Sexual role play is arguably something that every sexually active person has tried at some point. Whether premeditated or not, sex can be so painfully awkward at times that one can accidentally slip into a performance. It might be a desperate attempt to plaster over the sound of balls thwacking on your gooch, the rickety creak of your parents' bed, or the fact that an image of your nana in the bath just popped into your head.
Of course, there are people who engage more professionally in the world of role play – people who take it much more seriously than the odd porny moan or accent. Introducing a multiplicity of roles into your sex life – whether the dom and the sub, or the check-out girl and the detective – is often about finding a less emotionally confrontational way to access your desires and fantasies, without having to be dead serious about the reasons why you want someone to treat you like Lauren who works at the local Lidl.
When I was nineteen for example, I was obsessed with the Oscar-robbed detective movie Taking Lives – Angelina’s best work. I was dating a much older guy and when he asked me what I wanted to try in bed I told him I wanted to "watch Taking Lives and let me be Angelina, just for one night." The sex was drying up, and our foray into the sex lives of a Box Office flop was enough to keep us going for another two weeks. It was also a vehicle for me to really express just how submissive I wanted to feel during sex at that time, and the Jolie-cum-serial-killer setup made it much easier to do that.
Role play takes endless forms, from gender play to kink to "real life"’ recreations and acting out extreme fantasies. It must be practiced with caution, however and the most integral parts of practicing role play and kink are trust and consent. When you’re engaging in sexual activity, as anti-sexual violence organisation Rainn explains, communication, agreement and physical cues are key for making sure everyone knows what's going down, and that they're happy with it.
To find out more about role play, I asked seven adults what kind they practice in the bedroom, why they think they do it and what it’s taught them: from a doctor and nurse, to a busty German secretary and a macho business man... turns out people get up to all sorts. Scroll on for more...