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Although we now live in an age where it’s accepted as normal that furries sexually harass Tony the Tiger on Twitter and constitute a viable marketing demo for Disney movies, the anthropomorphic animal cosplay fandom’s origins are rarely discussed. But now, at long last, we’ve been offered a glimpse into the scene’s early days.
Furries often arranged parties at larger fan conventions in the mid-1980s, and it wasn’t until the end of the decade that they splintered off to launch their own annual event, ConFurence, which ran for 14 years. According to WikiFur, ConFurence 0 was a “dry run” that took place in January 1989 at the Holiday Inn Bristol Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, with 65 furries attending (out of the 90 who RSVP’d).
You could try to imagine what it looked like, but why bother? Someone just uploaded the actual vintage footage.
What’s really striking here, apart from the sexy dominatrix deer (identified as “Bambioid fursuiter” Bob Hill) dancing to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World,” is how few people are dressed up. The sheer courage it must have taken to show up in costume at this thing is mind-boggling—and it’s likely what emboldened furries in the years to come.
So kudos to Bob and everyone who partied their tail off at ConFurence 0. You’re an inspiration to wild creatures everywhere.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'