For Bee Caudron Law, her business started with a feature story on the news and a dream…
Specifically, her desire to create her own Second Life business started in 2007; at the time, she was tending to her newborn daughter when she unintentionally spotted a program that was centered on the Second Life video game. She explains to The SL Parade that it was while watching that program that she realized she could make money in world. She continues, “…as I was at home with a newborn baby, I thought it was a great idea to try to work [in Second Life as a creator] and raise [my daughter while] working at home…”
It was from there, according to Law, that the creation of Bee Designs was born.
II. Bee Designs: Focus and Specialization
Bee Designs specializes in the creation of homes, as well as furniture and other decor. Law explains, “…my goal is to create products that give a ‘home feeling’ for those who buy my creations…”
When prodded further on how her products invoke a “home feeling” within her customers, Bee Caudron Law explains that she often relies on a combination of her own imagination and real life photos. She continues, “…sometimes, I start by making floor ad walls, then the idea starts to build inside my mind…other times, I look at an RL picture I like and start making a product that looks just like it…”
Yet in addition to relying on her own imagination, as well as on RL photos for inspiration; it is imperative to note that the textures, foliage and other materials used also create a realistic (and hence, homey) feel in all of Bee Designs products. This homey feel is also reminiscent of the reason why Law decided to pursue her SL business in the first place: To stay at home to raise and support her family.
With Bee Caudron Law being the sole owner, proprietor and creator of Bee Designs, she confesses that creating can often be difficult work. Law continues, “….takes a lot of time and effort to learn and to create each new set…”
Yet with her store being in operation since 2009, it is a challenge Law readily accepts with each creation she designs. Law recently added Halloween store at Bee Designs. “I love it over there…” she warmly affirms, then continues, “…I had a few other for full perm items (I created) on older avatars, but have stuck with Bee Design and exclusively create under my Bee Caudron Law account…” If you would like to pay a visit to Bee Design’s Halloween store, please click here: Bee Design’s Halloweentown
In addition to the Halloween store, Bee Designs has an array of Gatcha products for the discerning customer. The products, ranging from bedroom furniture to exclusively decorated buildings, are featured in the Bee Designs Gatcha machines located all over the Bee Designs sim. To see some of the Gatcha items featured at Bee Designs, please look at the slide show featured at the end of this article.
III. Bee Designs Empowers Bee Caudron Law To Be An Awesome Mom
Besides creating exciting and visually appealing products, Law contends that the best thing about Bee Designs is that it reflects her RL goals and aspirations. Law explains, “…I didn’t know a thing when I started Bee Designs…but now, Bee Designs is my RL job, so it reflects in my whole life…most importantly, it allows me to raise my girl and earn money…
Bee Caudron Law has relied on Bee Designs as her sole source of income since her daughter was a newborn. Now that her daughter is 11 years old, Law continues to be by her side to watch her grow up. Law continues, “…thanks to SL, my daughter studies at the best schools….SL has also given us the finances needed to travel, live in a very nice apartment….all I have always wanted to give to my daughter…”
Besides relying and loving what she does in Bee Designs, Bee Caudron Law loves being a mother. “Being a mom…” Law contends, “…is amazing…you learn more about yourself while raising your young ones, and you see a part of yourself flourishing too…”
The love for her daughter is not only demonstrated with the fabulous creations featured in Bee’s Creation, but in Bee Caudron Law’s avatar as well. With dark, flowing hair and flawless skin…complete with a look of wonder in her eyes, Bee Caudron Law looks just like her RL daughter…
Law continues, “My daughter physically looks a lot like me, and personality wise, she acts like me in every way, too…and thanks to SL, I get to be by my daughters side as she grows and matures…”
In addition to seeing Bee Designs products at the store, The SL Parade has installed Bee Designs’ Flower and Ice Cream Shop on its sim. This installation, in addition to this article, is our way of saying thank you to Bee Caudron Law for creating such wonderful products for the SL community…
Specializing in all things floral and ornamental, the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell sim is ran by Azalea Bluebell. She, along with her trusty bot side kick Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) have created a seasonal-based atmosphere that truly highlights how and where Bluebell’s creations can be used on virtually any sim in SL. Complete with a barn, plants and other foliage representative of the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall seasons, Bluebell has created an environment that looks and feels like a nursery and crafts store. Her products–ranging from hollyhocks sprinkled throughout the sim, to mushrooms planted in rich soil that is comfortably surrounded by stones to better separate them from other plants and wildlife–are featured in a way similar to the way they would be seen in an RL business. As if being blessed with a thriving business and side kick is not enough, Azalea Bluebell has recently been nominated for the Rezzie Awards’ Best Full Perm Landscaping Meshes category…demonstrating that she is being recognized for her contributions in SL. To vote for Bluebell, as well as other creators, please click on the following link: Rezzie Awards Ballot.
