17. 5. 2022

English Version | “That’s it, play the role, come on”

by Nuno Miguel Dias


I know, it makes it lose all its charm. But it’s the Portuguese translation for roleplay, that fascination parallel world where we can be anything we want. It starts when we’re young, with innocent games, and ends in a way to achieve sexual pleasure. At least until we find somebody with whom we can be our full selves, with all our kinks and quirks, without shame.


May I grow a warty appendage of squamous cells right in the center of my nose that allows me to frequently roleplay as an evil sorcerer that forces his partner to bite his apple, a naughty Snow White if you will if the following story is not true? First of all, it should be noted that the option of the wart on the nose was indeed the one selected, although the deformity of Sloth, the creepy character from the movie The Goonies (1985) who ends up being the hero of the story, was also in the pipeline. Because it also makes for a nice roleplay. But his malformations lay in the fact that he was an unwanted baby that Mama Fratelli purposely dropped on the floor, and my mother was a saint who treated me very well, perhaps too well because a few pounds less wouldn't hurt me at all. In any case, the option of me being condemned to eating Baby Ruth chocolates is out of the question. It so happens that in the days when was a handsome young man, with considerably more abs than at present, there was a warm summer day when, by some alignment of the stars, three illustrious strangers crossed their destinies with mine. In the morning, on the beach, one of them struck up a conversation with me that ended in laughter and the setting up of a meeting for after lunch, hers, not mine, who was living between the sand and the sea. Supposedly, I had relatives waiting for to come home and hear. In a world full of empty promises where cell phones were merely a futuristic dream, I had forgotten all about it when, a few hours later, she reappeared, exuding the very Portuguese scent of grilled sardines eagerly swallowed from her hands.

 The proposal was to go to the dunes, that extensive and magical place that for centuries has witnessed the most candid delights, even though, unfortunately, it has too much sand, and of course, fine sand, that sticks to your crotch like barnacles on the back of a sperm whale, which would be me, nowadays. It was an interesting jamboree, but it unfolded under one condition... I had to be the "lifeguard" who was teaching her to swim. Yes, swimming. Yes, in the dunes. Who am I to interfere negatively in someone else’s idyll when I can be their vehicle... There really is a lot to be said for altruism. However, it got late, and I was in for a night of entertainment at the nostalgic Olisipo that had survived the "new wave" called the Docks and, shortly afterwards, the Expo98. The Bairro Alto had not collapsed. It was rekindling. And Captain Kirk, owned by Jorge Cramez (director of Golden Helmet, 2007), was an island of good taste. The temple of trip hop. It was there that I ran into a very attractive British woman in the bathroom who thought I looked like some singer from a band she worshipped. We stayed there. A minimal space, a gin and tonic to hold, and a neck to squeeze. It wasn't an order. It was pleading. For mistreatment. A script worthy of Cronenberg was unfolding in that cubicle. Of course, a Capricorn of the seven-cornered type always considers the hypothesis that, in the end, there will be a complaint to the police or, worse, an appeal for help to her hooligan friends who, at the bar, were deglutinating with shots mixed with Judas beer on tap. Nothing of the sort. Feeling excessively abused was a condition for pleasure. Hair pulling, slapping, slapping, pinching mucous membranes and strangling, everything was valid and not sad, all this exists, all this is the fate of those who realized, there, where consent is law so that nothing else must play by the rules.

 It was already on my way home that an encounter with a college friend led to the strangest ride of my life, which I gladly accepted, but whose stop at the edge of a forest with zero lighting turned out to be nearly tragic. All because of a conversation about potential stop operations that, given our state of total inebriation, would be fateful. In a blink of an eye, I was the eventual law enforcement officer who, at the invitation of a profuse cleavage worn to discourage the more than certain fine, found himself stripped naked and abused. The foreplay consisted of offenses worthy of the wildest creature taken refuge for years in a hidden cave, punches, slaps, nipple twists, and bites. Bites everywhere, including where the unfolding of that day had been most punishing. Needless to say, it didn't get past foreplay. Not that I'm one for easy shock. And anyone who has never gotten a black eye and had to say, back home, that they "fell off their bike", may they slip on the first streetcar rail they find.

Fess up: the proposal "let's play doctor" was one of the most magical moments of your childhood. I kept all those wooden spatulas that pediatricians used to force open the mouth to inspect the throat, to give the thing whole other credibility. I didn't have a gown or a flashlight to point at my eyes, but I had my father's robe and the giant battery-powered flashlight intended for the power outages that were common in the 1980s. I could even say “let’s see here where it hurts” with fantastic diction. So great discoveries were made about small, fantastic anatomical details, which proved to be of utmost importance already in adolescence, when what were mere jokes became a serious matter, with love thrown into the mix and all. And concern for performance.In fact, asexual roleplay by children has been the subject of study for many years. Both Groos' theory (19th century) and Buytendijk's (20th century) have children's play as a natural activity in the child, the result of internal impulses and the product of a highly developed imagination. Until Elkolin arrived at an absolute certainty, in 2009: when the child plays, they set off into an imaginary world, where they seek to escape from the impositions of adults. For this scholar, children's play inserts them in social relationships and, at the same time, produces the development of their personality. From the ages of three to six, the epitome of developed child's play is reached, referred to by Elkolin as "role play”. By creating an imaginary situation, the little ones play the social roles they know from the world around them, marked by rules. It is the most tender of pieces of innocence preparing us for the future.

