Fun-loving folfsky lets the good times roll
In the furry fandom nowadays, it takes quite a bit of innovation to stand out above the crowd.
But for the FNN Featured Fursuiter of the Month for February, Kirin Larkin, it was a on a whim that he decided that he’d like to try rolling around a convention on a pair of “Heelys” skate shoes.
Larkin, a fox-wolf-husky (folfsky) hybrid better known as “Skroy” in the furry world, started that trend back at a comic book convention a few years ago when he was borrowing a generic German Shepherd suit made for a friend.
“It was a head, tail, hand paws, and there were no feet,” Larkin said. “I wanted to do something other than a pair of shoes to distract from the fact that I didn’t have feet paws.”
Digging around in his closet, he found an old pair of super-sized heelies that had been collecting dust, and soon found that rolling around was second nature to him.
“I have pretty good balance so I don’t have to think about it,” admitted Larkin, who got to keep the suit. “A lot of people thought it was really cool at the convention.”
Larkin’s character, which he percentages out as 70 percent wolf, 20 percent fox, and 10 percent husky, is as diverse as the animal-laden house in the Chicago suburb of Saint Charles, Ill. in which he grew up.
“We had animals in our house since I can remember,” he recalled, noting that his family brought in two pregnant stray cats and kept one kitten from each litter. “Fish, six cats… a german shepherd, a cockatiel, I have a few different reptiles, geckos, skinks, things like that.”
As a child, he grew up on anthropomorphic Disney movies, and cited “Balto” as a personal favorite.
“It was a combination between certain Disney movies, video game characters, and just a general love for animals,” explained Larkin on his introduction to the furry world. “I was huge on Sonic the Hedgehog.”
In his early teen years, Larkin discovered the online furry role-playing universe of Furcadia, and eventually found Fur Affinity in its early years.
“I just dabbled around there for a little while, changed my character all over the place, and got on Pounced,” Larkin recalled. “I met my closest friend (Zidor) that ended up living 10 minutes away, hung out with him – he had a fursuit and he let me try it, and I thought it was fantastic.”
As far as his name, Larkin had always liked the name Roy, but thought it was a little “bland” by itself.
“I wanted something short, fun and easy to remember,” he said. “So I made ‘Skroy.’”
Originally a wolf, Larkin switched to a fox fursona for a short time – heavily influenced by the character of Miles “Tails” Prower from the Sonic series, but decided to keep both parts after coming to another momentous realization after his first fursuit outing.
“When I got the fursuit, I realized I liked to act like a dog… so I threw the dog in there as well,” said Larkin. “I added a curled tail later, and (I) became a folfsky.”
Made by Kodi, Skroy came to life in late 2009 and debuted at Midwest FurFest.
Larkin also has a pair of bunny fursuits, Flip and Flop, also made by Kodi, and a newer version of the German Shepherd that was re-created by Firestorm Six in 2010.
Much like Dogbomb, the August 2011 featured fursuiter, Larkin’s canine suit was devoted towards paying homage to a dear friend.
“My German Shepherd had been through a surgery and was scheduled for a second,” he recollected. “He ended up eating a rubber ball and it swelled up in his stomach, and eventually we had to put him down. His name was Gambit, so I cut that in half and dedicated the suit to him, and named him Bit.”
LET THE MUSIC MOVE YOU
Nowadays, Larkin’s claim to fame is his ability to move on the dance floor, despite getting a fairly late start into the scene. His first con was FurFright (FF) ’09, and prior to that, he had never really done anything dance-related in fursuit before.
Suiting as Bit, that all changed when a fursuiter named V (VegaGuy) set his boombox down in the hotel lobby and got some fursuiters in the groove.
“I’ve always loved and wanted to do dancing, but I never had the courage,” Larkin said, adding that the easygoing manner of V, Dex Raccoon and others in that original dance group at FF put him at ease. “I just let the music move me. Even today, I don’t really practice dancing, it’s just something that happens. My dad has been in bands since I was really young – I’ve always had music in my life.”
Once he got in the furry dancing circle, Larkin’s skills rapidly improved.
After some friends talked him into it, he entered his first official fursuit dance competition at Furry Weekend Atlanta (FWA) in 2010 as Skroy, and, much to his surprise, he won.
“I was freaking out – I was in the back, restless, couldn’t stop moving,” Larkin said on the nerves he experienced prior to his dance to T-Pain’s ‘Freeze.’ “I almost didn’t do it. But I went up there, did it, and it was a pretty amazing feeling. I definitely did not expect to win, or even place.”
Larkin, who incorporates Heelys into the suits of both his dancing characters, Skroy and Bit, said that to differentiate the two, he has them dance to different styles of music.
“When I dance in Bit, I’ll do electronic stuff, dubstep, house, club dance music,” he explained. “In Skroy, I like to do more R&B, pop or hip-hop, so I have a distinction in the way that they dance as well.”
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
At just 23 years of age, Larkin has already been in the fandom for about a decade, and always tries to give back as much as possible.
