A furry pilgrimage to the Adult Swim Festival and the Prancing Skiltaire house, Part 2.
by Patch O'Furr
Here’s Part 2 of yesterday’s article, which asked: If you could do a furry travel tour, where would you go? It could include conventions, mainstream destinations, and special stops that a non-furry wouldn’t think of. When I got invited to the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles for their second animation/comedy/music event, I made it a mainstream AND fandom mini-tour, with a side trip to the nearby Prancing Skiltaire house. That’s a shrine to cartoon animal art made by the founders of the first furry con, who open it to fans by the hundreds. It was all started by an invite from “Dr. Girlfriend.”
Festival review from Dr. Girlfriend:
The Adult Swim Festival in Los Angles was sooo much fun! I went with Patch (who was in fursuit) as Dr. GirlFriend from the Venture Brothers cartoon. I had a blast! He was the only one among thousands of goers who was fully fursuited, in his punk-rat suit, and much to my delight and laughter he got a lot of people asking if he was Chuck-E-Cheese (more like Chuck-E-Cheese’s evil twin).
One thing that stands out in my mind is when we both went to the bathroom, he was taking a whiz and someone told him, while he was in suit, “Nu-uh, we aren’t doing this in here”. Hahaha. Such a stigma with fursuits.
Another person said and pointed, “oh hell no!” , to which I quickly took out my laser gun from my garter belt and blasted him away. Other then those two haters, the festival was SUPER receptive to the giant furry rat. Multiple people came up and said they were furry too! There were even several people who recognized Patch from his blog (jeez, soooo popular… what? ever!) I’m not gonna lie, I spend hours upon hours on my costume and he still got more requests then me for pictures (jealous, not jealous).
The highlight of MY night was when someone had asked me where I bought my hat? Biiiiiitch – I made it!! And that is one of the things I love about the furry community, that people put so much time and effort into their fursona/costume/cosplay/
I loved dancing to music and getting to see a few of the creators of my favorite animations, like Dethklok/Metalocalypse, the new season premiere of Rick and Morty, and some Squidbillies live in action. Overall, it was a total success and we even got a picture together on the official Adult Swim twitter feed!
Next stop: the holiest shrine of furry fandom.
The festival covered Friday and Saturday, then there was a full Sunday to visit the Prancing Skiltaire house, 40 minutes away in Garden Grove, CA.
Pure windows-down balmy-weather SoCal driving needed some vintage 1980’s New Wave tunes, like Missing Persons — Walking In L.A. (Fandom vibes: to break out on early MTV they booked their own shows and made their own outrageous Day-Glo makeup and clothes.)
Our hosts were Changa Lion, Rod O’Riley, and Mark Merlino (Sy Sable). This is Old Guard fandom — and I have to say after being at a high profile media event with attention on fursuits, these founders prove YOU DON’T NEED A SUIT TO BE FURRY.
Their front door led in to an Aladdin’s Cave of treasure. Shelves, bins, statues, and framed art of anthropomorphic creatures were stacked and showcased from floor to ceiling in every media imaginable, including dead ones that haven’t existed since the 1970’s.
They didn’t need more, but that didn’t stop me from bringing gift DVD’s I got in Prague of The Little Mole (AKA the Mickey Mouse of the Iron Curtain.) The foreign toons were received with gratitude and shock at the prices written in Czech crowns, until I said “that’s not US dollars!” I hope they join the rotation of animation played at their monthly house parties.
Changa showed us his elaborate fan parody videos, where he recut Disney’s Zootopia to emulate iconic TV show openings, like the X-Files or Moonlighting. The 2010’s CG graphics were copied onto VHS tape and back to digital, and dubbed over with vintage audio for a mind-bending Mandela multiverse effect. The same was done for Zootopia VHS tapes in clamshell cases with carefully simulated labels and stickers — artifacts fit for a Museum of Furry. The Confurence Archive is the closest thing online, curated by Changa from the treasures all over their house.
After a nickel tour by Rod, 5 of us kept talking into the night, including a walk for dinner at their nearby mainstay diner. For a future article, I got to ask Mark about how Second Life accommodated furries years ago (Linden Labs recently engaged me about new outreach for 2020.)
Some of the best talk was about the house’s place in fandom.
Their monthly parties had brought 300 people in the past. It became important to limit couch crashers when things got out of hand with 8 or more long-term stayers, and cars blocking driveways or bringing late night talking and drinking on the sidewalks. Now they say attendance may be closer to 65, give or take.
Mark had been told that the house was a long-time LGBT safe space that helped launch careers for dozens of past furry roommates including animators and tech pros. He said, “That wasn’t the point, but now that I think of it, that’s true!” They weren’t chosen to live there because of identity, but shared interest; the conscious interest just aligned with their nature. Just like when that nature is strong in the whole fandom.
The old label “lifestyler”, sometimes said negatively, was just people being themselves like you can see in how their nest is put together. I’m so grateful they open it this way for monthly partygoers and our visit.
- In the main room with Changa (he’s camera-shy) and Mark. Something jazzy was playing.
- Their collection has games, movies, fanzines, comics, guidebooks, science fiction paperbacks, and Manga sets since some were rare imports in the 1970’s.
- The plushie corner is full of things left after parties for years.
- Rod poses with Mark’s art of a critter on a 1982 Subaru (rainbow background is washed out.)
- Rod showed 1980′-90’s multi-genre guidebooks that worked like a “phone book of fandom”, where you could find which shops dealt “funny animal” goods, get mailing lists that were sold to fund the guides, or network with others before the internet.
- Look up above Mark: those are bins stuffed with furry comics. Every corner is set up for the treasure hoard.
- Rod occupies the executive command center for his In-Fur-Nation newsletter run since 1991.
- No space is left un-furred. I dug the Robin Hood figures (top right). Not shown: Mark’s Otter collection that won a prize at a fair for collectible displays.
- In Changa’s room, we watch a private work-print trailer for The Fandom documentary, in progress from Ash Kries, Eric Risher and Chipfox.
- Mark and Rod pose by video shot at the house for the movie not long before this visit.
Changa, Mark and Rod reminded me of about what furry fandom is about. Those roots can inspire new watchers with The Fandom documentary, which just finished its last shoot and is going to post-production for release soon. Look for news about it here soon. Tomorrow: more about furry traveling.