When asked how she came about naming her business, Bluebell explains, “I wasn’t very original with my business name, so I just kept it at Azalea Bluebell…I used to have ~AB~ Creations before and I still use the ~AB~ in my items, but in general you can find me best by just searching my name…My business as Azalea has been around for just over 2 years, but my business in total for over 5-6 years, but I don’t know exactly.”
To shed more light on the name of her business, please note that Azalea Bluebell’s name reflects two types of flowers: the azalea and the Hyacinthoides (nicknamed the Bluebell for its blue, bell-shaped blossoms). Azalea Bluebell’s name echoes her creative specialization in all things decorative and floral, while also highlighting the fact that she additional creates food, stuffed animals and even moving chickens and chicks.
Wikipedia, though unintentional, best clarifies the connection Azalea Bluebell has to her creations. According to Wikipedia, Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron, particularly the former sections Tsutsuji (evergreen) and Pentanthera (deciduous). Azaleas, like many of the foliage featured at Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell sim, bloom in spring, and their flowers often last for several weeks, and are part of the Ericaceae family (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azalea).
As a creator, Azalea Bluebell says that she has been actively creating for the SL community for over 10 years. Bluebell continues, “[and I] was always fascinated with trees and plants…I just found the typical 3-way prim shapes a bit boring so when mesh was announced I just had to give it a go. First I started with my other account but over time I switched over to Azalea and made her especially for that purpose (hence the name being two flowers).”
Bluebell further contends that she specializes in the creation and selling of full permission items, and that in the midst of creating and distributing these items to the SL public, anything (nature or otherwise) is capable of inspiring her. She explains: “…but a majority of the items are based on home and landscaping [merchandise] such as flowers, plants, trees, etc. I have some food items too and for the kids around SL, I have plush animals and other children related objects…”
Besides creating full permission items, Bluebell specializes in creating full permission items that are also low in prim. To accomplish this feat, Bluebell relies on strong Level of Detail (LOD’s) that is complimented by a low prim count. Bluebell explains how she does this by saying, “Creating items can be extremely nerve wrecking haha…When I first started making mesh items, I always bumped into errors when uploading, some of them made sense but most were a shot in the dark for me. It was a matter of time till I understood them though…and meanwhile, I haven’t had any uploading errors in ages. [Yet,] the tricky part of making meshes is that you always have to keep the polygons (triangles on a mesh) in mind. The more polygons an object has, the higher it will end in LI (land impact) too….so to make the LOD (level of detail) strong too, you need to keep a model as low in polygons as possible so you can keep the impact down, while still retaining the quality of the item for when they are viewed from a distance…”
Though Bluebell would never admit this to The SL Parade readers, it is imperative to note that she has a knack for explaining difficult concepts in a way that is easy to understand. This further distinguishes her as a unique and approachable creator…one capable of teaching others in such a way where they do not feel alienated or ostracized.
II. The Key to Low Prim: LOD’s and Low Lag
When asked to explain what Level of Detail (LOD’s) were, Bluebell describes the term as the ability to see a creation as you either walk toward it or away from it. She continues, “LOD stands for level of detail and it’s important for SL because they – as the name already says – handle the level of details over distance. I’m sure you have noticed items suddenly disappearing when you walk away for a small distance, and when you walk back they pop back in again, that’s one of the LODs. Second Life knows 4 LOD steps, being lowest, low, medium and high. It comes pretty much down to the creators choice, in that creators can choose what models they would like to use at what distance…some will use the default SL uploading system, while others will use different files per step…”
“This last option…” Bluebell contents, “…gives you better control over the details…but requires more work too. Strong LODs are important because without them, the items would fade away too fast. The size of a mesh will affect this too….”
