2018 story The Diversity of the Latin American Furry Fandom is background for visiting Mexico’s largest furry con in October 2022.
Young Mexicans told me that Confuror has taken off to be their first full-fledged con and a beacon for fandom there. It succeeded after they only had meet-sized events that came and went, and wished for ones like North Americans have. The 2022 attendance surged after being a virtual con for two years. There were 1,861 attendees, with 486 fursuiters at the fursuit festival. The charity auction raised 153,526 MXN (about $7,675 USD) to benefit a shark conservation NGO.
It was more than a con visit, with 8 days in Guadalajara. I stayed at a house with a Mexican furry group. I’m a non-Spanish-speaking mutt from the US Rust Belt and San Francisco Bay area who was never in Mexico before. Consider this the view of a casual tourist with experience of class differences, on a much-needed first vacation since the Covid pandemic. The view is limited by a language barrier, but furry can be a bridge, and many people in Guadalajara knew some English and were helpful with translation.
The feel of Confuror and differences from other cons
As a first-time traveler to Mexico, I noticed a small portion of international guests. I met ones from Colombia, Argentina, and Chile, and some Mexican-Americans. Also from the USA were 3 familiar faces from California, and others from Colorado, Texas, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto. Old guard or party regulars from other cons were notably absent. That was a plus and a minus.
It seemed like furry is too unfamiliar in Mexico (and the hotel) to boldly overflow the con programming with large parties, or obvious side gatherings or mingling in the city. There was much less obvious PDA at the hotel. I saw no flyers or door signs, and some people were asking about parties without finding any. But some Mexican furries I met were super jazzed to meet American visitors and bring them to hang out in rooms informally.
At its best, the con proudly displayed its culture. The theme was Dia De Muertos, with an Ofrenda memorial for Latin American members who died. A heavily applauded dance comp winner wore a fursuit with a festive skull mask, and a gold-threaded traditional black Charro suit. The dance party played Raggaeton, with conga lines and mass outbreaks of Spanish singing you wouldn’t hear at other cons.
I went to more panels than usual since I knew few people. I wished I had a ticket to the Drink & Draw, a separate sold-out event with an open bar for craft beer while using sketchbooks. The con chair proudly told me it was unique to Confuror. (I do a monthly Drink & Draw at home with normie artists, and it’s a great idea for cons.) Other things I missed: the Golden Tail Awards for contributions to fandom (I dropped in but couldn’t follow the language) — and live music, including a show by Metazoa, a progressive metal band from Mexico City.
¡Muchas gracias, @Confuror!
Fue uno de nuestros mejores shows, y nos encanta saber que les gustó. Queremos agradecer también a @furryGTAwards y @RadiOsoPodcast. No tienen idea cuánto significa esto para nosotros
— Metazoa (@Metazoa_MX) October 24, 2022
[Con]mutación fue el sencillo con que lanzamos Anima Automata. Acompañamos esta canción, sobre el odio a uno mismo y cómo desaprenderlo, con este videoclip donde jugamos con el terror, comedia, pizza y unos amigos peluditos
— Metazoa (@Metazoa_MX) September 21, 2022
If the dance is late to start, just make your own pic.twitter.com/sTK4PiBsyM
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 24, 2022
A bridge between Latin America and North American fandom, with leftist intention
One panel concerned furry as an international community. A con organizer (Loisa) led it mostly in Spanish with some translation. Loisa told the panel that Confuror was trying to bridge American and Latin American fandom. I saw accommodation for english speakers, like the con program being helpfully coded to show which events were in Spanish, or English, or both. The con was meant to be a safe space for queer and trans members, something fairly new in Latin American society (there were other panels about this).
Loisa believed that fandom showed a capitalist lean. I saw what she meant. The dealer’s den was very comparable to other cons. It was tightly laid out and packed with buyers, and needed hours to browse. It also provided the first Night Market in Latin America to openly sell adult furry products. Some fan-brand-level dealers provided exclusive products for Confuror, and sold out so fast that they closed early.
Loisa said the organizers had divisions about capitalism vs. serving community, like by providing a low entry cost. She had criticism about the power of prestige in the fandom. I sensed compromising about necessary business concerns. Confuror happened by convincing the hotel to take a chance on an unknown kind of event. As a result, I heard some young Mexican furries being grateful to be able to experience things they had seen in videos, after long bus trips from poor or small towns. Loisa said that people often asked how to start a con, and there is no formula — and there’s no formula for improving your local community, but to go out and do it.
Loisa told me that volunteering without pay was an example of this, and the organizer’s group (Vidafur) was continuing to run regular furmeets, and hoped to open a house that would provide professional service and facilities. I gathered this meant some kind of co-op. (This is something I recommend to leftist furs wondering how to put community intentions into practice, beyond parasocial media; co-op housing is a movement of its own, and there’s similar energy with punk houses, couchsurfing hosts, cyclist lifers, and other travelers having their own nonprofit community networks.)
In the Dealer’s Den – Sponsorship by successful Mexican artists
Dealer’s Den prices weren’t as high as they are at cons in North America. The exchange rate made great buyer advantage, although a dealer from California told me she couldn’t charge as much. I found commission openings and prints, comics, stickers, pins and keychains, a fursuit collar for $10, shirts as low as $7, and bandanas for $5.
Three of the con’s main sponsors were Mexican artists of comparable success with strong brands; Arty and Chikle, Gab Shiba, and Rudderbutts (with Senor Nutria). The latter 2 and Paco Panda (a Confuror organizer) featured in the 2018 Latin American Furry story, so their success was evident over time. They had large popular corners full of merch. The three sponsors had street art style, gay themes, and underwear riding high with sales. Yes, loud proud gay furry underwear sold like hotcakes and seemed like a secret weapon for rising from artist to brand.
Arty and Chikle talked to me about what I call “pro-fan” success. I had seen their street art mural on a transit pillar in the city; it was commissioned by the Jalisco state government. In April they had opened a retail space in Mexico City, where the walls were muralized and they sold original art and products, teamed up with another artist. Collaboration was also happening live in the Dealers Den. They were furrifying a huge canvas in street art style, together with American Guest of Honor: Animal Art Crimes. The canvas went on to earn around $7,000 USD in the charity benefit auction that capped the con.
The selling was more than just capitalist, with public street art and collaboration for charity at the heart of it.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 20, 2022
The draw of famous guests, for better and worse
Compared to Mexican artist sponsors, the Guests of Honor seemed chosen for North American fame and draw. It worked to draw me, while highlighting the prestige problem criticized in the international panel.
Anthrocon CEO Uncle Kage helped to present ceremonies, and featured in 2 main stage storytelling shows. His humorous act was fun to watch, but played fast and loose with history to put down some figures and glorify others on his side. This included blaming the 1990’s original furry con, Confurence, for allegedly causing the fandom’s disrepute for sex. But it misattributed media hit pieces with basic errors about source and year, implied that Anthrocon didn’t have the same activity from the same fandom, and in effect, the narrative blamed the victims with glaring lack of analysis about why gay people were easily smeared by commercial media. Intentionally or not, it accorded with debunked homophobic myths from the Burned Furs. Perpetuating that could use revision.
Kage’s show appeared to be a set of long-memorized nuggets stitched together with looser patter. After a while one’s own subjective views becomes their facts. (Note: I’m a humble reporter of other people’s views but I did attend a 90’s Anthrocon.) Some experienced watchers followed my live comments on the show in a private group, and responded in the moment to dispute jabs, pointing out they were easy to get away with because Confurence isn’t there any more. Kage boasted about Anthrocon outlasting rivals — but one could argue a difference in control of media access, when previous cons hadn’t faced the need when furries were little known. Anthrocon’s organizers also seem set in place for better or worse. Meanwhile, Kage has been Confuror’s GOH for 3 years. Relying on “the fandom’s chair” so much threatens to put new Latin American fans in thrall to old axe-grinding and drill in propaganda.
All that said, there’s a need for entertaining PR, and this is FRIENDLY criticism for a hard working personality. Many happy fans lined up for autographs on conbooks after the show.
I would gladly watch Kage’s show or opposing views. Here’s a key example for how they diverge. Focus on Anthrocon can gloss over how it wasn’t the first con or even first East Coast con (Furtasticon in 1994). Kage talked about the 1994 con causing disrepute for furries because of a bad organizer, so he had to save the day by begging other conventions to let furries back in their graces. But at Further Confusion 2023, I saw a history panel by the founders of Confurence. They covered how Furtasticon had a lone woman con chair who faced chauvinism from the boy’s club when nerdy spaces were run by men. Hello GamerGate…
Opinion: feedback to con organizers
Latin American fandom seems to be growing like American fandom did a decade or two earlier, and can chart its course with more knowledge.
Consider more discussion about prestige guests vs diverse ones. Promote the Drink & Draw and hopefully I can join next time! I found the fursuit lounge and water to be sparsely supplied. Some main stage shows had lighting beaming in my eyes. The dances were short and it was sad to have the final dance canceled. The effort to organize the schedule for English speakers was highly appreciated. The group panels were best: I enjoyed the Animation Furs meet to bring fans and pros together, drew at a round table with many artists, and played blitz games of chess in a tournament with a fursuiter (neither thing needing Spanish).
Although Confuror wasn’t a party con, I highly recommend Guadalajara as a destination to give extra travel time. It was somewhat hard to meet unfamiliar furries at the con, but ones who reached out were amazingly generous. There’s a lot more I could say about the city and tourism, food and costs, poverty and gratitude, language and belonging, culture and community because of this great experience.
NEXT: More adventures with the city and people.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
2023 GOOD FURRY AWARD – nominate HERE
This annual award is run by Grubbs Grizzly to recognize furries who make outstanding positive contributions to the fandom. The first one in 2019 went to Tony “Dogbomb” Barrett. In 2020 the award went to Ash Coyote. In 2021, Cassidy Civet won and in 2022 it went to Soatok Dhole. Each winner gets a trophy and a $500 check.
News for the 5th annual award:
For inspiration to nominate someone who deserves recognition, check the current nominees.
In a year of attacks on furries with fake news about litterboxes in schools, the 2023 nominees include parents who advocate for kids in the fandom, and a university professor running a furry history project.
This year will have another Lifetime Achievement Award selected by Uncle Bear Publishing in addition to regular awards.
Grubbs explains some guideline updates:
Standards for nominees are different this year than previous years. Three things to note: 1) Your nominee must be alive (sorry, we don’t do posthumous awards anymore); 2) Your nominee must currently be active in the fandom; and 3) Your nominee must be doing/have done something that is generous, giving, and has a noticeable impact on the fandom or the world at large (it is not enough just to have a cool YouTube channel, make videos, or simply be nice; these are cool things, but we are looking for something more in a GFA nominee). Thank you.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
A reality show casting call is raising hackles. It presses a hot button of sensitive history. The media can inform and debunk fake news to help us all; but sometimes it lies to make a quick buck or serve the powerful.
(Skip this if you already know about “The Media.”)
A dogma exists among furries that reporting is offensive, rather than anger at offensive reporting. Dogma can hurt us too, but it started with real offenses. See 2003’s furry-themed episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It spread a broad caricature of a pathetic loser who donned a cheap costume for sex, which is unfair to those of us who are highly accomplished and sexy in costume or out.
The bad image peaked when internet furries caught notice around 2000. CSI, MTV, Vanity Fair, and others aired exploitation (which isn’t always bad — think cult movies — except when it’s malicious and pretends to be more real than it is.) It ebbed as furry conventions exploded in size. Around 2015 there was a thaw. Nice, well-researched reporting came from independent outlets like Vice and ones as powerful as CNN. Then came the 2022 election and the revival of smear tactics. This time it was maliciously from the right-wing to pit red state voters against minorities. Transphobia spiked up and furries were like stand-ins for the weird, gay boogeyman of tolerance. Debunking fake news about school litter boxes didn’t stop it from repeating. One hit piece by Daily Wire christofascist Matt Walsh used false pretenses to recruit trans people like fandom member Naia Okami.
On the heels of recent attacks: Casting Call Concern
A tweet by @PleasantPicnic complained “Why the f* is a production company using my image for a casting call”? A furry in Georgia replied “This person tried to join our furry group on Facebook and sent this same message”. Another shared denial and confusion comments from the source of the messages, TV producer Lynn Scheid.
How To Spot Fake News tip #1 is “Consider the Source.”
Lynn Scheid was trying to engage a community from a mostly bare Twitter account, so some watchers weren’t clear if he was real. He is, but concerningly, his 200 Twitter follows were full of far-right blogs and propaganda pushers.
Also Russian propaganda accounts, including Dmitry Medvedev. pic.twitter.com/a13s9vP1l6
— @ChipFoxx@meow.social (@chipfoxx) January 27, 2023
A deeper look for an agenda
A legitimate journalist may monitor the right wing, but Scheid’s Twitter didn’t show a reason like that. It did have red flags like a follow for the Project Veritas hoax group. Shortly after it drew criticism, Scheid’s Twitter was wiped blank.
Could a freshly made Twitter account have simply followed recommendations, meaning this was Twitter’s own bias? A media professional would recognize scummy sources. (Consider how mere furries are being eagle eyed.) Even simple carelessness bodes ill for approaching a community.
Scheid’s online footprint:
- Twitter @LynnScheid62 matches the bio of a cancer survivor in health news.
- IMDB page doesn’t list TV producing credits but IMDB page #2 has a few.
- Google finds credits for a music show and one about Middle East conflict.
- Official site linked from IMDB is one company of dozens under an opaque holding company.
- A 2018 Youtube podcast interview with Scheid.
Scheid’s podcast interview is just tepid entrepeneurial speak, but the podcast itself makes telling company. It gives a hoaxer air time to rail against woke “radicalizing” and affiliates with notorious Republican strategist Roger Stone, who was convicted of 7 felonies for crime for the Trump campaign.
The podcast is very vague on personal details except that Scheid is a money guy for TV shows. After 40:00 he mentions producing reality shows for networks with 30 to 40 in production. Recently, Scheid posted a Philadelphia area documentary crew job ad, and another ad mentioning a 3 month pilot shooting time and physical office for a longer docuseries.
When warning friends about a problem, it’s good practice to try to avoid directly boosting it like by interacting with its source.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
Good news helps in bad times. Russian furries like to be part of worldwide fandom, and Erwin, a member of Moscow Furries, has a story about game activities they do in a park. The idea is for any furry group anywhere to share it. Erwin tells how it works:
In general, we do quests, which are mostly done in teams. In the beginning, we bring the participants to a park and form the teams, headed by a leader. Then the teams walk around the park and compete with each other by doing pre-arranged activities. In the end one of the teams win and we give them some small rewards.
