Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: Performance

Cultural Appropriation in Fandom – guest post by Akhetnu.

by Patch O'Furr

Guest post submitted by Akhetnu.

Anubis_standingFurry is a unique exploration and interpretation of the human experience, warts and all, through the lens of animals both real and fantastic.  Many of these creatures are unique to certain parts of the world, especially the imaginary ones that form part of the mythological archetypes of the cultures other than our own.  When it comes to looking at humanity, we also tend to investigate these various cultures as they existed and continue to exist throughout time. 

As a result, there are many fursuits, fursonas and furry art of beings such as dragons from East Asia adorned in silk kimono, wolves dressed as Navajo warriors, and raptors wearing uniforms of the imperial Prussian army (that was a shameless plug for myself, incidentally).  Still others may adopt a small piece of a cultural artifact such as a ying-yang symbol, Alpaca poncho, or a Chinese character tattoo.  Furries may even refer to their fursonas as ‘totems’, at least if that concept is in the popular consciousness of their society.   

Many of these furries are not themselves descendants of the cultures portrayed on their fursonas or suits.  This had led to concerns over cultural appropriation, which is believed by many to be problematic in that is dehumanizes the people of other cultures and robs them of their own identities, as and hence is thought to represent Western white oppression of minorities. 

An example in the real world was at Yale University where a letter was circulated urging students not to adopt Halloween costumes portraying other cultures, as it was allegedly harmful to others of those cultures.  An art exhibit wherein people could try on the kimono used in a painting by Monet was shut down after protests accusing the art gallery of cultural appropriation.  A Columbian student in Canada was told not to wear his own Columbian poncho and hat for Halloween, not because it was him culturally appropriating (can you appropriate from yourself?) but because other students may have mistaken it for such.

Read the rest of this entry »

What will the National Mascot Hall of Fame mean for furries? – Part 3 of mascot series.

by Patch O'Furr

A three part series:

1) The beginning of mascots and fursuiting.
2) Fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
3) The National Mascot Hall of Fame.

mascot-hall-of-fameMascot art, business, culture, and a Hall of Fame to celebrate it all.

Let’s peer into the strange, distant futureworld of 2017.

How much respect do mascots get?  It’s kind of a stereotype that they deserve mocking and noogies from jocks.  Some would say that enjoying mascots too much is like loving the sauce while ignoring the main course.  They might consider it ridiculous to give sole focus for celebration of mascots.

Now there’s a whole institution for that.  The Mascot Hall of Fame was founded by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic from 1978-1993. It’s been around since 2005 in online-only form.  Now it’s getting a 25,000 square-foot building in Whiting, Indiana. (With the crowd capacity of this place, imagine a jock giving noogies to so many thousands of mascot lovers- his arms would fall off.) Read the rest of this entry »

When fursuits cross with sports, ‘Stupid Costume Enthusiasts’ go big – Part 2 of mascot series.

by Patch O'Furr

OIL_8042

Edmonton Oil Kings hockey halftime show, January 2015.

A three part series:

1) The beginning of mascots and fursuiting.
2) Fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
3) The National Mascot Hall of Fame.

Good examples of fursuiting crossover with pro sports.

I have to admit not knowing a lot about commercial mascotting.  But here’s some quick comparison with the amateur hobby kind.  At Amazing-Mascots.com, you can get a feel for how major teams and companies commission the pro makers.

Amazing Mascots is a company with a 15,000 foot warehouse, and a team of seasoned professionals boasting decades of mascotting and designing experience. They quote multiplied prices ($4000-12,000) compared to costume makers inside fandom.

Our own fursuit makers charge as little as $2000 and typically do it from a craft room at home.  But their craft often beats the pros, doesn’t it?  They do it for love as much as money.  So value their skills and personal relationships with them, and give them love back.

On to the examples of how hobbyists are reaching the level of pros…

Wolf mascot for Moscow’s Dynamo hockey team – made in 2013 by Mixedcandy.

Even if the Dynamo NHL team was in the USA – I wouldn’t know anything about them. But I would know the work of Mixedcandy. There must be an interesting story about how they commissioned this and why.  I wouldn’t expect a pro team to approach a hobby community just to save a couple grand!  (Pic: LatinVixen on FurAffinity.  More at the Dynamo Instagram page.) 

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 3.37.46 PMwolf

Read the rest of this entry »

Exciting times are coming for fursuiting, pro sports, and The National Mascot Hall Of Fame.

by Patch O'Furr

The National Mascot Hall of Fame is coming in 2017.  This mainstream event might deserve attention from furries. Will hobby costumers indirectly benefit from the millions of investment and hype?

Sci-fi costuming and mascots probably developed separately. But some fursuiting is showing up in pro sports. Anthrocon had the San Diego Chicken as Guest Of Honor.  A mascot was a viral sensation of the 2015 Super Bowl.  Can we look forward to more crossover?  Is this part of mainstreaming furries, with stuff like Disney’s Zootopia?

A three part series:

1) The beginning of mascots and fursuiting.
2) Fursuiting crossover with pro sports.
3) The National Mascot Hall of Fame.

