Curiosity killed the cat. And curiosity sent this cat over to Further Confusion, a convention dedicated to fans of anthromorphic animal characters. I never attended a furry con before and had no idea what to expect. To coincide with the furry animals present at the con, I chose a couple songs from The Animals as the theme.
Initially, I was supposed to be in Los Angeles for some project while the convention took place. But the project got scrapped at the last minute and now I was free to attend. Since this was a last minute splurge, I had no Press badge, no discounted pre-registration, and limited funds available for the con. So to save money and possibly get a better feel of this genre, I did something I have not done in over five years: I volunteered to work at the convention. Like most conventions, volunteers who work a certain number of hours (20 in this case) got reimbursed for their work.
I ended up spending most of my volunteer hours checking badges at the Dealer Room and Art Room. While it was a reliable way to get my work hours, time spent checking out badges was time not spent checking out the panels, the items in the Dealers Room, the art in the Art Room, and the main events of the fur suit costumers by the lobby. Nevertheless, checking the badges of each attendee allowed me to check out the varying degrees of furry fandom of each attendee. Some casual costumed attendees pinned animal tails or wore animal ears (like my Kyo ears). And the ever popular and pinnacle of furry costumes are those who wore the fur suits. The amount of detail combined with hard work put into those costumes is astounding.
I started my Friday volunteer work getting lunch for the dealers with a fellow Go-Fur. The Go-Fur brought me up to speed on furry cons compared to anime cons. Both are close-knit communities. Both have their occasional bouts of drama to avoid like the plague. And instead of con-SARS, furry cons have con-crud.
After my shift, I visited a panel about character performances for the fur suit costumer. If it is one thing fur suit costumes have over anime and sci-fi costumes, it is their need to remain in character regardless of motion. Just walking from point A to point B or a simple twitch is a character trait for the fur suit costume. Anime cosplayers tend to only get in character when they are near a camera or a gathering. Otherwise they are just people in fancy clothes that, depending on the size of their sword or gun, may attract the attention of law enforcement. I tend to take on my costume's character when cosplaying. Then again, I tend to choose womanizing trigger happy jerks because it is not much of a stretch for me. But at least I am in character. The panel also discussed how handlers could help out with the regular people while keeping the fur suit costumer in character.
After the panel, I visited the party floor. At the Black Hole, I knew Claudine and Dakron as Klingons tending the bar. After some Warp Core Coolant and a Revenge, I wandered to a few other rooms. Those rooms seemed to be preparing for Saturday's parties. So after sobering up, I turned in my hours and went home.
Saturday I guarded the Art Room; specifically the gateway into the adult section. I could not see what was inside and probably would rather not. But the art in front of me was pretty good. I do not have a taste for animals with human characteristics, but I liked the art of animals looking like animals.
I took a break from the Art Room to watch and shoot the furry parade with John O. About 530 people in fur suits marched around the hotel floors while photographers shot them. I wish conventions could organize a parade of this caliber. But given the difficulty in getting a cosplay gathering to stand still in one spot, this wish is currently an exercise in futility. Due to the sheer number of photos taken during the parade, I devoted a second page just to post them.
After finishing my shift at the Dealers Room, I hightailed it to the Masquerade to volunteer as an usher. I was impressed with how the attendees filed into their seats and then stood up to get into their correct seats when I made a mistake. No backtalk and no sass. The Further Confusion Masquerade felt more like a fashion show due to the lack of sketches. Plenty of animals strutted their stuff to the music of their choosing. My favorite part of the Masquerade was the preview video of the San Jose Fairmont Hotel; the site for 2010 Further Confusion. It was a well-made video that highlighted the hotel's features and its friendly attitude towards the convention goers due to its experience with World Con and Fanime. After Masquerade was a dessert social buffet that would make Cosette envious. The cakes were no lie and neither were the snow cones.
After clocking out for the day, I hit the party rooms that were in full swing. Hosts with bartending skills from various rooms whipped up drinks like tree frogs (a citrus based mixer). The Black Hole was up again, complete with girls daring people to enter. BASFA was still recruiting evil geniuses. And even without my cane, I was still recognized as Asian House.
After stomping out a minor hangover, I made it to Further Confusion and took an afternoon shift working the Dealers Room. The Art Room closed Saturday so I was quickly running out of steady volunteer jobs. I stayed at the Dealers Room until its final closing time. I wanted to hit Furry Night Live, a hodgepodge of live furry sketches and videos, but I had to have Lunar New Year dinner with family tonight and my allergies had finally taken its toll. One thing I should have figured out about a convention devoted to furry animals was that many attendees would bring their four-legged furry animals of the barking nature, which bring me allergies. I was able to handle it the first two days but by Sunday I was groggy from a sinus headache. Color me gone.
The Dealers Room closed on Sunday. Wanting to finish my volunteer hours quickly before the afternoon, I bunkered down at the Staff Feed room to finish my time at Further Confusion. I helped prepare food, clean up the dining area, and searched the supplies for anything anyone may have requested. Napoleon stated that an army marches on its stomach. The same applies to con staff, who required a steady supply of food and drinks during this four-day con. Hard boiled eggs and peanut butter for protein; jam and candies for sugar; cereal and bread for grains; and coffee and Bawls for caffeine... there was a variety of energy to keep staff fed and happy. Talks of 2010's Further Confusion already began as staff began recruiting and doling assignments. When my shift ended and my hours totaled more than 20, I left the convention and returned to reality.
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