25-JULY-2011 My past blog about certain costumes combined with certain activities left my inbox full with  a broad range of feedback from outright condemnation of my own body and career to people agreeing with my stance that risque cosplay has an appropriate time and place.

I’ve never been to San Diego’s Comic Con International nor Dragon*Con so I’m only able to form thoughts on the vast amount of pictures found online through places like Twitter and flickr. It’s my understanding that wardrobe and activities one would consider for the 18+ crowd are reserved until a particular time and set location (ie, not the con floor).


My hackles get severely on end when critics, whether comic fans or not, condemn costumes like Wonder Woman and Power Girl for considering them “scantily clad” discrimination against women. People that point to costumes like Zatanna, Catwoman and Black Canary as misogynistic representations of a purely market-driven business don’t seem to understand the personalities of the characters. Yes, all of us are entitled to have different opinions on “taste” and what we consider “modest” vs. “scantily clad.” Let’s agree to disagree right away. I’m putting that out there because after all these years of costumes getting skimpier and skimpier, I’m quite at the end of my rope defending Power Girl and her boob window. If you don’t like the boob window, she has had other variations – make one you like if you like the character; that’s what I’m saying about Power Girl. I don’t think that my cleavage in my costume shows too much to be around young children and I actually don’t find that it’s a sexy costume. I think what you bring to it in terms of personality, poise and attitude are what make that costume sexy.

I can complain and rant about the DCnU version of Starfire and her new barely-there Emma Frost ripoff outfit which I consider an unnecessary change bordering on the ridiculous; but I heed my own advice here – I don’t like it, so I’ll never cosplay it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about take a look at the image of Starfire and the new version is the first panel. What about characters that aren’t actually designed in skimpy outfits? If choices of costumes for female cosplayers already include a fair amount of “sexy” and “scantily clad” offerings, why do some feel the need to be extreme?

I met a rather lovely young lady at the 2009 NYCC, Day 3 who wore only leaves pasted on her particulars and body paint as DC’s Poison Ivy. She was thin, pale, and gorgeous. She also couldn’t really walk without issues. She had a large male companion at her side. And she was, to my knowledge, dressed as a particular version of Ivy. I’m not sure that makes it appropriate for her to appear on a con floor that way. I was impressed at her confidence to go out in public that way because I dread donning my Wonder Woman outfit. Maybe I’d be confident too if I was rail thin.


The reason I’m bringing this topic up now is because I read some criticisms about the “Oh You Sexy Geek Panel” wherein the author digs in pretty hard against the opinions of model Adrianne Curry. I don’t mind the criticisms. I find their timing “interesting.” Jill Pantozzi alerted the twitter feed that Adrienne “got into trouble” for her Aeon costume. Adrianne had a problem in the past in her Slave Leia outfit when she was outside on a break and someone not attending the con, reached under her loin cloth. It sparked outrage from fans and con-goers but also controversy from people who dislike the Slave Leia outfit.

So why was Adrianne into any trouble for her AEON FLUX outfit? It’s a known eye candy design revealing about as much as possible.


But here’s the thing… apparently a woman wearing nipple prosethics and a clear G-string with a plastic dragon covering her pubic triangle was walking the con floor. The photo is from Neil Grey’s public tumblr. First of all, I’m concerned for that girl’s well being. It looks like she’s got exceptionally huge bruises on both her thighs that she’s tried to cover up. Now, I don’t know her at all – maybe they aren’t bruises or maybe she got them “consentually.” But otherwise, I’m in the WTF group on this. (Edit: People said the marks were supposed to be ashes from her fire birth of a dragon or something). This is not all ages cosplay and it should not be allowed ON A CON FLOOR. In a private party – yes. On her own website – yes. On a paid website – yes. But NOT at a convention.

To give you a comparison of what her “character” is supposed to be, it’s DAENERYS from GAME OF THRONES. Um… would you have deduced that from the plastic G-string and stripper heels?


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33 Comments on Naked Cosplay? When will con organizers draw the line? (not quite s.f.w.)

  1. That costume is from the end scene of Game of Thrones first HBO season. She’s not nude, she’s using prosthetics. It’s a perfect recreation of the scene.

    Until more women embrace sexuality as THE fundamental human experience, we will continue to be held back by conservative prudishness where each generation of women grows up like all those I’ve met: Thinking sex is evil, embarrassed at their bodies, and anti-sexual to the point no relationship can be held with such a woman.

    As a society, the prudishness forced upon us by conservatives has held us back a century. There is no excuse we don’t have nudity on prime time television’s basic networks.

    Kids? There’s one answer to every kid complaint: Be a better parent. If you can’t control their habits/exposure to your desires, you need to try harder, not blame society. Better yet, expose your kids to sexuality earlier by educating them on it- they will growinto wonderfully healthy adults.

    • I don’t think Amber’s complaining about the nudity per se, she’s pointing out the totally arbitrary (and possible ass-backwards) policy conventions have towards “public decency”.

