(This is the original interview conducted in English with Keenora, by Mike Retriever. If you wish to read the Spanish translation, you can do so here.)
Keenora Fluffball is a 29-year-old furry from Germany. Best known in Spain for his latest appearance in Cuatro (Spanish TV channel) (link⇒), he’s a cheerful extrovert fursuiter, famous for his extreme sports & stunts in fursuit: bungee jumping, skydiving, or walking down a building wall Jackie Chan style! (‘House Running’.) He happily agrees to be interviewed.
MR: Born in ’86, when did you start identifying as a furry, and why?
KF: Basically I found the furry fandom back in 1996, during my first days on the internet. I was using the IRC network for chatting, and ended up in a channel where they talked about some videos. I wasn’t sure what it actually was, but as I saw photos of it, I was very interested. It was someone wearing a fursuit, dancing on a stage. I really liked it and searched around the net some more. I found some websites with drawn pictures of werewolves and got into the whole topic.
Back in those days I also created the name “Keenora”, and thought about my appearance, how I look like, and so on. But I have to admit, till around 2001 I lost track a bit and didn’t do much. Around 2001 I got really into the topic, visiting my first convention in 2004, which was Eurofurence 10, and learned a lot about it.
The question why I’m a furry, or better said, why I identify myself as a furry, is a very good one. For me, the anthropomorphic world is really interesting. Mixing that up with my thirst for creativity, and of course its community and its strong connections to people from all around the world, pretty much describes me as a furry. The most important thing for me, is that I identify myself with Keenora. There is no Kee and Not-Kee in my life. Nothing I could just “throw away”, or so. For me, it’s important to be myself, and I think, as a furry, I am myself as much as possible
MR: What’s the origin of your fursona? How did you come up with your fursona?
KF: Well, a wolf was pretty much clear for me. We used to have, and still have, a dog at home, for as long as I can remember. And the “wilder” version is a wolf. So that was clear for me They’ve always fascinated me
His colours are my favourite colours. And the stripes, which all have a specific position, length and size, just add the personal touch to me The funny fact behind it is, that afterwards, I’ve noticed my idea with the stripes very often somewhere else. In my favourite anime, Digimon, Garurumon is a wolf with blue stripes It’s coincidence, but I found my favourite character very quickly, in the show
The name Keenora has no special meaning. But the way I came up with it is funny. Back in the ’90s I wanted to develop software very much. I started with QBasic and I built a program which could create random names, based on rules like… no “k” after a “v”, and so on. When I browsed through the results, I found “nora” and I liked the name. “Kee” just came up to me, and suddenly “Keenora” was born My English wasn’t that good back then, but later on I figured out what “keen” means
MR: So you would say your fursona, personality-wise, is like yourself?
KF: Pretty much, yes. For me there is no difference between Keenora and me. It’s actually weird to talk from a third person perspective about myself Kee is me, and me is Kee
MR: Would you say you’re a popufur?
KF: Short answer, no. I think there is a difference between the term “popufur” and “popular furry”. It might be, that my videos and my appearances in many conventions and gatherings, added the label “popufur” on me. But I think it’s nonsense. I think I have a lot of followers and subscribers because they like what I do. That’s it. I am just a normal furry as you and others and there is nothing “special” or “popular” about me.
Other than that, what would you call me?
MR: I don’t know? Each person might have different “popufurs” or “popular furs”, each person values different things. But it’s a good thing that whether you are popular or not, you keep being yourself.
MR: What are the furry-related activities you enjoy doing the most, or that you do more often?
KF: Fursuiting, which is pretty obvious I love to be in fursuit and that is “my thing”, if you want to call it that. I don’t care if I’m home alone, or in a group or at a convention. Without fursuiting everything is a bit boring That’s why my fursuit is always with me, no matter where I am.
Besides the obvious thing, I love to just hang around with other furries. Visiting some regular meetings or such stuff. Actually, my whole life is “furry-related”, so no matter what I do, I’m always a furry
MR: With all the exercise you do in fursuit, how do you keep your fursuit clean from sweat?
KF: Oh that is a good one! Well, first, I should say, everyone is different. Each person can handle some things better than others. That said, I can say, for sure, I do sweat. But I do many things to prevent it as much as possible.
I used to be way heavier in the past, and started doing workout only for fursuiting. So I am kind of trained Since I got my suit, I spend a lot of time in it. For example, I was in suit every day, at least once, throughout 2013. Taking selfies / photos all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for an hour or for the whole day and night. You get used to it. Staying in suit for 24 hours is not a problem at all, and even twice as much is not a big deal. It’s just a bit difficult for me, due to my insulin pump, because I am diabetic. So when I am that long in suit, I need to drink enough and keep my blood sugar checked from time to time. The pump has a remote control, but I need to know how much insulin to push in The reservoir only lasts for about 2 or 3 days. I need a solution for that!
