Furever yours

by David Holub

“You gotta understand something, man. This is not what you think it is. This isn’t low-level stuff. This is people who have a lot of money, and a lot of power, and this is what we like to do and nobody needs to know about it.”

That was told to Durango artist Wu Wallace outside a bar in San Francisco in October 2014, by the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company who happened to be wearing a concealing, full-fledged tiger costume.

Wu and the tiger CEO had just left what is known as a furry party, full of other people, some in anthropomorphic animal costumes, some not. This particular furry party had explicit sexual overtones as you’ll see in Wu’s story.

It’s important to know that this particular party is a bit of an outlier. Most furry gatherings are more mainstream, taking place at large convention centers like those of many other fandoms and hobbies. And the informal furry parties they throw are like any other party: People talking and laughing about the thing they have in common, playing cards, above-board hanging out.

So what is a furry? They’re people interested in anthropomorphized animals and the subculture that began developing in the late 1980s as an offshoot of the sci fi/fantasy fandoms. Think Bugs Bunny or Tony the Tiger or Smokey Bear or almost any cartoon starring bipedal, humanized animals. Furry fandom isn’t only people who dress and interact in sophisticated animal costumes, and in fact, most don’t. Some assume furry personas and avatars (fursonas) only for interacting online. Some create original furry artwork or stories, as humans have been doing for thousands of years. As a subculture, the interest is in exploring and interpreting the human condition, life experiences and human psychology and socialization through anthropomorphized expression.

Most furries consider their pursuits in the realm of a hobby or subculture, a chance to hang with the likeminded. The term “fetish” can be off-putting or downright inaccurate. However, like many subcultures, there can be an edgier, more subversive, underground component to furrydom, which Wu’s story explores.

This is just one furry story, as told by Wu Wallace, who was living in Santa Cruz at the time. It’s about one crazy San Francisco night that ended at a scene many of us only read about or see in movies.

So, I have this real good friend Meghan, who’s this amazing artist. She calls me up and says, “We gotta get out of town. I gotta get out of here; I’m losing it. Come up to San Francisco with me for the night.” So I say sure. She says, “We might be going to an interesting party afterwards. Bring a costume.”

Pretty much my only costume was this bigfoot costume that I wear around everywhere. So I bring it along with me, I get up to San Francisco and I get to my friend’s house and I drop it in a puddle of bum piss. And I didn’t even know it. I pick it up and I was like, “Oh shoot, I dropped it in some water.” I smelled pee and I’m like, “Nooooo! I ruined my bigfoot costume! I’m not going to be able to wow the party.” [image:2]

Before we go to the interesting party, we decide to go to this club. It’s an art club. The whole point of it – and it’s not like a club like ‘we’re going to go dance’ club. It’s like a country club. And it is posh. I’ve never been to a place like this before. You have to pay this crazy membership just to be a part of it, then you can bring a guest in. So I was kind of a plus-one to it. The whole point of this club is to link people who have a lot of money with artists so they can buy fine art from the artist. So it’s just a schmoozefest. You’re seeing businessmen walking around with beautiful women and they’re chatting up with scummy artists. And there’s all these different-themed rooms. One of them, you pull a book on a shelf and this door opens up and you go into this reading area. We were in that book nook and we’re sitting down with a bunch of other artists kind of chatting, shooting the shit. We’re with this guy who owns the [prominent business] in San Francisco and we’re with this other guy who’s an international projection artist – big names. So we’re like, let’s go to this other party. P.S.: It’s a furry party. And I’m like, “YES! THIS IS BADASS!”

She’s telling me, “Dude, this place is the real deal. It’s off the hook. We gotta go there.” And the guy who owns the [business] and the projection artist were like [in a sophisticated accent], “Ohh, we want to go to a furry party. Why don’t we take you there in our convertible?” And I’m like, “YEAH! Let’s go to the furry party in the convertible!”

So we’re walking down the street and this guy’s like [sophisticated accent], “Would you like a beer? Would you like more food?” Everywhere we go he’s stopping us, buying us shit. So we get into their old vintage convertible. He’s like, “Hop in.” He starts it up, like this old baby blue Corvair, and it’s like, “WOM! WOM! WOM!” And he turns on some ’90s goth-rock. I don’t remember the band, but it was super sad music. He starts up his car and peels out, clearly drunk. Super drunk. And I’m like, “Oh [bleep]; this is going to be a wild ride.” I had no idea what we were getting into. I’m not joking: He’s doing 60 miles an hour down San Francisco, midnight, weaving in and out of cars and he’s blowing every stoplight, just pedal to the metal.

