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Even furries are no longer safe from neo-Nazi meddling

Sat 15 Apr 2017 - 14:10
And... another one...

From the A.V. CLUB
Even furries are no longer safe from neo-Nazi meddling
By Alex McLevy @alexm247
Posted yesterday at 12:59 p.m.

Photo: Carston Koall/Stringer/Getty
Photo: Carston Koall/Stringer/Getty

“First they came for the men dressed as giant furry rabbits, and I did nothing.” This is a sentence you may yet see when the future history of the rise of the “alt-right” (read: fascist neo-Nazis) in our contemporary era is written. A recent online conflagration that led to the cancelation of a furry convention in Colorado has shown that even the world of people who enjoy walking around as giant plush animals isn’t safe from incursion by assholes. The Daily Beast reports that Rocky Mountain Fur Con, an annual summit held in Denver for furries, has been shut down due to the activities of a group known as “Furry Raiders,” a name that actually pairs quite well with “Sad Puppies” and other like-minded groups that appear to have a real problem with minorities.

However, Furry Raiders has done its best to distance itself from these reprehensible ideologies. Or at least they’ve tried to make a show of such distancing. It doesn’t help that the group’s leader is named “Foxler” and dresses in a red armband that is identical to a Nazi armband, save for replacing the swastika with a paw print. If you listen to a lengthy YouTube video he posted last month, Foxler (who is quick to assure people it’s a portmanteau of “Fox” and his supposed surname “Miller,” and not a much more obvious play on “Hitler”) does his best to use the language of diversity and inclusion, saying the Furry Raiders welcome all people of all stripes or species, and that personal expression of any kind is very important to them. Unfortunately, it soon becomes apparent that the main kind of free expression Foxler wants to defend is the right to dress like an anthropomorphic Nazi fox. Also, if you’re pleading for respect for diversity in your desire to dress like a Nazi, maybe don’t send an empathetic tweet of that desire to Richard “I’ll always be the white supremacist who got punched in the face” Spencer. It looks bad.

Nonetheless, Foxler, who claims to have been ignorant of WWII history and any resemblance to literally one of the most notorious ideologies in world history, says the events that led to Fur Con’s cancelation are a big misunderstanding. It seems the rise of #AltFurry, a hashtag for furries who presumably don’t care much for women or people of color, led to condemnations of the look and ideas behind Furry Raiders, a group with a “very confusing past and a very confusing history,” according to Fur Con chairman Zachary Brooks, who might have a bit of his own confusion about the difference between the past and history. Regardless, in 2016, after it was announced what hotel the convention would be at, Furry Raiders quickly booked a massive block of rooms, preventing others not affiliated with the group from making any reservations. (“I had like a spare 10 extra rooms,” Foxler notes.) It was “seen by many as a malicious act by them to try to control who could and couldn’t attend. So that’s what really began the controversy with them,” Brooks continued.

From there, other furries began to discover overlap between the Fur Con board and Furry Raiders, and when a furry named Deo (who hadn’t even planned to attend Fur Con) made a crack on Twitter about how she “can’t wait to punch these Nazis” (this was right on the heels of Spencer getting clocked for all the world to see) and got the response that someone would “enjoying watching Deo get shot at the convention.” She notified the authorities, the hotel informed Fur Con it would require a security force that would cost more than twenty thousand dollars, and that was pretty much it for the convention. Whether Foxler himself espouses fascist ideology is unknown—Furry Raiders have started making rainbow armbands, among other colors, as a way to show its commitment to diversity—it seems obvious there are some in the #AltFurry community more than happy to wreck other people’s enjoyment of the non-fascist things in life, like being very, very committed to dressing up as cartoonish mammals.

There’s a whole other aspect to the story that involves a member of the Fur Con board being involved with sovereign citizen activities and also a convicted sex offender, which is probably not high on the list of things with which furries want to be associated. Also, other furries discovered Fur Con, which claimed to be run by a nonprofit, had actually had that status revoked back in 2011 for failure to file statements with the IRS. Basically, it’s a whole mess, and a lot of it can be chalked up to a likely small group of guys who start statements with things like, “I’m not a neo-Nazi, but...” This is why we can’t have nice things, or even harmless but slightly unsettling things, depending on your views of the furry community.
Categories: News

Does the Furry Community Have a Nazi Problem?

Sat 15 Apr 2017 - 13:22
Yep...even the Rolling Stone mag has it...

