The Zaush Issue – leaked private messages make a public discussion.

by Patch O'Furr

(CONTENT WARNING – discussion of sex and abuse.)

Zaush is one of the bigger stars of furry fandom. He’s one of the top most followed artists, who cranks out copious amounts of porn. It’s drawn to a pro level and earns him a full time income on Patreon, with high demand from an audience of furverts who couldn’t find it at a friendly neighborhood porn shop. It’s a perfect niche if that’s what you’re into. Or maybe it’s a dark corner Zaush has painted himself into – judging by concerning practices that have come to light.

I’m not that familiar with his stuff. Personally, I’ve avoided it because that kind of porn turns me off. That’s not because of being judgemental to fetish. In my critical opinion, it’s more like cute cartoon animals doing sticky gang bangs could use all the cute and not so much sticky. And I wish established Disney characters weren’t getting bent out-of-character. But my main dislike is for the stories and power dynamic in them. I love furry art for showing more warmth and feeling than live human actors; but this art gives me bad feelings. The stories seem to reward bullies taking sex from prey like taking candy from a baby.

This brings up common jokes about his characters getting younger and younger over time.

At one point in mid 2017, I even had a disagreement with someone about that – and now let’s cut to the chase. That gut feeling got vindicated. Private messages with a commissioner on Zaush’s personal account have leaked, and warning: 1) they can be described as catering to pedophilic interest. 2) It’s not just art – there’s real pics of little kids in bathing suits used for art reference. 3) There’s also actual porn of the “barely legal” genre.


  • Image 1 – explicit images of adult actress Sammie Daniels
  • Image 2 – another explicit image, claimed to be mainstream
  • Image 3 – chat
  • Image 4 – images of kids in bathing suits
  • Image 5 – images of kids in bathing suits
  • Image 6 – images of kids in bathing suits

What followed deserves credit; there wasn’t effort to lie, and that helps a lot for an honest discussion.  And, even if borderline-legal, there’s a LOT to discuss. This is part of the point of the article: if this stuff is going to get made, consumers of it should be fully aware of what they’re supporting.

To break this down, the borderline content is the extreme of cub art. Here’s what I last posted about that – it’s arguable that people who role-play as being kids are doing something harmless and even therapeutic or positive. Boozy Badger, a fandom lawyer, said similar stuff about AB/DL acceptance being harmless or good (for example, supporting people with medical incontinence.)

But there’s a difference between that and using pics of real kids to produce porn of imaginary ones.

Where do you start with what that difference means?

Legally, it’s murky; you could start with calling cops, but they probably won’t do anything about it.

But you don’t have to stop with calling cops. Communities don’t run by having people arrested, if there is even a technical violation – and that’s a last resort. Relying on technicality is unlikely to solve a problem; it’s what “borderline” stuff is made to evade. Of course, on the positive side, there’s parents, families, organizers, and institutions to encourage good stuff. This community largely lacks those – but it doesn’t lack people who make effort to create their community.

That’s why we get to talk about it.

Zaush appears to be catering to an audience with a lot of money flow. When I see the talent he’s using, I feel a bit disappointed. If this is the top art furries support, why not aim higher? Good writing should be able to succeed whether or not it involves sex. OK, but I framed this as a problem – if it does good business and people want it, what problem?

Well, that demand comes from a community that gave Zaush a platform – without cons, and publishers, and websites, and users for them, he wouldn’t have his niche. That reminds me of hearing (unverified) that Zaush isn’t accepted as a client by the main fandom publishers – but more to the point, Furaffinity appears to bend rules for his art that others don’t get to bend. Those rules are against explicit art that depicts underaged characters – which Zaush does all but semantically (since they’re just “labeled” as not underage.)

Judging by what was in those PM’s, the semantic exemption is hard to claim any more. Supporting such rule bending (because people want their porn) suggests a community double standard for popularity.

That’s why we get to talk about it.

There’s precedent for regulating this content. Softpaw Magazine was banned from several cons and the Ursa Major Awards, and FurAffinity was unable to make payment processor relationships due to porn on the site. It arguably restricted fandom growth into a niche. Wanting freedom for that is a double edged sword that cuts into other freedoms. And it’s not just about whether Zaush’s stuff is harmless or not – what about relaxing standards so much that actual illegal stuff gets mixed in? There’s precedent for that too, such as when a Softpaw contributor was arrested for illegal images of children.

It relates to a “group ethic” that was in my article: R.C. Fox arrested for child pornography, furries question fandom connections. That can make slippery slope arguments that I disfavor (I don’t think tame cub art leads to child abuse), but a group can still have consistent standards.

As far as Zaush being harmless… that’s also a point of contention; in 2010, he was accused of rape and predatory behavior. He gave a long answer that leaves many people unsatisfied, with no explanation for what a putative victim had to gain by lying – especially since the story came to light from private messages and it wasn’t shared for public attention.

The contents of Zaush’s PM’s came out that way too. How a reader treats those (and if he gets favored) vs. how they treat the private messages of a woman talking about rape (and if she doesn’t) may say something about their standards.

When I had a gut feeling about the content of Zaush’s art hiding a deeper problem, and got vindicated for that… there’s a similar feeling many others have about his behavior. Cops don’t arrest for feelings, thankfully. But on the flip side, an average abuser has many victims and gets away with it for years before getting caught.

That’s why we get to talk about it.

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