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June 28 2015

23:57

Inside the furries: they're people too


Here is an article on the website of WTAE-TV (an ABC-affiliated television station located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania):
http://www.wtae.com/entertainment/inside-the-furries-theyre-people-too/33734590

The article is a teaser for the Daisy Ruth's “Inside the Furries” coverage of this year’s Anthrocon.


PITTSBURGH —Stay tuned to WTAE.com for Daisy Ruth’s “Inside the Furries” coverage at this year’s Anthrocon to understand the fandom and learn more through her experiences.

One of the most wonderful things about Pittsburgh is that many people here understand that if everyone was the same, the world would be a very boring place. Many conventions of varied interests come through the city and no one bats at eyelash at how off the beaten path they may seem to be.

One of the biggest conventions to hit Pittsburgh is Anthrocon. This year’s will be held at the Westin hotel from July 9-12.

Dr. Courtney “Nuka” Plante is a doctor of psychology from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He is a social psychologist and specializes in studying fan groups and those with shared fantasies. This doctor of sociology is also involved in one of the most criticized fandoms of all time – the furries, whose biggest convention is known as Anthrocon.

You’ve probably seen them around downtown, life-sized wolves and dragons and anything you could imagine.

This group of fur-suited fans has been the victim of negative media attacks for the past 10 years. Dr. Plante credits this to things such as an episode of "CSI" that depicted the fandom in an incorrect light and gave the general public misconceptions of furries as freaks with a serious fetish.

Plante is involved with the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, which conducts research of the furries and the fandom in general during conventions such as Anthrocon. These people work to research just how different these people are from fans of anything, particularly anime and fantasy sports fans.

“When we compare furries to sport fans, we’re a in sense asking the question: what’s the difference between a sort of accepted, mainstream fan group, and a more fringe or eccentric fan group?” said Plante.

In the research text "'By the Numbers': Comparing Furries and Related Fandoms," provided to Pittsburgh's Action News 4 by Plante, various statistics are provided to prove this fandom is as sane as the average Pittsburgher. The research was mostly conducted at various furry conventions, including Anthrocon. Online surveys were distributed to the fandom via email with a passcode as well.

According to the team's research, only about 6 percent of furries reported having some form of anxiety disorder. That includes social anxiety. In the general population (those who do not identify themselves as furry), that number sits at 30 percent.

Also, participants in a survey at the Anthrocon convention in 2013 who more strongly identified themselves as furries scored higher on a self-esteem scale. They are described as having "stronger feelings of significance in the world and events around them, an increased understanding (or impending understanding), and sharper/heightened cognitive abilities."

According to this research, furries as a whole are well-educated, with approximately 70 percent of furries reporting some form of completed or in-progress post-secondary education.

A large percentage of furries have a fursona, a definition Plante was happy to explain.

“An anthropomorphic animal representation of the self,” said Plante. “It’s sort of the character or the avatar you use to interact with the other members of the furry fandom.”

An avatar seems to be an accurate description, as only 15 percent of furries actually own a full fur suit, and most communicate with each other in the online universe. These younger furries often have trouble with finances when it comes to creating or purchasing a fur suit or traveling to conventions.

“More often than not, the vast majority of furries will create versions of themselves, fursonas that are like them but better versions of themselves,” said Plante. “So, when we ask people, ‘Describe your fursona,’ they say ‘Oh, my fursona’s a lot like me, but it’s a more outgoing, better, attractive, funnier, more playful version of me.'”

“Very few people say ,‘Oh, my fursona’s a jerk!’”

Developing a fursona and using it either online or at conventions like Anthrocon seem to be beneficial to those participating in the fandom personally. The team Plante is involved with has researched that as well.

“What we’re thinking is that if I’m a very shy person, but my fursona is much more outgoing, much more confident, well, if I spend two or three or four years interacting with other people as a more outgoing, extroverted, confident, funny version of myself, over time, I will start changing as well,” Plante explained.

Evidence suggests furries may have a better-developed, more stable sense of identity than non-furries. So if attending a convention with others like you is going to change you for the better, why not give it a shot, if that’s what you enjoy doing?

Pittsburgh has always been a welcoming, accepting city for this fandom, and here’s to hoping it continues for this year’s Anthrocon. If you happen to see one of these NORMAL people in incredible costumes walking the streets of Pittsburgh, don’t be afraid to say hello. It’s beneficial to all of us to learn from those with different interests than us.
14:12

(Negative) Orange Is The New Black S03E7

Quick definition of Furries and Bronies.

June 24 2015

03:34

Re: RIP: Doug Winger

I'm sorry to hear that. i'd always wanted to meet him and scout
00:31

VIDEO: An Inside Look at the Furries in Their Natural Habitat!



The furry subculture has a certain connotation in popular culture for their, ahem, mating habits. But not much beyond this small facet of this vast culture is widely known.

We here at the Weekly enlisted the help of the world's leading television naturalist, Figgy Dobbs, to enlighten us beyond the Bloodhound Gang level of knowledge of this fascinating culture. Mr. Dobbs witnessed these creatures from afar at one of the country's largest furry conventions, located right here in Irvine.

He featured it in the latest episode of his nature documentary for us all to get a closer look of the elusive furry. Let's take a look.

June 23 2015

23:23

Who are the furries, these strange creatures half-man half-lint? (hahahaha)


Qui sont les furries, ces étranges créatures mi-hommes mi-peluches ?

http://www.telerama.fr/sortir/qui-sont-les-furries-ces-etranges-creatures-mi-hommes-mi-peluches,128210.php


These anthropomorphism fans who think they are bisounours subject of a documentary currently visible to the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, where they will be present Sunday in flesh and hair. Deciphering the phenomenon "furry" by the filmmakers.

It is not always easy to identify. Some are content to display the image of an anthropomorphic animal on their Facebook pages. Other running around with cat ears or a fox's tail. Others, finally, practice "fursuit" - complete disguise - and attempt excursions to the public space to the delight of children who, seeing those big tumble doggies and other vixens of space, take them for mascots Disney.

These are the "furries" (or "furs" or "fur" in French): an underground community born in the 1980s that grew wider with the emergence of the Internet. Present in the United States, Canada and Europe (1), furries have opted for an alternative existence by identifying with a totem animal. At major international gatherings, waddle away from humming "I want to be cat" Pow Wow group, they organize parties frenzied backdrop of electro music.




Alain Della Negra Artists and Kaori Kinoshita followed these strange creatures where they are most numerous and most active: the United States. From this meeting was born a disturbing documentary, The Lair (2009). The latter is currently presented to the Modern Art Museum of Paris under Asides the exhibition, which offers young artists to exhibit one of their works, along with some selected pieces from the museum collection. Alain Della Negra and Kaori Kinoshita, who organize Sunday, June 21 a meeting with the public, in the presence of some representatives of the furry community, returning to the phenomenon.

How to become a furry?

There motivations and lifestyles very different. What unites them is the attraction to anthropomorphic animals or simply to their representations. Some strongly identify with their totem animal, others are more attracted to the "furry art". Thus, the first action of a furry is the "commission" passed with a furry artist, responsible for shaping the "fursona," or character, described by Sponsor. On this basis, furries create themselves or make their costumes make them, again, by a specialized artist. However, only 20% wear a "fursuit" or full suit, which also is quite expensive (starting at several hundred dollars). Most so wear some accessories like earrings or a necklace ... In the US, they are "thoroughly" and also more freedom: some will even work with their tails!

