Fursuiting is more than just throwing on a costume of your favorite animal and parading around acting silly. When you put on a fursuit, you take on the role of the character you created. Nobody likes a fursuiter that just stands there like a post not doing anything. Move around and be animated, before going out try practicing gestures in a mirror.
Being in a fursuit, you don’t have the best vision. Your peripheral vision is going to be cut off, most fursuits only have sight of what is directly in front of them and depending what eye they look through on the suit can see a tad to the left or right. To get a good idea of what a fursuiters vision is like, make circles with your fingers and thumbs, to make the “okay” symbol, now flip your hands as you put them over your face so your fingers are on cheeks and look through the circles you made with your fingers.
Fursuiting at a Convention or in Public.
The first and foremost important item to a fursuiter is what is called a “Handler.” To put it simply a handler is a friend you trust that goes with you while you suit. The main job of the handler is to make sure you don’t get injured in suit. Due to the lack of vision there are many perils while suiting at a con or if you are in public such as; Stairs, Cars, Small Children, and Heat Stress.
• Since most fursuiters choose to not talk in suit, it is important that you can still communicate in some way with your handler if needed. Come up with hand signals before you go out
• Believe it or not, stairs kill. Feetpaws are larger than shoes and make it much more difficult to see where you are stepping, add that to the poor depth perception a fursuit head gives you and you have a recipe for disaster. It is best to avoid stairs at all costs, but at those points you cannot or an elevator is just too far off, you have your handler.
• Little kids are hard to see in fursuit. Most children will be very excited to see a large plush looking ball of fluff and will want to interact with you. If you have multiple around you it can be easy to lose track of one, you take a step back, and then you have an angry parent as well as a sad little child behind you. Above all, never try to pick up a child while you are in suit. Even if the parent insists because they want a cute photo, your grip is not what it could be and you risk dropping the kid. This could lead to a lawsuit, and that is something that is best avoided.
• Let the child approach you. It is best to not approach the child, unless the parent says it is okay. If the child is afraid of you, kneel down to the child’s level. Doing this makes you seem less scary as you will seem smaller. Pretend to be scared; try to show the child you are more afraid of them than they are of you.
• If you ever choose to go out into the main public, safety is the upmost importance. Crossing streets can be dangerous if you can’t see the cars and you cannot always trust they can see you.
• If ever approached by the Police, remove your head if asked. Police don’t like it when they can’t see who they are talking too. This is not always the case, they might just have a couple questions about your intentions and who knows, may want to get a picture with you.
• This leads into heat stress, which can be very dangerous if you don’t know the signs. It is very important to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water. Other sugary drinks are no replacement for water. Symptoms include Lightheadedness, Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Headaches, and Muscle Cramps.
There are several ways to keep cool inside your fursuit and still have a good time. One of the most popular methods is to wear a cooling vest under your suit. These run for approximately $150+ but work great in keeping you cool.
Concealable RPCM Cool Vest - The Original Cooling Vest
When looking for a cooling vest, make sure you find one that uses RPCM, which is a rechargeable pack that freezes at a temperature above 32 degrees. Using anything else can be very dangerous to use, because the human body will get frostbite if you keep anything below 32 on it for too long. THIS MEANS DO NOT USE ICE IN YOUR VEST!
When you are in public or at a convention, it is best to not remove your head. This is what is known in the fandom as “Ruining the Magic” and is frowned upon. It is better to not know who is behind the suit. Also you don’t go to Disneyland and see Mickey Mouse without his head. This is important for being around children as most of them have no idea there is a person in that suit, or even stop to think about it. So keep the magic alive and keep your head on. The only exception to removing your head in public is if it is an EMERGENCY! For the love of all that is Furry, if it is an emergency, take off your suit. If paramedics need to be called, THEY WILL CUT YOUR SUIT OFF OF YOU!
Now that we have gone over the safety aspects of fursuiting, let’s talk about how to interact with other fursuiters.
Interacting with Fursuiters when you’re in Fursuit.
While fursuiting at a Convention, you are not going to be the only one. Here I am going to go more in depth on what you can do to interact with other fursuiters and put on a good show for anyone around.
Props are a great way to not only bring life to your character, but also are a great way to interact with other fursuiters. When choosing a prop, choose something that fits your character. A giant bone for a dog or a large fish for a cat, just be sure to not pick something too big or it will detract from your fursuit, too small and you risk the audience not seeing it and it being of no use. Furries love balls and beach balls can be purchased cheaply from party stores.
Furries playing with World Ball at Further Confusion 2012 - YouTube
Fursuiters love hugs, while you are suiting you are going to get glomped by other fursuiters with random hugs. But be wary when doing this to other fursuiters, it is best to only interact with someone if they look like they want to be interacted with. If they feel uncomfortable with you, take the hint and leave them be. It is best not to mess with people who are busy.
Be playful and remember to have fun.
Interacting with a Fursuiter when you are out of Fursuit.
Most of the rules that go for being in suit also go for being out of suit as well. Remember that a fursuiters vision is not great. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts of how to interact with a fursuiter.
Don’t run up and just randomly glomp on a fursuiter, you could damage their suit or injure the person inside. If they don’t see it coming, it is probably a bad idea. If you want a hug, ask first or use the international hug symbol by holding out your arms showing you want to be embraced.
Fursuiters love having their pictures taken. Be sure you have your camera ready, don’t make the fursuiter wait for you and they cannot hold a pose forever. When the picture is taken, give the suiter a thumbs up to let them know they can move and be on their way. If they look like they are busy and are trying to get somewhere fast, let them go, more than likely you will get many more chances to snap a photo.
The headless lounge at a con is for fursuiters and handlers only. If you are not a handler or a suiter, do not go in, plain and simple. Trust me when I say that it is just a bunch of sweaty furs without heads standing around getting water.
At a convention there tends to be very little elevator space, let suiters have the right of way. Being a non suiter you can always take the stairs.
Don’t ask to wear someone else’s suit. This is generally frowned upon. Plus most people don’t want another sweaty person wearing something they have to put on.
Cleaning your Fursuit.
Being a fursuiter this is the most important thing you have to do or else you risk smelling like a rotten sack of furry garbage. After each outing of fursuiting, it is best to shower off, even if it is just a quick rinse, your fellow furries will thank you.
Cleaning your head: Your fursuit maker will provide you with ways to clean your fursuit head. NEVER submerge your head in water. You will never get it dry and then it will get mildew and smell anyway. The best way to keep it smelling good while at a con is to use Febreze with Anti-Microbial. Spray some on the inside of your head, but do not soak it. Spray down the front and back of the inside of your body suit, handpaws, and feetpaws.
Cleaning your bodysuit: After a con you should wash your bodysuit, you can use a washing machine on a cold water cycle only and regular laundry detergent. Remove any foam padding your suit may have and turn it so the fur is on the inside of the suit. (inside out) zip it up.
To dry the suit, use a NO HEAT cycle on your dryer, keep it inside out. Do this until the suit is mostly dry to the touch. When done, hang the suit up and use a slicker brush to lay the fur the right direction and let it air dry the rest of the way. The brush is important so the fur does not clump.
Keep in mind there is so much more you can do in suit than what I have listed such as Volunteer work, which can be rewarding and fun. Not to mention it is easy to come by if you know where to look.