So far, we have held 6 different quests and 2 simple meets (just chilling with casual games) in Moscow. Here’s some photos from our group on VKontakte (Russian social network).
Dogpatch Press asked for a short history of where the idea came from, the group and who is involved, and quests or rules other people can use.
Combining Russian culture, anime and furry fandom
I think I was introduced to the idea around age 14, when I joined a group that used to organize anime parties and meets. One of their events was called ‘Zarnitsa‘, like a game that was often military themed. Such games are often played in children’s summer camps. Anime zarnitsas were more like those. The main idea – team play. You have to work together to complete some quest. It was my favorite activity to make them as a part of the creative group.
Capture the Flag is a similar competitive game. In 1967, programs for youth games were introduced in Soviet society. They were meant to teach discipline but creative play, without always having the same unified rules.
Much time passed, I was 21 and the anime creative group had become history. I joined furry fandom just randomly. It was 2020 and I had nothing to do without an opportunity to leave home, due to COVID, so I decided to make a fursuit. I started going to meets and made many friends. But one moment I realized that all of the meets were just walks from Point A to Point B. They were totally the same without a chance to be unique.
I came up with idea to revive anime zarnitsa, but with furry, for my friends. It wasn’t anything special, we didn’t mean to make a project, and I asked them right in a chat that was created for someone’s birthday. And they just agreed to make it! It was our first game, and a nervous but exciting and in general positive experience.
Step by step we started to make new events. Each of them was different from the previous one by its form and topic, so it’s not easy to describe in general, but still each of them made people work in teams for a result.
Currently the event team consists of about 20 members. We named ourselves “Totem pole” as it also consists of different animals, and each of them is an irreplaceable part. Our meets unite up to 100 players at once. It’s not such a great number, but we should consider that many people don’t enjoy active entertainment.
Popular Russian furry youtuber Eric Myval shows games in the forest:
The rules: fursuiter-friendly fun for all ages
Making zarnitsa for furries is more complicated then for anime fans. You have to involve fursuiters, which often isn’t easy. Also you have to make the team cooperate with each other, make friends and have fun together. The most classic variant: a few teams walk around a park and look for mini-games. For completing each of them, the team counts up a score. Or they just have to do all of the games faster than others. In any case, such games work perfectly for people of any age. The games depend on a particular event, and we have never repeated them yet.
In our 1st zarnitsa we made a web between several trees, and put some eggs on the grass under it. Every team member had to go in the web, take an egg and go out on the other side without touching the threads.
In our 2nd, which was called Snowy Way/Snow Path (снежная тропа in Russian) they had to carry fursuiters on snow tubes through a road of around 50 meters.
The 3rd game was horror 18+ and the teams had to find notes and do a particular action to a monster, while avoiding being caught.
Our 1st zarnitsa had 5 mini-games, our 2nd had 5 but we failed to make 2 of them, and the 3rd didn’t have mini-games, the players just had to stay alive. Our 5th zarnitsa has just passed. It was a Squid Game imitation, so we wore masks. We had one fail – the rope broke, but we managed to finish and get our winners. One of the players made a video that reflects much of the game.
Try this for an alternative to a furry party indoors or a plain fursuit walk. If you ever hear people say “touch grass” now you have a great example of how to get offline and outdoors, no matter where you are in the world. Thanks to Erwin, Matvey for connecting us, and all the Moscow Furries.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
AI art tools made me think of a term: sequential juxtaposition acceleration.
An AI tool starts with scraping millions of pre-made images from the net. That’s a learning set to combine and interpolate. Prompt it with key words (green grass, old building), and you get approximations of everything that matches. One could call this a form of cheating artists, because people don’t like the scraping of pre-made sources without permission. But after they combine, the output is nothing that ever existed. That’s doing what any artist does to learn from reference, but in a wholesale, industrial way that wasn’t envisioned by the current creative property system.
Back to that problem in a minute, but first think about art context.
Collage is a method of using pre-made images. 100 years ago, Dada and Surrealist artists started cutting pictures out of print media and juxtaposing them for a sense of irony or the uncanny. Conceptual art came from “readymades” of industrially made but recontextualized objects. (Consider the irrational sensation of trying to use a furry teacup.) Warhol continued the process with industrial pop art. Suddenly, art rendering mattered less than ideas.
If AI art was only for derivative copies, there wouldn’t be more to say; but recontextualizing is a skill too, and accelerating it is powerful for an artist.
Here’s a silly example: juxtapose Barney the Dinosaur with H.R. Giger. An artist can draw it, but for a low-effort meme type thing, why not use a tool and spend the time on more original things?
Now do it 1000 times and play it back sequentially with editing and music. That’s effort. You can make a unique, trippy aesthetic unlike anything else. Wizardhead is creating cool videos like that with metal music (fair warning, this is a little gross):
Youtube’s copyright system was used for a strike against fair use of referencing Elmo videos for these.
Speaking of copyright issues for AI learning sets, let’s compare them to sampling pre-made music. When new tech for music sampling emerged in the 1980’s, it was controversial, but made a golden period for a genre of hip hop with acts like Public Enemy. But copyright tightened up and unregulated sampling made it hard to access:
In 1989, obtaining the permission of musical copyright holders for the use of their intellectual property was often an afterthought. There was little precedent for young artists’ mining their parents’ record collections for source material and little regulation or guidelines for that process.
It’s culturally important, right? Another music comparison is mashups with DJ’s and clubs doing popular live parties. The music industry also changed with tech for downloading and sharing until streaming came in. It makes me wonder if AI art may take a role in the culture like that, and how the artists would count.
I stand with artists, not prompts.
— Dragoneer (@Dragoneer) September 5, 2022
The Furaffinity ban made mainstream news in Vice. It echoed my thoughts last week… a ban is probably smart so a niche, independent site doesn’t get flooded with unoriginal and derivative content. But I don’t think the tools are useless for skilled users; and it probably won’t keep them out of the culture.
It made me ask a friend about using the tech to remaster old media that’s hard to watch, like cartoons and games in low resolution – and I learned that there’s already a scene for that.
Thirsty furries take note: you can probably generate all-adult versions of beloved animation.
The FurAffinity ban points to signatures from reference art in the learning set as a reason, saying the approximate signatures show copying:
I've been monitoring and taking notes for weeks. I've seen tons of mutilated artists signatures.
AI art is a damn good *learning* tool, but it's taking everything it does from artists. It leeches on the time, effort, skill, energy an artist put into their work.
— Dragoneer (@Dragoneer) September 5, 2022
The examples I saw weren’t signatures. They were glitches in the place those go. Is anyone confused about those being someone else’s work? This reminds me of how the Cats movie was edited to remove accidental “buttholes”… isn’t that a bit of over-analyzing?
Job security for artists seems like the other big worry besides quality and control. Cameras didn’t kill painting; they made jobs for photographers. Stock art and news illustrations generated by AI could possibly go into direct competition with illustrators. But they still need to generate from recognizable styles, don’t they?
From running a nonprofit news site paid out of pocket, there are no jobs here, just need. Nobody would be unemployed if this site had a button to generate something free matching the text, and although they can generate whole stories too, they can’t do that for research (and furry panache.)
If you oppose AI art, maybe your art can be kept out of it, but Big Data may change the culture before you even realize it. Just look for your house on Google Maps; they already have the photo and you probably use their product. We’re looking at a map of uncharted territory.
Like the article? These take hard work. For more free furry news, follow on Twitter or support not-for-profit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.Want to get involved? Try these subreddits: r/furrydiscuss for news or r/waginheaven for the best of the community. Or send guest writing here. (Content Policy.)
Guest Doppelfoxx writes fiction and nonfiction, and last submitted a story about NFTs affecting the culture. This interview with NIIC was dual-submitted to Flayrah. NIIC the Singing Dog is a well known furry musician from Philadelphia, with 5 albums of howling electro-pop and over 7 million views across Youtube, Spotify and other platforms. Fun fact: Patch O’Furr jumped around with his live show at Anthrocon and shared funny reactions from his videos. After a period of low activity, NIIC has new music on the way.
(Doppelfoxx): Welcome and thank you for interviewing with us! Who are you and what do you do? Describe yourself in a few sentences.
Hey hey! My name is Kyle McCarthy, but I’m wayyy better known as N I I C, or NIIC the Singing Dog. I am a furry singer-songwriter-producer from New York City, and my genre is a pop-hybrid of electronic and folk. I write and perform songs, collaborate with other awesome furry artists, and make my own album art and photography when I can!
When did you start having an interest in making music, and what/who gave you the inspiration to start releasing it?
I’ve always loved to make music. Since I was like 6 or whenever, I would hate how a song that I liked would go away. I was a kid and it was the 90s so there wasn’t phones or YouTube or MP3 players, I couldn’t just stream a song immediately or have a collection of CDs around. So I would figure out as much of songs as I could and I would try playing them on an electric piano and tried singing them, this way I could keep them around longer than the radio or a movie. This concept would just keep on rolling onward in my life. I’d pick up guitar, play sax in marching band and sing in drama club, and I’d eventually go to University of the Arts in Philadelphia as a music composer. The idea just kept on evolving. The idea flipped from liking songs I heard and trying to make them eternal, to making songs of my own and making those eternal.
Prior to NIIC (so, University of the Arts), I was working on musicals. I liked the musical route because I could have my own characters and stories ALONG with music, so it was the whole package! I would make worlds and characters and songs for those worlds and characters. Then I would get college mates together to sing and play instruments and record the songs, it was a lot of fun. Right before I moved up to NYC and started NIIC, I worked at a panini-coffee shop and they let me film my puppets in there – I had a web musical show called Sebastian the Singing Cockroach. He’s actually NIIC 1.0 haha. The singing dog used to be a cockroach. But it was a lot of work and not in a way that I felt fulfilled. A lot of fidgeting around with iMovie and the graphics/film editing part.
By the time I moved up to NYC, I was taking internship and gig leads from my professors’ contacts and I was working in music studios while pulling two restaurant jobs. I was overworked, underpaid, and when I actually WAS doing music it wasn’t even MY music, it was other peoples’. That was not for me. Probably a month or two before this revelation, I was scrolling on the internet and started seeing furries and art here and there. I wasn’t active but I was always scrolling through stuff.
When I finally was at my peak of frustration with my life, I said to hell with it all and I just combined the coolest strangest things in my life at the time: my desire to do music my way; my arsenal of music equipment, education, and contacts; and the new element: furries! But different than before, I wouldn’t figure out every dimension of this character right off the bat. I wasn’t going to solve the meaning of life or map out the whole universe. This character would develop over time, he’d grow and shape as his world grew and shaped. At the start, my NIIC character would be some… um dog… green? sure! That… um, yeah… sings electronic pop songs, and um… stuff! Yeah!
What made you introduce the furry element to what you do? Any special moments with the fandom, a special connection, or is it just something that interested you?
NIIC… and I guess in this context the NIIC we’re talking about is really at his core… the Music OF NIIC and all the songs I make for him… NIIC from the get-go was furry, so from the start this was non negotiable. The actual idea that inspired me to really push forward with this furry character came in my initial research. Yes, I was SUCH A NERD about all of this. I studied furries like it was my graduate dissertation. Before I pushed the button on him in March 2013, I spent that WHOLE winter surfing, seeing everyone’s fursonas, looking at artists’ work, trying to find musicians in the fandom too, anything and everything I could absorb to give me a clear of idea of what I was getting into as NIIC as much as possible.
However, finding MUSICIANS was so difficult, especially at the time in 2013. The musicians I did find were DJs, a majority of their content – as awesome as it was – were EDM song remixes, a minority of the DJs actually having original EDM songs. These songs weren’t very furry either. Other musicians I was looking at in the fandom were also skilled, but something I couldn’t seem to find in all of them. Music about furry topics and things. I managed to find a furry musician here or there with actually a furry song or two, but they felt more novelty or just not something I would jam out to. I don’t mean to sound condescending because this was just my opinion, but this shaped the idea that would govern NIIC. I had an idea that I could be the one to add to the thin collection of furry songs for the fandom – by writing epic furry lyrics of my own with high-notch music backing them. This idea really sparked me to push NIIC as much as I could, the idea that I could contribute a ton to Furry Pride in the songs that we were all listening to.
Do you have any influences in mind, favorite artists, that help you develop your style?
My influences have changed as NIIC has become more defined. In the beginning, I needed to manifest him as this pop icon entity in my head, so Ke$ha, Britney, and Karmin were my go-tos. The go-big or go-homes. Overtime, I was able to focus more on the music as I solidified my imagination of his character, and I started diving into inspirations like AJR, Imagine Dragons, Madeon, and Haelstorm. I’m still in the latter phase, to be honest haha. In all of my inspirations, no matter at which point in time, have always been artists who are characters themselves – larger-than-life musicians who have taken on an augmented ‘sona of their own and perpetuating it into epic songs!
I heard that you have a new album in the works! Can you tell us anything about it?
ESCAPE is NIIC’s long awaited next album! Another entourage of high-energy electro-pop, these songs will cut to your core like an unapologetic buzz-saw! An ode to love, a suffocated cry for help, an existential crisis, a tribute to a bodega cat… this album is one giant tribute to the archangel and the monstrosity in all of us. Because the beast in us has been awakened, and instinct will save and will ruin you here. And if you don’t unleash yourself from it all now, there may never be an escape! Those who supported the album during the Kickstarter can watch the songs unfold in their final phases of production on private Youtube livestream! Updates and other announcements are coming soon, too!
Any messages you want to send to people who read this, and anything you want to say about the community as a whole?
The Furry fandom is the purest Pandora’s Box you could ever find. The possibilities are endless, the adventures are countless, the friends and relationships you’ll make are as many as you’re willing to reach out for. I have spent years working to get my life back together and even stronger, to bring NIIC back out from the shadows and even transcend with him father than I ever have before. In my long and brutal search to find how I can truly move forward with myself and NIIC, and discovering what more I can contribute to the fandom, I have found my answer simply by looking at the fandom itself and everything it is. This is a place where anything and everything happens, and depending on the lens we use it can all look bleak and toxic, or it can be seen as a community of acceptable, support and love. The only difference is our perception and what love we put into the fandom. And in a realm where we can be anything, I’d rather be that support and love. We all should be. It is up to us to take care of this fandom, and not just be reactive to it. It is not something we experience, it is an actively evolving story that we are all writing. And it is up to us to make this realm of ours the greatest story of our lives!
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1980’s furry fans first gathered with room parties at science fiction conventions, until Sylys Sable helped co-found the first convention for furries in 1989. Sy was there from the birth of a worldwide subculture to a new kind of experience with virtual furry conventions today. These offer many of the features of live cons, while accommodating more members across geographic and social isolation. The premiere virtual con, Furality, started in 2020 and soon beat the live furry con attendance record. Sy is the guy to tell us why!