As a promise to herself, as well as to customers, Azalea Bluebell strives to keep all items she creates at a low lag level. She continues, “I always try to keep the lag low for my items…I noticed that some creators use several 1024 maps on a single item, even if they are super small., and those textures will take a lot longer to rez when you have an optimized mesh that is using a single texture. Of course, you won’t notice the difference in an empty sim, but if the sim is built with lots of textures and objects, this, along with the area potentially having a lot of visitors frequenting the sim, will likely lead to having items take forever to load (or rezz)…I have found that when optimized textures and models are incorporated in creations, it reduces that loading time significantly…this, in my opinion is one of the battles creators face…”
Besides battling to balance high LOD’s with low lag, Bluebell is also in the midst of training her Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) bot. As he is her right hand man for all things related to the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell business, Bluebell relies on Gardening Bear to tend to the sim, as well as monitor her in-world group.
Because Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) works so hard at the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell business, he is often mistaken for a real avatar. In fact, many patrons have had whole conversations with him without even realizing that he can only give one-dimensional, bot-based responses. These limited responses, according to Azalea Bluebell, is one of the key challenges with Gardening Bear (HelpingElf). Bluebell says that prior to this challenge, Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) was initially equipped with a special self learning AI brain. Sighing, Bluebell says, “I use to have engaging conversations with him, but he can’t even hold a conversation now…”
It is for this reason that Bluebell is aiming to better socialize her bear and make him more adaptable to complex interactions. Besides potentially accomplishing that goal, Bluebell also wants to teach him how to perform additional domestic duties. She says, “It’s just me and the gardening bear…he takes care of the plants by watering them and keeping the weeds out. I still have to teach him how to mow the grass but that should be done in time…”
Nonetheless, if you are still interested in talking to him as he is, Bluebell will look over the conversations and get back to you as soon as possible.
III. Azalea Bluebell Wants Creators to Use Her Products to Further Explore Their Own Creativity
All Gardening Bear bot challenges aside, Azalea Bluebell contends that what she does in Second Life reflects her Real Life interests. She explains, “I absolutely love gardening in RL and often take pictures from flowers to reproduce in Second Life or other grids like InWorldz or the Hypergrid using Kitely Market. One day I hope to have a huge garden and get all the flowers I love along with a big veggie garden. Oh, and chickens! And I always want a cow lol…”
Though her clientele are too extensive to mention, Bluebell clarified that though she started building for various companies and universities, she initially had no desire to make a profit off of her creations. “I wasn’t here to make money like some of us do,” she explains. “…instead, I find it more important to help others where I can and I figured that with my items, I can help people create new items too while stimulating their creativity.”
Specifically, Bluebell encourages other creators to use her products when they create merchandise for the SL public. For instance, if a creator is interested in creating an engaging gazebo with vines and flowers, Bluebell wants the use of her products to better define a person’s creative vision. She supports this claim by saying, “I’m amazed with what people make out of other items…and I love seeing that….”
To help customers better understand how to use her creations, she continues, “I always compared my items as Lego bricks. Lego allows you to make wonderful things…and my items are one of the building blocks for many around SL.”
In keeping with Azalea Bluebell’s request, The SL Parade Headquarters features her products all over the sim…all of which are in keeping to the permanency of Spring theme discussed in The SL Parade Offers Spring To All Patrons article. This, along with fully supporting Azalea Bluebell in her endeavors, is our way of saying thank you for creating such wonderful products.
Aiden Windlow has been in Second Life 9 years. He came over from IMVU and wasattracted to the vast freedom of movement it offered over the other. A long time RPer he got involved in superhero RP, taking the role of Batman and also became a GM for the RP. The game went through several versions before finally ending. Aiden also took up SL photography establishing his SL studio, Seasons of Serenity. Through the studio, he offered logo design, AV custom drawn artwork, and other art commissions along with the photography services. He is now staff photographer for The SL Parade magazine along with still working from Seasons of Serenity.
