An Informal History of Furry Fandom

by Simo



The Furry fandom that you know today did not just spring forth, fully grown. Much of this story has not been told in a form that is readily accessible to the average fan. This history is an attempt to tell that story. Now, I don't claim to have the definitive history of Furry-dom down pat. Such a thing is not possible, in that as events unfold no one is aware of what is important, and what is not. During the course of events, there simply may be no one there who thinks to keep a record. Much of this history is preserved in the form of Internet caches of old web sites and Usenet posts. Some has already been lost. Furry-dom has largely come of age on the Internet, and therefore, has left little by way of a "paper trail". Digital data is very fragile. When a web site is either taken down, or expires from lack of use, it is up to the admin of that web server to decide if the contents are to be preserved. Portions of our history has been blown away with the click of a mouse. There are remnants of such historical happenings in surviving references to past events, and, of course, in personal recollection. Therefore, I would urge anyone who has something to add to this history to please do not keep it to yourself, but to E-Mail me the details.

It is, after all, our common story. It deserves to be told.

What Is A Furry?

The term "furry" is used in several senses. A Furry is a fantasy being that is an anthropomorphic animal, a zoomorphic human, or which is an amalgamation of human and animal features. Anthropomorphic animal characters would include the intelligent rats and mice from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, "Mr. Ed" (talking horse) "Francis" (talking army mule) Jonathon (of Jonathon Livingston Seagull) -- all of which look like animals, and yet think and communicate like humans. Also included would be cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Yogi the Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Roger Rabbit, and so forth. Here, you could also include Vincent from the late 1980s TV series: Beauty and the Beast. These characters are normally bipedal, often dress in human clothing, and resemble their real life counterparts in more or less detail. Zoomorphic humans would include characters such as "Josie and the Pussycats" (wear cat ears and tails), Spiderman (superhero whose super powers derive from those of an animal), or Batman (name, costume, and symbolism derive from bats). Human/animal amalgamations would include such mythic beings as Anubis (head of a dog; body of a man), or the Centaur (half horse; half man). You can also throw into the mix such legendary fantasy creatures as the gryphon, unicorn, dragon, and kitsune.

Given the wide latitude of "furry", what isn't a Furry? Lassie, Flicka, Rin-Tin-Tin, and Flipper don't qualify. These characters aren't anthropomorphic: they look like animals, nor do they talk, or do anything that the real life animal itself could not do. These characters and their TV shows and movies may hold a certain crossover appeal to Furry fans, but they are not Furry. Shows such as Lassie, My Friend Flicka, Gentle Ben, and Flipper all belong to a genre that could be called: "Cute Kids 'n' Cute Animals". Also excluded would be other anthropomorphic characters: the talking candlesticks and silverware from the animated cartoon Beauty and the Beast or "Thomas the Tank Engine" (no animaloid features) for example. These, too, are not Furry.

Unlike most of the other fandoms, such as Trekkies, X-Philes, the Lord of the Rings fandom, which are centered on a specific TV show, movie, or literary piece, or a more generalized fandom, such as the science fiction fandom, Furry is more inclusive than that. It would be more accurate to describe Furry as a meta-genre. Furry characters can appear in genres as diverse as cartoons, comic strips and comic books, science fiction, sword 'n' sorcerer fantasy, fairy tale, sociopolitical allegory, horror, or even a mystery. So far, about the only thing excluded is nonfiction (when genetic engineering solves the problem, not even this will be excluded). As a result, there is considerable overlap between genres, and fandoms, which has led to misunderstandings, inter-fandom rivalries, and flame wars.

"Furry" can also refer to the Furry fandom, and to the affiliates[*] thereof. Unfortunately, the name also carries with it some negative connotations: Furry extremists who take perverse delight in "squicking" the "mundanes" through outrageous behaviours, undercurrents of sexual deviancy involving fetishes, kinks, and other odd sexual hobbies, to implications of bestiality. Some of this negative publicity was unavoidable, in that Furry will be seen by the public-at-large to be a decidedly strange hobby. After all, the general public has been trained to see Furry interests (cartoons, playing "dress-up", playing "make-belief") as "kids' stuff" which should have been outgrown by the age of twelve at the very latest. Some could have been avoided had Furry fans exercised a bit more discretion in both their public and on-line behaviours.

Furry: The Early Years

"Anthros" have had a very long history of popular culture appeal, going back centuries, if not millenia. Hummel mouse-people from the early 1900s, the "Felix the Cat" art deco clocks (still popular as reproductions; highly valued as working originals) from the 1930s, the poker playing dogs which have long graced millions of living and rec room walls. For our purpose, we can consider 1968 to be the pivotal year. It was at this time that Robert Crumb created his character: "Fritz the Cat" (not to be confused with Felix). This represented the revival of an art form which had been killed off over twenty years prior.

Unlike the image of the straight-laced, conformist, risk averse 1950s, during the early 1950s, "comic books" included hard hitting crime dramas, featuring serial killers, rapists, and drug dealers. Titles included: Murder, Morphine, and Me which included a scene wherein a red hot poker is plunged into an eye. The original Dick Tracy, unlike the gallant detective with that uber-cool two way, audio/visual, wrist radio of the mid-1960s cartoon series, was a bad-ass cop with a total disregard for the nuances and niceties of the Bill of Rights. In 1954, this came to an end when the Kefauver Commission of Sen. Estes Kefauver, drew a totally fallacious connection between rising juvenile delinquency and these comic art serials. Kefauver's political grandstanding didn't win him the White House in the 1956 election, but the mainstream publishers of "comic books" gave into government pressure and began to offer nothing else than "mom and dad safe", childish, cartoony, superhero fare.1 .

Fritz the Cat, started out as an underground, counter-culture, comic art serial. Unlike the mainstream comic books, Fritz the Cat included heaping helpings of sex and drugs. Picked up by the mainstream publishing house, Ballantine Books, it spawned a whole series of these counter-culture "Comix". These were aimed at the Stoner Set, and sold mainly through the burgeoning "head shop" industry. This revived the comic art serial as an artform which could go beyond the comic book as children's entertainment.

Following the success of Fritz the Cat, Dan O'Neill, Gary Hallgren, Bobby London, and Ted Richards (the "Air Pirates") released a series of comic art serials: Air Pirates Funnies, Dan O'Neill's Comics & Stories, and The Tortoise and the Hare, all of which were pornographic parodies of Disney comic books, and mocked the legendary conservatism of the Disney company. These were eventually shut down by court order, but not before reinforcing the notion that comic art serials could combine "adult" situations and "funny animals".

The pattern having been set, in 1976, Reed Waller and Ken Fletcher started up an APA called Vootie as an underground association for professional cartoonists looking to expand their horizons, and indulge non-corporate-approved fantasies. The most famous of the Vootie titles was Waller's Omaha, the Cat Dancer -- as in exotic dancer -- in other words, the adventures of a stripper. In January of that same year, the mainstream comic publishing house, Marvel Comics, introduced Howard the Duck. This comic series demonstrated that the "funny animal" character could also feature in a more literary and dramatic role than just the "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll", stoner, squick the squares, counter-culture paradigm. This development was probably vital towards keeping alive the idea that "funny animals" could be more than cartoon comedians for kids. By 1976, the hippy counter-culture was a dying phenomenon, giving way for the Age of Disco.

In December, 1977, David Sim published Cerebus the Aardvark, originally intended as a mockery of the sword 'n' sorcerer genre, it evolved into a sophisticated, literary drama featuring a strong Furry hero interacting with a cast of humans.

During the NorEastCon II sci-fi convention (Labor Day weekend, 1980) Steve Gallacci entered an Erma Felina painting depicting an anthro character in a high-tech military setting in the art show. This helped attract attention of the fans to examine Gallacci's proposal for a comic art serial about genetically engineered intelligent animals fighting an interstellar war. This established a common interest between the science fiction and anthro genres. These informal meeting led to the formation of the "Gallacci Group". This group met at subsequent WorldCons (oldest sci-fi convention which started in 1939 for the World's Fair, whose theme for that year was "The World of Tomorrow") and WesterCons to discuss anthros in sci-fi, comic art serials, and animation. These fans also showed off each others' art for critiques, art exchanges, commissions, drawing for one another. This group broke away from the sci-fi conventions in 1985 to coalesce around Rowrbrazzle (another APA) and what would become the first Furry parties.

Greg Wadsworth independently published Ismet, a science fiction series about an under-class of anthros fighting for liberation from their human oppressors. Later that year, 1981, Omaha, the Cat Dancer made a wider public debut as a book length serial appearing in Bizarre Sex.

The last of the comic art serials featuring anthro super heroes was introduced: Roy Thomas' and Scott Shaw's Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew (DC Comics) in February, 1982. It would run for over a year (November, 1983).