Editor note: Sy submitted his story after the latest Furality event in June 2022, but it was delayed. Since then, a situation with VR as a community (of several platforms) could use explaining. In late July, VRchat implemented a security update that seriously upset their users, causing massive backlash and review-bombing. A statement from the company addressed the situation: cheating and Griefing by malicious users was out of control, and their solution was removal of game modding. But many good-faith users depended on mods, including for accessibility (like for disabilities) and felt their creative work was sabotaged by the update.
Meanwhile, furries talked about jumping ship to other platforms. A friend of Sy (another old school furry fan and VR user) said that Second Life isn’t officially supporting VR, NeosVR is having a tragic fall from “crypto BS” (a feud between owners, would-be investor control and creators), and ChilloutVR is in “very early days… They are in that scrambling to scale stage.” This makes a cloudy future, but Sy’s story highlights what stands out as the best of the community.
Furality in the eyes of Sylys Sable.
VR Chat, the free cross-platform virtual reality social multiplayer system has attracted the attention of the furry community… and why not? You can build worlds and create avatars and interact with others as YOU. It’s like a furry meetup/convention that never ends, and everyone has a fursuit (or several)! (with the same limited field of view. How realistic!)
In 2020 some enterprising furry folks decided to create an actual furry convention with VR Chat as the venue. The big difference in their concept was the convention venue would be separate from the open worlds that make up VR Chat. Worlds where any player can show up (public worlds) often attract antisocial types who enjoy irritating others. (Great hobby…) You can create “instances” where only your friends, or their friends can show up, which makes them more private; and you can always block/mute the abusive types. But what these guys wanted to do was create a “virtual” hotel/convention center, with stages, meeting rooms, events and dealer dens. VR Chat was willing to “rent” them space for a limited time, and the team created custom worlds to host the convention. Charging a membership fee, like RL conventions, would cover the costs. Furality was born.
From Danny Grey – a very nicely produced music video from the Furality Community Showcase
This sort of thing was new to VR Chat. How would it be possible to make worlds that only convention members could enter? The VR Chat website could create “invitations” that would show up to VR users that would allow them to jump to that specific instance. There was a problem of scale, however, so the team created their own website, the F.O.X. Portal (Furry Online Xperience) where attendees could view the schedule of events, see a list of the world instances and select one. An invitation would appear in their VR menu and they could jump there. Con-Ops was a Discord channel, where attendees, presenters, dealers and staff could communicate. If this sounds complex to you, you’d be correct. Furality happened, bugs and glitches included. Was the team discouraged? Well their decision was to organize another Furality… 6 months later! So it seems even virtual furry convention organizers tend to be masochistic.
Some furry VRC users complained: why should we pay for something that is free? Other conventions retreated to VR and online venues during the pandemic, including EuroFurence. They created a duplicate of their RL venue, with help from the actual hotel/convention center. It was so accurate that the elevators even broke down occasionally! The EF Online convention happened in open worlds, with events broadcast on Twitch and YouTube, and shown in a VR theater. Griefers were a common problem, however, as other furry conventions that followed the EF example discovered.
Furality 2000 came next. As the Furality team chased down bugs and improved their system, more people realized that their concept was superior to having conventions in open worlds. The Furality worlds were also amazing! Since they were created from scratch for each convention, the theme encompassed the entire design and experience. From beautiful world designs and special effects to original soundtrack music, they had creative control of every aspect of their virtual venue. The retro (Disney?) future of space luxury liners in orbit around Earth, with space-age cocktail lounges and conference rooms with views of space was great fun!
Then came Furality Luma. Since the creative team could literally do anything they could imagine, they decided to go all out and create a new beautiful, mysterious world as their venue. You could customize your avatar to respond to lighting effects in Luma worlds. The opinion of most of the attendees is that they “knocked it out of the park!” Luma attendees know what I’m talking about, and though there are pictures online of the convention, they really don’t do it justice. Luckily you can enjoy a small piece of the Luma world in Fynn’s Room in VR Chat. By this time, the team had added new features to the F.O.X. Portal, including a process to load your friends list from the VR Chat website into the portal so you could join your friends in various event instances. RL furry conventions don’t have this feature. We’re stuck trying to coordinate with our phones and message apps…
Next up: Furality Legends. This convention happened in a super-hero comic! You could customize your avatar to look like they stepped off the pages of a color comic book, and choose to be a hero or a villain. Convention event spaces were also tailored to the good guys and bad guys. The dealers den was the Infinity Mall, a huge glass-roofed shopping mall with a 5 story aquarium as the centerpiece. The (160+) dealers each had a storefront on one of two levels. By this time the furry community had embraced the concept of a virtual convention, and attendance increased. You may think this would be a tough act to follow…
Made this music video for for #FuralityAqua creators showcase and took me ages.
It's a synthwave Max Headroom video for the amazing @decobanduk's cover of Bittersweet Symphony.
— Changa Husky (@Changa_Husky) June 19, 2022
Furality Aqua: Of all the previous Furality conventions, the beautiful, mysterious, glowing world of Luma remained a favorite of attendees and the creative team. At the closing ceremonies of Legends, a short teaser video introduced Furality: Oceans of Luma. Attendees were once again blown away by the images of underwater views of Luma. Anticipation was high. At Furry Weekend Atlanta (and Biggest Little Fur Con), the Furality team set up a two-way portal for RL convention members to see and speak to furs in VR Chat visiting the Luma world in Fynn’s Room. Then on the night of June 16th 2022, starting with DJ sets in Club Fynn, Furality Aqua began, and it was Amazing! Over the weekend over 15,000 registered members enjoyed presentations, concerts, meetups and nearly round-the-clock DJ sets, all in a beautiful underwater world. You could customize your avatar, adding translucent wings, fins and flippers, and even small sea creature companions. The F.O.X. portal worked nearly flawlessly, so getting to events and finding your friends was easier than ever. Of course, just like RL conventions, there will be many that suffer from Post Con Depression. It’s another aspect the VR conventions share with the RL ones.
So, after some rough spots and learning experiences over a few years (I still can’t believe that they did this twice a year!), it seems that the furry community embraced the idea of virtual furry conventions. They just have to be run well, and fun! Chuck Jones, the WB animator once said “Animation takes a lot of work, and a lot of love. In the end, only the love should show”. It was obvious that the creative and technical team of Furality really loved what they do! Furality Aqua raised over $20,000 for their Save A Fox charity, and had over 15,000 registered attendees, making Furality the largest furry convention ever!
– Sy Sable
The 2014 Midwest Furfest chemical attack is one of the biggest unsolved crimes in furry fandom. It has a main suspect who was raided by the FBI, and they found physical evidence (read below). His name is Robert “Magnus Diridian” Sojkowski, also known as the Confederate Fursuiter.
In separate news from July 2022, two men in Asheville, North Carolina face terror charges in a bomb incident. One is a furry and subject of online rumors. His name is Chioke “Tech Coyote” Fugate.
That’s two separate crimes, with two separate suspects… but when the news about Fugate came out, rumors named him as the Confederate Fursuiter. This is critically misleading. Sojkowski made the suit in 2015 and stayed the ongoing owner and wearer, so the identity belongs to him. The mixup came from a meeting in 2017 where Fugate took photos with the suit and possibly wore it once. Why is it a big deal? It led to falsely naming Fugate for the Midwest Furfest attack he had nothing to do with (he was 14 in 2014).
Huge Twitter accounts fueled rumors that Fugate “was the one behind the MFF Chlorine bombing years back” (1) (2) (3), causing many deletions and corrections (4) (5) (6). It’s critical to untangle the two suspects. Remember, the mixup would help both to deny and mislead — and both have records of doing exactly that — so let’s set the record straight.
Mistaken info is going around that mixes up 2 nazifurs. Tech Coyote is not the confederate fursuiter. Tech took a photo with it in 2017 but Magnus Diridian is the maker and regular wearer. We have a unique video from Magnus in 2020 suiting in an empty parking lot. Screencap here. https://t.co/oK5oezeZhL pic.twitter.com/5MSP7YWrcS
— Nazifur Receipts (@NazifurReceipts) July 9, 2022
Chioke “Tech Coyote” Fugate and the Asheville bomb incident – the reason for the hype
- 6/30/22: Man accused of being armed at Asheville protest is arrested; second man still sought (WLOS)
- 7/4/22: Asheville PD calls ‘ANTIFA’ email threatening (WJHL)
- 7/5/22: 2 accused of igniting explosive devices in downtown Asheville; Persons of interest sought (WLOS)
- 7/5/22: Demonstrators arrested for explosion at Asheville park, police say (WYFF4)
- Reddit r/asheville post with 97 comments including some local witnesses
The Asheville news concerns protesting about Roe v. Wade, and the arrest of Florida man Duncan Small for a weapons charge. His then-unknown associate (Fugate) was sought for being armed. The next week, police received a threat about protests signed “ANTIFA” from a hotmail address (indicating a ruse or prank-type sender). Then Duncan Small was arrested again with Chioke Fugate, on terror charges for exploding devices “similar to pipe bombs” at the empty base for a dismantled monument to a Confederate general. Small had zip-tie restraints and an anti-government pamphlet. There was a flare gun and replica gun believed to be Fugate’s and his body armor, gas mask, and more. Fugate was quickly out of jail on a $15,000 bond.
DOGPATCH PRESS OPINION ON FUGATE’S CHARGES: Tech Coyote was known in fandom, so we can go beyond mainstream news with inside reporting. Tech is back in the fandom now, with help from right-wing group owners. His posts cite lawyer advice to avoid talking too much. Questions sent to his account were read and he chose not to explain his side. From inside sources and a receipts channel:
- Tech was a kid with development issues and social problems in life and fandom.
- He gained a bad reputation and community bans while joining Nazifurs like the Furry Raiders and other Altfurry hate groups on the right-wing fringe.
- His motivation included collecting and displaying Nazi and Confederate symbols, guns and military gear.
- Tech protested his reputation by claiming to oppose nazis and the left equally and saying he was just a collector for the aesthetic.
- It’s partially true because his social problems rose inside fringe groups, they fell out, and at one point he burned his Furry Raiders armband.
- It’s not true because he wants things both ways to sympathize with the far-right while posing as more separate than he is.
- He chronically confabulates fake stories about being in gun or knife fights, with injury photos taken off the web to glorify himself.
- Ideologically this looks like an unreliable person who can’t fully compute his beliefs, behavior, groups, and reputation – a classic fringe group follower.
- The takeaway: it’s hard to guess the true motivation behind his current trouble… false-flag provocation or naive bumbling?
- The truth could come from learning about his relationship with Duncan Small (it’s unclear if he is furry). Background indicates Small is personally pro-choice, anti-Confederate, and anti-government, and got in trouble from bad judgement. Tech may have been helping his left-ish friend as an excuse to blow things up on July 4. It could make him less of a terrorist than a fool who got in trouble for Beavis and Butthead stunts — as the small $15,000 bond hints — but his history speaks for itself, and everyone saw this coming.
Robert “Magnus Diridian” Sojkowski and the 2014 Midwest Furfest chemical attack – the suspect who got mixed up
Three Dogpatch Press articles from 2017-2018 make extensive reporting on Sojkowski. The sources are police investigation and reporting about it in mainstream news, like the Vice story CSI Fur Fest: The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention by Jennifer Swann (which made the Ursa Major Awards list.) There’s Sojkowski’s long crime record, furry con ban letters, personal journals, and exclusive interviews. His hotel roommates during the 2014 Midwest Furfest attack had never been questioned by police or anyone else, until they were interviewed by Dogpatch Press. Multiple of Sojkowski’s other roommates and associates provided info. Sojkowski was an associate of Furry Raiders founder Foxler, whose admins tipped the FBI and leaked info about Foxler’s alleged knowledge of the attack. Sojkowski’s boyfriend sent personal messages, and Dogpatch Press interviewed Sojkowski himself.
- Sojkoswki admitted being raided by the FBI, and questioned 4 times by police about the Midwest Furfest attack.
- At Sojkowski’s home, the FBI found red duct tape used in the chemical device (he claimed it belonged to his roommate.)
- His roommate posted a journal about being harmed by the attack and questioned by police.
- Sojkowski worked as a lifeguard, who would have access to large amounts of untraceable chlorine.
- He drove to Midwest Furfest from Wisconsin, so wouldn’t need air travel to have chlorine.
- Sojkowski had a long felony crime record going back to the 1990’s, including jail for a chemical attack on a bank.
- The bank chemical attack was a prank for petty revenge (about an overdraft fee) that did serious harm, which Sojkowski downplayed.
- A petty revenge motive against Midwest Furfest was found in the exclusive interview with Sojkowski’s hotel roommates; he was mad at con staff for threatening to yank his badge for running drunk in the street in suit.
- The attack caused a diabetic emergency to his hotel roommate’s friend, but in Sojkowski’s journals afterward, he only focused on the media attention.
- After the attack, he kept being banned for nuisances and crimes at cons.
- When Anthrocon banned him, he said his Confederate Fursuit was a protest at takedown of Confederate flags after the Dylan Roof mass shooting.
- Sojkowski was banned from Midwest Furfest, but came back to stir up a nuisance after his Anthrocon ban and was arrested for trespassing.
- An info leak from the Furry Raiders connected to FBI tips that the founder Foxler boasted of knowing who did the Midwest Furfest chemical attack.
- In Colorado, Foxler was visited by the FBI. He posted the agent’s card, who wasn’t local, connecting Chicago and the Midwest Furfest case. This pairs with subsequent evasion by Sojkowski.
- When Sojkowski was questioned about Foxler, he wouldn’t answer, then admitted knowing Foxler before the attack (when it was much rarer to know him.)
- Sojkowski gave a baseless name for the 2014 chemical attack (Skrat), and also tried to evade admitting arrest for trespassing at Midwest Furfest in 2018.
DOGPATCH PRESS OPINION FOR WHY SOJKOWSKI WASN’T CHARGED: This evidence could have gotten bolder featuring in the 2018 Sojkowski interview. The article hedged, because the police investigation was allowed to go cold and nobody was charged:
- Police botched the chemical testing, according to Vice News; this could be crucial to prove motive, even though they knew it was deliberate.
- There were no cameras at the Midwest Furfest hotel, and the hotel had masked people everywhere.
- A crime scene like that makes highest deniability for a single suspect acting randomly, which fits Sojkowski’s history of petty revenge.
- It’s easier to get a group to snitch on each other; proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” on one person is the hardest burden.
