A licensed massage therapist/cosplayer named Amber is concerned by some Wizard shows where something called cosplay massage has been exhibiting, something she feels is unsuitable for a family convention. and it’s not just skimpy costumes. It’s the element of fantasy entering into a therapeutic service.

When it comes to massage therapy there are many modalities and only one of them is identified as allowing for sensual contact (That’s called Tantra if you’re really interested). No legitimate practice is going allow for sexual fantasies to be fulfilled during a massage session. It is a valid wellness care therapy and should be seen as such. It is extremely difficult to build a practice no matter how good you are. Massage is one of those expenses that is first to be eliminated when budgets are tightened. It doesn’t matter how beneficial it is for your musculoskeletal structure and circulatory system or that it’s been proven to boost mental processes in test score comparisons; it’s not usually seen as “medically necessary.”

Amber supplies the above photo of the cosplay massagers from a Wizard World.

What do you think? Is this heading down the path to an unhappy ending? Or…a happy one.


  1. On one hand–I used to be a massage therapist. I know just how hard it is to practice therapeutic massage; and the extent to which practitioners who cross the “sensual” line affect others’ ability to practice legitimately and safely.

    On the other hand–I used to be a massage therapist. And so, it’s with a fair degree of experience that I say: If you’re concerned about your field being taken seriously, clean up the bullshit in your own house first. Differentiate between demonstrably therapeutic modalities and new-age alt-med “energy” nonsense. Demand that your regulating bodies to adopt standards for science and verifiable-evidence-based theory and practice. And THEN, you get to complain about people who get in the way of you being taken seriously.

  2. Just for full disclosure … Amber is a nude model at the Kubert School and refers to the men who paint her as “her students.” She formerly was a pay site nude model. She modeled nude with Sue Richards, Rogue, Wonder Woman, etc. costumes and profited from them. Now, trust me, she can do what she wants. No argument there at all. But, how is what she doing any different from these women? Answer – it is not at a convention and open and public. One of her former web sites (she had about 4) said that she sought permission from original creators before she cosplayed with them suggestively. The real difference here is that she is conveniently blogging. Welcome to lifestyles of the terminally hypocritical.

  3. And my last comment was deleted because it exposed some truth. The blogger in question, based on her actions, I believe is hypocritical. She used to be on a pay site where she portrayed Wonder Woman, Sue Richards, and Rogue nude.

  4. If I want to go to a convention and be jerked off through my jeans by a woman dressed as Catwoman while getting a massage, I should be able to. This is America, damn it.

  5. Yes, I’m a nude figure model for Kubert School, the duCret School of Art, the Montclair Art Museum and others. I’m a legitimate professional model. I model for Cosplay Deviants because I enjoy it. In no way would CosDev cater to being a “family friendly” site as Wizard World does with its cons. I’m not a hypocrite. Strippers, models, booth babes, and others in adult entertainment are still allowed to have ethics and be concerned for what children see. If you have a problem with what I do, direct your emails to me at amberlovescomics at I’d be more than happy to explain the differences between medical practices and sexual services. I have many jobs because I don’t believe in being tied to “corporate America.” I model for CosDev; I model for schools; I model for professionals (yes, even Dorian Vallejo so don’t try to criticize my resume); I model for fashion shows. I also work as a temp when possible. I work in a comic shop too. Oh, and I write comic reviews and interviews for Dynamic Forces, ones of the leaders in comics. The thing is I’m an adult and I can differentiate what I find appropriate for other adults versus what is right in the light of day for children.

  6. In a similarly-themed discussion elsewhere, I once saw a sensual masseuse claim that her form of professional massage was historically first, and that it was the massage therapist who were infringing on their industry rather than the other way around. I cannot claim to know the history of such things enough to address her claim; I expect there’s an argument to be made.

    But I do know two things: 1) if I were one of the relevant trademark owners, I’d be talking to these ladies and/or my lawyer; 2) if I wanted to pick a superhero costume that suggests “would give good massage”, it would not be anyone from the Flash family.

