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Fluff Pieces Every Week
Updated: 6 hours 45 min ago

At Furry Weekend Atlanta, an academic philosopher wins a job by the power of fandom.

Mon 11 Nov 2019 - 10:00

art by Goldendruid

The human species is diverse, but anywhere you go, there’s job-seekers hungry to start careers. At least one of them is a tennis-playing philosopher with a FurAffinity account, a raccoon fursona and a cool story: WildeCard. (Here’s his personal site.)

In human form, he’s a Postdoc researcher and ethics course instructor at Ohio State University’s Center for Ethics and Human Values. He’s working on a book titled The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation: The Ethics of Procreation, which explores the ethics of slowing population growth. (For humans — no word about raccoons, bunnies or others with prodigious proliferation.)

How did he get there? WildeCard writes in:

“I recently documented how my experience on the academic job market (in philosophy) overlapped with attending Furry Weekend Atlanta 2019. And by overlapped, I mean that I was literally doing job interviews from my hotel room while attending this convention. That part of the story comes near the tail-end of an 8-month search for academic employment, which was ultimately successful.

The relevant (and lengthy) blog post is here.”

His 8 months of searching started with a Google Spreadsheet with 196 possible jobs, of which he applied to 118. His story is aimed to help other hopeful seekers, with a twist.

“There are some aspects of this story that are extremely idiosyncratic and unlikely to be a part of anyone else’s job search.” 

“How could one venture into the cartoonish landscape of ludicrous photo-ops and cringe-inducing animal puns, and then later be expected to discuss population ethics or how to approach teaching non-philosophy majors?”

Juggling 118 job applications was depression-inducing, but WildeCard made time for the fluffier things in life.

At FWA 2019, he ran a panel called Discussing the Furry Fandom with Non-Furries “to give people a little advice on how they can go about discussing the furry fandom with friends, family, coworkers, and other curious acquaintances.” (It covers topics like: Reasons to Disclose Membership in the Furry Community, Handling People with Strong Negative Views of the Fandom, and Impact on One’s Career.)

I get questions about this ALL THE TIME. So I never want to hear “what can you do with a philosophy degree?” It’s almost as silly as questioning the prestige and fortune that comes with Furry Journalism.

Literally made a Furry 101 playlist with all the basics you can ask for. https://t.co/SMLvBOBZJv

????️‍????David OK Boomervich (@Bookworm_Review) November 9, 2019

WildeCard’s story is mainly for other job-seekers, but also contains a good explanation of the fandom, with a demonstration of furry power from a great ambassador. It has self-evaluation about how he handled the handfuls of job interviews that came from his applications — some with great difficulty, and some with high confidence. That makes an intriguing clue about the secret to his success.

“In my first 100 applications, I did not get a single offer. In my last 18 applications, I got 3.”

“50% of my interviews at furry conventions yielded job offers.”

They do always have lucky rabbits feet there. (Also the rest of the rabbits, otherwise this might not be such a happy story.) Thanks to WildeCard for showing that furries come from many walks (and hops and scurries) of life, with lots of talent, smarts and success.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Underrated furry news sources

Wed 6 Nov 2019 - 10:05

So, you want to know what’s up in furry news. There’s that site from the dog with holographic pants, but it’s blabbing about obscure art movies and being too sexy to handle. There’s that site that smells like carrots, but their comment section is toxic waste. Maybe there’s a more respectable site ready to grow. Hmm… nothing but a merchandising front here, and a spam blog there… why hasn’t this need been solved yet?

Writers have lives, and fandom won’t pay for 1/10th of the cost for ones willing to slave over a hot keyboard all day. Social media can make reach, but has negatives like users who bite the hand that feeds. If you find anything decent, it’s like a gift given despite the costs. You won’t find it for sale in the mainstream.

When it’s a labor of love, think of this oxymoron: “unbiased fandom.” That’s self contradicting, and it’s possible there will never be a news source for furries that isn’t run by some agenda (personal passion is a fine agenda). Don’t hunt for a unicorn, just go find the ones that do it well. There’s stakes too. When “sensational media” is blamed for image problems, the solution is “Be The Media”. That’s how fandom works, so be a fan for the little ones with potential.

1991 (from confurence.com)

InFurNation https://www.infurnation.com

Weekly posts about books, movies, TV, art, games, and anything creative curated by Rod O’Riley (co-founder of the first fur con). On paper since 1991 and the web since 2009.

Our team of researchers scour the globe looking for new things and events of interest to furry fans.  And who’s on that team?  Us… and you! If you know about some cool upcoming things that funny animal fanatics might want to see – and buy! – then write to us! Contact our head writer at his e-mail, rodso64@hotmail.com.

Rod, Mark Merlino, and Changa Lion share Southern California’s Skiltaire house. I keep nudging them to consolidate effort because they do so much for too little recognition. Imagine one content stream, backed by a Patreon to sustain all their stuff under one brand:

Reddit

Finding furry info there is like drinking from a firehose. R/furry is sort of a forum just for art, you can barely get to know anyone, and there’s no curation of topics. Imagine the front page of Furaffinity, minus porn which all goes to r/yiff. Then r/furry_IRL is just for memes. That covers most of furry Reddit. But there’s potential in small subreddits. These look good:

Twitter

It’s hard to call this a source, and beware of falling in past the event horizon. If you wanted to find all the great accounts to follow, it could take forever. (For example: Furries Out of Context, Unintentional Furries.) Try these:

In hibernation?

  • [adjective][species]: Essays, issues, data.
  • Culturally F’d: Not news, but more like documentary/popular education.
  • Furrymedia: Livejournal petered out but news aggregation could easily happen on one of those subreddits.
  • Furstarter: Furry crowdfunding was well covered there in 2016 and would be great to have as a feature here.

Got any others? Leave a tip. Or start one.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Meet Magferret, artist for October’s site banner.

Mon 4 Nov 2019 - 10:00

(Patch:) Hi Mag. Very nice art and it’s a pleasure to host it. The site is commissioning regular new banners and featuring the artists, with a goal to give attention to ones outside the US. The last one was Alf Doggo from Chile. Can you give a little intro about yourself, where you live, and where to find you on social media?

Hi! My name is Mag, I’m from England and I draw cartoons and make music! I’m most active on Twitter where I post a bunch of my art!

Do you mostly do art in furry fandom, or somewhere else like for non furries? Do you do it for a living or just sometimes for money or for fun?

I’ve been taking commissions for over 10 years now, but went full-time with my art around 2 years ago. I’ve done some art for indie game projects, but the majority of my art is commissioned from within from the fandom which has honestly been such a pleasure! The fandom has some of the kindest, most supportive people ever and I’m really lucky to have such an amazing community of followers to interact with, I’m nothing without those guys!

Can you say more about your art? I notice it all looks SFW and wholesome, and it’s multi talented even involving music. For the art you did for the site, my favorite part is the zombie possum, who might just be playing dead because that’s what possums do. And why are you so good at toony ferrets?

I mostly draw toony animals, the cuter and squisher the better! As for being good at drawing toony ferrets, I think that just comes with how long I’ve been drawing for! I started drawing back in 2003 roughly, mostly drawing video game characters I liked. I wasn’t very good at it, but I enjoyed drawing and kept at it. I started taking my art more seriously in 2007 and began posting my stuff online / drawing a lot more. It’s surprising how quickly you can improve at something if you really dedicate yourself to it!

I also make music under the name Skooshed. I released an album called “Anxious Dreamer” earlier this year. It’s a personal, downtempo / chill album. You can find it on Spotify or Bandcamp (https://skooshed.bandcamp.com/).

How did you find furry, and what’s the fandom like where you live? Do you spend time with other furries in real life?

I don’t really remember the exact moment I found the fandom. I’ve always been into toons since I was super young and spent pretty much all my free time watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, so naturally when I got on the internet I made friends with a few people on forums who were into toons and it kinda went from there.

There’s quite a few furries in the UK and I attend a bunch of cons around Europe too. I’ll have a table at Confuzzled in May 2020, so if you’re there, come say hi!

Do you have any favorite furry characters, whether in game or movies or tv — or favorite artists people should check out?

Oh man, I have way too many fav characters to list! Bonkers and Sylvester are a few of my favs. As for artists you should check out, go follow @gatorblits on Twitter – their stuff is always amazing!

Do you have one more favorite piece of art you drew that you want shared?

I’ve been playing the Links Awakening remake recently, so here some art of Mag dressed as Link!

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

On hiatus with a house move

Tue 29 Oct 2019 - 10:00

Furry news, reviews, interviews and more will be back after a while. The site has been active since 2014 with 1115 articles published. It will be nice to get going again with cool plans in the works, and more than 100 possible story projects kept on file. Check back later and thanks for reading. – Patch

Categories: News

Rukus movie review

Wed 23 Oct 2019 - 10:00

This unusual movie got 5 support articles before I was ready for a personal review. It’s hard to nail down, so the work got really labored over, but it deserves the effort. – Patch  

Rukus was an artist from Florida who committed suicide in 2008 at age 23. He was a mercurial muse to his friends. Linear storytelling about him could make a sad movie, but Rukus comes from many directions. It overlaps documentary of him, with his boyfriend reflecting on their relationship, and his friendship with film maker Brett Hanover. His enigmatic presence weaves through Hanover’s personal life, which goes from trouble with OCD to finding completion in relationships and art. The life of Rukus becomes points on a trajectory of escape from pain.

The directing style frames lo-fi video with dramatized memories, daydreams and fiction from Rukus. They’re re-enacted by younger and older stand-ins for him, and voiced with animation. It’s one of those arty movies that doesn’t easily boil down to one commercial line, but it’s directed with purpose. When the pieces don’t fit together neatly, the negative space holds a chewy assortment of themes.

There’s repressed abuse, disconnection, and love outside of hetero norms. It touches on conflict with anti-gay religion in the Southern US, but it’s more involved with a setting in furry fandom. Furries have a loveably eccentric subculture of fans for talking-animal media that appears in fantasy art by Rukus, internet role-play, a hotel convention, and a stage play. Those feed the human connections in the movie. You also get to see a costumer called a “whore bear” and a moment of tender toes-in-nose contact that turns into crosswired love.

The movie is outstanding for merging fiction and documentary while drawing from a subculture rarely seen in any feature film. It premiered at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, where furries came for group fursuiting (with full body costumes that make unique “fursonas”). That’s sort of like how Comic Con cosplayers emulate Hollywood superheroes, but those don’t keep their powers when the movie ends.

Rukus casts animal shadows behind misfits who play muses for each other, and delivers bittersweet satisfaction. You can see it now on rukusmovie.com.

Just watched Rukus on Vimeo – an intersection of the furry world and the indie film circuit I never expected to witness. But I loved it! https://t.co/rKOvjsLJGv

— Apollo (@Apollo_Wolfdog) October 17, 2019

Lots to process tonight. I still miss him.

— Vulp-o-Matic 3000™ (@triadfox) October 19, 2019

More reading between the lines — Figurative bridges and liminal places

There’s 6 bridges crossing the San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate is in the most movies. Outside my window, the Richmond-San Rafael bridge is glittering with traffic. In 1964, a troubled woman stopped her car in the lane there, got out, and leapt to her death. A journey cut short like that changes those left behind.

She was the wife of sociologist Erving Goffman. He focused on microsociology (personal relations between individuals) and symbolic interactionism. That’s about the theater of everyday life, and how people manage impressions they give to others. It can involve not feeling at home in your own skin, hiding insecurity or depression behind smiles, or role-play that helps make bridges to other people.

Goffman avoided publicizing his life, but the loss led him to write crypto-biographical work. He studied insane asylum inmates for a paper about stigma, mental illness, and institutionalization called The Insanity of Place:

Although the author does not make direct references to himself, he appears to be drawing on his own painful experience… It is hard to avoid the impression that we are dealing with a “message in a bottle” intimating how the author coped with a personal tragedy at a crucial junction in his life.

Brett Hanover described Rukus as happening in liminal space between people: social media and virtual worlds, punk houses in the south, and furry fandom hotel conventions. They’re temporary sanctums of liberation. Contrast with what Goffman called a total institution (a place cut off from the wider community, where people lead an enclosed, formally administered life.)

Rukus brings sanity to displacement felt by it’s subjects. Hanover gives his own biographical view that puts heart in the transitions from view to view. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rukus tells how he was found dead. It segues to a child stand-in telling his fantasy story to Hanover, which pulls out to show the movie crew. It lightens what came before, and loops back to where the movie started. Friends and animal shapes become ushers for Rukus to cross a bridge, and the hole he left is filled with elegaic spirit.

A critical look at the spirit of the movie might ask if it has to do with the zeitgeist. Maybe a little, when current news and politics has so much struggle about border walls and who belongs in places.

The insanity of place came up on Nextdoor, the neighborhood based social media platform. For the bridge outside my window, a pedestrian-bike lane was attacked as a waste, like everyone would be happy with just cars. The theme was “stay in your lane.” That drama fuels Best of Nextdoor, a misanthropic comedy channel with 8 times more followers than the company’s (and an ironic PR thorn in their side). When neighbors are jerks on social media, sometimes all you can do is laugh.

That ties to one of the year’s most talked about movies, Joker, with a sad clown who’s isolated and powerless in a degrading city. There’s a key scene with subway traffic where he violently fights bullies to gain his power, leading to media sensationalizing. The movie’s budget and PR force it to power over public notice, unlike Rukus with it’s intimate use of role-play.

The media ties to one more ingredient about the furries in Rukus. They’re shy about exposure from a history of tabloids exploiting them as freaks. It’s a small movie that dignifies with politics of caring, instead of forcing a message. We need more personal media like this about people crossing bridges together and finding their place.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Furry support: Good Furry Award open for nomination, MidAnthro launches scholarship.

Mon 21 Oct 2019 - 10:00

In a group that loves supporting itself and its creators, funding is key. Some furry fandom activity can be a self-sustaining occupation, like creating art or fursuits. It can be nearly impossible for most fandom event organizing or writing. Corporate sponsorship is treated as toxic; crowdfunding is never a guarantee. It’s why things work the way they do, such as *ahem* the time-consuming work of news writing for nonprofit community benefit.

Awards that support furries who qualify are very rare. I’d seen flyers at cons for a furry writer’s residency program (although details aren’t turning up), and then there’s the Good Furry Award.

The Good Furry Award was established in 2018 by Grubbs Grizzly. It gives annual recognition to one winner for outstanding spirit in the furry community. The first one went to Tony “Dogbomb” Barrett. The winner gets a crystal trophy of recognition and check for $500 to use for anything they want. Grubbs says he made it because:

It seems to me that every time something negative happens in the fandom, people focus on that too much to the point of giving the entire fandom a bad reputation. Rather than paying attention to the few furries who cause trouble, I would like us all to focus on furries who do good things and are good people. Let’s give those furries some attention instead!

Nominations are open now. You can do it here: http://www.askpapabear.com/good-furry-award.html

The Cobalt The Fox Memorial Scholarship from Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, Inc.

An annual $1000 educational scholarship is coming from The Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, a Maryland nonprofit that organizes events like Fur the ‘More and Fur-b-Que. It honors Cobalt The Fox, their staffer who passed away in October 2017.

Who will it support? Details are pending for how to apply. Fur the ‘More’s chair Kit Drago told me: “it will likely be competitive. The application process is expected to have several criteria and questions as well as an essay.” (I wonder if the criteria could favor students in art or things like environmental/animal science, but wait for updates.)

The press release:

The Mid-Atlantic Anthropomorphic Association, Inc. (“MidAnthro”) is pleased to announce a new program which directly contributes to the furry community.

For MidAnthro staff, volunteers, and executives, the furry fandom has been a welcoming, warm, and supportive home. Whether each of us has been here for a few weeks or for decades, we’ve gained lifelong friendships, learned valuable lessons, and experienced the positive power of a diverse, creative community.

MidAnthro’s mission is to promote charitable giving, social responsibility, and education in creative disciplines via community-driven events. We have a vested interest in making this mission a reality for our fellow fandom denizens. In the words of our flagship program event, Fur the More, we want to “Go Further and Do More”.

David Gonce, better known as Cobalt to his friends, was an inquisitive, charitable, and supportive member of the furry community. Not only was Cobalt a staff member for MidAnthro events, but they were also a volunteer at for the Community Fire Company of Perryville. Cobalt, despite his positivity, abruptly left us on October 7, 2017. His presence, positivity, and friendship have been missed by everyone in the organization since then.

In furtherance of our goals as a non-profit organization, to help the community we so love, enjoy, and embrace with open arms, and to honor someone from that community who we unexpectedly lost two years ago, we are launching the David “Cobalt the Fox” Gonce Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship program is our way of commemorating Cobalt’s charity, kindness, and inquisitive nature.

The scholarship is open to anyone in the furry community pursuing an educational program at an accredited technical school, college, university, or training program and is valued at $1000 for one recipient for the current year.

For more details on the scholarship program, requirements, and the application process as it continues to develop, please visit http://www.midanthro.org.

Thanks for talking about this. My goal is and always have been to try and help our community grow, and be a positive light in a world often living in shadows.

We will be looking for volunteers interested in serving on a scholarship committee soon. https://t.co/y2B4jc7YgT

— Kit Drago ???? (@kitdrago) October 21, 2019

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Murder: All Edge, No Cut — comic review by Enjy

Fri 18 Oct 2019 - 10:05

Sometimes review books come here from outside of furry fandom. ‘Murder’ is a comic about an animal-rights antihero, where “animals mysteriously begin linking telepathically” and there’s a “powerful new plant-based badass”. It’s now in issue #2. “‘Murder’ takes readers into the darkest corners of animal agriculture, as one species at a time they begin to hear each other’s thoughts. Only one human, The Butcher’s Butcher, is able to hear their thoughts. As the animals revolt and the world’s food supply comes into jeopardy, the animal-rights activist is forced to decide between his vegan ethics and a world dependent on meat.”

Thanks to Enjy for big effort as always, check out her past writing, and remember we’re fiercely independent enough to be critical sometimes, but with hugs! – Patch

Murder: All Edge, No Cut

Murder is a comic created by the folks at Collab Creations (https://collabcreations.bigcartel.com/) which is billed as an “animal rights antihero” work centering on a vigilante activist and his wife, who fight to inflict the same pain on food company CEOs and ranchers as they inflict on animals ready for slaughter. It is written by Matthew Loisel with art created by Emiliano Correa, who also did work on the excellent Hexes series by Blue Fox Comics. We at DPP were given the first two issues for review.

The first thing you will do, when you open page one of Murder #1, will be laying eyes upon someone gassing an entire building of innocent people because they are working at a meat plant. In the next few pages, you’ll see something that’s meant to be taken seriously, but is unintentionally hilarious to the point where you have to read it over a few times to make sure there isn’t a joke being set up. The protagonist who just committed a literal war crime brutally murders a CEO with a steer, and then we’re led to believe this is the man we should be rooting for.

Unfortunately, The Butcher’s Butcher (a name with all the intricacy of pissing on an alley wall) doesn’t have nearly the level of charisma or likability or justification needed to be a believable anti-hero, even from a suspension of disbelief. What this comic is, no matter which side of the vegan vs. non vegan debate you are on, is soulless, one-dimensional propaganda with a “hero” that is much the same. It is like some bizarro universe where a Jack Chick tract has been transformed into weird murder-porn that seems more like the author’s personal fantasy than anything that could make a statement about the industry of food processing. The road most anti-heroes follow of doing the “right thing” the “wrong way” is completely tossed to the wayside here in favor of putting a camera behind that kid you knew in high school who had a Death Note that he wrote in.