- It’s expensive to try one person on major charges, which could backfire and clear them with acquittal.
- Assume low priority for weird gay furries, with less concern for minority and alternative groups from the police.
- Not charging Sojkowski or letting him clear his name in court leaves suspicion to keep watching him.
- He WAS still watched: after his interview, an angry Sojkowski tried to get a Dogpatch Press home address and was visited by police to warn him off.
What are the alternative suspects? Rumors named Foxler, Skrat, Ryan Hill, and a theorized latex chlorination accident. None of these work. The latex chlorination theory is the most commonly accepted, but the type of chlorine used for latex is not the powdered kind used in the attack, and “authorities deemed it a deliberate, criminal act“. Foxler wasn’t in Chicago. Skrat was baselessly named by Sojkowski himself. Ryan Hill is a mentally disabled man who had no connection besides a history of threats that got him briefly looked at by police before they ruled him out. This leaves only Sojkowski. It’s obligatory to say he’s not convicted but you can use personal judgement about the evidence.
How the mixup spread despite immediate correction
The arrest of Chioke Fugate was ripe for culture war controversy, with terror charges, supposed “Antifa” activity, and his own furry and far-right absurdity. It quickly fueled falsehoods from Andy Ngo, a discredited right-wing propagandist. Ngo called Fugate Antifa while obviously not knowing much about him. Ngo lied; Fugate was a fan of Ngo himself. Ngo misled over a million Twitter followers.
Meanwhile, left-wing accounts were misleadingly identifying Fugate as the Confederate Fursuiter. That was set off in a Youtube video by Labb Ratt. (It did have good intentions to feature Fugate’s 2017 meeting with Sojkowski without knowing the full context). Labb Ratt was contacted right away with more context, and helpfully posted a correction, but the Midwest Furfest attack mixup was already out and boosted to hundreds of thousands of left-wing Twitter followers.
This mixup was a combination of bad intentions to lie on the right, good intentions without context on the left, and Twitter’s inflammatory nature to spread bullshit beyond containment.
It’s a cautionary story about hot takes and knee-jerk reactions, verifying and trust, the danger of unmoderated media platforms, and the importance of keeping records (especially with coordination between mainstream news and furry news).
Update: Tech was arrested again with a new charge and higher bail shortly after this report. The charge didn’t say why, it indicated “flight risk” so it’s not clear if it means he did something else or it was just part of the investigation process.
Sunday, June 26 marked 20 years of furries at San Francisco Pride. (See the 2019 event and history or the Pride tag for more.) The Norcal Furries made a welcome return after no official parade marching for 2 years of a pandemic. They brought their own float, and it all came together so smoothly, it made an incredibly positive memory.
The biggest change from past years was no longer using rental trucks or Burning Man art cars. This year, Norcal Furries built their own float on a trailer. It was a wonderful asset. Using other people’s was always less than ideal (constrained by costs, time and logistics for loading/unloading, and even height with streetcar wires). All of that was easier under self management.
Compared to their last appearance in 2019, promotion and planning was lower-key and locked in place at the last minute. It was all thanks to the dedication of a small handful of volunteers. To name a few (no intention of forgetting anyone:) The float was built on an old boat trailer by Mr Disko, with Zoren who also handled the insurance, application, and fundraiser backed by Spottacus. Sound and music was set up by Groggy, Super Jay was a volunteer organizer, and Relay was the generous after party host, with chef catering by Renkairu. Contingent monitors kept the group safe to meet the requirements of SF Pride.
Furries start at about 1:56:24 and go until 1:58:45
For the Sunday morning parade, travel and gathering seemed slightly more challenging than past years. There was standstill traffic for crowds to pack the San Francisco parade route, so parking plans didn’t work for some. My car and passenger did a Plan B: park near the afterparty and take the BART train in with fursuits. That worked well thanks to leaving an hour early. A few others weren’t lucky and were too late. On arrival at the street for assembling the Norcal Furries contingent, the pair of us were alarmed. Other contingents were already starting to march! That wasn’t like past years when there were hours of wait after the official Go time. After hustling and almost running for blocks to find the furries, we made it just on time for a calm step-off.
The parade was a steady flow of amazing cheers and good vibes. I stayed with the Norcal Furries front banner the whole way and didn’t weave around and play with the crowd, but really enjoyed a few occasions of hyping them up. Being one of the first corner banner carriers they saw, I could do howling poses for a call and response from the crowd. The early step-off included a brisk pace, but the high energy made it feel like just the right dose of kaleidoscopic furry fun, with low risk of heat stroke in gentle weather. Head count from video after the parade was 75 or so members. It wasn’t overpacked and not skimpy, but just right with our resources and self-made trailer.
Walter Ringtail’s video of the float
There was fursuit change space and breakfast before the parade at Relay’s. The after party was also at his super tasteful ground floor apartment with a full rainbow of cocktails on tap, and catering trays of a furry-made (extremely delicious) dinner menu by Renkairu. The place was buzzing with eating and couch chats, backyard patio drinking and a hot tub. Previous years had packed a restaurant to bursting. Self-organizing this time made things much more chill and enjoyable. Although the 2019 pre-pandemic parade meet was somewhat bigger, I would call this the best, most fun, least stressful, most Prideful furry Pride I’ve done in 10 years of being there.
Afterthoughts: One difference in the vibe this year was the fresh rage at the overturning of Roe vs Wade and removal of body rights, and the close-to-home threat of rising fascism. It had even hit the SF Bay area with a library invaded by the Proud Boys hate group. There was also their attempted terrorism and mass arrest at a Pride event in Idaho. Fear lurked around the edges, with increased police presence. Every huge event can have risks and an incident of fighting shut the event slightly early, but it was after we were gone. It was all outshone by the fearless rainbow magic we all brought.
Dancing Zae Dragon, from Walter Ringtail
Group feedback: next year’s parade should have more focus on cooling the fursuiters like with leaf blowers on hand. There should be a contingent monitor meeting before the day. Restroom access is challenging and should have plans. The afterparty could have used more volunteer help. Securing a hotel room for fursuit changing is a thought for as soon as they open up, due to demand. Having a float opens many possibilities for an event at a campground or even coinciding with the rolling event Bike Party. The trailer could get redone with modular railings, and a generator and gear storage built beneath.
Gallery of photos and videos on Telegram: @sfpride2022furries
One unexpected piece of media turned up. A photo of the 2022 Norcal Furries was used (without a direct connection) in a Chinese based news source about a hacker group claiming to be gay furries and leaking private info from U.S. state governments who removed abortion rights.
Welcome to Arrkay, a member of the Toronto furry scene (home of Furnal Equinox), and the bird who creates and produces Culturally F’d, a Youtube show that explores anthropomorphic artwork throughout history, culture and mass media. See Arrkay’s tag for previous stories. He’s sharing his story today by request of Patch who just marched with furries at San Francisco Pride. Here’s Arrkay’s on-the-scene report from Toronto Pride.
It was a terribly populated affair, with covid still ringing in the back of my head. Pride in Toronto was as busy as ever. Me and my partner just walked the street fair once, which was enough to satiate our curiosity and for me to buy some new sunglasses. It’s a strangely foreign feeling seeing this many unmasked people in one place.
My signs were made, and my flag was bundled up into my tricycle with water bottles, lunch, a vape pen of mint flavored cannabis and sunscreen. My outfit was a second-hand hyena agenda tank top, some compression shorts usually worn for fursuiting but with a complimentary jockstrap on top. I zip-tied a flag and protest signs to my trike. “Learn Queer History” and “Teach Queer History” with taglines “Always been here, always will be” and “No More Shit!” (a rallying cry from the 80’s bathhouse riots in Toronto).
A crowd of furries accumulated near the group check-in site. Unfortunately it was nowhere near where we were supposed to muster. Not that it ultimately mattered, we wouldn’t be marching for a couple more hours. Navigating the dense crowd with a large orange trike was difficult, but everyone was generally polite and made way for our slow moving group of animal headed queers.
One of the groups we shouldered our way past was the New Democratic Party, with leader Jagmeet Singh visible with his pink turban.
When we finally landed at our exact waiting spot, my partner had met up with me. We chatted about Jagmeet being mere meters away, and seemingly inching closer to the furries. My reaction was: “Fuck, of all the times to get a picture with Jagmeet, and I’m wearing this” – gesturing to my rabbit head, rainbow tank top, and jock-strap-over-underwear. “Aw fuck it!” We asked for a picture.
In the middle of Bloor street, there was no cover save for the overcast threatening to rain on us. As always happens on Pride, the forecast called for a 50% chance of rain. We maybe experienced a brief sprinkle. It was humid and a sweltering 30 degrees C. Our organizer Skylier reminded us that our group was the most at risk of heat exhaustion, and to hydrate. There was a reason most marchers were poodling. If it was just a few degrees cooler we might have had more full suits.
We waited forever for the parade to start. The organizers handed out the custom event badges and sponsored Kerfuffle pride flags. Someone barfed, which created a small crater in the overcrowded street (he was fine, just overheated). Then we had probably 2 hours of fake-out starts, with people rushing to put their fursuit heads on only to be disappointingly still in the same place. Slowly but surely the groups in front of us started to filter out into the parade. The clouds parted as we lined up near our newly arrived float: a truck painted in military camo, but decked out in rainbows and a DJ booth. The sun shined for the rest of the parade, and the only rain was the spray of water guns from a thrilled public.
My big rig tricycle began its slow crawl alongside marchers into the streets of Toronto. The marchers finally were able to spread out a little and feel the cool breeze between us. I wish I could relay a more detailed account of what happened from here, but my rabbit head has pretty narrow tunnel-vision, so my focus was not bumping into other marchers.
Some things did become apparent to me, even though I was partially blinded.
- There were a LOT of furries (200 registered with the event, and many came without registering, so as many as 250+ furries were in our group.)
- There were NO barricades to keep parade watchers on the sidewalks like there usually are.
What would usually be a lot of space on a four lane road became a narrow strip, with throngs of onlookers on either side, eagerly holding out their hands for high-paws or pulling fursuiters aside to take selfies. At its best, it was open like there were barricades for 2 lanes of traffic. At its worst, we’re talking about a few feet between either side of the road, practically forcing us to walk single-file. All the better to snap clean pictures of the animal people.
This spread our group out a lot. There were several times when a volunteer would rush past, telling us to slow down to let the float catch up, and when I was far enough away that other noises of the festival drowned out our own DJ booth. It’s normal to stop during the parade to let the back end catch up. It’s not usual that we end up so spread out that we span the entire city block.
This squeezing of the parade route had some unintended effects. Furries were perceived as one of the largest marching groups of the entire parade (WOW). We were also one of the most engaging with the crowd. Someone was riling up groups of people, getting them to howl to become honorary furries. Many furs were stopping for high-paws and selfies. Our float blasted YMCA to the delight of everyone. Toddlers love to point at me when I fursuit in public, and it didn’t seem to matter that I was only wearing the head today. A couple of times I heard shouts about my protest signs, but with my tunnel vision and trike I couldn’t really interact beyond an occasional solidarity fist in the air.
The parade was easy on my trike. I had the luxury to have somewhere to sit and a basket for my belongings. We were also going downhill, so a lot of my march was leisurely letting my trike do the work. I’ve marched in the past so I know how hard it can be on your foot paws.
Despite the MASSIVE crowd coming down on us, it dawned on me after the parade that we were probably in the safest possible position in the line-up; smack dab between the political party marching groups (hence why Jagmeet was so close by to our waiting area). So security was likely pretty tight around this group of masked queeirdos interrupting the Green Party, the Liberals and the NDP.
Finally at the end, we turned the last corner at Yonge and Dundas Square, where we filtered out back into reality. It was now 5:30, so we were all marching for about 2 hours. I pulled over behind an events bus to de-head, and disassemble my trike. I was sitting there for a while making sure everything was zipped up for the trip home, and furries just kept coming behind us. When we were ready to leave, the float truck was at last crawling its way past the crowd.
After finding a porta-potty for the longest pee ever, I rode home with plenty of energy after an easy parade. No sore feet, but a sore butt. I showed up, I was myself, and I showed hundreds of thousands of people that we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re going to be weird, so just have fun.
Links and videos
- More from @CulturallyFd on Twitter
- Official Kerfuffle Livestream from the float
- Furtrack photo gallery for the Kerfluffle Pride event
- Good video from random Facebook poster
- Nice pics from random Facebook poster
- Mystic Solstice gallery on Google Drive
- Ciardha Avali gallery on Google Photos
- Komodokitty gallery on Flickr
- The_painted_ski on Instagram
Coming Sunday June 26, 2022
The SF Bay Area has the world’s most dense population of furries, but back in 2012, SF Pride didn’t have activities for the love of anthropomorphic animals. They had a parade contingent in 2002-2005, but it needed help to start again. (See a 2002 video or the Pride tag for more history.)
Whose job is it to make it happen? Everyone’s. In 2012-2019 I was one of the organizers for award-winning floats in the parade, with hundreds of supporters and members. In 2019 (the second year to get an award) we won “Absolutely Outrageous” out of more than 200 parade contingents. The parade was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but finally, it’s here again.
The Nor Cal Furries are going this weekend with a new trailer, built by @Zoren and @MrDisk0Dog and funded by community donations and volunteers to give everyone an experience to remember. (Funds still accepted, anything extra will pay forward.) Here’s how great it was in 2019:View this post on Instagram
We're going to march again in the SF pride 2022 parade!!
Funding is now live for the NorCal Furries 2022 SF Pride contingent.. https://t.co/7FdpF0Hqev
— Zoren Manray (@Zoren) May 8, 2022PARADE INFO FOR THE FURRY CONTINGENT:
For Sunday, June 26 the parade is on Market Street from Embarcadero to the Celebration area at Civic Center. General info is at SFpride.org. Spectators will be watching on Market Street from 10:30 a.m. until late afternoon. ABC7 will be broadcasting the parade to watch from home.
- Our Telegram info channel: Announcements only, no chat.
- Our Telegram chat group: The live connection to everyone.
- If you haven’t signed up to march, RSVP for standby and come anyway. If it hasn’t hit 100 people, more can march, but extras may be turned away over 100.
TRAVEL TO ASSEMBLY: See this map for the parade route.
- By car: No cars or dropoff at the assembly. Try the parking garage on 833 Mission St (middle of parade route, 15 minutes walk from each end) or 33 Mission St (near parade end at 8th and Mission.) Or park farther away and take rideshare as close as it gets. Beware of traffic for a huge event, earlier is better.
- BART riders, go to Embarcadero. The south central exit is closest to the assembly.
- Officially we are signed up as Bay Area Furries, in assembly location #124.
