Journalist Maria Margaronis interviewed furry fans at a Cambridge Furs meet last month for next week's episode of The Why Factor, a programme exploring "the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions" through the voices of those involved.
In stories, cartoons, advertisements and our everyday lives, we project human thoughts and emotions onto animals—and claim their strength and style for ourselves in the brand names of cars and cosmetics. Why do we do that, and what do we get out of it? Can we ever know what animals really feel? And are we as different from other species as we like to imagine? Maria Margaronis meets the furry fandom, who put on “fursonas” and cartoonlike animal costumes to meet and socialise. Neuroscientist Bella Williams upends some assumptions about animal brains and explains how to read a mouse’s facial expression; children’s author Michael Rosen sportcasts an insect race. Farmer Helen Reeve reflects on how she feels about eating her own cows. And historian Harriet Ritvo poses a thornier question: what makes our species think we are secure in our dominance over the natural world?
The 18-minute show "Animals Are Us?", which received input from furry artists, fursuiters, fursuit-builders and other fans, is to be broadcast on the BBC World Service on Friday 24 at 18:32 and 23:32 GMT (EDT+4, BST-1), with re-broadcasts on Sunday (21:32) and Monday (04:32, 12:32).
Update (23 April): A four-minute clip featuring several furs is available (transcript below).
Update 2 (24 April): The full episode has been published. There is no additional content featuring furries, but you may find the rest interesting, as it's all about anthropomorphism.
DJ NeonBunny has entered the world of music production with a song called "Eat, Sleep, Fursuit, Repeat". Inspired by deep house hit "Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat" [video] by Fatboy Slim and Riva Starr, NeonBunny set out to create an original track about fursuiting. As the founder and resident DJ of Frolic in San Francisco, he wanted to write a song about his favorite scene, and for the fursuiters who love to frequent the dance floor.
Fred Patten says,
I am writing a history of all Furry conventions from the first, in January 1989, to the end of 2010, when there were 42 of them around the world. This is 182 pages; almost 45,000 words. Most fans think that it is already too long, so I have stopped with 2010. There were 43 in 2011, and over 60 today.
Here are some sample entries and illustrations:
|Albany AnthroCon 1998 – Here Be Dragons||The Omni Albany Hotel, Albany, New York||July 3-5, 1998 (Attendance: 600)|
|GoH: Jeffrey A. Carver (s-f author), Jim Groat (Furry cartoonist); Fandom GoH: Dr. Samuel Conway|
|Charity: Whiskers, a cat rescue group ($3,092)||Chair: Roger Wilbur (Aloyen Youngblood)|
The activities of the first AnthroCon were repeated and expanded upon. There were special interest group meetings; panels on such subjects as anthropomorphic-animal advertising mascots and “Cleaning Up Our Past”; a puppet show by Steve Plunkett and a Story Hour by Uncle Kage; and a Saturday-night performance by Purple Nurple Live! The previous year’s Moreau Awards were not repeated; the committee considered them a failure since only about twenty members out of 500 had bothered to attend and vote. The 44-page Program Book had a cover by Jim Groat. The AnthroCon had over forty staff members; Roger Wilbur was the official Chairman (CEO), but most of the convention was coordinated by Jonah E. Safar as Organizational Director. The T-shirt was by Jim Groat. There was general agreement that a larger hotel was needed for next year.
Are you interested in fictional animal characters with human personalities and proud of it? Do you like to dress up as your favorite animal character and go to Anthrocon, Further Confusion, or the ConFurence conventions? Do you have other friends in the furry world? Are there people in your life who don’t accept your furry side? Do you feel society should have a better understanding on what the furry world is all about? ONLY SUBMIT YOUR STORY IF YOU'RE WILLING TO APPEAR ON TV WITH DR. PHIL. Thanks for contacting the show!
My guess is that this will go the way of other such shows to feature furries.
If you were waiting for a coffee-table book mixing fursuiting and cultural research, Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism might be it. It was created by Romanian Carmen Dobre, a Master in both cultural studies (Univ. of Bucharest) and photographic studies (Leiden), who is pursuing a PhD at the Bucharest National University of Arts. [tip: Dr. Kathy Gerbasi]
The 152 page hardback contains 49 photographs, 13 of which can be previewed online (scroll in for a full view). Produced by the University of Plymouth, it's also available from eBay UK or Australia, Amazon U.S. or Canada, Albris, and Fishpond.
Carmen's furry photography began in Holland as a university project, and spread to France, Romania, Germany, and the UK (assisted by Fotonow CIC). Her work was exhibited September-October 2011 (video) at the Rue de l'Exposition gallery. One photo was a finalist for the 2013 Celeste Prize. She has also created a brief study of furry fandom (PDF).
New powers to patent animals (including unrealized hybrids that populate furry fiction) burst into the news on 11/13/13, when activist organization Wikileaks revealed a draft of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Analysts have called it "a major power grab for large patent and copyright industries," with powerful implications for the future of intellectual property.