Are the Furies artists?

They are all amateurs, drawings, especially manga and comics. Among the artists, there are stars, odds ... and even auctions that are organized in the "conventions", the name given to international gatherings of furries. There is a crude art side and outsider who were very interested us. Maybe we discovered Henry Darger, like the man who draws only mermaids with incredible mythology around it.

How is this community appeared?

With the development of internet, as early as 1980. The first role models were cartoons like King Leo, from the manga of Osamu Tezuka (aired in the 1960s, Ed) or Robin Hood (which dates from 1973 and where malicious fox portrays the hero, Ed). We have discovered by chance via the virtual world Second Life, we had invested in the framework of our previous documentary (The cat, the reverend and the slave, 2010, Ed). There was a lot of avatars with animal heads: it was furries! Second Life is out of fashion, but they are very active on social networks, forums and discuss their even have a specialized Wikipedia (WikiFur).

Are left this approach?

It was long. Furries are very suspicious of the media. They regret that the whole community will be presented as obsessed and plusophile (sexually attracted lint, Ed). The issue of sexuality is very sensitive. When we wanted to go to the largest gathering of the furry world, Anthrocon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they were stung by an episode of the TV series Crime Scene Investigation. We decided to go incognito, with furries we knew, the idea of ​​filming did they. But it was quickly grilled, because they had bought rabbit ears in the corner of the costume shop, because we did not have the attitude. The way to play a character, the itches that last 10 minutes ... We looked lost. Fortunately, when they knew, they accepted us and we were able to do a lot of interviews.

These are plants in your documentary. The voice of the furries is the only one that can hear and immersion is quite disturbing. Was that the objective?
We see people who seem perfectly normal to talk about them so incredible, as animals. But when they describe their pet, fursona, they still talk about them. This can evoke a psychoanalysis, this way of recognizing its weaknesses, to question the construction of identity. What interests us is the disorder that exists between reality and fiction. And how the viewer will be located relative to it.



Hospitalities. Meet the authors of the documentary The Lair, Sunday, June 21 at Museum of Modern Art, in the presence of some members of the furry community, from 10 am. More information .
As part of a coach tour organized on 21 June by the TRAM - contemporary art network of Île-de-France, which places different cultural rally on the occasion of the 5th edition of hospitalities.





19:25

Re: Furry Census

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/r-i-p-top-10-failed-social-media-sites/57554/ >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> HTH >>>>>> >>>>> Myspace is still trying to come back. don't ask me why. i never >>>>> touched friendster or digg but i still see digg icons here and >>>>> there. >>>> Theres probably a web

June 18 2015

20:28

Furries in the Squamish Chief

Two mentions of furries in The Squamish Chief newspaper (of Squamish, British Columbia, Canada), highlighting the need for fursuiters to think carefully when interacting with the public...


First, in the Police Briefs section of June 4:
http://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/police-briefs-1.1957645

Suspicious activity

Two adults dressed in “furry” fox costumes were approaching young children at Stan Clarke Park on Friday, May 29, police report. When one of the characters offered a young girl a piggyback ride, the mother of the girl became uncomfortable and took her daughter away, according to police. She reported the incident to police the next day.

Police say suspicious activities such as this should be reported to police as soon as possible.


And a follow-up reply letter in the June 17 edition:
http://www.squamishchief.com/opinion/letters/letter-furries-nothing-to-fear-1.1971452

LETTER: "Furries" nothing to fear

To the concerned parent(s): Regarding the “suspicious activity by two adults dressed in furry fox costumes” approaching young children at Stan Clarke Park on Friday, May 29, my friend and I were the furry mascots in the park.

We were enjoying a fun day walking amongst the public, up and down Cleveland Avenue, in our costumes. We had our pictures taken with numerous people on Cleveland Avenue and at Stan Clarke Park. Two police officers approached us to have their photos taken with us at Stan Clarke Park.

I grew up in Squamish and am now a university student. There are many others like me who enjoy wearing our custom-made furry costumes in public and attending conventions and parades and other activities.

We mean no harm to the public and certainly not to children. In fact, small children get a kick out of us and were doing so on Friday.

We were at all times in full view of the childrens’ parents.

I can understand any parent’s concern for the safety of his or her child; had one of those parents approached us directly to say they were uncomfortable with what we were doing, we would have moved on immediately. No one did. In fact, the kids were all having a great time. As far as we could tell, so were their parents.

I’m sorry if our actions that day made anyone feel uncomfortable. That was not our intention.

Felix (Alex) McEachran

Squamish


June 04 2015

23:58

Call of the wild: Local Furries say they are misunderstood


Dated June 4, here is an article in Minnesota's Star Tribune newspaper:

http://www.startribune.com/call-of-the-wild-local-furries-say-they-are-misunderstood/306002911/

The article describes the wedding of local furries Kelly "Aurora Star" McLaughlin and Joey "Lucky Pup" Mullen, which was attended by several other furries (including some full fursuiters).


Call of the wild: Local Furries say they are misunderstood
Wolves and bunnies and dragons, oh, my! Furries find community in costume.

Beneath a tree at the edge of the woods, Kelly McLaughlin looked out at the loved ones who had gathered here for her wedding.

Interspersed among her family and friends stood a black and white wolf, a red and blue winged dragon and some jungle cats. Near her side, a bridesmaid was bedecked not in a gown, but in the costume of a fantastical fuzzy creature with a spiky tail. Hairy purple ears peeked out from McLaughlin’s bridal veil. Her beloved Joey Mullen’s tri-color tail rustled in a pre-storm breeze.

This love story was not one of sci-fi or Greek mythology. McLaughlin and Mullen are just two members of a local contingent of furries, a subculture of creative, and often misunderstood, animal lovers who had come together, some in costume, for the group’s annual picnic in St. Paul.

The Minnesota chapter of furries regularly draws 100 or more members to events, but organizers say there are many more people across the country who partake in the fandom, or community.

“Think of geek fandoms ­— animé, steampunk, sci-fi, ‘Star Wars,’ ” said Matt Hibbard, MNFurs president and human alter ego of Aerak, a wolf. “This is anthropomorphic animals.”

Ever been to a comic book convention, or even a “Mad Men” party? People dress up as their favorite characters all the time. The difference with furries is that these fans of cute creatures create their own characters rather than turn to the pages of a comic or to a TV show. Many of them draw or write whole back stories.

Only about a quarter of the group’s members dress up in character, Hibbard said. For one thing, the cost of a full “fursuit” can be prohibitive (starting at $1,000 or more). Plus, the fursuits can be hot and uncomfortable (small fans inside the foam-padded heads can help). Many furries, therefore, will come only with a tail tied onto a belt, or fuzzy slippers that resemble paws, or headbands topped with perky ears.

The species run the gamut: everything from lovable back-yard bunnies to mythical dragons and unicorns. Then there are the animals heretofore unheard of in nature or literature, with coats of hot pink or Cookie Monster blue, a rainbow tail or wings on land creatures that have never flown.

