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Furries In The Media

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I’m a furry. And I’m finally at home with my wild side

Tue 21 Mar 2017 - 18:20

Dated March 21, here is an article in The Guardian by Brian Switek:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/21/furry-wild-side-fursona-animal-nature


If I could be anything, I’d be a jaguar. And not just any jaguar. One with a dark coat, blue spots, but my general humanoid shape intact along with the feline features. That’s because I’m a furry.

It took me a long time to admit that to anyone. More than 15 years. That’s because I had always heard the word “furry” as a pejorative, a term practically synonymous with fetish. At best, being open about it would open me to ridicule and at worst, well, I didn’t even want to think about the reactions of friends and family. Despite the proliferation of nerdy pop culture – from anime to cosplay – furries have always been pushed out to the fringes.

Even when I decided to tell my wife about my interest in the fandom, I couldn’t hold back the anxiety. I was in a knot for days leading up to purchasing a ticket to my first furry convention at the relatively late age of 33. It was unexpected enough that my wife called me as soon as she saw the charge on our bank account. She thought some pervert had hijacked it. No, I said, I was the one going to Rocky Mountain Fur Con.

Even then, she asked me “You’re not a secret furry, are you?” To her, the term conjured the implication of people dressed up in mascot-like costumes who set about deviantly despoiling convention centre hotel rooms. All I could say was: “Not secret, but not how you think.”

Furry is not a fetish. I know that runs counter to the atrocious CSI episode about the fandom and a long-form 2001 Vanity Fair hatchet job, but furries are not bound together by some predilection for anonymous yiffing. It’s more like someone asking what superhero you’d want to be and saying no, thanks, you’d rather be a hyena or fox or deer. It’s about identity, picking a fursona – like a persona, naturally – that’s a projection of who you are or wish you could be. Instead of going to comic cons dressed up as Captain America or Black Widow, furries define an identity all their own.

Of course there’s a sexuality to the fandom. There is for almost any you can name. But that doesn’t define what brings furries together, and it would be a mistake to let the sneers and jeers of critics define the conversation. If you want to be surprised by who furries are and what they do, there’s an entire scientific profile on the matter for you to peruse. Stigma shouldn’t drive the way furries present themselves, especially during an era where a little escapism feels sorely needed.

Furries are hardly the only fandom to be misunderstood. But during a time when comic book movies are big box office and cosplaying is normal, I don’t understand why furry hate hangs on. If anything, it’s always been on the edges of our experience.

Anthropomorphic animals completely permeate our culture, from the earliest cave drawings to the Oscar-winning Zootopia (Zootropolis in the UK). People dress as animals for Halloween, identify with certain species as personal favourites, and, hell, a popular trashy novel and movie series had duelling fans debate the merits of whether the female lead should marry a blood-sucking corpse or werewolf. Whether you’re rooting for an animal-themed sports team or listening to Top 40 songs about being “hungry like the wolf”, we’re practically obsessed by crossover between the human and animal.

Furries have a culture all their own, formed through internet forums and conventions over decades. But the basic fascination has always been with us. Furries are simply drawing from our animalistic interests and curiosities to create characters for ourselves instead of trying to co-opt something already pre-packed and sold. It just so happens to be animal-shaped, and so much the better. At the heart of it, everyone’s a little bit furry.

Categories: News

Convention for furry fans comes to downtown Toronto

Sun 19 Mar 2017 - 14:02

Dated March 17, here is an article in Canada's The Globe and Mail:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/convention-for-furry-fans-comes-to-downtown-toronto/article34339062/

It describes this weekend's Furnal Equinox convention, through an interview with organizer Isaac Tan.


Some 1,600 fans of humanized animals and cartoon characters are gathering in downtown Toronto this weekend for a convention celebrating the so-called furry fandom.

Isaac Tan, a member of the organizing committee, talks about his love of anthropomorphized animals.

The 22-year-old, who is a martial arts instructor and lives in Markham, has been interested in furry culture for nine years.

For the uninitiated, what is the furry fandom?

The furry fandom is a collective of individuals from all around the world, really. We’re a group of people that essentially celebrate humanized animals, same thing as cartoon animals or [characters] on cereal boxes. It’s sort of like having the same sort of fan base for superheroes, except if superheroes were talking dogs and cats instead.

How did you get interested in furry culture?

As an artist, I’d always found more joy in drawing animals and drawing creatures of fantasy.

When I was drawing one day and looking online, I found an image of an anthropomorphic animal. I saw the artist’s page who had posted it [and] they were involved in this community called the furry fandom and from there I sort of became a little bit more involved, exploring the different types of art that are involved in the furry fandom and suddenly, this entire new culture dawned upon me where it involved not only art, but also involved costuming, it involved literature, a lot of story-writing and a lot of role-playing.

Do you have an alter ego and can you tell me about it?

My alter ego is a Chinese dragon.

I am Chinese by ethnicity so I wanted to sort of pay homage to my culture, which I’m very proud of. So my alter ego is a Chinese dragon and his name is Ronnie.

Do people tend to be open about this part of their lives?

It does vary depending on what parts of the world that you’re from. There are many people who do openly advocate for this community, as they’re very proud of it and what it’s done for them. The furry fandom has done a lot of charitable work for animal organizations. Some people prefer to sort of keep it as part of their personal life.

What happens at furry conventions?

At these conventions we engage in a number of different social and performance events, as well as informative. So people get to costume around in custom-tailored costumes and they perform for each other, whether it’s mascotting or doing skits on stage, sort of like a masquerade.

We also have lots of informative panels that teach you about literature, story-writing, as well as visual arts, the art of business in an artisan world and we also have a lot of vending that goes on as well.

I wanted to ask you about the costumes. Does everyone wear one?

We usually only have about 20 per cent of our attendees that actually wear these costumes. They are very expensive, being custom-tailored, so the private studios which people can commission these costumes from can charge upwards of $2,000 for a full-bodied costume.

What’s the community like? What kind of people get interested in this subculture?

People that attend our convention come from all walks of life, whether they come from the sciences field, whether they come from the financial or business sector, whether they come from technology, whether they’re artists or artisans, from construction.

Basically we have people from all walks of life and all different professions that all share one similar interest, which is essentially their love for these humanized animals or cartoon animals. It’s a really very holistic community feeling where we just celebrate each other’s creativity and this world that we’ve created for ourselves.
Categories: News

Even Furries Are Fighting Fascists

Thu 9 Feb 2017 - 18:58
Ran into this on Twitter. Interesting. You can read the whole thing online:

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/even-furries-are-fighting-fascists



-------------------------------------------------------------
What's a community built on principles of extreme acceptance to do when actual Nazis show up in their midst?

Beginning in January, Red started getting calls from groups of furries who wanted her help fighting Nazis.

Red—who did not want me to use her real name because members of her subculture who speak to the press can be blacklisted from events—knows her stuff. The 26-year-old Chicagoan has been dressing up in a fur suit since 2008, and joined Antifa International three years later, after getting involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests. Antifa International (for anti-fascist) is a group dedicated to fighting right-wing politics, and to achieve that mission antifas are prepared to do anything up to and including punching Nazis. But Red, who believes fascist rhetoric should be met with a closed fist—or paw—wasn't sure the furries were prepared to do what it took.

"Most furries find any kind of violence abhorrent," she told me.

The furry fandom is one of the most inclusive subcultures on the internet. Many furries are queer, and most are used to being ridiculed for their "fursonas," anthropomorphized animal avatars that are used in roleplaying that sometimes (but not always) gets sexual. But even the furry community isn't immune to the political upheaval sweeping through America. Instead, it's a microcosm—albeit an odd one—of the culture war that the rest of the country is consumed by. The furries who called Red faced a question all too familiar to many people today: What should be done about far-right figures coming out of the shadows?

To be clear, Nazis are not new to the furry community. All the way back in 2007, a group called Furzi clashed with Jewish users of the game Second Life, which is a popular place for furries to congregate. Several members of the fandom told me that the ideology has festered among some furries ever since. More recently, a group called the Furry Raiders has become emboldened by the campaign, and eventual victory, of Donald Trump.

The Raiders are led by Lee Miller, a 29-year-old Furry who goes by Foxler Nightfire—a blue-eyed character who wears a red-and-black armband that should be familiar to any student of world history. Although he's been a known quantity within in the fandom for years, Foxler drew wider attention in January when he tweeted out a picture of himself with the hashtag #altfurry.

In late November, before "alt-furries" or "Nazifurs" attracted media attention, group called Antifa Furries formed to try to address the growing problem. Its goal is to get Nazifurs banned from events and to encourage furries to get involved in politics—efforts that seasoned activists like Red think are insufficient when it comes to combatting the far right.

Red told me that when members of the Antifa Furs called her up to ask for advice, they didn't like what she had to say. Though being "anti-fascist" seems like an obvious position to take, especially at a time like this, many antifas advocate property destruction and other forms of lawbreaking—which, Red said, the Antifa Furs weren't up for.

