Interview: Polish con-runner and forum admin Lemurr
Nickson: Soo, Lemurr, hi!
Lemurr: Hi-hi, hello.
Nickson: OK, so, who wants to start?
Pillgrim: Lemurr, please, introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us what you do in normal life. When did you become a furry, how did you get to know about this sub-culture and so on?
Lemurr: I am a professional web designer and a programmer. I've been furry for, like, five years. I came upon the fandom from browsing some YouTube channels; then I saw the keyword, googled it and came up with some Polish forums. Nothing really special, I guess.
Nickson: Can you tell us more about your fursona?
Lemurr: I don't think it will be a surprise. My fursona is an anthro lemur. Nothing special or fancy like colored fur, just a plain lemur.
Nickson: It's interesting that you are a lemur because sometimes people choose different species.
Hi-jera: What's more interesting is that he pronounces it like l'amour.
Lemurr: I am sorry about the pronunciation, I just pronounce it this way - lee-murr. What's pretty annoying is that everyone thinks I chose this fursona because of Madagascar, but it's not so. I just like the stripy tail and stuff.
Pillgrim: It's quite unusual to see someone who has chosen an exotic animal for their fursona.
Lemurr: Yes. In Poland there are just two lemurs: one is me and the other one is not really an active member of the fandom. But he's a pretty cool guy.
Pillgrim: I am not even sure there are lemurs in the Russian fandom. At least not that I know of.
Nickson: I don't think there are any lemurs in Russia.
Lemurr: My theory is that lemurs get eaten by bigger animals and, you know, that's why they are pretty rare now.
Nickson: *snickers* Okay, we got it. To be honest, that's too.. too sad.
Hi-jera: What kind of activity do you pursue in the furry fandom?
Lemurr: Well, I am an administrator of one of the biggest portals and the organizer of an international furry convention here in Poland. I don't think there's anything more to it besides moderation of some groups at deviantART.
Nickson: Sounds really interesting.
Lemurr: Trust me, it's not.
Nickson: Is it because it's annoying?
Lemurr: You know, not really. There are people who cannot take care of themselves and then they go, like, "Lemurr, Lemurr, I cannot do something, please do it for me." As if I am a 24-hour helping guy who has nothing to do than take care of people.
Pillgrim: How can you describe the Polish fandom?
Lemurr: You know, a lot has changed over the past few years. A few years ago the fandom split into two. A long time ago it was just a single group. Everyone was friends with each other at that time. Then a few guys got into an argument with each other and a second forum was created. The two groups were torn apart because it was like, you can be either on this side or the other one.
Now it's blending. I mean, only the oldest members of the fandom are fighting with each other. It's not fighting but rather arguing. The new members don't really know why the fandom used to be divided and they don't really care about that. The fandom is still divided, but now it's more like the old furies versus the young ones.
Hi-jera: By the way, how old is the furry fandom in Poland?
Lemurr: I do not have the exact dates but it looks like it's been around starting from 2001, maybe earlier. It's not as old as in other countries, I think.
Nickson: So, the Polish community has veterans and newbies. Here, in Russia, we don't have any arguments between the old ones and the new ones. We just have discussions between the Lion King fans and the Balto fans.
Lemurr: You know, all I can say is that in every country in Europe there's one big group and a small one, and they dislike each other. So in Poland it's nothing special.
Hi-jera: Yes, it looks to me that you are one big family.
Lemurr: Yes, but you know, there are still a few guys who don't like each other. They start smaller or bigger dramas— and it starts getting boring.
Nickson: So they aren't close relatives, so to speak?
Lemurr: No, we are rather good friends. We meet each other in person and we are kind to each other. Those who argue are "Internet guys" who do not get out into real life.
Lemurr: I don't really think so. There is, you know, a healthy competition between those who want to be better. Some of the organizers of Futerkon are a little bit jealous because we get furries from so many countries while they get only Polish furries.
