This interview might not have existed if it weren’t for Kap and MJ Drgn, two wonderfully polite furries of the Southern Paws convention group that listened to my pleas for contact. Cheers!
This article has been brewing in my mind since the beginning of the year, because of an offhand joke I had made in the Craccum office about furrydom, due to being friendly with a couple of furries in my many years online. I don’t quite know why, but it stuck with me – how much did I actually know about these people? Furries have been the punchline for so long, you sometimes forget that there are people under the suits. For every Cassie Youngbunny, there’s a Jessica underneath that has to deal with our misconceptions. All this gave me pause. I wanted to talk to furries that actually knew the furry scene, intimately or otherwise.
When trying to make contact with the only NZ furry community I could quickly find, I downloaded Telegram and absentmindedly set an Animal Crossing character – a gorilla in full Hello Kitty streetwear – as my contact picture, as it was the most recent image on my phone. This, naturally, made me seem like an absolute weirdo trying to mock them! I’ve apologised, and I’m still sorry!
With that in mind, here we go. I had the pleasure to chat with Princess Elise Magika and Derek Zora, two members of Auckland’s furry community. There’s an impossible amount of content to carry over, so I’ve done my best to carve out the good bits for us all.
So what is the scene like in Auckland? And in particular, UoA?
EM: Before I fully joined the Auckland community circa 2016, Auckland was far and away the hotspot for furries in NZ. As I understand it, this had begun to dwindle as I arrived and at this point the community continues to shrink. Quite a few NZ furries are young people who are studying or in lower-income jobs, and the living price of Auckland was simply too high for a lot of them to keep living here. I live with my mum, so I luckily can continue to live and study here, but nowadays the big community is in Christchurch. [Editor’s Note: Hey Canta, where’s your article? Hmm?] Not everyone moved for economic reasons; a few moved to be closer to family or to be where the furries are. But Auckland has haemorrhaged community leaders at a pretty steady pace, due to unfortunate deaths or moving away.
Auckland literally pricing the furries out of town is definitely something, omg!
EM: Some of us are making it work by having furry flats tho!
Oh, please tell me more. That’s just too good a phrase.
EM: It seems one pops up every year or so. Some last for some time and they often become popular meeting spots when we want to have a less public event. Other times they can be infected with the curse of furry drama, which becomes even worse when you add typical flat drama. Sometimes it’s both, too. A lot of the time they’re cheap or even free accommodation for furries who come to Auckland for various reasons. In my (albeit limited) experience, they tend to show up and disappear pretty suddenly. I think the ones in Christchurch are pretty stable! Another way they have us beat, I guess. There are some pretty infamous moments involving fur flats, which while the details are fun tea to spill, I’m not really at liberty to tell you about it.
What’s the most common misconception people have of furries?
EM: The typical misconception that we tend to decry is that the furry community is a purely kink-based community like the BDSM or cruising community. These kink communities are 100% valid, of course, and some furries are a part of both. For a good portion of the community there is some element of sexuality to their fandom, but to frame the whole furry community as ‘a bunch of people who fuck in animal costumes’ paints the wrong picture of us. In reality, the furry community is simply a group of people who share an interest in anthropomorphic animals. This includes all kinds of people, such as ace/aro sex-repulsed people, and minors (who obviously are kept very far away from the sexual side of the community, as minors should be).
DZ: The idea that we’re hypersexual and fucking like rabbits. I mean, that’s not entirely incorrect because of the furry drama I’m privy to, especially the BDSM-friendly flat I live in, but… I don’t know, it’s not fun to hear that for the 45th time. Though the idea that we literally fuck animals is definitely more upsetting.
Anything else? I’m a blank canvas. It’s so easy to see furries as just monolithic and easy to pigeonhole.