After reading the first issue, I realized that I could not tackle this comic from a serious point of view, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and take a look at it through a Silver-Age pulp lens. If you can get past the awful paneling with some of the most strangely placed speech bubbles, it almost takes on a so-bad-it’s-good quality, where you just want to see what crazy thing happens next, after you watch a dog and a cat play chess and have that “yes, but MY virtue” talk that you’ve seen in that exact setting a hundred times. 

However in the second issue, it completely loses even that small bit of charm. In that issue we are introduced to The Butcher’s Butcher’s lover, who styles herself as “The Melanated Melody”. 

Yeah, I know. 

You are introduced to her as a person when a girl politely asks if she can sit next to her and she responds with dismissiveness, then texts her friend that “another yt girl just sat next 2 me” and “another yt girl about 2 call 911”. Why? Because the girl asked her why she was at a lecture for heat-resistant cows if she had a ranch in Wyoming as her lie stated. Yet another one-dimensional, single-issue cardboard cutout much like her lover, the Melanated Melody adds nothing to the story except for a sort of inside joke between the type of people who would enjoy these comics, yet another example of the author’s strange parading of myriad murderous fantasies and disguising it as an activism piece.

Where Murder could have succeeded was spending more time with the story of animals who can link telepathically, giving us a unique look at the meat industry that could also open the eyes of many people who are numb to its crimes. It seems the writer is building up to a story about how animals may rise up against us all. It could have shared more intricate workings of the industry instead of snippets of shock shots that would have mouths watering over at PETA. However, it is wasted away as a flimsy backdrop for the writer to task his characters with killing people he does not like, with a disturbing disregard for common sense or even the basest of justification. 

What I hope Matthew Loisel realizes about the separation of villain and anti-hero is that your anti-hero needs to have a simple ingredient: personality. The characters we’re supposed to be rooting for in this comic are soulless weirdos who seem to revel more in killing others than they do in serving their cause. If you take the vegan newsletter out of the back of this comic, it turns into an issue of psychopaths on a rampage because they think they can hear animals. There’s no nuance here and no way to ascertain their goals unless you know where the writer is coming from politically and mentally. 

This comic’s only saving grace is that the art and backgrounds are beautifully done, and Emiliano Correa really does the best he can with what he’s given here, showing off some interesting costume designs and great tonal work to set moods in scenes. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to bring the comic anywhere near readable, relatable, or recommendable. I know what audience this comic is being written for, and I’m sure that they will enjoy being told what they like to hear. For the rest of the comic-reading world, who like to branch out and find stories layered underneath the bloodstains and hamfisted grandstanding, I suggest you give Murder a hard pass.

I give Murder a 3/10.

– Enjy

(Note from Patch:) I’m not immune to enjoying bloody horror, and this reminds me of a novel I read when it was a fresh debut with high cult notice: Cows, by Matthew Stokoe. It was a gory blast of B-movie splatterpunk and surrealism, with a put-upon loner who works in a slaughterhouse, starts to hear cows talk, and joins them.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Rukus film maker Brett Hanover: “Furry is a collective art project”

Fri 11 Oct 2019 - 10:00

Watch free online! Public release was announced yesterday with links to reviews and more. Now the director tells how it grew.

See Rukus now at www.rukusmovie.com, or NoBudge on October 17th. “A hybrid of documentary and fiction, ‘Rukus’ is a queer coming of age story set in the liminal spaces of furry conventions, southern punk houses, and virtual worlds”. The person named Rukus was a furry artist who committed suicide, but left many memories and mysteries. His friendship with film maker Brett Hanover (bretthanover.com) inspired this movie. Please share it to other fans and indie movie lovers to support it like the way it was made.

Brett Hanover is a filmmaker and youth media educator from Memphis, TN, whose work explores outsider art, mental health, and queer fan communities. His documentaries and collaborative narrative film projects have been exhibited at venues including the SXSW Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and the Cinémathèque Française. Brett received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from the University of Illinois.

(Patch:) Hi Brett, Rukus is a hard movie to summarize in a few words. It doesn’t sit comfortably in any genre, which I think is a strength. It colors outside the lines, which is how furries work as a fandom and source. Your sources go back to the early-mid 2000’s, so it must have taken a lot of processing to make it current and vital for watchers. Can you explain your concept for the movie?  How do you feel about it after spending so long to complete it?

(Brett:) The way I thought about the movie shifted several times over the 8 years (yikes) I was working on it. Before there was a movie, there was just an archive, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. Rukus took his own life in 2008, leaving me with all our unfinished projects, plus all the online traces of him I could track down. I spent the winter going through this material, and felt the need to study the records of my own life in the same way.

When you grow up online, you leave behind a very thorough record of where you came from – where you got your ideas, how your friendships formed, how you became who you are. Reading through my past was personally necessary for me at the time. I was 20, and it was a good time to confront some parts of myself I didn’t like, and see where I was going.

A few years into production, I had a rough idea of what the movie was about – something about wounds, infection, intimacy, and the in-betweeness of virtual worlds and hotels – but I didn’t really know how to explain it to anyone. Sometimes I would talk about it politically, as a movie about neurodiversity and LGBTQ+ youth, or get philosophical about it, which was not a good look.

I saw the movie transform creative energy from Rukus, through you, to an audience. Rukus isn’t here to tell his story, but the movie uses multiple approaches to tell parts of his and yours. How challenging is it to tell a very personal story without falling in so far that people won’t get it?

In production, the movie became my sandbox, little world to live inside, a lot like Rukus’ “Aira’s End” paracosm. I would write a scene based on an unresolved issue in my personal life, reenact it with the actual people involved, and if we had a breakthrough in the process, I’d have to rewrite the scene. At first this was just an interesting way to make a movie, and then it felt genuinely therapeutic – but by the end it felt dissociative. (Note to self: work on the problems in your sex life, so you can write a scene about Brett working on the problems in his sex life.)

To answer your question, though, a lot of this material never made it into the final cut. It was important to go through this process, but I wasn’t trying to make anyone sit through my autobiography – the goal was always to tell a bigger story.

I like the word “paracosm” — it reminds me of “parasocial”, the relationship fans can have to their object of affection, and how it can bring out their own creativity. It also reminds me of the word “pentimento” — under-layers in art that sometimes wear through to show previous forms. How does it feel to have your movie watchable in a final form? How have audiences reacted in touring since 2018?

It feels liberating to finally step outside the project, and to let it have a life of its own. So far, people’s reactions have been really gratifying. It premiered at SF Indie Fest, and a lot of furries showed up to support the film (including Videowolf, who directed the excellent doc “Fursonas,” and Patch O’Furr, a noted fascist-fighting rave dog).

Rukus’ partner Sable saw the movie at SXSW, and I shared it with some of his other friends at FWA and Furpocalypse. None of them found it easy to watch, but they were so supportive of how it turned out, and there was a lot of love at those screenings.

Of course, it’s not a movie for everyone, and there are people who will think its too emo and arty, or too lo-fi, and that’s ok. But since I started screening the film, I’ve met so many people in this very particular niche, who felt seen by this film in a new way. After years and years of privately obsessing over this project, it’s a great feeling to remember that I made it to connect with other people.

Can you say more about connecting with others? It’s more than just a limited-audience “fandom movie”, so how do you relate with furries?

Another thing that transformed over the life of the project was my own relationship with furry. Like a lot of people, I started out with an excuse – “Oh, I’m just here because I’m working on this project…” I think that’s one reason I became so fascinated by Rukus as a teenager – documentary filmmaking gave me a justification to explore the fandom vicariously through him.

Of course, eventually, you find yourself tripping at a convention, cuddling a stranger while he shows you mesmerizing illustrations of neon paws on his phone, and you realize you’ve crossed the event horizon… Still, because of how I initially approached the fandom, there’s a part of me that will always feel a little like an outsider.

That piece of me was useful, I think, because I stayed hyper-aware of how I was representing the community. There’s better representation now, but when I found the fandom in 2005, the media had never touched it without fucking up.

Animation credits: Karolina Glusiec, Ben Holm, Eusong Lee

It’s interesting to hear you felt like an outsider to this subculture before, but the movie gives such intimate views about the people in it. It reminds me of how many furries come from having deep private fantasy worlds, before they discover there’s other people who daydream the same way. How does your movie express that personal spark or sense of community?

In an earlier email, I called furry a “collective art project,” and you asked what I meant. This is part of the reason I’ve always wanted to release the movie online, in the public domain.

When I was first turning Rukus’ Livejournal and my best friend’s AIM logs into a script, I felt weird about taking ownership of the material. My own words, even, contained 1,000 trademarked pop-culture influences. I thought of what I was doing as remix, not authorship. How could I copyright that?

Of course, artists need to make a living, and there’s nothing wrong with selling a movie, or charging for a comic, a fursuit, or a commission. But in the early days of furry, people would trade sketchbooks and Xerox their zines, and I think this spirit still animates the fandom.

When all is said and done, everything goes back to the furry creative commons. So if I can pull a movie out of this mix, make it cheaply, and let it get swallowed up again – that’s exciting to me.

When I’m feeling idealistic, I picture furry as a fandom that liberated itself from the entertainment industry, turned into an art movement, and took off running for the woods. Isn’t it obvious that we’re a pack? No dogma, no clear identity, no center and no periphery – a collective style influencing a thousand artists, and a thousand individual influences feeding back to the evolving style. It’s not just cooperation. We’re taming each other.

Furry is queer- and sex- positive, but I think there’s something sexual happening here that goes beyond the bedroom. When you have a bunch of artists seducing each other, living their fantasies, bonding over their differences, bootstrapping a new culture – that’s electric. I think furry grabbed hold of me and made a movie, and I hope my movie sparks something even stranger in others. (And now I’ll get off my furry soapbox. Thank you.)

How would Rukus the artist feel about the movie?

I could say we’ll never know, but I’d be lying. I have no doubt that he would be fucking thrilled. Not because the movie tells his story perfectly (it’s fictionalized), and not because it realizes his worldbuilding project (it’s my interpretation). He’d find it hilarious that people are talking about him, and paying good money to go to film festivals to watch him mess around at a convention.

He was larger-than-life, loved to be the center of attention, and always embellished his stories – he might have been an up-and-coming fashion model, or he might have been discovered by an important filmmaker in Memphis… There was a dark side to this kind of performance, too – it was a way to mask his insecurity, his fear of invisibility, and his true self. It was always both, I think. But I think he would find it completely appropriate that someone made a movie about him, and he’d love the attention.

Can you say a little about your work and life, and being a movie maker?

A little about me – I grew up in Memphis, went to my first furry con in 2005, and in one way or another I’ve been working on this project ever since. (Which is unsettling.)

I started making films as a teenager, when I got involved with a DIY film/indymedia group here called the Memphis Digital Art Cooperative. The co-op was formed right around 2000, when digital video became affordable, and it was a place where a lot of young artists were making experimental work – gay coming-of-age stories, performance art, and extremely raw personal documentaries. I was the 15 year old suburban kid who hung around and sometimes acted like a little shit.

Two of the other youngest filmmakers there, Alanna Stewart and Katherine Dohan, ended up becoming my main collaborators (when I was less of a little shit). We made another feature together at the same time we were making Rukus – a high-school-satire-screwball-comedy-feminist-fairy-tale called What I Love About Concrete.

Now that I’m back in Memphis, after a few years in grad school in Illinois, we’re making another multi-genre disasterpiece – Space Submarine Commander, a sci-fi-western-musical-comedy about access to abortion in the south. Feminist politics, with vomiting puppets. I’m in the process of building our cockpit set, which I think is a fan film right of passage.

Making films with your friends is an awesome way to melt politics into a silly fun genre mashup. What’s it like to get by as an artist, but try to make art with purpose and community?

Luckily, we’re not trying to make any money with our projects. I finished Rukus by working slowly, for very little money, with the people and resources I had around me. For Concrete we did some crowdfunding, and for Space Submarine Commander we were fortunate enough to receive some small grants. It’s all at a DIY scale, but I’m making the films I want to make, about things that are important to me, with the people I want to work with. And I mean, we have jobs. I work at a non-profit that manages public art for the City of Memphis – things like murals, sculptures in parks, art in libraries, etc.

It’s a great place to be, because a lot of the current conversations about funding public art are things I’m already thinking about – In addition to supporting individual artists and individual works of art, how can we support public, collective creativity?

Can you give more movie details, or even a reason why people need this movie in their lives?

This is a tough question, and I’m worried that if I say anyone needs my movie I’m going to sound pretentious. But I’ll answer the question…

Rukus is a movie about traumatic memories, mental health, fear of your own body, suicide, and dissociation. It’s also a movie about consent, intimacy, survival, love, and creativity. It’s about the rewards of the imaginary worlds we build, and the risks of the virtual worlds we get stuck in – the spaces that help us fuse with others and reshape our identities, and the boundaries that keep us from reshaping the rest of the world. I made this movie for queers and furries and weirdos, and for the kids who grew up roleplaying and should take naturally to shapeshifting – if only someone hadn’t shattered them in two. It’s a movie about a teenager who fantasizes about being a werewolf, but can’t stop washing his hands – and if that immediately makes sense to you, you’ll probably like my movie.

Anyway, I hope my movie finds the people I made it for, and I hope it connects with them in some way. At the very least, I can promise you long-haired boys, AIM nostalgia, and some Lion King references.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Rukus movie out now: Furries, memories and mysteries (with a director Q&A).

Thu 10 Oct 2019 - 10:00

Memphis film maker Brett Hanover shares Rukus free to the public. Don’t miss the full interview with him.

8 years in the making, this indie feature film makes an ambitious hybrid of fiction and documentary. It’s out today, October 10th, at Vimeo and www.rukusmovie.com, and then at NoBudge on October 17th. Put on a kigu, bring a friend or a pet, and share it to furry fans and indie movie lovers to support it.

The person named Rukus was a furry artist who committed suicide, but left many memories and mysteries. His friendship with Brett Hanover inspired the movie. This fandom-sourced labor of love has been to film festivals and furry conventions across the USA and Europe. It was selected for South by Southwest (SXSW), where mainstream cinemaphiles praised this unique flight of imagination.

Brett Hanover’s RUKUS is an incredible, indescribable movie that has been in production for over ten years. It had a major effect on all of us in the audience. Go in blind, as I did. #SXSW pic.twitter.com/xCi5pRDrRr

— Blair Hoyle (@Blair_Hoyle) March 11, 2018

Previously on Dogpatch Press:

Tomorrow: Brett Hanover talks about making the movie. Here’s a snip. (Full one here).

(Brett:) “…Another thing that transformed over the life of the project was my own relationship with furry. Like a lot of people, I started out with an excuse – “Oh, I’m just here because I’m working on this project…” I think that’s one reason I became so fascinated by Rukus as a teenager – documentary filmmaking gave me a justification to explore the fandom vicariously through him.

Of course, eventually, you find yourself tripping at a convention, cuddling a stranger while he shows you mesmerizing illustrations of neon paws on his phone, and you realize you’ve crossed the event horizon… Still, because of how I initially approached the fandom, there’s a part of me that will always feel a little like an outsider.

That piece of me was useful, I think, because I stayed hyper-aware of how I was representing the community. There’s better representation now, but when I found the fandom in 2005, the media had never touched it without fucking up.

In an earlier email, I called furry a “collective art project,” and you asked what I meant. This is part of the reason I’ve always wanted to release the movie online, in the public domain.

… In the early days of furry, people would trade sketchbooks and Xerox their zines, and I think this spirit still animates the fandom.

When all is said and done, everything goes back to the furry creative commons. So if I can pull a movie out of this mix, make it cheaply, and let it get swallowed up again – that’s exciting to me.”

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

The Furry Music Anthology releases “A Song Of Your Sona.”

Tue 8 Oct 2019 - 10:00

Cover art credit to Fleeks

Here’s a new initiative to bring together the musicians of the furry fandom, and give them a collective platform to share their music and be recognized.

The Furry Music Anthology plans to release “Anthrologies”: a series of themed albums, filled with tracks by various musicians. They recently released the very first album of that series, “A Song of Your Sona“. It’s free!

Get it here: https://furrymusicanthology.bandcamp.com/album/a-song-of-your-sona

  1. Bob Drake – On Fursonas 2:17
  2. Mark Nichols – Bramble 3:03
  3. What Eyleth Thee? – The Wolfing 2:38
  4. The messangers – Forgive and Forget 3:30
  5. Ruky – Fire Escape 4:44
  6. Nichibotsu – Galactic Shakes 4:53
  7. Jaiko – Dragon Incoming 3:10
  8. Phozon – Look For It 4:05
  9. Aniwix – Energyzed 4:52
  10. Ikodo – Scavenging for Parts – Ryou’s Theme 4:43
  11. Jayden Raske Productions feat. Birds of Paradise and Ruky – Tale of the Two Thunder Wolves 7:14
  12. Draks – The Approach of Autumn 6:23
  13. Leon Gremonceaux – Leon’s Overture 8:10

Musicians within the furry fandom are just as varied as the visual artists — but rarely attract the same audiences. There are many furry websites that gather and unite artists to share their works, but such unity hasn’t been shared among the musicians. Now, rather than sit on the sidelines, they’re taking things into their own paws and making a banner to gather under, to share a fair stage with those who have struggled for a spotlight.

The “Anthrologies” will be a series of themed albums. The first one has thirteen musicians each providing a song that ties to their characters, the species, or even the concept of fursonas as a whole. Future plans will provide ever-changing opportunities for musicians of all stripes to make a meaningful contribution and gain recognition. The project is currently expanding reach and preparing for Volume 2. What else is on the agenda? Creating a proper base of operations.

So far they’re grateful to the Furry Musicians group for launching the project. Find them on FurAffinity or Twitter.

For future submissions, they will put out a journal with a link to the entry form. After approval (they want a pretty fair stage for all the musicians) the organizers will give a green light and deadline to make a track. It’s non-profit but will help members to promote themselves.

The Furry Music Anthology currently consists of Camarón the Flamingo, Kiko Picasso, Bob Drake, and another organizer who prefers to remain anonymous.

– Camarón the Flamingo, Furry Music Anthology Founder

More about musicians in the fandom:

FURRY MUSIC WANTED: themed, mainstream, or fandom made. Please PM to add your link to the rotation. Send a Youtube video, add a tweet-length message or tags, and news links are welcome too. #furrymusic #furryfandom #furries

— Furry Jukebox (@FurryJukebox) May 22, 2019

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

The Masked Singer: One of those mainstream crossovers with furry appeal?

Fri 4 Oct 2019 - 10:00

Crossover with the mainstream can make great furry news, like when dogwhistles to fandom pop up in things like Disney blockbusters. That’s why I did an interview with Vulture, the culture and entertainment site. Here’s their articles about the Masked Singer. This one’s worthwhile for fursona design inspiration: The Masked Singer’s Costume Designer Breaks Down All 16 Egg-cellent New Looks.

We barked about performances from Season 1, and sniffed at the costumes for Season 2. Looking at the lineup made me want to know more about them as characters. If they have a backstory with each other… Whose Egg is that? Does the Eagle hang out in the Tree? And who pollinates that Flower?

Pup hoods – Safe enough for conservative Fox network to broadcast to 8 million viewers (according to their own numbers) during prime time – Should be safe enough to be seen on con floor at a furry convention. https://t.co/gPwhwQL2wI

— Furry News Network @ FWA (@furrynewsntwk) September 26, 2019

For my first impression of the show: I’d rather chase my tail than watch celebrities… Margaret Cho excepted. She speaks to outsiders and she was one of the best listeners I’ve ever talked to when she did an interview for furries. I’d go to see her perform anywhere, including being a singing poodle.