At FurFright in 2010, suiting as Bit, he carried around a donation bucket the entire convention to support the con’s charity, “War Dogs.”
“We collected over $20,000 in 2010, and I ended up collecting over $1,000 on my own,” Larkin said proudly, adding that the local Chicago fursuiting group is looking to start a charity organization. “Kodi is trying to start it up because he started Helping Pawz up in Canada,” he explained. “After he moved here he still wants to do that kind of stuff. We’re trying, slowly, to get that done, but it’s a lot of work.”
Larkin has also appeared in the media multiple times. He was featured in local footage of Chicago’s annual Halloween Parade, “Boo at the Zoo,” and appeared on CBS News coverage of Further Confusion in 2010 as Skroy.
Most recently, he was pulled aside by K.P., Anthrocon’s media liaison, to do a live interview with WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh as part of their convention coverage last year.
“(K.P.) came up to me. I was like, ‘right now? You mean me? Really? In suit?” recalled Larkin, who was in Bit at the time. “I was nervous because I wasn’t intending on doing that, but I realized that having someone that understands the big picture a little bit will give you a better image than someone that just wants to be on TV.”
Larkin, who has attended 18 conventions to date, said that it’s important for the fandom to embrace the media and give them the story, rather than have them search for something scintillating.
“If (media) want to find a story, they’re going to,” Larkin said. “If we can give one to them that we can deliver correctly, it’s up to us to tell it to them in a way we would want to be seen. There’s no point in hiding it, because they will find a way to dig something up, and typically the less they have access to, the more they’re going to want to find something shocking.”
As for the future, Larkin’s next con is scheduled to be FWA in March, and he does have one new character, a Border Collie made by Audri, that he hopes will become a full suit before Anthrocon this June.
Other than looking forward to the next convention, Larkin said that great memories and lasting friendships he has made during his time in the furry fandom are what keeps him going.
“The biggest and best part of it is getting to see friends and people that I love – the open-mindedness, and the ability for people to accept other people that they might not normally,” he said when asked what he enjoyed most about the fandom, and fursuiting. “I put my fursuit on, and I feel like me. When I get into suit, I feel free. I don’t have to worry what other people think about me… the window between what we are and what we can be becomes so much bigger.”
ADDITIONAL Q & A with Kirin Larkin, “Skroy”
Q: What are some things that people may not know about you?
A: I’m going to school, doing Audio Tech right now. My goal is to be a producer at some point. I was actually in a metal band (Aesthyrian) for three years, and I dabbled with a variety of different instruments. I played keyboard, drums, bass guitar, a little bit of banjo, and singing. We had a few songs I played that I wrote myself. It’s always been a really big passion of mine.
Q: How do you describe furry to those outside the fandom?
A: Too many people try to specify parts (of furry) and others get mad about it, so I try to boil it down to it’s a love for animals, and most of the people love anthropomorphics. I explain what that is, and use the fursuits as an example of an animal and human in one. It’s a place for people with similar interests to get together and have fun, party, dance, whatever creative outlet they want to use, they can.
Q: How do you deal with PCD?
A: I usually don’t, because I have so much fun at a con, when I get home, I’m still riding the afterglow of the con. There’s too much good stuff for me to remember to be sad about my friends not being with me. When you have PCD, start thinking about the next con, start looking forward, rather than looking back.
Q: Is it true that you get scared out of your wits before going on stage in a fursuit dance competition?
A: I get really bad stage fright, every time, I’m just freaking out. Some people say if you’re in a fursuit, you shouldn’t be nervous. I understand that since you’re covered, but most of the people that fursuit build their characters around themselves. When they get out there, it’s almost like (there is) more of them than they’re used to being, if they view their character as their inner self. I get bad stage fright, but every time I get up there and I get done with it, the feeling that you get for overcoming it and getting through it, is pretty amazing.
Q: Who are some of your fursuit dance mentors, or inspirations, that have helped you develop your skills?
A: Oh, there’s so many! I’ve always been a big fan of Phorone (Phor Dingo, FC 2011 Freestyle champion), and after getting into the dance circle, all of these guys have become really good friends of mine. Doryuu has been an inspiration to me. The first fursuit dancer I really paid attention to, part of the reason I got into it, was Nekomon.
So many great dancers have popped out of nowhere, Mozee, Rei Meerkat, Blue… I let him borrow Skroy for the most recent AC dance competition. He doesn’t have a fursuit but he’s a tremendous dancer, so I wanted to give him that opportunity. Kiyo, Zakari, Mangusu, J.D. (Puppy), Frisbee, Ticer, Audri, Kwik Cheetah, Theome, Ronnie, Sadie, Stevie, Wicker, Oz, Oreo, Neopan Tiger and Atsu. I’ve got so much respect for those guys, and all of them are fantastic people.
Editor’s note: The FNN Featured Fursuiter of the Month is a bi-monthly profile series written by Kijani. Every other month he will choose one well-recognized figure in the fandom’s fursuiting community, offering a unique “behind the mask” look at their characters and lives outside of fursuiting, as well as how they found the furry fandom.
The next feature will be released in April 2012.