Many furries say they realized early on that they had a connection with animals, and it sometimes alienated them until they found online or in-person communities.

Collin O’Connor, MNFurs secretary, had a rough childhood, and “the one thing that had always called to me was the animal world,” he said. “Animals always went through challenges and overcame. I would think, ‘Why can’t I overcome, too?’ ”

He learned about the spiritual side of animals in American Indian faiths, how some represented courage and strength, “and that really clicked with me.” At 16, he discovered a Twin Cities area community of people who felt about animals the way he did. He went to a meeting.

“I got up there, and I was like, ‘I found people like me,’ ” he said. “These were people who understood me, and I felt accepted for the first time.”

O’Connor doesn’t outfit himself as the creature he’s created — a dragon named Ridayah. But costuming helps some furries express themselves in ways they couldn’t in everyday clothes.

Andy Laub, who was suited up at the picnic as a “deer with a little bit of raccoon thrown in” named Ringer, gave his character qualities he wished he had in himself: “more outgoing, able to have a better time and less inhibited,” he said.

“The nice thing about that,” Laub said, “is that once you start portraying the part, you start to become that way outside of the suit.”

Furries’ bad rap

Public gatherings in costume can be a spectacle. Traffic on the road alongside the picnic slowed as rubberneckers rolled past a meadow full of human-sized cartoon creatures.

Furries tend to use that visual attention to do some good. The local chapter, which was recently granted nonprofit status, volunteers each year at the Como Zoo Boo, marches in the Winter Carnival parade and helps out at animal shelters to find adoptive families. Hibbard even starred, as his wolf, in a closed-circuit television show broadcast at St. Paul Children’s Hospital.

Furries say it’s about being social — meeting people with similar interests and helping brighten other people’s days. They recoil at the idea, put forth on a 2003 episode of “CSI,” that it is a sexual fetish.

“This suit will never be used for anything other than being outside, having fun,” said Kristian Johnson, who was outfitted as an Australian sugar glider named Agave that looked like the cute little skunk from “Bambi.”

The idea that all furries are doing something taboo was perpetuated in news media reports last fall, when a Chicago hotel was evacuated during a furry convention because of a chlorine gas attack. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski walked off the set laughing during a news segment about the incident.

“People are uncomfortable about things they don’t understand,” said picnicker Dave Engle, who was robed in black, carried a staff and wore the head of a villainous-looking crow named Xiouo.

Furries say those misconceptions damage their reputations and create a hurtful stigma that can follow them into their day-to-day lives. Two furries at the picnic asked that their last names not be used because they worried that being associated with the fandom would affect their career prospects as a law enforcement officer and a pilot.

Kristin C., whose family ran an animal rescue in Dakota County, always had an affinity for animals. In the red, yellow and orange suit of Banana, a “winged fox corgi,” she said she tries to keep her personal life separate from her professional life. “Going into a [police] department, [being known as a furry] can cause problems, because they can question what you are doing,” she said. “When I interview, I want to interview based on my merit.”

But Keith E., a pilot now based in Maine, whose alter ego is a fox named Vulan, admitted it’s not just because of “CSI” that outsiders might bristle at the activity. “This is weird,” he said. “The reason I think people push it way out is because we are already on the edge.”

Frolicking and Frisbee

On the meadows and under the trees at Hidden Falls Regional Park, the picnic’s activities were innocent. Furries in and out of costume grilled burgers, threw a Frisbee, played Hacky Sack and horsed around the same as any other group of friends might. A couple of them brought their kids. As for contact, they did hug a lot. But who wouldn’t want to hug a 6-foot bunny?

The wedding couple decided to forego full suits of fur, which would have precluded them from speaking their vows audibly and exchanging rings. Ears and tails were their versions of a gown and tux.

The ceremony was quick. McLaughlin, aka Aurora Star (part wolf, part husky), and Mullen, aka Lucky Pup (a fox-wolf), each read, from a slip of paper, the standard vows ending with “till death do us part.”

Then the officiant, who identifies as a gray house cat named Lady Amethyst, pronounced the couple husband and wife. The audience applauded, and the furry animals danced and cheered.

As far as weddings go, said McLaughlin, this one was “something different.”

May 22 2015

14:07

Rochester FurryCon 2015 begins: Furries say they're misunderstood



Dated May 21, here is an article on syracuse.com, the website of The Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York:

http://www.syracuse.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/05/rochester_furrycon_2015_begins_furries_say_theyre_misunderstood.html

The article discusses this weekend's FurryCon, and includes interviews with attendees Hoth and Zeigler.


ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Today is the first day of FurryCon, the only anthropomorphic convention for furry fandom in New York state.

Rochester's annual five-day event unites hundreds of people who identify as "furries." They create their own characters based on favorite animals, then spend the weekend socializing, dancing and attending panels in character, sometimes in costume.

Furry fandom gets a bad rap, thanks to a string of kinky magazine stories and a "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" episode. Furries are well-aware of their public perception. They readily refuse interviews. All press are barred from FurryCon 2015.

Two furries agreed to chat for this story on the condition we don't use their names. We used their "fursonas."

Hoth, a furry from Central New York, will attend FurryCon this year. She says her fursona, an arctic fox, is very personal.

"Your character is what you feel you'd be like if you were an animal or anthropomorphic being, or a fantasy character of what you wish you were like," she said. "I don't walk around thinking, 'I'm a fox!'"

Zeigler, a communications professional from Skokie, Ill., has attended Midwest FurFest near Chicago three times and Anthrocon (founded in Albany) in Pittsburgh twice. His fursona is a jaguar.

"I don't believe my character is my true self, trapped in a human body," said Zeigler, 27. "It's an avatar, a way to represent myself in an artistic medium."

Furry beginnings

Historically, modern furry fandom splintered off the sci-fi cons of the 1980s, but people have been humanizing animals in art and literature for centuries.

Look at Anubis in Ancient Egyptian art or the coyote in Native American myths. Look at modern fairy tales, like Goldilocks and the three bears. Consider Disney's portrayal of Robin Hood as a fox. Aslan. Barney. Big Bird. They're all entry points into the fandom.

Conceptually, furries are pure science fiction. It's a draw for creative individuals. Many furries are artists or writers. But they're also bankers, teachers and business professionals.

Zeigler describes furry fandom as the bottom of the massive nerd totem pole. You've got your Whovians, your Harry Potterheads, Whedonites, Twi-hards and so on. Then you've got your furries.

"We're the people the Trekkies look down on," Zeigler said. "For a long time we've been the punching bags for the entire nerd hierarchy, but it takes a certain self-confidence to take that degree of wild mockery."

Furry fandom isn't a monoculture. Both Hoth and Zeigler can't speak for the masses, but they shared what they believe are the major misconceptions of furry fandom.
5 misconceptions of furry fandom

Misconception #1: Furry fandom = fetish

Let's address the elephant in the room, pun intended.

"The stereotype in the minds of those outside the fandom is that furries participate in one big, plushy orgy," Zeigler said.

He and Hoth blame that reputation on the "highly distorted" portrayal of furries in that 2003 CSI episode. The episode, titled "Fur and Loathing," depicted furries as sexual deviants detached from reality. Perverts in plush.