The Masked Singer’s gimmick is having a Secret Somebody who becomes an Obvious Somebody when you find out… and what’s the fun in that? I don’t want furries to take off their fursonas. I think it’s magic when you don’t know and could live in a cartoon with them, and they’re a Somebody Period.

Furries don’t “dress up”, they become what they feel like inside. It brings up a difference between Mascots, Fursuits, and just plain costumes. Mascots are made to be iconic and project to a big audience far away. Fursuits are an original fursona who you can hug or hang out with. To be fair, I think the Masked Singer integrates wardrobe on character to take the designs really far. But taking the heads off is a big deal and it’s supposed to be private to furries, so having an audience demand it is kind of counter-furry.

“Take it off! Take it off!” Don’t do that at a fur con or you might get tailwhipped.

My preference would be seeing a nobody become a Something, not just with a boring dream of being a TV star, but turning into something that doesn’t exist and being their OWN dream, not just what a designer made. The average person being a star is nothing new for reality TV, but it’s less common to change species. Imagine your plumber or UPS driver finding their inner sparkledog.

It’s also tamed down from what could be. Celebrities have to play safe and won’t have sexy awakenings with their new selves. Or they just won’t tell you how it feels when the audience goes “take it off”. Actually, it’s a really wholesome show. The Monster is a giant ball of fun but I can’t see him making furry crushes. Having crushes on cartoons is where so many furries come from.

It's national #BoyfriendsDay pic.twitter.com/0I6uxgXw8M

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 3, 2019

That’s how it’s not so geared for someone who’s already into amazing transformations. It’s more for people who follow celebrities and want to know who could be underneath. That makes it lightweight. It almost makes me feel like I’d appreciate it more with drugs, but that might not be wholesome, so they really only need music and rainbows. Except that Pineapple is so high.

It makes sense as pop culture to use names to get people to watch, but I can see one place for more wild cards. They should get a furry in fursuit on the judges panel. Or get that ordinary retired lady who watches between taking the grand kids to the park. I’m sorry… those celebrity judges aren’t great, besides Ken Jeong. I laughed my tail off when he showed his abs to the Pineapple. That was ABsurd.

There are already a bunch of fursuiters who judge dance competitions and masquerade shows, like Kiyani (@Hojozilla) or Brenda Banks (she’s so sassy.)

I do have to give credit due for who gets the furry vibe. Who might you see at a furry con? Joey Fatone’s Rabbit. What a PRO. He was more than just a good voice or look, he was living down a rabbithole. He wasn’t just a regular soft rabbit, he was from the Mad Hatter Matrix dimension with that robot vibe.

As a gateway it’s definitely a step beyond mascots. The stories of the characters don’t go far enough for me though. They just tell clues. I want short movies about them living in their world, not just teasing about what they are outside it on a plastic set on a corporate show. That’s why this makes a little taste of furriness but it’s nothing like a full dose of DIY fandom. There’s only one place to get that — you can’t see it on TV, you can only dream it and make it with each other.

UPDATE: I was afraid they pre-empted our interview, but it published at the same time as this one by surprise!

The very premise of #TheMaskedSinger is particularly abrasive to a furry palate, according to a furry expert https://t.co/20H6CKkcuG

— Vulture (@vulture) October 4, 2019

had the truly most fun interview with @DogpatchPress press about my favorite good-bad tv show. omitted from the interview but my first crushes were on Simba and the Tramp, OBViously. https://t.co/QzkW0i7U1j

— rebecca vaulter ✊???? (@ralter) October 4, 2019

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Familiar Travels — game creator interview by Enjy

Fri 27 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Familiar Travels is on sale until September 30! This post is timed to help Halftone Studios and Balin (with no compensation). Thanks to Enjy – Patch

I took the chance to speak with Balin and Ben about their game and asked for the advice on the creative process, what to expect when creating a game, and the thought process that went into creating Vanaheim.

(Enjy): So my first question I would like to ask of you both, when and why did you decide to sit down and make a game?

Balin: I’m not sure for Ben, I sorta recruited him, I met him when I used to run game servers waay back (Like 7 years ago). As for me, it was 2018 when we started development on the demo for Familiar Travels, like most friends do we always talked about doing projects together, it sorta started off as general conversation about Vanaheim, I thought it would be cool to create a game that not only featured anthro characters but was also directly inspired by the fandom, the original inspiration was a story that was sort of a love letter to all the things that inspired me to create stuff in the fandom (I was a creator before this). I love the worlds/universes people are just able to think up in the fandom and I wanted to throw my hat in the ring creating one.

Ben: Yeah I mean we’ve been friends for a while now, I knew Balin had been sort of mentioning developing a game and thinking about getting some talent together to start a project, so one day a year and a half ago I decided I wanted to learn more about sound design and music production, so I offered myself to work on the music. I was completely new to music production at the time, but I’d been writing for a while, so eventually I also got into the writing portion. Why… well, I guess we were bored and had a lot of ideas we could use to build a world.

Balin: Yeah a way less inspiring answer is that we ran out of games to play so made our own!

Boredom is the seed from which ideas grow I suppose they say. Was this always going to turn out to be a huge thing? Did you expect to be hiring well known artists like Gillpanda? And if someone else wants to follow your route, how much time and money should they expect to spend?

Ben: Honestly it’s a slow build up sometimes. But for me at least, there were a few points where I had a sort of revelation that we were doing something big. Like, suddenly, “Oh hey we have 1500 people in the discord now,” or, “Oh hey, we just passed the Silmarillion for wordcount,” moments like that that made me step back for a minute and realize things were ramping up.

Balin: Honestly, I had no idea that Familiar Travels was going to be the size of game that it was, the original story we had put together was a lot more typical VN stuff (cooking minigames, hidden puzzles etc) but as we started to plan it out we just added and added and added.  The game was produced with such energy from everyone involved and so quickly we didn’t really know the size until it was completely written.

As for the artists that we hired, I reached out to people that I thought would be good for the project, I messaged a bunch of people who I thought would be interested in the game and sort of grouped them together into pairs that I felt complimented their art style. I’ve never really been much of a fan of valuing artists based on watch count, but I am totally obsessed with the talent and creativity the artists we went with put into the game. Nexivian (the background artist) in particular blew me away with the amount of lore and details they were able to sink into the project. As for people who want to follow my route I’ll be positive and give words of warning.

The comforting thing is I really had no idea how to code before working on the game, learned the engine and developed it as I went. Ben and I have both had a lot of experience writing but never anything this big. To be honest I’m still amazed that it was able to come together, when you work so hard on something it’s easy for the thousands of hours to just sort of blend together.

This project was absolutely entrancing. Ben and I wrote the entirety of the game over six weeks (over 300,000 words) and it was constant work. This has been an exhausting and harrowing experience and I can honestly say that it was the hardest I’ve worked on something in my life. One of the testers for the game put it well when they said “If Steam ever goes down, I’m afraid you’ll be mortal” it seriously feels like Familiar Travels has a bit of my soul in it. Creative projects like this are alluring like a siren’s call, there’s a good reward in it for you but you have to be a strong swimmer to make it from your ship to the rocks.

As for money, we made $30,000CAD on Kickstarter. I’m sure you could make a game for less but it was really important to us to pay the artists fairly. It’s not fair to me that people in the fandom have to work day jobs when they have the creative talent that people like Gill, nex, and twocups (the sprite artist) have. Gill was able to leave their job and pursue art full time while working on the game, and I’d like to think part of how we allocated our funds was responsible for that. Many a good VN has been sunk by treating your team like shit. It was a collaborative effort and everyone really put their all into it.

That’s quite a poetic way to put it. I know you’ll be an inspiration for anyone else who wants to create something like you have. 

Now for a few grittier details, the portrayals in your game are sometimes stunning at best and shocking at the worst, particularly with behavior like toxic masculinity and clinical depression. You say that these are inspired by people you’ve seen in the fandom, but it has a distinctly personal air that make me wonder if either of you have experienced these feelings for yourself. And if you have, did working on Familiar Travels help you come to terms with some of these problems?

Balin: When we were designing the archtypes for the characters in the game, it was important for the personalities and struggles of the characters to mimic things we say not only in the real world, but specifically in the furry fandom.

I think everyone in the fandom has someone they can either relate to, or relate somebody to in the game. Often topics like toxic masculinity, or the laissez-faire attitude towards consent are topics I feel have a very specific type of in the fandom, and on the internet.  When I was envisioning the designs of the characters, I tried to think of that typical online friend group you’d have. We took a lot of time planning the personalities of the characters, how they’d act if they were people in the fandom played a big role. For example, one of the questions in our personality sheets we were working on was “If they had a Furaffinity, what would their bio be”. 

I often joke that if you take the characters that Ben wrote, and the characters that I wrote, and mix em together you’d have a pretty good idea of our collective neurosis and a part of that is true. I’ve dealt with issues like depression, and the consequences things like that can have on a relationship before. I know that for a lot of people (Whether they are victims of toxic masculinity, depression, bullying, etc) it’s really helpful to see that there are not only people in similar positions, but there are people that can match the profile of someone you may have had issues with in the past.

I hope shedding light on these issues can lead to a “oh shit” moment when playing the game, like I’ve had with games in the past, but most importantly I wanted to show people that you can construct an interesting and compelling narrative without pulling punches in what you have to say. It’s really common to have some sort of ‘edge’ to visual novels but instead of a convoluted murder plot or darkness for the sake of darkness, I’d rather use the energy and platform we had to shed light on issues that most stories shy away from in fear of alienating their audience.

We had a rule during development where if something is going to be brought up, it has to be given justice. I’m not going to write a brutish rude character without exploring the reasons and motivations for that. Overall, the portrayals of the characters in the game wound up fitting a common theme which I think is all to applicable to people in the sort of target demographic for the game which is identity. I feel as if every character in the game, the PC included is struggling with their sense of identity in one way or the other. That sort of just.. came up through the writing of the game and was never planned before-hand, we’re both in our twenties and going through that sort of intense emotional growth that tends to spurt at that time so I think that was an aspect of our personalities that came through in the game. While we were developing it there was that overwhelming dread of “what if we work so hard on this and it isn’t rewarding/satisfying/etc” and I think that does come through in the writing a lot.

Ben: I guess I could say we’ve tried to tackle a lot of really prevalent social issues. Toxic masculinity is alive and thriving in western society and the mental health crisis is being handled by a DSM panel in which over half its members have ties to pharmaceutical producers. I’m from the most densely populated state in the US, I see these things happening all around me and it makes me sad and angry and confused.  I think that writing these kinds of characters allows anyone to really feel strong emotions, and maybe encourage more dialogue on these really important topics. There’s a lot of things going on with the characters but I think above all else they’re meant to represent real world situations that both Balin and I have witnessed.

Your bravery is appreciated and sorely needed in an oversaturated market of badly written and one dimensional sex options. Tsitsi was my favorite character for sure and who I ended up going with in the end. Unlike most visual novels it was her flaws that drew her to me and not what she could bring to the table, so it was very satisfying. Who are your favorite characters?

Balin: Honestly there are some of the characters that at the end of Chapter One I wouldn’t have much to offer them more than a slap.

I’m a big fan of Mocha. It’s not insanely overt in the first chapter and I’ll avoid any potential spoilers but particularly I like how she struggles with her identity in Vanaheim. In Vanaheim, which is very much a model of real society she isn’t just “strong” or “tough” as  much as she is observed as a strong or tough woman. I wanted to touch on in her arc the differences between how men in society are seen as themselves, and women are put in the dichotomy of observed/observer. Comparing her strength and attitude to someone like Nil, Mocha is perceived by a lot of the characters in the game as an object of strength, where as a character like Nil, a man, is just seen as “strong”. It touches on the larger issue in our society of the constituent of “surveyor” and “surveyed” as the aspects of being a women. In her home realm she’s simply seen as a warrior, but in Vanaheim she’s a ‘sight’ surveyed as a strong-women.  This is explored more in chapter two, but I think that the struggle she suffers with is something a lot of people could relate to, and a subject that is not often covered with the nuance and ground it requires.

Ben: Personally I think Finley (the player character) is my favourite. When you’re designing a protagonist you have to be really careful. At first we wanted to avoid using gender-specific pronouns when Finley was spoken to in order to allow the player to better identify with them.

The other thing that we felt was important was to not let Finley become a flat protagonist dictated exclusively by the player’s choices. We gave Finley a lot of personal moments and they really do have their own distinct character. Depending on the arc you choose to go down, different levels of anxiety definitely come out in some of Finley’s interactions and even during their alone time. There’s a lot of feelings there I think we can all relate with to some degree too, like when they’re worried that perhaps they were the cause of the turmoil within the bickering friend groups.

My final question for you both is, what is your overall plan with Famiilar Travels? Chapter Two is coming obviously, but what about Chapter Three, or Chapter Ten, if things go well? Vanaheim has so much put into it that it seems almost criminal to not explore it further than the magical college.

Ben: I’m not sure about going past chapter two (who knows what Balin’s planning though), but we do definitely plan on developing other projects in the same universe. Vanaheim is just one of the realms, and I’m sure it’s been noticed that there’s actually some exposition in chapter one regarding places like Jotunheim and Midgard, and even Helheim. I love the idea of developing a universe through lots and lots of different media, so chapter two is definitely not the last you’ll hear from Halftone studios.

Balin: Chapter Two is the final chapter in the Familiar Travels game, but we for sure see the value in exploring more of the world.

I feel like the game as we have it is a complete story with a satisfying conclusion. Part of the game being analogous to the fandom is I really hope to see (and actively promote however I can) the works that will come out from fans of the game and world in the future (For example, someone messaged me who works in Unity who wanted to make a 3D map of the world, tossed em all the assets I have) . I have loads developed on the other realms and want to explore those especially in the future, but after Chapter Two we’re probably going to take a break from that multi-verse and explore other projects under our studio. 

Halftone Studios, which sort of grew out of the creativity and drive of the people working on the game has quickly become an awesome way for me to aggregate really talented people, when I have the opportunity to meet someone creative in the fandom who has a vision I invite them to the discord. As a publishing studio we want to provide as much people as we can the opportunity to do the same thing I was able to, Gill was able to, leave any sort of corporate chains and explore your creativity freely. I have projects in the works with every member of the team from publishing to games to literature. It was sort of a ‘deal’ with the game. When I got each person on board I pulled them into a call and asked them “With infinite time and resources, what would you make” I wrote every one down and hope to help them wherever I can with that.

I love how creative the furry fandom is, but as it’s trended more into the mainstream there’s been a fracturing in the sense of community in the fandom, we’ve lost our zines, our collaborations, to a certain extent anyways. I want to use the platform I’ve gotten from this game to leapfrog into other projects.

It’s simultaneously upsetting and inspiring to see someone working 40 hours a week and finding the time regardless to create works in the fandom. There are so many artists who don’t have a pathway to making connections, so I want to find those people wherever I can and network them, fund them through the studio, and hopefully create a bunch of awesome stuff in the fandom.

Thanks to Enjy, Balin and Ben for putting so much hard work into this. – Patch

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Categories: News

Familiar Travels: A Sublime Subversion — furry game review by Enjy

Thu 26 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Familiar Travels is on sale until September 30! This post is timed to help Halftone Studios and Balin (with no compensation). Thanks to Enjy – Patch

Have you ever played a visual novel with characters that you might end up hating?

Familiar Travels is a furry visual novel created by the team at Halftone Studios for the PC. After success on Kickstarter it was recently released on Steam, and we at DPP were given a copy and a chance to review this game as it hit the market. This story follows a nameless human (you), who transfers from the world of Midgard, what we might know as modern Earth, to the world of Vanaheim in order to attend magical college. It is unknown why you as the human are accepted into this college, since Midgardians cannot use magic, but the player character surmises that it is because of his work in robotics. Your first night, you are plopped into a speak-easy bar and given a chance to meet the extremely diverse cast of characters, and that very moment is where this game begins to pull ahead in the seemingly over-saturated market of furry VNs.

The writer Balin and his co-worker Ben instantly separate themselves from many other fandom writers by giving you a cast of characters that are deeper than an archetype, characters who force you to take a much more realistic route as you try to win their affections or friendship. You do not pick who is the hottest or has the hobby you like and work down from there, every character has glaring flaws that present themselves multiple times and take some working past in order to understand what the person truly is about. Indeed, you must work past much more than a time constraint to get the relationship you want with the character you like, and it is a refreshingly realistic take on personal growth that transcends the genre’s usual trappings of “talk to someone until they sleep with you”.

Balin and Ben’s work is so pitch perfect in fact, that it nearly seems like he purposefully attacked every cliche you could think of to twist it into something new and exciting. Yes, you have the rock band character in Tsitsi. You have the douchey jock in Nil. You have the pompous character who everyone seems to have an issue with in Po. What lies beneath these characters, however, is a sterling example of what this genre could become if more writers tried as hard as Balin and Ben to create believable personas with zero compromise. Every time I expected something to happen, I was glued to the screen as it veered off in a completely rational yet unexpected direction, making me hungry for more and more with every interaction.

What brings this novel squarely to the forefront of its peers is that every part of a person’s personality is played realistically, and not just merely accepted as an archetype. Nil, for example, is a misogynistic asshole, but this isn’t written off for laughs with people saying “Well, that’s our Nil, I suppose”. Characters routinely call him out on it. He shows some truly disgusting behavior. You, in fact, may end up hating him if you do not get to know him and the true reason for his behavior, a fact that applies to all of the characters you meet along the way. Some moreso than others. 

The most important lesson that Familiar Travels taught me is that people are worth more than their issues. Men who are extremely disrespectful to women like Nil usually have a dark reason. People who others see as the cool kid, like Tsitsi, may have deep-seated problems that nobody knows about. It is a long road to work past these problems, but when you do, the relationships feel deeper and more genuine than any novel I have played. Even the characters cannot work past each others’ problems when they interact, leading to some tough choices at times that you, the player, must make.

If there is any problem with Familiar Travels it is that the overarching story of you being transplanted to Vanaheim, and a larger conspiracy afoot with characters who are being kidnapped, is largely ignored in favor of these simply brilliant character studies. The cast sucks you in to the world so deeply that it is hard to notice, but when you force yourself to pull back, you can begin to see the cracks. Organizations are mentioned like The Truth Front and The Nameless that seem like passing lore-bites, but crash together in an admittedly confusing final 10 minutes of the chapter that feels like a huge blindside out of nowhere, and not in a good way.

You receive more information in some routes versus others, but no matter which one I took, I never seemed to fully grasp the bigger picture even if I spliced each run together. There is a second chapter being made, so I hope to see the author fill some of these holes in the sequel. There were some bugs which were a tad serious but with such a small team, it is amazing there were so few, and the music was a bit bland and sparse, but these flaws pale in comparison to the work of art as a whole.

The artistry is top notch as well. There are very interesting 8-bit cutaway sections, and some hand-animated bits as well which surprised me. The backgrounds created by Nexivian are crisp and fit well with the seemingly High Nordic aesthetic of the realms and town, solid colors and harsh lines bringing images of Norse tapestries and paintings. Gillpanda knocks it out of the park with their character designs, making every member of Vanaheim feel unique and easily identifiable throughout. They bring their signature style here as well, so it goes without saying that those who enjoy the big girls will love this game.