In February, 1983, Vootie finally collapsed due to lack of interest after a 37 issue run. Even though Vootie was allowed to die through apathy, the interest did not. In October of that same year, Marc Schirmeister announced a new APA to replace Vootie: Rowrbrazzle. Unlike Vootie, which was more of a "good ol' boys' club" for professional cartoonists, Rowrbrazzle would feature art from non-professionals if it met Rowrbrazzle's quality standards. Meanwhile, Fantasy Games Unlimited introduced Other Suns, a conventional (meaning board, not computer or on-line) role play game, featuring Furry art by Ken Sample and Fa Shimbo. Other Suns also included the Skilltaires by Mark Merlino. This game was play tested by a sizable following of future Furry fans. Other Suns, originated by Nicolai Shapero, had been in development for four years. It would sell some 12,000 units before FGU went bust.

June, 1984: Steve Gallacci introduced the self-published Albedo, under the Thoughts and Images moniker. Erma Felna of the EDF was the feature for the debut issue. Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo began its run with Albedo #2.

Mean while, Mark Merlino established a "commune" of gamers at his home, now named the Prancing Skilltaire (after his Other Suns characters) in Garden Grove (a "bedroom community" south of LA in Orange County, California). Merlino and Rod O'Riley were the two permanent members, with anywhere form four to six other transient roomers. This core group of gamers experimented with sci-fi, Anime, comics, the Dr. Who and Pern novel fandoms. The Prancing Skilltaire was also the sight of the Tiger's Den BBS server. Later, the Prancing Skilltaire would become the location for what would soon be called "Furry" house parties. These, in turn, would lead up to the first of the Furry cons: Confurence 0 (1989). It is a common misconception that Merlino's "commune" was established as a Furry "commune". It definitely did not start out that way.

July, 1985: Merlino and O'Riley hosted the first anthro fan party at the WesterCon 38 sci-fi convention in Sacramento, CA. It proved successful enough to inspire more fan parties at other sci-fi and comic book conventions.

At next year's WesterCon, the first "official" Furry party was announced via posted fliers. This was the first occasion of the use of the term "Furry" as a recognizable identifier for anthropomorphic fans. At subsequent conventions, Furry parties were announced via fliers featuring Furry pin-up art. This led to the identification of the attendees of these parties as the "Furry fandom".

May, 1987: Merlino established BayCon as the center of activity for Furfans to gather. There was a large, and growing, contingent of Furry fans at this, and the next two, Baycons. The non-furry guests grew increasingly hostile at this "take over" of what they considered to be "their" convention. At one of these Baycons, someone whose name is long since lost to history, defaced some of the Furry party flyers, crossed out the word "Furry" and substituted an epithet that lives on to this very day: "Skunkfuckers".

January, 1989: Merlino and O'Riley organized Confurence 0, scheduled to take place on the 21st and 22nd, at the Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza, in Costa Mesa, CA. The membership was 90, with 65 in attendance. Guests included Furry artists from across the USA, plus Steve Kerry from Australia. A Susan Van Camp painting sold for $450, and the art auction brought in a total of $1100. This was called "Confurence 0" since Merlino and O'Riley considered it a "dry run" for the "real" convention: Confurence 1, scheduled to take place in 1990.

1989 would also see a flurry of Furry activity. Martin Wagner self-published Hepcats, which grew out of his college newspaper comic strip. Hepcats would explore serious themes such as child abuse and suicide. Steve Willis's Morty the Dog was released by Mu Press. This first issue was simply a reprisal of comic strips which had appeared in the more obscure small press and mini-comics from the early 1980s. Mu Press would become one of the largest mainstream publishers of anthro comic art serials in the next few years. FURtherance, published by Ray Rooney out of Philadelphia, PA, was one of the first of the fanzines. FURtherance would operate until late 1991. There were other, shorter lived, fanzine start-ups this year.

1989 saw the beginning of Furry-dom's 'Net presence when Nicolai Shapero, of Other Suns fame, started up FurNet. This was a network of Furry BBSs that would eventually include over twenty Furry BBSs from across North America. Robert and Brenda Daverin started up FurNography, a fanzine/art folio dedicated to Furry erotica. This would run to June, 1991. Richard Chandler, also out of Philadelphia, PA, started Gallery as a cross between an artists' and writers' APA and a commercial magazine for furry fans.

1990: Confurence 1 was scheduled for 26 -- 28, January, again at the Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza. Membership increased to 145, and attendance to 130. This con started what would become an established feature for every other Fur-con: the Guest of Honour (shared by: Jim Groat, Monika Livingston, Martin Wagner). There were also awards: Best Costume: John Cawley as "Zorro the Fox", Art Show Best of Show: Ken Sample's Winter Charge, Best Filk Award: Kay Shapero's Furry.

Jeff Ferris, Kris Kreutzman, and others in the San Francisco Bay Area introduced Yarf! to replace the moribund Furversion. Yarf! would become Furry-dom's most successful and enduring fanzine.2

The Invasion of the UNIX Hackers

The UNIX Hacker subculture grew up during the late 1960s -- early 1970s at these universities: UC Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT. They were developing operating systems to replace system operators, doing the development, first in assembly, or even by setting each and every bit by hand, later in the programming languages "B", and still later "C". On the side, they developed the Arpanet, the forerunner of both the Internet and the WWW. Given the kind of brain-fry they lived with every day, it is understandable that they would turn to things quite light to unwind. As a result, they revelled in "children's" literature, entertainments and "childish" behaviours. The UNIX Hackers also became the first Trekkies, the first Tolkein-ites (indeed, the fantasy language "Elfish" -- based on the Lord of the Rings -- preceded Klingon by many years) and the first Furries, this being influenced by Winnie the Pooh in particular.

bounce: v.

2. To engage in sexual intercourse; prob.: from the expression "bouncing the mattress", but influenced by Roo's psycho-sexually loaded "Try bouncing me, Tigger!" from the Winnie-the-Pooh books. Compare boink.

Note: The New Hackers Dictionary

One characteristic of the UNIX Hacker subculture is a fascination with, and love for, word play. Hackers are very conscious and aware in their use of language, and in inventing it. As a result, the UNIX Hackers have developed an extensive "slanguage" all their own.3 This characteristic is seen in the Furry fandom, which also has an extensive, and growing, slanguage. This was inherited from the UNIX Hackers. Indeed, some of the Furry terminology is identical to "Hackish". The word "mundane", meaning a fandom outsider, is one example. To the UNIX Hackers, this word meant one who is not of the subculture, didn't work in the computer science fields, or is what could be described as "computer illiterate". (The mundane, however, was not the lowest of the low. That status was reserved for the "suits" -- a connotation that roughly parallels the meaning of the Furry word: "hyooman".) Another Furry word that comes from Hacker slang is the dismissive: "Furrfu". This, of course, fits in since it contains the magic word: "fur". It is also the word "Sheesh" when processed through the ROT13 algorithm included with the traditional UNIX text editor: vi.

Of course, Furries still figure prominently among the *NIX (Used to refer to UNIX, the UNIX-like OSs such as Linux and the BSDs) community. The symbol for Linux is an anthropomorphic penguin named "Tux", an anthro fox represents the Linux Kernel Project, the GNU/Darwin project, being a "fork" off FreeBSD, has its own version of "Darby the Daemon": "Hexley" -- an anthro platypus. Then there are all the Furries of the Mozilla projects: "Mozilla" (from Godzilla) Firefox, Firebird, Phoenix, and Thunderbird. Last, but not least, the anthro wildebeest of Richard Stallman's Project GNU. Is it any wonder that the UNIX Hackers would take to Furry-dom?

The invasion of the UNIX Hackers began in September, 1990 with the establishment of "The Furry Home" (2613 Tilbury Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA) as a "commune" of students from Carnegie-Mellon University. These students were also gamers role playing Furry characters on the general sci-fi MUD, Islandia, until it was shut down that summer. The loss of Islandia prompted Claire Benedikt, and Drew Maxwell to create FurryMUCK, which was up and running by November. In late 1992 or early 1993, FurryMUCK went West to Silicon Valley with the founders upon graduation from Canegie-Mellon. Of course, this gave the UNIX Hackers more access to Furry-dom. 1990 was also the year that Peter DaSilva started up the Usenet group: One month later, this became Thus, Furry-dom's presence as an Internet community began.4

The UNIX Hackers were more than a collection of highly talented computer "geeks". They also came together to form an intentional subculture. Unlike most other fandoms, Furry, too, is an intentional subculture. This is what the term "Lifestyler" meant: one who joined the intentional subculture of Furry. The older Furries, who saw themselves in the more common mould of "fan" would eventually clash with this intentional subculture as it grew during the early 1990s. The first indication of this conflict was the very short lived SOF. This was primarily a group that wanted all the erotic aspects of Furry art removed from the fandom. It also included a strong element of gay-bashing, in that a lot of these people said that SOF meant: "Shove Off, Faggots". Needless to say, this was not acceptable to very many mainstream fans. Nothing much ever came of SOF, and it quickly disappeared, leaving little trace of itself.

