Interview by Bob Boster | Issue #16
Porsupah (née Jan Paxton), a computer programmer, is a curiosity
that came into my life through work. Porsupah invariably garners attention
everywhere he goes, whether because of his accent (hes from England),
dress, or strong opinions. Hes the sort of person youd call
"interesting" in the same way you might categorize someone else
based on his or her lifestyle choice. I say lifestyle choice because I
believe its appropriate to allow his "hobby" the kind
of seriousness we normally associate with sexual preference or religious
Porsupah is a furry.
You may have heard of these people; you could call them fans of all
things anthropomorphic. They are interested in fiction, films, comics,
zines, cartoons, fan art, fan fiction, and online communities where animals
have human characteristics and minds. The anthropomorphic agenda covers
all aspects of human behavior, including sex. Since many mainstream furry
titles are directed at kids, this makes for a natural source of controversy:
six-year-olds looking for Lion King web sites may wind up on furry sites
with Disneyesque characters that look like Hooters employees.
Anyway, Porsupah is something of an elder statesman within the furry
community. Hes been involved for years, helped set up one of the
first furry MUDs, regularly attends conventions, and has lived in an entire
house of furries in Silicon Valley. We met over quality beers and his
laptop (to review some convention video) a few months ago.
What brought you to furrydom?
Ive always been furry. Id contend most furs have.
Its quite common for people to be able to recount instances from
their childhood of, say, sympathizing with the werewolf in old horror
flicks, or feeling that the loss of tails was a bad move by whatever deities
Would you call this group
of people a "community?"
It is. Some people hate to be called "furry," but
most are perfectly happy with the label. Some people really hate anything
to do with sexuality in furrydom; others like it. Its a very broad
range of interests.
Whats the breakdown
at a convention like Confurence, in terms of homegrown material verses
Id say maybe 75-80 percent are peoples personal
characters, with the rest taken from mass-marketed titles.
Is there any kind of division
between people who build their own character and those who adopt a commercial
Actually no, it tends to be more, "Does it look good?"
What about between people
who have fur suits and those who only participate virtually?
Oh yeah. Few people can make suits. Its definitely a
positive attribute, just as, say, being an artist is.
How many nonmainstream characters
are well known within the community?
Not very many, maybe a dozen.
Are people excited when
theres a new fur-oriented character in mainstream media?
Yes. Dedicated fans of The Lion King have set up a MUCK where
people carry on the same settings, some of the same characters, and new
ones. I believe there are also RPG [role playing game] sessions. Then
theres Mu-Shu from Mulan. And Miko from Pocahontas was very popular,
helped by the fact that Mattel put out a very nice plushy [stuffed animal]
of him. In the past, the Uncle Remus characters, Brer Rabbit, and Rolf
Of Song of the South?
Yes. Which is still well known, although at least in the U.S.,
Disney barely acknowledges it. Others? I daresay there were some people
who were very disappointed with the recent Wing Commander film [adapted
from the popular game]the Kilranthi, who are supposedly felines,
turned out to have rather cheesy fake rubber suits that looked reptilian.
Whats this [on the
RooSIG. Kangaroo Special Interest Group. Thats one feature
of Confurenceyou get panels dedicated to a particular species or
Do people tend to adopt
characters such as the Warner Brothers stable [Tweety, Sylvester,
Sometimes. The trick is keeping them in character. Almost always
youll find that they start off in character and then as the months
go on theyll diverge in their own way.
What hasnt been done
Some people are aiming for better realism, like mouths and
eye motion. Tail design, too. I dont think anyones come up
with a convincing quadrapede designthats got huge challenges
in it itself, but Im sure there are people working on it.
Whats the relationship
of the fur community with the plush community [collectors of stuffed animals]?
The plush community is pretty much a subset of furrydom. Theres
definitely a sexual element for some people.
How much of that stuff is
out in the open at the conferences?
People walking around with plushies quite happily. There is
some overlap even with zoophilia, which is a controversial topic with
some people, quite understandably.
[back to the video] Theres
a Minnie Mouse.
Yeah, thankfully Ive not yet heard of any case where
studios copyright holders have been nasty.
the hotel braced for the next Confurence?
I think theyve hosted sci-fi cons so theyve probably
had Klingons around. DuckCon (in Chicago) is interesting in that its
not a purely furry con, its a sci-fi con that developed a furry
track. So, at the same event, youll have skunks and Klingons in
the same elevator, sometimes talking about beach-front properties.
One problem with your suit
is that you cant really drink in it.
You have to use straws or go to secluded areas to take off
the head. Of course, its a big no-no to be headless in public. To
break the illusion.
Are there any mainstream
fur-oriented releases considered to be passé, or inappropriate,
Im not sure, I tend to not dwell on things I dont
enjoy. Some people might view The Lion King that way. There was a comic
put out a couple years back called Skunk that a lot of people felt had
a very negative portrayal of furrydom.
Whats the general
breakdown of species?
On the MUCK there are a lot of wolves, big cats, some other
dogs, like coyotes. Those make up at least half.
Do you feel like furrydom
Yes. Confurence has grown by about 20 percent each year to
about 1,200 attendees. Alt.fan.furry grew off of a little mailing list,
which grew off rec.arts.comics.