Every day, it seems like more and more cosplayers decide to (perhaps unwittingly) take the plunge into some form of sex work. No, I don’t mean flat out prostitution, I mean more along the lines of creating softcore, cosplay themed pornography in the form of lewd photosets and strip tease videos. Yes, that 100% qualifies as a form of sex work. I’ve written a bit about the intersection of cosplay and pornography before, and as I’ve previously stated, I don’t really take issue with the practice itself. Consenting adults doing consenting adult stuff for other adults or just themselves is cool with me. I’ve even toyed with the idea of doing risqué cosplay photosets myself, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me for a variety of reasons. As cool and progressive as the cosplay and online community may be, sex work and sex workers are still heavily stigmatized in society. It’s not easy to publicly market yourself as a sex worker and then just transition back into vanilla life without issue. Oftentimes, this comes back to haunt people, costing them jobs or other opportunities. Though it may be, in my opinion, incredibly unfair, this is the reality of it all.
A simple google search with yield any number of stories on people with mainstream jobs who were fired and ostracized when it was revealed that they did anything from basic underwear modeling to keeping an anonymous sex blog. It’s definitely something to consider before using lewds and nudes and burlesque all in hopes of increasing your cosplay fan base. Especially when the truth is that most people are not going to make a living or a marketable brand and name for themselves with cosplay. Many times, I’ve seen fellow cosplayers remark that they’ll never “make it big” unless they throw sex work into the mix. These cosplayers often express discomfort with the idea of it, but sooner or later, they’re plastering steamy boudoir shoots all over Instagram and Facebook, not even bothering to hide their identities (which would probably be a good idea). This isn’t to knock those who have done this; a lot of my friends and favorite cosplayers do anything from boudoir shoots to hardcore cosplay content. The thing is, though, they’re passionate about what they’re doing. There’s a demand for it. They’re turning a profit. And they’re fully prepared to deal with any and all consequences. No other words, they’re about that life. Someone who just hopes to get an increase in Instagram followers, on the other hand, probably shouldn’t be jumping into the business of producing lingerie and borderline softcore porn themed cosplay content.
With this in mind, I have to wonder what will happen in a few years when all the cosplayers who very publicly engage in posting and selling risqué photos and videos, often advertised as “lewds” or even straight up nudes, realize that their dreams of achieving Yaya Han or Jessica Nigri levels of fame will never be realized, no matter how many NSFW cosplay pictures they post. What will happen when these cosplayers decide they want a regular day job, and the person screening their resume does a quick Google search, instantly being greeted with any number of risqué images featuring said cosplayer? Are dreams of (highly unlikely) “cosfame” so important that you’re willing to do something that you’re not only extremely uncomfortable with, but also something that could damage other career goals in the future? By all means, I believe people should do what they want, but I wish that people were a bit more careful about it all. Additionally, the market is extremely competitive, so it takes a lot actual work to even see a return on investment. It’s not as simple as doing one boudoir shoot and suddenly you’re swimming in cash and being invited to conventions for free. You have to be good at networking, marketing, self promotion, etc. You have to be comfortable with what you’re doing and 100% ok with the consequences. Don’t just carelessly hop into something as serious as sex work just because you want to be the next “cosplay star.”
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~DeLa Doll 💖