Halloween is a great time to explore wild kinks and BDSM role-play

In the immortal words of Mean Girls, “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.”

As kids, we loved Halloween for being the one glorious occasion our parents let us gorge on all the tricks and treats we wanted. As adults, Halloween lets us indulge in different kinds of carnal pleasures, as a night of unfettered naughtiness that’s quite nice. For once, we’re allowed to embody our wildest personas and fantasies without shame or fear of other people’s judgment.

We’re allowed to embody our wildest personas and fantasies without shame or fear of other people’s judgment.

“Halloween is an annual excuse to don a costume and temporarily become someone — or something — else,” said Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute with a doctorate in social psychology. “Psychologically, we know that putting on a costume can change behavior. For example, when people wear a mask… There’s this escape from self-awareness that emerges, that can have the effect of lowering inhibitions and opening the door to doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”

Add a thriving industry of Halloween-themed lingerie and skin-tight bodysuits to this night of delicious deviations from social norms, and you’ve got one of America’s horniest national holidays.

While many keep their horned up Halloweens on main through parties or social media, others let their imaginations wander into the bedroom. Taking off a particularly empowering costume at the end of a great All Hallows Eve — knowing it’d be a whole year before you could explore this side of yourself again — is a unique kind of dread.

So…what if you didn’t take it off? What if, this Halloween, you listened to your desires, and dared to bring that newfound, unfettered sexual persona into the bedroom, where you can really unleash what you keep caged up the rest of the year. 

Halloween is a time of permission,” said Jaiya Ma, a sex coach who coined the Erotic Blueprint™ for exploring your unique sexual persona. “In some ways we can say that we actually reveal our deeper sexual selves. It’s a time to let our deeper erotic personas, or parts of ourselves we have hidden or suppressed, to roam in our waking life. So if you have suppressed your submissive slut, she might show up as a slutty pirate maiden.”

You’re not weird (or alone) in getting horny on Halloween

The massive boon lingerie companies often experience during Halloween can tell us a lot about how widely spread autumnal thirstiness is — especially this year.

A 2015 survey from UK lingerie company Ann Summers found that 56 percent of participants admitted to having sex with their Halloween costumes on, Women’s Health reported. For Yandy, a reigning bastion of the finest and most cursed sexy Halloween costumes (and regular lingerie), October sales from their notoriously raunchy costumes usually account for 20 percent of annual business. But in 2020, it has seen record-breaking numbers, with sales up 35 percent from last year.  The company’s Bedroom Costume lingerie subcategory — featuring getups specifically designed for both public and more private use — shot up 31 percent in the months after the pandemic hit. 

“Since quarantine began in March, we’ve seen a huge spike in bedroom costumes,” said Pilar Quintana-Williams, Yandy’s vice president of merchandising. The unusually high demand is particularly notable when you consider how, in many states across the country, the customarily large Halloween gatherings and parties we typically attend remain banned (or at least strongly discouraged).  

“There are a lot of Halloween costumes that help couples fulfill their role-play desires,” said Quintana-Williams. “With people stuck at home and not much else to do, we expect they might start to dream up their costume ideas earlier in the season to fill a void and let their minds focus on something exciting to look forward to in the fall… Anything that transports customers to a world where they can escape the 2020 dumpster fire of stress will be hot items. People are ready to escape to Halloween.”

Fascinatingly, Yandy also saw a 25 percent jump in purchases of nurse-themed bedroom costumes this year. To some, sexifying COVID-19 seems in poor taste. But as kink expert and sex coach Tina Horn told us in a previous article about dirty talk during the pandemic, it’s actually very natural for folks to cope with pandemic fear by turning elements of it into a sexual fantasy to get off to.

“In my own research, I’ve found that it’s not uncommon for people to have fantasies that involve people wearing very specific uniforms or costumes, such as police officers, firefighters, military soldiers, doctors, etc,” said Lehmiller, who authored a book on the psychology of sexual fantasies called Tell Me What You Want. It’s probably no accident, then, that year after year sexed-up versions of those exact uniforms are the most consistent top sellers for places like Yandy. “The most common ones seem to be about power and status, which suggests that their appeal may be rooted in establishing a dominant-submissive dynamic.”

If you’re entirely unaware or apprehensive about the notion of trying BDSM, yet also find yourself gravitating toward these types of Halloween costumes, congratulations! You’ve basically already dabbled in some light dominant-submissive roleplaying without even being aware of it. And we’re willing to bet you liked it. 

From doctor and nurse, to professor and schoolgirl, or vampire and victim, many popular Halloween costumes are ready-made for a range of dom-sub and sadomasochistic archetypes.

“A kinky desire for power play dynamics, age play or pet play may come in as a factor in our choice of costume,” said Ma, who said one of her hottest Halloweens was when she dressed up as a winged fantasy creature — tamed only by the collared leash in her husband’s hand.

In general, Lehmiller’s research found that “impossible” sexual fantasies were outright common: Over half of participants admitted to fantasizing about sex with a fictional character; one-third fantasized about mythical creatures like vampires, werewolves, and demons; one-quarter about cartoon and anime characters; and one-sixth about doing it with an alien. That’s equally in line with the other top-selling costumes at Yandy, with vampires, superheroes, and nostalgic movie-themed outfits consistently dominating. In 2020, space and sci-fi (aka alien) related costumes also saw a spike, as well as a trend toward the “sexy spooky,” with a darker, edgier vibe than previous years.

