I wait excitedly for Fall each year because it feels like a time of transformation. With Halloween as a promise, the freaks get our moment to shine in the mainstream and watch the collective explosion of imagination as people dip their toes in the cool waters of fantasy, costuming, character development, power shifts, and the sweet release of being yourself by being something totally other than yourself. And all drenched in a newfound or expanded sense of sexiness. People knock the Spirit Halloween genre of sexy costumes, but I say, let the sexy nurses and sexy Pikachus and, yes, even the sexy traffic cones have their moment. We all deserve a space to explore our hotness (and humor) through play and fantasy, however that might look.
Besides all the fun and fantasy of the season, Halloween also creates space for deep exploration of our gender identities and sexuality. For some folks, it’s a safer time to try out aligning their gender presentation with their gender identity for the first time (I’m looking at myself dressing up as Merlin the magician every year for several years as a kid). For others, it’s a way to explore a fursona and embrace the magic of spending a stretch of time embodying their inner sexy beast. It can also be a great time for role reversal for some folks. You know your friend who in real life prefers to follow rules instead of making them? The same one who dresses up as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise and is automatically space Daddy for the evening? That’s the magic of Halloween and also the magic of finding your fantasy and… making it so.
I love the mashup dynamics that develop at Halloween parties. Imagine Dorothy ending up in a bar in Bushwick where she’s being abducted by a sexy alien in dayglo body paint instead of a tornado. Or a pair of star-crossed lovers a la Romeo and Juliet, but it’s a vampire and werewolf pairing running off to the cemetery to consummate their forbidden affair. This is the kind of energy Halloween offers us that we can harness into our fantasy and role-play lives year-round.
Many don’t explore the idea for fear of being silly, doing it wrong, or feeling somehow intimidated by the idea of “acting”.
Different people find role-play hot for different reasons, but many don’t explore the idea for fear of being silly, doing it wrong, or feeling somehow intimidated by the idea of “acting”. I’ll go ahead and give you permission now to fumble, get stuck, say cheesy lines, forget what you’re saying, and start, stop, end, or reimagine your role-play at any moment; and of course, to laugh. Let’s unbutton our top buttons, let out a deep breath, and go into this with the framework of playing pretend and having fun rather than crafting a scene.
Here are some tips for getting started with role-play:
Start with yourself
Explore what turns you on, what makes you feel hot, and what passing moment or fantasy makes your body tingle or your brain spark. Remember that this part is just about desire. It doesn’t have to be anything rational in the 3D world. It can be anything from a full-on fantasy to a sensory memory or a tactile yearning. You may already have go-to’s from reading erotica or watching porn or from everyday interactions that you find sexy.
Ask yourself, what about this feels hot to me? Is it a power dynamic? An aesthetic? A sensation? A feeling? A texture? The possibility of bondage, impact play, or sex? And once you’ve identified that piece, hold on to it. This piece can help you bring the fantasy to life, making it translatable to different scenarios that you can then co-create and negotiate with a partner.
Describe your fantasy, ask [your partner] to picture themselves in it, seek input, ask about their fantasies, and give them time to think it through.
Negotiate and communicate with partners
Let’s say your fantasizing and self-exploration have led you to the conclusion that you’re really turned on by the idea of a role-play that has a clear power dynamic. A good place to start is to brainstorm some relationships where those dynamics can exist like in a doctor/patient scenario or a teacher/student scenario. These can serve as building blocks for negotiation with another person. Bring your ideas to a partner and describe your fantasy, ask them to picture themselves in it, seek input, ask about their fantasies, and give them time to think it through.
If your role-play involves types of play that are new to one or both of you, learn about them together. You can practice skills beforehand to keep the learning sexy. For example, if you’re inching into the world of power exchange, I would recommend starting off with some essential reading like The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book. Similarly, if you’re doing any play that involves bondage, check out books like Bondage Basics or The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage and get comfortable enough with the skills you’ll be using in your scene so when you’re playing you can do so safely and with more ease. Practice doesn’t only help things run more smoothly during your scene, it’s also fun and can give you tons of information about what you like and don’t like.