EM: The idea that the furry community is some kind of ‘safe haven’ for the alt-right and Nazis. This is false, much like other communities that Nazism has infected such as 4chan and 8ch, portions of the furry community are anonymous, disenfranchised and vulnerable people which makes some of us vulnerable to these despicable ideologies. Many of the furry spaces I’ve been in and continue to be in have outright bans on any support of alt-right or Nazi content. The furry community is incredibly queer and many of its members are politically active. Many are actively campaigning to get major furry online spaces such as Fur Affinity and E621 to follow other communities and ban Nazi and alt-right concepts. I like to think that the furry community is like a little microcosm of wider society. I’ve encountered people from all walks of life, from bankers to unhoused people, in my various online travels. (sic) At the end of the day, furries are people before fursonas. We’re complex and layered, and that’s what a lot of media coverage fails to capture about us.
DZ: As I said earlier, the idea of furry = IRL bestiality. I’m only 22, but I’ve heard that in 2006/2007, when the Mr. Hands video dropped [a video of a man getting anally penetrated by a horse’s dick and subsequently dying], that’s when things really began to get bad for furry perceptions.
So like, how do people here even get fursuits? Like, Look Sharp?
EM: Not all of us have fursuits! I certainly don’t! They’re incredibly hard to make well yourself and they can cost multiple thousand dollars to get made well. Interestingly, some of the most successful suit makers are based out of New Zealand! Also, only a tiny majority of suits are ‘murrsuits’, suits used in the bedroom for sexual reasons, and it’s frowned upon to wear these suits in public or in most convention spaces. You wouldn’t take your sex toys out in public on display either!
Oh? So there are established companies for this thing?
EM: Suitmakers are rarely established companies. Usually they’re just freelance craftspeople with a passion for their craft. It’s hard to know how big the industry is, but to my knowledge they make pretty good money doing it to the point where it’s their full-time job. I’ve heard their queue time can be over a year, so it’s a long process to even get your commission looked at! But people seem to really love their work, so it must be worth it. I love how they look, but I’ve never done much research on how to get one myself. My interests tend to lie elsewhere when it comes to spending thousands on personal items.
Tell me all about the murrsuits, since I didn’t know that was a distinct offshoot until now. Or just tell me about furs and sex, I guess.
DZ: Murrsuits are what some furries wear for the express purpose of sexual activity while keeping the fursona on, so to speak. Some of the genitalia attachments are entirely cosmetic, others are a bit more robust. They’re pretty expensive, since you have to blend the already complicated demands of a quality fursuit with something that simulates, or helps heighten, sexual activity. There’s already pressure with ventilation, size, tightness and the strength of the fabric, stuff that is damaged by casual contact over time, let alone an outfit that is meant for fucking. Not even kidding, I’ve seen a couple of finely tailored ones go for over $7000 here.
There’s a clear separation of fetishism from areas where minors are about. Are there a lot of young furries that you know of?
EM: I think we’re getting more young furs entering the community because we’re heading towards a post-cringe internet culture, where calling someone ‘cringe’ or insulting for what they enjoy is becoming frowned upon. It’s more cringe to be anti-cringe. I was a brony before I was a furry and I remember being pretty scared to be ostracised from my other communities when I first realised I was into that stuff because it was such a meme to just tear these people apart. I think a lot of people who would have done that have realised that being nasty to people for what they enjoy makes you look more sad than the people you’re insulting. The same edgy Reddit funnymen who participated in this bullying were fans of Game of Thrones and things like that. You’re really going to insult me for being called Elise Magika when you have a crush on a dragon princess called Daenerys Targaryen?? We know that we’re cringe, but do you?
DZ: My first boyfriend was a furry, back when we were both 13/14 and living in Avondale. So I was a young furry, but there wasn’t much of a scene at all. I don’t think there was a community interest in rooting out the creeps/paedos yet. I know it’s a lot safer these days, and so there are definitely more people having the chance to figure things out.
Final question, I swear. Any thoughts on Tony the Tiger?
DZ: [dryly laughs] Man, go fuck yourself.