Who Are You People?
Who Are You People? ("A Personal Journey Into the Heart of Fanatical Passion in America") is the second book by the award-winning columnist and writer Shari Caudron.
Caudron's book is an often personal insight into the world of the fanatically (be it with the material or the intangible) obsessed. Shari Caudron set out to find out the reason why certain people were endowed with a seemingly never-ending amount of passion to fuel on that particular personal pursuit, belief or hobby. One of the many "subcultures" covered in this book is Furry fandom itself.
This book relates her long, cross-county quest to find what was the missing piece that Trekkies, doll collectors, Star Wars fans, and other fanatics had that kept their passion alive, in a way to discover why hers never stayed lit. It also sets the record straight on many of these American subcultures.
An excerpt from this book has received the Christine White Creative Nonfiction Award for excellence in literary journalism from Goucher College, home of the country's premiere creative nonfiction MFA program. Additionally, a chapter from the book has already been anthologized in "The Fourth Genre".
"Misfit Furries" chapter
The author's interaction with the furry fandom occurs in Chapter 10, "Misfit Furries", in which she attends Califur 1 in Costa Mesa, California. The chapter functions as something of a catharsis for the author, as at the furry convention she finds herself able to finally feel close to a community. (The chapter is the last experiential one of the book's second section, which is titled "Immerse".)
Here's an outline (page references from the paperback edition, first printing):
- pp. 181-183: The author gives an overview of what furries are, described here as "...people who share a love for the anthropomorphic representation of animals". She also discusses furry concepts of "alter egos" and misincarnates (those who feel are born into the wrong body), along with the sexual "darker side" represented by CSI and MTV.
- pp. 183-184: She's registered for the convention by Loial Otter.
- pp. 184-185: She attempts to interview convention organizer AlohaWolf, who refers her to Mark Merlino (Sylys Sable). ("He's better at this than I am.")
- pp. 186-190: A long and wide-ranging interview with Sylys Sable. He gives her some fandom background going back to 1985, points out furry influences in popular culture, discusses the concept of "fursona", and describes his home life.
- pp. 190-194: She wanders the halls, attends workshops (and the adult art show), and muses. She ends up at the bar, where she meets a sympathetic bartender and furry-hostile patron.
- pp. 194-197: An interview with Stalking Cat, who discusses his body modifications and shamanism, with comments from nearby furries.
- p. 198: The author makes a phone call to her partner at home.
- pp. 199-201: The next day. A visit to the Fursuit Performance Workshop, led by Horsey. She also describes appearances by a "smiling, wide-eyed Dalmation (sic) in a hula skirt"; a puppy named Puppy doing the Macarena; a unicorn named Zachariah"; and her "favorite", Sunshine Skunk, the Union Jack-wearing skunk fursuit featured on the book's cover (created by furry artist, Timothy Fay).
- pp. 201-203: An interview with Ben Raccoon. He talks about finding the furry fandom through TigerMUCK, and the prevalence of "outcasts" among furries.
- pp. 203-207: An interview with Xian Jaguar, who describes her introduction to the furry fandom and her attitudes as a Christian toward its sexual aspects. The author buys one of her prints, from which the chapter's title derives: "Misfit Dragon".
- pp. 207-208: The chapter ends with an upbeat session in the video room: "...Nala and Simba are nuzzling on the screen, and because I'm finally having a good time with the furries, and because, yes, Elton, in response to your question, I can feel the love tonight. Thanks for asking. Especially since it took this wide-eyed wanderer a while to get here."