In conclusion, Familiar Travels is a journey through a world that you will want to explore every nook and cranny in, with characters that you will either hate or genuinely care for, and should be looked to as a master-class in what a Visual Novel could truly be, furry-centric or otherwise. Familiar Travels digs a hole underneath other paint-by-numbers dating novels, simultaneously highlighting their flaws, and twisting them in a triumphant display of what they should be doing. It is available right now on Steam and I wholeheartedly recommend it, waiting with bated breath for Chapter 2.

I give Familiar Travels: Chapter One a 9.5/10.

– Enjy

TOMORROW: Interview with the creators.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Q&A with Jenny Edwards, criminologist and expert on zoophilia/zoosadism.

Fri 20 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 5 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. Part 2) looks at police involvement and evasion by the ring. Part 3) is about trying to report a safety risk to an event. Part 4) shares a new development. And this part looks at the issues with an expert.

Jenny Edwards (mjennyedwards.com) may be the only person in the U.S. (or the world) who specializes solely in issues related to zoophilia and bestiality. She helps legislators, law enforcement, investigators (both above & below ground), social workers, psychiatrists, and attorneys with understanding, detecting, and prosecuting animal sex abusers.

Bio at ORCID

(Patch:) Hi Jenny, thanks for being generous with your time. Briefly, how would you rate my non-professional/independent investigation on this story, and can you give a “greatest hits” of your background?

(Jenny:) First, let me just say how amazed I am at the work you’ve done on exposing zoosadism within the zoo and furry communities. I know how difficult it is to get solid information in the first place, let alone cross-check it with other sources, so kudos to you for not only doing that but for sharing this important information. Now about my background …

  • Prior to Ken Pinyan’s death in 2005 (the “Enumclaw case”) I was a systems engineer with Xerox, IBM, and Microsoft. 
  • At the time of the Enumclaw case, I was managing a large animal shelter, which is how I became intrigued with zoophilia (sexual interest in animals) and bestiality (acting on that sexual interest). On behalf of Pinyan’s family, we moved his horse to our farm where I began to understand the challenges a sexually abused animal faces, and just how little we knew about animal-attracted people (AAPs) or people who sexually abuse animals (ASOs).
  • Since 2005 I have conducted and published statistical research; written articles for law enforcement, psychology, and veterinary publications; been instrumental in getting laws passed or improved in multiple states; and have developed and delivered training materials for law enforcement, veterinarians, social workers, and prosecutors. 

Jenny Edwards research at Academia.edu

Zoosadism is a heavy topic, so I wanted to reach someone with authority beyond the fan level of my news site. I tried to reach Dr. Mark Griffiths at Psychology Today, but he was busy being a professor. I tried getting a referral from the GOP office for Elton Gallegly (former Republican U.S. Congressman who helped to outlaw animal crush videos), and they treated this like a conspiracy theory and how dare I ask. It’s hard to know where to start with something so specialized. Do these issues have a hard time getting taken seriously?

Absolutely. The whole topic is met with disgust, disbelief, or derision just about everywhere you turn. Legislators don’t want to tackle “controversial” issues – especially those that have anything to do with “abnormal” sex practices. Law enforcement officers think bestiality is “just” about animals and they’ve got murder and mayhem to worry about. Prosecutors are reluctant to take on cases because they may only prosecute one bestiality case in their entire career, so what’s the point in studying the law to get the best result for the victim? Judges are reluctant to send animal abusers to jail and think they’ll do better with counseling, but mental health practitioners don’t see sexual attraction to animals as a mental health disorder. So all of this perpetuates the reluctance to do in-depth research that would aid in our understanding of the nature and prevalence of the practice.

Animals can’t consent, and bestiality/zoophilia is an uncomfortable topic for people of any stripe. But compared to the mainstream, furry fans might reject the topic for bringing kinkshaming or media sensationalism. It’s not an unfounded fear. Hold on, this will be a trip to explain.

Furry fandom member background can include stigma from bullying, being LGBT, non-neurotypical, or just nerds. They found a place where they belong and can feel protective about it. It brings love for social liberation and tolerance. There’s also long-standing sensitivity about being a target for tabloid-style media smearing. It makes a “fandom complex” about certain paradoxes. The group has at least 3 circles — genre fandom, indie subculture, and kink community, and things can get complicated on the fringes. Disney fandom goes under the same umbrella as popular self-made porn art. Pop culture is an influence, but it gets resisted by alternative and queer expression. Talking about “murrsuiting” (sex with a fursuit) might take walking on eggshells before even heavier topics. It makes furries their own worst enemies sometimes, with forced denial and beating each other up with non-solutions.

I’m writing before Part 1 goes out, and it’s easy to predict a laundry-list of attacks at me for being a shamer, witch-hunter, muck-raker, or traitor for showing dirty laundry. I’ve been targeted with tons of harassment. One time it was for hosting a guest article about “the complexities of problematic kinks”, including “cub” art. That can start with non-explicit role-play/”age play” but verge into drawn child porn. It can come from personal drawing from anyone with a pencil, but makes a dangerous grooming tool when shared. The guest writer outed an abuser, and ended with calling the art dangerous (which nobody read). It was the thought process of a direct source instead of a straw man, and allowed here for a deep look inside to prompt any wider goal than blunt attack on single targets. (Perhaps artists setting standards as a guild or compact). 7 months after it published with zero complaint, a small group of trolls cut pieces out of context to mislead an attack mob at a straw man. (I have nothing to do with that kind of content.) Some of them got to enjoy emotional sadism, but it gained nothing besides hurting work for this report and setting up superficial attacks for being too lenient and too shamey at the same time.

The point is, the same blunt hammer can apply to furry art that ranges from anthropomorphic cartoons to “feral” porn (drawings of real animals). It relates to how the ring member Kero tried using feral art as a euphemistic excuse. But furry fandom keeps a blind spot about a fringe who do mental gymnastics for claims that animals can consent. (It’s like how NAMBLA tried to ride coattails of the gay rights movement in the 1970’s). I know because some of them (even popular members) wanted to debate this when I was investigating. Zoophilia isn’t an orientation, it’s a paraphilia (and can blur with preying on kids or zoosadism — this ring grew from existing zoo groups), so this is the king of “fandom complexes”.

It’s hard to articulate love for harmless creativity, and no issue with kink for consenting-adults, while writing about zoosadists. I love furry fandom but free love doesn’t include rape. Some want to “see no evil” about it. Can you give any firm statements about this? 

I can tell you that where I stand is firmly on the side of human-animal sex as something that should be prohibited. Not every person who sexually abuses an animal is sexually attracted to the animal; sometimes it’s about dominance or anger or control. Sometimes it’s just attention-seeking (like the drunk person at a party who does it on a dare, or the couple looking to spice up their sex life). Sometimes it’s just about curiosity (like the person who gets turned on by deviant porn and then wants to try it out). But the bottom line is that an animal is part of a vulnerable population that our society has chosen to protect from things we deem harmful. Bestiality is one of those things.  

Here’s another firm stance: I have absolutely no problem with furries, and almost always include slides or content in any presentation I do that makes the clear distinction between furries and zoos.  

And I have no problem with erotic anime, manga, or furry art. What IS a problem is images that depict violence or sex acts with child-like characters. I wrote an entire article on “the Miller test” which basically asks: 1) Would the average person find it offensive? 2) Does it break any existing law? 3) Does it have any artistic, literary or scientific value? I add one more guideline: would I show it to a child?

I’m curious about how you can engage the furry community as an outsider. (1) Do you think you might get treated as sex-negative or anti-porn? (2) Is there anything dangerous about erotic furry art? (3) Can anyone accuse you of being a shamer for bringing judgement on zoophilia, and does it even matter? (4) How complicated is it to mediate between free expression, human sexuality, a community’s fear of outside meddling, and law enforcement? 

  • (1) I think that sexual fantasy (including porn) can be a good thing. I can say, though, that I’m against sex acts or fantasy that is physically dangerous or degrading (unless it’s between consenting adults).  
  • (2) Danger is a little tricky to discuss. Erotica is sexually stimulating but not sexually explicit, i.e. it turns you on but doesn’t show genitalia in a sexualized setting. (So naked babies in bathtubs is neither titillating nor sexually explicit). Whether it’s furry art, anime, or “live” animals/people – it’s not dangerous unless it’s used in a harmful way. 
  • (3) I certainly hope not to be called a shamer. I don’t make value judgements on beliefs or feelings or interests. What I do judge is actions or behaviors. I wouldn’t shame someone for being an alcoholic, but I would not allow that person to drive me home. 
  • (4) For community limits, I would say that I believe you can and should do anything you want with anyone else who wants to do it with you, as long as it doesn’t harm someone else or break any law. 

Have you seen weird cases without easy answers, or very clear cut places for progress?

Sometimes it’s difficult to untangle what actually happened and whether a law was actually broken. For example, there was a case where people were seen coming to a residence, picking up a dog, exchanging money, and bringing the dog back after a short while. A concerned citizen called an animal welfare organization who jumped to the conclusion that it was an animal “sex trafficking ring”. The dog owners were arrested, but after investigation, it turns out they were into dog fighting and “renting” dogs for breeding purposes. Then the question is whether it’s illegal to rent a dog for breeding to another dog. 

Places for progress is a different question. There are several areas where progress needs to made:

  • Education & training for social workers, veterinarians, animal care providers, and Joe Citizen on how to spot signs of sexual abuse.
  • Support for “cross-reporting” so that when a social worker sees child abuse in the home, s/he also asks whether an animal is also being abused, or when a vet examines a dog with suspicious injuries s/he reports it to law enforcement. 
  • Passage of strong, enforceable laws.

Can you talk about a profile of the kind of people in my report?

Sexual sadism is a form of paraphilia, which broadly defines means an atypical sexual interest that’s intense, recurring, and has lasted more than six month. So someone with zoophilia is sexually aroused by animals; someone with zoosadism is sexually aroused by causing fear, pain, or death. 

We don’t really know what causes someone to have any form of paraphilia – in particular one that involves pain. The theories are that it gives a feeling of power to someone who otherwise feels powerless, it may be a release for other sexual fantasies, or may be a progression from another paraphilia – for example crushing, which can start out with crushing crackers, and end up with crushing puppies. 

The one thing we do know is that people seldom have only one paraphilia. The most common secondary paraphilia in zoos is pedophilia, followed by copro/uro (poop/pee), and voyeurism (peeping tom). 

My research has shown there’s no single profile of a zoo. The most common thing is they are White men. Beyond that it’s a crap shoot. People into S&M are generally more aggressive and tend to be risk-takers in other ways (base diving instead of bungee jumping). In my experience, zoosadists are often narcissists – (put other people down, pretend to have high self-confidence but have few real friends, and lie a lot). In my experience, zoosadists tend to be younger than typical zoos.

What are the social dimensions of this problem? I’m guessing it’s a very “tip of the iceberg” story.

Definitely tip of the iceberg. As paraphilias go, sadism is less-often diagnosed than zoophilia, and zoophilia is considered very rare. (Sidebar: that may be more a matter of sexual abuse of animals not being exposed rather than it just not happening very much.) 

From a community health point of view (which I’m guessing is what you mean by social dimensions), societies agree on a set of behaviors they deem acceptable or unacceptable. When someone or something doesn’t fit that mold, it causes problems. So, for example, murder or child molesting are completely verboten. Child pornography is an extension of child sexual abuse, so it too is completely verboten. With zoos, just about anyone outside of the zoo community itself would agree that it’s “frowned upon” if not something that should be illegal. So – when a person is caught having sex with an animal, it upsets the natural order of things. (From a biblical point of view, it’s a crime against nature, which is why some laws use that terminology instead of bestiality.) … (For the record, I am not religious and not even close to a Bible-thumper.)

Animal welfare and our attempt to create laws to protect an animal’s welfare have occurred because, as a society, we’ve come to believe it’s inhumane to be knowingly cruel to an animal. (That’s why they call animal shelters “humane societies” btw.) 

Sorry, that was a long answer. In sum, bestiality and zoosadism are a threat to society in that it’s very aberrant behavior from what we expect of someone. The sexual target comes from a vulnerable population protected by law (just like children, the elderly, and incapacitated people.) It violates the integrity (and therefore the health and welfare) of a sentient being. 

[In case you don’t ask me, here’s a good spot to give you my 2-bit lecture on consent. Consent means you agree to something. Informed consent means you understand what you’re agreeing to. Animals (just like other vulnerable populations) cannot given informed consent by their very nature. As an example, if I offer a dog a treat, the dog will happily consent to taking the treat, yet has no idea why I made the offer. I might just like dogs, or I might want to lure it into my bedroom for sexy-time.]

Do you see dimensions that especially apply in the furry fandom? 

I draw a clear line between furries and zoos. As far as I know the furry community is very benign and doesn’t actually hide its interests. I suspect I could go to a furry convention if I chose to. Zoos, on the other hand are not at all benign and definitely hide what they do. You have to work hard to find a zoo gathering. And even harder to get into one.

There are “fringes” to almost any kind of community or organization. As nearly as I can tell, about 5-10% of “furries” are really zoos who may also have a furry interest (or may just be posers). Zoos are used to living on the edge; they are used to hiding their behavior. The furry community gives them a safe place to hide  because it’s already a community made up of people with atypical interests. 

If I understand it correctly, murrsuiting is about two people having sex in fursuits. That’s two people, giving informed consent, right? Totally not the same thing as a person having sex with a critter in a “real” fursuit who can’t really consent.

I see you have background in forensics, and tech has such a big role in the internet bringing the most obscure interests together and letting a zoosadist ring exist… can you talk about the technical details of handling cases?

No, other than to say that computer forensics and undercover operations are much more sophisticated than most people realize. 

Can you talk about the challenges for law enforcement, like policy gaps, or problems like getting probable cause when a ring informs its members how to evade? I was interested to learn about a role for drug trafficking in this ring, with a Vet Tech ring member supplying drugs to sedate their victims. It makes me think that collateral crimes can help get a handle on a slippery ring. 

Probably the biggest gap for law enforcement is “the law”. Some jurisdictions don’t have specific prohibitions against animal pornography (like they do for child porn), so when a bestiality video is your only physical evidence, a case can be difficult to prosecute unless there’s some other illegal thing happening like child porn, or solicitation of someone for sex, or drugs. … all of which, btw, occur regularly in bestiality-related arrests. (Unfortunately, it’s very common for bestiality to not be charged or for that charge to be dropped in plea bargaining in favor of the other, more easily prosecuted charges. … Which once again makes it look like bestiality happens less often than it actually does.)

Equus: A psychiatrist treats a teenager who mutilates horses — one of the few media depictions of this issue.

If people want to help, what’s the best way?

First of all be safe. But don’t even think about approaching law enforcement unless you have some physical evidence or a hell of a lot of probable cause that you know firsthand. (Therein lies the challenge with internet chats. You’re not physically in the room having a direct conversation with a person. So technically it’s all hearsay.)

Video evidence is very strong, but only usable if the animals or people are identifiable, and in some jurisdictions there are statutes of limitation (how do you prove when it happened unless you were there? And if you were there are you implicated?)

Where do you see these issues trending in the future?

Given that forensics and HAI (human-animal interaction) are become very popular fields of study, as well as viable sources of employment, I predict that the amount of research will continue to grow – meaning our understanding of the nature of the problem and what we should do about it will also grow. 

If the number of bestiality-related arrests* are any indication, I think law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges will continue to take the issues more seriously than in the past. 

(* Prior to around 2004, there were only 1-2 arrests each year; in the past several years there have been over 100. So even though that’s still an extremely small number when compared to arrests for homicide or burglary or driving while drunk, it’s a significant increase.)

Is there anything else we should talk about?

I think the furry community can be a huge help in early detection. But there needs to be a conduit – not necessarily me, but someone like me – who can put a case together and get it into the right hands. Cops are a twitchy lot. They are suspicious by nature, and spooked by anything that’s not part of their regular job. In order for an enforcement officer to respond to a complaint, s/he has to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. [Citizens are protected by the Constitution from “unreasonable search and seizure” so a cop can’t just knock on your front door or surveil your property unless he has a legally protected reason to do so.]

Thanks to Jenny Edwards (mjennyedwards.com) for kindly and openly bringing outside authority, and her work in researching and educating about these understudied issues.

Action shortly before publishing:

@Furaffinity updated their terms of service to ban promoting animal cruelty. Thanks @Dragoneer. https://t.co/vZjZMzq0aC

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 6, 2019

1/ I recently published results of a year of investigating an abuse ring in furry fandom. Learn more from this NY Times report of an explosion of online abuse image trading. 1/3 of reports ever made were in 2018. (Thanks to a tipper for this:) https://t.co/f1PrQq4T6k

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 30, 2019

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

A report of sex trafficking, and a chance to make a change and put a leash on crime.

Thu 19 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 4 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. A focus on ring member Tane makes a thread through a tangled story. Part 2) looks at police involvement and evasion by the ring. Part 3) is about trying to report a safety risk to an event. This part shares a new development.

In October 2017, the ringleader Snakething has hooked up Tane with someone for sex. It’s part of his practice of providing favors in return for videos, which can be leveraged for more favors. First, Snakething and Tane collaborate to push things where they want to go by sharing secrets about their target.

When secrets are valuable, they don’t easily stay secret, especially when Snakething talks about a fetish for domination by people holding his private info and threatening to expose and humiliate him. Months later, those blackmail games contributed to these chat leaks — but certain files weren’t included, and weren’t given to police either (as far as I found). Why? I think those files might implicate the leakers or push limited exposure out of control. We don’t know the extent of what hasn’t leaked, but here’s a clue. 

A report of sex trafficking [June 2019]

After the zoosadist ring was exposed, news stopped coming and went on pause. Months later, ring member Kero briefly appeared online while a few of his followers hoped for a comeback. The renewed attention made me look more and find something new. It ties to Part 3 about frustrations of trying to report a safety risk to cons, where I asked what a rape target might face in the circumstances.

A video of Tane having sex with a minor was planned in the ring and made for trading. It wasn’t leaked, but it turned up another way. As soon as I knew it was real, the police were helped to receive it. I was briefly able to see a still without touching it (no possessing, just a glimpse to prove it’s real). I have nothing else to do with it, except verifying it exists for reporting while other details need to be withheld for security.

Tane’s trademark fursuit was on the right side on top, with another person on the left on bottom, feet in the air wearing pink and black striped socks. They were on a bed by a window. People who know this video can recognize the details. A video made in a car is also “in the wild”. There’s corroboration in the chat logs about recording dates, methods, lengths, places, “jail worthy” video, “teen”, minor, and code “RLC” (real life cub) — and hiding things from parents.

I learned that people get different excuses about the video depending on how much they know. It’s claimed the minor was 18, or it was OK because the minor asked for sex, or is still together with Tane. What goes unmentioned is how the video was planned in the ring and made for trading with members to gain favors. That makes new victims and feeds the demand of predators.

They’re in this community and at your events. If anyone knows more, please help the police to catch them.

Got tips? About Tane, call Detective Weigand of the East Palo Alto Police at 650-853-7250.

Ring members discussed sharing some content only in person to keep it secret, but also schemed about ways to get it from others, including drugging or blackmailing them.

The video leaked to Illone (Kero’s boyfriend) months before his death by heroin. Snakething tries to calm Tane down about risk of exposing his secret. (Names already public.)

An opportunity to make a change, and what else can the police do?