  7. Not to mention, “OhMy,” Amber’s work on her websites and others are not meant as medical services, they are strictly adult entertainment, meant for adults. Her original article is arguing the fact that the line between legitimate medical services is being crossed with adult entertainment at a convention geared toward children. Can you not tell the difference between the two? So no, you claiming she is being hypocritical is not a valid argument here, her original piece is. How about discussing that instead of the professional life of the author?

    @JustAGuy, if you want to get jerked off through your jeans by a person wearing a Catwoman costume, do it in private.

  8. Even without cosplay massage, Wizard shows are sleazy, non-family events, raking in bucks pretending to give one kind of “con” experience while delivering quite another.

  9. I was at the same con in Philly as Amber and I completely agree with her. I’m a 29 year old guy and even I felt uncomfortable seeing that booth.

    Booth babes and some cosplayers are hard enough to explain to little kids. It wouldn’t be so bad if Wizard didn’t promote the show as being so family friendly.

  10. No one cares about your resume.
    “The thing is I’m an adult and I can differentiate what I find appropriate for other adults versus what is right in the light of day for children.”
    THAT is YOUR opinion. Not necessarily everyone’s. If people feel the same about con massages and youth as you do then it is up to the parents to keep them away from it or not expose them to it. It all starts at home. And YES you do sound like a Hypocrite. And YES, I Do find it hard to believe you are a model.

  11. Jill Pantozzi:
    “@JustAGuy, if you want to get jerked off through your jeans by a person wearing a Catwoman costume, do it in private.”

    Oh, come on. The guy was being sarcastic. You’re not stupid. Right?

  12. I don’t understand how you people can say, that because Amber takes off her clothes in her job, she can’t care about what a child is looking at. So does that mean every mother with a healthy sex drive is a hypocrite for making sure their kid never sees a naked boob? That’s bull.

    I go to Wizard World Philly every year. The first year I didn’t bring my kids because i didn’t know what to expect. But WIZARD WORLD ads say “bring the family.” The Stars Wars people, the cars you can sit in, the kids costume contest, the face painting and the fact that kids are free all make a parent feel like this is a event you can bring your kids too. Sadly, you have to run into women with their..”junk”.. hanging out, Suicide Girls with side boobs showing and women in “sexy costumes” leaning over some fat sweaty perv for a massage. As a mom, I get annoyed. That stuff should be for tattoo conventions or events where you need to be 18 to enter.

    I agree with Amber. I don’t think if the booth babes were dressed normal and different shapes and sizes it would be an issue. But it’s annoying when an organization says “family event” and then they allow booths to do inappropriate things.

    And for the man who wants to be jerked off by Catwoman…get a wife, buy her a costume and/or go to a strip kid doesn’t need to see you getting jerked off by Catwoman or any other super heroes. And if they did it would be considered “sexual abuse” and you’d be on Megan’s Law.

    Maybe that booth should think about what they’re doing. And you people shouldn’t rip a person character because they decided to speak up.

  13. @just a guy….I know that it was joke. I even chuckled cause I could just picture every guy I know saying the same thing, trying to be funny. But the truth is, there are idiots out there who honestly feel that way. And that stuff aint for a family event.

  14. On one hand, I think I have seen massage locations at cons before. I know I’ve seen them in all-ages venues such as shopping malls. The only difference I am seeing between them and this (while not being at the con and having no idea IF this is the only difference) is that one wears polo shirts, the other a superhero costume.

    On the other hand, I am pretty sure that you’d get a, how can I put this delicately, a “randy” male fan who has an unnatural attraction to Elektra go into this experience with only purient thoughts.

    On another other hand, again, this being said without knowing the women in that picture or what type of massages they were doing, I think there is a pretty wide line between giving a massage in a costume and them being part of “the fringe of prostitution crossing into massage.” Yes, it’s a sales tactic to get guys in the booth. But is their purpose to get money for giving “happy endings”? Maybe I’m naive or not that big of a horndog, but I think that anybody giving or getting a sexual massage in a building with thousands of people as foot traffic just wouldn’t be feasable.

    And on yet another other hand, I do agree that Wizard Cons are not 100% kid friendly. But if cosplay massage is not family friendly, what does that say about the Playboy Playmates and other “erotic artists” that are guests at the con? Does the hands on aspect of the cosplay massage make it far worse than a nude model with a binder of her nude photos on her table? Or one with a banner featuring the model in their underwear? I don’t know what I am saying here, and I don’t want to sound like a prude, but I just think that there are lot more deserving targets out there. Yeah, I know this hits close to home for Amber because it is her job. But, for me, it doesn’t rank as high on my offensive list as other things.

