A Barking Dog Doesn’t Bite1 / Yotam Berger in a unique and first of it’s kind interview with a ‘Furry’ community activist.
I met An Cat Dubh through the Blogsphere, and to be honest—I too thought, at first, he’s a bit unbalanced. The first thing I discovered about him, as a result of a link the reply in my blog had included, is that he has some sort of connection to a community that hitherto I’d never heard of before—the ‘Furry Fandom’. But, after several weeks of acquaintance, gradually a well-learned and intelligent person was discovered, speaks a very high number of languages, reads and even writes poetry. He proposed to be interviewed to my article, and I, obviously, jumped on the opportunity.
An Cat Dubh2 requested not to identify himself by his real name, but by his pen-name.
It is important to emphasise that the writer, Yotam Berger, is not a Furry and has no connection, artistic or personal, to this school.
(Interviewer’s questioned are bold)
Before everything, come tell us, give a bit of background on what is actually the ‘Furry Fandom’.
The Furry Fandom is, actually, a fandom whose object of interest and admiration is anthropomorphised animals, id est, animal characters with human traits, from talking animals to an animal-human hybrid (a classic example is the film ‘Robin Hood’ by Disney).
Wait, what is a ‘fandom’ actually?
According to Wikipedia, ‘A andom (from English ‘fan’) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.’
How active is the Furry Fandom in the country?
The Furry Fandom is nearly unactive in the country. The number of Furries in the country is very little, since it did not receive recognition.
I know one active Furry (who has even got up the Israeli Furry community’s home site) named Oleg Heifetz, and he too didn’t manage to contribute to the recognition of the Furries in the country as a known community. The second active Furry in the country is myself.
I understand from this you are active in the Fandom. How does this manifest itself?
The definition of ‘Who Is a Furry’ is a rather individual matter. In my case, it manifests as my affection, amongst other things, in my reading of four Furry comics on the internet: Concession: the Definition of Depraved, Furthia High, Better Days, and Fletcher Apts.
For the spreading of the Fandom, I’ve written about it a full article about it on Wikipedia and made efforts to spread it as much as possible on the internet, especially on IsraBlog, and amongst my friends.
Aside from that, I am working these days on a short story in which my Fursona appears, a children’s book in which a variation of it appears, and I intent to release a book in which are included a few works related to the Fandom (for instance, a poem referring to the inaccuracies in the representation of the Furries in the Guiness Book of World Records 2008).
I’ve read before the interview that each member of the Furry community has some sore of a personal ‘character’ of an animal, known as a ‘Fursona’, as you’ve mentioned beforehand. What are they for, actually?
Not each member has one, although (as far as my understanding goes; I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to many Furries) the vast majority of them has one. It is called a ‘Fursona’ (from English ‘fur’ and ‘persona’).
This character is a hybrid of a human and an animal, and it represents some sort of an ‘alter-ego’, an alternative character to the person who has created it.
My Fursona, by the way, is of an English Bombay cat (a cat whose fur is uniformly black and its eyes are of copper red-green colour).
How, actually, do you select your Fursona?
Usually by identification with characteristics attributed to the animals, affection to the animal, et cetera. In my case, I’ve always had affection to cats, thus my initial Fursona was a brown can with black stripes. Khosekh, my she-cat, was for me an inspiration to change the fur colour, and later on I happened to find information about the specific type of cat which serves as my current Fursona.
That is, there are occurrences of ‘switching’ a Fursona?
Yes. Immelmann (I shall specify more about him), for instance, changed it from a cheetah to a wolf, and currently he uses a character of a wolf-rabbit hybrid. (There are Fursonæ of the sort, though not many. There is also a minority which even uses Pokémon, Digimon, and mythical creatures as Fursonæ.)
Who is this ‘Immelmann’ you’ve mentioned?
He’s the bloke who got me into the Fandom.
How did you get to know him?
He has a webcomic named Concession: the Definition of Depraved [little explanation about the meaning of the word ‘concession’, and about concession stands, because movie tickets and snacks are usually bought in separate stands in Israel], the comic I’ve mentioned earlier. I got to the comic completely by chance, through a link from another comic.
I found it when it was still still in its beginning, and added the creator to the Messenger (nowadays he doesn’t publicise his address, only his e-mail address).