Anyone can help bring tips forward and make progress on the community level:

  • Ask cons to consider better policies and improve how they respond to safety reports.
  • Support whistleblowers who face backlash, especially if con staff spread it.
  • Inform the public about the ring and how it works with coercion and coverup while raising demand for abuse.
  • Support legislation about content traded by this ring — make animal rape/torture as unacceptable as child porn. (It happened for animal crush videos.)

It’s tricky to talk about a police report because of risk of interference, but what’s here is connecting things already leaked. There are active safety issues (parts of the story are undisclosed) and a need for tips about those. This site has a history of being asked to raise attention by and for victims in such cases.

Saying “leave it to police” fails when crimes fall between the cracks. (Animal abuser registries could help). Tech corps don’t screen users, and when I was tipped about a Youtube channel profiting from animal cruelty there wasn’t even a place to report it. Using Craigslist ads to get dogs is already a known problem with dogfighting. It reminds me of a woman who would pretend to adopt horses but sell them for slaughter, until she was convicted of fraud. Social media helped to gather victim reports. Publicity matters.

The police won’t say more to a blog. The chat logs discuss how to evade their reach and the ring was created outside the law, so it’s hard to say if others will be busted. But attention can bring out collateral crime. (Kind of like how Al Capone was busted for tax evasion, not for being a mafia boss.) After all, people arrested for bestiality are statistically likely to tie with crimes involving kids. Sex abusers are known to have many victims before getting caught.

Snakething (Levi Simmons) went free for the time being, but there’s more hope. Animal cruelty charges had a small time limit, but charging right away may have prevented adding more serious charges. There aren’t such limits for crimes with kids. (This video explains it:)

Complicity or publicity

In a close community there are times to be direct in backchannels. That worked with Fur Con but not so well elsewhere. Now expect people to attack this for being public even though help was sought in private first. Is there a “furry wall of silence” or is it just from certain cliques? The answer can depend on what happens next.

Wikileaks shined a light on important secrets, sometimes being criticized for sourcing documents that could be salted with fakes (so they go through vetting, and the info was still considered worthy.) Expect to see this report attacked like that for damage control. So where else would it come from, was the ring going to tell on itself? Unless someone can show what exactly is faked, let the logs speak for themselves with all the ways they’re corroborated.

Silence is what the ring wants. When the crime cases of Cupid and Noodles made Seattle news (in Part 1), they talked about limiting exposure and laying low until the case resolved. In 2019, the two men were convicted. What about the rest of the ring while they melt back into furry fandom or get new faces?

See them fear the power of attention instead of dismissing “callout culture/cyber bullying/witch hunts”:

(Cupid’s charges weren’t for “CP stuff”. Backlash at reporting didn’t stop conviction.)

Trading victims and videos — methods of the ring

Of all the sources, the detailed breakdown of Tane’s logs took by far the most work to put together. Casual chats aren’t easy sources, but reading over and over their spontaneous talk brings out many more stories. It makes portraits between the lines.

Tane’s banality, with his social credit to get protection of a clique of friends, hides an oily kind of evil. His agreeability to anything enabled Snakething to push limits as far as he could. It was mutual. (Imagine Tane claiming to be powerless to resist taking favors from a disabled guy who lives with his mom.)

Snakething’s procuring a minor and planning with Tane looks like a tactic of coordinated grooming — a predator “tag-team”.  I’ve now heard about this in multiple independent cases. The first person pushes limits to groom a target, but might not cross the line, making it easier to slither away. When they switch places, they make a pincher of coercion on the target. There are mutual favors and Snakething grows his porn collection this way. (Tane isn’t the only one he teams up with; he does it with Sangie too, targeting his nephew.) This trading is the basic mechanism of the ring.

Making and trading videos, then trading the target to Sangie, a convicted sex offender.

Snakething mentions meeting the older Sangie when he was around 18. Then 5 years later he moved up to be the groomer for a teen, who you can see being prepared to gather others while keeping secrets from parents. It’s what Tane calls corrupting targets into zoophilia and rape, and eventually (they hope) raping puppies and “hardzoo”. It resembles hate groups working to “redpill” targets. It can pull pliable people in with a carrot of taboo content.

There’s also a stick of coercion, with threats of exposure, and targeting people in unstable homes (or even their pets). Coercion is part of domination-fetish and multi-level social credit. (There are pyramid-scheme sex cults that trap members with “collateral”. The documentary Tickled found blackmail behind a video making operation.) It led to extortion charges in the Cupid crime case. People who use these tactics did coercion on ring members to get the chat logs.

Favor trading in the ring involves “porn wish lists,” with hopes to get content made to order (Snakething’s list includes abuse of snakes.) There are clues that targets are manipulated to produce content when they might otherwise say no (almost rape-by-proxy). Power and corruption is a dangerous game they play for thrills on top of just collecting content.  Power and risk stand out at key times like when Cupid’s arrest and plea deal may take down others, arrests “spook” Tane, or he’s upset to learn that Illone has him on video and poses a threat.

Snakething’s messages are a gift for storytelling. You can see a NEET with no other occupation grow social credit from people who want unobtainable things. It’s amazing that he can’t shut up about it in the logs. There’s a desperation in his wheedling and scheming, dangling carrots, and fetish for getting caught, but it takes a twisted slyness to get as far as he did. A marginalized loser (who can’t drive) gathered a crew of sadistic nerds with world travel and tech privileges, for an improbable snuff porn ring on the level of urban legends.

It’s not just in fandom.

The methods of trading victims and videos like Pokemon cards hits an absurd extreme with this ring, enabled by tech like a real life Black Mirror episode. It could be a focus of professional study about “filter bubbles”. Origins in the darkweb, international ties, porn made to order, and limits raised beyond imagination make fandom-level elements of the Peter Scully story (an international pay-per-view torture/rape ring). It’s a darkly fascinating case about how social credit works in internet culture, and how unmoderated social media can enable the worst in people. It’s a dystopian modern-day Lord Of The Flies.

Mean little boys used to just pull the wings off flies — now they stand in the shadow of tech giants and run rings cloaked with lies.

Active safety issues continue. Here’s a damning screenshot about “Zeta Omega”, the only other associate of the ring known to have access like Tane’s (a deal for sharing all content that came in). He was the source for a list shared by Snakething of people including Tane into “real life cub.” 

Sidebar — caveats about more discussion.

Opinion from an info source

Events have limited powers and Catch-22’s can stop them from helping.

  • Conventions are not-for-profit and rely on volunteers and friend groups, naturally making favoritism issues.
  • If they screen certain members, they might have to screen everyone, or have liability to get sued if something goes wrong. Saying they can’t screen everyone is a flipside for when they keep it simple to make new cons. I think it’s part of intrinsic deficits of an open-source subculture.
  • Malicious trolls can leverage those deficits, so it helps to use calm organizing for community interest and volunteer to be part of the solution instead of just complaining.

Different cases can have different responses, but a ring is a ring.

  • “Guilt by association” is an often-false complaint. If a sewing circle has a criminal it’s not their fault, but a crime ring can’t pretend to be a sewing circle. Response after finding out about ties is so important too.
  • Certain critics say, why do furries fight hate speech more than sex abuse? It’s apples-and-oranges. A crime ring needs law enforcement, but it’s not illegal to be in hate groups and outsiders won’t help — it comes from inside.

Backlash is predictable. Don’t attack the messenger, and look for context.

  • A ring is way more complex to report than spreading lazy attacks at a lone reporter. I’ve been lied about more times than you can count and threatened about “exposing” things I don’t even know what they’re cooking up.
  • I’ve briefly had throwaway accounts in creepy groups to track them or been sympathetic to sources because I’m a narc. But I learned of the zoosadist ring when everyone else did, I don’t make deals or threaten anyone and the story is sourced from public info, voluntary tips or self-posting. No friends were protected.
  • A few arrests may not stop a ring and neither do callouts. Long term goals are better than acting without a plan.

Exactly. Member of your community does something horrible, the correct response isn't smoke and fluff, it's to point and say in a loud, clear voice 'THIS PERSON IS A SACK OF SHIT'. Anything less means you really don't think what they did was a problem…

— Robin Bobcat (@BobcatRobin) November 8, 2018

They're tools. And like tools they can be used for good or bad depending on the desire of the person who wields it.

Which isn't to say you shouldn't, as a community, hold people accountable for false callouts or recognize when they are inappropriate.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) February 5, 2019

Want to change things in your community? Volunteer and staff events, and place yourself in a position where your voice has weight behind it.

True change starts inside an organization. It doesn’t matter how shiny the outside is if the wood underneath has termites.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) August 26, 2019

Knowledge is power [Now]

Admin of Zoofurries Society/Zeta Corner, tied to the Enumclaw incident.

Another story comes to mind: the 2016 triple murder with furries in Fullerton CA. It had a journalist for The Atlantic assigned to write a big story. He was well qualified with past work, like a story of a community dealing with a school shooting. (Thanks to Sanjiv B. for giving me encouragement at a key point for this story.)

Sanjiv got treated terribly with backlash and a “furry code of silence” because “media is bad.” The fandom never got a good look at how the Fullerton murders came from a network of relationships made by the fandom. Everyone stays dumber and history can repeat when people attack the messenger, put image over knowledge and See No Evil.

“Media is bad” attitude is rooted in the early 2000’s and influential advice by Anthrocon’s Uncle Kage. I think it’s good advice with good intentions, but taking it as gospel can be tribalist, outdated and counterproductive. It’s amazing to hear the same words echoed by a zoophile group admin tied to the Enumclaw/”Mr. Hands” incident — not a false association with furries, but directly from the horse’s mouth.

Exploitation is real, so how do you learn more but avoid being exploited? It comes from having higher goals, and don’t just be reactionary against the media. Use the power of fandom to guide it. Be The Media. If you don’t tell the story yourself, it might just get told by someone who isn’t a friendly insider.

Friendly is relative. If someone wants you to see no evil about this story, they’re not really being your friend. Having it in furry fandom isn’t a conspiracy theory or association fallacy or just natural. We made the niche where it took root. Technology helped it to grow. Those aren’t necessarily personal choices, but now you get to choose how to respond.  It’s your free speech.

What do you want —  a cult, or a culture?

Sources:

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Investigation blocked: Safety concerns meet a wall of silence at furry conventions.

Wed 18 Sep 2019 - 16:20

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 3 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. A focus on ring member Tane makes a thread through a tangled story. Part 2) looks at police involvement and evasion by the ring. This part returns to how staff respond about a threat to events.

Here, Tane explains ways to drug targets for sex at furry conventions. He calls it “pseudoconsent” (coercing someone with technical permission when they lack real control). But when a person is sedated for sex there’s no legal defense for criminal charges, making liability no matter what. And BDSM role-play isn’t the problem. Besides risky, or even deadly activity that BDSM advocates discourage, the ring goes way farther in targeting victims for rape and worse.

This chat happens after Tane says he sedated someone for sex at Midwest Furfest.

Trying to get help [September 2018-July 2019]

The big furry convention in San Jose, CA is Further Confusion. Then there’s a small one at their old hotel, PAWcon. It feels like a nice personal party for a few hundred friends. I’ve known some of them for years. The con was about 6 weeks away when the zoosadist leaks shocked furries around the world. Probably few of them noticed Tane mentioning a visit to PAWcon in his own back yard.

Tane made plans to rape people at furry events. You’d think PAWcon would want to know about a safety risk to attendees, being reported by one. But when I tried to privately alert the con chair(s), the responses called it “none of your business” and a “wild goose chase”. Weird.

The weirdness involved a few people, not the whole staff. Eventually when I tried again (with the 2019 con coming soon), a caring and professional board member listened and found crime records of ring members supporting this story.  If they’re limited to only watching for safety, at least someone cared. I wish the pro response wasn’t such a contrast to conflict of interest and negligence. (Personal details are kept limited below for neutral reporting.)

Tane has friends on con staff.

(2018) Tane’s partner is A/V lead.

A week after the leaks, I was contacted by PAWcon’s A/V lead, Leko. Leko was one of Tane’s partners (a surprise to me). I was asked “as a friend” to not tell Tane’s name after it was forwarded to me by concerned tippers. Leko claimed their house would get hurt with cyber bullying, and Tane was in the ring to get info (except he didn’t call police about things that did cause arrests when leaked). It was inconsistent as a cover story, and helped authenticate the logs from a PAWcon staffer.

I liked Leko from being at events together, like one I organize with other PAWcon staff. If my event had a safety issue, of course I would be a friend and not say it isn’t my fight (posted by Leko at time of the leaks.) But the police need tips about a crime ring, and that comes from knowing who’s in it, not hiding a safety risk from the public. (You can’t realistically report an internet handle; isn’t it convenient to say “go to police” while trying to hold back the means?)

Leko teams up with Tane and a friend, Ratchet Fox, as A/V staff at events like Fur Con, TFF and BLFC. Those are big jobs with millions in equipment. That gets my respect. I visited Ratchet’s place right after the leaks happened, where he called Leko a best friend and mentioned helping at PAWcon. Ratchet was also friend/patron to Kero the Wolf on Patreon before the leaks, and was upset about Kero’s claims of being bullied for being in the ring.

Laveur, 2018 chair of PAWcon, had been landlord to Ratchet and Leko. (Some info of interest is redacted for privacy.) They shared the house at times and hosted parties I went to. Was it a house Leko brought up to protect? (There’s more houses tying to this story and in Tane’s logs.)

At PAWcon I tried talking to Laveur privately. The chair blocked me for asking who Tane was.

Next I tried Spectrum, Laveur’s 2018 co-chair and the chair for 2019. I tried him twice in 7 months. Spectrum said he would look into it when I named Tane. He didn’t.

On the second try, Spectrum said he’d never heard of Tane. Instead of asking about the safety issue or explaining his con’s policy, he questioned reports to other cons. That set up an excuse to dismiss it (skipping over whether other reports were secure and confidential for victims, or unsafe to leak to friends of Tane). He ignored ones named including Further Confusion, and after already failing to look, it was blown off again with insinuations about bad faith reporting of a “wild goose chase”. Then he denied any personal association to Leko — or anyone associated with Leko — his staff, tenant and friend of other staff, and partner of a wild goose at his con.

One can only fear what a rape target might face in these circumstances.

This isn’t a “callout” (it could be less neutral if it wasn’t just about trying to get help.) This is my mouth agape at how Tane wasn’t even considered a safety risk, but people who ask about it get blocked. And how chat logs (authenticated by a staffer) get suspicion — at the reporter — but ties to a crime ring don’t, while staff who know party with Tane. It feels bad to put names in a story, but it can’t be told without parts that influence management.

In the past I was asked to help PAWcon and I love volunteering, but this needed responsive management. Writing about it here is the least preferable alternative. I wish I wasn’t put in a position of pointing out that turning a blind eye to rape can cost more than listening to reports. Hopefully it can bring better informed handling, and help others who need to be heard, so the con can improve and succeed for all the good people involved.

How some staff responded over months of trying to get help

  1. [November 2018:] During PAWcon, the chair (and board VP) Laveur blocks me and refers the issue to his under-staffer (partner of Tane, who I was trying to report).
  2. [December 2018:] Around when I first contacted Spectrum, Ratchet says people with problems should talk privately — which I kept trying — what a runaround! 
  3. [July 2019:] Right after a 2nd try to alert Spectrum (new chair for the upcoming con), his thoughts on Twitter.
  4. Older posts to a big group, the first time a public issue was made by con staff in this article, showing a prejudice not to listen to any reports. I still tried for months.

(What is consistency?

A core clique across cons

This isn’t just reporting a personal experience. The chat logs have a clue to another significant connection between Tane and the ringleader Snakething.

There’s a wealthy benefactor who Snakething says will pay without limits for animal sex tourism to make porn for the ring. Someone who helps to plan a “hardzoo” meet in the woods in the EU (with ring member Sephius.) Someone referred to as “ZB”, who’s very secretive and knows Tane, but Snakething takes great care before revealing the identity.

The name comes out as Xyro/Zentra (@xyrotr1.) Tane is astonished that they work at two cons together. Xyro helped to run the Brony fandom’s most popular website Equestria Daily, was A/V director for Nightmare Nights Dallas, and staff at Anthrocon. He was A/V staff at Texas Furry Fiesta (2014-2018). Meanwhile, TFF had Ratchet as A/V director (2014-2018) and Leko was A/V crew, and other crew like Simon are roommate/close friends with Ratchet, Leko and Tane. (There’s no sign that con staffers besides two people in the ring knew about zoosadism until the chat leaks, but responses are an ongoing issue.)

Xyro’s “experiment with many animals”

For plans with Xyro, Snakething says they want to “rape a pup” together. He says they would cut the limbs off and violate a puppy in a way shown in snuff porn videos he shares, explode one with fireworks, or break their jaws to force oral sex, which Tane approves joining in. It raises the con safety issue about drugs/rape, and leads to pushing sadism as far as sex with headless bodies or severed heads — which is in videos they share (some made by ring member Woof in Cuba.)

The info is bolstered by forwards of Xyro sharing secrets and referenced as member of the anything-goes hardzoo group where the worst content was made.

UPDATE: more videos have been found, including someone having sex with the decapitated head of a small puppy.

????{{BROADCAST}}???? (@BROAADCASTED) September 20, 2018

The source (Snakething) is a real person who really rapes puppies and was arrested for it.

A “Zoo Witch Hunt”

From the morning of the chat leaks (9/16/18, 6:40 a.m.), Twitter has traces showing Xyro claimed impersonation almost instantly. A handful of notices about this shows little “mob,” but his account was closed and then accounts were deleted in many places.

In August 2019, I contacted a TFF board member to ask if Xyro was on staff. There was a short answer that he stopped going to cons due to a “zoo witch hunt” and then the chat was wiped and blocked like a slap in the face. The board member even locked their twitter and posted insults behind it. For a question. Weird.

That board member had welcomed tips I gave in early 2018 about 3 people. Multiple sources contacted me for help because they faced retaliation for speaking about sex predators on staff at TFF. It got taken seriously, and Sebris, the AV/DJ Coordinator for TFF in 2014-2018, was let go after I shared evidence about sex with minors and threats received by a whistleblower. (Notice that the con wasn’t named due to appropriate handling then). I approached with the same good faith for private talk again. This really struck a nerve.

Formerly a trusted contact to tip about safety issues.

Confidential to Savrin: I’ve had pressure not to post this part, and I answered that it follows a pattern of trying to report privately and being rebuffed by con staff over a year of effort. It was suggested to try placation to bring sources to my side to corroborate about Xyro. I said I would take a block at face value and it’s not about gaining favor or smearing anyone, but reporting the story as it comes. This isn’t personal, everyone makes mistakes or has knee-jerk reactions, and I’m happy to talk more with problem solving in mind. Staying firm about reporting already brought important tips that tie in and haven’t yet been touched by this story. It’s bigger and needs more attention.

Why in the A/V crew? [Now]

As one of the original internet subcultures, furry fandom makes a niche for this ring. Skills to set up events can overlap with tech skills to cover things up. Video trading ties to Tane’s skills in video setup, with frequent discussion in the logs about how to secretly record sex.

With TFF’s former AV/DJ coordinator Sebris, whistleblowers cited power of popularity at key events for the community. It made a climate of hostility to whistleblowing. That hits hard on LGBT minors, who can’t easily report abuse without risk of being outed or worse at home.

A/V work is key to how furry cons succeed, from what Ratchet told me — BLFC spares no expense on their main stage, with over a million in equipment and one of the fandom’s largest budgets, because that’s the crossroads of the con. Some named here are “core AV staff” for many furry cons.