  15. @Bill

    I agree with you. The only issue I have with the booth babes is when they lean over to give the massage and their butts hang out or their boobs show. The one girl dressed as Elektra is fine. And I know it’s how they make their money. But Amber’s right, their outfits aren’t always right.

    AND YOU ARE SO RIGHT about the artist and play mates. As a mother of a 7 year old and a 2 year old, I completely avoid the artist alleys…Some of them have huge posters behind of a naked girl holding a dragon?? And I think “really? I tell my son to keep his clothes on and respect peoples privacy and then these images make me look like an Ahole.” BUT a lot of the artwork is in the books and you have to actually open it. And I would never let my kids look through that stuff.

    But yes, I have a bigger problem with the nude art and skimpy skimpy outfits than I do with the booth babes..but if Wizard World wants to have the best of both and kid friendly…then they should section off parts of the convention…make a giant curtain only adults can go in Blockbuster always did with their rated X videos.

  16. @Andy, she didn’t say it was anything OTHER than her opinion on what she finds to be appropriate. Her original piece was to give her opinion as well as put the word out that this type of thing goes on there. As far as i know, this is not something Wizard publicizes. I certainly didn’t know they did this at their cons before she told me.

    @Bill, I don’t want to speak for her but I don’t think Amber is suggesting the women massaging at the con or those in the picture were giving “happy endings” just that blurring the line between medicine and fantasy is a dangerous line to cross for those who want to do the medicine part legitimately.

  17. Amber’s entitled to her opinion no matter what she does for a living. It’s not hypocritical to do something in an adults-only context and believe that said thing should not be a part of a more all-ages venue.

    In fact, it’s probably the least hypocritical stance someone in an adult industry can take – it’s the whole reason they are doing what they do in an adults-only setting.

  18. Let’s try this again.

    I don’t think you people read my post. I’ll quote it and you can check it and reread it: “Now, trust me, she can do what she wants. No argument there at all.”

    The argument is that the blogger is using comic characters for adult pictures. To me, that sounds a little hypocritical when calling out a similarly-costumed group of girls.

    For the record, I agree with the blogger. I have never stated otherwise. They should not be giving massages at conventions.

  19. No, I read it just fine. You’re calling her a hypocrite because she has made a profit off of dressing up as a licensed character, and is criticizing others for also making a profit.

    If you’re not taking issue with the question of appropriateness for children, then the only other part of her argument I can see you having a problem with is her point about mixing fantasy fulfillment with what she believes should be a therapeutic service – ie, massage.

    Given that, she’s still not being hypocritical, since whatever photos she modeled for were never billed as, or meant to be therapeutic or part of some medical treatment.

    You can agree or disagree with her beliefs about massage, but her argument isn’t hypocritical, much less terminally so.

    Also, for the record, you’re being really demeaning, snarky, and pretty much a jerk to someone who you supposedly agree with.

  20. So wait, I’m confused. Are the women in the above photo the same ones giving massages in cosplay costumes?

    Another unrelated question, do we know what kind of massages they’re offering (licensed, amateur, or sensual) or are we all breaking out pitchforks and torches based on hearsay? Cuz if it’s hearsay, count me in! Boo Amber *and* the cosplay massagers!! Boo!!

  21. Too bad. For someone with a female Freddy Krueger fetish this is the best shot that person’s going to get.

    I say shut it down if the gal on the right actually touches someone’s portal.

  22. @Chris – as far as I know, they were amateur and not licensed massage therapists.

    @OhMy – I also read your original statement just fine and I have a problem with this: “The argument is that the blogger is using comic characters for adult pictures. To me, that sounds a little hypocritical when calling out a similarly-costumed group of girls.” And let me tell you why…The blogger, Amber, poses in those costumes for ADULT entertainment. They are on sites geared towards adults. On her own site, she has a disclaimer. And you know what? If you’re offended by her work…DON’T LOOK. You obviously went through the trouble of searching and reading that some of the images may be NSFW.