"Everyone jumped on this antifa bandwagon, but they are getting in over their head," she told me. "It's not for all liberals. It's for anarchists and for communists. It's not for people who wanna hold a sign or sign a petition. It's for people who are willing to do whatever is necessary to stomp out fascism."

logo courtesy of Antifa Furries

Instead of fighting Foxler with violence, the Antifa Furries decided to go with a strategy of trying to convince people to boycott conventions that didn't ban the Furry Raiders from attending—a fairly roundabout way of ostracizing one's enemies.

Fiver, a soft-spoken 20-something member of a group called the Antifa Furries, told me that furries—who tend to be both gentle and geeky—may be reluctant to expel problematic community members because they're afraid of being as intolerant as the people who bullied them in high school.

"While we do desire to be as accommodating and accepting as possible, this attitude has also required the acceptance of Nazis who will turn around and tell you that if you don't accept them, you're the real fascist," he told me.

When I talked to Lee Miller, who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, he told me he's been into the fandom since he was 12. According to the high school dropout, his Nazi-esque armband originated as a Second Life accessory—but it's difficult to pin him down on what it actually represents, or what he actually believes. During the course of our conversation, he oscillated between claiming ignorance and irony. When I asked why he won't just take off the armband to end the drama, he unspooled a story about how the character of Foxler was based on his deceased father and that changing it would be tantamount to disrespecting his memory. When I asked about his politics, he said that they're starting to change in reaction to all the backlash he's received from people offended by his outfit. Before all of this, he used to look exclusively at 4Chan, he says, but now he's starting to read about "SJWs" and "safe spaces" and getting more involved in what might be termed slightly more mainstream right-wing modes of thought.

"Why are people trying to control my existence or tell me what I can and can't do when it's within the law?" he says. "I've never really driven into politics, but I need to get more serious about them now that all this is happening."

Miller says he originally supported Bernie Sanders, but now agrees with at least some of Trump's views. He also admires Trump's campaign tactics and the way the orange-faced provocateur played the media into giving him coverage. Meanwhile, furries aligned against him say Foxler/Miller has emulated these tricks. They say that he'll say anything to anyone as long as it increases his popularity and gets him more followers. It doesn't matter that he's bisexual, or that his boyfriend is a minority, because aligning himself with white nationalism has given him a platform. His backstory and its apparent contradictions make him vaguely similar to Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right personality who has built a whole career out of saying things calculated to piss off the left. Miller even attended a Yiannopoulos event last month in full furry regalia.

As for how a furry might be radicalized in the first place, one hypothesis among furries is that members of the fandom congregate on anything-goes image boards like 4Chan, which are also frequented by members of hate groups like Stormfront that will deliberately appeal to lonely nerds. The Raiders, like a fair number of those on the far right these days, can claim that they're just conducting a social experiment or trolling, but their opponents say that's just an excuse that they use to hide their honestly bigoted views.

"Foxler is all about grooming and manipulating people that don't feel like they belong anywhere—and, let's face it, most furries feel like they don't belong anywhere," a Colorado-based furry named Ash told me.

Ash is a 28-year-old who, like Miller, lives in Colorado and has been working to ban Foxler and his crew from local meetups. Armbands are now almost universally disallowed from the local scene, she told me, and Foxler is also not welcome at a local bimonthly dance party called Foxtrot. One problem, however, is that since people in the community are almost always in disguise at these events, it's impossible to tell who is secretly an alt-furry. Ash and others have been monitoring Twitter and trying to suss out who's been communicating with the enemy, but it's been tough.

Her big target is the Rocky Mountain Fur Con, which is set to take place this August in Denver. Anti-fascist furries claim that members of the Raiders are on staff there and that the con has been silent about their pleas to ban Nazis because they fear violence like the chlorine gas attack that sent 19 Illinois con-goers to the hospital in 2014.

Sorin, the con's chairman, declined a formal interview but instead issued a relatively middle-of-the-road statement: "Rocky Mountain Fur Con does not support or condone discrimination or violence in any of it's forms and is saddened by the hatred and division that has been caused be [sic] a small minority of our community on both sides of this issue."

That division, like the larger one afflicting America, isn't likely to heal anytime soon.

"It's so strange that this is also happening in our community," Ash told me. "But since the fandom is growing exponentially and the group is getting bigger, we were bound to pick up a small sliver of people that are completely off the wall. Foxler would be that sliver."

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter.
----------------------------------------------

Thoughts?
-Dia
Categories: News

Milford man charged with 2009 child rape

Sun 29 Jan 2017 - 10:10
Not the sort of news article the furry fandom wants or needs, but I am posting it here because of its serious nature, and because it seems to have had limited coverage which is in danger of disappearing completely behind a paywall.

The original article was here:
http://www.theintell.com/news/crime/milford-man-charged-with-child-rape/article_cf00a42a-e4e4-11e6-8431-77cb8a46662f.html

and read:

Milford man charged with 2009 child rape

By James O'Malley, staff writer 21 hrs ago 0

A Milford man has been charged with raping an 8-year-old boy inside his home in 2009.

Kenneth C. Fenske, 57, of the 2700 block of North Old Bethlehem Pike, was arraigned Friday before District Judge Gary Gambardella on one count of child rape, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, according to court records.

Each charge against Fenske is graded as a felony of the first degree.

His arrest comes as the result of a joint investigation by Bucks County Detectives and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, court papers show.

According to a criminal complaint, the boy, now a teen, told investigators Fenske raped him several times in 2009 during a series of "furry" parties at Fenske's home.

"Furries" are adults who dress in animal costumes, the complaint says. For some, it is done as part of a sexual fetish.

The boy told police that Fenske, who went by the furry nickname "Lupine" and dressed as a red fox, would remove the costume during the episodes of abuse, the complaint says.

Arrest papers also reference an instance in which the abuse occurred at a "party apartment," but do not provide additional information as to the apartment's location.

The boy told investigators he was the only child present at these parties, and would go dressed as Kellogg's cereal mascot Tony the Tiger, the complaint says. The boy allegedly told investigators that during these parties he would play the video game "Rock Band" for a period of time until Fenske asked him to come upstairs where, in a guest bedroom, the abuse occurred.

A call to a cellphone number listed in the arrest affidavit and associated with Fenske went straight to a voicemail inbox for "Ken Fenske of Anapode Solar and Fensys Ltd." A message left Friday was not immediately returned.

State records list Fenske as owner of both Anapode Solar and Fensys Ltd., with both entities registered to his Old Bethlehem Pike address.

Court records show the district judge set bail at 10 percent of $750,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 13.

Fenske is the third man to be charged with abusing the same victim.

David R. Parker, 38, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, is facing charges in his home county of child rape and related counts, as well as a handful of child pornography charges in a separate case, according to court records.

Jeffery Harvey, 40, of West Wyoming, Luzerne County, faces charges in neighboring Lackawanna County of unlawful contact with a minor, criminal use of a cellphone, involuntary deviate sexual assault and statutory sexual assault, court papers show.

According to arrest papers, Harvey was arrested June 28 when he thought he was meeting a teen boy for sex, but instead was greeted by agents with the attorney general's office.

The complaint says he allowed investigators to search his phone, where they found text conversations between Harvey and Parker about abusing the boy.

Upon his arrest June 29, police say, Parker admitted raping and abusing the boy over a number of years.

Messages left after-hours Friday with attorneys for Harvey and Parker were not immediately returned.


James O'Malley: 215-510-9372 email: jomalley@calkins.com Twitter: @omalley_intell
Categories: News

Owner heartbroken after furry animal costume stolen from storage facility

Sat 10 Sep 2016 - 19:38

Below is an article about a stolen fursuit, on the website of California's television channel KNTV:
http://www.ktnv.com/news/owner-heartbroken-after-furry-animal-costume-stolen-from-storage-facility


Thousands of dollars in property was stolen from a Henderson storage facility, but one item in particular might raise eyebrows.

A "furry animal" suit that looks like a mascot costume was taken, and the owner is heartbroken.

When Steavphan Feasel walks around in his wolf suit, he waves and dances as his alter ego, Oreo.

Feasel says he took on the character as a way to stop being himself for a while, and a way to make friends with other "furries."

"We just see it as a comfort zone because a lot of us are shy," he said. "[It's about] feeling free basically, away from the whole human thing."

The suit is worth $2,600, and now it's gone.

Oreo was stolen from Feasel's unit at Public Storage on Sunset Road in Henderson, along with bicycles, RC cars, and construction equipment.

Cory Ausiello says his unit was also burglarized. His heart sank when he discovered what happened.

"It's really hard to know that the stuff is gone," Ausiello said.

Public Storage's manager wouldn't answer any questions about the burglaries. 13 Action News left a message at the corporate office that wasn't returned.

As for Oreo, a friend of Feasel's spotted the suit on Fremont Street downtown, but that was about a week ago and they're no closer to finding the costume now than when it was first taken.
Categories: News

THE FURRIES ARE IN TOWN - Anthrocon 2016

Wed 29 Jun 2016 - 00:16
Thought you guys would like to read this and see the photos...



