The Power of Erotic Role-Play: The ‘What’

The best thing about erotic role-play is also the most intimidating: there are almost infinite possibilities for sexy scenes to stage. If this leaves you overwhelmed instead of inspired, you’re not alone. It can be easy to drown in the potential details, so take a step back and focus on the bigger picture, the overall concept of your scene. According to sex educator Julian Wolf, erotic role-plays almost always fall into just nine conceptual categories:

Fantasy– While all role-plays are fantasy scenarios, some are more fantastical than others. This first category refers to the kinds of fantasy scenes one won’t encounter in the real world (at least, not that I’m aware of!) Any play involving aliens or dragons, science fictional logic or magical acts could be slotted into fantasy role-play.

Animal– Dogs with human features are arguably fantastical, but all role-play requires some suspension of disbelief, and animal play is no exception. These scenarios revolve around humans acting as puppies, kitties, piggies, and ponies (to name just the most common ones) while engaging with other human animals or with their ‘owners.’ Pretending to be other-than-human is a popular way to play, and it isn’t limited to acting as other sentient creatures.

Objectification role-play takes the dehumanization a step further and allows kinksters to take on any number of objectified roles. Acting as a piece of furniture– like a footstool, coatrack, or toilet– is quite typical. Dollification is another usual form objectification play takes, though it might also be thought of as…

Gender role-play. Cross-dressing scenes, whether they involve playing an inanimate dolly or a live-in maid, are very popular scenarios in this category. Playing with gender, however, doesn’t always mean playing with a gender that’s not your own. For example, some women submissives choose to engage in bimboification, which involves exaggerating their feminine characteristics to absurd extents for the purpose of consensual humiliation.

Race: Race play is perhaps the only category of erotic role-play in which it is far more common to explore power play within one’s actual identity than it is to abandon that identity entirely for a foreign role. In other words, race play doesn’t usually involve White people wearing blackface or Black people pretending to be geishas, but White doms using racial slurs towards Asian subs in order to consensually humiliate them, or Black dominants reversing historical roles by ‘enslaving’ White submissives.

Class: Any role-play in which social, professional, or economic class is a major cause of the power differential between the characters falls into this category, and it’s therefore, thematically, the broadest of the bunch. Everything from a secretary seducing her boss to a doctor examining her patient to a subject serving his queen can be thought of as a class role-play. Detective-suspect interrogation scenes and hierarchal army role-plays are two more examples that may fall under this heading.

Religion: The most obvious example of religious role-play is the perennial favorite of a nun disciplining a naughty schoolkid, but the category encompasses much more than that. It includes scenes of ritual Goddess worship or ‘forced’ sacrilege for the purpose of consensual humiliation. Essentially, any scene that gains some of its erotic momentum from the taboo of religion can be considered a part of this category.

Age: Let’s go back to the strict nun- naughty schoolkid scenario for a second. Religion isn’t the only taboo aspect or cause of power differential in that scene. Age is a major factor as well, as one of the adult players is pretending to be a school-aged child. Acting younger than one’s real age, such as in the case of the grown schoolboy or adult baby, is most popular among age players, but it isn’t the only sort of scenario that’s possible. One can also play a stereotypical version of her current age, like the ditzy college sorority sister, or she can play older than she really is. Why might someone want to do that? Usually it’s because she’s also engaging in…

Family role-play. One of the most misunderstood forms of erotic playacting, even among kinksters, family role-play involves taking on roles like father and daughter or mother and son. This last one is something I do often with my older clients, and it’s the most common reason for me to engage in age play as an older character. It’s also the most common reason my clients begin negotiations with, “Please don’t think I’m weird, but…” They’re afraid I’m one of the many folks who hears “…I want you to pretend to by the Mommy, spanking me for misbehaving,” and thinks, Oh my goodness, does he want to have sex with his mother? I know, however, that the vast, vast majority of people who engage in family role-plays do so because they’re turned on by the archetype of ‘mother’ or ‘father’ or ‘daughter’ or ‘son’, not the actual person in their lives who fills that role.

Engaging as an archetype is one of the two major ways to play a role, the other being the alternate persona. Both approaches will be discussed in depth in the next post in this series.

Read the other articles in this installment series:

The Power of Erotic Role-Play: Introduction

The Power of Erotic Role-Play: The ‘Who’

The Power of Erotic Role-Play: The ‘Why’

The Power of Erotic Role-Play: The ‘How’

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