by Patch O'Furr
IN THIS ARTICLE: Don’t miss the story of Charles Lauri, a famed “animal impersonator” who thrilled the stages of Victorian London, but is little known today. The story of his acting skill, uncovered from an 1893 magazine, could be an inspiration for fursuiters everywhere.
Many people are familiar with a unique team costume for Halloween – the Pantomime horse, that takes two people to play it. Like a tandem bike, it makes an interesting buddy situation. This jogs a vague memory from when I was very young, of a 1960’s Flintstones cartoon with Fred and Barney in such a costume. It may have been a dinosaur, or a false memory, but the silly situation must have happened in old comedies to the point of cliche. TVtropes has it under Animal Anthropomorphism tropes.
If you (like me) had no idea what Pantomime meant until just now, let’s start to learn. The old-fashioned costuming seems like a traditional kind of activity, more social than commercial. I had an impression of something belonging to the age of door-to-door Christmas caroling, that may be fading away.
Or is it? In 2013, a Panto Horse race broke a Guinness World Record for most runners (42 teams.) And, since this is a Furry blog, you know I’m connecting this topic to you and your thriving subculture. (Imagine that race happening at a con! It would be an easy record to break.) I’m happy to learn that such fun exists… check out The London Pantomime Horse Race: a “fantastically silly”, “must-see event.”
This isn’t about Halloween, or silly races. There’s much more to it. The spark for this article was randomly running across 100-year-old photos of theatrical animal costumes. They made me do a double-take – did some fursuiter have a time machine!? They were incredibly well crafted, and made me very curious. I wondered why they were made so well, and for what purpose? They were fursuits- many generations before there was such a thing as Furries! I thought the topic had a lot of potential.