OK but let's all be sure we remember this isn't really PPE

OK but let’s all be sure we remember this isn’t really PPE

There’s a multitude of psychological phenomenons that help explain why it’s totally normal for these Halloween-esque roleplay fantasies to get people’s juices flowing.

Aside from the embedded BDSM dynamics, Lehmiller points to how participants who liked fantastical sexual scenarios also often shared the fantasy-prone personality trait, and thus had more generally active imaginations. Also, a well-documented biological drive known as the Coolidge Effect shows that all humans find sexual novelty and variety titillating, whether from novel types of stimuli or new partners (both real or imagined). So getting turned on by out-of-this-world fantastical roleplay is really no mystery or even all that deviant or strange.

As far as the spookiness factor of it all, we can’t overlook the appeal of danger these fantasies bring. Studies show that people can often confuse strong emotions like fear for arousal and sexual attraction, which is why some scientists cheekily recommend you take dates to horror movies. Aside from your mind getting all hot and bothered for the fear bang, there’s an actual physiological arousal response that can happen when the sexy gets mixed with the scary.

The appeal of fantastical sexual scenarios, Lehmiller found, was particularly strong among folks with marginalized sexualities and genders. Desire for creature sex was more prominent among women who identified as anything other than heterosexual, as well as over half (56 percent) of non-binary participants.

Yup, I'd totally bang that fish monster god-man.

Yup, I’d totally bang that fish monster god-man.

Image: FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

The reason behind that might be related to the rampant horniness for the Shape of Water fish monster back in 2017. Experts in psychology and media history told us that identification with and sexual desire for monstrous creatures can be uniquely appealing for folks who’ve felt similarly othered, ostracized, stigmatized, and rejected by mainstream society.  

As stated by Kristie Overstreet, a psychotherapist and author with a doctorate in clinical sexology:

“Being different attracts you to others who are seen as different, so there is comfort in being connected with another person that understands… The mystery, build up, anticipation, and not knowing what to expect with a creature brings much sexual allure.”

So not only is getting horned up on Halloween normal, but it’s also a pretty wonderful way to embrace the parts of our sexualities that the rest of the world needs to learn to embrace too.

How to start finding your erotic persona on Halloween

“Nearly everyone has ‘darker’ sexual fantasies and lighter fantasies and everywhere in between,” said Ma. At the same time, there’s plenty of roadblocks that can keep us from exploring those more hidden aspects of our sexual selves. “It’s shame and guilt that keep us in a state of not loving ourselves. You are not wrong or broken for these desires and fantasies. As long as you play consciously and consensually, it’s all good!”

For many, though it can be hard to know where to start. Halloween is great for sparking curiosity in trying out wilder stuff in the bedroom, but there’s a lot more prep needed for safe sexual play with a partner.

“Halloween might provide an excuse to act on them, but if you don’t have solid sexual communication, if you haven’t discussed your limits and boundaries, if you haven’t set up a safeword — all of those things can set you up for a potentially disappointing and less than pleasurable experience,” said Lehmiller.

Engaging in any amount of BDSM, light or otherwise, requires extra precautions to ensure consent is being given by all parties throughout the duration of a scene or scenario (which you can read about in more comprehensive guides). Regardless of whether you do any of it, a great place for everyone to start is by filling out a Yes/No/Maybe kink list to establish not only boundaries but desires. Other kink quizzes can give you an even better sense of what dynamics and archetypes you might like or dislike.

Let your mind and genitals wander into the unknown....

Let your mind and genitals wander into the unknown….

Image: vicky leta / mashable

Before even thinking of engaging a partner in an erotic persona or scenario, it’s always best to explore new aspects of your sexuality alone. So next time you masturbate, skip the usual routine or your typical porn genres. Instead try getting off to your own imagination, so you can start to create and discover the unreal fantasies and alter egos that specifically work for you. 

A comfortable place to start, especially in the context of Halloween, is inserting yourself into your favorite fictional, supernatural, fantasy, or sci-fi worlds (whether from books, movies, TV shows, or even smutty fanfictions of any of those). If that doesn’t feel right, experiment with more alternative categories of porn: monster, tentacle, hentai, etc. Personally, I really loved playing these porn games (many of which are free), since they let you embody more of the out-there scenarios. You certainly won’t like everything you try, but it’ll begin to release your sexuality from the bounds of regular, rote sexual realism. 

Extending the Halloween spirit to connect with an alternative erotic persona doesn’t need to involve sex at all.

But extending the Halloween spirit to connect with an alternative erotic persona doesn’t need to involve sex at all, either. An equally valuable exploration can be as simple as finding the right costume, lingerie, and/or makeup that helps bring out your “shadow self” (as Ma calls it) that you can don to take sexy pictures — whether for a partner or just yourself.

If the language of kink doesn’t appeal to you whatsoever, try taking Ma’s quiz to figure out which of the five so-called personas (kinky, sexual, sensual, energetic, or shapeshifter) from her Erotic Blueprint™ fits you best.

“Each [Persona] has a superpower and a shadow. The Shadows are the things that we suppress, hide, or deny in ourselves. They can also be the things asking to be healed or brought to the light as they most likely put the brakes on our sexual expression and freedom,” she said.  

Just remember that, in these early stages, it’s all about listening to yourself. Do your best to not let other people, social scripts, or cultural stigmas get in the way of your own underexplored urges.

“Halloween can be a time to heal the shadows by letting them come out to play in a connected, consensual and conscious way,” said Ma. “When we develop an erotic persona, it allows us to reclaim the parts of our sexuality we have pushed away and [allow it] to expand fully.”

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