ASSEMBLE NO LATER THAN 12 PM: East side of Main Between Mission and Howard. (At the Rainbow paw on the map, near 111 Main.)
- Arrive to assembly by NOON. Allow time for costume change. (Float setup starts as early as 9 AM so we will be there).
- As with prior years, there could be hours to wait before Step-off. If you bring cooling packs to survive in fursuit they may not last.
- Be patient, bring snacks, but don’t be late or delay others. If there’s a signal to go, anyone who isn’t ready will be left behind!
- The trailer may fit 30 people and those with mobility issues have priority.
- If you walk, it’s a hot, high energy event. Water will be available but hydrate yourself too.
- At end of the parade near 8th and Mission, be ready for the float to sweep people and gear off and leave right away.
- From the dropoff, walk or consider pooling together for self-serve transport.
FURSUITER BASICS — No hard bins. No lounge.
- SOFT FOLDING BAGS ONLY. 100 people have to share the back of 1 car for storage. Minimize gear for a moving event.
- Don’t need change space? Change at your car before coming, or change on the street. We do it every year.
- Want change space? Start and end at Relay’s.
DINNER, and OPTIONAL BEFORE/AFTER FURSUIT CHANGING — Dinner is at 6:00 pm at Relay’s Den. Address by request.
- Notify @RelayRaccoon if you will come. Remember, street parking will be scarce.
- 8:00 am: Relay’s Den will open for fursuit changing. A continental breakfast will be provided (coffee, juice, bagels, bananas, etc.).
- 11:00 am: Relay’s Den will close and we will head to the assembly. Make your own arrangements to get to the assembly. Try MUNI (Church & 16th station is 2 blocks away; Church & Market station is 4 blocks away), BART (16th & Mission station is 4 blocks away) or LYFT/UBER.
- 4:00-5:00pm: After the parade, return promptly to change out of suit. Here’s a map with transit options to get there from the parade dropoff.
- 6:00pm: Dinner is 21+ and here’s the menu.
- To spend the night on Saturday, there’s limited crash space with priority for those from outside the bay area. (Ask @RelayRaccoon).
SAFETY AND MORE
- Big crowds always have potential risk… read this safety page!
- Parade attire: Members have family who want to watch on TV from home. If your costume may make TV cameras skip the group, please contact an organizer for case-by-case arrangements.
- The float won’t stop. It’s a mile and about an hour to march. Keep up the pace, avoid the wheels, and listen to the monitors.
- Contingent Monitors are VERY IMPORTANT to march. Please follow them and be on the job if you are one.
- Marchers, watch where the float is. Try not to bunch up, leave gaps or get too far away. The front-facing banner is where the crowds first see us, but going up to the street side barriers is good too. Use the whole street between the float and crowds on BOTH sides. Dance, pose, give hugs and high fives. Look for TV cameras after Fremont Street, a few blocks from the start.
- No glass bottles, no hard bins, and afterwards there’s an 18” x 18” size restriction on bags if you enter the festival at Civic Center.
- Please volunteer to share photos/videos! #Norcalfurries is the hashtag for social media. #Furrypride works too.
NEED HELP ON SITE?
- Organizers will be hard-pressed, so please contact only for emergencies after using the net, the group and other members.
- General organizing: @Zorenmanray and @Patchmutt. Car, float, storage issues: @Mr_Disk0.
SEE YOU THERE! Art for banners by Kado Husky.
What is Rhythm Bastard? Hardcore Nerdcore Punk Rock. Alternative Laptop Punk. A DIY one-man-band with a furry Florida Man.
“Rhythm Bastard takes the stage armed only with his voice, his guitar and his bandmate, a laptop, playing a mix of punk and garage rock, with music inspired by every thing from video games, anime, comics and everything in between.” – Bio
His newest music is coming on July 1, so let’s hear about it from the Bastard.
(Dogpatch Press): You’re a hardcore nerdcore punk rocker with 10 years of making albums and playing nerd cons. What’s this collection you have coming out?
“Hardcore Nerdcore Punk Rock” is a Road Mix where I redid a lot of the songs I play live, but haven’t been on a proper physical album. Also in 10 years of writing and making music, I’ve learned a lot of new things and made a lot of tracks I’m proud of, so this is a way to look back on everything and go “damn, I’m kind of good at this”.
You’re swole, made your own fursuit, do a podcast about gaming, and could probably wrestle a bear. What talent don’t you have?
I DON’T have the talent to do it all on my own.
A lot of what I’ve done comes from reaching out to other people and always being ready to learn. Like when I was making my Thrash fursuit, I was always engaging with the Telegram groups for questions and feedback, and it’s a project I learned a lot from. When it comes to music, I’m ALWAYS bothering friends and family for feedback regardless of musical knowledge, since I just want to know how the song hits. Even though it might feel cut-throat and ultra competitive, there’s no downside to someone else learning what you know.
Other stuff I’m learning because I’m eager to do it? Writing a visual novel, learning Wwise, and making a VRChat avatar.
Are you really a bastard, and why or why not? What’s the story behind the music?
Depends on your definition ;). So the name “Rhythm Bastard” came from a blog I ran when I was first learning guitar, where I’d learn all the songs from the video game Rock Band, Initially, it was called “The Rock Band Experiment ”, shortened to RBExperiemnt. However, as I got into it, I realized I wanted to do MORE with music, so I decided to scrap the original concept and keep working on playing and learning. However, I wanted to keep the RB initials, so the R stood for Rhythm, because I like playing Rhythm Games, and the B became Bastard, because at that time I was really getting into the comic series Transmetropolitian. The main character, a Hunter S. Thompson expy named Spider Jerusalem uses the word Bastard a lot, so I always have this rebellious connotation toward the word. Anytime I bring up changing it to make it more “PG” or at least Ad friendly, people tell me “NO, IT’S PERFECT”
Thrash the Trash Panda is your fursona, when was he born and what’s his story?
The comedy website Something Awful used to have a weekly music column called “Your Band Sucks”. Occasionally they’d have a Q&A article where readers can send in questions. My predilection for raccoons came from one question where someone asked:
If animals (humans don’t count in this case) could play music, what species do you think would have the most talent and why?
and the answer given by Dr. David Thorpe was:
” I’d give it to Raccoons, because they have all the hallmarks of a great rock band: they come from working-class backgrounds, they’re not afraid to get down and dirty, they have an awesome gimmick (wearing masks), and they’re cute as heck. They’ve also got those little hands, so they could probably play guitars.”
And I felt that described me to a T.
Years later, when Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (a movie I have not seen even though I LOVED the first one, and LOVE James Gunn’s work) came out and Peter Quill brought the term Trash Panda into popularity, I leaned into the pun of “Thrash” panda, and the song was born. Eventually I just liked getting art of this character I made up for the song whenever I’d recite the lyrics so much, I made it official.
One fun tidbit I came up with is real name isn’t “Thrash Panda”, but something that’s foreign and hard to pronounce so he was like “Fine, yup, that’s it”.
When I commissioned HELLBREAKFAST to do the cover art for my album Bastardmania, which was the music I did for a video game that ended up being not used, I wanted the cover to resemble that of the game WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. Obviously I’d be The Rock in center, but for the people on sides, I figured I’d do cameos from my musical ouvre. On the left is “Jonesy Spencerson”, a Radio Announcer character who did the interludes on my album Status Quo Radio, and on the right is Thrash. I loved the outfit so much I thought “YUP, IT’S CANON NOW”
Recently you played Furry Weekend Atlanta, where you had volunteers serve you as human mike stands. Could that be someone’s kink, or were you wholesome and just in a panel room without full amenities while grinding your way to main stage time?
I’m going to go with the former, since that sounds more badass. I tend to bring a lot of equipment whenever I do a show because I never know what a con will and won’t have, and most of the time I get thrown into a panel room instead of a stage, so I have to do whatever I can to make things interesting. I rarely play outside of Florida, where I can bring whatever I need, but when I have to factor in traveling further than a few hours, it gets dicey.
FWA was great, though. The show still ruled. I make things happen.
What kind of amazing show would you do on main stage? Would you include an interlude where you actually wrestle a bear? Should I include a call for furry bear volunteers? Or would you do something else amazing that gets cons to put you on?
To compensate for being on my own, I’ve learned to add more to my solo sets: Before my first song I do a big lipsync introduction to hype the crowd up, I throw Magic The Gathering cards into the audience, and I’m looking into a projector and videos that play during my songs to increase the WOW factor.
Getting a full band would also be a big help for sure. I’ve always been a victim of “Other Band Syndrome”, where I’ll start playing with a couple people and then their OTHER project starts doing well so they have to devote more time to that. But actually having a band with me would give me so much more flexibility and interaction.
As for your suggestion of bear wrestling, I’d be down for booking a Fursuiter Wrestling show at a larger con. That’s just a damn good idea. Neko Chan Punchy/Mr. Cat set the precedent for such a thing, so maybe you can see a Raccoon vs. Cat Grudge Match in the future.
— Neko Chan Punchi (Mr. Cat) (@realfozzcat) July 15, 2018
You wrote “Furry cons are Ren Faires mixed with Pride Parades.” That’s a cool description, do you want to give any more details?
Why I went with Renaissance Faires in particular, it’s that while there are inroads from corporate pop culture (i.e. Going to a Ren Faire because you like Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings, The Witcher, etc. vs. going to a fur con because of Disney movies, Starfox, etc.), the VAST majority of people who dress up for them are going as their own character that fits the theming. The comparison to Pride Parades is that at Furry Weekend Atlanta, I saw people being themselves at 110% and loved it. While yes, the furry fandom is very heavily LGBTQ+, that comes from the fact that participation in the subculutre ENCOURAGES you to look at yourself in a different light.
What I like about the furry fandom is that it’s not around something specific, but rather a general concept, like being a fan of Fantasy or Sci-Fi, so it’s creator owned, and there’s no REQUIREMENTS. I play a lot of anime conventions in Florida and people tend to lose interest since while I’m playing songs inspired by video games and comics, something the con goers enjoy as well, they bail when they realize I’m not doing VGM covers or rapping over anime beats. Furries have been more keen to take a chance on me and my music, so that’s why I’ve been leaning more toward my furry side.
Have you encountered haters making bad decisions to mess with you and the fandom? I didn’t get the idea that most of your music is provocative, but I saw you did a Fuck TERFs song.
“Fuck TERFs” came out when SonicFox got temporarily suspended from Twitter for saying “Fuck TERFs”. A LOT of people get banned for sticking up for themselves, so I wanted to make a song where everyone can shout it out without having to worry about a Websites protecting Transphobes feelings. The only pushback I’ve gotten from it is online, and a lot of TERF hate directed at a 6’1″ attractive swole Cis Man sticking up for Transgender people comes off as really pathetic insults, like “moid” (the “male” equivalent of “Femoid”, an incel term for women) and “penis haver”.
What made me really happy was when I saw an uptick from people watching the song on YouTube because someone posted it on a transgender-led meme subreddit, and the comments were “This is what I needed, thank you!”. Occasionally I’ll do a twitter search and people quote it!
I also have a song called “Run Over Ronnie”, written shortly after Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis legalized running over protestors in the wake of the protests from the summer of 2020, and reworked the MC Lars song “Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock” to “Think Geek Is Not Nerdcore” that focused on the consumerism of the Geek Brand, so I can be provocative when I want to be.
Have any good con stories?
At Anime Iwai 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, I participated in a cosplay runway competition as Meowscles from the game Fortnite, who is a muscular cat man with an otherwise human body. I didn’t win, but I was clearly the fan favorite. What I didn’t expect was someone recorded it, posted it on TikTok over some hella sexy music, and had a bit of a viral moment. I was moving at the time, so it made things a little less hellish seeing all the thirst.
Are you going to Anthrocon and what do you look forward to there?
Anthrocon is VERY up in the air for me right now since I’m waiting to hear back from them. Megaplex is local, and I enjoyed the experience of FWA so much that I’m still open to playing cons all over!
Is there anything else we should cover?
My manager is making me say this; HARDCORE NERDCORE PUNK ROCK COMES OUT JULY 1ST, support your local swole punk rock furry by checking out the linktree and if you want to book me, email email@example.com!
Also follow here:
Let’s start close to home for many readers. Across America, right-wing attacks have been punching through furries to strike LGBT rights. These attacks are based on debunked hoaxes, but in May, one caused real damage in a Wyoming school district. A board member mocked furries and ignored bullied students while the district removed anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people. This shows the rising stakes for anyone included in Pride month, which many furries count as part of their fandom and freedom. These attacks are starting small to aim for a big goal that already exists in Russia.
Across Russia, LGBT people have no protection. Russia’s government treats LGBT identity as a political stance for just… existing. Meanwhile, they’re threatened and forced to hide. But Russians can’t easily protest for rights without punishment. It’s also dangerous to show anti-war beliefs, especially if a group is already disfavored. Their free speech is oppressed as anti-government.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) June 9, 2022
The local view
The Moscow meet was an ordinary fursuit walk that has been covered on Dogpatch Press from close contact with organizers. It’s a social event in public places that follows Russian law in staying apolitical, not even displaying identity. There have been attempts to frame such gatherings. At one, a provocateur tried to jump in photos with a pup mask to get them in trouble. And an anime fan gathering was framed by someone giving them rainbow flags for photos that led to arrests. Those incidents presage this one.
At this walk, police picked people for searches and claimed to find antiwar items in someone’s bag, causing them to detain a lot of members.
“I would like to share commentary on today’s events.
Talvi Ferret helped to coordinate legal assistance for today’s detainees. Here is what he says in short:
“In Moscow city 11 furries were detained by police today. Some of the detainees were held in a stuffed airless police van for hours. According to the furry event participants words, they were detained for “unusual looks and loud behavior”. They did not confirm misinformation about possible provocation that was spread among the social networks.
A lawyer from the OVDInfo human rights defenders group went to the detainees. I coordinated the actions together with OVDInfo hot line, to not leave anyone in the police station, to help provide legal assistance if needed. This is a standard work practice of human rights defenders during mass detentions – to not leave anyone in the police station. Most of the detainees were released without charge reports, beside the one, minor, who was charged with “discreditation of Russian army”, supposedly because of “possessing papers of certain content”. This was not real, and he wasn’t handing out any leaflets – other witnesses among furry meet participants confirm it. A few hours later he was released from the police station.”
- OVDInfo is a russian human rights defenders and media activists group. They specialize in providing legal help to people detained or arrested for peaceful protests and other public actions.