Growing Pains: The Revolt of the TBOFs

The dictionary definition of "fandom" implies a passive, spectator, consumer. Fans, generally, do not participate in the activities of which they are fans. This is how Furry fandom started out: passive aficionados of the comic art serials. Like Trekkies, they had no expectation that they would ever participate in the creative process that drove the Furry genres. Furry could very well have remained just such a passive fandom for years, except for three factors: the Internet, the meta-genre nature of Furry, and the UNIX Hackers who were already familiar with intentional subcultures.

The Trekkie fandom did make an attempt to become more participatory. Trekkies wrote reams of fanfic. However, it was quite easy to thwart these creative endeavors. The Gene Roddenbury approved publishers of Trek novels and fanzines simply informed the Trekkies that they were not interested in seeing their fanfic, with no regard for the quality of the writing. They were told that any fanfic sent to them would be discarded unread. The Trekkie could not start up his own fanzine to showcase his fanfic. Any attempt to do so would be answered with threats of lawsuits and/or cease and desist orders. Finally, Trekkies could only network at an annual convention, or via a periodic fan newsletter.

The Internet, FurryMUCK and, made it easy for Furries to network at will. Thus, they could share their fanfic, critique each others' works, and carry on discussions and debates. There was no possibility that they would violate any sort of trademark or copyright by producing original material. The very concept of anthros is not patentable as the concept would clearly qualify as "prior art". Given that, there arose among the fanbase those who believed that they could, and should, participate in the fandom's creative process. These fans came to be called: "Lifestylers". The Lifestylers believed that Furry needed to go beyond the comic art serial, as this particular art form which had grown out of the now dead hippy subculture was becoming stale and unimaginative.

The Lifestylers also believed that Furry could mean more than simply "funny animals". Furry Spirituality drew on the traditional shamanistic religions for inspiration. Here, you found the "Spirit Animal", and the concept of a "fursona". Some Furries believed that they had the soul of an animal, or that they had been an animal in past incarnations, or hoped to be an animal in a future incarnation. These became the Otherkin, Were, and/or Therian contingent. Furry philosophy sought to look to the animal kingdom for lessons for human-kind. The Lifestylers also created new Furry art forms: costuming -- from wearing animal ears and tails to full animal costumes. The latter was originally known as "zooting" (named after the Hispanic zoot suiters of the LA area of the 1940s) and later as "fursuiting" (the current term) and on-line role playing, made possible by FurryMUCK.

This caused a backlash among certain fans who came to call themselves, the TBOF's. The leader of the TBOFs was Richard Chandler, of Gallery fame. It was in Gallery #25 that Chandler issued his "declaration of war": the "Six Shallow Graves" editorial: "Many Fen agree that most of fandom's problems could be solved with six shallow graves. Where people differ is in who should fill those graves." Here is an extract from an post:

In my editorial, I flamed the following sorts of scum:

Here is what the "six graves" represented. There is a strong strain of effete elitism, if not downright snobbery, behind these characterizations. Not to mention a certain trendy-leftie hostility to Capitalism: "Mercenaries who don't care about the fandom, they just wanna make money from it": If someone wants to make some money by offering me something he thinks I might like enough to pay him for it, what do I care whether or not he's a Furry? If the quality is good, and the price is fair, then we can do business.

"People who are more interested in seeing their own wet dreams transcribed to paper by artists, rather than checking out what visions the artists have come up with by themselves": even the "Great Masters" had to please their patrons. Michelangelo, Da Vinci, El Greco: they spent a good deal of their careers transcribing their patrons' "wet dreams" to paper, canvass, stone, and even ceilings. Ayn Rand's fictional architect, Howard Roark, may have proclaimed: "I don't build so I can have clients, I have clients so I can build" -- that makes for a great story, but it doesn't work that way IRL. If you don't make the client happy -- even if what the client wants offends your sensibilities -- then you don't have clients, and you don't build anything. Artists who insist on staying true to their vision while disregarding their potential clients tend to die penniless. Those who transcribe "wet dreams" do pretty well. This is why Vincent Van Gogh lived his entire life dependent on the charity of others, and Claude Monet died a wealthy man.

The rest of the editorial shows Chandler's desire to keep Furdom his own little "good ol' boys club" that eschews "dilettantes" -- that is those who aren't of the exclusive club of APA 'zine publishers. Also, to define what "Furriness" means.

Peter Torkelson Jun 19 1996, 3:00 am show options
From: Peter Torkelson - Find messages by this author
Date: 1996/06/19
Subject: Re: Gallery #25 ships

I'm very tired of net-furs being portrayed as the evil that ruined the old boys club. Too big! Too much! Worthless people! I'll not have that message any more.

I'd not be in this fandom if it were not for the networks, bluntly, and I don't praticularly think of myself as worthless. I also don't measure people's worth by how much they contribue to Cause X. You can have an interest in anthro stuff with out giving to the Cause. Welcome to reality. SOme people prefer to put their time and effort into other meaningful things, like the first admendment, gay rights, etc

One big area of contention were the "net-furs" and the Lifestylers. These were the affiliates who were taking the concept of "Furriness" beyond the narrow constraints of the fanzine, the art comic serial, and convention attendance. Chandler: "Am I really all that far off base by wanting anyone who claims to be a fan of furries to actually have a sincere interest in the meta-genre? Sure, the conventions and zines are all the ways people interact, but the very raison d'etre is because they are interested in anthropomorphic characters in some way shape or form." Here, he excludes the new Furry art forms that the Lifestylers were pioneering: costuming and on-line role playing. He also excludes any form of Furry Spirituality and philosophy. The development of which was occurring mainly on-line, and only made possible by the 'Net. To Chandler and the TBOFs, these activities, since they were not directly related to the comic art serials, were considered "irrelevant" to the fandom.

Such is the stuff of flame wars. Much of it was simply petty, such as the fight over who could use the word "furry". The TBOFs also used the excuse of "bad publicity", citing some isolated incidents of public misbehaviour at one of the Confurences, as a red herring to silence their critics among the Lifestylers. Chandler:

It seems that some people LIKE furry fandom to be the cesspit it's becoming. They like to wallow in their own filth. They are having their fun, and don't care how much it stinks up things for everyone else. As long as they get their jollies, the rest of us can go to hell. I want the future to be better than things are now.

The TBOFs did that deft little tap dance around the issue that the Burned Furs would later do: that of the existence of erotica in the fandom. Gallery was filled with yiffy art. There is no way of avoiding this issue: the public-at-large will consider drawing your animal people as sexual beings in sexual situations to be mildly to greatly disturbing. They will associate furotica with bestiality, or attempts to corrupt children or defile childhood innocence. They do, after all, have no other point of reference for understanding what they are seeing. After all, animal people are seen to be kids' entertainment. Never mind that the history of the meta-genre says otherwise: since 1960, the public-at-large has been conditioned to believe this. The epithet, "skunkfuckers", is almost as old as the term "furry". That was the insult that a Baycon guest hurled at Merino's guests over the con's being "over run" with Furries, back before there was ever a real Fur-con, before there was ever a single incident of sexual misconduct in the public eye, and years before the zoos discovered Furry. This originator of the term was referring to the sexual content of the near mainstream and not-so-mainstream, comic art serials.

The TBOFs were asking the impossible. You can not set aside a rigid definition of what is acceptable for a fandom dedicated to "critters", since such interests can have so many different expressions.

After the publication of his editorial in Gallery, a nasty flame war broke out. Tempers, and rhetoric, ran high on both sides. This earned the dubious reputation as the most inflammable spot on the 'Net. Indeed, for years to come, it would be referred to as: "alt.flame.furry". To end the war, the Lifestylers and Fans worked out a mutually agreeable modus vivendi. In 1996, was founded.

Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 17:01:35 +1000

For your newsgroup file: Philosophical and social topics for 'furries' was proposed on alt.config on 20th August 1996. Discussion has been supportive though limited, with no objections raised. Prior to this, a.l.f was a topic on since early July, with over 100 articles posted in discussion.


CHARTER is an un-moderated forum for the discussion and exploration of spiritual/lifestyle related furry issues, as distinct from fandom topics as addressed by A subject will be considered on-topic where it arises from, relates to, or affects the individual's sense of themselves as a 'Furry', and where it does not meet any of the following criteria for off-topicness.

