You should seriously consider always having a Handler. A handler is a trusted assistant to help and protect you while in costume. A handler can stay discreetly out of the spotlight, or they can step up and act as translator, negotiator, supply handler, bodyguard, crowd control, and health monitor (heat stroke can sneak up on anyone)Do not let your handler walk away from you or move far out of sight. If it is his/her first time as a spotter, it's a good idea to drill them on signals that you will use and their responsibility as a handler beforehand.
Subject: FL: RE: How *not* to go fursuiting
Sad to say, sounds like you had a typical theme-park experience. I used to work at Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara, and that's pretty much how things went. Even with an escort standing next to me, I was often punched, shoved, grabbed, etc. The problem was the same one you encountered – unsupervised kids. Thanks to season passes, Great America is a great place to dump your kids for the day while you go off and do whatever you don't want the kids to see you doing. Still, at least they were constrained by the threat, however vague, that they might get kicked out of the park.
The absolute worst time I've ever had was performing as Pinky (of and the Brain fame) at various schools for a “tell us how you'd take over the world” contest – winners got a visit from Pinky and the Brain at their school. Oh, what fun we had. One or two teachers covering a couple hundred shrieking midget Terminators. It wasn't so bad at the grade schools, since the kids were too short to do _that_ much damage, but one of the schools we were visiting was a junior high. We waded through a massive crowd of concentrated evil, getting hit, tripped, pulled, pushed, unzipped, folded, spindled, and mutilated. Many concerted efforts were made to remove Pinky's head. After about four minutes, our escorts turned us around and dragged us back to the van, where we sat out the event. After that, Junior high schools are officially off-limits.
So anyway, Rigel's List of Lessons Learned should be taken to heart by anyone on this list who is thinking of doing any public performance. Not every experience is going to be that bad, but you'd better be prepared for the worst. I would add a couple of important points, though, for those who will be in crowds.
ESCORTS: When you see a kid hit or otherwise assault a character in any way, stop them _immediately_. If you don't, every other kid there will see him get away with it and join in. It's often not even out of malice – they just think it's kinda neat that you can smack Astro in the head. You don't have to be mean or violent. Just a polite but forceful “Please don't do that” that the kid and the kids in his immediate vicinity can hear will usually do it. Shy people make lousy escorts.
Find out in advance what the tolerance level of your characters is, based on both individual taste and the nature of the costume. When I'm Michigan J. Frog, kids could hit me in the back with a baseball bat and I'd just think, “What was that noise?” On the other hand, Pinky has no padding at all, so I feel every hit to the body. Knowing in advance what your character can handle gives you a better idea of what level of response is appropriate for a given situation, and will save you from jumping on someone who wasn't actually being that bothersome. By the same token, have some hand signals worked out along the lines of “I don't mind what this kid is doing” and “Get this monster away from me RIGHT NOW!!!”
CHARACTERS: Don't take getting hit personally. If you're going to take offense at some kid who hits you in the back of the head, you're not going to have any fun at all. Most kids are just playing and aren't actively out to hurt you. I've found that in many cases, if you fight back and/or fend them off _playfully_, they'll become your allies pretty quickly. At big public events where I pretty much stay in one place, I sometimes gradually accumulate a little entourage of bodyguards who protect “their” character. Once I was Rocky (the) Rhino at a “Snow Fest” in San Jose (where they truck in big piles of snow for us poor deprived snowless city folk) and engaged in a 45-minute snowball fight. Without exception, every kid who started off hurling snowballs at me ended up on my side after a while, fighting against the newcomers. It got to the point where I didn't have to do anything – my legions of loyal footsoldiers were handling things quite well. Now, I admit that the fact that I would run up to aggressors and smash foot-thick chunks of snow over their heads gave them a great incentive to fight on my side, but the general principle still applies – if you engage the average aggressive kid in play, he'll like you a lot more than if you pull back and let security drag him away.
Still, make sure your escort is standing by so you can signal if things get out of hand, because there _are_ a few kids who will genuinely try to hurt you, and sometimes a kid's idea of playful aggression will be way beyond yours. As mentioned above, work out with your escort in advance what you don't mind and what you can't stand, and have appropriate signals ready. You'll be a much happier critter for it.
Keep your escort at hand- don't let them wander away from you. At a carnival early summer 2006, my best friend who had pledged to be my escort as I hawked magazine copies trotted off. It was hot, and there were more than two hundered people around, as well as stands, kiosks and electrical cords everywhere. Without her, I was stranded with an armload of magazines, several people pulling my tail, and the partial blindness that comes from a suit's restricted view. Several people wanted to pet my sun-baked head, making it worse. It wasn't very fun, but it could well have been worse- once she noticed me standing there looking lost, my spotter- who has spotted pizza- came and got me. Don't let them get away, and make sure that they know what a responsibility it is to take care of a mascot or suiter in a public area.