"It was hilariously inaccurate and it was seen by millions of people," he said. "That stupid CSI episode probably runs somewhere every single day."

In 2010, Skaneateles native and filmmaker Curt Pehrson attended the Midwest Furfest to make a documentary called "Furries: An Inside Look." (See it below.)

Pehrson interviewed several furries for the documentary and learned many reporters would focus on the fandom as some kind of kinky outlet.

"It makes furries very defensive," said Pehrson. "Some people will say they're sexually attracted to animals, and that's absurd. "It's like saying someone who likes horseback riding is sexually attracted to horses."

In any large group of people, particularly young people, surely a few would be inclined to experiment sexually? Hoth says some people do go to conventions with the goal of having a sexual experience.

"I don't really know how they operate at a con, because that's not my goal while I'm there," Hoth said. "Any fandom has weirdos, but they're typically the minority."

Zeigler hasn't met any.

"The idea of conventions as orgies is a complete myth," Zeigler said. "People have sex. The huge lie is that it's prevalent in costume."

Zeigler says the entire concept became taboo in furry communities because it's how they've been defined in popular imagination.

"It's been wildly damaging to the fandom's public image," he said.
Furries-2010-2.jpgFurries attend the Midwest FurFest in 2010.Curt Pehrson | Video still from "Furries: An Inside Look"

Misconception #2: All furries dress up like animals

Don't get furries confused with fursuiters.

A furry is anyone playing an anthropomorphic animal character, but a fursuiter is anyone who dresses like that character.

"So many people think furries all have a big, cartoony suit," Zeigler said. "Most people don't."

At conventions, he says maybe 10 or 15 percent will wear a partial costume: a furry glove, head, paw or tail. Others may look completely normal.

Hoth doesn't own a fursuit. They're expensive, ranging from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

"I'm big into the role-playing part of the fandom," she said. "The suits do cost a lot and I have different priorities right now."

Misconception #3: Furries dress like animals to shock people

Zeigler spent many years without a suit. He decided he wanted a suit after borrowing one and wearing it on a golf course.

"There were all these seniors there who loved it," he said. "We created a story for somebody to tell at dinner that night. It was so much fun to be part of that."

For him, it's about making memories. This year, he felt financially secure enough to buy a handmade jaguar suit. It will cost him $3,800.

"I went with one of the best," he said. "But I know a guy who spent $15,000 on a handwoven suit from a Hollywood special effects company."

At the biggest furry conventions, you'll find the highest-end suits. Some furries get light-up eyes, moving jaws or padding to make them look muscular.

"Some people find it intrinsically creepy and that's fine," Zeigler said. "They judge based on quarter truths, rampant misinformation and their own sense of discomfort with the entire concept."

Misconception #4: Furries are always in character

At conventions, furries are especially indulgent in their characters, so Zeigler says first-time attendees often assume this is how furries always act.

"People think furries live their entire lives in their suits," he said. "This doesn't define our entire existence. We have day jobs and 98 percent of our lives is doing perfectly normal things."

Most furries have to be working professionals, Zeigler said, because active fandom costs money. Attending a convention can cost $500 for one weekend.

Some furries legitimately identify more as animal than human, but it's just a fantasy hobby for Zeigler.

"If it's preventing you into being a contributing member of society, you're doing it wrong," he said.

Pehrson said some people take on characters as a hobby, while some use it as escapism, perhaps to address their own social anxieties.

"It's a creative outlet for some people," he said. "Maybe it's a bit weird but it's not hurting anyone."

Misconception #5: Furries try to convert people

Pehrson thinks this stereotype is ridiculous.

"I think furries are nice people and will invite people to come along, but it's not proselytization," he said.

Zeigler says furry fandom tends to go wrong when fans try to convince people it's normal, when people aren't mentally prepared to accept it.

"You have to acknowledge the quirkiness," he said. "But is it that much odder than a guy who puts on cheesehead and pays $500 to sit in the freezing cold and scream at the Vikings? We accept that as a standard in American culture. It's a matter of perspective."

No one egged him on to join. Zeigler first encountered furry culture as a teen. Someone in his class regularly wore a tail in high school. He later started dating a girl who was part of the fandom.

"I started going to conventions and met the most wonderful people," Zeigler said. "I was kicking myself for not joining 8-9 years ago."

Now he regularly plays golf, poker and softball with friends he made at furry conventions and meetups.

"It was the best thing that ever happened for my social life and overall being," he said.

FurryCon runs from Thursday, May 21 through Monday, May 25 in Rochester.

May 15 2015

01:29

When Edmonton’s Furry Scene Parties, They Party Hard


http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/when-edmontons-furry-scene-parties-they-party-hard


I'm standing next to a man in a fox costume in a hotel room at Edmonton's Ramada Inn. The room is cramped because of a beer pong table. We need to make three cups in a row, or else we lose the game to the wolf and sabre-tooth tiger across from us. I sink the first cup, my partner sinks the second. It was now or never. I take a breath, line up the cup, and shoot. I miss. The chupacabra across from me grabs a bottle of rum and pours me a strong drink. I cheers my foxy friend and slam it.

I don't know what I expected to find when I decided to attend Fur-Eh, Edmonton's premiere Furry convention, last weekend.

It certainly wasn't this.

Fur-Eh is a convention that caters to the furry subculture/fandom. The fandom is made up of people who enjoy anthropomorphic animals—animals with human characteristics. This usually takes the form of a character that the furry creates. It doesn't matter what creature it is as long as it is unique to the creator. Over the duration of the weekend I saw dogs, dragons, cats, and some creatures that the creators must have made up themselves. Visually, it was stunning.

Not all members of this fandom dress up. Only 20 percent actually own a suit, most likely due to the fact that a full suit is damn expensive. Typically, a suit can run over a few thousand dollars. So to mediate this, some furries just wear tails, some just ears, but they almost all had something on that signified them as a furry. It's not too far separated from what you would see at a typical comic con, just instead of dressing up as a character someone else created you are dressing up as your own.

Their characters, known as "fursonas," vary in extremes much like their creators. Throughout a con, you won't see one suit identical to another. There exists stereotypes within the factions of the fandom in something known as "speciesism."

"Because foxes are more popular I guess they get a lot of the hate, but they are known for being really into sexual stuff. So are otters, who are known for being really submissive," one attendee, a cat, told me. "People that dress up as dragons are known to being really ego minded because they're dragons right? Like, what's crazier than a dragon? It's the most intense creature. The stereotype probably draws you to your fursona."

I asked him what it meant to dress as a cat.

"Cats are just jerks," he said with a laugh. "We think everyone is here for us."

People outside the subculture often assume that there is a sexually deviant aspect to the fandom. This perception can be traced back to popular media which in the past has portrayed the subculture as being solely populated with sexually deviant members. I asked two dogs, a fox, and a deer, why they thought the subculture got such a bum rap and almost all of them got a scornful look on their face and said something along the lines of "Fucking CSI, man... fucking CSI."