  1. A furry is an anthropomorphic animal character in film, art, literature, etc. The example normally given is the characters in Disney's film 'Robin Hood'.
  2. A furry is a human who relates strongly, in any way, to anthropomorphic characters. For the purposes of this proposal, such a person is a 'fur'.

Furry fandom has expanded steadily over time. As its membership has grown it has become clear that 'furries' fall into two broad categories; those whose interests are restricted to the artefacts / characters of the fandom (e.g.: fanzines), and those who consider their furriness to be an internal, spiritual state which informs their entire lifestyle.

'Furry lifestyle' as a definition encompasses a broad range of activities, interests and beliefs. Such topics include, but are not limited to animal identities, alter-ego's and spirit guides, the wearing and making of fursuits, collars and other furry clothing, plush toys, theriomorphosis, and general philosophical discussion - and to the personal experience of _being_ furry - socially, sexually, and psychologically.

These latter concerns are related only tenuously to artwork, film and literature, and attempts to discuss lifestyle topics on have led to ongoing and frequently criticism. For the past several months the debates, and often outright flames on this subject have continued virtually without interruption. Furs interested in discussing lifestyle issues now acknowledge that a.f.f is not a suitable venue; indeed that 'lifestyle' and 'fandom' topics are so semantically distinct as to require seperate newsgroups. has therefore been conceived, as an alternative furry forum.

Although mailing lists exist for several of the lifestyle topics listed above, discussion on these lists is strictly confined to the specific subject matter thereof. ALF is a forum at which any of these specifics may be discussed /in the wider context of the individual's overall sense of furriness./

These days, it is difficult to believe that something that is so common, such as declaring your "species" and uploading an avatar of your Furry self on Furry forums, was once so controversial. Except for the old veterans of and, this split between the Fans and Lifestylers is a dead issue. Today, the term "Lifestyler" has come to mean approximately what the Anime fans refer to as an Otaku: a somewhat obsessive/compulsive fan who takes his fandom a bit too seriously.

In retrospect, the whole fight seems pretty ridiculous. Despite the overheated rhetoric from both sides, the "schism" between the Lifestylers and Fans was never that clear cut. There were Fans who created their own fanart, did costuming, and participated in role plays. There were Lifestylers who bought commercial Furry products, and collected and admired the comic art serials.

The overlap between the two groups was considerable, making it highly unlikely that the fracture of the fandom that the Fans predicted would have ever occurred. There was always a considerable number of fans participating in both newsgroups. Over the next two years, the line would become ever more indistinct as peace returned to this part of the 'Net. In the end, the term itself "Lifestyler" would lose its original meaning, as there was not much need for it any more.

One can't help but wonder if the motivation here wasn't mercenary. Remember, some of these APA publications were picked up by major publishing houses. Did Chandler have similar hopes for Gallery?

Unfortunately, the peace would not last. It was the fall of 1998 and the Great Internet Furry Flame War was about to begin.

Burned Fur: TBOF on Steroids

In September, 1998, Charla "Squee Rat" Trotman, uploaded a document entitled This Sordid Little Business onto her personal web site. Trotman stated that she intended to post this to However, she was beaten to it by Foxwolfie Galen. At first, the reaction was one of indifference, then over the next few days, all the old battle lines would be redrawn.

Chuck Melville
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More options Oct 19 1998, 2:00 am
From: "Chuck Melville"
Date: 1998/10/19
Subject: Re: A disturbing webpage
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FoxWolfie Galen wrote in article

- Hide quoted text -
- Show quoted text -
> On Sun, 11 Oct 1998 22:27:12 GMT, "Chuck Melville"

> > I think you misunderstood me if you're cheering so quickly, Farlo; it
> > -not- meant as a compliment but as a recognition of how messed up it is
> > a result of two separate factions trying to lay equal claims upon the
> > 'Furry'.

> We are not trying to lay equal claims.

> Most people in a.l.f have a definition of furry that encompasses
> including those who are not lifestylers. We are not going to tell anyone
> that they are not furry.

And where did that term, 'Furry' come from? You sure didn't bring it in here with you when you arrived; it was already being used to define a particular subset of SF/Fantasy/Comic fandom. By stretching the term to somehow cover tangential issues like stuffed toys, philosophy, sexual orientation, and God knows what else, you are laying claim to the term.

> Most people who do not like lifestylers, seem to have a definition of furry
> that explicitly excludes everything outside of purely anthro art and
> writing.

Probably because that -is- what Furry had meant before the advent of furry lifestylism.

> These two views of furry are not equal, nor are they mutually exclusive.
> The fan purists are trying to exclude anyone but themselves as being
> The lifestylers, and other groups are purposely including everyone who
> feels that they are furry.

And you've put your finger exactly on the problem, ironically enough. We, the fandom, -are- trying to distance ourselves from the lifestylism groups, and -you- keep trying to lump us all together! Yes, our views -are- mutually exclusive. Yes, our two views of Furry are -not- equal, and not likely to be.

> There are not two separate factions. I think most furries are both fans
> lifestylers. There are all degrees between the two. Only a few are on
> either extreme.

I think you might be surprised to find out just how polarized the two groups -really- are. Yes, there is enough tolerance on both sides to allow for crossover interest, and yes, I think the Lifestylers in general are sincere in wanting to bring 'all furs' together... but I've spoken with enough people to believe the fandom -is- more interested in remaining close to its roots and not be so closely associated with Lifestyle.

> The lifestylers are mostly saying why can't were all get along.

> The pure fans are saying why don't everyone else leave.

Squee Rat's actually saying that you can stay; -we'll- leave instead.

> This is not equal or fair.

Life isn't fair; no one ever said it would be. We could probably get along fine if you would stop grouping us all together. Fandom's interests are not the same as the Lifestyler's.


-Chuck Melville-
"We'd like to buy a cat. Preferably one with a history of mental illness."

This whole thing might have simply blown over. After all, what's being discussed here really was old news by this point in time. Had not the issue been solved with the creation of ALF? Once a name became attached to Trotman's document, the flame war would erupt in full force. That name was "Burned Fur".

The whole genesis of the Internet flame war that was about to break out lies within this document. It is incoherent, and makes very little sense. "I remember when being a pervert was a bad thing": so this is about "perversion" in the fandom? Well, not exactly. The majority of this rant is against Furry Spiritualists, the weres, otherkin, and therianthropes. Not even vegans are spared the vitriol. So far as perversions, she mentions just two: zoophiles and plush-o-philes; one gets the idea that these were the first two she thought of. Why no mention of fursuit sex? Why no mention of something that really was a problem: excessive PDA? None of this makes any sense, and if this had been the extent of it, the attention would have quickly died.

Even if , by some miracle, the masses rose up and managed to expel every last wacko from the fanbase, the name "furry" has taken on connotations it will likely never shake. Common sense decrees a secession is in order. A subset needs forming; a group of furry-types who want to make their interest known, without being associated with the twitching crack babies and their crazed notions. I did a little brainstorming, and came up with this.


The name has a double meaning. Non-psycho furs can be called "Burned," because anyone with a firm grasp on reality would clearly feel slighted by the screamingly deviant direction the fandom has taken. Another way of looking at it is the example made of furs who have spoken up against fandom perversion and been "burned at the stake" for it. Eric Blumrich is the best example. There are others, of course. Once the Manifesto is posted to, I'll probably end up being one of them.

-- A Modest Proposal, Charla Trotman

What the Burned Furs would do is resurrect that old controversy which had seemed to be laid to rest with the establishment of the news group: that of irrelevant activities.

Chuck Melville
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More options Oct 11 1998, 3:00 am
From: "Chuck Melville"
Date: 1998/10/11
Subject: Re: A disturbing webpage
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FoxWolfie Galen <> wrote in article

> She is allowed to have her opinion, so long as she is not attacking
> innocent people in the process. It might be helpful if she would do even
> the slightest bit of research on the topics she is so hateful of. She is
> obviously not a plushophile, lifestyler, zoophile, toonophile or any of the
> other things she claims to hate. Many of the people here are one or more of
> those things. Maybe she should simply ask real people that are into some of
> these things to explain them or at least provide a few facts.

In what way would doing so alter the fact that none of these things have anything to do with reading, collecting, or enjoying furry comics, stories, or art? She is, from all appearances, seeking to divorce the lifestylers from the fandom apparently feeling that the practices and beliefs of the former have no place or relevance with the latter.

So who were these Burned Furs? Here is a membership roster:

* Denotes a founding member
+ Denotes a supporter

How did this whole thing come into being? Trotman explains in this Usenet post:

squee_rat Dec 4 1998, 4:00 am show options
From: - Find messages by this author
Date: 1998/12/04
Subject: Re: what is "burned fur"?
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In article , (Bev Clark/Steve Gallacci) wrote:

> uhm.. being a BOF of slow brains, what is this "burned fur" thingy?


