Confuror makes a crossroads for Latin American furries and international fandom.
by Patch O'Furr
2018 story The Diversity of the Latin American Furry Fandom is background for visiting Mexico’s largest furry con in October 2022.
Young Mexicans told me that Confuror has taken off to be their first full-fledged con and a beacon for fandom there. It succeeded after they only had meet-sized events that came and went, and wished for ones like North Americans have. The 2022 attendance surged after a first hotel con and then virtual cons for two years. There were 1,861 attendees, with 486 fursuiters at the fursuit festival. The charity auction raised 153,526 MXN (about $7,675 USD) to benefit a shark conservation NGO.
It was more than a con visit, with 8 days in Guadalajara. I stayed at a house with a Mexican furry group. I’m a non-Spanish-speaking mutt from the US Rust Belt and San Francisco Bay area who was never in Mexico before. Consider this the view of a casual tourist with experience of class differences, on a much-needed first vacation since the Covid pandemic. The view is limited by a language barrier, but furry can be a bridge, and many people in Guadalajara knew some English and were helpful with translation.
The feel of Confuror and differences from other cons
As a first-time traveler to Mexico, I noticed a small portion of international guests. I met ones from Colombia, Argentina, and Chile, and some Mexican-Americans. Also from the USA were 3 familiar faces from California, and others from Colorado, Texas, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto. Old guard or party regulars from other cons were notably absent. That was a plus and a minus.
It seemed like furry is too unfamiliar in Mexico (and the hotel) to boldly overflow the con programming with large parties, or obvious side gatherings or mingling in the city. There was much less obvious PDA at the hotel. I saw no flyers or door signs, and some people were asking about parties without finding any. But some Mexican furries I met were super jazzed to meet American visitors and bring them to hang out in rooms informally.
At its best, the con proudly displayed its culture. The theme was Dia De Muertos, with an Ofrenda memorial for Latin American members who died. A heavily applauded dance comp winner wore a fursuit with a festive skull mask, and a gold-threaded traditional black Charro suit. The dance party played Raggaeton, with conga lines and mass outbreaks of Spanish singing you wouldn’t hear at other cons.
I went to more panels than usual since I knew few people. I wished I had a ticket to the Drink & Draw, a separate sold-out event with an open bar for craft beer while using sketchbooks. The con chair proudly told me it was unique to Confuror. (I do a monthly Drink & Draw at home with normie artists, and it’s a great idea for cons.) Other things I missed: the Golden Tail Awards for contributions to fandom (I dropped in but couldn’t follow the language) — and live music, including a show by Metazoa, a progressive metal band from Mexico City.
¡Muchas gracias, @Confuror!
Fue uno de nuestros mejores shows, y nos encanta saber que les gustó. Queremos agradecer también a @furryGTAwards y @RadiOsoPodcast. No tienen idea cuánto significa esto para nosotros 💕
— Metazoa (@Metazoa_MX) October 24, 2022
[Con]mutación fue el sencillo con que lanzamos Anima Automata. Acompañamos esta canción, sobre el odio a uno mismo y cómo desaprenderlo, con este videoclip donde jugamos con el terror, comedia, pizza y unos amigos peluditos🐶🦁🦊
— Metazoa (@Metazoa_MX) September 21, 2022
If the dance is late to start, just make your own pic.twitter.com/sTK4PiBsyM
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 24, 2022
A bridge between Latin America and North American fandom, with leftist intention
One panel concerned furry as an international community. A con organizer (Loisa) led it mostly in Spanish with some translation. Loisa told the panel that Confuror was trying to bridge American and Latin American fandom. I saw accommodation for english speakers, like the con program being helpfully coded to show which events were in Spanish, or English, or both. The con was meant to be a safe space for queer and trans members, something fairly new in Latin American society (there were other panels about this).
Loisa believed that fandom showed a capitalist lean. I saw what she meant. The dealer’s den was very comparable to other cons. It was tightly laid out and packed with buyers, and needed hours to browse. It also provided the first Night Market in Latin America to openly sell adult furry products. Some fan-brand-level dealers provided exclusive products for Confuror, and sold out so fast that they closed early.
Loisa said the organizers had divisions about capitalism vs. serving community, like by providing a low entry cost. She had criticism about the power of prestige in the fandom. I sensed compromising about necessary business concerns. Confuror happened by convincing the hotel to take a chance on an unknown kind of event. As a result, I heard some young Mexican furries being grateful to be able to experience things they had seen in videos, after long bus trips from poor or small towns. Loisa said that people often asked how to start a con, and there is no formula — and there’s no formula for improving your local community, but to go out and do it.
Loisa told me that volunteering without pay was an example of this, and the organizer’s group (Vidafur) was continuing to run regular furmeets, and hoped to open a house that would provide professional service and facilities. I gathered this meant some kind of co-op. (This is something I recommend to leftist furs wondering how to put community intentions into practice, beyond parasocial media; co-op housing is a movement of its own, and there’s similar energy with punk houses, couchsurfing hosts, cyclist lifers, and other travelers having their own nonprofit community networks.)