I have to admit that sports isn’t my thing.  Ritualistically chasing a stuffed spheroid doesn’t set my curiosity on fire. Whenever I see a sportsball game, it seems quite possible, even unavoidable that one of the teams or the other is going to win.  What’s the big deal?

However, even if the physical spectacle isn’t my thing, I can at least admire the ideals of positive team competition, and strength and bravery.

In ancient times, feats of strength were amazing.  Muscle helped you to build shelter to protect you from hungry lions or the angry gods.  Bravery in the hunt was amazing too.  It was better to feed the tribe with antelope steaks than with bugs and berries.

But in modern times, you don’t need strength for that stuff.  Use a forklift or order a pizza.  Physical feats don’t impress me as much as they should.

Calvinball

Of course, I’ll take an invite to hang out with sports-loving friends if there’s beers and chatting.  I have nothing against a good spectacle or playing outside.  I just have different priorities.

I like creative and intellectual pursuits that help us evolve beyond the stone age, or even the silicon age – towards whatever comes next.  (Like maybe a Mad Max future, where the most popular sport is watching cyborgs with chainsaw arms do gladiator battle.)

Mascots are fun and creative. I like their designs and how they act.  Let’s talk about what they mean and where they came from.  Plug your brain into the matrix, and let me take you back to the Pre-Furry Past… and beyond the horizon of time, to the incomprehensibly distant futureworld of 2017.

Read the rest of this entry »

It was so much fun to be in an outrageous Rap CD and a live comedy show!

by Patch O'Furr

You never know what Halloween will bring in San Francisco.  You can tour an Erotic Haunted House based on “Dante’s Inferno”, at a landmark castle (used as a BDSM porn studio), full of circus performers ready to give an amazing show.  That’s Hell In The Armory.  It’s the only place around that has great job opportunities for evil masturbating clowns.  I guess it’s a living in a dog-eat-dog economy, where workplaces are literally Hell.

It’s part of San Francisco’s lively scene of subcultural circus theater, avant-cabaret, and burlesque, that crosses over with comedy and music.  If you’re bold enough to get a taste – soon you might be throwing your own ingredients into this strange, sexy mix of alternative media and shows.

That’s how I ended up in this rap video, wearing bling and drinking from the potty like a happy puppy dog.  There’s no excuse, it just tasted so refreshing… Mmm!  Here’s the story of MC Crumbsnatcher and his Nerdcore comedy rap with furries. (The naughty potty part is at 3:09). NSFW:

Now I’m inside the CD.  Thanks, Crumby for this super classy opportunity.

It's actually a guy in a toilet suit - a Pottysona.

Actually a guy dancing in a potty suit – a Toiletsona.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Furries For Kids” has a mission to join charities for clowns who help hospital patients.

by Patch O'Furr

Here’s more about a previous Newsdump item.  (To read non-English links, try Google translate.)

“Furries For Kids” comes from the German/Austrian community. It has a goal to set up a legitimate charity with fursuiters, like “Clown Care” (a program to bring the healing power of laughter to hospitals).  Here’s the website for their philanthropic organization.

Who laughs, does not cry. This is the motto for Europe’s first, unique anthropomorphic “Kuschelzoo” (petting zoo?) for visiting care centers and homes for kids and needy people.  The affected people, especially kids in institutions, should be supported by costume performances with joy and laughter to get rid of negative feelings. Laughter is therapeutic and promotes positive energy, and a sense of hope that’s important to process emotional wounds.  Our appearances are voluntary and unpaid, to benefit individuals as well as the institutions.  Our organization funds its work largely through annual member dues, donations, sponsorships and small hired engagements.  Of course, our cuddly characters can also sometimes be found in public places like parks, museums, plazas, and anywhere they can make people happy and put smiles on your face.”

There’s an Austrian Furry news blog!  I asked the owner, Mailylion, to share more:

“I’d like to give you some further directions about “Furries For Kids”. First of all, there has been an article about the organization inside the “Eurofurence Daily”… a newspaper that is handed out to all attendees at the con.

Read the rest of this entry »

Theatrical Panto-animals, Part 3: History book reviews by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

These “Panto-animal” history articles share a discovery of amazing proto-Furry happenings, in an overlooked era of Pantomime theater in Victorian Britain.  Stunning photos show why the topic is worth uncovering.  From those scarce records, a handful of actor names stood out with wide publication in their time for “animal impersonation”.  They were not necessarily playing specific “fursonas”, a difference from Furries today – but they earn fan author Phil Geusz’s general label, “paleo-furry.” Charles Lauri was mentioned in Part 1 – and Fred Conquest in Part 2.

51R-RcAYq6LFred Patten reviews the Conquest biography, loaned by the LA public library.

The best Pantomime theater actors seemed highly diverse in their talents.  That only included a small amount of animal costuming, although a few like Fred Conquest specialized in that.   This biography was reviewed in hopes of picking out scarce Panto-animal details, which have been forgotten by time, because very little was ever printed about them.

This Amazon.co.uk review of the book earned a quote in Part 2:

Now that it has become respectable to admit enjoying popular entertainment, the story of the Conquest family deserves to be better known. They were one of those colourful theatrical dynasties who flourished from Victorian times until well into the twentieth century. Many of them were actors who, between them, took on everything from Shakespeare to pantomime; my favourite was the one who played the animals or “skin” roles.