His studio can be found at The SL Parade home offices. Please click here to pay a visit: Seasons of Serenity Art and Photography.
In RL, Aiden has worked full time for over 20 years in graphic design and illustration under his studio banner Technicolor Raccoon Studios. He has done much work for recognizeable companies such as, Upper Deck, Image Comics, Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Pinnacle Games, West End Games and many publishers of comics and gaming products. He is currently working on several creator-owned graphic novels. Samples of his work can be seen at his inworld studio as well as online here: http://tecraccoon.daportfolio.com/
As many may know, I have not been as active in my writings due to Real Life bereavement. I lost my mother on May 24, 2017 and the grief I have been experiencing has been overwhelming. Yet, in the midst of my grief, I want to thank the SL community for being patient with me. I also want to thank all of you for your support during this difficult time…with a special thank you going out to John Brianna and his wife Eles, Hunae O’Neil, Monrocie Core, VP Sandalwood, Mark Taylor, Nita Wunderlich, Luchenpur Darwin, Belyabee and Krystali. There are countless others that I need to thank, so please forgive me if your name was not included in this article.
Though I have not been writing articles, I have been doing a lot of things behind the scenes to create a more inviting atmosphere at the SL Parade Headquarters. One of the things I recently implemented was the creation of The SL Parade game room. This game room features three bowling alleys, an engaging Connect Four game, a checkers board, pool table, and an air hockey table. Though this items are free to the SL game playing public, The SL Parade encourages donations to help with the upkeep of the website as well as The SL Parade Headquarters. Thus, there is a donation box located in the game room, and I encourage all who come by to donate what you can.
In addition to the game room, I have also installed a garden at The SL Parade’s entrance. This acts as a gateway to another feature at The SL Parade Headquarters: A permanent kind of Spring. Because Spring signifies renewal and growth, I wanted to make The SL Parade Headquarters a reflection of all things pertinent to Spring. I have installed two pools–one in front of the new SL Parade Dance Hall, as well as one located in the open seating areas designed for patrons. In addition to the pools, there are swaying trees and other foliage designed to convey the newness often associated with spring.
The SL Parade Headquarters still has an informal cafe designed for upcoming listening parties that will happen via our partnership with SBE/Kulturezine Media, an RL music distribution company that specializes in Hip Hop, Gospel and an array of other music genres. Inside the cafe, there is a small stage, a bar and dining tables for patrons to sit. This, along with an open floor for dancing, allows a more intimate setting to insure full enjoyment of the services offered.
Because The SL Parade has hired Aiden Windlow as our SL Parade Photographer, we have allocated space for his photo gallery and studio. Windlow’s biographical information will be featured in another article, but I must say that I am very grateful and excited that he is on board! Aiden Windlow’s gallery is a few doors down from three stores that are available to rent at the SL Parade Headquarters. If you would like to set up a business at The SL Parade Headquarters, please feel free to contact me inworld or via Facebook.
I also want patrons to notice the element of romance intrinsic at The SL Parade Headquarters. In addition to being all about renewal and growth, Spring is very representative of budding and new romance. Because romance (in my opinion) seems to be becoming a lost art form, I wanted to recreate space for those interested in recapturing what seems to be a lost art. One key element of romance is courtship; the act of taking someone you are interested in out on a date, as well as checking on their well-being, should be a constant fixture between those interested in becoming more romantically involved. To facilitate courtship, I have created spaces on my sim where couples can picnic, dance, and even shop.
Besides the available store space for those interested in setting up business at The SL Parade Headquarters, I planning to set up a flower and novelty shop specifically designed for budding couples. This flower and novelty shop was inspired by two things: (1) The belief that couples should offer flowers and/or other items to convey their love and affection to one another and (2) my personal desire to honor my mother, who loved flowers immensely. In addition to the latter reason, I have personally always wanted to own an RL flower and novelty shop because, like my late mother, I have always loved the smell of flowers and freshly turned soil.
Like the purple-umbrella’d tables designed for virtual dining and conversation, there are two tables by the tentative floral shop that serve ice cream. Those tables are conveniently located at the ice cream parlor connected to the flower and novelty shop. Please note that any donations made to The SL Parade can also be made at the registers located inside the flower and novelty shop, as well as at the ice cream parlor.