What is Burned Fur? An offshoot of "The Tantrum Heard 'Round the World." :)

I forget the exact date that I first uploaded "The Furry Manifesto," but the manifesto's original inspiration remains crystal clear. If you've ever vomited in a crowded public place, fallen flat on your face after tripping over your robe on your way to receive your diploma, or been caught masturbating by your mother, you have an excellent idea of the caliber of utter humiliation and rage seething behind that rant.

Currently, among family and friends, I am a Cartoonist, not a Furry, and as far as they're concerned, I'd like to keep it that way. Professionally, "Furry" is a dead end. Trust me on this one, folks, don't be a hero. I had to learn the hard way. You'll be called a pervert by prospective employers, and that's a fact. It's no fun. Even Professional "furry" art.. Comics like Usagi Yojimbo, Cerebus, Gon, and parts of Tank Girl and Bone... would never be labeled as such. hasn't anyone ever wondered how this came to be? The revulsion that trails the fandom didn't materialize out of thin air.

If I drew, say, superhero comics, with hideously over-muscled testosterone festivals in spandex with giant guns (find the phallic symbol, kiddies) and inflatable girlfriends, I'd be "normal." Giant codpieces and triple-E breasts? Nothing perverted there. But I made the mistake of showing around a Photoshopped ink sketch of a stylized panda in khakis and a bowling shirt. It would have saved me a lot of time if I'd simply tattooed SICKO on my forehead in neon green. No, that's not fair... But it's not unfounded. It's because of Plushophiles, Zoophiles, Beastialists, Lycanthropists, Lifestylers, and the others that claim furrydom that everyone else involved has been written off before consideration. I've been told I have no right to be proud of what I do, because it contains anthropomorphics. I'm guilty by association. And I'm damn sick of it.

I *AM* a furry, make no mistake about that. I've read Redwall, I've seen "N.I.M.H.", and I'd rather watch "Cats Don't Dance" than "Citizen Kane." I even like "They Might Be Giants." (YERF joke. Pay no attention.) hey, I've met all the requirements. *grin.* I've always been "furry," I suppose. Even as a child, watching STAR WARS for the first time, I remember feeling considerable annoyance when Chewbacca didn't get a medal from Leia at the end. When I played computer games, I played as the *least* human character I could find; usually Blanka, the Orcs, or Gemna. I avoided drawing humans, preferring anthros or furry/reptile aliens. I was Furry before I knew Furry was out here. I was delighted when I discovered such a fandom did in fact exist, but the elation dissolved into confusion and minor disgust. Sex with animals? "Lifestyling"? Is THIS what being a furry meant? Were all the friends I could make and possible contacts worth these fringe elements? I lurked for a good 9 months before I finally took the plunge, and submitted art to YERF. I'm not sorry I did it, but I don't ADVERTISE it, either.

I supposed I detached from reality for a while... I guess you could call it "The Honeymoon Period." I liked furry and furry liked me. :) No opinions, no arguments, only closet dissention whispered to trusted friends. Bliss. I actually began to think Furry might be okay. I thought wrong.

I think it was the "You haven't got a boyfriend? Aren't there any small woodland creatures close by?" crack that made me snap. The rest is infamy... erm, history. And to clear things up, once and for all, I've cut and pasted the BURNED FUR FAQ from the Burned Fur Homepage.


For some reason this seems to be a common misconception about the Burned Fur movement. We don't know who you've been talking to, but we're not homophobes. Go read the Manifesto. If you've already read it, go back and read it again. Neither homosexuality nor bisexuality is an issue with us, and is NOT an aspect of Burned Fur. And gay-bashers aren't welcomed under our banner. When we talk about "lifestylers", it refers to people who believe themselves to be living a "furry" lifestyle. It has nothing to do with human-focused sexual orientation.

And that's... pretty much it.


-=Squee Rat=-

The problem being that this really doesn't explain very much. It doesn't explain how such an "innocent" drawing could provoke such a reaction. She says that she was accused of bestiality, and yet her "Manifesto" goes quite easy on zoos: raping "Fido" is simply a "bad idea". It's the plush-o-philes who take the far bigger hit, but the Lifestylers who take the biggest hits of them all. Something sure isn't adding up here. Unfortunately, all too many Burned Furs insisted in taking their lead from this nonsensical, incoherent rant of a document. This led to much avoidable unpleasantness as Lifestylers retaliated against these attacks.

One problem is that Trotman was an Atheist, and a very obnoxious one at that. She detested any and all religious expression, so had no sympathy for any sort of spirituality within the fandom. It was her problem, not that of fandom outsiders, most of whom wouldn't know what she's discussing anyway.

3. WE LEAVE the concept of "furry lifestylers" up to debate. It is generally stated that this facet of mainstream fandom is not a part of this 'counterfandom', but the aspects of the "lifestyler" contingent are not as problematical as the acts mentioned in point two.

Statement of Purpose

Even they realized that this part of the program was problematic, but could not quite bring themselves to repudiate this part of the "Manifesto", and issue an apology for it. If they had, Burned Fur might have actually stood a chance to accomplish something positive for the fandom. It was not to be.

They had an IRC channel on Yiffnet, posted quite frequently to the Yerf forums, and posted all over Usenet. They created a Web Ring which exists as of this writing, though it is no longer being maintained:

The Burned Fur movement dares to protest and speak out against what's wrong with Anthropomorphic ("Furry") fandom, uplift and support what's right with Furry fandom, and call for a stop to the inaction, the indifference, and the brutal silencing of those who speak out against indifferent or marginalized behavior and the damage that it's causing to Furry fandom. In other words, if you like furry art and fan fiction, This is a good home for you =^.^=

The Burned Furs generated quite a lot of heat, but precious little light. There would be more documents, A Modest Proposal (Charla "Squee Rat" Trotman), Who Dealt This Mess (Peter "Hang Dog" Schorn), Furry's Image Problem Explained... (Mike "StukaFox" Beebe). Other documents would include: Statement of Purpose, and the FAQ.

If the Burned Furs had one major problem it was that they prided themselves for being a spontaneous, "grass roots" uprising that had no leadership. This, in turn, led to a major problem that is easily seen in the contradictory nature of the documents themselves. With no leadership to authoritatively define what Burned Fur was and was not, each individual member tended to see in it precisely what he wanted to see. To some, it was an anti-Lifestyler movement, to another, a "kick out the furverts" movement, to yet another, a public outreach campaign to dispel misconceptions as to what Furdom was all about, to yet another, it was a movement to encourage greater discretion among Furs.

GothTiger Jan 16 1999, 4:00 am show options
From: GothTiger - Find messages by this author
Date: 1999/01/16
Subject: Re: Sympathy for Burned Furs, and Why I'm Still Furry (long)
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Ra'kar wrote:
> In article <>, says...
> <snip>
> < by this I mean, that I am still rather unfamiliar with Burned Furs,
> <snip>

> What exactly *is* a 'burned fur'? > Ra'kar, a confuzzled Tiger

The Burned Fur Movement is a loosely organized group of furry writers, artists, and enthusiasts who have one thing in common: They have all had their professional or personal reputations 'burned' in some way because of their association with furrydom, and it's current reputation. It was formed by an artist who was turned down for a job as an animator for no other reason than that she had a single g-rated furry piece in her portfolio. The person on the other side of the desk nailed her as a furry fan, and then proceeded to tell her why they couldn't hire 'someone like that': "Furry fans are all sexual deviants who like to draw smutty pictures. And everyone knows that they do those pics because they can't get it on with actual animals, etc. etc." In a blur of fury later that day, she put up what has since come to be referred to as 'The rant heard 'round the world' This rant earned her in instant reputation as a hate-monger, due mostly to the fact that in addition to unloading both barrels on bestialists and plushophiles, she was incredibly unkind to the lifestyler community. In the time since, the 'official' BF position on lifestylers has mellowed out a lot. As one of the co-writers of the official Burned Fur Statement of Principles, I like to think that I was resposnible for that in some way.

Folks, please bear with me for a minute while I do a little soapboxing: Now _I_ know that all furs are not sexual deviants and perverts. And I know _YOU_ know that too. But we're not the people we want to change the minds of: It's Joe and Jane America out there we want to reach. And the only way we can do that is to avoid having someone start blabbing "Hi! I'm furry! And I like to (censored)!" whenever a camera gets shoved in their face. This has made us more than a little unpopular with some people, but we still press on.

I hope this cleared some things up.