- Article 20.3.3 of Russia’s Code of Administrative Offenses, adopted 04/03/22 and appended 22/03/22 introduces punishment for “Public actions aimed at discreditation of Russian armed forces”, states fines from 30,000 to 50,000RUB for persons, and this offense creates res judicata that may lead to charge under eponymous article 280.3 of Criminal Code which states jail up to 3 years.
Proof of location – Talvi’s photo from the police station yard in the Moscow central district where furries were detained:
Talvi Ferret also shared a personal message to the Russian furry fandom:
“My dear furry friends. As the man who was at the police station and coordinated the help for detainees, I would like to ask you all to stop spreading unconfirmed rumors and fake news. In terms of law, of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, international treaties that Russia signed, and you are the citizens of this country, handing out leaflets of certain content (that you are tattling about) is not an offense. Whatever say the “laws” that were adopted by the current regime. Slavery also was legal. German racist and antisemite laws also were legal. In this system you also can become out of law – and we hear and see the examples already. This is the first thing. I ask you to think about it seriously.
The second one. I won’t put it to the public, but it is needed. There wasn’t any distribution of any leaflets. No one endangered anyone. I can’t talk about it in detail – I have no right for it. But according to meet participants and witnesses testimonies that I collected, here’s how the situation looks from this side: Special police forces and/or national guard began detaining people on the street because of their unusual look. Some of the participants had long hair, some had rainbow colored socks. [Bolded by editor]. Just as some of us were dressing like 10 years ago (and I remember it, being a member of the community for a long time), we were noisy and had fun, maybe we were going a bit too far… This attracted the attention of others. But today, in Russia of 2022, generic law enforcement sees this as an offense.
You are accusing the man, who you don’t know anything about, of absolute bullshit (okay, also by the words of others that were nearby, but if you have some confirmed info that contradicts it, you can send it to my PMs). I won’t share further details of the incident. But none of this person’ actions was unlawful. He wasn’t distributing anything, he even did not resist the detention. Please stop all your gossip. You weren’t around. Better to think about it as an important precedent. This is the first incident of this kind to happen. And it will get only worse. Please think about yourselves and those who you care about, and how to be less hostile to each other. Think about the life of furries in other countries, how they walk in capitals of their countries, and also even photographing in fursuits at the main state monuments. And where the police protect them and not pack them into airless police vans.
Remember, in the year 2022, it came for us all. Just as in that famous saying about fascism. They came for us now.
Talvi the ferret
P.S. I tried to change something in this country, and very seriously. I did not succeed. But we’ll be back.”
And the last thing that he consider the most important:
“My very-most-important comment on this situation. My role in today’s events is not so big. I just tried to coordinate the help, to be sure that everyone involved can get the legal assistance. That all of them will be released from the police station.
The main merit is the visit of the lawyer. She found the time to go to the police station, and she helped the detainees. And we’re really thankful to her for this. Most important – is that we have OVDInfo and other human rights organizations. People were on the phone, helping detainees via Telegram chats. They are helping us all. Please pay attention to them. Please give them some words of gratitude.
And yes, OVDInfo always existed thanks to small donations from ordinary people. And I ask you to support them. Your donation will help to fund the legal assistance and lawyer visits, who will help you in cases like that. Your donation will also help to support the project’s IT infrastructure, their operators and technicians, and other specialists. They helped you all.
Please consider sending some small donations to them. Even the price of a cup of coffee. Price of burger. Price of a coke bottle. The flow of these little donations makes the OVDInfo go.
You can support the OVDInfo project by this link – https://donate.ovd.legal/
Tomorrow the regime may come for you too. And you should understand it.
I call for furry solidarity. And take care of yourselves.”
After messages from Polarlight Wolf and Talvi, one of the Moscow furmeet organizers was consulted. The person blamed for bringing anti-war leaflets wasn’t known to anyone in the group. His social media was deleted and it’s unknown if it was a real name, and they’re unable to find a police report in his name. He was called a non-furry provocateur working for the authorities.
A singing furry was on a TV reality show! First the story, then some questions…
The Got Talent franchise started with America’s Got Talent in 2006, which spun off over 69 versions in other countries. Nice. Canada’s Got Talent first aired in 2012. It only just came back with a 2nd season for 2022 featuring Cassidy Civet, the first furry in any of the franchises. The show format has been used for more than singing, including dance, comedy, acrobats, novelty acts, and animal acts. Now I’m confused about Cassidy’s category… let’s just call her awesome.
You can browse some of Cassidy’s talents below, and look out for her upcoming video about appearing on Eurovision.
- Newest Song: Raise A Glass (feat. Pepper Coyote)
- Debut Album: Double Take
- Support: Patreon – Merch shop – Ko-Fi
- Social Media: Twitter – Tiktok – Every link
Here’s the video, and then Cassidy tells more.
(Dogpatch Press): Tell me about yourself and why you love furries!
Well hi! I’m Cassidy Civet, and I am a furry! I love the furry fandom for bringing together so many interests and talented people who just don’t fit in other niches. Nothing wrong with that, we made our own space. I think the imagination of the fandom is boundless and I’m happy to add my own to the scene with my music. ^^
How did it feel to be nominated for an award (the Ursa Major)?
Of course it’s flattering just to be nominated, but since then I’ve won the 2021 Good Furry Award, which I am even more proud of!
What have you been up to during the pandemic?
You mean the still 2 year ongoing pandemic? Well I auditioned for Canada’s Got Talent, flew to Europe to audition for Eurovision, and did 16 cons since August 2021
Tell me how you got into music.
Growing up my dad was a DJ, but not like the furry rave kind, more like school dances and weddings. So my music brain comes from knowing basically all the hits for every generation, exposure to so much music through the hit singles of every given era and culture, that’s how I got into music!
Do you have any thoughts about creating, like how can other people turn their experiences into interesting stories or creations?
Just maintaining oneself and not being discouraged or brought down is hard enough. The biggest thing you can do to be creative is to trust yourself. If you have something you believe in, you need to be prepared to toil those long uncomfortable spans of time where stuff might be working, but eventually it will, so stick with it and you’ll figure out your path eventually.
Since 2019, the Good Furry Awards have been recognizing furries who make outstanding positive contributions to the fandom.
Founder Grubbs Grizzly says:
For the 2022 awards, there will be a LIVE presentation at Biggest Little Fur Con in Reno, Nevada! The ceremony will be on Friday, June 3, at 5pm in the Ruby Room, so if you’re going to BLFC I hope to see you there!
The awards will be broadcast live on the Bearly Furcasting podcast.
ALSO! This year there will be a new Lifetime Achievement Award! This special award is selected by Uncle Bear Publishing and is in addition to our regular awards.
False reports about students “identifying as animals” and demanding unusual accommodations are like a resurrection of the 1980’s Satanic Panic. The public is being targeted with a wave of misinformation and greedy grabbing for views, at the expense of furry fans, public education, and LGBTQ people in general.
- The Daily Beast – Furry Panic Is the Latest Dumb GOP Attack on Public Schools and another story from Salon (they source this site.)
- Dogpatch Press – Origins of an urban legend: “litter boxes for furries” joke gets revived for moral panic
What better way to face bullying than to document it, and connect debunkers outside the community to watchdogs inside? Responsible journalists, take note!
Here’s a new resource from Troj, a furry fan, psychologist and researcher from Colorado: “I started making a map of school boards and regions that have courted the “litter box” myth and related urban legends about furries.” (They’re mainly American myths, but even reach Australia.)
Each point on the map has a note with details (check them for links to sources), and date of media coverage or earliest mention of a given urban legend. Similar myths are roughly grouped by color. They keep coming: at date of writing, one in North Carolina is too fresh to appear yet.
Troj sometimes collaborates with the Furscience data study group, but this isn’t anyone else’s endeavour, it’s personal curiosity. Troj explains:
“After coming across a flurry of social media posts and news articles about the urban myth, I was interested to see where it was popping up, when it first emerged, and how it appeared to be traveling, and thought of using the map to try to get a sense of any path or pattern. There is definitely a transphobic thread here that is VERY, VERY INTENTIONAL.
Look at all the huffing and puffing about children “identifying as” animals, and look at the way people are talking about the schools accommodating them. Also, that people (erroneously and foolishly) believe that the schools would conceal/lie about extending accommodations to a group of students — this seems ridiculous on its face — but makes sense when you realize these same people are outraged by even the possibility that a teacher or other adult might conceal a child’s “coming out” from the parents, usually for the child’s privacy and safety from backlash.
This is being peddled very intentionally and knowingly by conservatives who either know it’s bullshit, or really don’t care, as it allows them to sow hysteria and hatred against LGBTQ people (including kids) and their families.”
Troj’s map coincides with high-charting sales and marketing for a book by far-right propagandist Matt Walsh. It echoes these myths and shows that loud liars aren’t just peddling political hate, they’re milking their gullible base for cash to raise careers. It’s as forced and strategic as any other campaign to demonize whole groups for gain.
Why shouldn’t people make fun of furries though? How is a fandom like an identity? Because it’s not for fun, it’s using an “acceptable” proxy to shield the agenda. Attackers are setting up dominos with the same old revanchist hate against minority groups and civil rights down the line.
Troj is just a dinosaur with a pet project, but has a serious message about community good on the scales:
“On top of conflating and confusing furries, therians, and otherkin — in addition to employing this obvious urban myth as a wedge to attack trans kids and adults (and the rest of the queer community) — I fear the potential fallout on geeky, awkward, and neurodivergent kids who may be targeted by both peers and adults in the wake of these legends. If the kid who wears cat ears and Naruto-runs through the halls is perceived as not just a garden-variety oddball, but even more, an agent of the “culture war”; imagine how that child might be treated not just by their peers who’ve heard the rumors, but by the hysterical adults who’ve believed them! That’s what worries me. I’ve seen people make some quite unhinged, very worrisome comments on forums about what needs to be done “to” or “about” these “furry children.”
If you actually talk to the targets, it’s hard to demonize them as threatening monsters but simultaneously helpless victims who need authority to clamp down. They look like creative thinkers on successful college paths. Right wingers, leave those kids alone.
There have been many fan-made furry/Star Trek crossovers. Some early editions of Dana Simpson’s Ozy and Millie comic were republished in Klingon language. Ever hear about Furries Vs. Klingons, a bowling tournament between Atlanta fursuiters and a Klingon cosplay group?
Astonishingly, there was OFFICIAL show crossover that’s not yet included on Wikifur’s Star Trek list, and it came before most of them. It was a complete surprise to me, so here’s a headline story for you, even if it’s a few dilithium crystals short of warp speed.
— Derp Dawwg (@WoleverWuff) October 23, 2015
Star Trek: The Next Generation made sneaky references to early furry fandom! A tip came in from Alex:
“Hello! As I was looking at various Star Trek trivia, some of the names suddenly seemed very familiar. Apparently in one episode of Season One of ST:TNG, all the way back in 1988, someone working on the show decided to sneak in references to the Albedo Anthropomorphics furry comics! Here are some links to the furry references on the show:
It might be a stretch, but perhaps the USS Omaha Nebraska that “Admiral Erma Felna” ordered miiight be a reference to Omaha the Cat Dancer?
I thought that maybe you could try to do some investigation and perhaps figure out who this possible early furry working on Star Trek might be, and maybe shed some light on these interesting references.”
I see these character names appeared in the ST:TNG episode “Conspiracy”, which aired May 9, 1988 and later won an Emmy award. The episode link’s script and story notes credit writer Tracy Tormé — (son of Mel Tormé and later creator of TV show Sliders) — adapting a story by Robert Sabaroff, with input from Robert Justman, Rick Berman, Rob Lewin, and Maurice Hurley. Their storied careers don’t tell me obvious furry clues.
The names were in background screens on a computer that showed text memos, and weren’t played by actors — those are obscure easter eggs!
Military theme a natural crossover.
The names are referencing characters in the Albedo Anthropomorphics comics universe, except for Steve Gallacci, the comic founder and a technical illustrator for the U.S. Air Force. He calls himself a “milfur” (military-theme furry fan.)
Gallacci’s comic is “often credited with starting the furry comic book subgenre that featured sophisticated stories with funny animals primarily intended for an adult audience. It was first published in 1983.” – Wikipedia
Does anyone have more info about how furry references appeared in Star Trek? I wrote to Steve and hope to hear back.
Gallacci and early furry comic characters are alive and kicking in 2022!
Steve Gallacci is active in the fandom; a month ago, he posted to Furaffinity to ask for fan feedback about “diving deep into the sketchbooks and such for ‘unpublished’ work.” He only recently got Paypal and will do commissions, and has a Patreon too.
I found Albedo Anthropomorphics #1 original printings for sale between $1-2000 depending on condition; one Ebay seller has a less-than-mint copy for $2200. Some other early issues are going for hundreds. There’s high value for the first Albedo appearances of Usagi Yojimbo, artist Stan Sakai’s samurai rabbit who went on to his own fame and pop crossover:
“a highly successful comic book series drawing influence from the movies of Akira Kurosawa as well as the exploits of the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. It is perhaps best known in the West for its close connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.” (- Polygon)
Usagi Yojimbo will get major mainstream notice TODAY, April 28, 2022 with the new release of Netflix’s animated series Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles.
Comic market watchers are wondering if prices for the original furry comics might see a crazy jump to “remarkable records”.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) April 28, 2022
UPDATE for Star Trek furry references:
On the Facebook Graymuzzles group (for furry fans from the early days), Earl Bacon claimed that the cover photo of one issue of Albedo Anthropomorphics was taken on the set of ST:TNG, and it showed a copy of Albedo on Captain Picard’s desk in his ready room.
Earl’s source: “Steve Gallacci himself said that the photo was taken there after filming was done for the day on one of the first episodes of Season 1 of TNG.”
I looked up the issue he named, and Albedo #14 was published in Spring 1989, around the same time. So that means the show references a furry comic… and the comic returns the reference. What’s the deeper story to how this happened?
Here’s a PDF of the Albedo comic where it talks about it being photographed on the Star Trek set. It says that a person named Rick Sternbach was responsible for taking the cover photo. Sternbach is a super accomplished pro illustrator with a long history of working on Star Trek. His tie to an early furry comic is several decades old, so what would he say about it now? A private message to his Facebook account went unanswered.
A police raid and arrest in Australia is being added to the Dogpatch Press tag for zoosadism (which investigates animal cruelty, and the black market of animal “crush” and shock media.) The raid found “a significant number of videos depicting animal cruelty and bestiality”. Details of the abuse are so bad, that lawyers representing the suspect asked a court to suppress them, to limit publicity and avoid tainting a jury. Having read details, I would call them among the worst seen in years of covering the news. Evidence of deadly violence that surfaced on the net was judged extreme even to fringe shock groups.