In the Dealer’s Den – Sponsorship by successful Mexican artists
Dealer’s Den prices weren’t as high as they are at cons in North America. The exchange rate made great buyer advantage, although a dealer from California told me she couldn’t charge as much. I found commission openings and prints, comics, stickers, pins and keychains, a fursuit collar for $10, shirts as low as $7, and bandanas for $5.
Three of the con’s main sponsors were Mexican artists of comparable success with strong brands; Arty and Chikle, Gab Shiba, and Rudderbutts (with Senor Nutria). The latter 2 and Paco Panda (a Confuror organizer) featured in the 2018 Latin American Furry story, so their success was evident over time. They had large popular corners full of merch. The three sponsors had street art style, gay themes, and underwear riding high with sales. Yes, loud proud gay furry underwear sold like hotcakes and seemed like a secret weapon for rising from artist to brand.
Arty and Chikle talked to me about what I call “pro-fan” success. I had seen their street art mural on a transit pillar in the city; it was commissioned by the Jalisco state government. In April they had opened a retail space in Mexico City, where the walls were muralized and they sold original art and products, teamed up with another artist. Collaboration was also happening live in the Dealers Den. They were furrifying a huge canvas in street art style, together with American Guest of Honor: Animal Art Crimes. The canvas went on to earn around $7,000 USD in the charity benefit auction that capped the con.
The selling was more than just capitalist, with public street art and collaboration for charity at the heart of it.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) October 20, 2022
The draw of famous guests, for better and worse
Compared to Mexican artist sponsors, the Guests of Honor seemed chosen for North American fame and draw. It worked to draw me, while highlighting the prestige problem criticized in the international panel.
Anthrocon CEO Uncle Kage helped to present ceremonies, and featured in 2 main stage storytelling shows. His humorous act was fun to watch, but played fast and loose with history to put down some figures and glorify others on his side. This included blaming the 1990’s original furry con, Confurence, for allegedly causing the fandom’s disrepute for sex. But it misattributed media hit pieces with basic errors about source and year, implied that Anthrocon didn’t have the same activity from the same fandom, and in effect, the narrative blamed the victims with glaring lack of analysis about why gay people were easily smeared by commercial media. Intentionally or not, it accorded with debunked homophobic myths from the Burned Furs. Perpetuating that could use revision.
Kage’s show appeared to be a set of long-memorized nuggets stitched together with looser patter. After a while one’s own subjective views becomes their facts. (Note: I’m a humble reporter of other people’s views but I did attend a 90’s Anthrocon.) Some experienced watchers followed my live comments on the show in a private group, and responded in the moment to dispute jabs, pointing out they were easy to get away with because Confurence isn’t there any more. Kage boasted about Anthrocon outlasting rivals — but one could argue a difference in control of media access, when previous cons hadn’t faced the need when furries were little known. Anthrocon’s organizers also seem set in place for better or worse. Meanwhile, Kage has been Confuror’s GOH for 3 years. Relying on “the fandom’s chair” so much threatens to put new Latin American fans in thrall to old axe-grinding and drill in propaganda.
All that said, there’s a need for entertaining PR, and this is FRIENDLY criticism for a hard working personality. Many happy fans lined up for autographs on conbooks after the show.
I would gladly watch Kage’s show or opposing views. Here’s a key example for how they diverge. Focus on Anthrocon can gloss over how it wasn’t the first con or even first East Coast con (Furtasticon in 1994). Kage talked about the 1994 con causing disrepute for furries because of a bad organizer, so he had to save the day by begging other conventions to let furries back in their graces. But at Further Confusion 2023, I saw a history panel by the founders of Confurence. They covered how Furtasticon had a lone woman con chair who faced chauvinism from the boy’s club when nerdy spaces were run by men. Hello GamerGate…
Opinion: feedback to con organizers
Latin American fandom seems to be growing like American fandom did a decade or two earlier, and can chart its course with more knowledge.
Consider more discussion about prestige guests vs diverse ones. Promote the Drink & Draw and hopefully I can join next time! I found the fursuit lounge and water to be sparsely supplied. Some main stage shows had lighting beaming in my eyes. The dances were short and it was sad to have the final dance canceled. The effort to organize the schedule for English speakers was highly appreciated. The group panels were best: I enjoyed the Animation Furs meet to bring fans and pros together, drew at a round table with many artists, and played blitz games of chess in a tournament with a fursuiter (neither thing needing Spanish).
Although Confuror wasn’t a party con, I highly recommend Guadalajara as a destination to give extra travel time. It was somewhat hard to meet unfamiliar furries at the con, but ones who reached out were amazingly generous. There’s a lot more I could say about the city and tourism, food and costs, poverty and gratitude, language and belonging, culture and community because of this great experience.
NEXT: More adventures with the city and people.
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