Anthrocon, the convention for those fascinated with anthropomorphics, returns to Pittsburgh June 30th - July 4th, 2016. If you see a furry this weekend downtown, don’t be afraid to say hello to these people who may be a bit different than you. Ask for a selfie or photo with them, and send them in to WTAE using #WTAEfurries.


http://livewire.wtae.com/Event/Furries_2016

-Dia
Categories: News

Furries Explain How They Developed Their 'Fursonas'

Sun 12 Jun 2016 - 12:19


https://www.vice.com/read/we-asked-furries-about-how-they-developed-their-fursonas


When people hear "furry" they instantly think of big, fuzzy animal outfits, called "fursuits." Not all furries have fancy, ornate ones, but many in the fandom go all out when it comes to their second skin. For those looking to take their involvement in the community to the next level, the creation or commission of a fursuit is an act of outward expression and serious dedication (often, a financial one).

Fursuits can be intrinsic to the identities or alter egos that define the lifestyle, and some furries even keep multiple fursuits for multiple personalities. Most furries have concepted characters—referred to as "fursonas"—that they choose to represent themselves, and the suits can help articulate certain aspects of each character. For some, the fursona is an elevated state of self, an expression of an inner animal. For others, it's more fantasy-based, a crafted identity, representing something they aspire to or deem important.

Fursuits are built by specific furries, many of whom make their entire living creating commissioned suites year round. While the cost of most fursuits hover around the $1,000-$4,000 range, they can cost up to $10,000, depending on intricacy, quality, and the reputation of the maker. While at Biggest Little Fur Con—the fastest-growing furry convention in the country, held in mid-May in Reno, Nevada—I caught up with a handful of furrys to find out about the genesis of their fursona and fursuits.

JEBRONI, aka "Certified Love Kitten"

Maine Coon Kitten

I'm Jebroni Kitty, and I come from Chicago. I came up with my character because I was trying to discover what I liked [within the subculture]. I took pieces of inspiration from things like Second Life to create my fursuit, and I've always been a cat. It's just how I've always acted and felt.

I love hearts, and I like blue and pink—the colors of my fursuit—because they just mix well together. I'm a big guy, but I wanted to be a house cat, so I'm a Maine Coon. Big, husky, cuddly, and very mild-natured. I became known as the Love Kitten after going out with my stuffed hearts, which I carry around with me a lot. I often give my heart out to people, and then other furries started calling me Love Kitten.

MUKILTEO
Dog

I live on Woodbee Island in Washington State and this is my character Mukilteo. I have a website where I teach people how to make and build fursuit costumes, too. I have been in the furry fandom for a very long time, since 1998 or 1999.

Mukilteo was my first furry character, I had gotten this costume as a trade with another fursuit maker. This character is the bad dog. He wears a shock collar and he's a dog party advocate. He fights for Couch Rights and access to fresh water and walks to the park, and more treats! We want fresh bones and snacks!

I have another character, Matrices, and she's a gray dog, with folded back ears, and has a marking on her forehead. She's the one that really represents myself more so than Mukilteo, and she is the one I have as my avatar online. But Mukilteo is my fun one to take to the dance.

I know I'm a human on the inside, but it's fun to play around and have a different character for a little while. I've had the character so long... it's been about 15 years or longer.

TROUBULL
Bull

Originally [my species pick] came from the ox in the Chinese Zodiac. The ox is the working animal, and I've always felt that in my life I have been the one working long hours, seeing things through, being someone people can count on. The bull and the ox are very similar, with the exception that the ox can be a bull and it also does chores. I've always identified very strongly with that.

Initially I started as a fox, just cause I had no clue what to do. All of my friends at the time were equine or horses, and I kind of felt like I didn't want to do the same thing that they did. I realized that not only was the bull interesting, but it was unique. In addition to that, there are all different kinds of pun-ish humor to it, like being the bull when cows are the ones that make milk—and milk can kind of be associated with something that's not appropriate.

MARTIN FREEHUGZ
Wolf

Furry Martin and human Martin are pretty much the same being. The only difference is that one's human and the other is a blue wolf. Everything I do as a human (mannerisms/actions/sounds) are all stuff I do in my fursuit. I do get more cordial and energetic as wolf Martin. I love seeing people happy and wolf Martin easily fulfills that need.

I decided on a wolf because I've always respected their raw primal power. A wolf is ferocious, yet still has the ability to be charming and lovable. I decided to pick blue as the primary color on me for a couple of reasons. For one, blue is extremely rare in the animal kingdom (a blue wolf in real life would have a very hard time surviving).

I'm a bit idealistic toward the sustainable lifestyle and the struggles of life. Living a normal, stagnant life is not my intention. Living as an outlier humbles me. Experiencing the lows and savoring the highs is what life is about. Being blue in the wild would make life tough... Just the way I want to experience it. Darwin would be disappointed in my fursona. Also, blue is my favorite color.

RABID RABBIT
English Spot Breed Rabbit

I decided on the name a long time ago. My original fursona was a crazy rabbit with a straight jacket. When I got my fursuit, I wanted a happier and toony character that was easily approachable. My name, "Rabid," had already stuck, though. I decided on the rabbit because I've always loved them and felt a connection to them—perhaps because they, like the coyote and fox, are the tricksters in mythology. Unlike the coyote and fox, they are not predatory and are not nefarious.

I identify with my fursona and do consider myself and my fursona as one in the same. I have two new fursuits commissioned from Rabid Rabbit. Between fursuit commissions, conferences, and other activities, I'm sure I will spend about $10,000 this year on my furry lifestyle.

Visit Zak's website here to see more of his photo work.
Categories: News

The Fastest Growing Furry Convention in America June 5, 2016

Tue 7 Jun 2016 - 18:53
Yep, its growing fast!

http://www.vice.com/read/photos-of-the-fastest-growing-furry-convention-in-america

The stigmatization of furries, the online taunting and trolling, is something that's plagued the community (known as the furry fandom) since it began popping up in mainstream media and on TV shows like CSI, ER, and Entourage in a consistently ruthless "look at these perverted freaks" sort of way. But, in reality, furries are some of the nicest, fun-loving, and respectful people—people who just happen to feel more like themselves when roleplaying as anthropomorphic woodland creature in custom-made fursuits.

As with most underground social groups, the best place to see all your like-minded friends is the convention scene, and Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC) in Reno, Nevada was no exception. Every year, nearly 50 furry conventions take place across the US, and BLFC is the fastest growing con on the circuit, tripling its attendance in just three years. This year, from May 12 through 15, approximately 3,500 members of the furry fandom attended BLFC, making it the third-largest furry convention in the US. According to the organizers, some estimate that the four-day event brings in upwards of $3.5 million to the city. Nervous and excited, I hopped on a plane to America's biggest little city to meet up with Martin Freehugz, a furry friend who got me more interested in the subculture, for my first ever furry convention.

Upon arrival to the resort, I was greeted with a wave of fursuiters strutting on patterned casino carpets, together representing species that spanned the entire spectrum of the animal kingdom. If you can think of it, you can fursuit as it. Dragons, lizards, deer, wolfs, foxes (lots of foxes), eagles, and even some original animals the furries have made up, like the Dutch Angel Dragon and other adorable fairytale creatures come to life.

At BLFC, the emphasis on fun, cuteness, and creativity was everywhere. There was life-size Yahtzee, go-karting, video games, board games, and copious amounts of dancing. At night, a series of fandom fave DJs blasted the crowd with EDM and trance. Getting lost in the lights and lasers among a crowd of fuzzy, wide-eyed animals on two feet was an overwhelming experience. I found myself dazed and half-crying, but also overjoyed in a way I hadn't expected.

I roamed the halls with Martin/Freehugz in his blue wolf suit, who seemed to know everyone. In fact, everyone seemed to know everyone—you couldn't go 20 feet without seeing an attendee gleefully stop a fursuiter for a hug and a picture. It became apparent that the fursuiters were the local celebrities of the scene, and certain suiters were extra famous, with huge online followings.

The other celebrities of the con were the artists, the people who draw your chosen furry charterer's representation, or fursona, in a variety of mediums and scenarios, such as homemade accessories, badges, comics, and more. Free of corporate sponsorship, the "dealer's den" hosted artists and makers selling their wares to a crowd more than ready to spend. The organizers of the event even told me the dealer's, collectively, were expected to make somewhere in the $100,000-200,000 range.

After a night of dubstep, hugs (furries love hugs), and spiked chocolate milk, it was time for the highly anticipated Fursuit Festival. While most fur cons have a parade of fursuiters, BLFC opted for a Festival of Fur, where nearly 1,500 fursuiters gathered for a giant group photo before breaking out into dancing, games, and a plethora of organized photoshoots. An announcer could be heard over the loudspeakers saying things like "Predators vs Prey photo shoot at station four, Blue Fursuiters at station one, Malamutes on five." Two parents and their fuzzy little offspring, all in fursuit, skipped by me and my heart grew two sizes. I watched as they disappeared into a sea of neon fur. See more photos from the convention below.

Visit Zak's website here to see more of his photo work.
Categories: News

THE SALON: Inside the fascinating, misunderstood world of furries

Sun 8 May 2016 - 01:15

“The Lion King’ is an extraordinarily sexual film”: Inside the fascinating, misunderstood world of furries

THE SALON: Inside the fascinating, misunderstood world of furries


Furries are adults who assume creative/fantasy identities and dress up in fur suits. They are often ridiculed for their behavior, which is, by and large, assumed to be sexual. The new documentary, “Fursonas,” available on VOD now, attempts to demystify members of this subculture by—ahem—fleshing them out as humans.