All the items featured on the sim were created by a slew of talented creators…all of which will be featured in The SL Parade. I have the interviews completed, and I look forward to publishing them for your reading pleasure. This, along with introducing my newest staff members, will completely be in sync with my intent to create the permanent feel of spring at The SL Parade Headquarters.
Restorative growth and renewal is what The SL Parade is all about. It is my hope that you come by and visit the sim, and partake in embracing the sentiment of Spring. After all, in SL we can create a season of permanency no matter what season we are currently experiencing in RL. To visit the SL Parade’s Headquarters, please click the following link: The SL Parade Headquarters, Cafe and Garden Entrance.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of mass teleports (TPs) and group conferences from an array of hosts, DJs and venues? Prior to disabling my group chat feature, I did.
And while I initially had no problem with these habitual TP’s, etc.; it began to take a toll on me. The mass TPs and group chats seemed like a cattle call rather than a way to commune and get to know other Second Life community members; there was nothing personal in them, and the only time I ever heard from many of these DJs and hosts was when they were having a party. There was never an individual, nor personal hello…not one conversation held that conveyed anything other than “letting go” at yet another elaborately orchestrated party.
This realization would become especially perplexing when I would invite these same individuals to gatherings at the SL Parade Headquarters, because whenever I had an event, none of them would turn up to support it. And while I understand that many SL community members are busy at various clubs and other venues, I also think it prudent that if one asks for support, then there should be willingness to give the same support to others business owners, too.
This mindset is a little bit more than going where your bread is buttered. Though a lucid reference that has been used since the 1500’s, the concept of “going to where your bread is buttered” stems on the concept of reciprocity. According to Wikipedia, “…reciprocity is a social rule that says people should repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; that is, people give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment they have received from another.” (wikipedia.org)
The power of choice is ours when it comes to patronizing venues, but in an ideal world, this patronage should center around the concept of reciprocity. If I attend a venue for instance, and I am tipping DJs, Hosts, and the venue to boot, it would be nice to get that same support, too. Further, not only should I receive this support, but others that regularly patronize a given venue should as well.
And this concept of reciprocity should not be limited to clubs, but also be intrinsic in SL churches and other types of venues, too. In terms of the SL church, it is my belief that reciprocity should come in the form of direct community involvement. From holding private conferences between two individual members who have publicly bickered on social media, to mapping out fundraisers for community members that are experiencing real life hardship, this form of reciprocity should be in accordance to what a real life church would do.
Wikipedia also vividly describes another tenet of reciprocity by providing examples. The online encyclopedia states, “By virtue of the rule of reciprocity, people are obligated to repay favors, gifts, invitations, etc. in the future. If someone receives a gift for their birthday, a reciprocal expectation may influence them to do the same on the gift-giver’s birthday. This sense of future obligation associated with reciprocity makes it possible to build continuing relationships and exchanges. Reciprocal actions of this nature are important to social psychology as they can help explain the maintenance of social norms.” (wikipedia.org)
I would also like to stress that the kind of reciprocity that I am encouraging is not negative. I am encouraging positive (and balanced) reciprocity. When practiced in this light, reciprocity is more than a moral obligation; it also entails the building and cultivation of relationships within social groups. With this in mind, how can a venue–let alone a DJ, Host, etc.–ask for the SL community’s support, yet fail to give the very same support they ask for in return? Though a rhetorical question, I would argue that if the true definition of reciprocity was practiced, it would facilitate some sincere interaction and effective business building.
The last time I questioned motives and priorities in Second Life, I got pounded upon. However, this pounding will not stop me (nor should it stop you) from stating the obvious: it is important to support businesses (DJs, hosts, etc.) and venues that will go out their way to legitimately support the success of others. Doing so creates a more personalized atmosphere, while also demonstrating a sincere effort in legitimately supporting in-world businesses.