Naturally, friends stick together, and being friends isn’t the issue; it’s about non-responsive handling. Although only two here directly tie to a ring (Xyro and Tane), ties to zoosadism behind the good vibes of con dances are the starkest meeting of the light side and dark side of fandom. These staffers can take credit for lots of good work with lighting dances — maybe they would like to shine a light on what hides in their shadow.

AV staff/friend/roommate with Tane, Leko, and Ratchet, posting at time of the chat leaks.

8 months later… Who would ever drug someone’s drink? How could we ever find out? What would a  con staffer do if fellow con staff was involved?

When cons have conflicts, snitches get stitches — what about policy reform?

Love goes to volunteers who support cons for the benefit of others. For the benefit of others shouldn’t mean zoosadists who plan rape.

Callouts get complaints, sometimes in good faith, but how about that toxic loyalty? Conflicts of interest in management and failure to even consider repeat reports can make reporting to anyone be a minefield. It’s not the job of people bringing issues forward to keep trying to overcome a wall of silence.

Caution is reasonable. Action can come with liability. It’s not easy to ban people (which I never requested). But with text evidence, news reports and court records showing a crime ring in the community, it’s negligent to ignore and self-defeating to flip retaliation back (remember how RMFC collapsed?) I’ve seen backlash by a certain clique since the chat leaks, and more is predictable.

Wouldn’t it help to take this seriously with clearer conduct policies for staff, or a staffer dedicated to adult issues (drugs, sex, consent, rape crisis response training) to bring the culture up to date from family-friendly PR of the past? How about a unified policy across cons so they don’t pass the buck to other cons about people who depart for bad reasons?

It’s an issue in many communities (not just furries), according to a founder of Bronycon (Purple Tinker), who protested cons being unwilling to make “drama” about each other following nonresponse about a pedophile on staff.

Let’s return to a story thread that highlights inconsistency across different cons.

PAWcon’s sex offenders

Current PAWcon chair Spectrum oversaw 2018 staffer Growly, whose sex offense record got many complaints about con handling. Luckily Growly was let go from staff in early 2019. It only gets mentioned for the risk of favoring staff like that. His re-arrest in July 2019 made me bring up Tane again to Spectrum.

I also tried twice to bring up Sangie of Inkedfur, a dealer at PAWcon and convicted sex offender. He was a focus of independent tips to this site about grooming teens, and teamed up with the ringleader SnakeThing to groom his underage nephew in the chat logs. When it came out in the leaks, Sangie tried to excuse his chat history as “sarcasm” and tried to appear cooperative as if to excuse his other face. He was a source for forwarded messages direct from Snakething admitting raping a puppy.

Sangie was claiming to have his record expunged, he was already known to police, and there were delicate legal issues, so this got backchannel attention.

Fur Con’s policy about sex offenders: a strikingly different response [December 2018]

Between tries to alert PAWcon, I made reports to cons most likely to be affected.

Further Confusion was soon and named in the chat logs. They listened professionally and immediately changed their Code of Conduct. (I keep secure documenting but I don’t speak for them). I also asked them to forward info to PAWcon so it wasn’t just from me. Fur Con was beyond helpful, and it couldn’t have been more different from responses like “cyber bullying/wild goose chase/witch hunt”. This wasn’t asked for, and I told them I wasn’t planning a story at the time, which made it their private choice from just listening.

We have clarified and updated our Code of Conduct regarding membership eligibility and conditions. The new text appears under the "Membership" heading on https://t.co/eheSwKvsuA, and will be in effect for FC2019. Please contact chairman@furcon.org with any concerns.

— Further Confusion (@furcon) December 18, 2018

Fur con’s response:

“AAE and FurCon do not permit membership or attendance by any individual who is a convicted sex offender, or appears on any federal or state sex offender registry. In addition, AAE and FurCon reserve the right, at the board’s discretion, to deny membership or attendance to anyone with a documented history of sexual violence, including inappropriate conduct towards minors.”

Texas Furry Fiesta added a similar rule in June 2019 (prior to board member response above.)

Publishing Part 1 led to DEFCON Furs taking action about Tane with an official statement from the board that they do not tolerate abusive behavior.

Going on pause, then a new development [June 2019]

Evidence of the ring was delivered to police in late 2018. There couldn’t be any predictions and results could take years if ever. By Fur Con in January 2019, I stopped expecting much new info to come out. I moved ahead with other stories but kept working to monitor (part of the hundreds of hours put in).

Then in June, an unexpected piece of info turned up that needed reporting to police. The police said the chat logs made a worthwhile case, but jurisdiction and type of proof came up. An internet ring made incidents across agencies, and what about photos/videos to show who did what?

Criminal cases can take time to build sufficiently that they'll have a reasonable chance of success. Motherfuckers can be under investigation for literally years before being formally charged.

This shit isn't Law and Order, stopping thinking it is.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) June 6, 2019

A tech platform for evasion, and a catch-22 for proof.

Telegram is a messaging service liked by terrorists, illegal file traders, furries, and many mainstream users for an alternative to big tech corps. It was founded by a Russian billionaire for encrypted communication safe from Putin’s spying (or is it?) Billionaire funding means no monetization. Support is in Dubai.

Here’s why a shady ring likes it:

  • Telegram Secret Chat encrypts and destroys messages. (Forbes.com: “Going dark” makes “a long-running feud between federal authorities and Silicon Valley.”)
  • Telegram support told me that Telegram doesn’t disclose user activity; ring members chatted about it needing multiple court orders around the world (all they might get is a phone number.) Other people seeking help couldn’t get responses for reports about predators targeting children.
  • User practices also throw off exposure. That includes trading accounts or holding blackmail evidence for “insurance”.

If it’s about illegal files, you can’t just possess them to prove it. If traders like Tane have infosec skills, they don’t “possess” them either, they encrypt and cover tracks when trading. The ring tells each other how to dodge getting caught, and how proof needs faces in photos. Tane’s chat logs have files removed.

(November 2017) Snakething gives cover-up advice to another zoosadist, who he learned is being reported for trading animal snuff porn and planning to rape babies.

Coverup behind technicality isn’t innocence. What we know right now is social evidence. You can see the chats happened, how they’re corroborated, and who’s in them. Waiting for investigation may take forever. Meanwhile, Kero and the ringleader Snakething got away with charges because video evidence was too old.

See the catch-22 of waiting to bring attention?

The gap

There’s many things police have power to do that fans don’t, things the community knows that police don’t, and things neither can do without more attention. The gap between is where this ring thrives. Event and group managers have a better position to bridge the gap than others.

There was a huge gap between responses from PAWcon and Fur Con about this story. It’s challenging to parse, but I’m grateful to Fur Con for being the heroes (and PAWcon staff who did care) and showing that this isn’t just a “wild goose chase” or muck raking to ignore. My (very costly) part in reporting the story now goes to the community, because knowledge is power.

Next: more details of info reported to police, and here’s where I really get to use free speech.

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.W

Categories: News

Investigation blocked: Safety concerns meet a wall of silence at furry conventions.

Wed 18 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 3 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. A focus on ring member Tane makes a thread through a tangled story. Part 2) looks at police involvement and evasion by the ring. This part returns to how staff respond about a threat to events.

Here, Tane explains ways to drug targets for sex at furry conventions. He calls it “pseudoconsent” (coercing someone with technical permission when they lack real control). But when a person is sedated for sex there’s no legal defense for criminal charges, making liability no matter what. And BDSM role-play isn’t the problem. Besides risky, or even deadly activity that BDSM advocates discourage, the ring goes way farther in targeting victims for rape and worse.

This chat happens after Tane says he sedated someone for sex at Midwest Furfest.

Trying to get help [September 2018-July 2019]

The big furry convention in San Jose, CA is Further Confusion. Then there’s a small one at their old hotel, PAWcon. It feels like a nice personal party for a few hundred friends. I’ve known some of them for years. The con was about 6 weeks away when the zoosadist leaks shocked furries around the world. Probably few of them noticed Tane mentioning a visit to PAWcon in his own back yard.

Tane made plans to rape people at furry events. You’d think PAWcon would want to know about a safety risk to attendees, being reported by one. But when I tried to privately alert the con chair(s), the responses called it “none of your business” and a “wild goose chase”. Weird.

The weirdness involved a few people, not the whole staff. Eventually when I tried again (with the 2019 con coming soon), a caring and professional board member listened and found crime records of ring members supporting this story.  If they’re limited to only watching for safety, at least someone cared. I wish the pro response wasn’t such a contrast to conflict of interest and negligence. (Personal details are kept limited below for neutral reporting.)

Tane has friends on con staff.

(2018) Tane’s partner is A/V lead.

A week after the leaks, I was contacted by PAWcon’s A/V lead, Leko. Leko was one of Tane’s partners (a surprise to me). I was asked “as a friend” to not tell Tane’s name after it was forwarded to me by concerned tippers. Leko claimed their house would get hurt with cyber bullying, and Tane was in the ring to get info (except he didn’t call police about things that did cause arrests when leaked). It was inconsistent as a cover story, and helped authenticate the logs from a PAWcon staffer.

I liked Leko from being at events together, like one I organize with other PAWcon staff. If my event had a safety issue, of course I would be a friend and not say it isn’t my fight (posted by Leko at time of the leaks.) But the police need tips about a crime ring, and that comes from knowing who’s in it, not hiding a safety risk from the public. (You can’t realistically report an internet handle; isn’t it convenient to say “go to police” while trying to hold back the means?)

Leko teams up with Tane and a friend, Ratchet Fox, as A/V staff at events like Fur Con, TFF and BLFC. Those are big jobs with millions in equipment. That gets my respect. I visited Ratchet’s place right after the leaks happened, where he called Leko a best friend and mentioned helping at PAWcon. Ratchet was also friend/patron to Kero the Wolf on Patreon before the leaks, and was upset about Kero’s claims of being bullied for being in the ring.

Laveur, 2018 chair of PAWcon, had been landlord to Ratchet and Leko. (Some info of interest is redacted for privacy.) They shared the house at times and hosted parties I went to. Was it a house Leko brought up to protect? (There’s more houses tying to this story and in Tane’s logs.)

At PAWcon I tried talking to Laveur privately. The chair blocked me for asking who Tane was.

Next I tried Spectrum, Laveur’s 2018 co-chair and the chair for 2019. I tried him twice in 7 months. Spectrum said he would look into it when I named Tane. He didn’t.

On the second try, Spectrum said he’d never heard of Tane. Instead of asking about the safety issue or explaining his con’s policy, he questioned reports to other cons. That set up an excuse to dismiss it (skipping over whether other reports were secure and confidential for victims, or unsafe to leak to friends of Tane). He ignored ones named including Further Confusion, and after already failing to look, it was blown off again with insinuations about bad faith reporting of a “wild goose chase”. Then he denied any personal association to Leko — or anyone associated with Leko — his staff, tenant and friend of other staff, and partner of a wild goose at his con.

One can only fear what a rape target might face in these circumstances.

This isn’t a “callout” (it could be less neutral if it wasn’t just about trying to get help.) This is my mouth agape at how Tane wasn’t even considered a safety risk, but people who ask about it get blocked. And how chat logs (authenticated by a staffer) get suspicion — at the reporter — but ties to a crime ring don’t, while staff who know party with Tane. It feels bad to put names in a story, but it can’t be told without parts that influence management.

In the past I was asked to help PAWcon and I love volunteering, but this needed responsive management. Writing about it here is the least preferable alternative. I wish I wasn’t put in a position of pointing out that turning a blind eye to rape can cost more than listening to reports. Hopefully it can bring better informed handling, and help others who need to be heard, so the con can improve and succeed for all the good people involved.

How some staff responded over months of trying to get help

  1. [November 2018:] During PAWcon, the chair (and board VP) Laveur blocks me and refers the issue to his under-staffer (partner of Tane, who I was trying to report).
  2. [December 2018:] Around when I first contacted Spectrum, Ratchet says people with problems should talk privately — which I kept trying — what a runaround! 
  3. [July 2019:] Right after a 2nd try to alert Spectrum (new chair for the upcoming con), his thoughts on Twitter.
  4. Older posts to a big group, the first time a public issue was made by con staff in this article, showing a prejudice not to listen to any reports. I still tried for months.

(What is consistency?

A core clique across cons

This isn’t just reporting a personal experience. The chat logs have a clue to another significant connection between Tane and the ringleader Snakething.

There’s a wealthy benefactor who Snakething says will pay without limits for animal sex tourism to make porn for the ring. Someone who helps to plan a “hardzoo” meet in the woods in the EU (with ring member Sephius.) Someone referred to as “ZB”, who’s very secretive and knows Tane, but Snakething takes great care before revealing the identity.

The name comes out as Xyro/Zentra (@xyrotr1.) Tane is astonished that they work at two cons together. Xyro helped to run the Brony fandom’s most popular website Equestria Daily, was A/V director for Nightmare Nights Dallas, and staff at Anthrocon. He was A/V staff at Texas Furry Fiesta (2014-2018). Meanwhile, TFF had Ratchet as A/V director (2014-2018) and Leko was A/V crew, and other crew like Simon are roommate/close friends with Ratchet, Leko and Tane. (There’s no sign that con staffers besides two people in the ring knew about zoosadism until the chat leaks, but responses are an ongoing issue.)

Xyro’s “experiment with many animals”

For plans with Xyro, Snakething says they want to “rape a pup” together. He says they would cut the limbs off and violate a puppy in a way shown in snuff porn videos he shares, explode one with fireworks, or break their jaws to force oral sex, which Tane approves joining in. It raises the con safety issue about drugs/rape, and leads to pushing sadism as far as sex with headless bodies or severed heads — which is in videos they share (some made by ring member Woof in Cuba.)

The info is bolstered by forwards of Xyro sharing secrets and referenced as member of the anything-goes hardzoo group where the worst content was made.

UPDATE: more videos have been found, including someone having sex with the decapitated head of a small puppy.

????{{BROADCAST}}???? (@BROAADCASTED) September 20, 2018

The source (Snakething) is a real person who really rapes puppies and was arrested for it.

A “Zoo Witch Hunt”

From the morning of the chat leaks (9/16/18, 6:40 a.m.), Twitter has traces showing Xyro claimed impersonation almost instantly. A handful of notices about this shows little “mob,” but his account was closed and then accounts were deleted in many places.

In August 2019, I contacted a TFF board member to ask if Xyro was on staff. There was a short answer that he stopped going to cons due to a “zoo witch hunt” and then the chat was wiped and blocked like a slap in the face. The board member even locked their twitter and posted insults behind it. For a question. Weird.

That board member had welcomed tips I gave in early 2018 about 3 people. Multiple sources contacted me for help because they faced retaliation for speaking about sex predators on staff at TFF. It got taken seriously, and Sebris, the AV/DJ Coordinator for TFF in 2014-2018, was let go after I shared evidence about sex with minors and threats received by a whistleblower. (Notice that the con wasn’t named due to appropriate handling then). I approached with the same good faith for private talk again. This really struck a nerve.

Formerly a trusted contact to tip about safety issues.

Confidential to Savrin: I’ve had pressure not to post this part, and I answered that it follows a pattern of trying to report privately and being rebuffed by con staff over a year of effort. It was suggested to try placation to bring sources to my side to corroborate about Xyro. I said I would take a block at face value and it’s not about gaining favor or smearing anyone, but reporting the story as it comes. This isn’t personal, everyone makes mistakes or has knee-jerk reactions, and I’m happy to talk more with problem solving in mind. Staying firm about reporting already brought important tips that tie in and haven’t yet been touched by this story. It’s bigger and needs more attention.

Why in the A/V crew? [Now]

As one of the original internet subcultures, furry fandom makes a niche for this ring. Skills to set up events can overlap with tech skills to cover things up. Video trading ties to Tane’s skills in video setup, with frequent discussion in the logs about how to secretly record sex.

With TFF’s former AV/DJ coordinator Sebris, whistleblowers cited power of popularity at key events for the community. It made a climate of hostility to whistleblowing. That hits hard on LGBT minors, who can’t easily report abuse without risk of being outed or worse at home.

A/V work is key to how furry cons succeed, from what Ratchet told me — BLFC spares no expense on their main stage, with over a million in equipment and one of the fandom’s largest budgets, because that’s the crossroads of the con. Some named here are “core AV staff” for many furry cons.

Naturally, friends stick together, and being friends isn’t the issue; it’s about non-responsive handling. Although only two here directly tie to a ring (Xyro and Tane), ties to zoosadism behind the good vibes of con dances are the starkest meeting of the light side and dark side of fandom. These staffers can take credit for lots of good work with lighting dances — maybe they would like to shine a light on what hides in their shadow.

AV staff/friend/roommate with Tane, Leko, and Ratchet, posting at time of the chat leaks.

8 months later… Who would ever drug someone’s drink? How could we ever find out? What would a  con staffer do if fellow con staff was involved?

When cons have conflicts, snitches get stitches — what about policy reform?

Love goes to volunteers who support cons for the benefit of others. For the benefit of others shouldn’t mean zoosadists who plan rape.

Callouts get complaints, sometimes in good faith, but how about that toxic loyalty? Conflicts of interest in management and failure to even consider repeat reports can make reporting to anyone be a minefield. It’s not the job of people bringing issues forward to keep trying to overcome a wall of silence.

Caution is reasonable. Action can come with liability. It’s not easy to ban people (which I never requested). But with text evidence, news reports and court records showing a crime ring in the community, it’s negligent to ignore and self-defeating to flip retaliation back (remember how RMFC collapsed?) I’ve seen backlash by a certain clique since the chat leaks, and more is predictable.

Wouldn’t it help to take this seriously with clearer conduct policies for staff, or a staffer dedicated to adult issues (drugs, sex, consent, rape crisis response training) to bring the culture up to date from family-friendly PR of the past? How about a unified policy across cons so they don’t pass the buck to other cons about people who depart for bad reasons?

It’s an issue in many communities (not just furries), according to a founder of Bronycon (Purple Tinker), who protested cons being unwilling to make “drama” about each other following nonresponse about a pedophile on staff.

Let’s return to a story thread that highlights inconsistency across different cons.

PAWcon’s sex offenders

Current PAWcon chair Spectrum oversaw 2018 staffer Growly, whose sex offense record got many complaints about con handling. Luckily Growly was let go from staff in early 2019. It only gets mentioned for the risk of favoring staff like that. His re-arrest in July 2019 made me bring up Tane again to Spectrum.

I also tried twice to bring up Sangie of Inkedfur, a dealer at PAWcon and convicted sex offender. He was a focus of independent tips to this site about grooming teens, and teamed up with the ringleader SnakeThing to groom his underage nephew in the chat logs. When it came out in the leaks, Sangie tried to excuse his chat history as “sarcasm” and tried to appear cooperative as if to excuse his other face. He was a source for forwarded messages direct from Snakething admitting raping a puppy.

Sangie was claiming to have his record expunged, he was already known to police, and there were delicate legal issues, so this got backchannel attention.

Fur Con’s policy about sex offenders: a strikingly different response [December 2018]

Between tries to alert PAWcon, I made reports to cons most likely to be affected.

Further Confusion was soon and named in the chat logs. They listened professionally and immediately changed their Code of Conduct. (I keep secure documenting but I don’t speak for them). I also asked them to forward info to PAWcon so it wasn’t just from me. Fur Con was beyond helpful, and it couldn’t have been more different from responses like “cyber bullying/wild goose chase/witch hunt”. This wasn’t asked for, and I told them I wasn’t planning a story at the time, which made it their private choice from just listening.