((Self-professed Burned Fur moderate))

Without leadership, GothTiger is essentially speaking for himself. As GothTiger does here, Burned Furs were constantly answering their critics with astonishment that said critic could criticize them. Furthermore, they could point to different "official" documents and parts of documents that seemed to support such claims. Of course, the critic could come back with documentary evidence of his own that contradicted the defender's claims. Within Burned Fur itself, this lack of definition led to lots of nasty flame wars on their own forums, message boards, and IRC channels. The behaviour there was even more atrocious than what they did on Usenet. Unfortunately, these no longer exist (for the most part) all that remains is second hand reports. It is no wonder that nothing but Internet flaming ever got done.

Here is another Usenet post:

Myra 'Joey' Weber Mar 29 1999, 4:00 am show options
From: "Myra 'Joey' Weber" - Find messages by this author
Date: 1999/03/29
Subject: Re: Burned fur (was Re: furry code)
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David Cleary wrote:

> > I'm a Burned Fur! |
> I've seen the term "burned fur" before. What does this mean? Just curious.

The Burned Fur movement ( is a movement against bestiality, fursuiting and plushophilia in the furry fandom.

I will not get into details here on the list because I've already lost too many friends because of this.

Myra Weber |
Webmaster, |
I'm a Burned Fur!

Myra Weber's definition is decidedly at odds with that of GothTiger. GothTiger never mentioned anything about opposition to bestiality, and certainly nothing against fursuiting as an art form. That, in itself, seems incredible unless you remember the times: much closer to the days of simple admiration for comic art serials and professional and semi-professional art.

Here is the original thread where the "Manifesto" is introduced and discussed. Here lies the genesis of the Great Internet Furry Flame War: this reopening of all the acrimony between "fans" and "lifestylers". Questions as to what defines one or the other, and which groups have a claim on the title "Furry". As with the TBOFs before them, they attempted to kick certain people "out", however, there never was an "in" from which to kick them. There never has been a "Furry, Inc." to vet prospective members, collect dues, conduct initiation ceremonies, have a ruling council to authoritatively proclaim that "A" is Furry, while "B" is not. Despite the grandiose promises, the Burned Furs were essentially powerless to do anything about the Lifestylers. All that was left was to flame others on the 'Net and Usenet groups.

Here are some sample posts from this thread, which went on for 145 posts.

FoxWolfie Galen wrote in message <>...
>I just read the most evil webpage I think I ever saw. It is totally
>anti-plushophile, anti-lifestyler, anti-zoophile, anti-anything that isn't
>art. I read the part of plushophiles and sent a nice reply to it. My
>biggest objection of all was that he considers my plushies to be kid's
>toys! My plushies have nothing at all to do with kids. They are designed,
>made, sold and bought by adults. Mine also happen to be loved by an adult.

If anyone wants to see the page I'm referring to, just go here:

This page was created by SqueeRat aka Charla Trotman. email is And SHE is a she, not a he.

It was a nasty little daitribe all right, but nothing we have not heard before on other channels. And frankly, I'm not concerned with what the other scifi genres think of us (and how does miss Trotman know what they think in the first place? Is she in the sciFi circles?) I'm also not concerned with what she thinks of me either. I don't have time to teach the fandom one person at a time that such gross generalizations are no more fair when they do it than when others do it to them.

It does sadden me though that some folks within furry worlds go on these witchhunts.

Allen Kitchen (shockwave)

Here, we see the voice of logic and reason through this whole ordeal, Allen Kitchen. He refused to be dragged into the whole drama-rama.

View profile
Dingo did speaketh thus: > I'm sick of all of it and I'm >glad she's saying something. Looks like we are getting crossover from AFF - people who don't know our posting guidelines, and probably don't care either ... May I suggest our standard screen goes up? i.e. Any post by trolls/the clueless/etc go totally unanswered no matter what the content? It's worked for us so far - for you new lurkers out there, here's how it works: 1. Person makes obnoxious post to ALF 2. Person is reminded of posting guidelines 3. Future posts generate NO followups - at all, ever An obnoxious poster may as well post into space for all the attention that they'll get - in fact, some of us may even use kill filters. Even the most dedicated troll has trouble in a group where none of their posts receive any answer whatsoever.

------------------- Farlo m>*_* More options Oct 7 1998, 2:00 am
From: (Farlo)
Date: 1998/10/07
Subject: Re: A disturbing webpage/Shields up, Captain!
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Dingo did speaketh thus:

> I'm sick of all of it and I'm >glad she's saying something.

Looks like we are getting crossover from AFF - people who don't know our posting guidelines, and probably don't care either ...

May I suggest our standard screen goes up? i.e. Any post by trolls/the clueless/etc go totally unanswered no matter what the content?

It's worked for us so far - for you new lurkers out there, here's how it works:
1. Person makes obnoxious post to ALF
2. Person is reminded of posting guidelines
3. Future posts generate NO followups - at all, ever

An obnoxious poster may as well post into space for all the attention that they'll get - in fact, some of us may even use kill filters. Even the most dedicated troll has trouble in a group where none of their posts receive any answer whatsoever.

Farlo m>*_* Urban Fey Dragon

*Never* send e-mail to these addresses:


Here's Farlo, making the perfectly reasonable proposal to just ignore the inflammatory content of Squee Rat's rant. It is indeed unfortunate that such advice was not taken. Even here, at this early date, you can clearly see the sides lining up for the Great Internet Furry Flame War that was to come in the following weeks and months. The Burned Furs had not yet been formed at the time of this posting.

Burned Fur Opponents

Freezing Furs: This web site was set up by Jurann Foxtail. One of the first opposition web sites, it included a mission statement that managed to be even more strident and hysterical in tone than This Sordid Little Business.

Can this kind of open hate group be allowed to exist in the fandom, and to spread their propaganda the way they do, gathering such a hopeless, mindless following? Sure, they have rights, but we can certainly give them a little shout back in mass numbers in an attempt to discredit them and impose a reverse social plague upon what they want you to think and believe. We're not here at the Freezing Furry movement to gain attention, but to disenvow these bastards who would take away our dreams like the Nazi's tried to over 50 years ago.[...]

If you support our rebellion and desire to be free, and think we are on the right track, let us know. Send us mail with what you think of this ridiculous attempt to throw us into some kind of negative social classification, and we will post it to be shared with the rest of the world. The more support we have, the more effective we will be in proving who is really wrong. Those with dreams, or those who would destroy our dreams like thought police. Even if you disagree, go ahead and send mail, the best we can do is delete it if it's a flame. The address is simple:

The Freezing Furs, no less than the Burned Furs, were given to grandiose pronouncements that they could not possibly fulfill. The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a "membership" in Furry-dom. You are a Fur if you say you are a Fur. The Burned Furs were as incapable of kicking out the furverts, as the Freezing Furs were in kicking out the Burned Furs. This approach encouraged flaming.

Manawolf's Lair: This is the web site of Sarah "Manawolf" Wheeler. Manawolf put up a response to This Sordid Little Business entitled: This Judgemental Little Business. This was not a rant, but rather a rational point-by-point refutation. If there was a flaw, this was it:

But give to you what you refuse to give to me? Stand by mute while you morally condemn me and my friends, while you denounce me and what I hold true as perverse, deviant, sick, and immoral? I don't think so. Before you cry 'hypocrisy,' look into the mirror and see someone who refuses to give what they are so adamantly screaming for to the very groups they are asking it from. Those who live in mud houses should not spray others with water hoses.

This could possibly be construed as an encouragement to engage in the GIFFW. Still, Manawolf did much to discourage malicious behaviour,in denouncing such things as web site "hacking", E-Mail, LiveJournal, and guest book spam bombing.

It is utterly reprehensible, immature, and puts you at a level much lower than those you attack. I cannot even begin to adequately express my disgust at those who would do this. Yes, I harbor very little sympathy for the burned furs as a group. But I have met some very likable individuals who associate with the movement for nothing more than the slant on good P.R. and accurate definitions. It is possible to call yourself a burned fur and yet not condemn every fringe group on the face of this planet. All you do when flaming random individuals on the membership list is make people afraid to show what they stand for. It doesn't matter what someone chooses to stand for - Jesus, the Cosmic Muffin, Willy Wonka - they shouldn't be afraid to show their alliance no matter what the cause. As I said earlier, "It's who they are and they have a right to be themselves, which means not having to hide. can't (as rightly you shouldn't) change what other people are or how they identify." This applies to EVERYONE, not just YOU. If you want to take someone on because you don't like what they personally have said, fine. But don't send email bombs to people just because they support burned furs. You don't know who they are, why they support BFs, what their opinion is of fringe groups... in short, if they even deserve what hell you're giving them. I've even talked to someone who only supports the group because one of her friends is a BF.

