The furry fandom finally made its way to Philly.
Before being approved for this story, Metro was vetted by the organizer of Furrydelphia, a wolf-like character in a business suit known only as Drayne. The 23-year-old is an architect by day, and lives in King of Prussia. Drayne walks with a limp and is well-known among the local furries; the don of the Philly furry mafia if you will. After he realized we weren’t there to mock his flock of furries, we were in.
Philadelphia’s first furry convention was held at the Doubletree Hotel in KOP from Aug. 18-20 with rooms blocked off with a full weekend of activities. Attendees were there for two reasons: furry fun, and charity.
Furrydelphia partnered with the Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue to help raise money for the shelter. A small pen of puppies greeted attendees inside the Dealer’s Den. Hand sanitizer was key as the puppies were not immunized and one was already adopted a few hours into the event. Head pieces, fuzzy gloves and full, handmade furry costumes were available to purchase including a long dragon tail that sold quickly.
So why all the fixation on these fur costumes? For some, it's about artistic expression, for others, escape.
“My mom started teaching me to sew when I was 6,” said Will H., 30, from Delaware, owner of Out of the Blue Creations. “In college, I learned sculpting and studied the psychology of children.”
He dubs himself the “poor man’s suit maker” as his pricing is considered low at $850 for a partial suit and $1,100 for a full suit. Sometimes he will create a custom character. Aspiring furries who don’t know what they want to be can purchase “adopts,” furry lingo for a random fur suit. His best customer pops by to check on her order, because once they find a designer to make their cartoon characters come to life, they're hooked.
“I always drew furry art in college, joined a local community and went from there,” said Kimmi Cocoa, 23, from Delaware who alternates between three characters. “Felicia is a honeybearr. The one I love the most is Dag, a dog and a representation of me. He can be whatever he wants.”
Will H. explains that furries can go to a Comicon like a subfandom. For instance, if you are a fan of the supernatural world, there’s a con that fits. His character, a Broadway quality headpiece lion with movable fangs and jaw, wears armor and at the Renn Faire, it works. Working a full time, he does this in his spare time and doesn’t sleep much. “Maybe two to three hours a night," he says.
The high end furry designer, Nevask, 28, from New Jersey of Icy Paw Productions is a white wolf and self proclaimed lone wolf.
“As a kid, I loved animals and was practically raised by dogs. No one ever wanted to hang out with me. I was always a lone wolf so it stuck with me and I fell in love with wolves,” she said. “Other people seem to like animals and cartoons too.”
Starting in 2003 but in 2009 as an official business, she holds a degree in fine art and is stitching someone’s headpiece for them on the spot. She also sells resin cast claws, teeth and her most expensive suit, a Dutch angel dragon suit for $2,400 which includes wings, tail, arms, head and hands and took her three months to make.
“Imagine wearing a couch in the middle of summer,” she said, thus why she gets most of her work through wintertime. “I never repeat anything somebody owns. I can make a similar one but not the exact same.”
“The reason I’m a raccoon is because of sunburns as a child, everyone said I looked like a raccoon,” chimed in friendly shopper Randy Ringtail, 31, from Spring City, Pa.
Nevask explained that the vendor selling leather, latex and vinyl collars and harnesses are for those Husky furries and all the animals like collars usually.
“This fandom gets picked on the most but what other [convention] helps charity? This one is new and there’s probably about 100 to 200 people here, but in the very first year, Antrocon in Pittsburgh had about 7,544 people from all over the world including Japan.”
Pittsburgh caters to the furries with themed food, drinks and brought an estimated $3 to $5 million to the city in just three days.
“It is an escape from normal life. Where else can you go to see a couple of dogs talking about Pickle Rick?” said Lady Rain, 29 from Virginia who was the guest of honor and graphic designer for Furrydelphia.
Furry fancom radio furcast.fm owner Fayroe, 27, from Buffalo, N.Y., hosts a radio show every Saturday that covers comedy to politics to the world of furries and is hopeful for Philly even with low attendance at “a first year con.”
“I do not intend for Furrydelphia to be one and done,” said head furry Drayne.