Furries flock to Oklahoma City
Hundreds of furries are gathering in downtown Oklahoma City this weekend for Anthro Expo, a convention for people who enthusiastically don animal suits and character garb as a way to express their personalities, show off their fandom and revel in role play.
“No one’s going to search or frisk your tail,” said Austin Eubanks, who runs the booth for Pawstar, which sells merchandise and apparel online and at furry conventions around the country.
A rack of costume tails was on display. Eubanks said furry attire can vary in different markets, depending on the weather, and, sometimes, the local sports teams. Some furries match their attire with team colors.
But tails are the most common piece of furry wear.
According to a 2014 survey by the Anthropomorphic Research Project, 48% of furries own tails. A little more than 18% own a partial suit. Thirteen percent own a full fursuit.
The Anthropomorphic Research Project says the term “furry” describes “a diverse community of fans, artists, writers, gamers and role players.”
Most furries create for themselves a “fursona,” or an anthropomorphized animal character with whom they identify, the project says.
Anthro Expo — with the theme “Retro Renegades!” — drew a variety of characters to the Sheraton Hotel on Friday as attendees checked into the convention and checked out each other’s fursuits.
A black fox named “Veil Etah” solicited hugs and danced.
He likes to "hang around parties" and have fun, Veil said in third person, adding that he also enjoys coffee "if it's not too weak."
Kiana Woolly, 13, attended opening day with her mother.
Kiana created a character called “Hunter” whose costume includes a cloak and boots. She carries a stick.
Kiana said she hasn’t come up with a backstory for her character yet, but is working on it. As convention attendees passed by, Kiana reflected.
“It’s just nice to see what everyone's poured their hearts and souls into,” she said.
When asked what kind of weapon the stick is — a wand or whatever — Kiana paused for a moment.
“For now, it’s just my stick,” she said.
Later, Kiana was seen wielding the stick at a group of furries and, in fun, threatening to “battle all of you.”
Anthro Expo features panels, vendors and music. On its website at anthroexpo.net, the convention lists which events are for attendees 18 and over.
“Iron Furry” features “lewdy artists” creating pictures based on audience suggestions, with an auction to follow. Another panel is titled “Rope Bondage for Beginners.” There’s also an opportunity to “romp and play” with fellow furries over 18.
Philanthropic furries are donating to WildCare Foundation, a Noble-based nonprofit that rehabilitates wild animals with the goal of releasing them back into nature.
Anthro Expo operator Brett Martin told The Oklahoman that furries and fandoms embrace personal expression and the acceptance of various communities.
“I think that one key thing that I take away from all of these fandoms is this platform of acceptance and love,” he said. “And especially now in our environment in the U.S. and in the world, it's important to have those platforms so those creative types have a way to really broaden and show who they are.”
At the booth for Tasty Peach Studios, which sells plushies, charms and necklaces among other merchandise, Jack Fixter said a lot of shy people find safety in their fursuits.
Tasty Peach Studios has a website and travels to fan conventions in various states. Behind her was a large display of plushies.
“Going through Border Patrol has been interesting,” she said.