It takes some courage to enter a Kent bowling alley dressed as your magical alter ego, a nearly 7-foot-tall fox called “SokiTwopaw.” Yet a member of Fur Life, a newly established Seattle-area furry society, did just that on a recent Saturday.
Around two dozen furries had the middle lanes staked out, throwing gutter balls to the delight of nearby children. “Don’t be sad!” hollered one girl as a giant blue mouse missed the pins. Other furries were doing marginally better on a bumper lane, where gutters don’t come into play. “Yay!” yelled another child, as a fox toppled a couple of pins. “You did good!”
Because the six or so furries who chose to dress up were unable to comment for the record—at least their yips and clownish dancing were taken as a “no comment”—it was up to the plain-clothed members of the group to explain the bowling and other public events (trick or treating, Pike Place Market walk-around) that Fur Life has put on since its June inception.
“The first reaction is: It’s creepy,” says 22-year-old Christopher (aka “Spiffy Fox”) of his chosen hobby. The creepiness was broadcast most strongly in a 2003 CSI episode, “Fur and Loafing,” which portrayed fur lovers as swallowing aphrodisiacal civet oil and engaging in costume orgies called “fur-piles.” Many furries took exception to this characterization, saying such fur-version represented the actions of a fringe group, hard-core fans akin to “Trekkies who would have a Klingon wedding,” says Christopher.
“All it is is a bunch of people who want to be kids when it’s not allowed,” says Bellingham’s 19-year-old Jon (aka “Synthwolf”). He came out to his parents as gay and furry one day, and then, in an all-time case of unfortunate coincidence, unexpectedly caught the aforementioned CSI episode on TV.
“That was horrible timing,” says Jon. “They didn’t believe” that he wasn’t having illicit fur-piles, he adds, “and they still don’t.”
At Kent Bowl, the furries took breaks to visit a party room, where they removed their massive, ovenlike headgear and quaffed water. (Passing out from artificial-fur heat isn’t unheard of.) Outside that room, a small crowd had gathered around Adam, a 19-year-old Art Institute of Seattle student whose “fursona,” Blaze, memorializes a family dog that died of lymphoma. Adam was showing off his sketchbook of conceptual art, which included a centaur/saber-toothed tiger hybrid and a ferocious-looking warrior practicing the exotic fighting art of eskrima. “You use yourself as a deadly weapon—your own force to get someone to, you know, submit, leave you alone,” Adam says.
The event wound down after a little more than two hours, with the high score of 152 claimed by Bobby, a “Western-style” dragon who appeared sans costume. “Pretty below average,” says alley manager Robert Tegtmeyers, reviewing the group’s overall scores. “They could’ve practiced a little bit.”
“Yeah, I sucked,” says Drew, who as “Sirus Wolf” rolled a 55. “I can’t over-exaggerate how bad fur-suit vision is.”