With a lead like that, I have to apologize for faking you out. I couldn't resist. Now let's do a 180, and turn back to the furry level of life, where copyright concerns are much more personal. Consider this scenario that happened to fursuiters Sakura Fox and Mercury on their trip to New York City:
You're walking through Central Park, and see some panhandlers begging for change. They're wearing badly made, unsightly costumes of Sesame Street characters. You shouldn't hang around them in fursuit, because a pimp Elmo might come smack you off his corner!
It's an unauthorized misuse of trademark for profit. It could make the copyright owners look bad, and they wouldn't like it. It's probably too trivial for them to hear about, or hire lawyers to stop it- but you never know. In a famous 1989 action, Disney forced the removal of murals featuring their characters from three Florida day care centers. It helped earn their "reputation as an extreme copyright hawk -- there's a reason 'Disney lawyer' is a term all its own". (On the more friendly side, consider Hasbro's relationship with Bronies.)
This promotional newsletter was provided by Fangcon. Story written by Nightwolf.
Welcome one and all, to the furriest show on Earth! Come to a convention unlike any you've seen before!
What makes Fangcon stand out from the rest? We've packed this weekend full of activities to enjoy all weekend long by all ages. Test your skill and luck at our carnival corner, with games provided by furries from all over Tennessee. Enjoy the fursuit parade and watch the suiters compete in the fursuit games. For a more refined feel, take a seat in the poker tournament. Relax in the hotel's heated pool before the late night dances.
Botanical furries? Hello? Show yourselves! I'd love to see some Triffids...
My first casual search turned up this carnivorous beauty. Can you name more? Or could this be a new frontier for novelty anthropomorphic performing?
My original submission was very brief, but apparently made a psychic link to provoke the same question on Tumblr a day later.
GaymerX, the first gaming convention focused on LGBT themes, won media buzz and crowds through active inclusion. Inviting allies in "geek culture" to an "arms-open party for anyone who wants to join", it drew over 2,000 to San Francisco's Japantown (a heavy turnout for a first con, compared to established furry conventions.) Founder Matt Conn called it "just the start".
A historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage created intense emotions and record crowds at San Francisco's 2013 Pride celebration. I was informally told the parade drew 1.5 million. Imagine pushing through them in the hot sun with inch thick fur on!
Video by Mallius
For dozens of local furs, the great fun and positive vibes of Pride 2012 were small compared to this year's enthusiastic turnout. If it grows as much in 2014, it'll be awesome to see.
Image from Jillcostumes
A new resource for fursuit commissioners has been shared on Reddit's r/furry subreddit: a Google spreadsheet of makers maintained by open collaboration, to the surprise of the original sharer (who created it for personal use). The r/furry moderators have been asked to add it as a key resource on their sidebar.
Several fan-maintained lists exist to help find and review fursuit makers and commissioned artists. Earlier this year, an important Fur Affinity review account, fursuitmakerreviews, closed unexpectedly to the disappointment of many. As one Redditor explained:
… [it's] a bit of a long story (so I'm told). But basically involved a fursuit maker getting less than good marks and complaining to the admins, who promptly removed the "offending" account. They're trying to rebuild themselves on Tumblr.
Their new Tumblr account and a new, separate Fur Affinity account seem to be starting over from scratch, after losing much important data. It calls attention to the challenges they face. A list is a great resource, but a list isn't a system. Let's consider organizing a better system.
Like every year since CaliFur V, CaliFur IX took place at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California, on May 31–June 2, 2013. This year’s theme was “FURtual Reality”. There were two guests-of-honor: Maxwell Alexander Drake, the Author GoH, author of the Moonbeam Young Adult Fantasy Award-winning novels in 2009 and 2011 (the first two novels in his Genesis of Oblivion Saga), and their publisher, Imagined Interprises, Inc. in Las Vegas; and NecroDrone, the Artist GoH, “BDSM Illustrator and Dominatrix extradiordinaire!” Official attendance was 1,178; an increase of over two hundred. Due to my continuing poor health, I was in a wheelchair, with my sister Sherrill pushing me. We could only attend for Saturday the 2nd.
Flayrah reported in May on Misora Rae's loss of her home in the Moore, OK tornado. In subsequent days, furs have sent an outpouring of support, helping her with supplies and funds. They gathered for the clean-up, helping her sort through the rubble of what was once her home; she found her fursuit, which had survived the storm but was covered in insulation, and was getting a musty odor from the rains that came with the tornado. The team also found one of her cats, crushed to death by a fallen wall. The stress of this is a hardening factor for Misora.
Support for Misora and her mother continues, with several Furry conventions joining together to raise funds for her family. Central Plains Fur Con, Fangcon, F3con and Wild Nights will be auctioning supersponsor and higher levels of membership, with proceeds going to Misora. The first is for a membership for CPFC, to be held October 2013 in Wichita, Kansas with Rukis as the guest of honor. Other auctions will be posted after the initial auction concludes.
Critter Costuming: Making Mascots and Fabricating Fursuits, by Adam Riggs (Nicodemus), is the first published book about fursuit making. You can buy it on Amazon.
The magazine also includes my updated article about street fursuiting, and fursuit-making book reviews. It offers a respectful, "gentle introduction to the Furry fandom and fursuit costuming" to other realms of geekdom, going against this tongue-in-cheek pecking order.