It gets crazier. His buddy, the guy who owns the [business], is sitting next to us, he’s like, “Oh no no no. Pull down [this] street right here” and the guy’s like, [sound effect of squealing tires]. He is doing slide-turns down alleyways. I’m not kidding: People are jumping Out. Of. The road. To get out of the way! And the whole time he’s like, whatever, listening to music and this other dude’s like, [sophisticated accent] “Ah yes, right here, this is where we had our orgies. We would all meet here and have our group sex until the city banned it from this street – OK turn down here.” He’s telling us all these wild stories and I’m like, “We’re all going to [beep]ing die. We’re going to die.” I look over at my friend Meghan and she’s like, [gasping], having seizures next to me, crying. She’s holding on to me. We finally pull up to this bar. Meghan can’t even walk. I’m helping her into the bar.

We get in and it’s pounding music: BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. Furry party.

I didn’t get told a lot about this furry party. Meghan said, “You got to see it to believe it, but the last time I was there, I watched a seal getting a blow job from a fox ON the bar.” So, envision that, for this party. It’s a bunch of people dressed up in animal costumes – like real big animal costumes and they’re all kind of dancing. But there’s a second group of people, and they’re dressed in leather. Like, leather straps and stuff. There’s a weird dynamic between the two. The animals are kind of [bleep]ing around with each other and they’re slinking into this back room for a while, coming back out, slinking in. [image:1] And then these people who’re wearing the leather, they have leashes and so they’ll go up to a furry animal that they like and clip this leash onto them and bring them over and dance with them a little bit. It sounds creepy, but it wasn’t creepy at all. It was totally consensual. Nobody was out of hand. People were definitely into it and there for a reason. But they would all ask for permission before they start touching each other and groping on each other. We’d be dancing there and an animal would come up and start grinding on you. It was fine. It wasn’t perverted. It didn’t feel gross.

I don’t have a weird thing. I don’t want to [bleep] an animal or anything. I think that the reason it works is they’re not overly creepy. You could be dancing at a gay club (in San Francisco) and have a great time and guys will come on to you and it comes on really heavy. You don’t want it, but they’re just coming at you with a different vibe.

It’s not that [the furries] want to [bleep] you and it’s not that they want to make it sexual but if you want to have a good time, you can take it there. But there’s kind of this unspoken respect that goes back and forth. People in the leather weren’t interested in other people. They were only interested in the animals.

So the party ends and everyone moves outside. They’re all just hanging out and talking. And I’m hitting people up, like “I love what you’re doing. This is so cool. I really like the scene here. It’s not what I was expecting.” But I sit down and I get talking to this one guy. And they all have different names, weird names, like Tasty Eagle and Pup Leo. And I’m like, “How much does one of these costumes cost and he says, “No. You gotta understand something right now. These costumes are more money than you can possibly fathom. Not an average person could afford this.” He says, “What you need to know is that the people in these costumes are like executives.” He says he’s the CEO of a tech company in the Silicon Valley. “I can’t expose myself. I can’t show my face, but this is what I love to do and I can afford it.” He was in this weird tiger costume. The cool thing was, we’re talking and people – they always do this little paw thing on each other and then he’ll start purring and lean into it and paw back. He’s like, “You gotta understand something, man. This is not what you think it is. This isn’t low-level stuff. This is people who have a lot of money and a lot of power, and this is what we like to do, and nobody needs to know about it.” I’m like, “NO WAY!”

But it was a sweaty-ass dance party and I asked that guy, “Dude, I’m sweating my balls off right now; you have to be losing it.” And he’s like, “I have fans in (this costume) and stuff.” You talk to these people and it’s not just a fur costume. Guaranteed they’re sweating those things out, but they got the mechanics in there to make it happen. And they are GOOD costumes. You wear something like that and you are gonna get laid.

Nothing insane happened in front of my eyes. I didn’t get to see anything wild. But they’re obviously [bleep]ing around with each other in the background and there’s definitely a sexual vibe, to it but it’s totally consensual. It’s totally happy. It is honestly one of the most friendly … I really thought it was going to be more perverted, more leather-party or more of a power exchange thing where there’s this weird edge to it where you’re kind of vulnerable, maybe a victim in some cases where people are getting off on that. This was – everyone was one the same level; everybody’s making sure everybody’s cool with everything. I can only say positive things about my experience with it.

I would definitely go back to one of the parties. I am not into it by any means. I would not dress up in an animal costume … it’s not my thing. If I put a bigfoot costume on it’s because I’m going to go make people laugh and I want them to know it’s me. I’m not going to put it on to go get into that scene but I totally respect that scene. Because it is their own little world. It’s like the theater kids, man. Total theater kids; they’re total band kids, like band camp. They all knew each other.

While I’m not into it, I totally respect it and I would party with those guys any day. Because they’re fun. But if some seal was like, “Hop up on the bar, big boy,” I’d be like, “Um, you know … probably gonna keep dancing if that’s cool.”

Wu’s story was lightly edited for clarity and space.


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