It is unfortunate that there weren't more voices of reason during the GIFFW.

Other web sites: Furry Peace and Flea Collars for the Furries/Non-Aligned Furs: Not opposition web sites, these protested the GIFFW itself. Both sides, predictably enough, denounced these groups as "wishy/washy" (Furry Peace) and ridiculed the Non-Aligned Furs for countering factionalism by forming another faction. In particular, the Burned Furs accused this web site of having a hidden agenda against them.

The End of the GIFFW and the Burned Furs

The beginning of the end occurred at the tail end of 1999. The Freezing Fur web page was taken down, with the admonishment to cease the flaming. On Usenet, the severity and frequency of flaming gradually lessened as more and more Furs simply decided that they had had enough and moved onto better topics of discussion. This trend continued through the final year of the 20th Century. Any newbies who came along at this time, asking what it was all about were referred to previous posts, and any trolls were asked to stop, and informed that there were no more playmates for the would-be flame warrior.

Finally, on December 7th of 2000, the Burned Furs' original web page went dark. This realization was not in any way, shape, or form, greeted with "victory celebrations", or gloating. The atmosphere greeting the end of the GIFFW on Usenet mirrored to an amazing degree the end of the Cold War among the public-at-large. Not a sense of victory, but rather a sense of relief that it was all over, or the simple indifference of exhaustion.

There was one final last gasp. The Burned Fur web site returned briefly under its own domain, instead of being hosted by the Tripod free web hosting service. Even though the Burned Furs never repudiated their "manifesto", they at least moved it off the main web site. Out of sheer frustration at being ignored, Hangdog's posts became less and less rational and more inflammatory. Still, most posters continued to ignore the new Burned Furs. The final end came about in September, 2001. Hangdog's allies, Eric Blumrich and Michael Campbell, realized that they were fighting a lost cause.

Here is the exchange that led to the end of the relationship between Blumrich and Schorn:

"Mr. Ploppy" wrote in message news:9nmmd3$saj$

yo... Welcome to the real world, America. This sorta nastiness has happened just about every day for the last 50 years, sometimes on a lesser scale, sometimes on a greater scale, all around the world. Let's cease the rightist bloviation about "war." Maybe it's the lingering conservative afterglow from Desert Storm (which wasn't a "war", either), but that term gets bandied about so much in such incidents that it becomes cliche, and in the process, denegrates the situation it's intended to address. All I've heard over the past 16 hours is "Osama this, osama that." If, indeed, Osama Bin Laden is the culprit, we are addressing a loosely-bound confederation of disparate elements and groups bound together by the cash of a Saudi Dissident, and a global political and social condition.

Let's be honest, if we're gonna focus all of our ire on a single individual, we're talking about arrest or assasination- not war (even in the sense that the aforementioned rightists use.) On the other hand, if we're gonna address the global condition, we're not talking about "war" in the context that we have heard bandied about so often over the past 24 hours by the pundits- we're talking about an egregious spate of military and political fallout that resulted from the machinations of the superpowers during the 40-year-long "cold war."

For those who cry "this is the beginning- expect more- loook under your bed for terorrists, etc"- you're doing EXACTLY what Bin Laden (if he is, indeed, responsible) wants you to do- you're dancing to his tune, and trust me, he's loving every second. The true aim of terrorists is not to directly defeat this country, (or any other country they vent their ire upon,) it is to spread fear, to make us turn on one another, to make us isolationist, and self-obsessed (as if America wasn't self-obsessed enough- but that's another topic.) When we sit here, huddled in fear, wondering when the next shoe will drop- when we cast about ourselves in fear of stateless enemies that we can only epitomize in the persons of folks like Bin Laden- when we consider sacrificing our civil liberties (those upon which this very country was founded) for a false sense of security, we've already lost.

Bin Laden (if he is responsible) has blown his wad. I've followed his actions and movements for a number of years (since his involvement if the first WTC bombing back in '93), and there's a pattern. There are typically years between his actions- and after this one, he'll be doing the taliban equivalent of the book circuit for quite a while before he gathers the resources to strikes again.

Will we use this time wisely? I hope so, but I doubt it... Past experience in such things doesn't exactly fill me with hope...

We made this bed, and I'm not just talking about America- I'm talking about the great powers of the world who shat on the world for the 40 fruitless, pointless years of the now-almost-forgotten cold war, and maybe, Just maybe, we can learn to rest in it.

I hate to sound cruel and heartless, but as Bill Hicks said, "That's the way I am." ekii.

Hangdog's reply was short and to the point:

"Corndog" wrote

Eric Blumrich, you are traitor and a ghoul, as well as a coward. The next time I see you I will kill you with my bare hands. And you are not a human being. You're an animal. Without thought, without compassion, without mercy, without love.

Even though the final rupture didn't have anything to do with the Burned Furs directly, there was a lot of built up tension there that led to this final, irrevocable rupture. This ensured the final demise of the Burned Furs.

Most of the Burned Furs simply returned to being just plain Furs. The die-hards of the leadership either dropped out of Furry altogether, or became dedicated Fur-bashers under new handles on the Fur-bash web sites. Hangdog put in a brief appearance on the Fur Central forums to complain that the pervs "won".

The GIFFW: The Aftermath

If there was any good to come out of this whole episode, that would be that Furdom emerged as a stronger fandom. The distinction between "fans" and "lifestylers" is gone and forgotten. Except for the occasional die-hard who would like to revive this particular controversy, it's a dead issue. Indeed, newer affiliates are not even aware that at one time it was ever an issue. The GIFFW unfortunately has also left behind a legacy of great reluctance to criticize where criticism is clearly warranted. Yes, there are cringe-worthy people and cringe-worthy behaviours within the fandom that should be criticized, but are not. No one wants to be suspected of having Burned Fur tendencies.

In the end, those who counseled that this constant harping on "perversion" within the fandom would do more damage to the public perception and reputation of Furdom than the actual conduct of the "furverts" -- whom Hangdog treated with such dismissal -- were proved right. The GIFFW attracted all the wrong attention, beginning with the appearance of the Burned Fur web site on the Portal of Evil, which made a name for itself as one of the first furbash web sites. All too soon, it would have lots of company.

Hangdog Oct 13 2000, 3:00 am show options
From: Hangdog Date: 2000/10/13
Subject: Re: Burned Fur in Top Ten Portal of Evil sites
Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show original | Report Abuse

BlackByrd wrote:
> BTW, thanks to all you smartasses (both Pro- and Anti- Burned Furs and
> furries) who stuffed the ballot box for Burned Fur on PoE (1000+ votes in
> just a few hours).

Dude. Get real. This is the Web. Everybody has their turn in the barrel. How long you stay in it depends on how you react....

> Lots of votes but it's fallen off the Top Ten already --
> perhaps the anti-lifestylers are repeatedly voting "WORSE" site?

...and on how much worse the next guy reacts. Believe me, there are plenty worse sites in furrydumb.

> Well, it was still fun to see Burned Fur =AND= mortal enemy Xydexx both up on
> the Top
> Ten at the same, brief time.

And when it's all over, guess who'll still be screwing pool toys? (Hint: it ain't us ;o)

> Drop by and run a search for "Burned Fur" or "Inflatable Animal" if you want
> to join in the voting. Vote for your favorite!


Oh, by all means do! :o)

> Other notable furry sites to look up while visiting PoE:

> Doug's Big Little Page O' Macro Stuff
> FoxWolfie Galen's Furry Plushie Page
> Furry Tail
> Manawolf's Lair
> The Den of Striker Redwolf
> FoxFire Studios (Gonterman!)
> and, of course, Xydexx's Inflatable Animal Fetish Page

Seven good reasons why the Burned Fur site dropped outta the POE Top 10 so quickly :oD
--Hangdog: Burned Fur, Imperialist, Jacobite, and Guelph

Once again Hangdog demonstrated the state of denial he was in, and at this late date, he was getting nasty in his comments. It is not a good thing for fandom outsiders to be noticing your fandom in such a manner. From another mundane web site, the "Brunching Shuttlecocks":

Enter the "Burned Furs," a splinter Furry group made up of people who have an obsession with fuzzy tiger head people but who are tired of being thought of as abnormal. Their stance is that it's perfectly okay to spend eight weeks and five hundred dollars on a homemade badger suit so that you can wear it in public, but if you have sex in it you're just weird. It's like a Trek fan saying "Well, sure, I'm fluent in Klingon, but that guy used it for his wedding ceremony! Let's all mock him!"