Directed by Dominic Rodriguez (himself a furry, a wolf named Video), the film introduces characters like Diezel, who found his inner furry by working as a mascot; Skye, who enjoys the friendship and dance competitions at furry conventions; Freya, a mother who hopes her young daughter will find the same appreciation she does in costume; Bandit, who sees furry-dom as a way to memorialize his dog; and Grix and Quad, a gay couple who are equally comfortable in suit and out.

Then there is Uncle Kage, a chairman at furry conventions, who manages the way furries talk to and are represented by the media. He criticizes Boomer, a furry whose outfit is made of paper, not fur, and who went to the extreme of trying to legally change his name to Boomer the Dog, which is also the name of his favorite TV show/character; Chew Fox, whose appearance on “The Tyra Banks Show” discussed a furry taboo (apparently being a furry is like being in Fight Club); and Varka, who provides sex toys to furries, but is now fursona non grata at conventions.

“Fursonas” gives these men, women and animals an opportunity to express their thoughts about perception, tolerance and rejection. Salon spoke with Rodriguez about his film, his fur fetish and this fascinating subculture.

“Fursonas” attempts to debunk the myths about furries. Why do you think there is such curiosity, or misunderstanding regarding this subculture?

I think that when Uncle Kage was on a panel at a convention (Anthrocon), there was an insightful comment about the media, who came and pried into the underbelly about furry meetings being about sex. Because of defensiveness in the community and that attitude, there is more of a stigma. There’s a reaction from the community that thinks that the media is out to get us. That’s why we have to share all these other sides of furries. Being a furry is a positive beautiful thing in furries’ lives. People who aren’t furries want answers. They don’t understand something that they aren’t a part of.

How did you get the approval to make this documentary?

It was not approved by Anthrocon. The Anthrocon media policy is that if you are going to shoot [footage] there, you have to show the finished film to the board of directors. They recommend changes, and if you don’t make those changes you have to take that Anthrocon footage out. We didn’t, because we disagree with that policy. It’s against the rule, but it’s not against the law. We’re not looking to make the furries or the convention look bad. Scenes of Uncle Kage at the convention are available on YouTube for free. We weren’t sneaking around; we wanted to show what was right in front of our faces.

What were your criteria for the Fursonas you showcase in the film?

At first it was about finding people who would talk to me. I didn’t know anybody in the community. I reached out to people with costumes. Not everyone has a fur suit. I think the costumes are cinematic, and that the furries who wear them are passionate. They invest money and time in their suits and I wanted to talk to passionate people. I sent out 100 emails, half the people responded, and half of them spoke to me. I traveled to meet folks, but Boomer lives 20 minutes from my house. I wanted to get diversity. I didn’t know much about these people and their lives until I met them. People like Chew Fox, Varka and Uncle Kage were more people I sought out because I wanted to tell their story.

What observations do you have about why people become furries? Is it infantilization? Fantasy/role playing by unleashing the inner animal? Is it a mask to increase confidence? Is it a sexual fetish? Or all of the above?

For many people it incorporates all of the above. But for plenty of furries it is one of the above. There is enough of a sexual component to the fandom it can’t be ignored, but I don’t know how many people are into it sexually. That is not something that people are comfortable talking about. Which is totally fair. There is an innocence brought to it because of the silliness of putting on a costume, running around and having adventures. There was never a scene in the film where we explain why this person does it. It’s not about the why, it’s about the who. It was important to get to know the people. I don’t have any definitive answer.

How did you become a furry, and what have your experiences been?

For me, I was interested in this since I was 12. I thought so much about what made me a furry. My experience is just my experience. It’s not reflective of all experiences. I feel like it has something to do with growing up with the Internet and being obsessed with movies and cartoons. “The Lion King” is an extraordinarily sexual film. When I found furry porn, that was it for me. It’s really beautiful. When I think of the question “Can porn be art?” I think furry porn is the answer. You humanize it and bring it into emotion. Videos of people fucking takes the humanity away. For me being a furry started as a fetish. I don’t know why anthropomorphized anatomy does it for me. As I worked on the movie, I got more into the scene and there are so many aspects that I enjoy. I wasn’t into fur suits at first, and then, when I met Grix, he owned that character and made it approachable and fun. There was nothing awkward about that, and that inspired me to get a fur suit.

What can you say about the difficulties of “coming out” as a furry, which is addressed in “Fursonas?”

When you ask, “How do you come out to your parents as a furry?”—you don’t have to. I understand why people want to be honest with themselves. I feel like I didn’t choose this. That’s how deep it runs for me. That’s why people feel the need to come out. It’s so in line with their identity. I’m lucky—I have a really awesome family. They have been supportive of me talking about these things. But not everyone has supportive people around them. I understand how Diezel might feel, keeping his furry life separate from his work life. The movie is important to show people expressing themselves, but also acknowledge the difficulties of that situation.

“I hate to bring this up,” as Uncle Kage says journalists will ask, “but what is all this about sex in fur suits?” Were you tempted to depict sex scenes with furries?

I think that is part of the fun for me as a director and revealing things to the audience that has preconceived notions, and playing with those. Someone says a line and it puts the image in your head. But I didn’t want to hold back, so I needed to show the indulgence of Varka with the cum lube. That’s my money shot.

There has been controversy in the furry community over Chew Fox’s appearance on “The Tyra Banks Show.” She said something that was harmful to the community, but truthful for her. What are your thoughts on what she did?

I think that Chew Fox was not trying to hurt anyone. The most important thing was her being honest about herself. People will say she was trying to throw us under the bus. I don’t agree with that at all. I’ve had to go into the media and now talk about being a furry. I’m now very self-aware. I wouldn’t go on the “Tyra Banks Show.” It’s an exploitative treatment of its subjects. Boomer made a point about that there is no bad media. No matter what it is, there is some truth coming through. So when he goes on “Dr. Phil,” it’s more about him being on the show. “They can do what they want,” he says, “It’s me coming through, there is some truth coming through.” Many furries have responded well, and there’s a difference between how [they and] non-furries respond. A furry who interviewed me thinks Chew Fox was delighting in upsetting furries, and that’s wasn’t obvious to me at all.

How do you think your film will play with furry and non-furry audiences?

I wanted to make something furries and non-furries can get something out of. As far as who is going to accept furries, if you’re going to watch it to laugh at them, I hope you will be moved by these stories. But there are people you will never convince, and that’s fine. I’m more interested in furries’ reactions. It’s played well with non-furry audiences. It’s meant to be about more than this community and where they are right now. I’m interested to see how it will play with furries because we’re all passionate about being furries. I was terrified when I showed the film at a recent furry convention, but so far, all the furry screenings have been extremely positive experiences. It has provoked thoughtful discussion. We’re having conversations, and dialogue is positive.
More Gary M. Kramer.

-Dia
Categories: News

Furries...Britain's kinkiest sex craze: People who romp dressed as ANIMALS

Sun 24 Apr 2016 - 16:52


Dated April 24, here is an article in the UK's Daily Star tabloid newspaper:
http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/508842/furries-sex-weird-fetish-fur-fandom-animals-bizarre


THE phrase "animal lover" might bring up images of people with a lot of pets, volunteering at a rescue centre.

However, in one community, it means something completely different.

Members of the furry fandom, or furries, are so obsessed with humanoid animal characters they go to conventions to celebrate them, get suits made up to look like one and can even be sexually interested in them.

The furry fandom is a community of people who love "humanoid animals" – or anthropomorphic animals and are also interested in animals with human qualities.

This could range from a more conventional liking for ladies wearing cat ears or bunny tails – to bombarding the Frosties mascot with declarations of love.

Although the following began in the 80s it blew up when Disney released their version of Robin Hood – with a very human fox as Robin.

After the recent release of film Zootopia this year has seen a new wave of people converting to the fandom.

Furries can come in a wide variety of different forms.

At one end of the spectrum, there are those who prefer to simply draw or create art dedicated to human-like animals.

But at the other extreme, there are furries who pay thousands of pounds for custom-made suits, have their own "fursona" and even like to have sex in character.

A "fursona" is a persona created by a furry – one they believe reflects who they truly are inside and they have a lot of fun in character as the animal.

This can go as far as having a custom-made suit built, which costs around £2,000 in total, creating Twitter accounts for their "fursona" and going about their day to day business dressed as the animal.

There are companies which thrive purely from making costumes for members of the furry fandom.

In some cases, being a furry fan can go even further than that.

Some members of the fandom even get sexual kicks out of having sex in character and there are plenty of porn sites dedicated to giving some furries their kicks.

"The furry fandom spreads far and wide," said one furry, who didn't want to be named.

"A lot of furries feel like their animal fursona is truly part of them and when they put the suit on, they become truly who they are.

"A fursona is an animal identity created by the person. You can be whatever species you like, whatever gender you like, have whatever traits you want. It is completely down to you."

He added that his personal "fursona" is a fox crossed with a cat because he wanted to create one that reflected his true personality.

"I personally got into the fandom when I was quite young, and felt like a bit of a misfit in my every day life. I couldn't really explain why I got into it, but it just happened.