There have been numerous offenders that have sensationalized and painted this subculture as deviant but none cut as deep as CSI. The crime show ran an episode in 2003 entitled "Fur and Loathing" that focused on the fandom. It's an episode that still haunts the fandom over a decade later. In it, the heroes investigate the murder of a man in a racoon suit. Not only is the plot ridiculously dumb, the final twist is that a man mistook the man in a fur suit for a coyote and shot him. But it completely gets the fandom wrong. The episode portrays furries as a group that will essentially get together and just fuck each other in their fursuits, in a full-out, weird-ass orgy.

I asked several furries about this practice—which I now know is called "yiffing."

"Sure, that happens. In every group you'll find weird sex things," one attendee who went by the name Rave Fox told me. "But that's like one percent of the people and honestly it would wreck the suit.

"Do you know how much these things cost?"

I heard rumblings that some people actually had specially made suits with holes in them, but I was unable to find a single person at the convention who had one.

Rave Fox and I had to cut our conversation short because DJ Recca was playing, and Rave Fox had to be there.

DJ Recca is a well-known furry DJ, who has played a lot of large cons and has a rather large following. It was a big deal that he played a small con like Fur-Eh. The Seattle-based wolf made his way up to Edmonton for the festivities and was doing a surprise set. Rave Fox said that this wasn't an event to miss. He was right.

Across the floor were probably 100 furries—some in suits and some not—while Recca stood behind the board with his fur suit half on. There were wolves dancing with dragons, huskies dancing with sabretooth cats, and everything in between. One furry, a dragon-eagle hybrid I think, had lights sewn into the wings of the costume so he or she lit up the dance floor. I took a drink of Rave Fox's Everclear and orange juice mix and joined in.

It was surreal. It was weird. It was a ton of fun.

Rave Fox is a popufur—a popular furry—and after the dance concluded he told me that he will show me exactly what a conference is about for a young furry—the people and the party.

I show up the next night, and Rave Fox comes up to me in full regalia.

"Fuck yeah buddy, let's get liquored."

Rave was pretty far gone at this point so I headed up to the lounge to catch up. While there, a group of furries invited me to sit with them.

Fur-Eh is a small conference, so the majority of these people know each other merely through online conversations. The fandom is one with a massive online community and that is where the majority of these people meet. This event is one of the only opportunities they have to get together in person, giving it a high school reunion feel. People were sharing drinks and catching up. That's what this table felt like—just a bunch of old friends getting together. The point of conversation was in regards to furry sexuality. As it turns out, a disproportionate amount of furries identify as gay or bi: some numbers report 25 percent and some even go as high as 50 percent. The majority of the men around the table were gay, and one told me that the furry convention is just like any other big party—some people are there to get laid.

"A lot of people just report on the innocence of fur cons. The innocence is real, we all love being part of a thing, everyone does," one told me. "Some of us here just love to get fucked. I love to fuck!

"Not everyone is here just to fuck each other, but some of us are."

Now, he was a little hyperbolic when he told me this, but he assured me that there was a lot of human, non-furry, sex occurring at this conference between the attendees.

I finished my drinks with these guys and headed back to the dance. DJ Recca wasn't playing that night, so the turnout wasn't as impressive as the night before. I spot Rave drinking his Everclear and orange juice through his furry head just outside.

"If you're in fursuit you've gotta have your liquor," he laughed.

"You gotta stay hydrated," his girlfriend, also in fursuit, chimed in.

They told me that tonight the dance isn't the place to be—the place to be is the room parties—and they invited me up to play some beer pong. We headed on up to DJ Recca's room. He and his roommate love themselves some beer pong so they brought a table up from Seattle with them. Rave and I challenged Recca and his roommate Mix. Their friend in the corner, Pickles, was feeding us caesars with horse radish the whole time. Rave and I played on a team together and eventually lost, meaning we had to drink another full drink in addition to what we did during the game. Pickles then slammed the rest of the Kraken from the bottle.

These furries could drink.

With Pickles in mid chug, the door flung open, and a loud guy sporting a tail walked in. He was muscular and looked like he would fit in more at a gym then a furry convention. He was something I never thought I would encounter, a furry bro. (A Brofur?)

His name was Shady. Shady was a sabretooth tiger. Shady was awesome. Shady and I drank a lot together.

Shady

Our group grew to around 15 as we wandered the halls of the hotel. It was past 2 AM, so everything was shut down, but that didn't stop us. We shared several bottles of booze between us, swigging straight from the bottle. At one point an extremely hammered wolf, who is also a welder from Ponoka, stumbled into one of the Ramada's little indoor gardens and couldn't get up. After we all recovered from our laughter we pulled the wolf up. While we were doing this, Shady turned to me and told me about how varied the group was.

"That's the beauty of it. I'm a mechanic, she works for the government in the states, and we're rooming with an engineer," Shady told me. "That's how different it gets. He makes shit; I fix it, and she tells lies about my shit. You go on any business trip that's what you're going to see. People having fun. At a furry fandom convention, you can't get more real than this. This is people from the heart having fun. You can't fake that. You can walk into any group, and they are still going to treat me as friendly."

He pointed at the headless lounge, the room where furries go to take their heads off and relax.

"Whoever comes out of that door is honest. We're all honest."

Furries sharing mushrooms and clamato juice, because they do not fuck around

As the night wound down we ended up sitting in the abandoned lounge together and started chatting. I found out that one of the furries in our rank, Violet Jake, a Husky, came from Fort Saskatchewan, my hometown. We were only a year apart and knew a lot of the same people. In fact, we weren't much different at all. The only major difference was that he liked to have a character and spend time, when he can, with others that do, too. In the end, that's all that it was. These people aren't weird or deviant by any means. They just have an interest and act out on that interest. Some people like sports and go to hockey games. This group likes this fandom and going to cons. That's it.

Rave, sitting next to me, stretched out on his chair, took a swig of the Sailor Jerry rum that was making the rounds, and looked at me.

"Man, why the fuck aren't you a furry?"

And by the end of discussion, we decided that if I was a furry, I would be a sabretooth, just like my boy Shady.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.


May 07 2015

23:44

Summer Attractions Expected To Bring In $40 Mil To Pittsburgh

A video report on CBS Pittsburgh, about the various groups that will be using Pittsburgh for their gatherings this year:

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/05/07/summer-attractions-expected-to-bring-in-40-mil-to-pittsburgh/

The furries are mentioned, albeit very briefly.

April 24 2015

04:41

Cyanide & Happiness

Just remembered to post this here

http://explosm.net/comics/3901/

April 23 2015

17:42

BBC World Service: "Why do we project our emotions onto animals?"

The BBC World Service has released a four-minute audio clip featuring interviews with two furries.

The clip is from an 18-minute podcast about anthropomorphism, "Animals Are Us?"; an episode of "The Why Factor", a programme exploring "the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions".

Flayrah has a transcript and background on how the interviews came about. The full episode will be broadcast internationally in 24 hours, with repeats through Monday.
17:20

Meet the Club: The furries


Here, dated April 20, is a brief article in The Washtenaw Voice, the student newspaper of Washtenaw Community College (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA):

http://www.washtenawvoice.com/2015/04/20/meet-the-club-the-furries/

The article contains interviews with local furries Andrew Cook, Wesley "Alister" Wafter-Turner, and Matthew Gleason.



By ERIN FEDESON
Contributor

Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse are well-beloved cartoon characters seen on TV and in movies, but few might know that they are known as “anthropomorphic animal characters.”