The Rocky Mountain Fur Con has been hosting huge annual conventions for a decade – but will infighting mean the end? Furry Raiders

Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017 – a convention for enthusiasts who wear animal costumes ingrained with human characteristics for roleplaying – has been canceled. On Monday, the RMFC board of directors organizing the 10th annual event, set to be held in Denver next August, posted a statement that a "movement has grown into a community that promotes violence" which resulted in a "sudden and drastic increase in security costs" exceeding a third of the event's operating budget.
'Radically Mainstream': Why the Alt-Right Is Celebrating Trump's Win

"We've been legitimized by this election," says movement leader Richard Spencer

The announcement came after the founder of the Furry Raiders, an outlier group within the anthropomorphic subculture, adopted an armband which featured a black paw on a red background that some thought had a striking resemblance to a part of the Nazi uniform. Convention chairman Zachary Brooks did not directly name the Furry Raiders in his account, but convention staff identified the Furry Raiders as being at the center of the controversy after being labeled a neo-Nazi group throughout the community, which largely exists online.

Lee Miller, the 29-year-old Fort Collins furry who wears the armband as his Foxler Nightfire fursona, has in turn been accused of being a neo-Nazi. He denies any connection between his armband and that of the Third Reich. Online forums have characterized the Furry Raiders as a "neo-nazi cult-like group" recruiting members with "gifts, grooming and manipulation," according to Dogpatch Press, a blog covering the furry community. But Miller does not agree with such descriptions. "We have a strong stance about keeping equal rights and personal creativity within the fandom," says Miller, who adds that he has never been banned from a convention contrary to other furry beliefs.

On January 26th, a furry identifying as a Tasmanian Devil named Deo tweeted, "Can't wait to punch Nazis," which led another furry with a now-deleted Twitter handle of @Oliviameles to comment, "Watching you get shot by someone defending themselves from unprovoked assault will be far more entertaining."

The Denver Police eventually investigated the comments and found the threats credible enough that convention host Marriott Tech Center demanded $22,000 to hire off-duty officers for security, according to Flayrah, an online news magazine for furry fandom. "People overreacted," Brooks told the Denver Post. "As it got more and more heated, people started talking about beating up people wearing the symbol. They said, 'We've got a right to protect ourselves and we are going to bring weapons.'"

The RMFC board puts on one of the top-10 attended conventions in the United States, and expected over 2,000 furries to attend this summer, according to David Gonzalez, director of marketing at RMFC in Colorado. Their parent company, Mid-American Anthropomorphic and Arts Corporation (MAAAC), is now focused on issuing refunds for the cancelled convention. "The board of MAAAC has not voted to dissolve the corporation, but the continuation of RMFC beyond 2017 does not look very likely," says Gonzalez. Turns out the in-fighting has been an ongoing situation for at least the past year and a half. "The casual threats they were tossing at one another were the final straw," says Gonzalez. "It may be the end for RMFC, but the online threats of violence will crop up again for other conventions." To shed light on the recent cancellation, Rolling Stone interviewed furries to find out what's happening in their community.

Rocky Mountain Fur Con was created for all persuasions
In 2007, the MAAAC hosted the first RMFC convention for the growing number of furries seeking acceptance in Colorado. The social events have since attracted furries mostly of Millennial age to mingle, dance, listen to guest speakers and attend literary events, as well as hosting informational panels. "It's just like any fan-base conference," says Gonzalez. Furry comedian 2 Gryphon often makes appearances and artists sell paintings of their part-animal, part-human avatars. Last year, the RMFC welcomed about 1,670 furries, 65 vendors and 35 artists.

The Furry Raiders group was started on the website Second Life, and now has roughly 1,000 members. Furry Raiders

The Furry Raiders say they have no political agenda
The year of the RMFC debut, a small group of furries started the "Furry Raiders project" formed in the online virtual world Second Life, with no goals other than to "help furries purchase items in the game," says Miller, the founder. The group grew to 1,000 members over three years and he backed out because he could not afford to give furries real money to buy hairstyles for their characters or gardens and castles for their in-game properties. But in 2014, Miller resurrected the Furry Raiders after seeing media accounts describing their community not as a creative safe zone but as a world for kinky fetishists.

