Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mascot Gigs vs. Furry Life

True story:
I'm on AOL Messenger back in the old days when AOL was the thing to have and a message pops up on my screen: Are you a furry?


Are you a furry?

I don't guess so.  I mean, I'm moderately hairy??

Ha ha, not what I mean.  Look at this link and you'll see what I mean.  I'll check back with you later.

Okay, so, I clicked on the link that I was provided by whoever was messaging me.  I was so shocked and surprised that I had to call one of my friends over to view the websites that were opening and together we laughed and laughed and laughed at the folks on the websites, even making up jokes that are still funny to us.

So, a few days later, I get another message:  Did you check out the site I sent?

Yes, I did. Are you a furry?

I am.

What is UP with you, dude??  That's just sick.

That was the end of the conversation and I was blocked.

I'm not usually judgemental yet will be in this article.  Perhaps all because of the links this person shared with me on my first introduction to furries/plushies?   Whatever.  If you are a furry or a plushie, you're about to be insulted--rather, the perverted ones. Sorry, but it's my blog and I have my own way of thinking about things and that's why I post on my website: to share my thoughts.  You'll have your own and you're welcome to them. 

It is my opinion that there is a side to the world of the furry or the plushie which is ridiculous.  The definitions, the terminology, the whole thing:  weird.  If you don't know what I'm referring to, you can do your own research into their world and let me know what you think about it if you want to.  However, it was based on that link and some of the stories that I've heard around conventions and otherwise.

"But, Kevin," I've heard said, "you are a furry."
I'm not as fat as this looks, I had padding
around my belly for the costume to fill-out.
Um, no.  I'm no more a furry than someone who dresses in cosplay can fly or someone who draws kids is a pedophile. 

"But, Kevin," I've heard follow-up said, "you have puppets, and a fursuit, and draw animal characters."

I have puppets, a mascot suit, and draw animal characters.  This makes me a puppeteer, a mascot performer, and a cartoonist.  Not a furry or a plushie. 

So, if having a label for yourself fits you, then you do whatever 'suits' you.  Me?  I'll stick to the professional names for what I do: in the MuleyVerse, we have Critters (puppets) (I'm a puppeteer), MuleySuit (mascot) (mascot performance), and comic characters (comic strips and comic art) (I'm a cartoonist).  This is our terminology for what is done with the Mule. 

What's the difference in mascot performance and being a furry?  Well, if you followed the above advice and looked up what a furry is, you see that one part of it is that the people who live by that title are usually people who would prefer that they be an animal as opposed to a human.  A mascot performer is someone who puts on a mascot suit and entertains folks.

But, let's focus on mascot performance:  Outside of the MuleyVerse, I have performed sports mascots, and mascots of famous cereal characters such as Lucky (Lucky Charms), Sonny (the Cocoa Puffs bird), Count Chocula (of Count Chocula cereal if you didn't already know), and so on.  I've been Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, the rooster from Rock-a-doodle, Snoopy, and more.  Most popularly, the MuleySuit has performed at events for the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis at the Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival, Breakfast with Santa, Celebrity Waiter Night, Celebrity Putt Putt, Leather Ball, and more.

When performing a mascot character there are a few things you have to keep in mind:
1) Personality/Character - you need to be able to perform, without words (though sometimes I speak as Muley while in the MuleySuit), a behavior 'suitable' for the character and true to that character's integrity.
2) Movement - it's like a dance.  You have a certain swag to the walk, a way that the character must carry himself to stay in character. Be energetic, happy, bouncy!  This is part of your...
3) Performance - it is your job to entertain the people around you.  You are a mime in a costume, you are funny and make people laugh, you are bringing the "happy" to so many people who are watching you.  It is a big job, just like that head that you fit over your own, but you do it!

4) Little kids - some of them are cool with this larger-than-life thing that is coming their way, most are not.  Some parents are stupid enough to shove a shy kid sitting in the stroller at this creature setting the kid off into a world of phobia!  Be patient to allow the little kids to accept you in THEIR time.  And, if they look like they're about to scream, they probably will.  Walk away and leave them alone.
5) Teens and Adults are turds - some idiot years ago thought it would be funny to punch a guy in a mascot suit.  Why?  What's funny about abusing someone, regardless of their species?  Get over it and stop.  It's not funny, it's abusive to the people in the suit.  Stop hurting them.

And now, because you didn't ask for it, a new documentary series is appearing on Hulu called "Behind the Mask," four different mascot performers in four different venues and leagues telling their story of being behind the mask.  Learn what it takes, the pain suffered, and more.


Only available on Hulu.  CLICK HERE to view episodes.

Now, the contradiction:  Furries and plushies NOT of the perverted fandom you are not the ones this article is about.  I don't hate you.  I don't even dislike you.  I do not loathe you or despise you.  You choose to do what makes you feel good, and I applaud you for it.  I wouldn't take that away from you or anybody else in the world.

When I was a kid, my mom had a t-shirt with an old woman on a motorcycle saying, "If it feels good, do it!"  So, if it feels good, if it feels right, do it.  Be you, be who you are, regardless of the rantings of a fuddy-duddy like me.  You are an individual, a person who is trying to get by the best way you can and if someone out there is like me, you can thumb your nose at the rest of the world and say you're proud to be just who you are.

I may not skritch you, but I will shake your hand.  Shake? Shake.  Good boy.  Now, sit.

End rant.

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