    What it boils down to is that Wizard World bills the show as “family friendly” yet is filled with porn stars as guests and this cosplay “massage” booth. If they want to keep having these things, why not put them in a different section where kids aren’t allowed through?

    And on a final note, stop trying to tear people down for putting themselves out there and being who they are. Amber is proud of what she does, and she’s damn good at it. I’d like to see YOU get out there and do it.

  23. I don’t care about kids, but I liked Wizard’s Chicago convention a lot better when they actually did have a segregated area of adults-only tables and before they started doing MMA fights on the convention floor.

    Women in skimpy costumes are a completely normal part of the con experience and it’s highly unlike that a young person is going to partake of whatever services are being offered by those women. They’re just going to be one more thing to look at. If someone really wants to complain about what kids might or might not be seeing at a Wizard con, they should probably start by looking at what’s up for exhibit in Artist’s Alley and/or the couple dealers whose booths are largely adult magazines. Last year there was a Suicide Girls booth in the autograph area, not all that far from the marquee celebrities making appearances at the con. Not off in the artist’s alley ghetto, but mixed in with regular convention content.

    It’s not my fight. I like the sexy comic-themed stuff. I want it to be there. Getting to see girls in those outfits is a big part of the appeal.

    If mom and dad are dragging the kids to a con, they’re either going to remember the day they saw all the Storm Troopers or they’re going to get a gentle, comparatively wholesome awakening of their own. Neither of those is really a bad thing. Why do we insist on pretending that any amount of exposure to the least hint of sexuality in public is somehow damaging?

  24. One of my problems with the piece is this: “There’s the path of what I call “slutifying” characters’ costumes: taking a non-sexy character and redesigning it for a revealing cheesecake style that should be reserved for places that target adult audiences. This slutifying of characters is a whole discussion unto itself. I’m not opposed in general, but there’s a time and place.”
    Of course she makes the point to say she is not opposed to “slutifying” but isnt this what she does in her photos. “slutifying” is a negative term as far as I am concerned but I am certain she won’t want anyone calling her pictures “slutified,” which by her definition they are. Oh no, they are “art” and apparently better “art” than that of an professional artist or the display of a pretty girl because then its “slutified” If you are going to complain about the inappropriateness of the massages at conventions and bring up the “slutifying” at the same time then you should also want a shutdown of all “slutifyied” things at a convention. Which is pretty much what comic books are these days, so maybe you want a different hobby. She complains about conventions being billed as family friendly yet she (via her photos) is part of the problem. She is sexualizing superheroes, no matter if it is in private or public, she is helping to create this image. and that image does not vanish after Xing out. She is messing with people’s freedom and enjoyment, she should be more careful.
    Another problem is that she calls for the private life of a creator to be left out of the character. So if an artist or writer or even a coach or teacher is a rapist we shouldn’t consider that in our opinion of their work and supporting them? By her standards, a lot more congressmen would be having fun. Also, I should note how funny it is that this is the same person that tries to alert people to Bluewaters business practices… so should I shouldn’t I read Bluewater comics.
    Also, if you read the comments on the page she complains about people commenting and even calls for no debate. Booooo for you!!! Don’t open a forum and then complain when people give their opinion, it just shows how weak your point is. Or don’t call yourself a journalist and make your website private for you just the followers. What she is doing is admirable but by including her own opinion in the way she does makes the point invalid. I think this is just plain case of jealousy. I went through and read some other things this girl has written and think that maybe she needs to go back to comic book journalism school and learn the ropes of journalism and grow some chops. You can’t be all pro-women and then call strong interpretations of women “slutified!” you should just come out and say anyone pettier than you or thinner than you should leave. The problem here has nothing to do with children, it is that other people are getting attention for something that she formerly did and they are more successful. Aint the internet grand!!!

  25. Comic Mama:
    “And for the man who wants to be jerked off by Catwoman …”

    OK … you can sit in the corner with Jill, wearing your dunce caps.

  26. @Juggy Bear: “Of course she makes the point to say she is not opposed to “slutifying” but isnt this what she does in her photos.”

    Being scantily clad or nude for public consumption is not an immediate indication of promiscuity or lasciviousness, even when it’s done for the gratification of other adults. That’s not a basis one which to judge those characteristics and it is wrong for you to do so.

