Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Category: Academic study

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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Furries in the UK invited to answer a research survey from King’s College London

by Patch O'Furr

Where can a researcher start to invite furries for a survey? Well, it’s happened here before. Sometimes it means walking on eggshells about tricky topics. In this case, a researcher has requested to announce a survey not just looking at fandom, but sexual behavior in it. This comes with a message that “the furry fandom itself is not explicitly sexual,” and the research is inclusive for members who aren’t.

Experience says that it might get flak from furries who feel like it creates stereotypes. For them I encourage thinking about the point of sex ed in school. I like science, and know that studying or testing isn’t pushing something. If you want less stereotypes, this is how to replace them with facts. Of course it should be done professionally. For that reason, I got permission from the researcher to consult Furscience in case there was any reason to worry. Now I’m happy to help.

Researcher Ashley Brown sent this info, with a general FAQ to be as open as possible and address some of the more common questions about it.

THIS IS ONLY FOR PARTICIPANTS IN THE UK — but anyone can access the participant information sheet on the first page of the survey. It introduces the focus of the research, with advice about comfort, confidentiality, and where to go for assistance about it.

– Patch

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At Furry Weekend Atlanta, an academic philosopher wins a job by the power of fandom.

by Patch O'Furr

The human species is diverse, but anywhere you go, there’s job-seekers hungry to start careers. At least one of them is a tennis-playing philosopher with a FurAffinity account, a raccoon fursona and a cool story: WildeCard. (Here’s his personal site.)

In human form, he’s a Postdoc researcher and ethics course instructor at Ohio State University’s Center for Ethics and Human Values. He’s working on a book titled The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation: The Ethics of Procreation, which explores the ethics of slowing population growth. (For humans — no word about raccoons, bunnies or others with prodigious proliferation.)

How did he get there? WildeCard writes in:

“I recently documented how my experience on the academic job market (in philosophy) overlapped with attending Furry Weekend Atlanta 2019. And by overlapped, I mean that I was literally doing job interviews from my hotel room while attending this convention. That part of the story comes near the tail-end of an 8-month search for academic employment, which was ultimately successful.

The relevant (and lengthy) blog post is here.”

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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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Fred Patten on mythical creatures and Mandaean religion of Iraq.

by Patch O'Furr

From the archive: Fred Patten, who passed away in late 2018, was a furry fandom founder who was also key for importing anime to the USA in the 1970’s and preparing it for English speaking audiences. As a historian and fan, Fred spoke to fellow researchers overseas. This led to discussing obscure traditions and customs. Occasionally they would come up about stories he was considering, but were too footnotey to add to the main articles. Previously posted was the first of two interesting side topics, Happy Science of Japan. Below is Mandaean religion of Iraq, with 60-70,000 members worldwide. Fred suggests its mythology could be “a whole new area for furry artists and writers”. – Patch

Mandaeism is a living religion bursting with fascinating mythology and magic (and loads of magic realism). I contend this Gnostic religion provides some forgotten gods that could be very useful for today’s culture where imagination, inventiveness, and wonder are evanescing under the crushing gravitational pull of global idiocracy caused by the Archons of this age. – (This Forgotten Gnostic God Could be the Cure for Today’s Idiocracy – by Miguel Conner)

Fred’s Mandaean religion story (8/10/15)

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Fred Patten on mythical creatures and Happy Science of Japan.

by Patch O'Furr

From the archive: Fred Patten, who passed away in late 2018, was a furry fandom founder who was also key for importing anime to the USA in the 1970’s and preparing it for English speaking audiences. As a historian and fan, Fred spoke to fellow researchers overseas. This led to discussing obscure traditions and customs. Occasionally they would come up about stories he was considering, but were too footnotey to add to the main articles. Below is the first of two interesting side topics, Happy Science of Japan. Coming next is Mandaean religion of Iraq, with 60-70,000 members worldwide. Fred suggests its mythology could be “a whole new area for furry artists and writers”. – Patch

From a story by a Japanese reporter about a visit to a 1994 “Happy Science” ceremony at age 15. The religious leader, riding on a dragon stage prop, ranted about a Japanese term for pornography which reveals the hair of a woman’s nether-regions.

Fred’s Happy Science story (6/25/15)

Dear Patch;

I don’t think I’ve ever told you about my encounter with the Happy Science religion.

This is more anime than furry-related.

Around 1995, give or take five years, I was contacted by a Japanese group.  They had just released an animated theatrical feature in Japan that was #1 at the box office for two weeks, and they were trying to get U.S. distribution for it.  They were about to have a Japanese-community screening of an English-subtitled print.  Did I want to attend it?  I did.

