Next time you gear up for a photoshoot in your sexy gender-swapped cosplay, just remember it's all been done before. As long as there have been costumes,. there have been sexy variants of characters and uniforms. Back in the 1890s, burlesque dancers were dressing up as fairies, magical creatures, and gender-swapped versions of pirates, crusaders and gentlemen adventurers.

This collection of titillating cards from the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs at Ohio State University shows burlesque actresses from the 1890s in their finery. Many of these images came packaged with cigarettes, making them the 19th Century version of "Alive With Pleasure."


The themes of these costumes really don't seem that different from the "sexy" versions of hero costumes you see in comics and video games today — and they definitely bring to mind the current craze for gender-swapped cosplay at conventions. Although there's no easy explanation for the horse picture — but at least, it does have the interesting caption "The Devil's Auction."

Check out more of the images below, and see tons more at the link. [Charles H. McCagy Collection]