NOTE:The SL Parade has placed prizes all over its Headquarters in celebration of Etopia’s Earth Day. Aligning ourselves with not only Etopia, but with Whole Brain Health, Nonprofit Commons, and Center Ground; The SL Parade has opened it’s virtual doors for you to not only take a look around, but to claim your prize! To acquire a clue to find YOUR prize, please read this entire announcement, then pay a visit to The SL Parade’s Headquarters!
Etopia’s Earth Day celebration this year is a multi-sim event. Etopia has partnered with Whole Brain Health, Nonprofit Commons, and Center Ground to bring you a variety of workshops, tours, music, and film.
Enjoy the festivities and Thank you for 10 fabulous years!!
8:30am SLT: Showing of the film “Before The Flood” followed by discussion. Before The Flood looks at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet. This event will be held at the Nonprofit Commons Ampitheater. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Plush%20Nonprofit%20Commons/102/140/26
11:30am SLT: Bridging Worlds – The Etopia Experience (Namaara MacMoragh) Presentation will share how Etopia bridges the Second Life experience with real world application of sustainable living ideas, works to raise awareness about the impact of climate change, and how collaborations with other Second Life communities benefits everyone. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Etopia%20Island/84/157/23
6pm SLT (tentative): Showing of the film “Before The Flood” followed by discussion. Before The Flood looks at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet. This event will be held at the Bayview Ampitheater. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Etopia%20Island/84/157/23
11am SLT: Climate Change Game with Marly Milena at the Climate Change Platform on Inspiration Island. This symbolic modeling exercise explores various perspectives on climate change with a discussion on how we can use this experience to foster dialogue, sharing of information, and raising awareness of this issue. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Inspiration%20Island/13/82/701
2pm SLT: Earth Day Open Mic- come share your writing: fiction, non fiction, poetry, essays about what inspires you about the Earth. life, climate change, and sustainablity. It can be your original writing or the writing of your favorite author. You can read yourself, have someone else read for you or just come to listen. Join Bhelanna Blaze & Namaara MacMoragh at the Etopia Ampitheater. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Etopia%20Island/84/157/23
9:30am SLT: Meditation at Inspiration Island with Dani Ballinger. Everyone interested in meditation is welcome at the Whole Brain Health Meditation Group. This intro is filled with instruction for beginners and interactive discussion. It’s a wonderful opportunity to contemplate our relationship to our mother earth today. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Inspiration%20Island/214/212/701
*** Other Activities ***
10th Anniversary Birthday Hunt (20 April – 30 April)
Walk the SL Parade’s Red Carpet and join our Big Band Party!
Reminder: Don’t forget that tomorrow, The SL Parade will be having a BIG BAND party from 2 PM SLT – 4 PM SLT at The SL Parade’s Headquarters. Come in your formal best, and be ready to strut your stuff on the Red Carpet and have Luna Morandiere take your photo!
In many sims, you will see these signs or find it listed in the sim rules. At first I wasn’t sure what a furry was, so I had to check that out. Once I understood what a furry was, I still didn’t understand why someone would want to dress up as an animal in a game where you could be anything you wanted to be. In fact, one of the first people I met in world was a life sized white tiger. For many days, I had no idea if the person behind this avatar was male or female because the name was unisex and the conversation was neutral. It wasn’t until the tiger invited me to go dancing did I find out he was a guy.
One thing I learned about people who walk around in SL in animal avatars is to never underestimate them. I have met many Furries over the years. They come in an array of personality types, from shy to outgoing, as well as creative. Many are also introverts, while others are extroverted. Also, their ages range from teens to individuals in their forties….but they are not limited by age range. Even the sexual identity of the furry varies; a furry’s sexuality can be aligned with the LGBTQ+ community, be heterosexual, or be non-sexual.
Overall, being a furry tends to be a freeing experience…it’s like Halloween every day….wearing a costume. Some of the furries I have spoken with tell me being furry has allowed them to overcome serious social anxiety. As their character, they are able to explore in world and are also free to interact in ways they couldn’t do on a daily basis in the real world.
Thus, if Furries are such interesting and diverse creatures, why are they discriminated against on some sims? I can see in some sims with strict role play why a limitation of characters is a must. However, in clubs or other causal sims, it really shouldn’t be a problem.
Discrimination is discrimination no matter how you look at it. And why do most people discriminate? Because they fear the unknown.
