Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Performance

More Animal Impersonators From Theater History

by Patch O'Furr

Don’t miss the series of stories about animal impersonators.

George Ali as Nana in Peter Pan (1924)

Yesterday’s article revisited the history of animal impersonation for theater. It’s the study of how animals move and behave, for acting with emotion and character. Beautifully crafted costumes were used on live stages before cinema matured, from artists forgotten by time. It’s deep rooted “Paleofurry” inspiration.

Previous stories here looked at British Panto-animal actors, but overlooked other actors in American Vaudeville (which fed talent to Hollywood). An expert covered some of them to round out this history. (Thanks to Trav S.D. who is linked here; a theater director, producer, and author.)

George Ali: Critter for Hire, and Arthur Lupino

Trav’s short article adds a little about George Ali, who played the dog in the first filmed version of Peter Pan. But in 1904 the role was played by an actor who I haven’t found much about. There’s just a very short blurb from Encyclopedia Brittanica saying Arthur Lupino was an “incomparable animal impersonator” and chosen personally by Peter Pan playwright JM Barrie.

Fred Woodward: What an Animal

Mules and creatures from Oz. It’s another short mention of how “Animal impersonation was a whole sub-specialty in vaudeville… This was an era when fairy tales were frequently presented on stage for audiences of children and their families, so it’s not as odd as it may seem at first blush.”

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Animal Impersonators of Vaudeville and Pantomime: call them Paleofurries.

by Patch O'Furr

Check out this “fursuit” acting from 1924. That’s George Ali as Nana the Dog in the first silent-movie version of Peter Pan. (Here’s a longer clip).

In 1924, there were no archives for movies, so many were destroyed or disappeared when they stopped making money from screening. The first Peter Pan movie was believed lost, but two copies were found including one at Disney Studios (who must have studied the innovative special effects.) A restoration in 1994 was added to the US National Film Registry. It makes a rare recording of this kind of performing.

George Ali was an Animal Impersonator — much more than just a costumer, but a specialist artist. There must be tons of forgotten lore about this. It was featured in my furry history series about Panto-animals (with beautiful photos, but no videos I could find until now!)

What were animal impersonators?

Fred Conquest and Charles Lauri appear in those stories as British Pantomime theater players. Panto had roots as old as Shakespeare — a mash-up of clowning, burlesque, satire, and lower-class popular theater for the masses. It was for live stages, not permanent Youtube-ready media, so the actors may be barely remembered today. They were huge stars in their heyday 100 years ago. Most were known as human characters, but ones like Ali, Conquest, or Lauri won stardom in their own right as animals.

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The Masked Singer: One of those mainstream crossovers with furry appeal?

by Patch O'Furr

Crossover with the mainstream can make great furry news, like when dogwhistles to fandom pop up in things like Disney blockbusters. That’s why I did an interview with Vulture, the culture and entertainment site. Here’s their articles about the Masked Singer. This one’s worthwhile for fursona design inspiration: The Masked Singer’s Costume Designer Breaks Down All 16 Egg-cellent New Looks.

We barked about performances from Season 1, and sniffed at the costumes for Season 2. Looking at the lineup made me want to know more about them as characters. If they have a backstory with each other… Whose Egg is that? Does the Eagle hang out in the Tree? And who pollinates that Flower?

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DJ UltraPup barks about what it’s like to be on stage the first time at Anthrocon.

by Patch O'Furr

(Patch:) It sounds like you had a blast at Anthrocon! I wanted to ask you about your first time DJing a big con. What’s your story and how did you end up there? Was it your first furry con, or just first time on stage at one?

(DJ UltraPup:) I’m a member of the pup community and I have been for quite some time. I am also however a member of the furry community, and one of my big goals is to try and bridge the divide between furries and pups. When a friend of mine suggested I apply to DJ at Anthrocon, I thought why not. I’m well known in the DC area as a circuit DJ and I have 3 club residencies, so I applied, and sure enough they picked me to play Saturday night at 11pm. AC was my first major con. I had gone to FurTheMore earlier this year just to check it out, but this was my first time DJing a furcon, and it won’t be my last.