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Furries Among Us 2: More Essays on Furries by Furries – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Furries Among Us 2: More Essays on Furries by Furries, edited by Thurston Howl. Introduction by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Sabretoothed Ermine.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, August 2017, trade paperback, $7.99 (179 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This non-fiction follow-up anthology to the Ursa Major Award-winning Furries Among Us (2015) presents a dozen more essays on furry fans and furry fandom, by “the Most Prominent Members of the Fandom” as the subtitle of the first volume put it. In his Introduction, Howl says:

“As in the first volume, his one has a three-part organization. The first part of the book focuses on social aspects of the fandom. […] The second section covers new aspects of furries and writing. […] The final section is again reserved for the dedicated and hard-working members of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project.” (p. 8)

In “The Importance of Being Seen: Foucault, Furries, and the Dual-Exchange of (In)visibility” by Televassi, he argues that furry fans need to stop being so insular over the Internet and socialize more openly in furmeets and conventions, even if they do so under their fursona identities. This will help furry fans themselves, who are often shy and introverted to become more social, and improve the general image of furry fandom in general society from that of a closed clique of social misfits to just another social fandom. “The Furclub Movement” by Patch O’Furr concentrates more closely on furry clubs: the mostly-monthly evening dance parties and raves, more than the more organized annual conventions. “Interview with the Foxes of Yiff” is a fictional interview by Kit and Khestra Karamak with Jesus and Satan Fox, two furry brothers with highly (even violently) different outlooks on furrydom and its activities. “Gender: Furry” by Makyo presents a “well-researched article on the correlation between gender identity and expression and furry.” (Howl, p. 8)

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Calling all furries: FurScience / IARP launches international furry survey.

by Patch O'Furr

Paws in the air if you like science!

The newest, international FurScience survey needs your participation. They will use the data to help the fandom and those outside it to learn more about it. They have been doing surveys for years, and this is their largest and most ambitious one yet. They’re hoping to blow previous records out of the water by getting 10,000 furries worldwide. At the end, results will be available to all, and it’s sure to prove fascinating for anyone who’s curious about what goes on inside the fluffiest fandom. Please spread the word about it to other furries you know!

Take the survey here:  https://psychologyuwaterloo.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_39LTMxBo27VJMl7

This is a great time to help increase knowledge, with conventions hitting record attendance. In December 2017, Midwest Furfest grew larger than any con before by a difference that equals a small con itself.  The more participants a survey can gather, the better it can represent them.  Furscience / IARP has brought data in the past that has immensely helped raise understanding about why and how people come together in this very unique group – a reason why the media is doing less and less mocking and taking more time to tell real stories. Instead of waiting for slower media to catch up, put some science in their faces to neutralize the clickbait. That’s just one reason to help, and there’s probably 10,000 reasons and more, one for every unique furry. So don’t wait, click that link!

Q&A with Sherilyn Connelly, author of Ponyville Confidential: the History and Culture of My Little Pony, 1981-2016.

by Patch O'Furr

ponyvilleRecently, I posted “The history of My Little Pony and thoughts about growing up with cartoons” to prepare for chat with Sherilyn Connelly.  Sherilyn is a journalist local to the San Francisco Bay Area Furries. (She has given them notice in publications like SF Weekly.) Her first book is out this April: Ponyville Confidential, a pop culture history of the My Little Pony media empire. (Please like the book’s Facebook page!)

Hi Sherilyn, thanks for talking about Ponyville Confidential!  Let me start by asking – who needs to read it? Will it be manely for fans?  Will there be parts to tempt furry readers?

“Manely!” I see what you did there. Obviously everypony needs to read it, and it’s by no means intended just for My Little Pony fans; I hope that people who are interested in pop-culture history in general will give it a look as well. And there are many references to the Furry fandom, including shout-outs to Frolic, Further Confusion, and Anthrocon.

I know you as a committed, active fan who comes to Furry events and writes journalism about them (and movies, and more.) Can you give a brief intro about your background and writing?

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was old enough to want to be anything at all. I started writing professionally for SF Weekly in 2011 — within a few months when I started grad school and began watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, so it was a momentous year in retrospect — and wrote quite a lot about the the local Furry scene at the time. I began contributing film reviews to the Village Voice in 2012, and became the Weekly‘s permanent film critic in January 2013.

I hear this is your first book, congrats – how excited are you? Would anything surprise you about how it might be received?

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