The Furry House – a base for creativity and community.
by Patch O'Furr
Ever been to a furry house?
They don’t smell like barns or zoos, with shedding all over the place. But they are full of nerdy games and comics, fursuit parts, and framed animation and fursona commission art on the walls. Sometimes there’s art that might cause awkwardness during a pizza delivery or surprise visit from mom. But it’s not for them. It’s by and for fellow furries when they get together for meets, parties, art jams, and movie screenings as a community.
A furry house is a special place. It’s more immersive than activity by yourself. If you live there, you’ll never get PCD. It’s a dimensional crossroads where the limits of reality dissolve and you can be furry 24/7.
Bases for creativity.
Culture gains energy from physical bases. It’s hard to say what comes first – a gathering place, or an industry that produces what people want. Fandoms are one type that seem to form out of the air. They’re made by media before they materialize in space.
Look at the beginning of modern fandom. I’ve heard academic “aca-fans” say that it started with Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective got popular in 1887 with the growing business of cheap printed mass media (which gave birth to the modern art form of comics.) That history is for another time, but it’s useful to know how industry can lead culture. (I remember seeing Miyazaki’s Sherlock Hound on my first visit to a furry house in the mid-1990’s.)
On the opposite level from such big happenings, there’s cottage industry. That’s part of the subculture of furries, who aren’t exactly tied to large permanent spaces or industry. This fandom isn’t like ones led from the top. It’s more grassroots – look at the rise of fursuiting from home-based creation.
Houses that gather for an interest or ideal are hotbeds of creativity. It’s baked into their foundations. You can find it in back in 1960’s counterculture communities, punk houses and squats, and industrial live-work art spaces. (Those are in the news now because of a national purge on them, after the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland CA. It got attention here from one subculture to another).
Furry houses are part of why furries are special and different from other fandoms. They make me curious, because they’re very under the radar. They don’t advertise and if you’re not a fur you probably have no idea that they exist.
The beginning of furry spaces.
Do you know of any other fandoms that have their own houses?
I barely do, but there were some for old-school science fiction fandom. They had ‘Slan Shacks’ (named after classic novel Slan, by A. E. van Vogt, about a race of superbeings.) And they had clubhouses. In the late 1970’s those helped furry fandom to form. One of the roots was anime fan meets at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. (Fred Patten can tell you a lot about that.)
Furry grew with the 1980’s indie publishing boom. Cons began to support furs to gather for short events. Then things exploded with the internet. It enabled a niche to gather with freedom beyond small local areas and limited access to media. When they began share homes, many were in for keeps.
Those ones used to be looked down on as ‘lifestylers’. That seems like a fairly useless judgement now, after it’s grown to an international network of cons and members. Some can do fan stuff for a career. Others even partner up and make multiple generations together.
Furry houses now.
For some local groups, they’re like community centers. They’re all over the place, but the San Francisco Bay area (and the West Coast US) has more than I know of elsewhere. They can go from very informal roommate sharing, all the way to animal rescue sanctuaries, party venues, or even places with BDSM dungeons.
One is a platform for fursuiting that hosts monthly nights for DTD building. (You need at least 3 people to make a Duct Tape Dummy, and it helps if they are furs who know what that’s for.)
I can imagine one day having furs pitch in to support a 24/7 furry clubhouse – a place for a library, game nights, art jams, and projects like building parade floats. (I wonder where Australia’s Sydney furs built their LGBT Mardi Gras parade float? I’m told it took most of a year to plan and execute.)
How about a place to customize and keep a furry event truck (with art on the outside and a mobile fursuit lounge inside), with sound system included for the many street fairs and Burning Man events that Bay Area Furries love.
There is interest, and as fandom grows maybe there will be a critical mass to make it real.
So when does this post show you the inside stuff? Sorry, I don’t have the wherewithall to go visit and document a furry house at this time. (But check Tommy Bruce’s tour linked above.) I have a feeling that it would be better to hear from people who live in them.
Got any stories for the comments?
I lived in a furry house for a few years, and it was awesome. Not without typical youth roommate conflicts but you’re right about the lack of PCD because just about everyone who even visits is likely to be furry.
We did an episode partly on this back in our first season: Conventions and Community: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBDjlVbt7tg&t=1s
this house looks awful
It actually looks pretty clean and neat aside from the crafting supplies. What about it looks awful? Was it the people enjoying themselves and having fun in a non-oppressive atmosphere?
I think he might be joking and might live in one… or maybe just talking about the 1970’s avocado exterior 😛
I believe the paint job s less than two years old.
It is less than 2 years old and it looks brighter in the photo than it is. I tend to over saturate my photos.
Technically it’s mint green and it’s fairly recent. Mark is really into that whole “Arts and Crafts, Greene and Greene architecture. Not that we can achieve any of that stuff without a new house or a lot of money. Furs with money? HA!.
They cite Avocado Green in this 1970’s color palette article. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/design-flashback-the-colors-of-the-70s-179387
I’m a majorly terrible nerd for looking that up! And Avocado is not mint green. and there’s nothing wrong with mint. I am eating mint oreos as I type!
“I can imagine one day having furs pitch in to support a 24/7 furry clubhouse – a place for a library, game nights, art jams, and projects like building parade floats.”
I don’t think it’s that far-fetched, though it would probably be an afternoons-and-evenings thing, not 24/7. It would be nice to have a community workshop available for people without the space or equipment at home to explore their creative side.
Creating something like this in the Atlanta area has crossed my mind. But memberships would probably need to be pretty expensive in order to support the meeting space, and it would probably consume a lot of time.
Hey skippy, cool comment. Are you going to FC? Want to make a casual dinner furmeet to talk about stuff like this?
Hi Patch, thank you kindly for the invite but I will not be at FC. My next furry cons will be FWA and Fur the More.
OMG! I can see my house from here! (I took the photo at the top of the article, so weird)
I’ve been at the Prancing Skiltaire for 20 years (As last september … ish) and it has been a really weird and fun time. It really made me understand how important community is to a fandom. Also I learned how tricky it is to live with 6 to 12 people and not kill each other. There is a reason we have a “No couch surfer” rule unless it is somebody visiting for a well defined short set of time. While being ground zero for furry convention planning meetings for years we have had a regular furry party for the better part of 10 years. The headcount has varied from 50 to 300 people but I found that giving the community a place to be every month really does help.
Just keeping a household full of roommates for decades is a tricky balance to pull off and it is really easy for a fan house to just fly apart in a cloud of drama.
Anybody here going to FC? Would love to swap stories about furry houses.
Hi changa, lets get dinner! I’ll bet you have stories worth a headline here. I’d love to meet on sat or sun night. Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The problem I have with ‘furry houses’ is the same as I would have felt about the hippie communes of the 60s and 70s: they’re all very well and good I’m sure, but does their establishment represent a consolidation and strengthening of furry/hippie values — or distancing and isolation?
These days it is tricky to be isolated with the internet. Furries tend to be geeks and in the case of the PS we were wired for Cat 5 in 2000 and even before that we had a thinnet network with a modem pool and before that the location of a BBS.
In most cases it’s an attempt to pool resources not run off to the wilderness to “Start over”.
I think furries aren’t trying to be anti-establishment to make a change. Just collaborating on creative stuff to take plain vanilla life and add fudge sauce on top.