My suggestion is to not let fear stop you from possibly meeting the most interesting person–or Furry–you have ever experienced.
There is a little bit of animal in all of us, but what if we truly seek to embody the very animal we can best relate to?
If you truly want to embody your spirit animal, becoming a furry may be the best way to go. According to Megan Garber’s November 6, 2014 article entitled “Your Spirit Animal: An Investigation,” a spirit animal can either be a person or thing that a person deeply appreciates; to better identify this appreciation, a person can literally embody their admiration for another person or thing by claiming it as their own (Garber 2014).
Within the context of the furry, the sense of ownership specifically relies on identifying, as well as incorporating key characteristics and strengths that the animal of their choosing has. For instance, a person may appreciate the mane of a lion, as well as a lion’s hunting skill and prowess. Yet, in appreciating a lion, a person may see a bit of themselves in the animal; like the lion, they may have a “mane” of thick hair, or they may be very skilled at hunting down a person or a thing that they want, not to mention have a strong social prowess that is difficult to shy away from. They see the attributes of the lion in themselves, and readily embrace that side of themselves by claiming the lion as their spirit animal.
While the concept of embracing your spirit animal in Second Life may seem more tangible to the average person, it is important to note that in Real Life, embodying your spirit animal is just as tangible (if not more so). Dennis Avner (age 50), for instance, was a former US Navy veteran that had at least 14 operations aimed at morphing himself into a feline, complete with whiskers, ears and a mechanical tail (White 2012).
Avner, according to the Daily Mail’s September 6, 2008 article entitled “Cat Man – The human ‘tiger’ that enjoys climbing trees and eating raw meat everyday” is descended from American Indians, and has spent ‘an uncalculated amount’ of money on making himself look like a big cat (The Daily Mail 2008). Avner’s dedication to morphing himself into a tiger occurred soon after having a discussion with a Native American chief who inspired him to ‘follow the ways of the tiger’ (The Daily Mail 2008).
II. One of Two Furries: Anthropomorphic Furries
In contrast to Dennis Avner’s literal, cosmetically enhanced feline morphing, becoming a furry in Second Life can–in a hosts of ways–be a bit more simpler. Jaysen Katscher, who has been an active Second Life community member for 10 years and a month, says that becoming a furry was a matter of seeing an inworld avatar up close and wanting one for himself. “Six months to a year after I first landed…” Katscher explains, “I found a WereHouse on a Therianation sim. While there, I saw the smilodon avi and instantly had to have it….”
Katscher alludes to the choice he made to become an anthropomorphic furry. Anthropomorphic, according to Wikipedia, “…is the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities…” (Wikipedia). In the context of being a furry and participating in furry fandom culture, examples of anthropomorphic attributes include exhibiting human intelligence and facial expressions, as well as the ability to speak, walk on two legs, and wear clothes (Wikipedia).
Katscher, as he explains, functioned as a human in Second Life before finding his first furry avatar. He explains, “I wasn’t even aware of a fandom in RL or SL…I was just amazed to find this and wanted it. I was partnered at the time and she wasn’t keen on my being a furry in here. So I sneaked around, in a sense, trying to spend time with a version of myself that I enjoyed being over ‘just plain old human’. She eventually accepted what I was about and even tried it herself, though she preferred being human. Real life happened for her and she drifted out of SL…After that, I was a full-time fur and avatar collector. Giant robots, dragons and other creatures all in my inventory for whenever I got bored. I always came back to my smilodon or tiger, though. They were home for me….where I felt at ease with myself and my lot in my 2nd Life.”
Because Katscher was a radio jock for the first four years he was involved in Second Life, he often worked for and alongside Second Life humans, which often presented challenges for him. Katscher continues, “…it presented its moments when people wouldn’t get why I wouldn’t completely change my avatar to suit them…I even tried the ‘walk a mile in my paws’ explanations with some…”
He asserts, “Since then, I have come across a bunch of great people who take me for me and don’t judge my looks. It’s been a great decade being a part of this and even getting to meet some people in here that became part of my family in real life.”