Anthropomorphic characters, while not being human, act as humans and share physical attributes with humans that their animal counterparts do not have.

A fan of anthropomorphic characters is known as a furry, Andrew Cook, of Chelsea, explained.

Every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m., Cook meets with fellow furries in TI 116 for the Furry Club where they do crafts or play games, like Cards Against Humanity.

“I thought (the club) wouldn’t go, but it had gone further than I expected,” Wesley Wafter-Turner, the club’s president, explained.

Wafter-Turner founded the club in the 2014 winter semester because he wanted a place for furries to meet and where others can learn more about the fandom. The club now has about 10 members, Wafter-Turner said.

Some furry members identified themselves as a character based on their personality, Cook explained.

The character is known as a “fursona,” a furry persona, according to Wafter-Turner.

“It’s a way of expressing yourself,” Wafter-Turner said. His fursona is a red wolf named Alister. Wafter-Turner identifies with the wolf’s pack mentality and leadership qualities.

A fursona can also be a hybrid, as Matthew Gleason, a 32-year-old WCC student in the automotive program, has a tiger-husky fursona.

Gleason grew up with Disney and other anthropomorphic animal characters, which is where his interest started.

“I always view animals as being more human than most humans,” Gleason said. He explained that when someone adopts a pet from the shelter and brings it home, the pet is more accepting of a person than a human that is not related.

April 17 2015

01:58

Growing community of ‘furries’ finds acceptance on campus


Dated April 16, here is an article in the online "College" section of USA Today :

http://college.usatoday.com/2015/04/16/growing-community-of-furries-finds-acceptance-on-campus/

The article has interviews with furries Cory Grube and Chris "Kalahari" Evans, with additional material from Samuel "Uncle Kage" Conway.


In his free time, Cory Grube likes to do what every other college student likes to do: go out with friends, see a movie, try a new restaurant and — on occasion — don a giant homemade snow leopard suit and wander around downtown State College, Pa.

“A lot of times I’ll just like to put that on and go wander around downtown, usually late at night on the weekends or something when there are a lot of drunk people around,” he says. “It’s just fun to pretend to be something that you’re not or that you can’t physically be. Like a giant snow leopard.”
Corey

And he’s not alone. Grube, a senior studying chemical engineering at Pennsylvania State University, is part of the growing community of “furries,” or people who enjoy dressing up as — or simply just admiring — anthropomorphic animal characters. Furries develop “personas,” a kind of alter-ego based on an animal of their choosing, with names such as “Razgriz” or “Fenrari.” They then often share their characters with people by creating online profiles or attending various fandom conventions around the world.

In the past, some have associated furry fandom with fetishized, criminal or bizarre activities. But for most, being a furry is simply a way of getting involved in a somewhat offbeat art scene.

“I think it’s the furries that get out in the spotlight and do these outrageous things that give everyone else a bad wrap and kind of keep the community hidden away for fear of public ridicule,” says Chris Evans, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Georgia (UGA). “What really sparked my interest was the artistic community, that there was this incredible amount of creativity and it didn’t seem like other fandoms. I hadn’t drawn artwork in years and this gave me the initiative to start up again. I felt like I had a place that I could express myself and be heard again.”

Evans’ persona is a fox named Kalahari, which he says was a natural choice for him since foxes are “intelligent, quick, slight-of-build and rely on their minds more than their physical strength.” Although he doesn’t have a fur suit, he sometimes wears a foxtail in public. Despite recent attacks on furry conventions in the U.S., he says he hasn’t yet experienced any kind of discrimination, something he attributes to the accepting mindset of UGA and Athens, Ga.

“I’ve been able to wear a foxtail out to the supermarket on a couple of occasions … and people gave some looks, but I never noticed any negativity and the kids really seemed to love it,” Evans says.

According to WikiFur, a popular website for furries, the fandom most likely has its roots in the 1980s, when anthropomorphic cartoons and anime characters first began to gain widespread popularity at conventions. With the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, Grube says furry culture took off with the Millennial generation — something that is increasingly evidence on college campuses.

“I’d say the reason that it’s really getting so big predominantly in college-aged students is the fact that the Internet kind of started really evolving when these people were kids, so that’s when they got introduced to it,” he says. “A lot of people are starting to hit that college age and coming into campus knowing that they’re interested in it, and now they have — with Facebook and lots of other social media online — ways to connect with the people at these campuses.”

Grube says he first became interested in furry fandom in high school while playing online games and chatting in forums dedicated to cartoon characters. When he got to campus, he immediately joined the close-knit group Penn State Furries — something he says was one of the best decisions of his college career.

“It’s really been a great experience to make long-lasting friends … there’s just a great experience of community here and it’s really been something that’s kept me motivated to stay involved,” Grube says. “When I’m in my suit, I’ll be hanging around downtown and I’ll just get lots of people cheering, come give me a high-five, get a picture with me. There’s really next to no backlash anymore. That’s kind of a thing of the past at this point.”

And that community is growing across the country.

At Anthrocon, the largest convention for anthropomorphic animal lovers in the world, more than 6,000 furries are expected to be present this year — the biggest turnout in the event’s 18-year history. Despite common misconceptions about what it means to be a furry, Anthrocon chairman Samuel Conway says no one person that attends the event is the same.

“The misconception is that we’re all fat, 45-year-old virgins who live in our mothers’ basements. I am none of the above,” says Conway, who holds a Ph.D in chemistry from Dartmouth College and works in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. “No particular kind of person is the kind to attend Anthrocon. Anyone out there with the depth of imagination to picture a cartoon animal is pretty much welcome.”

Furries that attend the convention often dress up in giant costumes that depict their animal persona, and participate in dance competitions, a large art show and dealer’s rooms with a variety of cartoonish paraphernalia. But Conway says what really makes furries different from other fandoms such as Star Trek or anime lies in their innate creativity.

“That is what sets us off — we are creators, we’re not consumers. All the other fandoms are consumers of something that studio has turned out, that a writer has turned out,” he says. “All of the other fandoms, they can point to a TV show, to a movie, to a book and say ‘This is what we’re all about.’ But furries, what we’re all about, it’s very personal — it’s a mystery to the outside world.”

Why be a furry? Conway says the answer is simple.

“Basically walking, talking animals is what we’re all about,” he says. “Why? Because it’s fun — why the heck not?”

April 10 2015

15:22

Freedom in Fur


Dated March 24, here is an article in the Star Observer , a free tabloid and online newspaper that caters to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and intersex communities in the eastern States of Australia:

http://www.starobserver.com.au/features/community/freedom-in-fur/134400

The article interviews Melbourne fursuiter Matt "Makoh" Sim.


If you ask someone what they know about furries, a very specific but probably inaccurate image usually comes to mind. Benjamin Riley spoke to one member of Australia's fast-growing furry fandom about misconceptions, community, and how dressing up as an anthropomorphic cartoon animal can be the most liberating thing in the world.

OVER a couple of drinks after work in a beer garden in Melbourne’s Collingwood neighbourhood, Matt Sim explained the origins of his character, Makoh.

“I sometimes find myself being awkward or shy — this character would be outgoing and very social,” he said.