Also we get way, way more fursuiters than Futerkon does. Futerkon is rather new. From the beginning there were rumors that they did not like fursuiters and that they were closed groups organized by the biggest forums. Then the organizers decided to rename the convention. They are trying to make it better, but most people don't really believe that.
Hi-jera: How many conventions do you have in Poland?
Lemurr: Let me count: one, two… Two conventions, really! Local guys want to visit their foreign mates and it's pretty hard to get everyone together at the same time.
Pillgrim: How many staff members does Gdakon have?
Lemurr: There are two main organizers, me and Kudlaty, with special guest organizations by Konu and LeTigre and about 5-6 organizers who put together the timetable and the schedule for all the events.
Pillgrim: How do you promote the Polish convention? Do you invite any special guests?
Lemurr: I don't think so, because at every Gdakon there are so many participants that I can hardly handle them. I think that such conventions should be there for fun and I don't want to invite special guests or stars like they do it at other conventions. The most important thing for me is fun, and if something goes against fun, I just don't do it.
Pillgrim: That's nice to hear.
Lemurr: So I don't want to make Gdakon really big. When a convention is large, people want to show off for the crowd and we don't really like it. And some furries from other countries come to Gdakon to have a peaceful time after bigger conventions.
Hi-jera: Your ideas for the convention are really catchy. Some of them were borrowed for WUFF.
Lemurr: You mean the bus and the lottery? That was nice. I mean the bus. I talked with Kudlaty and we thought that a fursuit walk through the town was a weak idea, so we got a bus and it was not really expensive. As for the lottery, we had to try hard to fit it into the timetable, but it was popular alongside with the auction. Which I did not find entertaining because it was all about who had more money. So I stimulated the people by giving lottery tickets to those who participated in events. At the end of the convention those who had tickets got some pretty things.
Pillgrim: Lemurr, my next question will be about fursuiters. A listener asks how "ordinary" people in Poland react when they see fursuiters in the streets? Do they take it easy? Do they walk up and ask questions?
Lemurr: During fursuit walks, people in the street looked really happy. They would come up and take photos. Little children pulled at their tails. The fursuiters got so much attention that it was exhausting and even annoying for some of them because there was no time to rest. Also, some of the local newspapers took interest and I had to give interviews explaining what the convention is about.
Nickson: How safe is it for a fursuiter to walk around in the street?
Lemurr: At Gdakon we had an escort. It was partly because there could be some guys who did not like the show, but mostly it was because fursuiters were walking all around the street and it was hard to get them moving in an organized manner. Some of them wanted to see the parts of the Old Town, but since they moved so slowly we actually had to get someone who would be (laughs) pushing them forward.
Hi-jera: So, can you say that in Poland it's safe to walk in a fursuit in the street without escort?
Lemurr: Yeah, yeah. People usually are friendly. And last time we needed an escort mostly to bring water to the fursuiters. And I wonder why you ask? Do you need such escorts in Russia?
Nickson: Yeah, seems we do because there are some mean guys out there that we can bump into. You know, those who like to provoke others and point fingers at something they do not understand--just for fun.
Lemurr: Oh, things like that happen here as well, though mostly in the "shady" parts of town. But generally it's safe to walk around town. People are friendly. There might be some drunks but they are usually harmless. If you meet one, you just walk a few steps off and it's all fine.
Nickson: Lemur, there is that word that you use to name the local furry fandom. What is it?
Lemurr: Oh yes - futrzaki. And we use furry just as much. These two words are the most common.
Pillgrim: Imagine it's a nice day and the weather is fine. How hard would it be to gather a group of furries for a walk outside?
Lemurr: Not so hard. You just fire up the forum and post a thread and there you go. But many furries are scattered around the country and there's always the problem of distance.
Lemurr: For example, in Wroclaw we have weekly meetings at one furry's place. We gather around there to eat, talk and play card games. If the weather is nice we go outside for a walk. In Warsaw, besides weekly meetings there are also more frequent meet-ups in bars where furries hang out together.
