Note: I have been informed that the event did indeed have event insurance to cover the cost of the damaged laptop, I was given a different impression during event itself.
I hope it won’t hurt my street cred for you all to learn that I hang out with furries. Not all the time, mind you, and not exclusively, but I can definitely tell you the animal totem of about fifty percent of my friends and associates. This past weekend the boyfriend and I went to Further Confusion, a furry convention at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, to hang out with those friends in an environment where it was perfectly okay to don a tail, ears, and collar to proclaim your animal identity, but this time, my fourth visit to FurCon, I found myself thinking more about what’s wrong with this particular event than I did about the opportunities for self-expression it presents.
In some ways Further Confusion is a lot like Martin Luther Queen; gay boys, check (probably 80% of furry guys are gay, or at least can be convinced to engage in sexual activity with other male beasts); pre-occupation with sex and porn, check; heavy emphasis on costumes and dressing up, check; intoxicant-fueled debauchery, check; and, finally, everybody getting together with the pretty obvious intent of humping on Saturday night, check. What was different about Further Confusion was how amateurish all that was, and how heavily the scent of desperation hung over everything.
Three of the four years I’ve gone to FC I’ve been involved with DJing and doing a party. In the first year it was a room party with several folks I knew, and it was a blast. The next year, we got upstaged by kids down the hall playing dubstep and psytrance (for some reason furry DJs are all about hardcore and drum and bass, which should tell you a lot about them right there); the third year I decided I wanted nothing to do with FC, but was coaxed into going down to see some folks I know; and then this year, I had a Saturday night slot in a side room from the main dance. But, because the night before some whacked out kid had busted up another DJ’s laptop when the DJ refused to play a request, the powers that be, who hadn’t had the foresight to get event insurance to cover things like broken gear, decided that only people who were going to DJ on equipment owned by the event could perform. Since I play records and brought my own turntables, this meant I was out.
In my opinion, this was an amateurish and ill-considered response to something that no one could have planned for, but the act that brought it on was emblematic of the general state of amateurish-ness that prevailed over everything. I saw way too many kids (and here I am referring to their maturity levels, not their actual ages, as most were well into their 20s) who couldn’t handle their intoxicants, mostly booze, getting way fucked up as a means of dealing with their own social awkwardness. On Saturday night, everything from the music to the drinking to the sexual behavior all seemed driven by a pent-up adolescent energy that was desperate to find its expression in the hours between midnight and 3AM (wandering the hotel at 6.30 I was shocked at how much of a ghost town it had become, save for the lone guy playing his PSP in the lobby). When I first wrote about FurCon in my journal back in 2004, I was into the fun of it, the cuteness of the costumes (and the occasional alternaboy), and the light-hearted nature of it all. What I saw this time was that everything that makes FurCon cute and playful is also what makes it desperate and a little icky; both are aspects of a child that loves cartoon characters and anthropomorphized animals, but also finds it difficult to express itself (sexually, socially, artistically) in any but the most childish way. I felt like I was watching a constant stream of temper tantrums being thrown by children who were desperate for attention.
This might all sound a bit harsh coming from someone who goes by DJ Pup, and there’s probably just a tad bit of sour grapes involved since I got knocked out of my DJ slot AND I didn’t even get any tail at any of the room parties (but by Saturday night every guy I found slightly attractive seemed to have so much baggage attached to him that, without hours of Internet communication and porn trading, I don’t know how I would have been able to make even a sexual connection). But I was known as Pup well before I even knew there were furries, and Pup has never been all that I am, just an aspect of myself. When I think about my friends who are part of the furry world, this is where I see the difference between them and the kids I encountered over the weekend; for my friends, identification with an animal is a vehicle for expression, a totem to meditate upon, a way to bring parts of their personality to light. For many of the kids at FurCon, their animal self is an almost psychotic fantasy, a means of escaping who they are in reality (all the evidence of this you need can be found in the images of their characters on their con badges compared to their actual physical being), a constant performance intended to cover over the things that they find undesirable about themselves, from their physical attributes to their sexuality. I'm not Pup all the time, nor do I want to be; but for these kids, the entire world, their social life, their friends, revolves around being a furry.
I don’t know if I’ll go back to FC next year; there are friend who go that I enjoy hanging out with, and some of the costumes and playfulness I truly do enjoy, but if I do go, I will certainly not stay for the Saturday night amateur hours. It's just a little too depressing.