      I’m guessing in this case SDCC just flat out dropped the ball. I dunno if their security staff is volunteer or not but whoever saw this costume and did nothing should be fired.

  2. How that can be cosplay when there is no costume? Even Poison Ivy has leaves.

    This clearly broad-jumps from the realm of “Check out how well this costume fits on me” into “Look at my body PLEASE.”

  3. I dislike the commentary on bruises, and especially the quotes around “consensually.” It has no bearing on the discussion and comes off more than a little presumptuous. Her costume obviously invites criticism and discussion by it being a public event but there appeared to be some distinct innuendo with those comments.

    • No innuendo at all. I have dear friends that are into BDSM & they have bruises, cuts and welts on their bodies. But they keep those in places that are going to be covered by clothing. This girl looks like she has severe bruising. Now, if it was something she asked someone to do to her, that’s one thing; but if she is a victim of an assault, I think she needs help. How is that WRONG of me to be concerned for her well being?

      • Isn’t looking battered part of the costume? As far as I can tell, her costume is recreating a scene where the character was bruised, battered, and covered in dirt.

        It’s not a very well done costume, though. The heels make no sense at all.

      • You lose all credibility in thinking those even look like bruises. That is clearly ash, obviously added as part of her costume. You clearly don’t know what this costume is about.

      • There are tens of thousands of costumes at a con. You’re an elitist gatekeeper if you think a fan of one genre needs to know every element of all of the genres. Guess what? I can’t tell which Doctor Who is which either!

    • I’m guessing she was expressing concern that the woman might have visible signs of domestic abuse that she’s hiding, but also acknowledging that there are lifestyles in which those bruises are consensually given so it’s not a guarantee her suspicion would be correct.

      • Just wanted to point out that there are a lot of medical conditions that cause bruising unrelated to abuse. It’s unfortunately a fact of life for some people, who wrestle with a variety of diseases and other conditions of which bruising is a symptom.

        I do agree the costume was better suited to a private party and not the public floor.

  4. Wow! I gotta say, Amber, You know me… I am as liberal of a guy as they come (us artist types tend to be rather liberal, after all) but I gotta say, even I would be rather taken aback by seeing the naked Daenerys Cos-play outfit.

    Now, I’ve seen some costumes whe I have walked past scratching my head and thinking “my God… WHAT were they THINKING???” – and that goes for guys and gals alike ’cause ther’s some things guys will where where it is simply a matter of TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Or, in MOST of the cases, it’s too LITTELE information but information none the less. 🙂

    what I will say about that Daenerys “costume” is the fact that I don’t believe those are “bruises”. I think that “costume” is from the season finale of the show where Daenerys sits in the middle of a fire and her dragon eggs are hatched. On the show, she is found alive, in the middle of smoldering ash, naked as a jay bird with her dragons perched on her shoulders. She is also covered in soot. I think that is what that lady’s “bruises” are supposed to be.

    But still, it takes a LOT of guts – and even more tolerance from the convention organizers – to go to the con like this…

    • Thank you for actually offering the explanation! Yeah, bad on me for being concerned that the woman may have been beaten when the charity I do most of my fundraising for is the domestic violence organization in my town. Fucking shame on me. I love how people miss the point.

  5. Jeeze! I apologize for all of those terrible misspellings above. Sometimes, I REALLY hate typing on this iPad… My apologies.

  6. Sorry, Amber, I didn’t think I was missing the point. I was just saying that I didn’t think those we bruises but rather something else that was supposed to be part of her “costume”. But given the nature of her “costume”, it is ver easy to see where your concern might come from.

    This is a very bad example but I look at this as similar to someone making the same assumption about a girl dressed as Domino and worrying someone gave her a black eye. Granted, the ash isn’t obvious and COULD easily be mistaken for bruises.

    But getting a little back on point, when I started taking my daughter to cons when she was 9 years old, I was very careful about certain tables in artist
    alley that we walked by because I didn’t want to expose her to TOO much blatant sex at that age. I felt uncomfortable doing so. now that she’s a teenager though – and an artist – she probably knows more about sex than I do. She’s certainly more comfortable drawing naked bodies than I was at he age. still, I would have felt VERY uncomfortable if this person would have walked by us if she was a the same convention my daughter and I were at.

    • I wasn’t saying you missed the point, Chris. You replied like an adult who was able to back up something. You knew where the “look” of her cosplay came from. declined, is the commenter I believe missed the point. I would like to think that if someone thought I had black and blue marks that huge, that I would be asked about it, from a friend or stranger. I truly appreciate that you knew and stated what it was supposed to be. That doesn’t change my mind that her walking a con floor was in poor judgment.

