Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Tag: costuming

Meet Robert Hill: Artist, performer, and history’s first sexy fursuiter.

by Patch O'Furr

Come my pelted pals, gather around… and look back to the distant, dusty past Before Furry Cons.  A time when seeing a sexy “fursuit crush” in public was as unimaginable as looking at them on a phone in your pocket. (A phone with the brightness dialed all the way down, of course.)

It was the 1980’s, when apparently everything was written by eye-blasting lasers with no dial-down button, so wear your raddest shades:

Let’s meet a pioneer. It’s not a label anyone chooses, but what else do you call the first fursuiter at the first furry convention? (ConFurence 0… actually a test before the first one). And they weren’t just a generic cute thing you could see at Disneyland, but a *look away kids!* pleather-clad dominatrix deer. Schwing!

Astonishing vintage VHS footage of this Bigfoot-like creature was unearthed by Changa Lion, archivist for the Prancing Skiltaire (the furry house run by the founders of ConFurence in Southern California.) When Changa posted Hilda’s 1989 con video to Youtube, it went viral outside of fandom (with over 75,000 views to date). Then he found an even earlier one that few have seen until now.

In a way, these are like the Declaration of Sex-Positive Furry Independence. (Obligatory disclaimer for subscribers to the squeaky-clean side of fandom: that’s just one kind of furry, not all of them.)

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FUTURE FURSUITING: furry’s most original creations and the rise of tech-enabled smart suits.

by Patch O'Furr

The most original creations of furry fandom.

Here’s a fun feature about the future.  But first, let me make a bold claim about fursuiting.

Male-Peacock-displayingMascots and costuming have been around forever. But furries are doing something new. They don’t just play with generic icons from myths and media. They add original fursonas and custom craft for everyone. It makes a subculture with personal expression beyond anything else.

Of course, many furs don’t have (or want) fursuits.  But the ones who do make a photogenic face of fandom. Other groups do art and writing like this one, but I don’t think anyone else does costuming in such a specialized and devoted way.  So there’s nothing wrong with the way the fursuiters stand out.  Everything else is imagination – they bring it to life and help to define the tactile name of “furry”.  And the quality is developing beyond anything you can buy commercially.  Some dedicated makers now have careers by fans, for fans, leading a Furry Economy with an exciting future.  Look forward to amazing things.

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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.”

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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 »

Interview series: Movie directors, animators, artists, event builders, superfans, and more.

by Patch O'Furr

Creators and Doers make a subculture thrive. Whether they build it from grassroots – or feed it from outside with stuff that furries like – they have valuable words to say.  I didn’t plan to build a collection of interviews – it grew naturally from one. It will get updated often.  Let’s start with a great top example:

Michel Gagne is one of the giants of the animation world. You may have seen his work on movies for Don Bluth, Warner, Pixar, and more. He was Guest of Honor at Anthrocon 2004. In 2012, Kickstarter backers pledged $57,875 towards his own animated movie, The Saga of Rex. The result was a 4:00 teaser video, released in 2013 as progress towards producing the Rex movie.  What’s he up to since then?

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Mordrude’s Monster Manual hits funding goal, and aims higher.

by Patch O'Furr

What’s that I hear… a bunch of furries celebrating? Mordrude’s Monster Manual hit it’s goal this week.

Learn more in my previous story – A once-a-decade publishing event, for fursuit builders.

Why celebrate yet another crowdfunding plug? As my article mentioned, there aren’t a lot of permanent resources to promote the art of making fursuits. That gap has stayed open for a long time. There’s still only one formally published book: Critter Costuming. The subject is just so specialized, that it isn’t economical to publish to a fan market that’s small – but fiercely devoted. That devotion is what Mordrude brings. It’s a labor of love to publish a reference of low commercial value – but high, long-lasting benefit to suit-makers and their fans.

I agree with her description: it’s “a documentary book that will inspire costume builders for many years to come.”

Chance to pitch in ends on Friday, September 5. Here’s what Mordrude offers those who help now:

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A once-a-decade publishing event: “Mordrude’s Monster Manual”, for fursuit builders.

by Patch O'Furr

Enjoy a visit to Mordrude's gallery of suits - I'm quite partial to Totes McGoat!

Enjoy Mordrude’s suit gallery – I’m partial to Totes McGoat!

For many years, there’s only been one Fursuit-making book in formal printed form fit for a reference shelf. That’s Critter Costuming, by Adam “Nicodemus” Riggs. Since it came out in 2004, the art has really raised it’s bar. (I can’t believe how appealing all the fluffballs at the cons are!)

Flayrah shared reviews of Critter Costuming here. It was considered basic (though very usable), and suitable for an update. I’ve actually asked around about funding a new edition; Nicodemus is warm to it, but says he lacks time. It’s a usual reason that niche interests don’t easily sustain themselves… the book has modest demand, but couldn’t repay much investment. Making any such book is a labor of love.

Now, Furstarter reports a new costume-making book is up for crowdfunding – “Mordrude’s Monster Manual”.

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Renegade fursuiting is BEST fursuiting: chat with Sakura Fox – Part 3

by Patch O'Furr

sakura2
Continued from Part 1 and Part 2: Sakura fox tells more about “renegade fursuiting” in public. I’ve previously written about “Street fursuiting”. Sakura’s convention panels and journals about it are recommended reading (see bottom.)

Patch:
I think public suiting is way better for candid photos than conventions, because it’s outside of predictable space. I love seeing surprised bystanders, or people drawn into furriness for the first time! Do you end up with a lot of photos afterward? Do you get photos taken by people you bring, or find them from searching randomly on the web? Do you have a favorite photo moment?

Has media ever picked you as an attraction to highlight? (It seems to happen to our meets a lot when San Francisco furries do street fairs. Even just to add incidental color to a story.)

Sakura:
Agreed! Photos from public events are always very dynamic and full of surprise.
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Renegade fursuiting is BEST fursuiting: chat with Sakura Fox – Part 2

by Patch O'Furr

sakura3

Continued from Part 1: Sakura fox tells more about “renegade fursuiting” in public. I’ve previously written about those unique experiences of “Street fursuiting”. Sakura’s convention panels and journals about it are recommended reading (see bottom.)

Patch:
Your suiting tips practically scream “go do this”, to anyone who has a fursuit and is tempted to try public suiting but hasn’t yet dared. You give an impressive list of your local Texas-based places to try it, from shows to festivals to random neighborhood exploring. You even rate them from best to worst. It shows a lot of dedication! How often do you go? Can you say more about starting- was it just doing cons with others, making plans, or did the character naturally lead you out on your own?

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