Geek Goddesses Inhabit Alvarado's Cosplay Pin-ups Photography

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Alvarado's Cosplay Pin-ups

I'd like to think that cosplay started simply enough; that fans saw a character, realized they could make themselves look like that character, then surprise their friends and fellow fans at conventions by showing up in imitation of that character. I'd like to think that this came first, before cosplay became inartfully synonymous with fetish photography and roleplay sexuality, but they probably happened nearly concurrently, as certainly some of the costumes couldn't exist in real life without being conforming, revealing, and fetishistic.

However it started, cosplay has certainly blossomed, grown, sprung off mutations, and become a phenomenon that has become a cultural mainstay. And outside of those who have elevated it to actual performance art (if you've ever seen Lauren and Ethan of Thousand Faces Cosplay at a convention, you'll understand), cosplay has remained, for the spectator, a visual spectacle of how good a costume looks, how cleverly it was created, and, if we're being honest, how sexy it appears.

Photographer Robert Alvarado knows sexy.

COSPLAY PIN-UPS is the latest installment of Alvarado's unique eye for beauty and modeling. As in his previous works, Alvarado looks to infuse social modernity into his art. As e says in the introduction, "We all want to see Snow White with tattoos, right?" Well, you certainly will see that within this book. In fact, I lost count of the times I saw Snow White, bare midriffed, tattooed, and using the same pose offering up a polished red apple.

You see, as beautiful as Alvarado's models, poses, photographs, and post-production work are, COSPLAY PIN-UPS misses the boat in one crucial area: diversity. Barely a few pages in, I was already reminded of the running joke I have with convention-going friends about whether or not the current convention will break the record for the most Harley Quinns under one roof. In fact, the pinups were less cosplay than they were "thematically inspired." To be sure, there were a handful of fully decked out cosplay models. Ms. Marvel, Vampirella and Jessica Rabbit all looked great for the roles. But the rest were more suggestive of the character than representative of it -- two nudes in Stormtrooper helmets isn't Star Wars cosplay any more than a star-spangled thong is Wonder Woman or a swimsuit and shield is Captain America.

Granted, there's a huge market for the confluence of cosplay and pin-up. Despite my misgivings just stated, some of the models do deliver a superb mashup of character and style -- such as the models pictured here doing Wonder Woman and Captain America (in complete contradiction to my earlier statement, I realize).

If you're the type of collector who pores over each image, appreciating nuance, technique, and approach, you'll spend a lot of time with COSPLAY PIN-UPS. If you're a casual viewer, you'll be through the hardcover in about five minutes, as there are only a few pages of text describing how Alvarado works with the models and incorporates props before diving directly and without segue into the photos, which are presented without the benefit of labeling of characters or grouping by genre.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0