Okay, so, I went to a furry convention. I took a little trip down to the nation’s capital to spend some time with 1,050 furries at Furthemore ’17 last weekend. And…well, let me just tell you how this shit happened:
I arrived Friday night in a suit and tie and wandered into the lobby of the Sheraton hotel to find a menagerie of mayhem going on. The lobby was filled with technicolor animals meandering around, people wearing tails (so many fucking tails) and ears and…some very fucking confused airline pilots. Two men stood out front in suits smoking cigarettes and glancing nervously over their shoulders. It was surreal. For a brief moment, I had a flashback to that scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where a bad acid trip makes all of the casino guests appear as lizard people. Immediately, I was glad I had brought a personal bottle of Booker’s with me.
My contact was “Kit Drago,” the convention chair for Furthemore. I had sent a message over Twitter about ten minutes prior to my arrival, as I hadn’t completely figured out the new bluetooth accessory for the car and didn’t think it was allowing my calls. He responded, and I swear this is accurate, “Look for the guy with the fox ears.”
…This turned out to be a less than helpful description.
He wasn’t that damn hard to find, though, considering he was standing by the front desk apparently waiting for the bewildered guy who looked like a lawyer to come wandering into the hotel. In short, suits which weren’t furry were in such short supply that I was the one standing out by wearing it. The guy wearing fox ears, a tail, and a kilt blended right the fuck in.
I was not in Kansas anymore.
Kit introduced me to Harper, a wonderful young lady who, as she explained, played the harp. Harper would be my “guest liaison” for the weekend, a phrase I quickly took to mean “handler.” I informed Mr. Drago that this was likely to be a futile task. I was there for the freaky shit. If I wanted Disney, I could stay at home. I was here to see some shit, man.
Then I met Fox and Mandy (of Curtailed Comic, a good little read), two cosplayers who run a comic, and all that shit went out the window fast. The plan for the evening was to be incognito, and so I changed from the suit and tie to a polo shirt and jeans in order to observe the convention without anyone knowing who I was. Somehow, that translated into “standing at the bar and drinking with Fox and Mandy” for hours, then going outside to…not drink…beside their full fucking size, actual goddamn police interceptor done up like a Zootopia Police Department car.
I once made a model airplane that looked sort of like the picture on the box, so I felt a kinship with these craftsmen.
At one point “Sparf,” a director of…I want to say programming?… handed me a badger mask. I put it on for a picture for Fox’s Twitter feed. On removing it, I realized many, many people had just seen this interaction.
By the way, that mask? I later found out it was hand-fucking-made by Tiger Torre Art. It’s amazing. I’m hanging it on the goddamn wall, because it really is a no-shit work of art.
The secret was out. The Badger was in attendance. Cue the mob of…fucking nobody.
Seriously. Nobody. I got some looks, but everyone kept a respectful distance as I chugged drinks with Fox and Mandy and chatted with my handler and her boyfriend, Tobin. I was, however, gifted with 2 bottles of Booker’s bourbon.
At some point in the evening I recall talking to a 6’5″ donkey in the lobby.
There was a noise complaint because the four fucking “mundanes” in my room were too loud. I blame Harper’s harp playing. Around 3:00, I went to bed.
Saturday saw the sun rise and me suiting up to go mingle, eat breakfast, and meet the the eager and early furries of Furthemore.
In the elevator with me was an older couple, obviously checking out. They eyed my suit, and the older woman jovially said “No tail! Not with the convention then? It was a little surprising, but it looks fun!”
“Funny story about that,” I answered.
I grabbed breakfast and, having not heard from my handler, picked a couch in the lobby to people watch for a bit.
- Many hugs. So many hugs.
- A keytar player making a walrus dance.
- Folks frantically sketching things.
- More fucking hugs.
- People wandering the hotel with a bemused look on their faces.
I was looking for the depravity I had been told to expect. Surely there would be a flood of bodily fluids bursting forth from the elevators like that blood from The Shining. Maybe there was a special room I wasn’t aware of? Because all I saw were people…you know…having fun and not hurting anyone.
It took about an hour for someone to realize the guy in the suit was there for the convention. I was approached by Source, a man who was also an otter…and a game designer. We had a damn good conversation not just about the fandom, but about the world in general. At that point some other people had noticed that I was there, and I was me. A series of very polite people came over to shake hands or take a picture. I was…taken aback by the desire to meet a lawyer, but I was the flavor of the month. It was sort of neat.
My phone dinged about 11 with a message from my handler that read “Good Morning! Let me know when you’re up and ready, and I’ll show you around the convention.”
I sent one back that read “I’ve been up for three hours and in the lobby.”
