the interactions at Comic Con are (relatively) PG-rated, there’s a segment of the population that engages in erotic “CosPlay,” and I wanted to explore how this also manifests as an alternative type of kinky play.

What Is CosPlay?

CosPlay, or Costume Play, refers to a particular form of performance art during which people dress up as certain characters and often engage in role-play based sex around characters they assume. Players range from those who casually engage in CosPlay as a hobby to die-hards who make it a way of life. CosPlay has grown in popularity in recent years, and that’s likely due to the increase in opportunities for those into this type of play to gather together and share their interests with others.

Adult CosPlay Takes It to Another Level

For most, CosPlay is PG-rated at most, and rather innocent. For some, however, it gets kinky. “Pony Play,” for example, is a form of BDSM where submissive men and women are “trained” as ponies to serve their Dom(me)s. Pony Play is not inherently sexual, though some do engage in sexual acts while dressed up as ponies and in the middle of the role play. There is, however, a clear power exchange, and for most Pony Players, therein lies the kinky expression and derivation of pleasure.

Like with PG CosPlayers, the more intricate their costumes, the more the players get out of the role playing, according to Jamaal Avery, an African-American man who delved deep into the world of Pony Play for National Geographic. After getting to know some of the players, Avery found himself defending the play, despite his own lack of interest in the fetish/kink.

Another example of kinkier CosPlay are the “Furries,” whose kinks involve dressing up like animals (lions, bears, foxes) and engaging in “Yiffing” or dry-humping while wearing animal costumes. There are two major things at play here: a preference for a certain level of anonymity during sexual engagement and an attraction to, well, animals. That’s where many people draw the line with Furries, to be quite honest. The people are playing roles, but the roles are those of animals, and some argue that the Furries lifestyle is a legal way for people into beastiality to play out their fantasies.

Like with any fetish, however, people try to connect the dots to more nefarious traits within human sexuality, so there is no absolute guarantee that Furries have sexual desires for actual animals. The Furries lifestyle is growing in popularity, too, mainly because of coverage in more mainstream outlets like HBO and CosPlay conventions that allow people to dress up in ways they feel most comfortable.

I must admit, this isn’t my kink. But I do my best not to make harsh judgments about people who engage in consenting behaviors with other adults. I enjoy role-playing and believe it can spice up your sex life when done correctly. What I think is important to understand is, just because we aren’t into or don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. I think folks sometimes get caught up in dismissing other people’s kinks, fetishes, and preferences as being immoral or crazy simply because we have no real connection to them.

In the case of CosPlayers, this is something meaningful to them, and harmless. If it excites people and gets them trying new things that may improve their sex lives, I’m all for it! It’s fascinating, to say the least, and I believe we’ll see greater participation by African-Americans in these lifestyles as stigma reduces and acceptance slowly broadens.

Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.