"Our goal became to continue the furry fandom in the way it was founded, where everyone has the chance to express themselves and have the creativity they desired," says Miller, who joined the community as a 12-year-old loner struggling with the death of his father. But after a while, he realized some furries were not as accepting as he thought. "People were governing the image of what furry fandom should be," says Miller, referring to furries who told him to remove his armband. "We realized we can't pick and choose what people do. There are furries that are into bestiality. Others draw younger characters and it gives them a creative outlet in a safe manner. If they continue to stay in a creative community like this they won't harm people or animals. We can't just say we hate you."

Despite Miller's comments, furries like Crummles Upton believe that the Furry Raiders are "notorious for breaking rules under the guise of free speech." In an interview conducted with Rolling Stone via Twitter, the furry mentions examples of how group members troll furries online and spread hate speech at conventions. "The Raiders have an M.O. of publicly saying stuff along the lines of wanting inclusiveness and just getting along with people, but in person or in DMs they act contrary to that," according to Upton.

Foxer Nightfire's arm band is a furry symbol, he says, not a nod to neo-Nazism
Miller discovered the infamous armband in 2007 as a free item in Second Life. The Furry Raiders then spent over $700 to physically make 100 armbands that varied in color. "The red armband became part of my persona, but people started telling me I had to change and I wouldn't do that," says Miller. Five years ago, furries began calling him a neo-Nazi because they felt there were similarities between his armband and those of the Nazis, as well as a resemblance to armbands worn by the "Furzis" on Second Life, a contentious group of furries interested in German history and World War II. Miller, who describes himself as a high school dropout "knowledgeable in computers but uneducated in history and politics," reached out to actual actual neo-Nazis via online forums. "I told them I was a furry and they said, 'What the fuck is this shit?'" says Miller. "They found out 60 percent of furries are gay males and told me, 'Get the fuck out of here.'"

Last year, Miller wore an armband to the RMFC. "It grew into a big problem," says Miller. After the election last November, a group calling themselves Anti-Fascist Furries organized and tried to get Nazi Furs banned from such conventions, and also encouraged furries to "boycott events that didn’t ban the Furry Raiders from attending," according to Vice.

Last Year's RMFC 2016 might have been the last Rocky Mountain Fur Convention, according to an organizer. Furry Raiders

In January, the RMFC board issued a statement announcing that in light of the controversy, they would ban all clothing and accessories showing "offensive messages or symbols." The RMFC board struggled to weigh the balance between total acceptance and having to get a handle on furry in-fighting. "It's kind of difficult for any kind of convention to police anybody's outside behavior," says Gonzalez. "Ostensibly, we would have a lot of people banned." That same month, Miller tweeted a photo as Foxer Nightfire wearing an armband with the hashtag #altfurry. He believes some furries have abandoned their original message of acceptance. "People have given us a lot of shit for the arm band that I wear," says Miller. "If you want to accept everyone else, I should be welcomed, too."

So, is Miller a neo-Nazi? "I don't know politics," says Miller, who notes that he voted for Foxer Nightlife in last year's presidential election. "I'm not in a position to make any decision on Nazis, Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. I stick with the furry concept. Some ideas in America need to be protected." Furzis, Nazi Furs and Soviet Furs have asked him about the armband, and he believes they are questioning him because they are "non-political, history buffs, nothing more."

"I do not see my armband as National Socialism," says Miller, who makes a point to say that he has German and Thai lineage and is now dating a man who identifies as African-and Asian-American. "I see the armband as a symbol of furriness. It's not a tool or device to promote Nazism. It's a roleplaying tool. Anything in the furry community is just created out of fantasy and taking it seriously is just asinine. Given my background, Hitler would be rolling in his grave."

A MAAAC board member sent a cease and desist letter to a furry
In January, Deo reached out to the RMFC board via Twitter and sent an email to their security team to report the threats, she tells Rolling Stone through Twitter. There was no response until April 3rd when she received a letter from Kendal Emery aka Kahuki, a board member of MAAAC and RMFC, who personally sent a cease and desist letter to Deo's house. Emery, who stepped down as RMFC chair after a 1993 felony conviction for Criminal Sexual Contact with a Minor was revealed in 2008, wrote that Deo's "false statements" caused "substantial commercial injury damage" and mentioned the possibility of a class-action lawsuit. He ended the letter with a red ink thumbprint, according to Deo. The FBI views such seals and content as representative of the Sovereign Citizens Movement, a lethal subculture whose followers "hold truly bizarre, complex antigovernment beliefs" that are "rooted in racism and anti-Semitism," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, he denied any association with that group, noting that the fingerprint "just means it's me that wrote it."