"I think the web has helped a lot with bringing the furry fandom together. We all tend to have Twitter accounts set up for our fursonas, and it's a forum where we can truly be who we want.

"There's a big following on Tumblr, too, which is a bit of a home for people with kinks."

And although this furry claims he isn't part of the fandom for sex, he does know of plenty of people who are.

"We often act differently when we are all together – we act more freely like animals sometimes.

"This can include scratching each other, nuzzling each other, hugging and petting each other – but that isn't necessarily sexual.

"I do know a lot of people who feel sex is an important aspect of their furry lives. For some, it is freeing to have sex in character. I think this is true for a lot of people, getting dressed up for their partners.

"But I know that furries will not usually have sex in their fur suits. They are hot, heavy and also very expensive. They wouldn't want to risk staining or ruining them and also, that isn't really part of it."

The sexual side of the furry fandom came into the media spotlight earlier this year, when it was revealed that Tony the Tiger, character of Frosties cereal, was being harassed on Twitter by horny furries.

It emerged the character was being bombarded with lewd tweets and images from furry fans idolising him.

When the account begged fans to stop, they found a new idol in Chester Cheetah, the Cheetos ambassador.

Furries are keen to reiterate that they aren't attracted to animals, however – only animals with human qualities, or humans with animal qualities.

"It's not beastiality. It's not about having sex with cats or dogs," the anonymous furry told Daily Star Online.

There are "fur-cons" all over the world where fans can meet up and have fun with each other – and some of the proceeds from the events even go to charity.

Plenty of books and studies have been done on the furry community, and there was even a furries newspaper until 2010, when the internet began to take over.

Jonathan Thurston, who runs Howl Publications and has written numerous books on the topic, said: "The media tend to portray furries as sexual deviants, who either have sex with animals or who have sex in animal costumes.

"To contest that, however, fursuits are personally made. They can easily cost $3,000 (£2,000) and having them custom made for sex purposes is laughable to most of the fandom.

"The furry fandom is about community. My first time attending a furry meet-up was strictly for research purposes.

"I wanted to see if all these people wore leather harnesses, tails and sex gear in public.

"However, I was honestly unimpressed when I realised it was just a bunch of close friends playing Gameboy games in a coffee shop."

Jonathan adds that the fandom welcomed him with "open paws" and he adopted the name Thurlston Howl – a fox-wolf hybrid – as his "fursona".

"I am a member of the furry fandom because I love the people and believe it or not it's kind of fun imagining myself not as an animal, but as an anthropomorphic animal."

Jonathan says being part of the fandom isn't sexual at all for him – but points out members who do enjoy the sexual side aren't really that different from anyone who dresses in a risque way.

"Furries don't have sex while making animal noises. They don't do anything non-furries wouldn't do.

"Look at the Playboy bunny, the constantly sexualised cat costumes for women at Halloween and the use of animal-based sex terminology.

"None of these are sexualised 'animals'. These are sexualised 'anthro-animals'.

"Animals that stand on two legs, have mostly human anatomy, but with animal features.

"The feeling of being turned on by sexualised furry art is no different really. It's a fantasy for anthro-animal sexual contact, but a fantasy that no furry actually believes can/will/should happen."
Categories: News

The revenge of the furries

Fri 8 Apr 2016 - 11:05

Here is an article in the Boston Globe, about the rise of the furry fandom:
https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2016/04/07/the-revenge-furries/NbZLZBTgh3z39JtZziMp8M/story.html


Furries — those most maligned members of the geek tribe — are finally having their moment. Last month, when a fur convention was held at a Vancouver hotel that was also serving as a temporary shelter for Syrian refugees, the world beheld Syrian children giggling in delight at adults dressed as lynxes and ocelots. And of course there’s “Zootopia’’ — the hit animated film featuring an anthropomorphic fox, which Disney cannily marketed directly to the furry contingent.

What is a furry? They are, roughly speaking, people with an abiding interest in, identification with, or yen to dress up as, animals. For some, there’s an erotic component; for others the thrill is more spiritual. Either way, furries have been bashed ever since the Internet discovered their previously underground community. Humorist Lore Sjöberg famously placed them below “Trekkies Who Get Married In Klingon Garb” and “Pokemon Fans Over the Age of Six” in his Geek Hierarchy flowchart all the way back in 2002.

But furries are unfairly scorned. An interest in other animals is nearly a defining trait of human beings — we’re far more likely than other predators to connect with nonhuman species, a trait that may have been a key part of our evolution as social beings. People have literally been dressing up like and identifying with animals for hundreds of thousands of years. The conservationist and children’s writer Thornton Burgess wrote in 1922 that “[t]his interest is instinctive,” going back to the “dawn man,” and modern science has backed him up. Vanessa LoBue, a researcher at Rutgers, found in a 2012 paper that children prefer live animals — even snakes and spiders — over inanimate toys.

In donning furry masks and creating fursonas, furries are just expressing the same urge of trans-species empathy that has powered countless iterations of human culture, from Stone-Age animism to the animal-headed gods of Egypt to the fables of Aesop and legends of kitsune and werewolves. It’s something those Syrian kids immediately recognized — inside those fursuits, the furries of Vancouver were simultaneously less, and a lot more, human.
Categories: News

Explicit 'furry' podcast airs on US radio after 'hack'

Fri 8 Apr 2016 - 11:01

Here is an article on the BBC News site, about the recent hacking of a repeater station used by Denver-area FM station KIFT 106.3:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35995893


Several US radio stations played out an explicit podcast to listeners after an apparent hack.

The Furcast group says the 90-minute podcast went out without its knowledge and it is "deeply sorry".

Two Texas stations were among those which broadcast the material, aimed at "furries"- people interested in animals that are given human traits.

Broadcasters have been advised to change passwords on the hardware many of them use.

Barix streaming boxes are popular with broadcasters and PA professionals.

Furcast said that multiple server requests for its content during the incident were in the name of "Barix Streaming Client" and that many of the individual boxes involved were visible on Shodan, a search engine for devices connected via the Internet of Things.

The BBC has contacted Barix for comment but the problem appears to be with security settings not being updated by the box owners.

"Someone is attacking Barix Boxes," wrote a member of the Alabama Broadcast Association.

"Several radio stations and at least one radio network have been compromised. The Barix receiver is pointed to an obscene podcast and its password changed so it can only be reset manually."

Furries are people who have a fascination with anthropomorphism and often dress in animal costumes.

The furry group Furcast describes itself as "an improv comedy-themed furry podcast with no censor" and denies that its main aim is to create sexual material.

"Our content is discovered by individuals who specifically seek what we produce, and they do not normally come into contact with it via public means," they wrote.

"We have no interest in being discovered by a mainstream audience."
'Unknown source'

Texas radio station KXAX found itself broadcasting Furcast's podcast on Tuesday.

"At about 9am we were notified that a programme was playing on the station that did not originate from this studio," the station wrote on Facebook.

"We found out that our equipment had been hacked and was broadcasting a podcast or a stream from an unknown source.

"We were able to eventually get the problem resolved. But still want to apologise to anyone who may have heard the programming."

KXAX general manager Jason Mclelland told Ars Technica there did not appear to have been a reason for the hack.

Another station affected, KIFT, said in a statement that it had only been able to regain control of its output when an engineer physically went to the site of the hacked remote transmitter.

"We are working with equipment manufacturers and auditing the security of our own systems to avoid any repeats of this incident," it said.
Categories: News

THE FAST AND THE FURRIEST AT THE FURRY FIESTA 2016

Tue 15 Mar 2016 - 17:36

http://www.dallasobserver.com/slideshow/the-fast-and-the-furriest-at-the-furry-fiesta-2016-8123650

This is just a huge photo album, nothing reallt to the article other than that.
Categories: News

Furries make comeback at Purdue, year-round costumes raise eyebrows

Thu 25 Feb 2016 - 21:56
Dated February 25, here is an article (with video) on FOX59:
http://fox59.com/2016/02/25/furries-make-comeback-at-purdue-year-round-costumes-raise-eyebrows/

The report concerns the Purdue Anthropomorphic Animal Club at Purdue university.


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Feb. 24, 2016)-- A group of Purdue students are changing the culture on campus and showing what it means to be accepting of others. They refer to themselves as "furries." We talked to them about the significance of walking around campus in a fur suit-- even if it's not Halloween.

Purdue student "Luna" dresses in a fur suit as a fox. She puts on her fur suit and channels her "fursona." She's apart of the Purdue Anthropomorphic Animal Club.

"People who wish to put on fur suits and explore more of the aspects of being an animal with human characteristics," said faculty advisory Sean McLane.

Luna doesn't speak while in her fur suit, but she channels a more playful, outgoing personality.

Furries aren't new to Purdue. They were on campus a couple of years ago, but were bullied so much they decided to stop suiting up. But Luna and her friends are giving their passion another shot.

"For my character it's almost an extension of my being. It's somebody that I wish I could be so I kind of strive to be like my character," said furry Jared Wulfe.

Furries have gained the reputation for feeding a fetish or using this art form in a sexual fashion, but this group says they're here to dispel that myth.

"Furry is not exclusively a fetish. It's an expression of creativity. While there are people who get into the adult fetishy things that's not what it's all about," said McLane.