We have clarified and updated our Code of Conduct regarding membership eligibility and conditions. The new text appears under the "Membership" heading on https://t.co/eheSwKvsuA, and will be in effect for FC2019. Please contact chairman@furcon.org with any concerns.

— Further Confusion (@furcon) December 18, 2018

Fur con’s response:

“AAE and FurCon do not permit membership or attendance by any individual who is a convicted sex offender, or appears on any federal or state sex offender registry. In addition, AAE and FurCon reserve the right, at the board’s discretion, to deny membership or attendance to anyone with a documented history of sexual violence, including inappropriate conduct towards minors.”

Texas Furry Fiesta added a similar rule in June 2019 (prior to board member response above.)

Publishing Part 1 led to DEFCON Furs taking action about Tane with an official statement from the board that they do not tolerate abusive behavior.

Going on pause, then a new development [June 2019]

Evidence of the ring was delivered to police in late 2018. There couldn’t be any predictions and results could take years if ever. By Fur Con in January 2019, I stopped expecting much new info to come out. I moved ahead with other stories but kept working to monitor (part of the hundreds of hours put in).

Then in June, an unexpected piece of info turned up that needed reporting to police. The police said the chat logs made a worthwhile case, but jurisdiction and type of proof came up. An internet ring made incidents across agencies, and what about photos/videos to show who did what?

Criminal cases can take time to build sufficiently that they'll have a reasonable chance of success. Motherfuckers can be under investigation for literally years before being formally charged.

This shit isn't Law and Order, stopping thinking it is.

— Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) June 6, 2019

A tech platform for evasion, and a catch-22 for proof.

Telegram is a messaging service liked by terrorists, illegal file traders, furries, and many mainstream users for an alternative to big tech corps. It was founded by a Russian billionaire for encrypted communication safe from Putin’s spying (or is it?) Billionaire funding means no monetization. Support is in Dubai.

Here’s why a shady ring likes it:

  • Telegram Secret Chat encrypts and destroys messages. (Forbes.com: “Going dark” makes “a long-running feud between federal authorities and Silicon Valley.”)
  • Telegram support told me that Telegram doesn’t disclose user activity; ring members chatted about it needing multiple court orders around the world (all they might get is a phone number.) Other people seeking help couldn’t get responses for reports about predators targeting children.
  • User practices also throw off exposure. That includes trading accounts or holding blackmail evidence for “insurance”.

If it’s about illegal files, you can’t just possess them to prove it. If traders like Tane have infosec skills, they don’t “possess” them either, they encrypt and cover tracks when trading. The ring tells each other how to dodge getting caught, and how proof needs faces in photos. Tane’s chat logs have files removed.

(November 2017) Snakething gives cover-up advice to another zoosadist, who he learned is being reported for trading animal snuff porn and planning to rape babies.

Coverup behind technicality isn’t innocence. What we know right now is social evidence. You can see the chats happened, how they’re corroborated, and who’s in them. Waiting for investigation may take forever. Meanwhile, Kero and the ringleader Snakething got away with charges because video evidence was too old.

See the catch-22 of waiting to bring attention?

The gap

There’s many things police have power to do that fans don’t, things the community knows that police don’t, and things neither can do without more attention. The gap between is where this ring thrives. Event and group managers have a better position to bridge the gap than others.

There was a huge gap between responses from PAWcon and Fur Con about this story. It’s challenging to parse, but I’m grateful to Fur Con for being the heroes (and PAWcon staff who did care) and showing that this isn’t just a “wild goose chase” or muck raking to ignore. My (very costly) part in reporting the story now goes to the community, because knowledge is power.

Next: more details of info reported to police, and here’s where I really get to use free speech.

Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Running scared: an international zoosadism ring evades investigation.

Tue 17 Sep 2019 - 10:00

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 2 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. A focus on ring member Tane makes a thread through a tangled story. This part looks at their evasion.

One excuse for people caught associated with the ring is downplaying it as “just fantasy”. To deflect public anger, member Kero the Wolf claimed he just likes “feral art” — a handful of pictures in a mountain of animal abuse in their chat leaks. Euphemistic illusions are a way to beg tolerance in a fandom where weird interests have free expression. But furries have limits. So the extreme fringe members hide their tracks with alt accounts, encryption and codes.

It’s the week after Halloween in 2017, and Tane was just at PAWcon, a small event in San Jose, CA. Snakething has frightening news — associates in the UK are being arrested for illegal content. Snakething is reassuring about Telegram’s encryption, but Tane is spooked about the arrest of ring associate Cupid (from Part 1). Cupid was arrested because Snakething leaked an incriminating video of him to a friend. The police took his phone — can they trace content on it to others? Will more dominos fall? The chatting is subdued for weeks after, and Snakething has to owe favors and settle fears. Notice “SC” (Telegram’s Secret Chat that deletes after viewing), and the code “RLC” (real life cub).

Police on the job [October 2018-now]

The envelope was sealed and mailed with tracking to see when it arrived. It was a moment of hope. A year after Tane’s chat about Cupid and “RLC”, higher powers now had a hard drive of leaked evidence. It included lots of work by furries to hold their hands and point out what to investigate.

The police don’t waste time on wild goose chases for internet rumors. So far, there have been 3 arrests for real activity that came from the leaks:

  • SnakeThing (Levi Simmons) — arrested in Oregon for raping a puppy on video to share with the ring.
  • EliteKnight (Christian Stewart Nichols) — arrested in Florida for abusing his dog on video to share with the ring.
  • Woof (Ruben Pernas) — arrested in Cuba after a hunt to ID him for mutilating and killing animals for the ring.

Unfortunately (for now), Woof seems to be free because Cuba has no animal welfare laws. So the Cuban people hit the streets with public protest to ask their government for new laws because of him — an exceptional happening in a repressive country. There are claims that it’s the first officially-sanctioned, independently-organized, non government-associated protest in their nation’s history. I tried to get attention on the story with contacts at Vice and more, hoping that someone would cover a crime ring in furry fandom leaping to international notice. (A P.R. problem, or an opportunity to show what we care about?)

See Cuban protesters on the march below in a video about “Woof”.

[Zoosadist leaks] – Cuban media has exposed Rubén Marrero Pernas, AKA "Woof", perhaps the most extreme member of the zoosadist ring including @kerothewolf that was leaked in September.

"Cubans denounce a rapist and murderer of dogs." Article in Spanish:https://t.co/5AcaS6sHFv

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) November 24, 2018

Underground in Cuba

On 8/26/19, I got a voice message about the video from an activist who helps Cuban animals to be adopted internationally with groups like CEDA. There are mixed up details in the section about who worked in Cuba (from 8:00-10:30). Even so, the activist was grateful to helpers for doing what they can.

After ID was found for Ruben Pernas, an underground effort had to be made to locate and expose him. Nobody would believe them for a long time (much like publishing stories about Kero and others) until they gathered backing and Pernas was fired from his job. CEDA didn’t approach the Cuban government, but they rescued his dogs. The story can’t be easily told, and I’m reminded of the film Citizen X (about a hunt for a killer complicated by Soviet police beaurocracy.)

The difficulty was manifold. The story could embarrass the system. Speaking about police in a country like Cuba can have consequences like denial of travel. There are no animal shelters in Cuba — it’s handled by individuals who take strays off the streets if they can, and groups like CEDA who try to get fosters, with help from Animal Protectors. Records must be hard to get. Their work had to be done in silence for 2 months, in collaboration with quiet middle-people.

“The hard part is keeping something so horrible without being able to discuss it… Let me tell you this was the most difficult and heartbreaking situation I’ve ever had to deal with. I want to shine the light on the good that Cuba did by the arrest.” — (Contact to the middle-people.)

Free speech to openly discuss this story is a freedom to cherish.

Limits of laws, and a problem for a community.

When the first sirens died down, Snakething was let go. The animal abuse hadn’t been found in time. Ring members including Woof are free to do more harm. But with the story out in public already, more attention can influence what happens next.

In furry fandom, talking on social media is one thing, but more focused work to get help can hit a wall. The Geek Social Fallacies lurk behind it. Backlash at “drama” means lazy insults to this volunteer for donating work that others don’t. Some say shut up and leave it to the cops, deferring to authority outside the community. You can find lots of balls in furry art, but where else?  (Look at Cubans on the street protesting to their authorities for a change.)

I think the police don’t manage a community. They come after things go wrong, and they can’t just arrest people for saying things that we know they do:

  • Animals don’t tell, while tech helps to cover up. (Corporations even profit from animal cruelty media they won’t regulate.)
  • Local police have low priority for cybercrime out of their area. Federals have bigger fish to fry (terrorism etc.), so animal abuse falls back to local police.
  • Outdated laws didn’t envision a ring like this, which skips jurisdictions, while bestiality isn’t illegal everywhere or regulated like child abuse. Videos circulate for years, but statutory limits make short times to solve crimes. The police may not waste effort if arresting ends up in dropped charges.

These limits blocked a New York police investigation into Kero the Wolf. His parents stonewalled them from comparing evidence of crime on their property (in a garage and campers) that was in abuse videos and Kero’s Beastforum posts. The statutory time limits ran out. Investigation continues in PA.

The chat logs of the zoosadist ring discuss this, one tactic to get away with crime is using a fursuit and concealing face. In kero's case they have his garage in an abuse vid and one he posted himself, but it takes a warrant to make it courtworthy. No face = no warrant, catch22

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) August 21, 2019

I've spent the last two weeks looking over the evidence that had been given to the New York police investigating Kero The Wolf. ITT I explain why there's hard proof the statute of limitations is what hamstrung NY's case against Kero, and how he's gotten away on a technicality.

— Archive The Wolf (@KeroArchive) September 2, 2019

Only police may have certain power, but only insiders (or family) may be able to help them to use it. Detective work can take years, and a few arrests may not stop a ring. People like OJ Simpson get off charges (but not from personal, community or civil judgement). Interfering with police is a concern, but leaving it only to them can be negligent. Shining a light matters when predators prey in the shadows. There’s no “witch hunt” for witches right next to you.

Running scared [September 2018]

Back to the fandom impact right when the leaks reached the public. I had to guess why lots of people were coming out of the woodwork in my messages with weird intentions. What do you think is going on when I get contacted unprompted, about people I don’t know, to deny things I didn’t bring up? It gives a strong impression of fear and coverup of many wider ties. I heard from:

  • Kero the Wolf — Told me his excuse about being hacked. It was unbelievable and I told him to stop, get a lawyer and go dark. Kero eventually admitted that he did lie to me and thousands of fans with a downloaded screenshot of “hacker” activity that he told me came from his device. But he still wanted it both ways as if mystery hackers wrote the bad messages in his name, and he only wrote a small part that couldn’t get him in much trouble.
  • Saito Fox — Contacted me on behalf of Kero with the same story (and fake screenshot) at nearly the same time. He was very close to RC Fox (who killed himself on the day he was facing conviction for child porn charges,) according to RC Fox’s friend Pakyto who traded zoosadist porn with Snakething. Saito turned up in the logs for running a zoophile group for Midwest Furfest, where Snakething tried to hook them up with animal owners. What a tangle.
  • Defenders and friends of people in the ring — some with fandom popularity — threw fits when I wouldn’t buy the hacking excuse, or wanted to debate that zoophiles being underground are like gays forced to meet in secret in the 1950’s (a reminder of gay rights dissociating from a fringe of pedophiles trying to ride their coattails.) They were clearly whispering in angry private circles because I got tagged into this.
  • Leko — a local furry who I knew in person (and didn’t know was a partner of Tane) started a new thread to follow.

A cover story, and authenticating the logs 

Tane’s partner tells a story that isn’t consistent with the chat logs and other corroborating details.

Leko claims that Tane was in the ring to set the other person up for the police, but there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case. Leko says he isn’t one of those “demented perverts”, just a normal one (so it’s just fantasy, but the chats are real?) The chats are excused for having no illegal content, only commonly available files — but it doesn’t explain all the file removals from Tane’s logs, and something even more inconsistent.

Files in the chat leaks DID cause arrests. There was no help from Tane, according to the leakers, and he failed to report evidence. In 2017, when Tane received Snakething’s 2016 puppy rape video, it wouldn’t have been too late to get him charged. Holding it let the statutory time limits decay until he got away with it in 2018. (Leko sent the claims before Snakething’s arrest made them inconsistent.)

Kero claimed to be targeted by hackers. Woof confessed and EliteKnight confirmed. Glowfox claimed the logs were “out of context”. Tane claimed a self-made police sting (supported by nothing else.) The stories didn’t line up or win benefit of the doubt for anyone. At least Tane’s is based on the logs being real.

Second corroboration

I went beyond Leko’s claims to corroborate the Telegram logs. When the chats leaked, Tane locked his Twitter and switched usernames with another account. But first, a source with access provided a screenshot dump of the timeline. I painstakingly traced how his Tweets synched with his private messages.

Both sources have info the other doesn’t, such as photos matching text, and location info original to the Telegram logs that couldn’t be seen in public posts. Other Twitter accounts only tie in by roundabout research (such as tracing user location) that won’t make sense if simply faked in text, showing one source isn’t just based on the other. They weave together at points like this one, from Tane’s trip to a zoophile meet on a farm in Nebraska.

Triple check: Why wasn’t even more evidence brought to the police?

Leko claimed Tane was in the chats, but didn’t have enough evidence to go to police. (Part 4 will link a detailed breakdown of the chats with over 650 screenshots.)

But Tane received original videos of animal abuse from Snakething. He claimed to do animal sex tourism and helped hook up other ring members. Explained how to drug (roofie) drinks at cons. Targeted Nachodoggo for rape, and was told of a plan to molest a child. Didn’t seek ID to help targets in danger, and used Secret Chat to hide evidence at his request. THIS was a “setup?”

I still went out of the way to check. Leko had said they were preparing a statement together to own up to some things and explain the police claims. In September 2019, I got in touch before publishing, and offered an opportunity to clear things up and give their side, like Tane offered on his Twitter.  I sent questions:

  • What records were gathered for reporting to police?
  • Why wasn’t it enough evidence to give them?
  • How did Tane gather records when he asked to use Secret Chat?
  • Is he willing to explain the details of specific plans and files that were traded and discussed?
  • Is he willing to ID specific places and people named in the chats? Will any of them back this up?
  • What effort was made to get ID for cases of imminent harm?
  • How did he cooperate in the arrests of Levi Simmons, Christian Nichols, and Ruben Pernas (Snakething, Eliteknight, and Woof)? Will anyone back this up?
  • Will he do a video interview?

There was no reply by publishing time. I look forward to more info. Until then, the logs can speak for themselves. They’re very informative for how Tane fit in the ring and how it worked. From not even knowing who he was at first — and even being asked for favors about him — I had a fresh start to investigate without personal bias, and every detail I found matches this report.

A job for a team of one [October 2018]

The story until now has looked at who was in the ring, the limits for police, confusion and dodging, and the horrifying content instead of euphemistic “fantasy”. Then there was a big job to sort info for further action. It needed a team, so I gathered a small one. Members read Tane’s logs and reacted:

Tane’s awful. He talked for 15 HTML files. And he’s on the list of people into real life cub…’with experience’. There’s no images… because Tane’s an infosec guy. He moves to secret chat a number of times. It’s hard to summarize all of the terrible things Tane does/says. None of this is “He’s sorry for what he’s done and is seeking therapy and professional help to stop the behavior entirely.” Just “Please bury his guilt so we can keep doing what we’re doing without anyone knowing or confronting us”… There’s no fucking way he needed to prove (Snakething)’s guilt for that long. If he was attempting to play undercover cop, he went about it in the worst possible way… and never actually did anything with the info.

Like, if he wants to play that angle, he’d better have receipts of actually talking to police. The undercover cop story sounds about as believable as the being hacked story… an actual agent wouldn’t send messages on a self-destruct timer. Because it’d make their case a lot harder to prove. And Tane was the one who pushed that, not (Snakething). Any mole wants info to be as archived as long as possible. Tane actively took steps to do the opposite.

Other groups gathered and were infested by trolls, moles and misinformation, making it a minefield to work with others. It needed full time staff, but that doesn’t exist in fandom. Detaching from agendas meant doing it alone. Without more resources, it’s taken a year to investigate and report more.

Complicity by silence

A lot of the community would rather “see no evil” than know more. The path of least resistance would be shutting up and letting someone else do it… maybe nobody, while we wait for help that never comes.

That’s how the ring members hope it goes. But it was very odd to have this fall out of the sky, then have scared people bring up issues I didn’t start, about people I didn’t know, and hope I wouldn’t talk. The more I looked, the more it was clear that sitting back would clear a path for manipulation and complicity.

That pressure even came from higher powers in the community — some of them afraid about their own ties. More about that in Part 3.

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Evidence of a furry crime ring emerges: Legal docs and news tie Cupid, Tane, more to zoosadism.

Mon 16 Sep 2019 - 09:28

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 1 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

A rape plan [October 2017]

It’s near Halloween. In Coos Bay, Oregon, spooky movies are playing at the Egyptian Theater. And Snakething (Levi Simmons) is at home having an evening chat with a new friend, Tane, a furry fan in California. The men were introduced by a friend with a mutual interest. 

Tane goes to college, and Snakething lives with his mom — he can’t drive or work, so he spends time gathering online friends from around the world. Most come from the furry fandom. Furries often gather for special interests, like art or music, but Snakething obsessively collects porn from secret sources. His friends make a crime ring for zoosadism (a fetish for raping, torturing and murdering animals). They call it “hardzoo” (or hardzoosuiting with a fursuit, a very rare interest that they try to “corrupt” others into).

Tonight Tane and Snakething are making plans for Nacho (Nachodoggo), a woman who recently reported crimes by two other men tied to the ring. (A video of those men abusing her dog was leaked by a friend of Snakething, leading to their arrests.) The plan is to drug Nachodoggo, and when she’s unconscious, rape her with others she isn’t aware of, like their friend Tekkita.

Since they met, Tane has enjoyed a video where Snakething drugged and raped a 10-12 week old puppy. The puppy came from Craigslist, and may have been killed and dumped by the camera man to hide it. (Snakething claims it’s OK but doesn’t know.) The video was made to share with the ring. Members gain trust and favors by hooking each other up with people, animals, or content for trade, where the worst is rarest, as if the victims are Pokemon cards for kids to collect. They have a term for child targets: RLC (real life cub).

The furry fandom has maybe a million members in the world. Few or none know the full extent of one of the worst stories that has ever happened inside it. The zoosadists are a tiny group hiding in a fringe of a subculture, but one germ can take down a giant. Let’s put it under a microscope.

A threat to events [Now]

The plan to rape Nachodoggo was still secret when I saw the crimes she reported in Seattle news. In 2017, I contacted her to learn about the arrests of “Noodles” and “Cupid” (Kevin Richards and Matthew Grabowski) in Renton, WA. But when the ringleader Snakething was arrested in October 2018 for the puppy rape, he escaped charges due to statutory limits. (Time wouldn’t run out so fast for a human victim.) There are clues that much more was hidden from the police.

Tane, Cupid, and other ring members are still active at furry events. Event organizers know it.

Their plan is leading this story to highlight an active threat. Nachodoggo told me: “these men are dangerous“. She says the screenshots I showed her are real plans by people who would do anything to get what they want, with associates already using drugging and deception for sex crime.

I spoke to people involved and learned undisclosed details. Nachodoggo faced extortion and backlash, and her ID was redacted in the crime charges due to threats. There may be more interference like that, but as a source, the police found her reports worthy for cases that cleared with convictions in April 2019.