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Get furry at San Francisco Pride 2019 — Here’s the info you need to dance and join the parade.

by Patch O'Furr

Paws for thought.

The Popdust blog asks: Do Furries Have a Home in the LGBTQ+ Community? Well, I can say a lot about it from organizing for Pride since 2012. (Read to the bottom for past news, or try this 2017 San Francisco Furry Pride story by Smash.) The 2018 parade had the best furry turnout ever — I estimated over 100 came. They won the Absolutely Fabulous award. Whether or not that represents The Gay Agenda at large, SF’s “largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation” opens a home (or a kennel) for us.

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The Spectrum: Fursuiting with Autism (Part 3) – Guest post by Enjy

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Guest author Enjy shares a three-part story about the history of Autism research, its place in fandom, and interviews with 3 furries who give their personal insight.

== PLUMA – ADHD ==

 

Pluma (@Pluma_y_Pelo) is a queer and trans Latina fursuiter who has been diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a hotly debated neurological develeopment disorder that is not yet on the Autism Spectrum, but a growing number of scientists are publishing reports asking for its addition. This is due to the extreme similiarities between its symptoms and that of Asperger’s Syndrome, to the point where misdiagnosis for one or the other is worryingly common. ADHD is also a commonly accepted precursor for Non Verbal Learning Disorder, which Heathen, who we profiled earlier, has. The case for addition has grown stronger after the American Psychiatric Association changed their stance on ADHD in the year 2013, publishing a paper titled “DSM-5 Changes in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Implications for Comorbid Sleep Issues” that rolled back their previous assertation that ADHD and Autism could not coexist in the same person. Pluma loves to perform in her feathered raptor/fox hybrid fursuit, and is an engineer who recently finished grad school. She is very passionate about making sure autistic people are safe and cared for, and her ideas on improving con spaces are worth a read for anyone heading a convention.

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The Spectrum: Fursuiting with Autism (Part 2) – Guest post by Enjy

by Patch O'Furr

Guest author Enjy shares a three-part story about the history of Autism research, its place in fandom, and interviews with 3 furries who give their personal insight.

== DOC FOX – ASPERGER’S SYNDROME ==

 

Doc Fox (@Doctor_Red_Fox), real name Ted, is a 27 year old man born in Chicago, now living in Utah and attending college at the University of Utah. He is studying information systems. Doc Fox has the Autism Spectrum disorder known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” sometimes referred to as “High Functioning Autism”. This can manifest as lack of social awareness, inability to infer the thoughts of others, sensitivity to noises or touch, and/or over-adherence to routines. He was diagnosed as a freshman in high school in the year 2006, but became a furry in the year 2004. However, his fear of being judged due to people’s negative perception of Autism, mostly people using it as a slur or insult, made him afraid to visit any furry meets until he tried his first one in 2012, at a local Illinois bowling alley. Having purchased his fursuit in 2014, Doc is very proud of his life now, and hopes that his story here can make Autism more visible, because he thinks that being public about your diagnosis can be scary.

Enjy: What does Autism mean to you, personally? How would you describe it, from your own point of view?

Doc Fox: For me, like, I’m aware I’m human. But I kinda feel like I’m always a stranger or an alien. I struggle to read other people, and sometimes, to understand other’s emotions. I’ll miss social cues that other people just take for granted. I really care a lot about if my actions hurt other people though, and I’m always afraid that people just tolerate me because I’m “weird.” It’s really hard sometimes to even talk to other people about these things too. Things people just understand like “folkways” aren’t always apparent to me and others often assume you’re acting out or in bad faith because they just take understandings of these concepts for granted.

Enjy: That was a very well thought out answer. Do you think the furry fandom has been better at coexisting with and understanding your condition than the rest of the populace?