Jared, who channels a character named "Cinder," feels more comfortable in social settings when he's in character.

"After creating this personality I wanted to achieve I got to be more active in speaking. I like to go out and meet new people," said Jared.

Community Health Network counselor Kimble Richardson says being in an accepting environment plays a huge role in the furry fandom culture.

"You find that other people like it too they're very accepting. You don't have to continue to explain it or feel strange or ostracized," said Richardson.

The furry community will host a convention in Indy this summer. For more information on IndyFurCon, click here.
Categories: News

Furries paw into Purdue

Mon 15 Feb 2016 - 17:38


Dated February 14, here is an article in the Lafayette Journal & Courier:
http://www.jconline.com/story/news/college/2016/02/14/furries-paw-into-purdue/80051666/

The article is an interview with Carly "Luna" Conley and Sean McLane, of Purdue University's Anthropomorphic Animal Club.


Carly Conley is even-tempered and sports a sweet, inviting smile. She doesn't get in people's faces, she doesn't raise her voice.

But when Conley places a bright orange, fuzzy fox head over her own, a sassier side of the Purdue University student emerges. The fox head, named Luna, is part of Conley's "fursona."

"It makes you feel more comfortable sometimes," the forestry and natural resources junior said. "It’s not necessarily escapism. I’m not losing who I am ... She (Luna) is an extension of me.”

Conley is part of a growing, but long-existing, subculture that likes to dress up, or "suit up" as she refers to it, as cartoon-like animals. The members refer to themselves as furries. They have a deep love for animals and some even feel more comfortable in their fursuits than in their own skin.

The furry group largely has a reputation of being fetishists and sexual deviants, but those part of the fandom and those who research it say that's not what furries are about.

Conley's hoping her new student group, the Purdue Anthropomorphic Animal Club, will help break down those stereotypes on campus and give fellow anthropomorphism enthusiasts a place to meet like-minded people. The group isn't specifically for furries, she said, but some members are part of the fur fandom.

Though it just recently became an official student group, the club has been active "underground" for about two years, Conley said. The last time students tried to establish a similar type of club in 2009, she said, they were bullied into extinction.

She's optimistic this time will be different, though the group has already run into opposition. After putting up posters around campus promoting its callout meeting, people quickly began bashing the anthropomorphic club on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak.

The posts included threats to light the group members on fire and crucify them. Some called them autistic, Conley said.

"I think, overall, society is more accepting than it used to be. There is still some intolerance there," said Sean McLane, a Purdue IT staff member and the club's supervisor.

McLane has identified as a furry for 25 years, but doesn't have a fursuit. He is also the supervisor for the campus' brony group, a subculture that revolves around the fandom of the "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" television series.

The general misconception and curiosity about furries has brought some scholars to study them. Kathy Gerbasi, a psychology professor at Niagara County Community College in New York, stumbled upon the fandom years ago and has since written a number of peer-reviewed articles on it.

She went into her first furry convention in 2005 to survey attendees not knowing what to expect, having heard the typical stereotypes that furries are crazy and into strange sex. But she didn't find any of that to be true for the mass majority.

"The fursuit is a way to try on a different personality," Gerbasi said. "Like if you're shy, you can be more outgoing as a dancing wolf in a fursuit."

And though furries love to hug, she said, the widespread rumor that they have sex in their costumes isn't true and would be impossible.

There are some fur-fans that are in it for the sex, McLane said, but they're what Samuel Conway, the president of the largest anthropomorphic convention, refers to as the "Uncle Harry" of the subculture.

"Every family has a weird Uncle Harry. He always comes to holidays and does something bad ... We don’t really care much for him, but he’s family ... That part of the community is our Uncle Harry," McLane said. "Uncle Harry is not the true representation of the fandom.”

The increase of younger people coming into the group has also steered it into a more innocent community, McLane said.

The furries make up a silly, fun-loving society, he said, but they're also extremely giving and charitable.

Last year's Illinois-based convention, Midwest FurFest, raised more than $62,000 for Save-A-Vet, a charity that pairs retired military and law enforcement dogs and other service animals with disabled veterans.

Conley said she plans to have the Purdue campus group attend conventions together next semester. But the typical meetup will involve members getting together to watch anthropomorphic movies, study, go hiking and occasionally go out "suiting," for those who are furries and own a suit.

“I’m trying to just bring (the group) back into light and say, 'We are not Uncle Harry. We’re better than Uncle Harry. We are college kids and this is what we like to do,'” she said.
Categories: News

Feeling warm and furry

Fri 12 Feb 2016 - 21:43


Dated February 12, here is an article in the 2016 Sex Issue of The Daily Californian, the student-run newspaper serving the University of California, Berkeley campus and its surrounding community:
http://www.dailycal.org/2016/02/12/fursona/

The article includes words from Bay Area furries Jason Panke, Jeff Bowman, Alex Roviras, and Darkwolf.


“Come for the fur, stay for the hugs.”

This is the slogan we work out 20 minutes into a discussion with three self-described “furries” — members of the fandom known for their animal-inspired costumes (and huge conventions across the country) but are still waiting for a multifaceted portrayal in popular culture.

They’re in street clothes, chatting amiably here at a cafe just a short walk from the UC Berkeley campus, where Bay Area furries (alternatively, “furs”) gather on the first Tuesday of every month to share the latest in art and meet other furries. Many have found friendships and lifelong bonds amidst the furry, feathered and scaly “fursonas” that populate the community.

“Being a transplant from Chicago. I had no one to really hang out with,” said Jason Panke, a local furry at the gathering. “(Here) you get to do fun things, go downtown San Francisco and get on trolleys, everyone in fursuits, waving at people. … It brings happiness to a lot of people.”

The meetup serves as an essential in-person gathering for a community concentrated extensively online. Furries have flourished in online communities such as sofurry.net* and Tumblr and witnessed their growing numbers at annual conventions throughout the country.

The Berkeley cafe meetup has been going on for at least eight years. Elsewhere in the Bay Area, the community meets consistently for barbecues, bowling and Frolic — where once a month, they take over San Francisco’s Stud Bar with custom art and costumes.

The gatherings give furries a chance to trade “fursonas” — alter-egos used in the furry community that play off animal and human personality traits, often represented through art in social media profiles or in full costume. Jeff Bowman, a 2009 UC Berkeley graduate who’s organized the meetup for years, describes the fursona as an “open-source framework” for creative expression derived from games, myths and popular culture. Some furries inhabit multiple characters at a time.

Many furs encounter their first taste of the fandom online in fan-generated art and stories. Alex Roviras, another local there Tuesday, found his way to the fandom as a high schooler when he clicked on a wrong link that brought him to stories centered on human-like wolf characters. A long-time fan of “The Lion King” and the fierce Digimon Garurumon, Roviras was intrigued.

“I was like, this is not what I’m looking for, but I’m interested in writing too,” Roviras said. “I came across furry and looked at it and kind of went with it. Things just kind of clicked.”

Roviras recounted how quickly he was intrigued not only by the stories but the art. As he delved further into the fandom, the community became a place where many interests — art, writing, friendship and exploration — intersected. Roviras said that for people reconciling their own sexual identities with the confusing norms of high school — and the bullying that can come with them — the fandom offered a place of acceptance. This was true for Darkwolf, who added that her girlfriend, who is transgender, found solace in the community as she underwent her own transition.

“Coming across furries and how accepting and open that was allowed them to kind of accept themselves and become comfortable with themselves and their own sexuality,” Roviras said. “Or in my case I figured out, ‘Hey, I’m bisexual.’”

The fandom has long struggled with stereotypes that its members are a fringe group, mostly male, united by a desire for sex in costumes. A 2003 episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” ruffled feathers within the community when it portrayed a Las Vegas “Fur Con” as a spot for anonymous, fur-filled orgies. The depiction of “fur piles” or “cuddle pods,” Darkwolf said, was overblown.

“We’re not more sexual than the ‘Star Trek’ fandom or the ‘Star Wars’ fandom,” she said. “It’s just expression and being sexual are more accepted.”

The episode was Darkwolf’s first look at furries, then as a high schooler in Tucson, Arizona, reckoning with her own emerging identity with fur. Amid the episode’s spectacle of promiscuous furries, she saw in Gil Grissom, the lead detective, an attitude of acceptance.

“He said, ‘What’s wrong with your deeper animal instinct?’ and he always spoke about it in a positive way,” she said. “That’s what really kinda light-bulbed with me.”

In recent years, the fandom’s numbers have been growing in hotspots such as Seattle and Philadelphia at conventions such as Rainfurrest and their most popular, AnthroCon, which last year saw more than 6,000 in attendance.

There is no official, overarching organization dedicated to furs. Instead, annual traditions such as San Jose’s Further Confusion, hosted over four days every January, are organized by dedicated volunteers. Bowman, who works nearby as a software engineer at Google, is next year’s Further Confusion chairman.

This year’s Further Confusion featured dance competitions, a parade and a gauntlet of “Critterlympics.” Some people anticipated awkwardness this year when the convention shared its venue with a Super Smash Brothers tournament. But after the initial shock, Darkwolf said, the two groups found common ground.