After receiving the letter, Deo contacted police in her home state, along with a Colorado lawyer. "I do not take lightly to convicted felons mailing me threatening things," says Deo. On April 10th, she went public with the letter to "warn my furry community of these unstable individuals." Later that day, Brooks announced that the RMFC was cancelled. Deo maintains that her tweeting about punching Nazis was a "joke I said to my friend" referring to a meme of Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer.

The RMFC board became aware of Emery's letter after it was made public. "We're not pursuing it," says Gonzalez, speaking as a member of the organizing committee for RMFC. "We deeply regret it was ever sent and contacted the recipient." (Emery told the Daily Beast that he had the full approval of the board to send the letter.) Today, the furry community is heartbroken, angry and confused. "We try to be as inclusive as possible," says Gonzalez. "But furries have become far more politically polarized and there's a greater willingness to call someone out publicly and try to force them to act. That's what happened here. It's fair to say that we're not prepared for that."

Miller, who remains perhaps one of the most polarizing of figures in the furry community, claims that he has been "trolled, slandered, harassed and threatened" over the past year. From his computer, Miller watches the online bickering and he is filled with shame to see the MAAAC and RMFC crumble. "For me, being a furry is a personal outlet to understand the real world," says Miller. "Others find it fun. Others find it spiritual. And others go for sexual purposes. People take on completely different characteristics and sometimes I can't even tell who's in the suit. I'm the same person in and out of the suit."
Categories: News

The Bizarre Fall of Rocky Mountain Fur Con

Fri 14 Apr 2017 - 15:47
I find this very disturbing. Please read the original:

April 12, 2017 Trae Dorn

When most conventions end their run, it’s usually for pretty simple reasons. Either the con has run out of money, the organizers’ personal lives have gotten in the way, there isn’t enough staff to keep going, or they have unsolvable venue issues. For good or bad, it’s usually straightforward.

Well, this time it’s not.

Earlier this week, Rocky Mountain Fur Con (originally scheduled for this August) was officially cancelled. The con ended its decade long run in a bizarre set of circumstances involving a faction of Nazi Furries, the Sovereign Citizen movement, and a staff member on the sex offender registry.

Strap in. It’s going to be quite the ride.

Problems in Rocky Mountain Fur Con’s management aren’t anything new. Kendal Ray Emery stepped down as Convention Chair in 2008 after it became publicly known that he was a registered sex offender. We don’t know a lot of details about Emery’s offense, though searching the Colorado Sex Offender Registry tells us that he was convicted of sexual contact with a minor in 1993.

He was thirty at the time of the incident.

While Emery hasn’t re-offended or been accused of anything in the decades since, it wasn’t exactly good PR for a Furry convention trying to promote a safe image to have a registered sex offender in charge. Emery would also later sign over ownership of Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation (which operates Rocky Mountain Fur Con) to Zachary “Sorin” Brooks in 2011. This was most likely due to the same pressures that caused him to step down as chair.

Kendal Ray Emery’s Photo From the Colorado Sex Offender Registry
Furry news website Flayrah also discovered that in 2011 MAAAC and Rocky Mountain Fur Con had lost their non-profit and tax exempt status, even though the event continued to advertise themselves as such on their about page and official Twitter account’s bio. The Flayrah article also alleges that organizers have not paid the necessary taxes since this happened, though when talking to the Denver Post Brooks denied this. Brooks stated that while the con did lose their 501(c)(3) status in 2011, the organization had started properly filing taxes after that occurred.

Regardless of whether or not MAAAC is compliant with what the IRS requires, claiming to be a 501(c)(3) when you’re not is fairly sketchy.

The amazing thing is, all of this is just a small factor in the failure of Rocky Mountain Fur Con. The larger issue (and what’s referred to in the statements actually released by the convention) have to do with backlash associated with a group called the “Furry Raiders.” For those of you outside of furry fandom, the “Furry Raiders” are a Colorado based group of furries founded by “Foxler Nightfire” who are, effectively, Nazis.

Yes, there are Nazi furries out there, and no it doesn’t make a damn lick of sense to me either.