Those linked legal docs are the tip of the iceberg. Others won’t tell, and animals can’t, but a lot can be said about people known to be involved. Some claim innocence or say it’s fantasy talk. Snakething’s arrest — and this report — shows that people are getting away with crime even when caught red handed.

Data points of a larger ring: Cupid and Noodles in the news, months after abusing Nachodoggo’s dog and weeks after a plan to rape her with Cupid’s friend Tekkita.

Back at events right after conviction in 2019.

An international problem 

While the crimes reported by Nachodoggo were in process, I had no idea about a much larger story brewing in secret. Members of the zoosadist ring were being introduced through a darkweb forum called Animals Dark Paradise that was for cruelty on the level of urban legends. I’d never heard of real animal snuff porn (where victims are used for sex during or after being killed), let alone enough demand for group meetings to make it.

Less extreme bestiality content has long thrived on unregulated sites like Beastforum. When it closed in February 2019, the Washington Examiner quoted an activist who called it a sign of legislation in progress for “a national policy against bestiality”. Meanwhile in the UK, the BBC News reported about trading of abuse images. It’s being displaced from the open web, to the dark web, to encrypted messaging:

Secure messaging apps, including Telegram and Discord, have become popular following successful police operations against criminal markets operating on what is known as the dark web… Messages are protected by peer-to-peer encryption, generally putting them beyond law enforcement’s reach.

UPDATE: shortly after this report was published, the NY Times reported an exponential rise of abuse image trading on the internet. Over 1/3 of reports to law enforcement ever received were made in the last year. It shows law enforcement resources being dwarfed by the scale, extremity, and enterprising complexity of the problem. This story would be a symptom of that explosion of tech-enabled abuse.

A ring exposed [September 2018]

On Telegram, Snakething’s “hardzoo” group (“The Forest” or “BBB/Beasty Beast Beasts”) filtered in members from larger zoophile groups, letting them concentrate resources and contacts. Unsatisfied by trading common files, they gathered to create zoosadist content that resembled the acts of movie serial killers.

Dogs would be gotten from animal rescues or private ads from people hoping to give them forever homes. They would be restrained with duct tape, rope or drugs, then mutilated and torn apart to hear them “sing”, in the words of a ring member who was arrested for killings in Cuba.

We can now read that Snakething and Tane were planning to rent a beautiful cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway, like a group vacation for five normal friends. But instead of a place to enjoy a fire or go hiking, they wanted to budget for “toys” (disposable animals from Craigslist), and looked for seclusion so screaming dogs couldn’t be heard being raped.

The rental site where they looked at cabins in Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon. The plan could use Tane’s experience in 4-wheeler driving, and video tech skills for setting up furry cons.

This upset admins of shady groups like Zoofurries Society/Zeta Corner or Zoofurries Alliance. They got a password that Snakething gave to a play partner, and dumped the logs from his Telegram account. On 9/16/2018, they put it on Twitter and tagged me as a news source, but I had no idea what it was about.

Reasons to leak

The leakers claimed “no vendettas”. I started with a theory of fallout from the Nachodoggo/Cupid/Noodles cases, with dueling evidence disclosures tied to plea deals (or “insurance” from a dead man’s switch). Or a move to taint evidence to block more charges. There were deals, revenge motives and friend ties, but I couldn’t say they directly caused the leaks or had anything to do with why many members were exposed.

The going story says a domination/blackmail fetish game was used to trick a password out of Snakething’s play partner, and then truly expose animal torture. The partner seems to be EliteKnight, who posted a story to match. He was a definite candidate for blackmail about illegal activity. (And being a “fall guy”. I think they have others being visible faces for their groups to dump if they’re at risk, too.)

Leaking online instead of reporting to police made a mess for investigation. I think the leakers did it because they feared being arrested, exposing friends and losing their groups. It was extremely dubious to see them pose as having good intentions for cutting risks to themselves. (Snakething became a security threat to them when his video trading caused Cupid’s arrest). There’s many reasons to find this unacceptable and a form of obstruction. It’s also likely that the story wouldn’t be known otherwise.

I doubt any single person knows how deep this goes, but after hundreds of hours of research and talking to dozens of sources, I can say more than anyone has written in one place so far.

Reporting the story [One year later]

This multi-part article took weeks to write, including sorting evidence in linked archives. This is a third news update since 2018. Furry readers may have heard of Kero the Wolf, the highest-profile gateway to the story. (Kero’s boyfriend was Illone/Colwyn, a fellow zoosadist known as very active on Animals Dark Paradise). Kero’s 100K-strong Youtube following (and lying to the public, including hiding ties to “Colwyn”) earned a focus for previous articles:

This is the hardest story I’ve written, by research time, emotional cost and backlash. That includes knee-jerk attacks from bystanders about dealing with sources or trying to get help. The cost is more than could ever be gained, but it comes from caring about others. I hate having it in news about furries, but I hate having it buried even more.

In a year of trying to shine light on a murky story, I can see how tangled it is. Ring members got caught up with infighting, infiltrating, bargaining, and blackmailing each other. Zoophiles that partially outed them threaten to ruin the story if they can’t control it. They want apologism and credit for helping (imagine a necrophile, leaning on a shovel, saying “we don’t like people who kill for corpses”). Sources or reporters are targets of smokescreens, manipulation, and backlash to limit exposure. Community apathy includes denying it’s a fandom issue, acting like it’s private business, just fantasy, “drama”, or cyber-bullying to talk about it. Everyone acts like a ring isn’t a ring.

Worst of all are blind complicity, defenses for indefensible things, and lies about the story being fake.

The chats are real people talking about real activity.

See for yourself. Warning: graphic evidence of animal abuse. Check legality in your jurisdiction to view this. To my knowledge (not a lawyer), viewing to investigate in the USA is legal and it’s been checked by many people. It may be illegal in the UK and Crown dependencies under the “extreme porn” laws. [TEMPORARILY DOWN FOR NEW POLICE REPORT]

Members of the ring confirm the logs are real by their actions. Their private activity cross-checks with years of matching activity with friends, social media posts, news reports, and crime cases. It synchs with original information like incriminating photos/videos found only in the logs. One purpose for the ring was to hook each other up to make “zoosuiter” porn, and unique costumes can identify their wearers. With Kero’s boyfriend Illone/Colwyn, his death (by heroin) ties many pieces together (that’s why Kero erases the memory of his dead boyfriend, who can never speak denial.) It all weaves a huge matrix of corroboration.

For a conspiracy theory of faking the chats, it would take a squad of Hollywood scriptwriters, with intimate knowledge of hundreds of ID’s and movements that would need a time machine to predict, somehow having power over uneditable server-side sources. A claim about evidence of hacking was shown to be a lie by Kero (who still hasn’t fully disclosed his involvement). Hacking Telegram to target one member and smear their image would be akin to a government taking down another country’s electrical grid to turn off one light bulb; faking a giant ring is absurdly unreal for such a motive. This mess of a conspiracy theory would be hopeless to carry out undetected, with no coherent reason, and if one could hack Telegram they could claim huge rewards. I haven’t seen a single real clue that anything was faked — although not everything was exposed that could be.

The cult of cruelty

Known members exposed in the ring (by account names):

  • Snakething — Ringleader in Oregon and obsessive collector of extreme porn, who gathered members on Telegram to feed his urges.
  • Woof — Cuban, basically an animal serial killer to make torture porn, and focus of a hunt that extracted a confession.
  • Eliteknight — Florida resident and play partner of Snakething, who abused his dog for zoosadist porn. He posted confirmation for the leaks.
  • Glowfox — Peruvian who forced sadism on dogs, whose boyfriend appears in the logs too. He claimed to be taken “out of context” for being in the ring.
  • Tane — Had a special porn trading deal with Snakething. Partner to an SF Bay Area furry, who confirmed Tane was in the ring with excuses about why.
  • Kero — From PA, he made necro/bestiality content behind the scenes while doing innocent-looking fursuiting on Youtube for over 100,000 subscribers.
  • Sephius — Austrian who claimed to rape puppies to death, thought to be the person in a video of sex with a dead deer originally attributed to Kero.
  • Equinas — Zoophile ranch owner in WA, hoster of furry/zoophile parties and Calzoo ring activity going back to the 1990’s.
  • Tim Win/Matepups — Camera man for Snakething’s abuse video, associate of Equinas, reputed to be the most unhinged member with many victims.
  • Tekkita/Mr. Bitchtits — Zoosadist contact of Snakething, associated to Cupid and source for porn of him (possible partner or roommate).
  • Techno Husky — SF Bay Area zoosadist who Snakething tries to convince to abuse the family chihuahua, text indicates sharing child porn.
  • Sangie — play partner of Snakething, owner of Inkedfur (a furry art printing company), helps groom the nephew of Snakething for molesting.
  • Blonde Dog/Golden Retriever — Into decapitation and necrophilia with puppies, works at a dog boarding kennel, meets Tane in person.
  • Ember — Ring member who discussed sedating dogs for rape, who caught public attention for his drug overdose at BLFC 2017.
  • Kintari — Previously known vet tech/zoophile (NSFW) named in the logs for zoosadism/snuff porn, and source for drugs to subdue animals for rape.
  • Illone Sheppypaws — Kero’s boyfriend, Animals Dark Paradise user who introduced Woof to Snakething.
  • Coywolf, Humacyrnus, Mo Mo, Shepnuts, Zeta Omega, Xyro, Miskas, and more who aren’t named.

Associated by guilt

Dozens of members make countless ties to already known crime:

  • Sangie is a convicted sex offender (and subject of many tips to this site about a repeat pattern).
  • Spark Dalmation is a repeat sex offender. In the chat he’s on a list of names, including Tane, said to be into/experienced with “RLC” (Real Life Cub.)
  • Icepaws was a former Anthrocon staffer whose porn is shared by Snakething, arrested for animal abuse in the bust of a furry pedophile ring in PA.
  • Cupid and Noodles were convicted for their charges, with court records corroborating what’s in the logs.

Association — in the court record of Cupid’s conviction. It has Nachodoggo’s 2017 police report with details that appeared independently in the 2018 chat leaks, like Cupid getting animals from private adoption ads to rape and dump. Tane’s logs mention that while Cupid was on bail and unable to own pets, there was a plan to pay for delivery of “one time use” animals from Craigslist, which would be snuffed and left in the woods. Some members discussed large payments to make videos. These are some of many corroborating details between people, legal docs, and media.

Known leakers and hosts

Difficult sourcing may be the only way this could be seen:

  • Shadowwoof (leaker) — Admin of groups like Zoofurries Society (with around 1000 members and at one time had admins like zoosadist Tekkita). He’s been admin/opposition for Simba in the UK (known for running a furry Discord group with a cult-like/multi-level social credit system. Simba collects user info and runs FinDom groups, and is under police investigation.) Shadow uses threats/blackmail to gather info, so wasn’t consulted for this article.
  • Akela (leaker) — member of zoophile groups. He uses threats/blackmail to gather info, so wasn’t consulted for this article.
  • Logs are hosted on TOR by Doug Spink (not a source). He plays “zoophile media spokesperson,” with a cocaine-smuggling felony record, news articles and a book by a journalist about him. He posted that ring members force the logs down from hosts with legal claims that their own info is too extreme.
  • Logs are also on Kiwifarms, a notorious harassment site that rejects takedowns to be one of the only open hosts.

Demanding other sourcing is an easy deflection. (Where else would it come from? How does Wikileaks get documents?) Deniers can find lots of ways to attack this messenger, because that’s easier than defending a ring. It’s a common tactic to cover up institutional abuse, although a fandom doesn’t exactly have institutions. There’s more like a little power and lots of “not my job” involved. Nobody has a real watchdog job in it (I’m a volunteer who just reports things).

Independently of getting involved with the leakers, I looked myself and found a real story. It made much harder work for a lone reporter, vastly uncompensated by tiny PBS-style support. It lets me say my article has no profit, and no stake in blackmail, harassment sites, deals, or protecting anyone. Again, not one real clue of faking has reached my attention, and the logs have a mountain of corroboration. It’s getting stronger over time with elements like Cupid’s conviction.

A major news report of orphanage abuse by nuns lacked institutional records that exposed priest abuse — instead it cross-checked many sources to build evidence.

One ring to rule them all

The zoosadist ring has abuse beyond any seen in the past, but it ties to an overlapping list of older rings:

There were enough ties that I had already been comparing news stories and developing sources before learning of the zoosadist ring in 2018. It took root in furry zoophile groups, and wormed into a niche of a niche of a subculture using its resources and networks. These sub-groups are sometimes held out as social connection for people who love their pets that much, but are founded on porn trading with mental gymnastics about it. (They’re also places where members may be surveilled or blackmailed.) Keep in mind that nobody approves who joins the community, and furry fans are also working to uncover the story.

Focus on Tane

One ring member has gotten low notice so far for high activity. His chat logs with the ringleader Snakething are some of the longest, and they had a deal for sharing all content that came in. (Only one other person had such access.) Later parts will show triple-checked corroboration that Tane’s logs are real, and a detailed breakdown of the contents (including practices to evade police.) It makes a thread to help follow a tangled story where tech has a big role.

Tane works in information security with government clearance, and was known as a member of the public DEFCON Furs group and a regular attendee of the DEF CON hacker convention in Las Vegas. (See their official statement below.) DEFCON Furs is a tech focused group “for members of the infosec community that share an interest in the furry fandom,” and they organize events and parties at the con. Tane appeared in a Vice article about fursuiting at DEF CON. He seems to travel a lot, which ties to animal sex tourism clues in the logs, including going to a zoophile meet at a farm in Nebraska.

At the Nebraska farm, Tane met a friend who runs a furry porn imageboard, and a performer in animal porn videos from the commercial maker Petlust. (An employee did a Q&A about his job there, mentioning “tech savvy” and a tie to the “Mr. Hands” incident.)

These screens came from Tane’s Howlr profile. Notice how many furry events are on his list — places where ring members planned to meet for their activity.

Howlr is a popular furry sex hookup service like Grindr, generally for consenting adults, but founded by Stormy, who left due to controversy about bestiality acts shortly before the chat leaks. Independently, the leaks tied him to the ring’s plans for “zoosuiter” parties with pimp-like animal owner hookups at furry cons.

Monsters with friendly faces

Old horror stories have monsters who lurk in the wilderness beyond civilization. Modern monsters hide behind masks of technology, but walk among you like friends. They aren’t just strangers on the internet. Some of them help to run your community while complicit with this story. That’s everyone’s problem.

Come back for more about that in the next parts. As always, send requests for help to report anonymously, guest submissions, hugs, coupons, death threats, or (worst of all) plans to call me a narc and throw gum on my fursuit to: patch.ofurr@gmail.com.

UPDATES and corrections: Cupid did not work for Boeing, he worked at SEA-TAC as a service engineer for Alaska Airlines. EliteKnight was not in Ohio (source of a police report about him,) he was in Florida. Miskas is added to names in the ring from the chat logs and a tip from a source whose own experience corroborates the logs. “Nacho” has been updated to account name “Nachodoggo” to help separate it from others with similar handles.

On 9/17/19, organizers reached out with an official statement: “DEFCON Furs does not tolerate abusive behavior. Actions have been taken to address the accusations raised by this article.” From more personal messages with DEFCON Furs members, at this time I would think Tane’s activity was never condoned and doesn’t represent them. It only shows another member of the public being interested in tech. Positive activities they organize deserve an article of their own.

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News

Meet Alf Doggo, Chilean furry artist for the new site banner.

Wed 11 Sep 2019 - 10:00

If you like this interview, read The Diversity of the Latin American Furry Fandom – by Rama and Patch. Thanks to a special Cat for translating from Spanish.

(Patch:) Hi Alf! Very nice art, drawing backgrounds can be hard work besides the characters.  The site is commissioning regular new banners and featuring the artists, with interest in lesser-known artists in the world outside of American fandom. The last one featured was Meru Tenshi from the Phillipines. Can you tell me about where you live, and say a little more about yourself?

I’m from Chile, from the city Iquique. I spent part of my childhood in ‘Lana’, a small town in the interior of Combarbalá, Ovalle. That’s where my grandma lives, she’s a farmer. (She has no livestock, only agriculture.)

Do you mostly do art in furry fandom, or somewhere else like for studying at school or publishing for non furries?

I have always spent my time drawing whatever I like. It’s like phases. I started in a church, and I did oil and acrylic, it was pretty realistic. After that I turned into an Otaku, drawing a lot of anime. Now I’m only furry, and for my career I only do architectural drawing.

Want to share your links on social media?

I’m not very active in my social networks, because of school, but here they are.

How did you find furry, and what’s the fandom like where you live?

I found the fandom with one friend from University, while we talk about crazy things. She told me about this group and I got very curious. In August 2017 I got into the fandom.

It was interesting to hear about your family and grandma, it makes me wonder, is it unusual to be an artist in your family or where you grew up?

No. In my grandma’s house we didn’t have too many things to do, there wasn’t electricity. Besides playing outside, there wasn’t much to do. We spent the time drawing, or playing with mud, or learning to play a musical instrument. I got involved in drawing. Never managed to get the musical ear from my mother. My sister did, she played the whole day. Meanwhile, I drew the whole day.

My grandmother is dedicated to agricultural work, mainly to Peach Huesillo. But she also has fig trees, parronales* and much more… I drew under the trees and watched the animals pass, mainly the dogs and grazing goats.

When I wasn’t drawing, I would go to a river nearby. I built wired things… it was my imagination going crazy. I built my own version of a futbol (soccer) table. And built time machines… I even saddled and mounted a sheep. I was only calm when drawing.

All my family does art in many ways, starting from musicians to sculptors, painters, bakers, etc. My generation was not so good, but still keeps the love for the art.

And just to be clear, right now my grandma has electricity and there is even open television. It’s a rural place and the technology comes slowly.

*[I had to look up Parronales… it’s large scale grape farming, with labor that can be split by gender in Chile. – Patch]

Do you spend time with other furries in Chile, and what do you do? Or is it mostly on the internet?

Mainly on the internet. I don’t know other furs in Iquique, my city.

Do you have any favorite furry characters, whether in game or movies or tv — or ones made up by you or artists you like?

Balto!

Can you compare the fandom in North America to the part where you are? Do you hear about it a lot, or do you mostly talk about happenings closer to home?

I have no point of measurement about how the fandom is in US. Only things that I’ve seen of Mexico on the internet. From South America? Nothing… In Iquique there are no furry events, not even another furry from my same city.

The art you did for the site is super cute. Is there one thing you could say about it, like what you used for reference, or what style you used?

For the buildings in the drawing I just used to two vanishing points. I used simple elements, no references. I think I just used my head and anything that came out from my memory. For the bus I checked internet pictures. I used pictures for you sent by Mr. Cat. For the rest of the characters, I was asked to not use ‘known’ furs, so I invented all of them generic (a cat with stripes, a fox, a couple of bunnies, a panda, a black cat, a wolf, a pig, etc.)

Do you have any favorite art you drew that you want shared?

This commission is very important for me. It was requested from a Mexican artist called ‘Paco Panda‘. I did it with a simple mouse (I didn’t have a digitizing tablet at that time) and I opened commissions to buy one. But drawing with a mouse was painful (like a real physical pain) and I was going to decline. But Paco paid me for this drawing and give me a huge tip, that was a boost to buy the tablet that I have now. I’m very grateful to him.

Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, please follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.

Categories: News