Meanwhile, and without really understanding what the hell has happened, we reach adulthood. But the constellation of possibilities of roleplay persists. The ones dazzled by it still ask their partner to dress as a naughty nurse, with a uniform where the miniskirt shows the garters attached to thighs lasciviously hardened by high heels and a neckline that reveals almost everything, a situation that inspires sensuality but also a bit of fear, because you never know what she is going to do with that almost one-meter long syringe, a prop that comes included in the costume bought in a "shenanigan shop" during Carnival week. The most realistic among us will know that it is all very different in reality. Nurses are the most tired employees of the hospital, with a salary of about a quarter of what they deserve, wearing blue pants and tunic, both baggy, and wearing a kind of Crocs that try to combat the fatigue of so many kilometers traveled daily through the corridors. They also know that the day they find themselves in a hospital bed (which, of course, I wish never happens), there is no charm in putting in a catheter, changing a catheter, or picking up a bedpan. But there is always a smile. And just when you need it most. Yes, we men are basic, it's true. Or, in other words, we're cuddly bears at the slightest mishap. Predictable, come on.

 Sofia (fictitious name) likes masseuses. It is the perfect situation. Lying on her stomach with her eyes closed, her sexual partner, whom she loves and would never betray, can be the holistic therapist she fantasizes about, bare-chested, with a look between Jason Momoa and Brad Pitt, exploring the most hidden corners of her body with a mastery she will fully enjoy. But she recognizes that, when she was younger, advertising a famous soft drink gave her some wings to her imagination regarding a piece of "urban furniture" from which the worst phrases ever created by mankind usually come: the scaffolding. Imagine that instead of promises as suggestive as "I would make you a dress out of spit" or "If I were a gardener, you would never lack water", questions as charming as "Can I kiss you? Because I'm a language student" and "Is your father a bricklayer? If you were a hamburger at McDonald's, you'd be the McBeauty" and "I don't work for the SEF, but my love for you knows no borders", the construction worker personified, after all, that gentleman who, at 4:30 in the afternoon, drinks a Diet Coke? "It would be a different story," confesses Sofia, adding: "In fact, after a bath, a powerful and muscular man always has his charms. In the gay universe, there is even a band that personifies the ideal roleplay. And there, too, is the "troll." The latter, the cowboy that Brokeback Mountain (2005) was repping, the cop, the Indian (or Native American, by means of political correctness) the soldier and the biker inspired by Tom of Finland's cartoons and Marlon Brando's character in The Wild One (1953). Yes, the Village People. Let it not be thought that it is in reference to the North American band that we move on to one of the most hyperbolic roleplays, pegging, in which the woman plays the man who, armed with a strap-on, penetrates her partner. It is only undeniable that roleplay demands a certain detachment from convention.

The most modern "current" of roleplaying refers us to cosplay, a hobby where the participants dress up as fictional heroes from pop culture, whether from manga (Japanese comic books, comics, or graphic novels) or anime (Japanese cartoons), and that rapidly reached the Marvel and DC universe. The sexual nature of this type of roleplay has, however, a central character: the high school girl, very short, pleated skirt, white shirt, tie, and knee socks. At a cosplay party or meeting, this is for us, the old ones, like Emanuelle sitting on her wicker throne. In day-to-day life it is difficult to evaluate, or perhaps it is not even convenient, considering that in the Land of the Rising Sun the school uniform is instituted, and it will not be very difficult to observe girls wearing the male dream costume everywhere. What feeling will they inspire in a culture where that image is the fruit of the most forbidden fantasies? It is strange, to say the least. As strange as pony play is - please look up the definition in the dictionary. There was even, and as soon as the pandemic restrictions were lifted (such was the urgency), an international meeting of this "practice" in England. It was held in an arena where women ran, holding the reins, behind men equipped with saddles and hitching harnesses, like those used for horses but tailor-made for their excellencies, who galloped out there, neighing. Yes, that's right. And they don't need to drop that "Wow." It's really "Whoa."

There are still those who feel sexual excitement with partners who, during the act, imitate farm animals, there are those who ask their girlfriend to pretend to be their nine-year-old sister, there are those who beg, already after foreplay and at the moment when things should escalate to wonderment, while sucking their finger: "Dress up like my mother and grab me" and there are, of course, on the darker side of the Internet, such as on the site DarkFetishNet.com, groups with such suggestive names as The Cannibal Pot, Rest In Peace, or Dead People in Suits and Dresses, where such excessive role plays are proposed as "I want to be the dog that bites your clit off", which will not reach the heels of a New York police officer of only 28 years of age who, using his professional credentials, was the one who gathered the victims he planned to kidnap, rape, torture, and cook. When he was tried, he argued, "These are merely role-playing." Exaggerations aside, the issue is much broader than the sexual realm. The overwhelming majority of people cannot be who they really are in the workplace. It must be exhausting, role playing a well-behaved, responsible boy/girl for 35 hours a week. Otherwise, a little spanking is in order.

Translated from the original on The Fairytale Issue, from Vogue Portugal, published May/June 2022.
Full stories and credits on the print issue.