- NT Independent: ‘The depravity is deeply disturbing’: NT Police horrified as bestiality charges laid against rural area man
- ABC News Australia: Darwin man charged with bestiality and animal cruelty faces court for the first time
The raid was in McMinns Lagoon, a rural area of about 800 residents outside Darwin in the Northern Territory, near Yarrawonga, Girraween, Zuccoli, Wak Wak, Bees Creek, and Humpty Doo.
Fandom connections and investigators.
This isn’t an isolated crime; it’s part of a trend backed by data. In recent years, zoosadists have been able to network like never before with technology for stealthy media trading. The trend has led to outlawing bestiality state by state in the USA, and making animal crush federally illegal with the 2019 PACT act. But far too often, they get away with it…
Putting a spotlight on this trend can show that abusers can be tracked, and complicit people can be held responsible. Their accomplices include a fandom underworld where zoophiles harbored zoosadists for decades, which only came out when a crime ring leaked in 2018. They meet in shady crossover groups with hundreds of zoophile furries, and use fandom for cover or even staff furry cons to walk among us while investigation gets backlash. Even if opposed by many furries, they have high-level apologists who promote “zoosexuality” and call opposition “cancel culture”. It’s like a Catholic Church abuse crisis, except with decentralized compartmentalizing behind denials about it. “Not our job” denials make a Catch-22 for seeking outside help, when police rarely pay attention. Even criminals who hide behind popularity like the now-disgraced Kero the Wolf get away with it.
For the Australian crime, it’s unclear how directly it ties to known rings, although it used similar methods. However, it can make a deeper look at internet investigators who gather some of the only visible info about secret zoosadist networks.
Tracking the suspect — Beyond the mainstream news.
The search process included screenshots of evidence that showed a victim dog to identify the breed. This comes from an investigator in Estonia (with minor corrections for clarity):
“How I managed to track his nasty ass is I did lots of research on the internet, posted this everywhere on the internet, until I saw one guy who seemed to know something about it. I contacted him and asked what does he know about this video or the person behind it.”
Following the trail led to a network with familiar methods:
“He said, oh I’m in a Telegram group chat with him and he posts lots of zoosadistic material there and talks to other zoosadists. I thought this is some BS, but he proved it and sent me screenshots of it.”
Abuse media traders can use what law enforcement calls a “baseball card trading system“:
“I even tried to get into the group myself but I couldn’t. It was like a share-to-join group, so I had to share zoosadistic material in order to join. But of course I don’t have any of this stuff, so I just let this other drug addict who was in the group and who I had access to talk with.”
If there was no media — there’d be no networks — but zoophiles excuse the consumer demand they make while their sources hide their ID’s:
“I asked questions from the man himself, like why is he doing this, etc. He said he hates dogs a lot and loves rape. Very f*cked up individual, I guess he didn’t even reveal much information to other zoosadists.”
The hiding takes high effort to overcome:
“So that led me nowhere until I started really look around for every detail in [evidence video] and noticed the orange collar with color changing pattern/chip. It had “Great Pets Start with you” logo on it. I did more research and found that these collars have a chip and they’re given out by council in Northern Territory, Australia. So I sent pictures of the dog to numerous shelters in Northern Territory but no one could identify the dog. I sent the pics to city council, and asked is it possible these kinds of collars are given out elsewhere? They said “No,” only we give out such chipped collars to dogs.”
Persistence had results:
“The city council asked me why do I need to know it. I told them all the information about the man, what he does to dogs, etc. The council told me they’re gonna pass it to criminal investigators, and few days later the police contact me to ask information. Like, describe what he does in the videos. They wanted me to describe everything he does to these poor dogs, like does he record his acts and post them somewhere, etc. So I did and the police said we have one 51 year old suspect who fits your description… we’re gonna raid him soon etc… a few days later the police contact me again saying they have caught the man, and all the material I sent them, they found on his devices. The police thanked me and told me I can now rest easy and breathe freely.”
The investigator emphasized that the suspect ID can’t be public yet, but told me:
“He gets extreme sexual pleasure out of animal cruelty, the videos were posted to his telegram chat. It’s quite odd why did he risk sharing these videos, as he’s not some junkie, but quite successful and highly educated and famous in his hometown.”
I verified this claim in private, and this case is very noteworthy and sure to get more news. Action is pending in court.
Updated with new info (5/9/22)
A scam is targeting furry convention goers and vendors. It’s named Furry Swap Meet. Cons and fandom lawyers like Boozy Badger and Buddy Goodboy are putting out Bewares. The scam is advertising “partner” events to coincide with official events, but there’s no real partnership. It’s trying to use false impressions to rent dealer tables, compete with cons for attendance, exploit their hard work and ride their coat tails.
This isn’t a single-source complaint; it’s a united warning from many official channels. But after you read them, there’s way more to tell you. They don’t connect the history of greedy line-pushing by a practiced serial scammer behind it. You can connect the dots from this furry news story. Even if you don’t need bewares, it’s a fascinating case for how much manipulation a fandom can harbor.
*clicks through link sent to me for someone's new furry business idea*
Oh god no.
No no no no no.
— Col. Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) April 20, 2022
We have been notified of another organization claiming to provide vender spaces near our event.
BLFC is NOT affiliated or in ANY way connected with any other organizations offering vendor spaces.
— Biggest Little Fur Con (@BiggestLittleFC) April 20, 2022
NOTICE: We are in no way affiliated with any 3rd party ticket providers or "partner events.” All charity operations, registration, and vendor activities are managed in house. We urge you to think critically about 3rd parties claiming to be collecting donations or registrations
— AnthrOhio 2022: Tech Noir (@anthrohio) April 20, 2022
There's the boom. https://t.co/Jwp1b0Sv5I
— Col. Boozy Badger (@BoozyBadger) April 20, 2022
Okay, here’s the deal as far as I can tell: https://t.co/11CQBAu78G is an organization setting up events parallel to and unconnected to major furry cons. They work with Neil Wacaster, formerly of Artworktee, who’s been embroiled in controversy. I would not give them money. pic.twitter.com/0MhCw81CQW
— Buddy Goodboy (@BuddyGoodboyEsq) April 20, 2022
Updated with thread — A gracious thank-you to Buddy Goodboy for research and alerting the public too.
Jeffery Neil Wacaster is the person behind Furry Swap Meet, AKA Hot Fudge Husky / Neil Fox.
Jeffery Neil Wacaster — previously known as “Drawponies” — was rejected out of the My Little Pony fandom in 2015 for his “Traceponies” scandal (more on that soon). He then pivoted to furry fandom, bringing the same old tricks under a new brand. It worked, because furries haven’t reacted or documented things like bronies did. Then came problem after problem after problem…
Check out how Wacaster introduces himself on his Linkedin page:
It says expertise in guerrilla marketing… that’s a far too nice term for how shady this gets!
The million dollar sales claim also touts charity fundraising, which sounds nice. Charity isn’t always altruistic, of course; think of a robber baron building a library in his name to look good with money from plundering and exploiting people. Buying goodwill can be as effective as advertising for sales, or doing PR for damage control… but what about doing fair business in the first place?
To get ahead any way he can, Wacaster now uses business brand accounts and personal account Hot Fudge Husky on Twitter, Youtube, Furaffinity, F-List, etc. It’s hard to even count how many other scam accounts he uses, as you’ll see. (Update: He changed the personal account to Neil Fox after this story came out.)
The blueprint: Methods of the original Traceponies scandal
Last decade, Wacaster’s Drawponies brand was everywhere at My Little Pony fan cons. His dealer operation reaped profits from large-scale competition against small artists. Then Wacaster was caught tracing frames of the official MLP show to crank out and sell falsely advertised “original” art.
As angry fans saw it, Wacaster had cheated to compete and took dealer space that crowded out better talents, rode on top of labor that built the events, and took advantage of volunteer mods for his own groups. Fans do this work for love… but Wacaster’s Linkedin calls their cons “Trade shows.” (Hasbro might have something to say about trade from THEIR property.)
Brony news site Horse News reported about Wacaster’s fall from grace and con bans after the scandal. It’s crazy how the news is needed again 7 years later… will he ever learn?
- DRAWPONIES SCANDAL! Popular artist caught tracing the show… by his own fanclub!
- DrawPonies Scandal Day 2: Damage Report
- Drawponies Scandal Day 3 – The final word on #traceponies
The pivot: Artworktee (no longer owned by Wacaster)
With Drawponies done, founding a new merchandise business could have been a clean slate for clean methods. Serving the fandom from within is desirable to many artists. Artworktee had that demand, and, because a new person owns it in 2022, it’s worth being careful not to hurt the brand and its users.
Wacaster is no longer there, but his former management can still get put on record. It used shady methods like systematically spamming “popufurs” with generic marketing (targeting them by follower count, like cogs in the influencer industry), and underpaying artists. Some criticism was temporarily soothed by team PR. Some was reported here with focus on cut-throat “growth hacking” like mainstream startups do (is fandom just for grabbing customers?)
Wacaster’s marketing reached people who must have had little idea about what was under the hood. “Popufurs” joined to have their merch represented. Many put their faces on a “<Fursona> Fan Club” line of shirts. But then it gained criticism for allowing merch of the racist, pro-fascist 2 Gryphon. Artworktee added a “we don’t support him” label (while it stayed for sale on the site) — until the label was pointed out as quietly removed (while it stayed for sale on the site) — and then 2 Gryphon was dropped. Read between the lines to see only caring if it looked good.
Apart from that stumble, an animal charity crowdfund was launched and supported by popular furries, reaping goodwill for Artworktee with $66,156 in donations in June 2019. But greed doesn’t stay satisfied…
Kickstarter trouble and the LGBT “Furry and Proud” campaign
The charity success coincided with a separate huge crowdfund that Wacaster undoubtedly envied. Fursona Pins had a record six-figure Kickstarter fund for LGBT Pride-themed pins, shooting up to $249,610 on July 1, 2019. 3 months later, Artworktee imitated this with a Pride-themed shirt line on Kickstarter, resembling something for charity. It was actually for profit, and used careless methods that Fursona Pins took care not to do.
Some supporters complained about being misled, with receipts on the Know Your Meme page for the Furry and Proud line.
I didn’t follow the Furry and Proud campaign after it ended at $35,511 in support, but a year later, comments piled up about failure to deliver shirts and shirts being sold on the store before being delivered to backers. In the next year, Artworktee went bankrupt, and Wacaster is out. The new owners mentioned a “Kickstarter Debacle.” Perhaps bankruptcy could be counted against Wacaster, but it also was the year of Covid-19, and Artworktee serves a real demand (wouldn’t it be nice to build small fandom business to do service, not grab power?) It has a clean slate to reorganize now.
Furrymemes: Systematic art theft for clout
Wacaster’s methods for boosting sales and crowdfunds were more shady than most people knew. Here’s a great scam you can repeat forever:
- Scrape industrial quantities of “memes” from the most popular furry Reddit posts. (Read: stealing art from the original makers.)
- Use a bot to repost memes to Twitter as insincere fan love, but only offer to take down stolen art if noticed. (Read: clout arbitrage.)
- Pump Furrymemes account over 10k followers, because people follow and share without thinking.
- Switch the account to a store or other front, then take the old name with a new small account. Pump it up again.
- Repeat forever using the same name, profile pic, and scraped content. Sharers won’t notice the switching.
- Shill merchandise with the deceptively pumped up accounts, sometimes selling extremely problematic products…
This scam was also behind switching Furrymemes to a furry news site (Awoonews) with attached Patreon. It sputtered and died from exploiting volunteers to write for free, reposting more stolen art, taking Patron money for it, and shilling merchandise until that backfired. Awoo News is now a suspended account.
Accounts like these, despite linking to the artist, basically divert traffic away from them in a "this account posts art almost daily with credit so there's no need to follow the actual artists" kinda way.
An example being in them having 13k+ followers and you only having 5k.
— Jennah Saburashii (@JENNAAAAAAAAHHH) February 10, 2020
Bot-powered industrial clout-chasing and aggressive “growth hacking” is the opposite of what personal fandom is for. (Furries are born when they think: “I can have my own unique fursona with my own art…”)
This led to incidents like posting scraped “memes” that were hateful chan posts — which tells you the quality of clout-chasing content — and a mini-scandal when a Furrymemes account switched to a sex toy store.
Furrysexshop tries to cash in clout, gets backlash up the butt
Stolen art could transform to profit, Wacaster hoped, if a switched account could shill drop-shipped buttplug tails. Drop-shipping is a business method where an outside business fulfills products by mail. The seller never touches them, so quality control is nonexistent. The seller collects money and maybe the buyer has no idea, except it’s hard to get refunds.
For Wacaster’s Furrysexshop, cheap chinese sources were meant to provide “faux fur” tailplugs, but the products held a surprise…
Answers about what the next one would be rebranded to — a drop ship operation https://t.co/3cxwpsub32
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 29, 2019
to someone for having made 3 clics and have no guarantee about the product
I call this a scam
Plus their communication is made through a transfomed twitter account + @furry__memes
— Silou SnowCat (@Silou_Atien) December 18, 2019
The “faux fur” sold through markets like Alibaba was believed to be real animal parts from shady chinese fur-farms. Animal welfare laws? Who needs those when your art theft/clout scam can make a buck? The backlash made Wacaster delete the store.
Advanced clout chasing: Awoo News and Global Furry TV
Think of how shady it would be to run scams on the fandom, AND run one of the few news sites that could report on them… what a conflict of interest and treacherous control of the narrative!
(For example, see the Washington Post owned by billionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos… Dogpatch Press is proudly independent of any other fandom business.)
Filling Awoo News with fan-made news lacked a crucial ingredient: having volunteers naive enough to work for free for Wacaster implies lack of insight for news. It’s like hiring the blind to draw your art. It led to getting a teenage editor with his own hobby channel called Global Furry TV, who announced their partnership (with no transparency about editing Awoo News too, Wacaster’s for-profit business or how it was pumped by clout scams.) The former Awoo News editor/partner carries on the quality with both-sidesing to defend shady figures, partnering with other shady figures, and even spreading defenses for groups like the Furry Raiders while accusing the fandom of “politics” or division in “controversies”. (There’s no controversy in rejecting malice and scams, of course.)
PLEASE STOP FOLLOWING THESE ACCOUNTS
@.Artworktee & @.Awoonews are made by a notorious scam artist, w/ this being their newest endeavor
If you see content from any other "furry meme" sites in their RTs, assume they're all part of the same scandal.
STOP supporting them!! https://t.co/Z0oTHGBDtd
— Zahzu-Lemur & a Zebra || (@Zahzu) December 30, 2019
Hazbin Hotel Fanworks: Youtube channel that uses fan art to pump crypto investing, but the channel was ironically stolen.