  7. There is a fine line to what is ok and what isn’t, Poison Ivy is right on the line depend on where one draws it (yes I saw her there as well). Many women dress as Leia and yes it’s a revealing outfit but again on the line, but with Leia, Poison Ivy, and Adrienne’s Aeon costume it also depends on how far they go with it so to speak. I’ve seen a pic of a Leia where you her pubic hair, I saw one (at the same com as PI) with a Victoria Secret thong on under it in plain sight. I think if someone dresses like a certain character they need to realize that, unfortunately, there are going to be those that will look at it the wrong way but sometimes it the cosplayer themselves that may have taken it to far, like the last woman that is to little for an all ages con. Unfortunately there is no exact line that is draw or shouldn’t be crossed it is all up to each individual both the cosplayer and the audience.

  8. I don’t even know how to react to that. I don’t want to sound prudish or anything, and I hate using the “protect the kids” argument, but that “costume” has no place at SDCC. Much like the massage booth at the Philly Con was crossing the line of appropriateness for an event that draws plenty of families.

    My intitial thought of someone choosing that particular Daenerys “costume” is that she was looking for attention beyond getting pics taken, perhaps being a news item or interviewed by someone.

  9. First off,let me say that as far as female nudity goes…I’m all for it.But again it’s a matter of time and place.At a private cosplay party the g-string/dragon costume would probably be the highlight of the evening.But as liberal as I am,I don’t think it’s appropriate for an all age con.

  10. For the record, the woman in the final-scene Daenerys costume was asked to leave. She came back wearing this gold bikini: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/5970490732/

    My main problem with her is that the cosplay is bad. Her dragons don’t match, they’re not very pretty, and she needs three of them; she should also be covered in heavy ash/dirt makeup. If she had tried harder on an aesthetic level, as some movie Mystiques I’ve seen, I personally would not be so offended.

  11. Ah, this was apparently the outfit she had to wear after that: http://screenrant.com/cosplay-pictures-san-diego-comic-con-pauly-125307/sdcc-2011-cos-play-20/

    Looking more closely, I’m inclined to agree that the “bruises” must be makeup… and I do wonder how theorizing on her marks was pertinent to the discussion of whether or not her costume was appropriate for a public forum?

    Lastly, although I know we’ve disagreed on this, I just have to say that I don’t think her body type is appropriate for the character, and in the end, it’s my opinion that it was a domino effect of poor choices…

    • I definitely don’t agree that body “type” has anything to do with costuming. It’s for fun. We’re not being cast in movies. But I really appreciate your links to her alternative outfits because was quite curious after the aftermath.

  12. Bruises or not, as a parent, I wouldn’t want to run into her on the Con floor with my kids in tow. It’s not the place for it. And the concern for her is well placed Amber.

    I do find it funny that an industry that encourages and thrives on costumes designed solely around the “the skimpier the better” postulate (like Starfire and Harley’s new uniforms for example that border on impossible to wear in the real world) would kick Adrienne Curry out of the Con for the Aeon Flux costume. It doesn’t cover much, but it’s not even close to being the worst I’ve seen. There was a Star Sapphire costume from last year’s Con that was little more than electrical tape and a napkin’s worth of fabric. Great costume (dear God yes) but again, not something I want to have to explain to my kids.

    And FYI, you’re comment
    “…I was impressed at her confidence to go out in public that way because I dread donning my Wonder Woman outfit. Maybe I’d be confident too if I was rail thin.”
    Seriously? You’re gorgeous, in or out of WW’s red, white, and blue. Don’t forget it.

  13. I love cosplay. I love seeing the work that goes into it and the detail that people show whether or not it is revealing, sexy, or if you’re covered from head to toe. I don’t consider this cosplay. I consider it a blatant cry for attention on a public stage. I’d be more inclined to believe it was a serious attempt at a Dany costume if she wasn’t wearing the stripper heels.

    It does seem they really dropped the ball here because there is no way she should have been walking the floor like that. Didn’t Adrienne Curry get asked to leave for the Aeon Flux costume? Next to this that one was freaking demure. If I see her walking the floor this is one I would go complain about. I’ve seen a skimpier Ivy than the one here and it was obviously the character with a little thought and time put in- not just an excuse to strut around practically naked.

    There comes a point when your judgement is just flawed for whatever reason and you cross a line. It’s Comic Con not EXXXotica. (And no, not bashing the latter in any way- just pointing out that this wouldn’t be out of line for that)

    • Yes Adrienne was asked to leave or change and she put on a skin tight Star Wars costume to get back in. I know exactly what you’re saying in comparison because I go to Comic Cons and to Exxxotica. They are different arenas. Do I think children should be embarrassed by female figures? No but this isn’t portraiture of figure models. This was a specific attempt to gain attention and she got what she wanted. I know the Poison Ivy you mentioned too. I have a pic of her somewhere. She was mostly bodypainted and had a couple of silk leaves and flowers glued on and that was it. She was fully immersed as Ivy because of the wig and paint but she was essentially naked.

  14. My guess is, she came in with some type of outer garment on, and then, at strategic times when the coast was clear, she would disrobe for photos and attention until she eventually got caught and was made to leave.

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