Now, in all fairness, if you asked the Furry Raiders if they were Nazis, they’d say no. I mean, sure — they wear arm bands based around the design of the Nazi party, replacing the swastika with a paw. And yes, their Fur Affinity page used to list their birthday as Adolph Hitler’s. And yes, the Nazi imagery is just plain everywhere with their stuff. And yes, their founder has said some pretty racist things. And yes, Foxler has… oh god, I could go on for hours.

So yeah, they say they’re not Nazis, but they’re totally Nazis.

The group doesn’t always get the warmest reception at events (due to the whole pseudo-Nazi paraphernalia thing), but one place they’ve found a home at is Rocky Mountain Fur Con. This doesn’t always sit well with the rest of the community needless to say. As the Dog Patch reports, one furry who wasn’t too fond of them goes by the name Deo. Deo made a joke on Twitter about punching Nazis (regarding the Furry Raiders), and that’s when the following exchange happened:

We had to include that as a screenshot since some of the tweets have been deleted. If you’re wondering why a random Twitter conversation is important, it’s because this (at least as far was we can tell) is the main reason the convention was cancelled.

If your brain has started hurting, I’m sorry.

Deo reported the incident to Rocky Mountain Fur Con. I mean, this “Olivia” person had said it would be entertaining to see Deo get shot and talked about bringing a gun to the con. The convention eventually responded, but not in a way Deo expected. You see, Deo received a very bizarre “cease and desist” letter in the mail:

The letter, signed by Emery (who bizarrely identifies himself as “Chief Executive Contract Law Officer”) is full of legal sounding yet completely nonsensical text. They accuse Deo of “encouraging” the person who said it would be nice to see her get shot (which is a special kind of irony), and say that Deo has made “threats of violence against a class of people through a wire service across national boarders.”

I mean, besides the fact that Nazis aren’t a “class of people,” Deo (at least according to Dogpatch Press) is located in the United States. The word Emery was looking for is “borders” too (assuming he isn’t talking about people making threats over folks just trying to rent a room), and it’s kind of my favorite sentence of all time. He ends the letter saying that if there are any objections, Deo must respond to the letter or else she’s agreeing to its contents — which isn’t how cease and desist letters work even remotely.

You’ll also notice that Emery signed the letter in red with a red fingerprint. This is indicative of a whole other bit of weirdness – the Sovereign Citizen movement. Sovereign Citizens believe that they are not subject to the government or laws of the United States, and the FBI considers them a growing domestic threat. One of the more harmless things they’re known to do is insist on signing in red ink instead of blue or black (as they think red represents the blood of the people) and insist that a red fingerprint is the highest form of ID. If you don’t know how insane this stuff can get, here’s a hilarious example.

As Sovereign Citizens believe the States are meant to be separate nations, this may explain the bizarre “national boarders [sic]” line in the letter. As it’s also not uncommon for them to ignore tax law, it adds an interesting context to Flayrah’s allegations and Brooks’s subsequent denial. One of the favorite weapons of Sovereign Citizens is to try and send fake documents and make frivolous legal filings against those they believe to be their enemies.

Which Emery clearly sees Deo as here.

So, while taking the side of a bunch of Furry Nazis, the con decided that the only way they could keep operating was to increase security. You know, to stop the person who joked about punching people and not, say, the person who talked about people getting shot and implied they might bring a gun to the con. This cost must have been too much, because they then announced they were cancelling the con over these concerns.

I’ve embedded the official message from the con above, and you should click through and read the whole thing. Honestly, the irony is amazingly thick – as the “hate and intolerance” they refer to is hatred of Nazis. I mean, the con is saying that it’s wrong to hate a literal hate group. I cannot even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance of this statement. The con has said they will refund as many people as they can, but that they may not have the money to do so.

I honestly wouldn’t hold my breath if you’re expecting your money back.

In the end, the con’s actual cancellation makes very little sense. Any real “security” threats really seem like they’d come from the people the con is actually defending, and I can’t see the financials suddenly going in the red because of it. Something else is happening here, but I’m not exactly sure what it is.

If I ever find out, I’m sure it will be depressingly hilarious.

Via Dogpatch Press, Flayrah, Denver Post, Reddit
Categories: News

Unsuspecting Woman Brings Therapy Dog to Local Furry Convention

Fri 14 Apr 2017 - 15:38

Unsuspecting Woman Brings Therapy Dog to Local Furry Convention
By Madison Malone Kircher

Link the therapy dog and some of his new furry friends.

