What it’s like to have sex as a ‘furry’
By Sara Stewart
No, he doesn’t have sex in the wolf suit.
“When I imagined getting a suit, I thought it would be something I would want to do,” says Dominic Rodriguez, director of a new documentary on the “furry” subculture — and a member himself.
“But honestly?” he says. “The suit is so beautiful, it’s so much better than I thought it would be, I don’t want to mess it up. I could just put it on and get [oral sex], though.”
Furries, as they are known, have been the subject of much eyebrow-raising since the community came into the spotlight in the 1990s. Misconceptions and vilifications, many of which are addressed in the film, abound. So what, exactly, is a furry, according to someone on the inside?
“The only definition that I feel like everybody more or less agrees on, as a community, is that it’s anybody who is fascinated by anthropomorphic [having human characteristics] animals,” explains Rodriguez. Many of those in the “furry fandom” enjoy dressing up in animal suits and attending conventions, the biggest of which is the annual Anthrocon in Pittsburgh in late June, where more than 6,000 furries convene.
The initial public portrayal of furries, in everything from a Vanity Fair article to an episode of “CSI” to appearances on “Dr. Phil” and “The Tyra Banks Show,” focused on the kinky aspect of the community — in short, that many of its adherents find the suits a huge turn-on. The 25-year-old director aims to shed a more equitable light on the subject with “Fursonas,” which will be available on iTunes starting on Tuesday. His film focuses on a handful of members of the furry community, most of whom own elaborate costumes (some costing thousands of dollars) and all of whom would like very much not to be seen as freaks.
Still, he doesn’t shy away from talking about sex, the issue that’s dogged (so to speak) the community for years. “There are people for whom it is a completely innocent, sexless experience,” says Rodriguez. “That’s the enjoyment they get out of it. The sexual aspect of the fandom is a huge part of it for me — but I can’t say how big a part it is for people who aren’t me.”
The sexual aspect of the fandom is a huge part of it for me — but I can’t say how big a part it is for people who aren’t me
- Dominic Rodriguez
Rodriguez, who owns a “partial” — meaning his wolf suit consists of a head, arms, legs, feet and a tail — spent four years making the film, during which time he met his boyfriend, who is also a furry. A lion, to be exact. “We’ve been together two and a half years,” says Rodriguez. “I feel like making the movie made me more comfortable with who I am.”
Coming out as a furry wasn’t as hard for Rodriguez as he knows it is for some. “I’m very lucky to have a very accepting family and friends,” he says, “and honestly, I’ve gotten nothing but support.” Still, he says, “I knew my parents would be cool with it — but I didn’t really want to tell them, because it’s embarrassing.”
His interest in furries goes back to his early teens. “It was totally porn,” he says. “That’s not something I’m ashamed of. Furry porn is really beautiful — you can see the artists put themselves into it. It’s the opposite of videos of people f–king. It’s not dehumanizing. It brings humanity into something that’s total fantasy.” Growing up saturated with cartoons and the internet, he says, it isn’t that hard to see why some people gravitate toward being titillated by the idea of being cartoon animals themselves.
“It’s less inhibited — less letting anxiety get in the way,” Rodriguez explains. “People think more, and they have more anxiety. When animals have sex, they have sex and then they’re done. When people have sex they have to think about it. They lose their boner if they get freaked out.”
Rodriguez includes an interview with a furry sex-toy designer in “Fursonas,” whose company, Bad Dragon, makes, among other things, “dildoes in the shape of horse c–ks or dog d–ks.” The company founder, who goes by the name of Varka, is “an artist,” says Rodriguez.
But, he stresses, every furry is different — for many, sex doesn’t enter into the equation at all. Some people find wearing a fur suit to an occasional convention a light hobby; others see it as a lifestyle or even an identity, like one man featured in “Fursonas” who is legally petitioning to have his named changed to “Boomer the Dog.” Some are furries all the time; some are furries once in a while.
“For me, I’ll wear my suit around the house, but I don’t do it all the time,” says Rodriguez, who sees himself as in the middle. “I’ll wear it whenever I feel like it, but not on a daily basis. But there are some people who would say, ‘Oh, we don’t wear the suits around the house, only crazy people do that.’ And there are some people for whom this is absolutely an identity.”
He hopes to capture the elation of a furry convention, where thousands of adherents — many wearing suits, others not — come to mingle at panels, dances and more. Rodriguez sees the events as a great social equalizer. “You’ll have these weird adventures – meeting somebody, hanging out with them all day. You have to find them again and they don’t have their cell phone because they have their paws on. At the end of the day you realize you’ve been hanging out with these people whom you have no idea what they look like. It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re Chinese, wow!’”
There are different varieties of furry: Some wear the suit but continue acting human; some communicate in squeaks or barks or other animal sounds. “I talk a lot,” says Rodriguez. “One of the unwritten rules is if the jaw on your costume moves, you talk, and if it doesn’t, you don’t.”
What does Rodriguez hope to impart to an audience that knows little about the furry fandom — or thinks they’re creepy? “There are people you’re never going to convince, who could watch the whole movie and it doesn’t make a difference because they’ve made up their minds already,” says the director. “I think if I can get anybody who isn’t a furry to even a little bit see these people as people, that’s what I’d want. The world is changing now; we’re having conversations about identity. It’s not the same world it was in the ‘90s when furries were in ‘CSI’ episodes.”
His documentary may be the first on the subject, but he hopes there will be more: “I’ve heard people say, ‘You have the responsibility to give us a good image.’ I was like, ‘Why does this have to be the only one?’”