Wacaster’s move after bankruptcy with shirts was to build a 185K follower video channel: “Comic Dubs for the Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss Universes.” The fandubs takes fan-made comics from an indie property (so, probably lacking lawyers to defend the property) and applies new voices. There’s a sneaky way to upload/recycle a bunch of content you didn’t create, say you’re adding something original (or call it fair use), and ride the coat tails up to 185K followers. Maybe a lot of them are kids.
Did you think this is about enjoying fandom with them? Ha ha!! Wacaster’s co-admins had their marks lined up. With 43 million views for comics, it doesn’t matter what they’re for; that can drive a lot of traffic for crypto investing scams the channel also pumps.
Wacaster’s access to 185K followers was cut off when his crypto scam partner (Crowley) stole it from him and locked him out on Youtube, leaving him a small 3K Twitter for the channel. It led to dueling accusations about theft and legal battle. The Youtube now just posts game streams with cratered views.
More about Furry Swap Meet and Hot Fudge Husky / Neil Fox
Here we are back at the latest scam. It changed after bad notice; it might have some kind of too-late spin about being nonprofit.
Wacaster did have a nonprofit set up, Fandom Fund. That nonprofit was supposedly based in Arkansas. No nonprofits by that name are registered in Arkansas. Fandom Fund Inc is dissolved in Indiana as of March 2022. I don’t know if there is reorganizing going on, but cons weren’t even asked first, and the launch debacle was spammed at people who should now read this story and think hard before supporting any such thing.
UPDATE: The Furry Swap Meet site is taken down. Wacaster’s Twitter for Hot Fudge Husky deleted all activity for the scam, and replaced it with a message that Crowley hacked it (despite coordinated marketing from Wacaster’s other accounts.) REPEAT: MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS.
Here's the "partner event" email and the commission cold call email from a few days ago.
Different emails, both signed by Hot Fudge Husky. pic.twitter.com/s5niwAWwaW
— Ash! (@ashenwhiskers) April 20, 2022
When you know how the Furrymemes scam works, isn’t it funny how the Hot Fudge Husky twitter has 11.5K followers but almost no content? — UPDATE: Hot Fudge Husky is rebranded to Neil Fox. Neil Fox is the result when you search the original account name @furry__memes.
Some previous coverage here about Wacaster erred on the side of being lenient and forgiving. It’s great that cons coordinated official responses this time, making it not just my opinion that this guy needs to stop.
He obviously has impressive skills, along with astonishing lack of limits or respect. Why not build a small business to deliver joy and satisfaction to people instead of trampling them in a rush to dominate a market?
Maybe he’ll read this and dismiss it as an unfair hit piece (or just call it “drama”.) Well… a good time for getting his side and letting him explain could have been after the first disaster. After 10 times, why should we get both sides about an UNCHECKED RAMPAGE OF GREED?
It’s not the job of unpaid volunteers and fans to be the conscience, when someone keeps doing aggressive schemes until they fail and make an ass out of everyone who trusted them.
Meanwhile, Wacaster claims a million dollars in sales and had an ENTIRE PR TEAM response for disasters before. That’s unfair to everyone else in the same market, like little artists competing for notice. It isn’t equal, and I don’t have time to waste on wishy-washy both-sidesing like a nice, polite fence-sitter. Polite and kind aren’t the same thing, and it would be UNKIND to the public to hold back news of all this nonsense and deception.
Anyone who calls this drama or unfair is on the hook to give real answers for why this keeps happening, and when will it stop?
UPDATES: Wacaster’s response connects more background of the Hazbin Hotel Fanworks scams.
Buddy Goodboy’s thread is added (it was overlooked during parallel research), give him a follow. And we have new insight on Neil Wacaster’s response after the scam emerged — Wacaster is backpedaling with claims about “lies” and being “hacked”:
(Personally, I think this is just a backpedaling attempt, but I suppose we shall see)
— Trick | Badge comms open! (@TrickTheHyena) April 22, 2022
To unravel these claims, more info is in a video posted by the Hazbin Hotel Fanworks replacement Youtube channel. If you recall the background above, Hazbin Hotel Fanworks was a partnership between Neil Wacaster and a crypto scammer named Crowley, who took their first channel of 185K followers. The replacement has 6K, and its spin about this requires reading between the lines. UPDATE: The replacement channel, still under Wacaster’s control, took down the team’s explanation. The below summary of the contents was posted when the video was still live and comparable. If anyone claims it isn’t true, ask why the evidence was deleted.
The hour long video reveals about Crowley and Wacaster’s partnership:
- Wacaster was living with Crowley, a sex offender on parole.
- The restrictions of living on parole show WACASTER KNEW HIS PARTNER WAS A CONVICT.
- (5:20) In November 2020, Wacaster started Hazbin Hotel Fanworks out of a “meme furry channel.”
- They were 50/50 partners in the Hazbin “company” (how is this connected to the real property owners? What???)
- They did panels at furry cons together, and hosted house parties that brought some staffers.
How staff were mismanaged:
- Crowley, the sex offender, was head of staff.
- Wacaster promised to pay staff if they started out with free volunteer work.
- Pay promises depended on investing that never came (for a fan channel using other peoples art? What???)
- (9:00) The team treats it as overpromising, rather than a history of scamming by Wacaster.
- As a Plan B, Wacaster hired cheap overseas editors for “cost saving”, who badly communicated with the team.
Things get bad:
- Crowley started his Cryptogod crypto-investing channel that was pushed on their channel.
- Meanwhile, free volunteers were overworked for roles they were never trained for.
- Crowley failed to pay them for weeks and weeks, excusing it because crypto prices fell.
- Volunteers spent all their savings to live while working full-time.
- Wacaster blamed Crowley for failing to pay, like he had no idea at all. (Sure…)
It turns into a crisis:
- Wacaster and Crowley split up, and 40 volunteers had to reorganize into 2 teams.
- (16:25) The 40 volunteers had been pitted against each other to work with “tribal”, “cut-throat competition”.
- Volunteers had been forced to stay up extra late by exhausting motivation meetings to hype up the team.
- Most of the volunteers left with Crowley, while Wacaster made new plans with his Furrymemes channels.
- (20:30) Crowley’s team locked out Wacaster’s, breaking their agreement to share channels.
Fallout from the crisis:
- They discovered employee wage funds had been dishonestly invested in crypto instead.
- This halted video production for Crowley’s channel, and it’s unclear what happened to the team.
- There is talk of legal proceedings and “it’s like a Looney Tune skit.”
- Wacaster is still leading these volunteers while Crowley is blamed.
- (45:45) Crowley is claimed to be Noah E. Akins; his parole meant he wasn’t supposed to talk to minors on social media. Yet Wacaster had him managing!
This shows the volunteers as victims too, but sorry friends… the bottom line is: don’t ever do free work for a “fan” project using someone else’s property, and if the people behind it are both scammers or criminals, do your due diligence first. Hopefully this story can help other people for the future.
EVEN MORE UPDATES, 5/9/22: New scams and insight from Indiana
Claims emerged about Wacaster offering art commissioning as a middleman scheme — Charging full price, while advertising art created at a discounted price by an outsourced artist in a cheaper place — then pocketing the difference without crediting someone else’s art.
I hope this makes sense. This person set up a fancy site I filled out for a commission, then did not pay their artist and ran. I will find a way to pay their artist but please don’t work with this person. pic.twitter.com/bd3xAsnduq
— Splat @FWA+MEGAPLEX (@SplatFennec) April 26, 2022
Not only HotFudgeHusky has been taking art that it's fully mine without my permission, but he is making money getting fake commissions using my work as an example
— Kaya (@KayaUnderTheSun) April 26, 2022
Wacaster’s Neil Fox account is now taking the title “journalist” to retaliate at a group called Italian Furposting for flagging his content. He is threatening them with a misinformation campaign that would use targeted ads to pose him as a victim of anti-journalist censorship. Is anti-spam action now censorship?
Remember the use of threats, it comes up again…
Indiana fans reached out with feedback on this story.
“Extra context: Neil has a disability so he’s unable to work ‘typical’ jobs. He does have legitimate skill as a businessperson. He is good at managing books and finances, and knows a lot about SEO and marketing, and when he’s not fixated on a money making scheme, he’s nice to be around. He hosts local fur meets at his house (“The Fox Den”). People seem to have positive experiences at his meets, and he genuinely seemed to make the meets safe — strict alcohol rules, a clearly denoted time for when NSFW content would be allowed, etc.
The @hotfudgehusky account, @awoo_news, and @furry__memes — these are the same account carried over. At one point, the account did make half-hearted attempts to credit the original post and direct users there for an artist source, but would fail more than half the time. Neil shrugged it off. He also ran a Tiktok account that clipped and edited furry dance videos for reposting. He wouldn’t ask permission before using someone’s content, but believed that was ok because “message me to remove it.” He is rebranding that account. The new tiktok name is @thefurryfandom.co and the new profile pic is his face… not sure what the angle is, but the account has 107k followers and 2.3M likes to leverage the algorithm for whatever it is.
Regarding the “Furry and Proud” crowdfund — He had walls filled in his garage with boxes of t-shirts from this. He couldn’t sell them because the shirts were the property of someone else and involved in an active legal battle (Artworktee), but Artworktee didn’t collect the property from him (?) The full run of shirts were actually produced, just… never shipped for some reason, and Artworktee may not be collecting them or lacks the funds.
Regarding Hazbin Hotel Fanworks — This was the biggest source of ongoing drama in his house and social circles. Crowley’s parole required him to inform people he is living with that he is a convict… unfortunately, Crowley violated his parole by not doing that. No one in the home, Neil included, was aware of his sex offender status until after he had already been living in the house for several months. Prior to this, he was known to have been in prison but refused to talk about why.
Was this Neil’s story? Scammers can play very sympathetic and persuasive, and always play the victim while blaming someone else. Claiming lack of knowledge about Crowley is hard to believe because:
(1) Probation can mean ankle bracelets and the PO knocking at any time to come in.
(2) They can check for devices with someone not allowed around certain devices.
(3) Crowley’s crime was openly published in the news, and that’s hard to hide.
(4) The news reported he “cannot drink any alcohol while on probation, or he will finish the sentence in prison.”
(5) Did Neil act like Crowley moved in without a real name or basic googling to screen a roommate?
It’s all hard to buy, but the source continued…
Around the same time as when news broke about Crowley’s sex offender status, is when the business partnership broke. Neil evicted Crowley from the house over his sex offender status, and his deciding to dump channel funds into an “investment” (crypto scam that he lost out on), and failure to pay bills in the house — according to Neil. He received several not-so-veiled death threats from Crowley, and so Neil kept quiet about everything until Crowley was completely out.
Once Crowley was gone, Neil was happy to leave well enough alone, but it seems Crowley had maintained access and hijacked the channel. The Youtube channel was Neil’s only source of income, so he got a lawyer to get the channel back. Crowley was served legal paperwork, with the deal being that Neil would keep quiet about Crowley’s sex offender status and not notify his parole officer of his violations, as long as the channel was returned to Neil. Crowley decided to take everything to court, and that’s when posts about Crowley’s status as a sex offender started going public. Maybe Neil hoped that social backlash would solve the situation, but it did not, and that legal battle is still ongoing.
This story about threats and staying afraid and quiet because of them is convenient… then Neil using a threat to spread info about Crowley is very shady when you look at other threats to run a targeted ad campaign against Italian Furposting for flagging his content. So he’s afraid, but making threats himself?
The source claimed Neil may start:
- Trying to attach ads to captcha systems (because you can make the internet worse by requiring people to look at an ad to prove they’re human).
- Buying land outside of the city to grow and sell CBD products, and selling camp sites on the land. Neil also wanted to go further and have “Furry” recognized as a religion in the state so he could get a religious exemption to produce THC products also, and sell “religious experiences” to people. Basically, a roundabout way to sell THC in a state where it’s not legal, and leverage the furry fandom to legitimize it.
- Crypto scams. One of Neil’s other partners is shilling dogecoin endlessly to Neil and his social circle.
Establishing a brand across many convention dealer dens is a big deal for the personalized, self-creating furry fandom. Artworktee has grown an impressive presence for serving furries with merchandise made within and representing them. It hasn’t always been smooth, but things are looking up.
“We’re not a 7-figure company”, laughs the new owner Raphael when I ask about the size and how many staff they have. “Well actually it was at one point when Neil ran it, but we’re reorganizing.”
Raphael is attentive on the phone, with an easy laugh and straightforward answers about business structure. He’s based in California and took over Artworktee in mid-2021, since the company went bankrupt after running for several years under original founder Neil Wacaster.
The 2020 bankruptcy followed losses from Midwest Furfest plans that went badly (that’s no surprise with the Covid-19 pandemic); and a “Kickstarter debacle”. Readers who follow the turbulence of social media may be familiar with controversy about Wacaster’s practices that had coverage here — (with some charitable understanding for staff and artists invested in using Artworktee) — but the bankruptcy and reorganization took Wacaster out of ownership.
- ArtworkTee issues and the heart of the furry economy (2018)
- A Tale of Two Kickstarter Campaigns, and the Selling of Identity by Artworktee (2019)
Previous partnering practices had involved blitzing generic appeals to anyone with over 3K followers on social media, but that’s ended now. Paying artists was an issue, and the new ownership is committed to paying fairly.
I questioned Raphael more about company ownership in case Wacaster still had input on the board, profit sharing, or other ties. It satisfied me that there weren’t any, just cooperation for handing things over. That takes time (such as when old services are under old names), and not everyone is aware, but it sounds like the company is firmly in the care of Raphael and his small team.
Programs and relationships had to be dropped and restarted. The website is getting renovation. New organization has finances back in order with new investors. It was accomplished with some cuts to staff, and Artworktee was re-incorporated in California in 2021. The team includes:
- 1 warehouse helper
- 1 full time operations staffer
- 1 social media manager
- 1 supply relationships broker (Asia and Pacific)
- 1 co-manager who also does supply relationships for Europe
- A web developer and 5-6 regular con booth helpers.
“We have some great new plans coming up”, Raphael told me. One of them will be a new feature for uploading art to create your own products. Many people do it with services like Redbubble, but Raphael intends this to come with more personal service, representation at cons and quality at similar price point.
There will more con vending, and potentially helping to run an official con store. Other plans include expanding merch lines, a better located warehouse, and an optional website version for NSFW goods. There could even be partnership with retailers like Hot Topic if the stars align. (Some of these are in early stages, so allow for development.)
“We’re trying to be good to our artists and the fandom”, says Raphael. Service by fans, for fans is definitely what a lot of people want.