Before last weekend, Cheryl Wassus had no idea what a “furry” was. So naturally, when the Motor City Furry Convention chose Pets for Vets (a nonprofit that pairs dogs with military veterans) as its charity of choice, she assumed that she and Link, her one-year-old Bernese mountain dog, would be spending the day at an animal event. She wasn’t wrong, necessarily — it’s just that the animals were maybe slightly more anthropomorphized than she had envisioned.

Today, Cheryl Wassus — whose son, Kenny, is a senior producer here at New York Media — definitely knows what a furry is. This is her story.

So what did you think you were walking into on Saturday?
You know, I have been affiliated with Pets for Vets for a while, and what I try to do is promote the program. I’ve got a really nice dog who has been trained with the benchmarks [for being a certified therapy dog] … so it’s nice to take Link and get him out there and have him exposed — because he is a young dog — to lots of different things. I really had no idea what to expect going in on Saturday. This organization had chosen us as their charity. They actually solicited us, and adopted us more or less, as their go-to charity for this big function. This is just a whole subculture I wasn’t even aware existed. When we set up tables and do promos and educate the public and do outreach, I had no idea the outreach was going to be other human … furry people. I guess you’re never too old to learn.

Did you get the chance to talk to many of the furries?
Yes. I learned so much about this whole new culture of people who get together and dress up in furry costumes. I didn’t know that there was this progression — like first, they choose a name, and start off with just a tail and ears. But from there, some of these costumes are amazing, and so elaborate. I was asking a lot of questions. Where do you get these? Where do you come up with something like this? A lot of people design their own, I guess. They decide what character they want to be, and then they spend lots of money having these costumes made. And then, they all get together for these events. Similar people. Similar interests. And they come together [at cons].

Right. Like the one you and Link attended.
Yeah, I had no idea I was walking into Furry Con. It was a little embarrassing at first because Link was just a little curious why people were wearing tails, so he was doing some serious tail-sniffing and checking out people. They weren’t offended, though, they just embraced him. It was all good. Just a real interested community.

So you had never heard of furries before this weekend, I take it?
Never. No. I didn’t know there were furries. The only furry I’d ever seen was at Easter, when somebody might put on one of those gigantic Easter-bunny costumes at a local egg hunt. That was my whole background with furries. That was it for me.

The photos your son tweeted are so funny; Link’s eyes seem to bug out of his head more and more with every new furry he meets.
You know, you can’t replicate that. I train puppies and do training with Canine Good Citizen and do trip training, and you cannot replicate what that one afternoon of walking him through every imaginable costume and scenario, with all of these different people and being in a new place. I was talking to one of the moms [of a furry], while I was sitting at our [Pets for Vets] booth, and she said a lot of these kids just aren’t understood. Her son got into it, and she said sometimes they don’t have the confidence to move around comfortably — socially, in groups — but they put on these costumes, and they’re transformed.

Did the furries and Link get along?
Yeah! We actually did a panel discussion about our charity and what we do, and these people, these furries, were very taken by what we do. Laurie [another volunteer] did a really nice presentation about the brain, when it comes to PTSD and vets, and they took off their furry costumes, or just the heads. Those things have to get incredibly warm. I can’t fathom wearing one of those all day. But, yes, they were absolutely tuned in … I saw some tears, people were definitely listening and paying attention. I don’t know what the final toll will be, but I imagine Pets for Vets is going to do quite well.

[Editor’s Note: The Motor City Furry Con raised $10,000 for Pets for Vets.]

Did you have a favorite furry costume?
The one, and I thought he might really put off my Link, was the big guy in the black wolf costume. He looked so awesome. He even has a different tint on the eyes, the degree of workmanship is amazing. It’s like Hollywood level. That guy’s costume was probably my favorite, and he seemed to really enjoy Link, too.

After spending the day with them, how do you feel about furries now?
To each his own. This seems pretty harmless. It seemed like there were lots of people around the same age. I saw little pieces of humanity I’d never seen before.

Is it safe to say you won’t be buying yourself a furry costume anytime soon?
No, I don’t think so. No. You know, you get a little older, a little menopausal, and being in that many layers and layers of fur. No need to be overheating. I’m good.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Categories: News

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:

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:

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:

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.

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:

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: 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:

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.

Categories: News

Furries Explain How They Developed Their 'Fursonas'

Sun 12 Jun 2016 - 12:19

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!

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.

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:

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:

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:

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


Tue 15 Mar 2016 - 17:36

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:

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:

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