Standing Between Two Worlds
Two days after returning from Furry Fiesta, I packed right back up and boarded a plane for Virginia to play two cons at the same time. No, seriously, this was a first for me.
I was invited to play for FursonaCon’s first year, but they were no ordinary nascent geek gathering. They’d emerged as part of Ring of Fire Con, a third-year Science Fiction convention that, itself, was part of a larger Anime con group. Confused? Don’t worry… all that matters is that a pile of geeks crammed into Hampton’s convention center for a three-day party.
Having played Sci-Fi cons before, I knew they were markedly different from the Furry cons… but both occupying the same space really threw some things into sharp contrast. Like most Furry cons, the guests were no-one you’d have heard of outside the fandom (myself included, let’s face it). Expertly talented artists, yes, but every Furry convention except for Anthrocon seems to draw from within its own attendees and vendors for guest spots. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but no other convention I’ve been a part of does this- they tend to grab the biggest industry names they can afford.
That being said, Hootaloo was…, well a hoot. We ended up partying all the way to the airport, going from dealer-table slaves to drunken fiends to nipple-messaging on each other’s phones. Well, okay, it was my nipple and her phone. And she made a Vine out of it too. Just forget it… we had a hell of a good time. I didn’t see much of RuDragon outside of the dealer room and room party, but he struck me as more of a reserved individual anyway. Super-nice guy, and both of their art is absolutely adorable.
Flip to ROFCon and suddenly I’m hanging out with a pair of twins known as the Leegs from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two. Oh yeah, not to mention a smoking-hot spread in Maxim, among other things. Kim and Misty Ormiston were a bonafide RIOT to hang out with, especially when they both went out as… dudes. Yup, cross-dressing at its best. They came to my show, bought some music, and I had NO IDEA until I got on the elevator with what looked like George Michael and another George Michael.
You gotta remember: I’ve always been a geek. I’m not used to hanging out with women that hot who are also guys that hot when they wanna be. The fact that my programming didn’t just lock up entirely is an act of God.
And then there was Timothy Zahn. It’s a messed-up world we live in where this man is asking me for my autograph, but I am coming to terms with this world. (I got his first, even though I didn’t bring a book for him to sign, and he got one of my CD’s.) For someone whose novels have helped shape the imaginations of so many Star Wars fans and so many of my friends, he was very approachable. One of the most down-to-earth guys who genuinely loves the universe that George Lucas created (and nearly destroyed… #ZahnPlotFirst, I’m just sayin’.)
Note to self: Read everything this man’s written.
A sharp 180 from Zahn’s soft-spoken author demeanor, Jon St. John was a towering Colossus of personality. Think about it for a second: have you ever been so high that you pictured yourself playing Cards Against Humanity with Duke Nukem? Well, I can cross that one off now. The guy’s a walking party. You could sense when he entered the hotel atrium the way spiders sense an earthquake. I didn’t get to interact with him too much, but like the twins you could tell he was having the time of his life.
Another stark contrast came from the commercial side of things. Most of these sci-fi convention spaces are filled with vendors of toys, comics, and other geek paraphernilia. Some of it’s home-made or indie, but for the most part it’s like walking into a giant comic book shop with a healthy markup. There are Blu-Rays, PopVinyl figures, all the usual packaged toys from Hasbro and Mattel, comics from Marvel and Dark Horse…
It made me realize why I enjoy the Furry fandom so much, actually. Head upstairs to FursonaCon’s dealer room (or any Furry con dealer room) and you see hand-made artwork. Usually it’s being made on the spot by the artists themselves, occasionally you’ll see small publishers like Rabbit Valley or folks selling animal-themed T-shirts and hoodies. But largely, the people selling their wares at Furry cons aren’t retailers, they’re creators. Authors, musicians, cartoonists, painters, sculptors… It rarely strikes me as such fertile ground for original content, but the Furry fandom is noticeably different from any other geek echelon I’ve encountered yet.
The blending of these two worlds at ROFCon/FursonaCon was both eye-opening and inspiring. Non-Furries got to see a lot of their preconceptions crumble when surrounded by fellow fun-loving nerds, the Furries got to explore worlds beyond the sometimes-myopic fake-animal kingdom. And I got a Maxim model’s number, so it was win-win all around.
(No, I won’t share it, sorry.)