Pillgrim: Do you know about the research a U.S. university does two times a year? You know, like, how long have you been a furry, how many males and females are there in the fandom and so on?
Lemurr: Yes, I have heard of it. And one of the Polish furries has done one for his university thesis. I don't know how good his survey was. He was focused more on the history of the furry fandom. But anyway it is nice to know that someone is interested in doing such things.
Pillgrim: I second that. Well, the next question comes from a listener: do you have any other big projects besides furry conventions in Poland? Like radio stations, or social networks, or maybe role-playing games?
Lemurr: Yes, we got League of Legends groups, World of Warcraft groups, Minecraft groups. Polish furries even have dedicated servers for such games. Next, we got some art groups at deviantART, Fur Affinity and such, including WikiFur. To be honest, there are so many of them that I cannot remember all of them.
Pillgrim: Any podcasts? Radios? News web sites?
Lemurr: No, we don't do podcasts. We just hang out in Skype or Google Hangouts from time to time. We also have two forums. At the moment we are working on a web site for Polish furries. It's going to be more of a social web site where furries can meet each other. We also have a web site that lists all the event that are currently taking place, or which will be taking place in the future.
Hi-jera: Did you ever try to count Polish furries?
Lemurr: It's hard to count them because some of them are active on the Internet, and there are furries who would rather meet with each other in real life. But I can give the numbers: 250 furries and 15 fursuiters. I am not sure of the data because the numbers include furries that may be not part of the fandom any longer.
(after a long pause)
You know, I forgot to mention that one of the fursuiters, Bakus, has his own YouTube channel where he posts videos from various conventions, as well as material people send him. He doesn't have a big audience. And I apologize, I forgot to speak of him earlier.
Hi-jera: Looks a lot like what we do at WeFurries.
Lemurr: Once there were some guys who were trying to get furries together. They got the staff and the audience but when they were about to start it turned out that nobody was in any longer, and now nobody really mentions this project. I don't know if it happened because their ambitions were low, or because they were poorly organized.
Nickson: Sounds like you need a wake-up call.
Lemurr: Exactly. And not only a wake-up call but also an organizer who would keep an eye on those who want to back off. Because often people want to do something from the start and then they change their mind, and there's got to be someone who makes them do something, even if they don't want to! *laughs*
Nickson: Do you think you would want to visit Russia one day?
Lemurr: Oh yes, but the problem is, I am a pretty busy lemur and I have to find time for it.
Pillgrim: This year at the Russian furry convention there were many foreign furries from France, England and Germany.
Lemurr: You know, the main problem with Polish furry conventions is what most furries are either working or studying. German conventions are organized at the time when students have to attend schools and there is no way for them to skip it. I think it's the same with other conventions. And it's not only about the time. Many furries are students, so they are on a low budget.
Pillgrim: I can understand that.
Lemurr: Polish conventions are 4-10 times cheaper than foreign ones. I mean, it's amazing how people can organize it for free, in the sense that they get no money for it in return. (after a pause) I plan to visit some foreign conventions just because of my curiosity. I'd like to see what furries in other countries are like because I don't really have contact with most of them, even on the Internet. Maybe just a bit. And I would like to have more of this "just a bit".
Besides, I am a guy who prefers meeting in person. Meeting someone on the Internet feels like you don't really know who is there on the other side. I would rather hang out in a bar and talk face to face than to be typing away on the keyboard, because typing on the keyboard is my work.
Nickson: So Lemurr, the final question.
Hi-jera: Yes, what would you like to ask our listeners who are now listening to you?
Lemurr: Oh my god, this is the hardest question. I have no idea! I am so sorry! Wait--I have one: come to Poland to see for yourself how it's like here, and whether I've been lying or not! *laughs* - Just kidding. You are all welcome here. And have a nice evening, I guess. I am not really good with such wishes.
Pillgrim: Thank you for coming, Lemurr. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Lemurr: Thank you for inviting me.