“A lot of the smash people drop out Saturday night and go to our parties at Further Confusion,” Darkwolf said. “Because furries know how to party.”

Next year, Bowman said, the event plans to upgrade to the largest venue they could find: the San Jose Convention Center.

“It’s like I’m going to a party and everyone’s my friend — I just haven’t met them yet,” Darkwolf said, describing her girlfriend’s convention experience.

Full suits can cost upward of thousands of dollars, some equipped with LED lights, special ventilation and speakers. “God forbid if you have to go to the bathroom,” Panke adds, which is why conventions such as Further Confusion have cooling stations where fursonas can be momentarily disengaged for much-needed air conditioning between dance sessions. For the above reasons many opt for partial suits such as ears, gloves and tails, but often the designs are custom.

Darkwolf, with a soft spot for the “oddball creatures” of the animal kingdom, attends conventions as an axolotl — an amphibious salamander — complete with wide-set blue eyes and external gills frilled with pink fur. She’s a frequent target from kids who want to share stories of their pet lizards or pose for impromptu photo-ops.

“I love to make the kids smile so much,” Darkwolf said. “I can’t help myself, it’s so adorable.”

As the meet-up winds down late into the night, members say goodbye, addressing each other by their fursonas and giving tight hugs. Bowman, who met his fiancee through the fandom, notes that many have found lifelong friendships through their characters and friends of friends.

“If there’s any misconception to make about the fandom, it’s that it’s a place to find sex as opposed to a place to find friends and a place to find love,” he said.
Categories: News

The Fast and the Furry-ous: Facts and Misconceptions about Furries

Fri 12 Feb 2016 - 21:31


Dated February 12, here in an article in The Signal, the official student newspaper of Georgia State University in Atlanta:
http://georgiastatesignal.com/the-fast-and-the-furry-ous-facts-and-misconceptions-about-furries/

The article looks at the history and perception of the furry fandom, and includes an interview with furry Wolf Genesis.


Things have changed a lot over the years. We’ve got faster computers, smarter phones and slightly more equality. These, of course, are changes people experience in day-to-day life.

Another, more subtle change society has experienced recently, is a change in meaning of the phrase “my fine, furry friend.” What used to be used to describe our pets can now be used to describe a subset of society that call themselves the Furry Fandom.

According to WikiFur, the Furry encyclopedia, the Furry Fandom is a group of people who appreciate “anthropomorphic animals in art, literature, cartoons, [and] pop culture…” Basically, this means they have an interest in animals with human attributes.

Very few people have had experience with Furries outside of television. Unfortunately, the media tends to portray Furries in an incredibly negative light. Natalie Tindall, Ph.D., a professor at Georgia State who has done research on the development of fandoms, said her first experience with Furries was on an episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

A man was killed in his fur suit. Tindall went on to say that Furry culture “tends to be very – at least from the media portrayals of it – it tends to be very sexualized.” This media portrayal has led many to believe that being a Furry is primarily a fetish, when in reality, it is a community

The beginnings of the furry fandom can be traced back to the post-World War II era, when cartoons about human-like animals shifted from an all-age focus to being primarily directed towards children.

According to WikiFur, these children then grew up with the desire to create similar characters for older age groups. In his autobiography, “Surprised by Joy,” author C.S. Lewis admits to developing his own fascination with anthropomorphic animals at a young age. Was C.S. Lewis a Furry? Who can say, but he did certainly like fawns.

The first open “Furry Party” at a notable convention was in 1986. Westercon, a science fiction convention held in Sacramento, was the first to showcase furry artwork and short stories at their 39th convention. The success of this party eventually led to the showcasing of furry fanfictions and fanart across California.

Since then, standalone Furry conventions have boomed in popularity, with more than 30 hosted across the country, the most popular being Anthrocon in Pennsylvania, which had more than 6,000 attendees last year.

One reason Furry Fandom has exploded is the rise of Internet and Wi-Fi, which allowed people to build a community with others who shared their interests in a safer environment.

Tindall believes this sense of community can offer members of the Furry Fandom a sense of escape from their daily lives.

“They have something. They have a sense of whimsy and a sense of fun and a sense of belonging, and they just want to enjoy it. and it’s pleasurable and in this time why wouldn’t you want to have some escapism,” Tindall said.

While Tindall may be right theoretically, she cannot give a clear insight into what it’s like to live as a Furry, so The Signal sat down with Jason*, 31, whose Fursona is called “Wolf Genesis.”

*Names in article withheld to protect the identity of those in this story.

What’s it like to be a Furry? Is it like being part of other fandoms?

J: “It’s like anything else, I suppose. Like any fandom, you’ll have the aspects you absolutely love about it, and other aspects not so much.”

Do you have a fur suit?

J: “I don’t have a fursuit, though I admit I want one. They do cost a pretty penny, though. Full body suits that can range at a thousand dollars and more, to partial suits – that is, handpaws, footpaws, tails, or headpieces – which are naturally less costly.”

How involved are you with Furry life?

J: “I am an artist. I draw furries. I do have a tail that I wear from time to time, and collect various things involving. . .wolves. I haven’t gone out of my way to join profile pages such as Facebook for furries, unless you count my art page. Otherwise, I do play a game that is a heavily text based role playing game.”

What drew you to the lifestyle?

J: “I honestly think there are a number of factors that come into play here. One being…[the] childhood cartoon shows I grew up with. Sonic the Hedgehog, Tailspin, Road Rovers, SWAT Kats, and Biker Mice From Mars, to name a few. Seeing so many characters given human style characteristics, voices, acting became a part of me in a sense, and reminders of those happy times of childhood play a huge part in my enjoyment of the fandom. Another thing is the artwork. People can create constantly unique combinations and hybrids of things, detail it in ways we couldn’t imagine before, and bring things to life that is basically candy for the eyes.”

Are there any myths you want to dispel about being a Furry?

J: “Definitely. Being a Furry does not necessarily mean I’m in love with animals or have any sort of zoophilia. Being a Furry ranges from simply having a fascination with anthropomorphic beings, to… well, yes the extreme sense of sexual attraction. But I would like to impress that the main difference in being a furry versus a zoophiliac, involving the fantasies on the extreme end, is consent. Being a furry does not equal being into bestiality. The second myth is it’s all sexual and fursuits. It’s really not. That is one sect that gets a lot of attention, but not really the fandom as a whole. Some furries, like myself, love the fandom because it can personify traits we’d like to see in ourselves, or traits from connections we have with animals, as some feel with spirit animals or spirit guides.”

Do you think Furries will ever be fully accepted?

J: “The furry fandom will make it to being accepted when facts make it out first. When the myths and assumptions are widely no longer accepted, when people see that we’re rather a harmless bunch. A little odd maybe but what fandom isn’t?”
Even though we have a long way to go until Furries are accepted in society, that’s not going to stop people like Jason from living their lives true to themselves. The Furry Fandom is still growing and evolving every day.
Categories: News

It's not about sex, it's about identity: why furries are unique among fan cultures

Fri 5 Feb 2016 - 09:48

Dated February 4, here is an article in The Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/feb/04/furry-fandom-subculture-animal-costumes

It describes the furry fandom, and includes words from fursuit maker Sarah Dee (of Menagerie Workshop), social psychologist Kathleen Gerbasi, and Anthrocon chairman Samuel Conway.


Furry fandom, an obscure subculture united in their passion for all things anthropomorphic, can be lucrative business – because artisanal fursuits are haute-couture.

A single design can require up to 200 hours of work and sell for thousands of dollars. The business follows seasonal trends as well: one year it’s neon colours, the next grumpy-looking characters. One season, everyone wanted to be a sled dog. It’s all, of course, about the fur – even sharks, reptiles and birds are adorably fuzzy – and Los Angeles’s fashion district has stores devoted exclusively to hundreds of varieties.

Sarah Dee, a master fursuit maker, flies out twice a year for sourcing, carefully handpicking $5,000 worth of furs (a single suit requires about 5.5 yards), dragging it across town in giant bin bags to the FedEx office and then stuffing 30-inch cardboard boxes addressed to Colorado, where she tailors suits to fulfill the fantasies of fur aficionados worldwide.

Menagerie Workshop, Dee’s one-woman fursuit empire, caters to the full furry spectra, from hobbyists content with a pair of ears or a tail to lifestylers who go all out with role play like “scritching” (scratching and grooming).

Ranging from SpaceX employees to artists, her average customer is in their late 20s – in the “sweet spot” where they have enough money to spend but are not too tied down by family and work – though she’s made costumes for people as young as 12 (with parents’ consent).

To this day, Dee has brought more than 300 “fursonas” (furry personas) to life – including Baltoro the Fox, realistic with taxidermy eyes, hand-molded silicon paws and muzzle and digitigrade hind legs; Zeke the Hyena, cartoonish with hand-stitched stripes and airbrushed abs; and Blaze, a vixen with flirty eyelashes and curvaceously padded chest.

“What draws people in is that they can create this character which is a better version of themselves,” she explains. “It’s fun to just be silly, to use your imagination. To not have to conform to what people think being an adult is like.”

A spirit animal of sorts, the fursona can be just about any real or mythological creature the individual feels connected to. Dogs and big cats never go out of style, though hybrids like “folves” (fox + wolf) and “drynx” (dragon + lynx) are catching on.

