Clothing Optional… Vintage Cosplay Photos

 Cosplay has become a part of a multi-billion-dollar industry of conventions, calendars and television, but 40 years ago it was a much smaller community of costume enthusiasts and comic book fans. The costumes were just was wild and well constructed as they are today, and with much less access to the techniques and technologies many advanced cosplayers use today. Also, the culture of the time is very apparent in the types of costumes people wore, especially for women it seems. Full or partial nudity was totally acceptable in true hippie fashion, with tits-n-bush on display rather than the fully covered with vacuum-sealed latex look more popular today. These are very likely our fathers and mothers who put together impressive costumes to attend conventions like WonderCon or Worldcon, with no cell phone cameras to snap their pic and shoot it into the internet, no social media following and no television productions interested in broadcasting them nationwide. Just cosplay for cosplayers, the good old fashioned way. 

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ALL PHOTOS BELOW: Ron Miller

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Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

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Jackie EstradaMcAllister BryantKen MarloJud BennettMetanoia Recent comment authors
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Jackie Estrada
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Jackie Estrada

Most of these look to be costumes for masquerade competitions, and not for wearing around a convention during the day (cosplay outfits used to be called “hall costumes” and were ineligible for competing in the nighttime Masquerade events at sf/fantasy cons and Comic-Con).

McAllister Bryant
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McAllister Bryant

Has anyone mentioned that the Huntress is not cosplay?

Jud Bennett
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Jud Bennett

I loved the Martian Chronicles of ERB costumes. Well I know the Thark was one. I was thinking the one below that was a red woman of mars, then the fourth up from the bottom was a woman in Thark battle harness.

TheJohnnyB
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TheJohnnyB

The pic of DC Comic’s The Huntress technically isn’t cosplay. That was a publicity shot for the ‘Legends of the Superheroes’ live-action TV specials produced by Hanna–Barbera that aired on NBC in January 1979.

The woman featured is actress Barbara Joyce.

Jeff Smith
Guest
Jeff Smith

The black-and-white pic of Huntress (photo #14) is not an amateur costumer — that’s actress Barbara Joyce in one of those abysmal Hanna-Barbera “Legends of the Superheroes” roasts from the ’70s, which “starred” Adam West and Burt Ward. These horrid shot-on-videotape specials (I believe there were two) featured lots of JLA/DC superheroes in mostly atrocious costumes, though the Huntress was one of the less-horrid ones.

Abhishek Prusty
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Abhishek Prusty

Good Costume and Portray of Characters !

Daniel Pickett
Guest
Daniel Pickett

That Huntress isn’t really “cosplay” It’s from the short lived TV show “Legends of the Super Heroes”

Dave Galan
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Dave Galan

#14 isn’t cosplay, that’s Barbara Joyce playing The Huntress in Legends of the Superheroes on NBC in 1979 🙂

Terry Beatty
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Terry Beatty

The Wizard in the top pic is cartoonist Frank Thorne (“Red Sonja,” “Ghita”) and the Red Sonja to his left is “Elfquest” artist Wendy Pini. Lord only knows who the rest of these folks are.

JohnVHedtke
Guest
JohnVHedtke

I recognized Otter & Morning Glory Zell instantly, but I think I recognize a number of the other people. In fact, I believe I was at the Masquerade where pic #4 was taken. That looks very much like George Takei at the end and I think I remember the costume.

Metanoia
Guest

I thought I recognised them! Thanks for the confirm

Vera Campbell
Guest
Vera Campbell

You should know, there is absolutely NO SUCH THING as “VINTAGE COSPLAY”.

Before this craft became popular, it was called “costuming”, which is the correct term for the art form of making and wearing a costume. The reason the term got (incorrectly) applied to modern-day craft is that anime became the popular thing, and their costuming term spread. Unfortunately, it’s still incorrect and most of us who has been doing this for a decade or more still prefer it to be called “Costuming”. It’s a much more respectful term.

Toby Markham
Guest
Toby Markham

^ THIS!

Nathan Crossland
Guest
Nathan Crossland

To be fair I think if we really wanted to be anal about it we could just say it’s another form of fancy dress and I often use that as a point when people say it’s a strange thing to be into.

The cosplay term is Japanese, you’re correct, and is a combination of costume and play. They love portmanteaus in Japan. I don’t think it’s either wrong or disrespectful, it’s just culturally different and spread in the west by otakus and others who are interested in Japanese culture.

Metanoia
Guest

“cosplay” means “costume play”. It is literally another word for “costuming”

Ken Marlo
Guest
Ken Marlo

Found the person that’s most fun at any costumingplaysquerade party.

Videonitekatt
Guest
Videonitekatt

It wasn’t called “Cosplay” back then…Masquerade was the term used.

Janeia Krueger
Guest
Janeia Krueger

These are fab this is a great way to shut up some anime fans who think Japan made cosplay

Peter Harwood
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Rebekah Gettins