-- Fur

Needless to say, the rest of the article is hardly complimentary. Sometimes, the perspective of an outsider looking in is clearer than it is to those on the inside. A large part of the long time appeal of Burned Fur was the promise of acceptance on the part of the public-at-large if only Furdom could rid itself of "those people". If the PaL could see Furs ridiculing the same folks that the PaL ridiculed, then they would accept the rest of us as "normal". The TBOFs, on the other hand, had no such pretenses, and their business was restricted to internal fandom politics. Hence, a political solution was reached quickly enough for the rest of the mundane world to not notice. Unfortunately, the PaL tends not to draw such fine distinctions between "normal" Furries and "freaky" Furries, between sexual Furries and non-sexual Furries. Anything too far out of the mainstream is going to be seen as unacceptable. They may come to tolerate your peculiarities, but they will never view them as "normal".

It is indeed fortunate that this whole business was almost completely confined to the 'Net. The extreme antagonism between Burned Furs and their opponents did not intrude into real life. Fur cons went on as before, no riots broke out, no cons were cancelled or forced out of hotels. Burned Furs held their own events, and were not bothered for the most part. However, this is not to say that no one noticed, since they certainly did. After so many posts, so much flaming, search engines started returning Furry web sites when words like "perversion", "fetish", "bestiality", "zoophile" were entered. When you seemingly have so many within the fandom claiming that the fandom is full of pervs, you will be believed. After all, you should know. All the wrong sorts of people did notice.

On 3 May, 2001, ER broadcast "Fear of Commitment". This particular episode featured a storylet featuring one character dressed in a kangaroo costume while attending a fictional con: Furturama. He got into a fight with one O. Possum, and launches into a discourse while being treated for a bite to the hand that's way TMI. Granted, he does give a good explanation for the appeal of fursuiting: it's fun to entertain others, it's harmless escapism, it allows one to overcome shyness. However, we also learn more than we need to know about "furverts" (who like to have sex in costume) and "plushies", who "are overly fond of stuffed animals". Of course, it turns out that O. Possum is a "plushie" who gets caught molesting an animal puppet, Mr. Whiskers, belonging to one of the nurses. Needless to say, this is not the type of introduction to the fandom that you'd like outsiders to receive. Worse was yet to come.

3 January, 2002: MTV's Sex2K features Rick Castro's Plushies and Furries. This schlockumentary, needless to say, does not portray Furry-dom in a good light, to say the least. Castro was accused of faking scenes for his "documentary" when he couldn't come up with enough "juicy" material on his own. Plushies and Furries

30 October, 2003: CBS's CSI broadcasts episode #406. This is the notorious "Fur and Loathing" episode featuring a fursuiter clad in a raccoon outfit who's found dead along a Nevada highway. Next, we are introduced to the goings-on of the fictional PAFCON, the "Plushies and Furries Convention". This episode was going to be much worse. However, the intervention of the SoCal Furs led the producers to bring in Dark Fox as a technical adviser to moderate the script. The last minute rewrites left obvious holes in the plot. Though not as bad as initially feared, that was not the initial intention. That, and the fact that the ads for this particular episode were not changed, led to much controversy within the fandom. This episode would also mark the end of the MsM's interest in Furdom as a dirty joke. "Fur and Loathing": Pt I "Fur and Loathing": Pt II

The print media were not much kinder. Vanity Fair ran Pleasures of the Fur by George Gurley. The article wasn't all that bad, except for its detour into an irrelevancy: a tl;dr discussion of "crush" fetishists that had nothing to do with Furry, under the heading: "Calling Dr. Pervert". This attempt to link Furry to a rather nasty kink was not exactly a nice thing to do. It was in this article where Foxwolfie Galen got burned badly. Having received honest treatment from the correspondent who wrote a puff piece entitled Animal Magnetism (San Francisco Bay Guardian) he naturally assumed Vanity Fair would also be on the straight and level. They weren't.

This article spawned a lot of "me too" articles that mainly appeared in local news papers, many of which were a good deal nastier, even if they did not receive the same national exposure. Pressed Fur has a collection of some of these Here.

Concerning MsM furbashing, this pretty much came to an end after "Fur and Loathing". Since that time, Furdom has pretty much reverted to what it once was before the GIFFW broke out: a source for "human interest" puff pieces about unusual people and unusual interests. The local Pittsburg press has been giving AnthroCon good press, and the Financial Times did a positive write-up on the fandom.

Furbashing on the Net

At first, the center of Internet furbashing was the Portal of Evil. This is the site which held up the Burned Fur site for ridicule. Many more would follow over the years. They were later joined by the "goons" of Something Awful. Unlike the PoE, Something Awful organized both on-line forum trolling raids, and even trolling at furcons. They did this at the Texas Fur Con, held the weekend of 19 March, 2004. In a Fur Central post (long gone from the 'Net) it was claimed that these "goons" had befriended some of the con's guests, then turned on them as they made a hasty retreat from the con.

This, too, was just about the last attempt at this sort of thing. At Morphicon 2005, all they did was leave behind some furbash fliers that were quickly rounded up and disposed. There have been no further incidents from the "goons"

These sites were joined by a lot of smaller sites and Live Journal communities. For awhile, this created quite a bit of 'Net drama. Almost all of it was driven simply to see what reactions they'd get from Furries. At this time, all too many Furries simply could not determine what was important enough to defend, and what was not. Sending hate mail to a satirical web site is a really bad idea. Other such sites consisted of Furs who were plainly disgusted by the conduct of other affiliates. Realizing that any Burned Fur-ish attempts at "reforming" the fandom would not work, they mainly existed to allow such individuals a place to vent.

This, too, has pretty much run its course. A good many of these sites have simply disappeared due to a lack of interest. By 2006, even the "Great Nemesis" of Furdom, Something Awful, had simply grown bored with furbashing. They had a thread on AnthroCon 2006 that simply reported on AnthroCon. Any furbashing posts were shut down very quickly.

The slow motion demise of Internet furbashing is also a consequence of the maturation of the fandom and its affiliates. Furries have become a good deal more resistant to dramastorms. When all the dire predictions of disaster from the likes of the Vanity Fair article, the ER episode, Fur and Loathing failed to materialize, Furs began to realize it was never the big "crisis" they were making it out to be. Take a look at this Flayrah thread or or this one or this CSI Forums Thread concerning the episode in question to get an idea of how Furries reacted in 2003. Of course, to the relief of many a Furry, and the distinct disappointment of a few left over BFs, there were no significant RL consequences. It took a lot longer than it should have to sink in: if the mundanes don't care, they will go on not caring. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the inclusion of new affiliates who weren't here for the GIFFW, have no recollection of the Burned Furs, and who aren't so inclined to expect the worst when bad news comes out. Looking at the names attached to a lot of those old Flayrah threads, the ones who were claiming that the sky is falling are AFF and ALF veterans.

As of this writing, we've had a couple of incidents in the first week of June, 2009. Here is a link to the first: Pa. Senate Aide Allegedly Wanted Sex With Teen.

Sources say Berlin is a "furry" -- a person who likes to dress up as an animal.

Prosecutors say during a series of chats, Berlin discussed various sex acts with the boy, including a proposal that Berlin travel to the boy's home in Harrisburg to engage in inappropriate activity with him in the backyard while the boy's parents slept.

As if that wasn't bad enough, this particular source saw fit to include video clips taken at some previous AnthroCon which made it look like a current event (it wasn't since AnthroCon 2009 had not happened yet). This was a media attack the likes of which we haven't seen very recently.

More bad news: Lewis County man pleads guilty to sex with dogs. At least in this article, the DA is quoted as saying:

Prosecutor Michael Golden told KITI Whitson is a member of a group known as the Furries who identify with an animal and dress the part in makeup, ears and tail. Golden says Furries gather for social events but having sex with animals is not part of their normal behavior. He says two other Furries who met Whitson witnessed the animal sex and turned him in.

At least he doesn't link Furdom with dogfuckery.

Both these incidents, taken separately or together, have provoked very little drama. So far, only one old furbash web site has picked up on this. A once active LJ comm, "fursecution", has done nothing with either story. Most of what I've been seeing is some limited discussion on Furry forums, message boards, and mailing lists. This certainly is not the reaction that you would have seen five or ten years ago. Even just two -- three years ago, something like this would have caused hysteria and dramastorms. In previous times, the prosecutor's comments on Furries probably would not have gotten past the editor. These days, most Furries are taking it just fine, in realizing that things like this are going to happen occasionally, but it's not the end of the world.

Furdom is finally coming of age.

*Since there is no such thing as a "Furry, Inc." which vets candidates, issues membership cards, or conducts initiation ceremonies, it is not correct to refer to Furry fans as "members" of the fandom. There is nothing to become a member of: you are a Furry if you say that you are a Furry. Therefore, I call this affiliation, not membership.

1Kefauver Commission

2YARF Chronology

3The Jargon Lexicon

4YARF Chronology

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