“He has a lithe build — I’m not fat, but I’m bigger than the character would be. He’s very friendly, where I can be a bit dickish at times.

“It’s how I would envisage myself as the perfect me. Even if I think of the perfect me as a human, it’s how I would transfer that over to a character. That’s what a lot of people think — it’s what they would be if they could be anything. That’s what I would be if I could be anything.”

Makoh is an African wild dog. He is both a character, and Sim himself. Makoh is Sim’s “fursona” — who Sim becomes when he puts on the $4000, custom-made suit that allows him to act out this idealised version of himself.

Sim belongs to Australia’s burgeoning furry community. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what it means to be a part of that community, but for the most part it revolves around dressing up as and having appreciation for anthropomorphic cartoon animals. Far from the image of middle-aged men dressing up like mascots to have sex, it seems that within some loose thematic boundaries, furry fandom can look like almost anything.

“To me, furry is a very broad topic,” Sim said.

“There’s the people who dress up, there’s the artists who draw artwork, which often the characters are designed off of to make the fur suits, and then there’s writers who write fan fiction, and people like myself who appreciate all of this.”

For Sim, furry is a hobby, and a community based around that hobby.

He’s 23 now, and he’s been living in Melbourne since moving here from Dunedin in New Zealand a few years back. Sim first got into furry when he was 16, through online chat rooms. He bought his Makoh fursuit less than a year ago, so most of his involvement in the community has been as an admirer. He explained that, largely due to the costs of a good quality fursuit, only a minority of people in the community are what’s called “fursuiters”.

As a concept, Sim’s fursona Makoh is only a couple of years old.

“I talked with my friend who’s an artist, and we sat down and formed this design of my character,” he said.

“I tried to encompass features of myself, but it’s also an ideal I have, this ideal character that I would like to be if I was in that position… both personality and physically.”

Once Sim was happy with the design, he got in touch with a well-known American fursuit maker who goes by ByCats4Cats (he’s since branched out into other animals) to have Makoh created. Between manufacturing and shipping the suit from the US to Melbourne, it cost Sim around $4000 AUD. He could have paid a lot less (though even a cheap fursuit will set you back around $1000), but Sim explained the best quality fursuits are highly prized in the community.

“There’s definitely people out there who do them cheaper, but those are often the people that aren’t as well-known,” he said.

“There’s the renown factor, the quality and the look of it… It costs so much because there’s so much patchwork in it.”

There aren’t a lot of people wearing suits at most “furmeets”, though there are usually specific events organised for fursuiters.

The furry community is now a huge part of Sim’s life, and knowing people online meant furries were the only people he knew when he moved to Australia. He said the majority of his friends are furries, including his boyfriend.

That’s another thing: the community is really gay. Sim estimates that in Melbourne, the community is around 70 per cent male, and most of those men (as well as most of the women in the community) aren’t straight. Sim said it goes hand-in-hand with the shy, awkward archetype of the furry fan. Furry fandom is both a haven for outcasts and a space to try being something different.

“It definitely helped me when I was younger to come into my own as a gay male,” Sim argued.

“It’s a very open community. There’s no ‘off-limits’ to just chat about, I find. Furries tend to be happy to talk about sexuality like it’s not a big deal.”

Sim was happy to discuss the subject of sexuality and furry fandom. He wants people to understand the community better, especially given the many misconceptions about furries. He said most wouldn’t even talk to a journalist about it, after a wave of mainstream media coverage a while back painted the community as completely sex-obsessed. Some media coverage of furry fandom has even drawn a connection between furry fandom and bestiality, which Sim vehemently rejected as both offensive and untrue.

Sim said most fursuiters would never have sex in the suit (known as “yiffing”) — their exorbitant cost is a good incentive to keep them clean.

“I won’t deny that there are some people that do that — denying that’s just stupid because it happens,” he said.

“It can be a very sexual thing for some people. It can be a completely non-sexual thing for others.”

Although only a small minority of furries have sex in the suits, furry fandom can be sexual in other ways. Sim said it’s common for people in the community to commission sexualised “pin-ups” of their characters, or just straight-up illustrations of their fursona having sex with another fursona.

“An artist generally won’t draw something without both parties saying, ‘hey, I want this drawn’,” Sim explained.

“It’s reasonably common, surprisingly, for people to have artwork drawn of say, them fucking each other. But that doesn’t mean that anything would actually happen between those two people, it’s just the characters.”

After years spent admiring fursuits, Sim remembers what it was like the first time he went to a furry event as Makoh.

“I didn’t really know how to act. I felt slightly awkward at first, before I started to come into my own in it, because it’s a very interesting feeling being inside that fursuit… you overheat very quickly, and your vision is limited. But once that went away, it felt really liberating,” he said.

“It’s an interesting feeling when everyone finds you cute. Suddenly everyone wants your attention, everyone wants to be around you, everyone wants pictures with you, everyone compliments you. It feels good. I won’t lie, the attention is a good feeling. I have always lacked that in myself — I have never felt overly attractive.

“In some ways it feels fake, or that they just like what’s on the outside of you, but at the same time, it still feels nice.”

Sim believes being Makoh has changed how he feels in his everyday life, outside the suit.

“I feel like a normal, confident person since I got Makoh,” he said.

“It’s made me feel more confident in myself, more confident in my own appearance, my own personality. I think I act a bit more outgoing. It’s in some ways changed me into that more ideal self that I thought of when I created Makoh. It’s liberating.”

April 03 2015

19:53

West Windsor shuts down Twin 'W' Rescue Squad after agreement goes unsigned


This article

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/03/west_windsors_twin_w_rescue_squad_shut_down_after.html

on the New Jersey news site nj.com, deals with the shutting down of West Windsor's Twin "W" Rescue Squad. Towards the end of the article, the (alleged) inappropriate activity at the 2012 NJ FurBQ is mentioned, as it was held on the squad premises.

April 02 2015

10:52

Free to Be Furry? Group Fights to Wear Animal Costumes in Burlington


c/o Mwalimu on Flayrah, here is an article, dated April 1, in Vermont's Seven Days newspaper:

http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/free-to-be-furry-group-fights-to-wear-animal-costumes-in-burlington/Content?oid=2546940


Jessica Owens is 32 years old, lives in Milton and works as a secretary. On a rainy night last week, she agreed to meet at Wicked Wings in Essex Junction. She showed up in a black sweatshirt, but on a different day, might have been dressed in her custom-made corgi suit.

Owens is part of a subculture of people called "furries" who are passionate about anthropomorphized cartoon animals. Conventions across the country attract thousands; many come wearing bespoke hirsute costumes.

Joined at the restaurant by two fellow furries — her husband, Jonathan, and a friend, Rob — Owens explained the particulars of furry culture with the rehearsed manner of someone used to dispelling misconceptions.

No, they don't actually believe they are animals. Yes, they do cultivate "fursonas." Owens explained that she chose a race-car-driving corgi named Rally as hers partly because she shares the breed's outgoing and assertive personality.

"I'm her codriver," her husband chimed in. The 36-year-old, who delivers appliances for a living, identifies as Ahzlon, a black panther with blue hair.