Do you want certain words used in referring to your body parts that are different than your everyday language?
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, talk about what that really means:
Don’t shy away from the deep stuff if it feels deep for you. Even if your roleplay feels a little lower stakes emotionally, it still helps to have some conversations about things that might come up. What are some things that are on the table and some things that are totally off? You’re playing as characters that are not your usual selves, so this may mean you want to be referred to by certain terms that don’t usually come up. Some examples might be Daddy, Captain, Ma’am, pet, prey, princess, thing, Queen, etc. Do you want certain words used in referring to your body parts that are different than your everyday language? This can apply to all kinds of fantasy play or gender play. Your hand IRL might be your claw in your role-play, or your clit might be your cock, your hair might be your mane, and you may want to have your body imagined differently altogether. If you’re a tree in your roleplay, you might not have arms or legs but branches and roots, and your holes might have different uses or meanings altogether.
Setting boundaries is an important part of these pre-role-play conversations also. Be clear about what’s off the table in terms of sex acts (or whether sex is involved at all). Language can be a real turn-off also, make sure you and your partner know what words are no-gos.
Make sure you think of safewords that are not going to come up in your role-play and that are easy for everyone involved to remember.
Set some parameters and safety measures:
An essential communication need in role-playing is setting a safeword. There are many scenarios in which “no” or “stop” are part of the dialog of the role-play. Make sure you think of safewords that are not going to come up in your role-play and that are easy for everyone involved to remember. I like to use the same safeword in all my play so I don’t forget it, but you may choose different ones based on the context or play partner.
You might also want to set a clear beginning to a role-play. You can decide whether the role-play will begin outside of your home, like meeting each other as strangers in a bar, or you can decide it starts when one of you walks into a room that has already been set up with the props or sex toys you’ll be using. Some people find it really easy to shift gears and just start talking as their characters while others like to have some time or ritual to leave the real-world demands and transition into fantasy space.
Writing a script with lines to memorize can be really confining and take away spontaneity.
Don’t write a script
I often remind people that this isn’t a play or theatrical production, it’s fantasy and fun in the bedroom. Writing a script with lines to memorize can be really confining and take away spontaneity. It can also create a lot of pressure and stress to try and remember lines. Instead, try to play off of each other’s energy. Prompt each other with questions and don’t be afraid to ask something silly or something that you already know the answer to.
Tips for creating your character
Coming up with a character for a role-play can be really simple. Think about the very basics about your character that matter: what’s your character’s role in this interaction? Are they Dominant or submissive? Are they shy? Are they something other than human? What are some things that might come up about them in the scene? For example, if they’re an octopus, they might have tentacles (check out some sexy tentacle dildos you can incorporate into your play). They might be an alien from another planet, what’s their planet called? They might be a workaholic in need of some stress release, what’s their job?
For some people, the costumes and act of getting dressed up with accurate representations of an era are a huge part of what turns them on.
Worried about what to wear? For some people, the costumes and act of getting dressed up with accurate representations of an era are a huge part of what turns them on. If this is you, geek out on the details and do your research. Your costume might be a big investment, but if it’s what gets you off, there are tons of forums specifically for cosplayers where you can find info on how to DIY some pretty amazing costumes.
But for many people, the costumes don’t have to be super elaborate or expensive. You might want to have a costume that is a very obvious piece of lingerie that alludes to your character (check out this witch costume and this flight attendant costume) but is also intended for bedroom fantasy play. Or you might have one item, like a sailor hat or a hard hat lying around that you use to represent your character. You might want to reuse your Halloween costume and live out those extra sexy Morticia and Gomez Addams relationship dynamics. Some people have a specific fetish that they can incorporate into their play. I always think of how sexy boot play is and how it can be incorporated into all kinds of service and worship-related scenes.
Get in the mood by spending a little time with your character before your role-play, especially if it’s your first time.