Harper then suddenly materialized right behind me without warning. This would become a theme for the weekend. I swear to god, the girl is a fucking wizard or something. I’d be standing alone in a room looking at the only fucking entrance, turn around, and she’d be there with a schedule in her hand and an earpiece chattering away. Escaping would be harder than I thought…or not.
“Hey Boozy!” she chirped, “Let’s show you the green room and then you can either walk around or tell me what you’d like to see! If you need me, just send a text!”
I didn’t have to text Harper all weekend. If I needed her, the “handler sense” must have tingled and she’d teleport to my location. It was a great power that I tried not to abuse.
The day went well, overall. I walked the convention, stopping to take pictures when asked. At one point an elevator opened to people who immediately shouted “You’re that lawyer guy!” then asked for pictures. It was surreal, not because of the fursuits, ears, and tails, but because these people actually fucking like lawyers. I met a patent examiner, law enforcement officers, Smithsonian guards, Naval officers, Naval meteorologists, Coast Guard personnel, artists, writers, tech industry members, and kids just having what appeared to be good, clean fun. At one point, I had a very civil and intelligent discussion on the current political state with a six foot tall husky.
Guys, they have a fucking airline pilot.
After a full day of wandering the convention, there was a VIP dinner, then a charity auction which I co-hosted with Fox and the con chair, Kit Drago. I was, frankly, flabbergasted at how much money was raised at the auction. Someone paid $130 for one of my old casebooks and an empty Maker’s bottle. I immediately started thinking of how many of both of those fucking things I have at home. And, on an entirely unrelated note, I ended up buying the Samurai Girl book trilogy.
It was for charity. Fuck off.
Towards the end of the auction, the room began filling up. Literally filling up. To the goddamn rafters filling up. Bring in more fucking chairs filling up.
This was the audience for my Q & A.
I was intimidated.
I should not have been.
The Q & A went well. Very well. I went in expecting off-the-wall questions and what I ended up getting were…really fucking good questions.
- Do you think we need reforms in the justice system to make it more accessible and to bring current laws in line with the realities of our time?
- What is your opinion on the criminalization of hate speech?
- What advice do you have for people who want to be lawyers?
- Can you comment on Pennsylvania’s DUI laws?
- What can we do about preventing people from using our participation in the fandom against us in family court matters?
I mean…really fucking good questions. Amazingly good questions, and questions with no easy answers.
It was awesome.
Then I started getting invited to room parties.
At that point, I’d been “on” for 16 hours. I had been on stage for a little over four hours. I was exhausted. Harper came to the rescue and took the information as I shook hands with everyone and thanked them for coming out, then it was out to the cruiser again to loiter with Fox, Mandy, Tobin, and Harper again before I headed off to bed.
It was 2:30 in the morning. I had been gifted two more bottles of Booker’s, a bottle of Berkshire Bourbon, a tumbler with “Boozy Barrister” engraved on it, and two “Badger Badges.”
I was starting to worry that I would need to check smuggling laws before heading home.
Sunday began the same way as Saturday, although this time I ate breakfast incognito. I know people recognized me, but apparently the lack of the suit, and the amount of manners and common decency, prevented them from interrupting my breakfast and my reading of another chapter of Ender’s Shadow. Afterwards I went to the room and changed into the suit.
The pictures started again shortly after. More of Saturday, walking the convention, shaking hands, thanking people for coming, talking about what a great time I was having, generally being approachable. No hugs were attempted. Everyone was friendly and polite. There were no orgies. There was no depravity.
The closing ceremonies came, with the announcement that the convention had raised over $10,000 for Frisky’s Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary. That was only as of the time the closing ceremonies began. There was still money coming in for the charity. I was blown the fuck away. I was informed by Kit Drago there were already people asking if I would attend next year.
I said I’d think about it.
I had to leave right after the closing ceremonies. The fantasy was over, it was time to get back to work. I had to stop being Boozy Barrister, and start being Mr. B. Barrister, Esq. again. There was shit that needed to get done. I said goodbye to my new friends and hit the road.
I was into Maryland when I got a message from Harper.
“I was hoping you were still here so we could give you a good send off! It was great meeting you, and thank you for coming! Let us know you get home safe.”
I made it home safe, and it was great meeting you.
All of you.
What I saw at Furthemore was people having fun. Maybe there was depravity behind closed doors, I don’t know…but if there was it was behind closed doors and therefore none of your fucking business. The public stuff I saw was people having fun. People just so happy to be with members of their community. People stoked to have three days to be around like-minded people and cut loose.
It was awesome. I’ve been told that Anthrocon is a completely different experience, and one that I look forward to now.
If I don’t crash and burn before next year (never a safe bet), I’d be happy to come back.