    It’s absolutely possible to be a nude model outside the context of pornography, and everyone who is participating in this discussion would do well to remember that.

  27. I don’t get what is being hypocritical about Amber’s thoughts. What she does is not out in the public eye and there are reasonable attempts made to make sure young eyes can’t get to her adult work. Even then from what I can see it was one site and even if you don’t agree that cosplay deviants can be art the rest of her work is modeling for art students. Thus art.

    As far as making charactors slutified? Except for those cosplay deviant photoshoots the rest of her photos seem pretty much exactly what those charactors are and not any changes to the outfits to make them more revealing.

    It’s not about what’s being done it’s about how a convention that’s “family friendly” has booths like this and porn stars at it. If they want that sort of thing they need to make it an adults only section or market the con as a 16 and up con.

    However there’s nothing wrong with massage at a con in and of itself. It’s that this is probably amatures at best. Probably booth babes hired solely because they look good in a costume and not because of any actual skill. Unlike other cons that have this that actully have people who are certfied and take their jobs seriouesly. As oppossed to these people who are probably booth babes and models looking to diversefy.

  28. @OhMy

    I’m sorry ‘OhMy’, but you are TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT. The question is NOT about using characters to sell an ‘adult’ service. As a matter of fact, that you’ve interpreted this whole issue in this way is the EXACT problem this blogger is trying to fix.

    Therapeutic massage is a LEGITIMATE medicine. Does your dentist dress up like Slave Leia and press her tits against you while cleaning your teeth? If they did, would you TRULY take them seriously as a professional? How many people would see that dentist out of legitimate medical needs rather than to get a thrill out of some fanboy fantasy?

    Whatever you career is… and I’m not asking, you can keep that private… but assuming its not modelling, stripping, p0rn or such… imagine it involved you dressing ssexually suggestive or being a part of some fantasy. Who would ever take your job seriously? You could be the President of the United States… you show up in a Wonder Woman outfit, all credibility gets flushed right down the toilet.

    There is NOTHING hypocritical about her statement. Massage is a medical practice, many medical insurance companies are starting to include this as a benefit and many doctors are starting to refer patients to massage therapists. If the women at the con want to offer massages in cosplay, then they need to clearly state they providing cosplay-fantasy-backrubs and not actual therapeutic massage. To put another take on it, imagine a gynecologist dressing up like Darth Vader, going to Cons and offering free exams. Not cool or legit in any way.

  29. I have been sad for a coupla months now that since splitting from my much-more-famous ex-partner, I haven’t done any conventions. Some of the above posts have remedied that. :/

    Other folks have beaten me to it, but –

    #1. Amber is in the right. So what if she models – she does so in a venue that is age-appropriate. & as rdouek & JohnsJeff already said, she’s not a hyprocrite.

    #2. I’ve had a massage at a con: Dragon*Con, where they had licensed massage therapists. (Who wore boring baggy black cotton clothes, BTW, & weren’t there for their babeliness factor. Had my shoulders rubbed next to Apollo from Battlestar Galactica.) Massage booth at a con staffed by actual massage therapists = yay! They can make some bank, too. Lot of people w/ tired legs & backpack-lugging tired backs @ cons. Are they claiming to be therapists w/ licenses, or just offering rubdowns? If those ladies pictured are massage therapists, I dunno how I feel about that. It’d fall under –

    #3. Booth babes are part of cons. I know shows sometimes advertise themselves as family-friendly, since mainstream comics are (mostly) still based on male fantasy, yer gonna see a lot of indulging male fantasies at cons.

    #3A – So a convention boasts of a separate kids’ comics’ artist’s alley, if you don’t want your children to see side boob, sexy Elektra, etc, as much as I don’t want to deter families from bringing potential new comic readers into the mix, I wouldn’t bring them to cons. Since my mum is European & so we had slightly less of the American/Puritan conflict about nudity/sex, I personally don’t think a young’un’ seeing that is much worse than they have likely seen via the ‘net or elsewhere, & seeing sexy things when parents are around to explain things might be better. But that’s a parent’s call to make.

