I am honored to be officially asking you a question on your wonderful page here. I realize I could just ask you personally, but I feel that this is a good question to put out in public, so anyone with a similar inquiry can read it and be informed as well.
I would love to participate in few volunteer spots in public in my fursuit, but I'm tremendously worried about security issues, which always keep me from asking or inquiring. I have been pleasantly surprised in the past though, as certain theaters, bowling alleys, and social events have welcomed Royce with open arms and given him favorable "reviews" (while others deemed the walrus to be "too scary"). I'm eager to do a few more, but really nervous about scaring people, creeping them out, or worse yet, getting in unintended trouble with the law.
Before I go ANYWHERE in my fursuit, I try to contact anyone in management and get permission, giving them as much info as they require (including pictures of the costume), and am always obedient of any rules and regulations that they would want me to follow. Much of the time I don't get any responses, or I get generic ones that seem to say that what I sent was so spontaneously weird that it was flat-out rejected.
I have also been wondering about the value of getting some kind of "permit" from the local police, so if anyone questions my presence, I can just show them the permit (stapled to the inside of my coat or something easily to show when needed). But that's probably more ideal than realistic.
This isn't life or death; I wouldn't want to be Royce too often anyway, but it's a wonderful thing to do spontaneously and in unexpected situations, to brighten people's days and give back to the community somehow. :) So could you give us some advice/etiquette on how to go about fursuiting in public, if there is such a way?
Much love, warmth, and peace to your beautiful ursine heart, always, Papabear. <3
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Thanks for your question. I, too, have had the urge to fursuit on occasion outside of the usual furcon or furmeet. I have actually done this a couple times in downtown Palm Springs to help promote a business there for which my mate, Yogi, was doing PR work; and I did it for charity in Indio once. I never had a problem from the local police here, but there are some things you should keep in mind.
Check local ordinances (easiest to do this at your local police station). These vary widely, covering such issues as public decency (don’t go nude wearing only your fursuit head LOL), solicitation laws, and being a public nuisance (also, no dressing up as a police officer or other local authority). When it comes to fursuiting, the most likely issue to cause you to bump heads has to do with wearing a mask in public. Given the gradual decline of civilization in this country in which people put on masks to rob banks, abduct children, smuggle drugs, and shoot people in theaters, and so on, you can understand that police would worry about someone dressed as an animal where you can’t see his or her face. Some exceptions apply here, of course, such as if you are a Muslim woman who conceals her face in public. I’m fairly sure that’s okay in the United States, although other countries (France, Australia, and even liberal Netherlands) have insisted that everyone’s face must be uncovered in public.
Again, I never went to the police or city hall to get a permit to dress as Grubbs. Of course, the first time I did this it was Halloween; also, we’re talking Palm Springs and the street fair, where it is common to see people wearing odd attire. More conservative parts of the country (which is just about everywhere when you compare it to Palm Springs!) might have some objections. I don’t see you needing a permit, per se, unless you were fursuiting as a way to sell something and therefore needed a business license of some kind.
If you are fursuiting on private property (e.g. a mall or other shopping center), then, yes, you should definitely get permission from the owners there. On the other paw, I've been to public events such as the Lake Murray Furry Anthro Outing in San Diego (best acronym ever: LMFAO) where many people fursuit at the park and there is absolutely no problem. In another scenario, my buddy Tycho Brahe got clearance at his place of work to fursuit, which is really cool of them.
The best occasion to fursuit—outside of private parties and furry functions—in my opinion would be at a charitable event. I did this for a charity in Indio with my local bear group—the Bears of Coachella Valley—at Christmastime, dressing up as Grubbs and handing out cookies and cocoa to underprivileged families (the next day we gave away hundreds of donated bicycles—lemme tell ya, that is the BEST way to celebrate Christmas). Fursuiting goes well together with charities for animals and children. I highly recommend you get involved in a local charity like that if you can. It is very soul-satisfying.
As for being “scary,” yeah, I’m familiar with that. Some people find Grubbs a little frightening, and I have, unintentionally, scared a couple small children. But most people are totally fine with it. It comes with the territory. You never know what might scare people. Some people freak out when they see a clown or a Disney costumed character. I remember working in the butterfly house at the Detroit Zoo as a docent, and a couple of these kids were afraid of butterflies. BUTTERFLIES! (A sad testimony to the egregious separation of modern humans from the natural world). So, really, there is nothing you can do to prevent such things from happening 100%. How I operate is by following basic fursuiting guidelines that one learns at furcons or from fursuit makers. Such behaviors as not aggressively approaching children but, rather, letting them approach you, and not touching people without their permission are good guidelines to follow.
A final possibility is fursuiting for a business as a mascot. There are a number of furries who are also professional mascots and have a great time with that. Your walrus costume might be a little bit challenging in terms of finding someone who wants a pinniped for a mascot, but who knows? Wouldn’t it be great to find a high school whose team is known as the Fighting Walruses? Er... hmm. Perhaps a seafood restaurant might be more likely.
I hope this helps.
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