Subject: FL: How *not* to go fursuiting
I recently went out on my first venture in fursuit as Bugs Bunny to Six Flags America outside of Washington, DC to participate in their Halloween costume contest. What follows is my experience and my mistakes, mainly written up to get it off my chest in the only appropriate forum I know. Hopefully other new costumers will learn from my mistakes.
After spending the day at a dead-empty Six Flags, I noticed that my brochure mentioned that Six Flags held a Halloween costume competition every night of the week through Halloween. I thought that here was a chance to put my costume to public use for the first time (MISTAKE #1)! My fursuit would blow all the others out of the water and I could win Y2K season passes.
Running home, my partner helped me get suited up and put the finishing touches on the costume, then we went back to Six Flags. Getting to the Crazy Horse Saloon (where the contest was) was quite a chore, but an enjoyable one (MISTAKE #2). I spent a half hour hugging kids, parents, etc and getting pictures taken. Whether they realized I wasn't a park employee or not, it was great seeing people light up to see Bugs (What's the park going to do, kick their mascot out for impersonating… their mascot?).
When I got to the Saloon, there was still 30 minutes before the show (MISTAKE #3). I hung out on the balcony and watched the other costumers file in. Everybody was dying to see me, sending their kids upstairs to hug and photo and so forth. Even the judges as they were arriving, were examining me, people all around were whispering that I was a shoo-in.
Then the show started and everything began to go to hell.
The contest was hosted by a DJ from WASH 97FM, a local radio station. We all lined up to the side and presented ourselves on stage. As soon as I got in line and was separated from my spot, my battery pack, powering my fans, died (MISTAKE #4). Immediately, my built-in glasses fogged up, I broke into violent sweating, and I became disoriented. I was lucky to make it on stage when I was called. I was lucid enough to hear the huge rousing cheering from the audience. I hugged the MC and did a few gags when the MC asked me if I worked at the park. I was so out of it, I barely heard him, so I shrugged because Bugs works at Six Flags, although I don't (MISTAKE #5). I realized later that that cost me any chance of winning as the contest prohibited any park employee from participating. 0, 0, 0, 0 marked the judges, and I was out, even though I was not really a park employee.
I went to the bathroom and met my spot there to quickly change the battery and I refreshed and sat through the remainder of the show. There were some *very* imaginative parents with well-instructed kids in costume.
Then I tried to leave the park in costume (MISTAKE #6).
At night (MISTAKE #7).
Has anyone else ever been assaulted while in costume? I was mobbed by huge crowds of kids without their parents, mostly urban children who all wanted a piece of my clothing, trying to get off my Looney Toons jeans jacket I was wearing, remove my head, etc. At one point, a group of girls managed to rip my tail mostly off (MISTAKE #8).
I managed to escape the park after my spot grabbed my arm and led me out. When I got home, I saw what a park tour had done to the costume's feet (MISTAKE #9). I just finished a heavy-duty washing as I write this. The costume will need to be shipped back to its designer for repairs.
MISTAKE #1: Start slow. An amusement park is not the brightest place to go in costume unprepared. You are not a park employee and there are no security guards to help you in a bind. ESPECIALLY do not go to a major public *urban* area.
MISTAKE #2: Know your path. This is for the same reasons as #1. I kept having to refer to my spot for which way I was supposed to be aiming. Have an escape route.
MISTAKE #3: Schedule. When I arrived, I had to sit in costume for 30 minutes. While being early is good, in this specific situation, it was not appropriate considering what I was wearing. Especially with all the attention I was getting.
MISTAKE #4: If you are making a major public appearance and you need batteries, food, water, bathroom…be *fresh* before you start. I should've put in a new pack before I got in line. Also, do not be separated from your spot for any prolonged period or you may regret it.
MISTAKE #5: Retain clarity. Don't get so lost in your act that you aren't cognizant of what you're doing. In my case, do NOT suggest you work at an amusement park if you're in the costume of their theme character and you're not an employee. I *should've* written on the application that I wasn't a park employee.
MISTAKE #6: I should have either suited up *at* my desitination or brought a bathrobe that covered me so I could leave with the head off without drawing too much attention. See Mistake #1
MISTAKE #7: Do not go fursuiting in an unknown area at NIGHT. People can do things to you and no one will stop them. You are unprotected and vulnerable.
MISTAKE #8: Either have a *proactive* intimidating spot or go fursuiting in a large group, including several non-costumed people. You *need* protection. The world is not a safe place, especially when you're funny-looking.
MISTAKE #9: Know your environment. If you're going to march around in an unclean area for hours, be sure to be prepared to do some major cleaning work. Fur, white especially, gets visibly significantly dirty.
I blew it. Big time. I learned some valuable lessons and I am going to think thrice before I go out in public with this costume again. If anyone has any encouraging words, they would be welcome. For new costumers like me, PLEASE don't do what I did, at least don't do it unprepared. Being in costume is not a dream world of appreciation and attention. There are lots of very nice people who would love to see you in costume, but there are also a few people who would love to take a piece of you home as a trophy.