San Jose is once again ground zero for the wild and weird as Further Confusion, or FurCon, takes place this weekend at the convention center. Corey Strom, vice chairman of this year’s event, was nice enough to take a moment out of his busy schedule and break down exactly what FurCon is and isn’t.

Josh Koehn: In a nutshell, what is FurCon?
Corey Strom: Further Confusion is a celebration of the anthropomorphic arts. Anthropomorphism being the blending of human and pretty much anything else. In our case it’s animals and fantasy creatures. While the costumes bring the most visual impact to the convention, traditional artists, sculptors, performers, singers, musicians, gamers, dancers, and general fans make up a much greater chunk of the attendee population.

What was the most creative “fursuit” you saw at last year’s event? So far this year?
The quad suits were quite awesome. I particularly liked the Woolly Mammoth running about. I have seen her this year as well.

Last year, I joked that FurCon is “the city’s annual hot mess” and a celebration of fetishism. You disagreed with my description. How come?
Further Confusion pictures itself in quite a different way. First and foremost, FurCon is a 501c3 charitable organization. Our charter revolves around charity, art, and education. We have given over $150,000 to local charities to day and bring in around $4 million dollars in residual income from out attendees extended visits. We are an all ages event where families can come and enjoy any one of the 170 panels about the art, community, and the social life around it. Most of our guests are here for those reasons. Some of our guests use this opportunity to express themselves—it is a creative art related convention after all. A few of our guests enjoy the freedom of expression beyond that of most and will likely draw more attention, which may confuse people new to the concept of a furry con.

How has FurCon changed over the years?
The most amazing thing about FurCon is how its managed to thrive for 15 years. Keeping on top of trends, culture and changes in tech and business have been key in keeping the doors open. We have grown from a 691-person convention in 1999 to well over 3,000 right now. Our move to downtown San Jose has been the biggest change for us in recent years, having been at the DoubleTree up the road for so many before. We continue to grow, and as long as we deliver a fun, exciting, educational atmosphere I am sure we will be around for many years to come. We absolutely love working with the great people and businesses of San Jose.

How does San Jose rank when it comes to furry conventions?
As of last year we were the second largest furry convention in the world. Our registration has not finished yet for this year to tell.

Your “fandom” name is Chairo, and your “fursuit” was an auburn-colored Raccoon last time we met. Is that still the case?
It is. I was nick named by a friend when I showed them my first fursuit of a raccoon before I had named it. It became both my nickname and a name for a costume. Chairo is Japanese for “tea colored.”

Is there a process to changing one’s fursona? Does this happen often?
People do change their fursonas. Some never do. There is no real process if someone wants to change, they will generally just refer to themselves with their new name. They will change avatars and references to their online presences as well. People deeply rooted into the concept may have custom license plates and other things, which makes such a change a bit more complex; in some cases, more costly.

How much time and money have you invested into your fursuits?
I make my own, so it’s difficult to quantify. I can spend a few hundred dollars on materials, which could produce a costume which can net $2,000-3,000 if it were sold. I have had a number of commissions, but I am far from making costumes as a self-supporting business. 

What’s the most extravagant fursuit you’ve seen?
Depends on the definition. Some incorporate mad sewing skills with patterns to dazzle and behold. Some focus on electronics, lights, moving ears and muzzles that snarl. Even others focus on hyper-realism. I am partial to both realism and light effects. With lights though, I prefer to see them used in conjunction with a more tony styled costume. Anyone who comes can expect to see well over a thousand costumes over the course of the weekend. Where I am sure any fancier of such will be truly amazed by the selection and quality.

What is the best part about FurCon that no one seems to talk about?
The amount of community and friendship that is fostered here carrying on long after the event is over.

What exactly goes on at the notorious Klingon party?
Joyful consumption of grog and ales with song and traditions from homeland Klingon. Be sure to bring stories of battle and wounds to show your worth! In 1998 we began advertising our convention in the form of room parties at other Science Fiction conventions, one of which was BayCon, where we shared party space with the Klingons. Once they got a fursuiter on a roasting spit—after a lively chase, of course. They couldn’t couldn’t get enough and have been with us ever since.