Ever since I was introduced to the furry fandom by a friend in 3rd grade, I loved the idea of going fursuiting, making fursuit videos, making fursuits. Fursuits in general have always amazed me! I recently started making a fursuit (that I am very happy with so far!), and I was thinking about how fun it would be to go out fursuiting! I had never really planned this out, and the fact that I’m still young, and that I don't have any talents that I could share to the world that involves wearing a fursuit, came to my attention.
With all of the wonderful friends I have, only few of them are furries, and none of them have fursuits. Not only do my parents dislike the idea of me fursuiting alone, but I don't want to either. If I went fursuiting without anyone else, not only would I look strange, or suspicious, but It would be very risky. If I do go fursuiting, alone or not, I would end up just standing there, and waiting for someone to approach me, because I’m clueless of what to do when you go fursuiting. Like I stated earlier, I have no talents that I could show off with my fursuit. I've tried dancing, and I’m not very good, and I don't enjoy it at all. I'd approach people myself but I’m afraid I’d scare them, or they'd think I was some creep. I've always been confident, but one of the main reasons I want to go fursuiting is to make people happy.
I overall just have no idea how I’m going to be able to go fursuiting once my suit is done. Please help!
Kachebe the Shiba-inu (age 12; Winter Park, FL)
* * *
Yes, fursuits are great fun, and if you are like most fursuiters, the real joy you’ll find in doing it will be interacting with other people and making them smile. You are also correct that fursuiting alone is really not a great idea. The biggest reason for this is that when you are in a fursuit your vision will be restricted. This can vary from fursuit to fursuit, but even with those that have a fairly large area opened up for vision, you will still have very little or no peripheral vision. Also, eyeholes are usually covered with a mesh or other material that makes it harder to see, especially in low-light areas.
This is why it is best to have a “handler” with you at all times—especially if you are inexperienced at fursuiting. A handler is someone who is not in fursuit and who can keep an eye out for hazards, such as curbs, steps, ramps, or anything blocking a walkway, such as wiring or plant debris. Handlers also keep an eye out for mischievous kids (and adults) who might sneak up on you, pull on your tail, or do things that could startle you or damage your fursuit.
Also, a basic rule of fursuiting is that you should not approach people, but, rather, let them approach you. This is especially true with children because their parents or guardians might get freaked out if you approach them suddenly, and the kids can get scared, too. For example, even though I don’t find my bearsuit scary—and most children don’t either—I’ve had some very small kids cry just by looking at me. When that happens, I make sure I retreat and make myself as unthreatening as possible.
That said: interacting with people. I, like you, don’t have any real “talents.” I don’t dance well, I don’t juggle or, like some fursuiters, rollerblade. But I do have my fursona character. I’m a big, lovable, huggable bear. A lot of what I do is simply hugging people and posing for photos. When the timing seems right, I also do silly things like follow people around, mocking their movements, playing peekaboo, silly things like that that anyone can do. Fursuiting is, really, a form of acting. It’s performance art, and the best fursuiters are the ones who really get into character and have fun with it.
Okay, so, when can you fursuit, if not at a furcon. There are two kinds of options here: furmeets and furcons, and special events. Now, you live in Winter Park near Orlando (Disneyworld!), which is rather a furry hotspot, isn’t it? Have you tried joining Florida Furs (http://www.meetup.com/Florida-Furs/)? Also, the Megaplex furcon is in Orlando (July 31-August 2 this year). If I were you, I would definitely try to attend local furmeets, which always afford chances to fursuit with plenty of people around you.
The other thing you can do is suit up for events such as Halloween or even Easter. You can sometimes suit up for fairs and parades (near me, for instance, is the Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade that encourages dressing up), and many furries go to Renaissance festivals and fursuit there (near you is the Lady of the Lake Renaissance Faire, but there are several others in Florida, too).
There’s another thing you can do, too, that might even make you some money: you can see if a business will hire you to stand in front of its store (perhaps while holding a sign) and attract people to come in to the store. I’ve done this in Palm Springs and it’s a lot of fun.
Still another idea: your fursona is a Shiba Inu (I must assume, since it’s in your name), which is a type of spitz. You might see if there is a dog show near you and see if the people who run it would like you to suit up as a promotional tool for them. You could also do this for kennels and animal shelters, either for pay or as a volunteer.
On the subject of volunteering: GREAT way to fursuit and interact with people. I know several fursuiters who perform for charities and have an AMAZING time. It’s very rewarding and you get to fursuit at the same time.
So, there you have several options. I hope one or more of them appeals to you.
Have fun! Stay Furry!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.