Before your role-play
Get in the mood by spending a little time with your character before your role-play, especially if it’s your first time. I like to try on whatever costume I’m going to wear before a scene to feel more connected to my character and to harness the sensations and power shifts that can happen when you’re embodying this other being.
If you and your partner consent to it, you can even incorporate some foreplay into your day before the role-play. It can be something as simple as sending a text message “from the doctor’s office” reminding the patient of their upcoming appointment or leaving a voicemail about the dress code for the upcoming recital.
Try to remove big distractions that might force you to break out of your role.
Create an atmosphere in your space that is reminiscent of the setting where your fantasy takes place. You don’t have to buy new furniture or make alterations to your apartment to create a scene that works. Just remember to stick to the basics and use your imagination. If your role-play takes place in outer space, it might help to lower the lights a little (or use one of those galaxy lights that have been all the rage in the past couple of years). Think about small details, like setting up sex toys on the nightstand that you might use in the role-play; for example, a speculum, a paddle, or an electroplay set.
Try to remove big distractions that might force you to break out of your role. Turn your ringer off, make sure the stove is turned off, walk the dog before you start to play, drop your kids off at the sitter, or whatever else might demand urgent attention.
Tips for keeping the role-play going
Before the role-play, decide on some basic facts, for example, the bedroom is the doctor’s office, the living room is the waiting room, and this is your first time coming to this doctor for a check-up. With a basic foundation, you can improvise the rest.
If you run out of things to say, ask questions. You can ask about a prop or toy nearby or ask a question about the other person’s character, or ask what they’re going to do to you (or conversely what they think you’re going to do to them). The classic “do you like that?” question is a classic for a reason. It works even better if you ask for more details about what they like about it.
If one or both of you laughs, try to find a way to incorporate the laughter into what’s happening.
Laughter in a role-play doesn’t have to completely derail your focus. In fact, laughter is often an indicator of fun and nervous energy. If one or both of you laughs, try to find a way to incorporate the laughter into what’s happening. Let’s say you’re doing a teacher/student role-play and the student starts laughing while being disciplined; a quick redirect could be something like “you won’t think this is funny when you see your grades.” Can’t redirect the laughter? It’s okay to take a pause, shake it off, and try again.
In-scene communication tips
Active consent and communication are essential to safe BDSM play. Make sure the same tools you use for other BDSM play are available for all parties during your role-play. This includes tools for nonverbal communication. One go-to of mine is to use a squeaker that the person who is wearing a gag can squeak if they need to communicate about needing something to stop or be adjusted. Using a traffic light system for in-scene communication can also be really helpful. This could look like saying “green” if you like what’s happening and want it to keep going, “yellow” if you want to slow things down, or “red” if you want to stop for a check-in or stop altogether.
Remember that consent can be revoked at any time and that no matter how much time you spent preparing for a scene, you can stop it at any moment if something isn’t feeling right or if you’ve had enough.
Plan for aftercare with your play partner and think about what might help you get grounded and come back to reality...
Negotiating aftercare and re-entering reality
Role-play can be super fun and release all kinds of feel-good chemicals in our brains. It can be vulnerable, exhausting, energizing, and so much more. Plan for aftercare with your play partner and think about what might help you get grounded and come back to reality after spending some time indulging your imagination in fantasy. You might find that snacks, water, touch, silence, or praise work for you. Only you can decide what kind of care you need after play, and it’s important to communicate that to a partner beforehand to ensure that your needs get met. You might want to check in a couple of days after your scene also and talk about what worked and what you might want to do differently next time. Many people find that they love who they are and the connections they can build during role-play, you might decide you want to expand upon this role-play in a subsequent session!
There are no hard and fast rules to creating a role-play, with practice you can learn what works for you. Remember that your imagination is a really powerful tool and can take your kink and sex life to new heights. No matter how otherworldly your role-play idea is, there is always some aspect of it that you can harness to bring it to life. Keep an open mind and enjoy the journey of playing pretend in a sexy way. Take what makes sense for you from these tips and make them your own and most importantly HAVE FUN bringing your fantasy to life!