I tried those cooling vests once, but for me those don’t work at all. I was super freezing when the vest was cool, and when it got warm I began to sweat like a fountain. So yeah, the only thing under my fur is a Lycra suit, which keeps the temperature a bit lower when I am standing in the wind or in front of a fan. To all the people having problems with sweating in suit, I say: It’s just a matter of time. Don’t step back just because you sweat, everyone does. I figured out, the Asian fursuiters don’t sweat as much in general. Sadly, I’m European.
Keeping my fursuit clean is a very very important thing for me. After some suiting action I always wash him, when I’ve been sweating. I wash the feetpaws, handpaws, and the body. The head I wash in the bathtub with towels. I use a bit of detergent and softener. Not too much detergent, because small dirt runs off with just water already. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting stuff out of the fur. After concerts, when the feetpaws are almost fully soaked in beer and dirt, I get them super clean every time And I’ve had weird stuff on the fur, and in the fur: oil, make-up, food, blood, brake dust… [from cars, like the dust expelled in car drifting]
At conventions it’s a bit more difficult. I keep washing the armpits and the front and back with wet towels. Same with the head, using a tiny bit of detergent. Though, after a long week of suiting at a con, I have to wash it, of course, as soon as I get home
MR: So at home you submerge the body suit in water, and you cover the head with moist or wet towels, drying afterwards.
KF: No no, at home I use a washing machine! 800 RPM, 30ºC. I tried 1600 RPM in the past, but then I had to brush for a really long time.
MR: Do you collect plushies?
KF: Hmm, I do have like 10 or so, but I stopped many years ago I have three plushies of Kee though. The smallest one is always with me when I’m traveling (50 cm / 20 inches tall), and the biggest one comes with me to some conventions, but lays in my bed otherwise (120 cm / 3 feet tall).
MR: Aphinity (from VancouFur, Canada) argues that furries give the best hugs. Hugging as a greeting is a particular staple of furry fandom. How much do you like hugging / being hugged?
KF: Very much! Whenever I see friends, I do hug them, no matter if I’m in suit or not. Hugging shows, a bit, that you are “closer” to that person. I would never do that with my co-workers
MR: Can you share some touching experience you’ve had that involved hugging someone?
KF: In suit, there are many of those moments. I have them often, when I hug very old people or young kids. Last year we were at an event, at an inner harbour. There was a nursing home around the corner, and some elderly women were in their wheelchairs together, with some nurses, enjoying the nice weather. When I walked to them and hugged them, they didn’t want to let me go! They were hugging me like a huge plushie and they were so very happy about it. Most of them had dementia, and probably weren’t able to remember later that evening. But for me, it was really touching, to be able to make those people happy, on maybe one of their last days on earth. With something as simple as wearing a costume, you’re able to make a big impact. A fact which is just stunning
I’ve had similar situations with children. Last year, at a village of refugees, with children having very bad injuries from wars and conflicts, with no legs, no arms, blind, scarred… Those kids, who have seen the worst things on the planet, and experienced so much hate and suffering, were very happy! I just hugged them and they were happy. Happy because of almost nothing! They cried out of joy! And trust me, when you are in a situation like that, seeing those kids… you begin to cry. I wasn’t able to hold myself back, the tears were running down my face inside my suit. I didn’t want to stop. Sadly, it began to rain afterwards so we weren’t able to do it for longer than 3 hours or so. But it was a very touching experience.
MR: Maybe you’re familiar with a general rule of thumb for conventions called the 6-2-1 rule. The rule of thumb says, during cons, you should at least sleep 6 hours a day, have 2 meals a day, and shower once each day.
You’ve had diabetes for over ten years now. Is there some special guide or tip you follow, to keep an appropriate blood sugar level, during cons?
KF: I always turn that rule around… 1 hour sleep, 2 times food, 6 times showering
For diabetes, yes. I keep eating less at conventions, so I need to take care of that a bit. Stress + Activity – Eating means low sugar levels So yeah, I keep crashing into the fursuit lounge from time to time for water and some sweets. Basically neither diabetes, nor suiting, holds you back from cons.
MR: You’ve been at this year’s Japan Meeting of Furries, in January. Japanese culture always strikes me as slightly weird, unfamiliar, though I suppose non-furries could say the same about the furry fandom. What would you say the Japanese convention has in common with other cons? And which things are different?
KF: Hehe, well, I can tell Japanese culture is different for sure. But it’s not as weird as the media would let you assume. The things I have seen are, for example, good spotters [fursuiter lackeys, people who act as helpers to a fursuiter or costumed individual], handling the suiters really really well. They keep holding paws with them and always support them. In the city, people’s reactions are basically the same as in Europe. They are just way more polite, and nicer
The cons are different. At least the JMoF is. The dancing only lasted two hours, for example. But the parties are the same, or actually better
The “dead dog” party was the biggest difference though. We assume that a dead dog party is a normal dance on the last day. But not in Japan. They hosted a dead dog party where you have to pay a bit more, and what you get is a huuuge party. With food for free, drinks for free, and alcohol for free! It was just intense
For me, it’s pretty clear JMoF is getting an annual regular visit from me
MR: You’ve been a member of a Scouts group, or as known in German, a member of a Pfadfinders group. In what ways has this shaped who you are, if at all?
