Renegade fursuiting is BEST fursuiting: chat with Sakura Fox – Part 2

by Patch O'Furr


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.)

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?

We’re lucky enough to live in a city that’s weird and welcoming to street art and performance. Some places are well suited for random, public appearances, and some are very much not. I have very little fear of walking down the sidewalk in fursuit in Austin Texas, but I would never try it in Tomball Texas. Many people, though, might live in driving distance of a lively college town or artsy area that will have an event they could attend in fursuit.

That aside, don’t be afraid! If you’re comfortable and genuine, the public will love you. Coast to coast, I’ve found people to be delighted and entertained by seeing us march around in silly costumes. Tons of people will stop and ask for a picture. I’ve seen so many passersby catch sight of us and continue along their way with a huge smile on their face. Children point and laugh. Adults run up for hugs and ask tons of questions. A typical day becomes unexpectedly, adorably amusing.
I travel a lot for work, and brought my fursuit on a work trip one spring. I had the fortune of quickly meeting some very kind, fun people, and was able to costume in a public park. That first experience was terrifying and exhilarating, and couldn’t have been more magical and successful. After that, I started seeking and trying new events that might work well for renegade fursuiters.

We’re out in suit every weekend during some months. Hot Texas summer months and rainy months are a little slower.

Did you ever see yourself as a natural street performer, or have anything to do with it when you were a kid? Or did you grow into it by surprise?

I’m naturally an introvert in the sense that outward expression and interaction takes a great deal of energy from me. Before fursuiting I was very nervous about public speaking. I’m now much less reserved about standing before a crowd. My experiences are certainly not universal, but some may overcome some fear of public speaking through costume performance. It’s a matter of exposure, I suppose. Also, compared to wearing a fursuit in public, I feel practically invisible in normal clothes 😉

As a kid, I was pretty terrified by mascots. I never expected that I’d be one!

Let me toss out a lot of opinion. I’ve occasionally heard whispers that this kind of fursuiting is attention-whoring or show-offy. Well, I think it’s impossible to not be show-offy in a fursuit. It IS performance, it’s supposed to be! You can’t go dressed like an accountant for Proctor & Gamble. A friend of mine told me… people who put themselves out there earn the notice. It comes with sweat and dedication. Plus it’s not for money, just for love of it. (Let’s not forget a big thank-you credit for suit-makers.)

It’s true, suits ARE expenses not everyone can afford, but if that’s in reach, anyone can transform into an immersive character. It’s a great way to escape known roles. It’s understandable to keep reservations though. If your suit is so special you wouldn’t beat it up with street grime, that’s a good reason not to take it to the street. Having traumatic experiences can make you stick to safer places. It can take particular outgoingness. But I think the payoff is a mountain of hugs, photos, and smiles.

It’s brought me exhilarating confidence-building that burns off stress and insecurity, and benefits all kinds of things in life. From teaching, to public speaking or relationships. (Not many people know how much I feel changed from being down, beat-up and unhealthy in the past- they don’t know about this hobby helping, either.)

Do you have any thoughts about rewards you’ve found from it, or how it changes people?

The bird who sings outside your window is also an attention-whoring show off 😉

We’re plagued with a million stresses and concerns in life. Timelines, appointments, meetings, projects, goals, bills, problems, obligations… When I’m in a costume, interacting with the public, all of those things disappear for a wonderful moment in time. This is the same joy shared by anyone in a fully engrossing activity. Athletes, artists, musicians, gamers, spiritualists.. we find peace in things that steal us away from our worries for a bit.

Groggy fox and Sakura on a San Francisco cable car

Groggy fox and Sakura on a San Francisco cable car

Public fursuiting is somewhat disruptive and unquestionably attention-grabbing. I don’t perform in public for exclusively altruistic purposes, but we never ask for money, we respect people’s physical space, and we don’t do uncouth behavior. Surely there are some who find our activities to be a nuisance. My opinion differs from theirs, and that’s okay.

Public fursuiting puts yourself and your costume at a higher level of risk to be certain. It’s more risky than a convention, or wearing it in your bedroom.. but the reward is two-fold for me. First, sharing the wonderful creation of the suit-builder and your own outgoing personality and performance with those who haven’t seen such a thing before. People walk away with an unexpected smile, a memory, and maybe a discovery for themselves. And, I’m exhilarated as well. Mercury and I have shared things that I never could have imagined.

We’ve costumed in the biggest, most dense areas in the U.S… taken Manhattan subways and San Francisco cablecars in fursuit… and luckily never had a traumatic experience to speak of. There’s risk, but it’s only done with understanding, planning, and care.

More soon in part 3.

Sakura’s journals:

After the questions, Sakura added final comments…

A whole world of topics extend to those of us who are commissioning, traveling with, and performing in costumes. I will be doing some journals soon about spotters… fursuit design choices (White feet? bad idea for longevity. Weird colored paws? Good luck getting replacements when they wear out.) More types of cooling gear (water circulating shirts, fans)… how to logistically change in locations without a changing room (we have some techniques with the car that work well).

My goal with the Fursuiting Tips journals was to start outlining panel ideas and actually outline what could become chapters some day. With some time, there is a lot more to be said about those topics and more.

Further reading on Reddit: What places would be safe for public suiting? – (My #1 tip is planning how to handle drunk people.)

See also my previous article responding to Sakura’s journal – Fursuiting and copyright: an important issue for fandom.