    Are conventions for families? They can be, & sometimes are. I <3 when the Paradise Con in Toronto had a kids area a coupla years ago. But I haven't been to a Wizard convention for a coupla years now. I also dislike the wrestling events.

  30. Stay classy, Wizard World.

    Now I honestly wonder how any con is 100% family friendly, with so many artists drawing cheesecake to outright porn to.. well.. weird fetish porn. Though generally that’s up to individual artists and the tradition is to keep stuff for adults behind the counter or something. Some bigger cons, particularly anime ones, have after hours panels and generally late night is when the skimpy costumes show up as if ones during the day weren’t bad/good enough.

    Of course I have to wonder what a costumed massage is doing at a con. Even at an after hours or adults only section that seems odd.

    Then again this is Wizard. Consistency and sense is not in the game plan. They seem to have just quietly canceled Wizard World New England with no announcement or followup. I was half tempted to go to it if only for Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (despite how bad last year’s seemed (despite some really nice artists and guests)).

  31. What JohnsJeff said. Massage therapists react strongly and legitimately at the cheapening of their profession. They often have to draw a line with their male clients whose heads are filled with sexual fantasies about “massage”. I’m sure many would be happy if the whole practice of sexual massage stopped (or was called something else – like being jerked off) and we were all able to see massage therapy just as the medical treatment it is.

    That said, the costumes in that picture look very modest to me. I’m personally okay with something being playfully sexy, and don’t see it as necessarily “harmful” to kids. Comics are full of violence, folks. Comics are full of quirks and fetishes and all kinds of “adult” behavior. Any parent should know that walking into that world. What should and shouldn’t be “on display” at a convention – well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.

  32. Hey guys and Amber; thank you for your honesty. I’d like to clear something up that was VERY distrubing to me as I read through the blog and comments… We were NOT offering any type of sexual favors. It was just a 10 minute massage and off they went. I, for one, wanted myself to be dressed as modestly as possible (I am a model) without my junk hanging out; anywhere. And I accomplished that. What the other girls were wearing were no different than what others coming into the con were wearing. The costumes were from a website that sells both Adult and Childrens costumes. We saw several of the “slave laya” costume that one of our girls was wearing. I appreciate Amber’s opinion and I also agree that a seperation between Adult area and Child area would be helpful. When a Comicon advertises itself as “Family Friendly”, you expect to be able to bring your child without worry about what they might see. In this case, everything was jumbled together and nobody hosting a booth knew anything like that was going to happen. Respectfully, I’d have to disagree that we were doing anything wrong, innappropriate or sexual. There were porno stars in attendance with their photos for autographs all over their booths, there were photos drawn by the artists of naked women (Amber you can appreciate that art, no?) and, of course, the patrons of the con were dressed as well. Some were leaving hardly anything to the imagination, which was shocking to me. As I said, I dressed modestly and made SURE I was not leaning over with anything hanging out, I was covered properly and conducted myself in as professional a manner as you could at these events. But I will repeat… THERE WERE NO SEXUAL FAVORS OFFERED TO ANYONE. It’s a well known gimmic among the Comicon World and the girls here are no different than the others who appear at the others. I hope this clears a little bit of the confusion up. And again, to Amber; thanks for looking out for the kids. We did nothing to hurt them. Though I can’t say that for some of the woman who attended the convention.

  33. While Wizard is advertised as “family friendly”, it still has Playboy Playmates and the requisite “booth babes” located all over the convention floor. If people are so concerned about their kids being exposed to them then they should leave them at home. These cosplay massage therapists are providing a service and there’s nothing sexual or inappropriate about it. It’s a straightforward neck and backrub, which helps immensely when one has been standing all day in long lines and carrying a lot of heavy things they’ve bought. They don’t even pick out their costumes. Their manager tells them what to wear. Maybe Amber should come to a con and set up a table for herself instead of complaining about the cosplayers. Anyone who says comics and comic conventions are for kids should look at a comic book. They’ve become far more adult-oriented in recent years, and if people are that worried about exposing thir kids to such evils as exposed flesh and side breast then they shouldn’t bring them. There are plenty of fans in attendance who dress as slave Leia and even in more revealing outfits, so if you’re uncomfortable with your children seeing that sort of thing then be a responsible parent and leave them at home. It’s that simple.