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The Spectrum: Fursuiting with Autism (Part 1) – Guest post by Enjy

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Inspired by the above Twitter thread, I proposed doing a whole article. Guest author Enjy took it on and delivered far more than expected from a one-line topic. A lot of the content comes from interview subjects, as Enjy said: “I wanted to stray away from brevity and let them speak naturally to help neurotypicals understand how autistic people formulate their thoughts, that they might consider it when interacting with them.”

Thanks to Enjy for hard work (and thank-you tips are now being paid for article submissions too. A site sponsorship is coming soon to make it even easier with a PBS-like model.) Thanks to Patreon patrons for helping to fund this and to @Deotasdevil for supporting Enjy.

Parts 2-3 will post later this week. Enjy continues. – (Patch)

Thanks to Doc Fox, Heathen (fursona Manik), and Pluma for doing interviews.

 

== A (Very) Brief History of Autism ==

 

Autism.

It is a word that is scary for some, misunderstood by most, and impossible to pin under a single definition. Due to it’s prevalence today, with new technologies allowing easier and more thorough evaluations of a child’s health, you may be under the impression that autism is a fairly new disorder. However, this could not be further from the truth.

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Margaret Cho barks about furries, pride, and costuming on The Masked Singer

by Patch O'Furr

Dogged persistence seems necessary to win success as a standup comedian. In school, the class clown might not be who you expect to become a household name. That’s why one like Margaret Cho can be extra fascinating among mainstream celebrities. She’s got layers. Fabulous, fluffy layers. 

Live touring, TV, movies, fashion and music are all part of her creative canvas, with a palette of adult humor colored by mentors like Robin Williams, 1970’s San Francisco childhood, 1990’s alternative culture, Korean-American experience, female and LGBT identity, and enduring love for non-conformists. Her bio includes Grammy and Emmy nominations, accolades from the New York Times, and awards for representing the LBGT community among other activism for social progress. With such an arsenal of badassery at her disposal, she still graciously got on the phone with a little furry blog. 

Research for our chat turned up a few interesting facts: The show format (guessing the hidden performer) originally came from Korean TV, and she was tuned in to it before being cast. Despite the comedy label, her background includes burlesque and serious study to create comedy music on the level of pros like Weird Al or Flight of the Conchords. You can watch her on Season 1, Episode 4 of The Masked Singer on Fox.comEnjoy – Patch

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San Francisco furries party with Jello Biafra, plus PAWcon, Bass Totem and Decompression.

by Patch O'Furr

Just popping up from the sewer to update you on local news. You might not have seen (or smelled) my rat fursona before, and my fur might need combing, but that goes with being a sneaky rat. Now I’m too excited for stealth because of this amazing flyer. It sure made my whiskers twitch when I saw it, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling about it!

Jello Biafra is the original Nazi Punks Fuck Off guy. I had some readers say “THE Jello Biafra?!!” He was the razor-witted singer for 1980’s punk legends Dead Kennedys. They mocked conservative greed, stupidity, and oppression, and faced down legal bullying from moralistic authorities when the satire struck a nerve. From then until now, Jello has been making albums full of hilarious, raw, protest-inducing rock and roll. It’s liable to give heart palpitations to uptight parents, bland media producers, Klan clowns or the powers of the status quo alike. He’s not just an artist, but a personality known for pranks, running for mayor, doing spoken word and motivating whole scenes as founder of the longest running indie record label. (Alternative Tentacles: “Tormenting the Stupid since 1979!”) His message in all of it is: screw conformity, think for yourself!

All of that is why I can’t wait to see him party with furries, the DIY-powered fandom for talking animal media.  Furries breed a loveable kind of identity-play that I think vibes with the art and glam side of punk. That music and its DIY ethic has always inspired me (from the classic 1970’s roots), and this news site is a fabulous result. Another result is the massively popular message to jerks who target kids here like they tried with punk: Nazi Furs Fuck Off!

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