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Review: 'Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up' a titilizing compilation

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"Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up"

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Schiffer Books' latest publication, "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up," features more than 360 photos editorially picked from the growing subscription-based adult website Cosplay Deviants. We received a free copy of this arousing 208 page "playboy for nerds" from the publisher for our perusal. Continue reading for a male gamer's thoughts and also be sure to check out a female's perspective of the book by Boston Art Examiner Marjorie Laprade.

"Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" boasts a plethora of cosplayers and their interpretations on a multitude of characters from a wide class of genres. The book is divided up into four main categories: "The girls of gaming," "Cuties of Comics & Cartoons," "Adorable Ladies of Anime & Manga," and Sirens of Sci-Fi." Each copsplayer receives a full two page spread, starting fully dressed in their costume and then in stages of undressing. For some characters this can be as little as two full page pictures (one fully clothed and the other completely nude), while others may have a collage of six or more photos in the various states of undressing. To quote the forward by Edgar Munster: "Oh, the boobies."

According to an exclusive interview Examiner.com had with the website's owner and creator Troy Doerner, "Cosplay Deviants does not hire models, we hire cosplayers, nerds, geeks all the like who are comfortable with their bodies and enjoy posing for a camera." Additionally, "models submit their own photo sets." It should be noted that the site provides assistance to those looking for a professional photographer, however because the content is user generated the results are pictures of varying quality. While many of the photos in "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" are artistic, there's a significant portion that look like they could've been taken with a smartphone. A substantial amount of the photos are either slightly blurry, look a bit washed out, pixelated, have bad lighting, or just too much contrast. Yet despite these detractions there's one undeniable truth: All the ladies pictured therein are absolutely stunning.

"Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" doesn't feature much text, yet in the "about the book" section of the cover's inside flap it mentions "model interviews" which are nowhere to be found inside. Doerner says "we initially had model interviews in the book...but they were cut by the publisher.” With less than four pages of total text, how this still made it to the final printing is questionable.

While flipping through the pages one thing became abundantly clear: There are no guys in "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up." According to Doerner "we do feature males on our site and have a dedicated gallery for their work. The publisher however wanted the book to [only] feature our female models.” While it's clear the book's target market is young men, cosplay can be considered an art form and limiting the gender seems like a missed opportunity. There's ways of taking sexy pictures without showing everything, and in fact sometimes showing less is more. Not much is left to the imagination when thumbing through the pages of this massive four pound volume. A more artistic approach might have been to feature more boudoir and implied nudes, also opening the book for purchases by younger audiences.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" is that there are no titles or captions to identify the characters or their source game, book, or movie. Even an avid gamer and movie aficionado such as this author found it incredibly difficult to pinpoint a fraction of the book's many fine ladies. While some characters such as Malieena from "Mortal Kombat," Samus from "Metroid: Other M," and Princess Zelda from "The Legend of Zelda" are extremely well known there are also many much more obscure characters that the casual observer won't knon or recognize such as Faith from "Mirror's Edge." Everyone and their mom can recognize Princess Leia from "Star Wars," however it would be nicer to know who all of the other ravishing looking women are portraying as we'd love to compare their outfit against the source material.

While we believe that it could've been much more, "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" remains a titilizing compilation of stunning cosplay spanning a spectrum of "geek" culture. Seeing these outfits make us want to dive into a new manga, game, or movie that we haven't seen before. We just wish that we knew what it was. As Munster succinctly puts it: "Oh, and did I mention the boobies?"

Positives:

  • Large and provocative coffee table book with a plethora of gorgeous women.
  • Wide variety of cosplay culture exhibited, from games and comics to movies.

Negatives:

  • No descriptions defining characters or their sources.
  • Several of the outfits just don't work (we're looking, or rather don't want to look at you Lara Croft).
  • Photo quality of some sets significantly detract from their enjoyment.

"Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" can be purchased from ShifferBooks.com for $50, however as of this article's publication date it can also be found on sale at Amazon.com for $35.81 with free shipping. At that lower price point "Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up" is certainly worth grabbing, as it will no doubt inspire some interesting conversations amongst your friends after they pick it up off your coffee table.

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