The trio belongs to the Vermont Furs club, which has been around since the early 2000s and has a membership that fluctuates between 20 and 40 people. The local furries get together at bowling alleys and pool halls — sometimes in suits, other times not — and look for opportunities to entertain at events such as charity walks and Christmas-tree lightings.

"We're just here to put smiles on people's faces," Owens said.

Not everyone has been so charmed. In fact, some city authorities seem a little freaked out.

Two months ago, Owens and 11 other furries joined the crowds at Burlington's annual Mardi Gras celebration. Decked out in green, gold and purple beads like the rest of the partygoers, the seven of them in costume high-fived little kids and posed with people in a photo booth on Church Street.

After about an hour and a half, a Church Street Marketplace rep confronted the group outside the mall and requested that they remove their animal heads, because they didn't have permission to perform on Church Street.

Why were they being singled out, the furries wanted to know, when the streets were teeming with other strangely dressed revelers?

"It's just different," was the response, Owens said.

Offended, the group walked into an alley, where they removed their masks, or "broke the magic" as they describe it. Later, the Vermont Furs filed a formal complaint with the city, calling the incident an act of "blatant discrimination."

The Church Street Marketplace, which regulates the street, issues permits to people who want to busk on the brick promenade. To make the cut, street performers must audition in front of marketplace staff and pass a background check. Vermont Furs had a permit, but it expired at the end of last year. When Owens tried to renew it in January, she was told she couldn't yet because the permit system was getting revamped.

As bidden, the Vermont Furs had stayed off Church Street. They showed up at Mardi Gras because they didn't think they'd be breaking any rules.

Ron Redmond is the executive director of the marketplace. Asked about the incident, his response was simple: Google "Elmo" and "Times Square."

The first result was a New York Post story headlined "Elmo in Handcuffs After Times Square Bust." A woman wearing an Elmo suit had been arrested for aggressive panhandling. Elmo wasn't the only character to act out. In June, two different Spider-Man look-alikes were taken into custody on charges of groping and assaulting women. A Cookie Monster allegedly shoved a child and ... you get the idea.

Redmond's point: Fear of the big, fluffy creatures isn't totally irrational. He stressed that marketplace staff have a responsibility to the public to keep the pedestrian mall safe, which requires vetting all performers. "It's become a national issue where, in some cities, people dress up in these outfits and aren't necessarily doing it to connect with children," he explained.

The Vermont Furs club is a different breed than the panhandling denizens of Times Square. The former belong to a tradition that dates back at least to the 1980s and grew out of science-fiction and anime fandoms. When out in public, they abide by certain rules. They're always accompanied by a non-costumed "handler," and they bend down rather than tower over small children so as not to intimidate them. Owens emphatically pointed out that they never accept cash.

"We're just like other fandoms except we're cuter, furrier and we do it for free," she said.

It hasn't helped the cause that several stories have linked furries to plushophilia — an attraction to stuffed animals — and other sexual fetishes. "It's a stigma we've dealt with for a very, very long time," Owens said. "As with any fandom, regardless if you're 'Star Trek' fans, My Little Pony fans, those romantic themes are out there." For Vermont Furs, and for the majority of furries, Owens continued, sex has nothing to do with it.

"We know they are really, genuinely good people," Redmond said of the Vermont Furs. Pointing out that the marketplace sometimes hires high school students to dress up as Frosty the Snowman or other characters, he stressed that they've got nothing against costumed creatures per se. Regarding the Mardi Gras situation, he admitted, "I'm not sure if that was the right move."

In Redmond's opinion, furries don't really fit the street-performer category, which puts them in a regulatory gray area. "It's an interesting and complex issue," he noted.

Even before the furry quandary, the marketplace had decided to revisit its street-performer system in response to complaints from "our more successful street performers," Redmond said. Under the current arrangement, he estimates that roughly 95 percent of people pass their auditions. As a result, an abundance of performers crowd the street, sometimes creating sonic overload. The likely solution: more rigorous auditions.

Church Street is the commercial lifeblood of Burlington, and its custodians are understandably concerned about preserving its charm. But some residents have criticized several recent policies — a smoking ban and a no-trespass ordinance allowing police officers to ban unruly people from the promenade — as overzealous attempts to sanitize the place. For some, raising the bar for street performers could carry the same whiff of elitism. How will those in charge address the concern? "It's a great question. I don't know the answer, but we've got to find the answer," Redmond said.

If there's a stricter audition process, will the furries — whose repertoire consists of high-fives rather than fancy tricks — make the cut?

Redmond said the marketplace is committed to carving out space for them; they just need some time to figure it out. One solution, he suggested, would be to give registered furries a badge or a pin with Church Street insignia showing that they've cleared the same background checks street performers undergo.

In the meantime, the Vermont Furs members are frustrated. Places like Essex Junction have welcomed them with open arms, but "at this point, the entire city of Burlington is off-limits to us."

The problem is not just on Church Street. For years, furries did their thing in Burlington, undisturbed, amusing people at events such as the weekly farmers market in City Hall Park. But last summer, a police officer notified one of them that the city of Burlington's mask ordinance forbade that kind of attire. Perplexed, Owens went in person to the police department.

She found out Queen City regulations favor the underdressed over the overdressed. It's perfectly legal to parade around in the buff, but Burlington prohibits anyone over 21 from wearing a mask in public. The ban dates back to the days of the Ku Klux Klan, according to the Vermont Historical Society. In 1924, the hate group burned crosses on Lake Champlain's breakwater, and city officials passed the ordinance to prevent anything similar. The police department continues to enforce the ban, largely because people often wear masks when committing crimes.

"I'm, like, OK, well how does the didgeridoo guy with the cat mask get away with it?" Owens remembers asking a police officer, referring to a man she'd seen on Church Street.

The officer explained the street-performer permit system, and Owens later got one for the group.

Deputy police chief Bruce Bovat said he wasn't familiar with the incident — or the furries. He noted that officers only apply the ordinance within reason. But Bovat declined to weigh in on whether the ordinance should apply to furries — "I'm wary to put something out there that's so black-and-white."

For the Owenses, being furry is a social thing. The couple has traveled to conventions, and they love being a part of the community.

Their friend, Rob, has never been to one. The 35-year-old auto parts salesman and backyard mechanic was quieter than his two companions. He's been a furry since age 15, but he didn't want to be identified because he's never told his family and doubts it would go over well.

Rob doesn't have a suit, but he's refurbished an old Ford Escort to resemble his fursona — a zebra with white stripes on black named Zytx. "I am terribly shy. Just coming down here tonight I got the shakes," he admitted, raising his hands to demonstrate. His fursona and his friends in Vermont Furs force him out of his shell.

The Owens talked about hosting a convention that even Rob would attend — one right here in Burlington. They already have a name: Green Mountain Fur Con.

But given the current situation, they know that for now, it's just a fantasy.

March 16 2015

02:01

MMMM! Teresa Giudice guinea prison pussy! Slurp! Slurp!

You know she's getting that pussy worked over day and night.
01:30

Will Teresa Giudice learn to lick tuna in federal prison?

Tastes like freedom? Teresa Giudice's last pre-prison meal wasn't a fancy, three-course dinner with expensive wine pairings and expertly prepared gourmet cuisine. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to her attorney, James J. Leonard Jr., the Real Housewives of New Jersey star had a little t
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