At the beginning we didn’t get along and for several months he wouldn’t speak to me, but after my befriending of his mate, he decided to try to speak to me again. Nowadays he’s one of my most endeared friends.
He was the one who introduced the Fandom to me. Now I translate his comic to Hebrew.www.concessioncomic.com (The link to the comic)
Part of the definition of a Fandom is a creating community in a certain subject, which it admires. Is there Furry art (from poetry to fanfics through visual art)?
Certainly. People usually connect the Furries to the Fursuits (animal costumes resembling football mascots’) and to the sexual side of the Fandom, and forget (or don’t know at all) that the origin of the Fandom is in art, whose roots are very deep. There is wide-range Furry literature: the Æsop fables, Reynard the Fox’s tales, the Kemono art (from Japanese獣, kemono, animal) (an art form including stories and graphic art about humans in ‘Robin Hood style’), the Redwall books, the Watership Down books, and more.
There is also wide-range Furry graphic art, of course, including amongst others the Kemono art mentioned above; and there is even Furry music, for instance the ballet Renard: histoire burlesque chantée et jouée by Igor Stravinsky.
Are there Furry television programmes or films too?
There are also series and films of Furry art, as most of us recall from our childhood series: Looney Tunes, Walt Disney’s works, and my favourite programme, Alfred J. Kwak (an amazing programme, with infinite social messages. To this very day I do not understand its creator, Herman van Veen, who thought children could comprehend it).
The Furry films and series are not necessarily for children; in the United States, Fritz the Cat, the first cartoon to receive an X rating, was Furry.
I’ve read about something called ‘yiff’. What is it actually?
Now you’ve reached the most controversial subjects regarding Furries. ‘Yiff’, in the Furry jargon, means ‘to perform sexual conduct’.
The term ‘yiff’ is usually connected to the Furry erotic art, which includes ‘Robin Hood style hybrids’ in the positions and situations in which humans usually appear in human pornography.
They’re usually described in a very human way, often with human male genitalia, but occasionally use anatomically accurate male sex organs, and even less frequently women with more than one pair of breasts are drawn. There are also Furries who like to perform intercourse in a special Fursuit in which a special hole was made for the genitalia. The percentage of Furries who actually like doing this is low (in fact, only 18% of the Furries own a Fursuit), but in the United States and in Canada, in which the Furries are more known, they’re name is associated with those who do so.
I do not blame them on destroying the Furries’ name, each person has their own taste. It is a harmless fetish. It’s the ignorant people who can’t see beyond it who are responsible.
It is important to mention not all Furries like yiff.
Admiring animals makes an almost automatic connection to zoophilia. What do you think of zoophilia, and is there really a great percentage of zoophiles amongst Furries?
Actually no. The zoophile percentage is equal to, if not lower than, the percentage amongst non-Furries. However, this is another characteristic attributed to Furries.
Apart from that, one should remember zoophilia receives a rather hypocritical treatment: they do not perform intercourse with animals to which it could be harmful; seek their consent (they state animals can express consent, even if not verbally); and most of them are members of animal rights’ organisations. Aside from that they suffer often from their spouses dying often, and they have no way of openly grieving.
And no, I am not a zoophile myself.
When was, actually, the Fandom established as an organisation?
The ‘canon’ history, as researchers state, starts in a discussion in a Sci-Fi convention regarding the importance of antropomorphised animals to the genre. This argument evolved, with time, to a community and a subculture, which grew enough even to hold conventions. But in fact, most of the Furries themselves state there are hints of a much earlier Furry community, already, in fact, in various mythologies, and later on also in classic literature.
To conclude: from where is the Fandom coming, and whither is it going?
The Fandom comes from art, and if the hypothetic God wish so, will continue to art. I personally see the Furries primarily as an artistic school. Like Futurists, but not necessarily morons.
My vision is a Furry convention, maybe even a few in Israel, in which people of the country’s intellectual elite will be found, discussing some of the prominent literary works—Ysengrimus, Redwall, maybe even some of my own works, and performances of singers singing Lieder referring to Furry subjects, maybe even a Furry opera or two.
Thank you very much!
Apropos, if any of the readers has any questions, s/he is invited to send an e-mail to my address:Seto1@walla.co.il
1An Israeli proverb meaning, ‘Someone who makes a lot of threats doesn’t fulfil them.’