New costume makers enter the market every week and fursuits gets ever more advanced: at an additional cost, jaws can move, tails wag and eyes light up with LED-lights. No two creations are alike, though most can be machine-washed and kept shiny with a few strokes with a pet brush.

With more than 40 creations lined up, 2016 is already fully booked.

•••

Stereotyped as less innocent than they look by mainstream media, furries tend to get a bad rap. A 2001 Vanity Fair article brought up both bestiality and plushophilia (sexual attraction to stuffed animals), and defined furry fandom as “sex, religion and a whole new way of life”. The show Entourage presented a pink bunny fursuit as a sexual prop, and in CSI-episode Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas, furries are portrayed as fetishists mainly in it for the “yiff” – furry porn or sex.

“We researchers are horrified by that stuff,” says Kathleen Gerbasi, a social psychologist who has researched the furry community extensively. “Because it really doesn’t represent the reality we see in the fandom.”

In her experience, people have either never heard of furries or they have a wildly distorted idea of it. As a result, fur fandom have become far more stigmatized than other similar nerd niches, such as anime and cosplay.

When Dee made her first costume – a bear, out of couch cushions – eight years ago, she was reluctant to be associated with the community, even as an artist. “Even I had some preconceived notions of like, ‘Gosh, furries are a bunch of deviants; kind of weird,’” Dee remembers, laughing. “And I still have questions.”

Even today, Dee, who quit her advertising job in Denver in 2012 for full-time fursuit making, doesn’t use her real name for business.

“I do think ‘fursectution’ is real,” says Gerbasi (who does not identify as a furry), using a portmanteau term referring to perceived persecution of the fandom from outside elements. “And I think it’s because people are afraid of things they don’t understand.”

She recalls last year’s suspected hate crime at Midwest Furfest in Chicago, which was evacuated after chlorine gas was leaked into the conference venue. Last year, she came across Facebook posts of people claiming they would bring guns to Anthrocon, the world’s largest furry convention, and personally alerted FBI.

For Samuel Conway, a professional research scientist and chairman of Anthrocon, the skewed image of the furry world is explained by its defiantly personal/introvert nature: whereas all other fandoms are consumers of properties put out by studios, authors and networks, furries invent their own idols.

“Furry fandom is unique among fan cultures in that we are not consumers, but rather creators,” Kage explains. “Star Trek fans are chasing someone else’s dream. Furries create our own fandom.“

Unfortunately, Conway explains, the public tend to be very suspicious of things they don’t understand, with an inclination to presume it’s in some way perverted.

“Furry fandom is not now – nor has it ever been – born of a sexual fetish,” Conway insists. “There are no more or fewer persons of alternative sexuality in our fandom than anywhere else.”

If anything, that cliche may be rooted in the community’s inherent tolerance and proud reputation as a safe space: furry fans may simply not feel the need to hide who they are when they’re among friends who won’t judge. He cites comic book historian Mark Evanier: “Furries are fans of each other.”

“People don’t realize it, but the whole anthropomorphism is very mainstream,” says Gerbasi, who spearheaded the multidisciplinary Anthropomorphic Research Project, which has studied about 7,000 furry fans from all continents, except Antarctica (which actually had a small furry gathering, too). While there are certain demographic trends – almost 80% are male, many work in science or tech, with a disproportionate share not identifying as heterosexual – the data, by and large, shows no indication that furries would be psychologically unhealthy.

“Cartoon animals have a universal appeal,” says Conway, who fursuits as ‘Uncle Kage’: a samurai cockroach. “A love of animals and a fascination with the idea of them acting as we do transcends most national, geographic and religious boundaries.”

While the fursuits are the most visible, they only make up only about 20% convention-goers, Conway adds: the rest are performers, writers, puppeteers, dancers, artists and “just plain old fans”.

For a minority, however, it is more than that: 46% of furry fans surveyed by Gerbasi reported identifying as less than 100% human – with 41% admitting that if they could be not human at all, they would. Twenty-nine percent of them reported experiencing being a “non-human species trapped in a human body”.

The parallels with gender identity disorder, upon which the hypothesis was modeled, were striking: much like some transgender individuals report being born the wrong sex, some furries feel a disconnect with their bodies, as if they were stuck in the wrong species. The condition, which Gerbasi et al labeled “species identity disorder”, had a physiological component too, with many reporting experiencing phantom body parts, like tails or wings.

Gerbasi still has no answers to why these individuals feel they’re not human, but stresses the importance for health providers to take them seriously, and without the ridicule that sometimes afflicts even her own research.

As the furry scene continues to grow – last year’s Anthrocon attracted 6,348 visitors – the fans hope for greater acceptance.

“I want folks to realize that we are not any special breed apart, if you’ll pardon the pun,” says Conway. “We have scientists, lawyers, physicians, firefighters, soldiers, police officers, schoolteachers, construction workers, custodians, musicians, journalists – just about anyone that is likely to pass you on a city street may well be a furry fan.”

Dee too, who remains at sidelines of the subculture but frequents conventions to advertise her business, agrees that the tendency to make furry fandom shorthand for sexual paraphilia is utterly misguided.

Throughout Menagerie’s history, only one client ever asked for a suspicious alternation – a zipper between the legs – which Dee agreed to at $1,000 extra, adding that if he ever down the road needed repairs (otherwise offered at $40/hour), she wouldn’t work on it, “because that’s gross”.

For most, Dee believes, furry fandom is more about escapism than anything else.

Slipping into a fursuit can be catharsis – allowing an otherwise shy and reserved person to transform into someone, or something, else – if only momentarily.

“People seem to find a family and a friend group there – people who like them for who they are, and for who they wanna be,” she explains. “Maybe the character is this really buff tiger guy but it doesn’t seem to matter the person is a shorter, overweight, typical nerdy-looking guy.

“They put on that costume and they just become someone completely outside themselves. It gives them anonymity to just, you know, be who they are and act how they want.”
Categories: News

A Documentary About "Furries" Competes In The Slamdance Film Festival

Thu 14 Jan 2016 - 22:59


Furries in the documentary "Fursona" come to Utah to compete in the Slamdance Film Festival
Furries in the documentary "Fursona" come to Utah to compete in the Slamdance Film Festival
"FURSONA" DOCUMENTARY
“Fursona” is a documentary premiering at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City on Jan. 22. It’s a first time effort for director Dominic Rodriguez that focuses on the world of furries, people who like to dress up like animals. “I think that part of what the journey of the movie was the struggle and making a good solid definition because there are so many people in it," said Rodriguez.

“I had called myself a furry but I never really understood it until I was about 17 years old. I went to work as a mascot for a Single A baseball team, surprisingly as a raccoon. And the first time I got in that suit and that mascot was just completely surreal. I mean, I could be as energetic, as happy, as crazy as I could be and people loved it." - Diezel
"Since it’s different to everyone that is in that community," Rodriguez said., "it’s hard to say something that is all inclusive.”

Rodriguez who is a furry himself, said he wanted to shed some light on the furry community. However, because of the negative media coverage in past years, it’s difficult to do.

“There’s a lot of fear in the furry community about it being misrepresented," he said.

You can see furries all around at amusement parks, mascots at football games, and sometimes even on Main Street promoting a company or event. For some furries, it’s a profession, while for others, it’s a lifestyle.

“So many of us are into creating art and street performance basically with our fur suits.”said Cameron Liddiard, a furry who lives in Utah.

“A lot of furry conventions have dance competitions because there is a big dance art community in the fandom. It’s different than any other fandom because like here, no one cares who wins, everyone supports everyone, and like it’s just a big family.” – Skye
Throughout the documentary the audience is exposed to conflicts within the community. Everything from how to be a furry, to politics within their society.

Uncle Kage is a researcher by profession and is also a chairman of Anthrocon, a furry convention. He wears a lab coat at his speaking engagements opposed to his furry costume.

“I’ve got a professional reputation that I have to maintain.” - Uncle Kage

Another fursona is Boomer. He’s the antithesis of Uncle Kage who made his own costume out of clothes and shredded paper. He sweeps parts of his hair on top of his head making puppy ears.

“I love furries so much I want to see all kinds of people have it and enjoy it if they’d like to. And I’d like them to see all sides of furry, you know good and bad, whatever it is. I don’t think there’s much bad to it. People try to discover themselves in different ways.” - Boomer
“I didn’t want to just turn it into, like this tight, neat, little story. I wanted to get to know the people so we spent years,” Rodriguez said. “Like when I first met Boomer, I was shocked by his lifestyle but then the more I got to know him the more insight he shared with me and I sort of realized what a good handle on all of this he has.”

Rodriguez realized throughout the making of the documentary that something complex can still be positive.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be like a PR piece to still have an overall positive effect,” he said. “I think if furries are portrayed as humans, you know as like flawed human ... that isn't necessarily a negative thing.”

And when all is said and done, as Rodriguez said, he hopes people walk away with a better understanding of who they are.

“It seems so strange at first,” Rodriguez said. “I hope at the end of it it’s not about furry anymore for the audience and they've just gotten to know these people. But see them as people and I think that is so important to me.”
Categories: News