Fred did find amazing costuming stories, even if most of it wasn’t of the animal kind.  These shows must have been incredible spectacles, the “big budget movie” productions of their time.  I’m very sad I couldn’t find any illustration for the giant floating demon head! Let Fred explain more. ( -Patch)

Conquest: The Story of a Theatre Family, by Frances Fleetwood; W. H. Allen, 1953; 282 pages.

(Fred:) The book includes many illustrations, both photographs of actors, and reproductions of 19th century engravings of fantastic stage plays of acrobatic actors in grotesque costumes cavorting about.  The plays included many scenes of fairies and demons flying above the stage on wires, and there are many accounts of wires and ropes breaking and actors being seriously injured. Read the rest of this entry »

Theatrical Panto-animals, Part 2: Feedback, history and sources roundup.

by Patch O'Furr

Update to Part 1:  “If there was a Museum of Furry, theatrical “Panto-Animals” would be a major exhibit.

My first Panto-animal history article shared a discovery of amazing proto-Furry happenings, in an overlooked era of Pantomime theater in Victorian Britain.  Stunning photos show why the topic is worth uncovering.  From these scarce records, a handful of actor names stood out with wide publication in their time for “animal impersonation”.  Charles Lauri was covered in Part 1 – and here is Fred Conquest:

FredConquestHubbard2

Pantomime plays were popular entertainment, considered beneath the “high arts” realm of British theater.  They were not treated as equally worthy to record or remember, so these photos are all the more special because of it.  These pre-movie live happenings seem forgotten today, compared to the era of cinema that came shortly afterwards – where popular artists like Charlie Chaplin (the first international movie star) gained high respect as subjects to study and remember.

In our time, popular culture has gained respect it never had.  What used to be “nerd culture” is now the biggest Hollywood industry.  The tiny niche of Furries is one of few areas still looked down on, but that seems to be changing as it grows.  I think it’s a great time to rediscover and connect old, forgotten traditions such as Panto-Animal performance – what esteemed Furry fan author Phil Geusz calls “paleo-furry.”

Read the rest of this entry »

If there was a Museum of Furry, theatrical “Panto-Animals” would be a major exhibit.

by Patch O'Furr

IN THIS ARTICLE: Don’t miss the story of Charles Lauri, a famed “animal impersonator” who thrilled the stages of Victorian London, but is little known today. The story of his acting skill, uncovered from an 1893 magazine, could be an inspiration for fursuiters everywhere.

15038897804_834fc833e6_oMany people are familiar with a unique team costume for Halloween – the Pantomime horse, that takes two people to play it.  Like a tandem bike, it makes an interesting buddy situation.  This jogs a vague memory from when I was very young, of a 1960’s Flintstones cartoon with Fred and Barney in such a costume.  It may have been a dinosaur, or a false memory, but the silly situation must have happened in old comedies to the point of cliche. TVtropes has it under Animal Anthropomorphism tropes.

If you (like me) had no idea what Pantomime meant until just now, let’s start to learn.  The old-fashioned costuming seems like a traditional kind of activity, more social than commercial.  I had an impression of something belonging to the age of door-to-door Christmas caroling, that may be fading away.

Or is it?  In 2013, a Panto Horse race broke a Guinness World Record for most runners (42 teams.)  And, since this is a Furry blog, you know I’m connecting this topic to you and your thriving subculture.  (Imagine that race happening at a con! It would be an easy record to break.)  I’m happy to learn that such fun exists… check out The London Pantomime Horse Race:  a “fantastically silly”, “must-see event.”

This isn’t about Halloween, or silly races.  There’s much more to it.  The spark for this article was randomly running across 100-year-old photos of theatrical animal costumes.  They made me do a double-take – did some fursuiter have a time machine!?  They were incredibly well crafted, and made me very curious.  I wondered why they were made so well, and for what purpose?  They were fursuits- many generations before there was such a thing as Furries!  I thought the topic had a lot of potential.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thoughts from the winner of the record-setting $11,575 fursuit auction.

by Patch O'Furr

1428626149.twilightsaint_dsc09619What a price for a fursuit!  On 2/14/15, furries saw their highest auction ever.  It was only a few months after the previous record (I wonder how long this one will last?)

While $11,575 is amazing, I don’t think it should cause drama… some people spend much more money on cars for a hobby.  Hollywood effects costuming can add another zero on the price.  I often argue that higher prices make creativity easier for artists, and art patrons benefit the art form.

There was a lot of notice for my article about the February auction.  Furbuy (host) and Phoenixwolf (maker) commented, but it took a while to reach the buyer, Twilightsaint. We finally connected.

I asked Twilightsaint:

“There was controversy about the auction reaching $14,000 with non legit bids. So perhaps it was a hard contest, and you had luck to win the suit. Do you think it ended up fairly?  How did you feel to win? Art value is very subjective of course – is there any reason it’s worth so much to you? Has there been any other drama?”

Twilightsaint says: Read the rest of this entry »