For some reason, people who like to dress up as giant stuffed animals are often thought of as strange. And it doesn't help that a subset of these "furries" like to have wild animal sex, sometimes even illegal wild animal sex. In May, Alan David Berlin, an aide to a GOP Pennsylvania state senator, was charged with propositioning a fifteen-year-old boy on the Internet for furry sex. And last month, 45-year-old Richael L. Michels of Fort Collins was accused of having sex with a sixteen-year-old boy; police said Michels and the boy met at a furry gathering.
But these recent incidents shouldn't affect Rocky Mountain Fur Con, set for August 7-9 in downtown Denver. "We are expecting between 350 and 400 people this year," e-mails convention chair Sorin. "We don't currently expect a problem from the Fort Collins incident, as regrettable as it was." In fact, RMFC posts rules for convention attendees, including these: "Any areas with a rating higher than PG-13 in content of subject will be clearly marked"; "Kissing and holding hands, regardless of sexual orientation, are fine. Groping, tongue battles and nudity, regardless of sexual orientation, are not."
Meanwhile, the Mutual UFO Network's fortieth annual symposium, which lands at the Marriott Denver Tech Center August 6-9, puts no such limits on its attendees. But then, its concerns are far less worldly: The conference will feature some of the top speakers on UFO evidence and research.
Yes, it would be truly awesome if these two conventions happened to be booked for the same locations. And it wouldn't be the first odd pairing, says Rich Grant, spokesman for Visit Denver. A tourism trade show once shared quarters with a cross-dressing convention, and in September, the Great American Beer Festival will get cozy at the Colorado Convention Center with The Sex Show 2009. "There will definitely be some intermingling," Grant predicts.
Sadly, MUFON and the Furries will be separated by several miles and very different focuses. Still, sometimes it's hard to tell which program belongs to which group. Just try to match the following offerings with the appropriate convention (answers below):
1. "Politics, religion and human nature:
roadblocks on the path to disclosure"
2. "Rocking the night away"
3. "A 35 year perspective on photo
4. "Radio direction finding"
5. "How to talk to a skeptic"
6. "Dramatic changes in trace/landing
7. "Drawing in dimensions, Luskwood's
guide to textures in SecondLife"
8. "Role-playing games"
UFOs: 1, 3, 5, 6; Furries: 2, 4, 7, 8
No big deal: Just four guys having a beer and settling a brewhaha. That was the Barry, Joe, Hank and Jim show last week (with Colorado's Blue Moon in a starring role). It worked well enough at the White House that we'd like to see some of Colorado's bigger disputes settled with a sudsy sit-down. Here's just one example.
Dispute: Italian Americans vs. Columbus Day protesters
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Beer: Left Hand Brewing Company's Deep Cover Brown Ale
Like the issues involved with this yearly ruckus, Deep Cover is complex. Hailing from Boulder County (where student protesters feel at home), Left Hand was named for Chief Niwot, a Southern Arapaho (which pays tribute to our Native American past). But the beer's malty, nutty flavors also pair well with pasta and red-sauce dishes, and its smooth finish hides the bitter, hoppy taste of hundreds of years of persecution.
To sample more pairings, visit the Cafe Society blog at westword.com.