KF: Yes I was in the Scouts, but I was a little boy and that’s it. It didn’t influence me in a special way.
MR: Do you still remember the Scouts oath? What did you think of [spoiler] Nick Wilde in Zootopia when it turned out he was a Scout?
KF: Hah, it was hilarious. Really cute scene Though, a Scout would never do such mean things to others!!!
Funny fact about the German Scouts: The first group you go into is called Wölflinge, which could be translated to “Young wolf cubs”
MR: Yes, that’s the case here as well. Though they later included, at least in my Scouts group (when I was there), an even smaller kids group, the Beavers. It went Castores, Lobatos, Tropa, Pioneros, Rutas; that’s “Beavers”, “Wolf cubs”, “Troops”, “Pioneers”, and “Routers”.
MR: Can you tell us something about your performances for charity work?
KF: Oh yes! I love to do charity stuff! I found out getting cash together at an event is so easy in fursuit For example, last year we were at an animal shelter in another city for the first time. The owner is a friend of the leader of a local shelter here. So he said, [the one over here,] get them over there and you’ll see what will happen.
So when we went there, we got those little cans to collect money. It was actually really easy to get them full in a very short amount of time When I run around collecting money, I’m always a bit “mean”. So I do offer a hug, or some other cuddle, when someone throws money in the can. But after they did, I just kept hitting my paw on the can or running behind the person. Of course, only if they’re happy and like the fun So it gets full really fast!
For me, the whole “money” thing is a very sensitive topic though. I don’t want to earn money with fursuiting. Never. Once we went to an event in the Netherlands and they offered each of us 50 euros. And I didn’t take the money, because for me it’s just a no-go. A friend told me once: “A hobby is a hobby as long as you won’t get paid. When you get paid, it will become a job”.
MR: You’ve worked with commercial media, as a furry & fursuiter, and have appeared on television on several occasions. How has your experience been with the media? Did they treat you fairly?
KF: I can clearly say, yes. They do, as long as you know their tricks I mean, it’s just their job to get the most out of it. Some of them leave scorched earth behind; yes, handling it is possible. Reporters always try to ask the same questions in different ways on different times and locations. When you film with them for like two days or even longer, it ends up like that. And they get annoyed, when they realize that you know how they ask and how they think.
Of course they have questions you don’t want to answer, or don’t like or don’t want to be asked. It has happened to me many times. I always answer but sometimes not their question, or not directly. It’s like Nick Wilde said it in Zootopia: answer their question with another question, and answer that one… It really works!
Some producers take a sentence, and try to cut it down to a fitting sentence they want, even if you have something to add. When that happens, I try to talk in a fluent sentence without letting too many gaps in between the parts. So they have no way to cut it down and if they do, it sounds chopped and not good enough for a report Before I do such a thing, I do check their format though. What have they aired before, what have they produced, how they do their work and research, etc. You need to be prepared!
But yeah, basically I can say, they do treat me fairly but with a bitter taste of professionalism
MR: I believe you’re a software developer. Can you tell us a bit about your job?
KF: I work as a web developer. I’ve seen the internet grow all the time technically. That means it has many upcoming opportunities to work with it. I have two jobs, which are pretty much the same. On my main job I work in a company as the head of web developing, creating e-commerce platforms and interfaces between other systems and those platforms. My second job is my own company, in which I do the same. The main job is mainly to pay the bills, and my company I use for stuff I like to do, also traveling or other stuff. In my own company I work for normal customers, whereas in my main job I work for companies and not directly end-consumers. I also do web design and content management systems (CMS).
MR: Do you play any videogames?
KF: I wish! I used to play MapleStory a few years back. But time is my problem. I mostly spend time during weekdays for work, work, work. I only have the weekends free, and I want to use them without a screen in front of my muzzle
MR: And, to finish the interview, I have one last question. We’re having this furry convention here in Madrid, Spain, called Furrnion, which I don’t want to brag about (lie), but I can assure at least we’ll have awesome food, because Spanish food & wine is great. Will you be visiting Furrnion in 2017?
KF: Weeell That depends a bit Mostly on the date. It’s not like I haven’t checked flights already The first two weeks in January are blocked for Japan already, but if it’s after the 15th of January, then I will be there, pretty much. I’ve always wanted to see Spain
MR: Well, thank you Keenora for attending the interview and answering the questions!
Keenora uses internet heavily, and is always approachable on social media, FurAffinity, and other websites. You can also find him at his own website, www.keenora.de .