Like Katscher, Rhythmic Nalvir (viviandreamer) also functions as an anthropomorphic furry, and has been an active Second Life community member for eight years. Yet unlike Katscher, Nalvir has always functioned as a furry. She explains, “I always been into the furry community on here. I was a furry before joining SL…I have always loved animals growing up, so being a creature where you’re a humanoid-like animal sounded awesome to me…especially when I first heard about it 10 years ago…I also love the art styles and character creations people put behind there fursonas (NOTE: Furnsonas are, according to Wikipedia, ‘Anthropomorphic animal characters created by furry fans’)…”
Though both Nalvir and Katscher came across their furry-based spirit animals in different ways, both admit that being a furry allows them to be creative. Katcher reiterates this claim by saying, “I get to express myself. I’ll admit to a guilty pleasure in the compliments from people who message me that they wish they could do the same, but are too afraid of being judged for it.”
III. Kit Mahogany: The Feral (and hence, second) Furry
Besides anthropomorphic furries, there are those that believe in completely emulating their spirit animal by embodying them as a feral furry. Also known as either Non-anthro, full non-anthropomorphic, and/or non-morphic, the feral furry is a term used to describe a fictitious character or fursona that does not share virtually any human characteristics or traits associated with full furry/anthro beings (WikiFur, the furry encyclopedia). Less commonly, it is used to describe just a regular, feral, non-sapient animal (WikiFur, the furry encyclopedia).
One of many SL Community members that chooses to embody their spirit animal as a feral furry is Kit Mahogany. Affectionately known as Kit-Kat, Mahogany is a male jaguar that periodically turns into a snow leopard when the occasion calls for it. In either rp-based spirit animal mediums, Mahogany can often be seen at various venues with his owner Panther Amorosi. Because Mahogany’s owner is a DJ, Mahogany accompanies Amorosi to all of her DJ sets. When asked what he loved most about being a feral cat, Mahogany explains, “I love being able to just lay around soaking up music and sunshine, lazing like a real cat does. No one expects much of you so it’s very relaxing.”
What makes Mahogany and Amorosi’s relationship really special is that both are embodying their spirit animals in different ways. Mahogany actually embodies his spirit animal by literally becoming a feral cat, while Amorisi does so by closely aligning and caring for Kit Mahogany. Kit Mahogany reiterates this by saying, “Panther Amorosi, a human, takes care of my home and feeding needs…and I mainly live on a diet of fish…”
When Kit Mahogany was asked about the creation of his fursona, he explains, “I decided to create a furry after being an SL newbie for about a year and a half…I was intrigued with the possibility of taking on a fursona (persona for furries) and living as a furry in Second Life. My first avatar was an Anthro type (stands on two legs like humans), then I discovered the Feral type (goes on four legs and is more like a real animal)…”
“About a year later…” Mahogany continues, “…I settled on being a Melanistic Jaguar, as I had always loved cats…I enjoyed watching my domestic cat for many hours, and this gave me insight as to how to act like a cat for my in world RP.”
Because he also became enamored with the snow leopard, Mahogany decided to embody the in world role of that animal too. Mahogany says, “I fell in love with the Snow Leopard avatar two years ago and felt that I could work it in as my ‘Winter Aspect,’ changing back to a Leopard for Summer…”
All admiration aside, Mahogany does acknowledge one key challenge of emulating a feral furry. “The constant challenge…” Mahogany says, “…is to try and work out how to express ideas or complex actions only by emote, as my character is a mute…that is to say, in the RP, Kit-Kat cannot speak (as a real Leopard would not speak) and so somehow, he must convey an concept by emoting. I suppose I am a ‘purist’ in that way as I try not to ‘speak’ while being in character.”
IV. Discrimination Against Furries
As in all things that are readily embraced by some, there are others out there that simply do not understand the reasoning behind becoming a furry…let alone embracing their own spirit animal. Jaysen Katscher, for instance says that as an in world radio jock, he often experienced challenges from various venue owners. He explains, “When I was a radio jock in here, I’d get the ‘Can you be human here? We don’t want our clients freaking out.’ Then, off the gig, there would be the ‘Yiff in Hell, furfag’ jerks….Not so much now though….”
For Rhythmic Nalvir (viviandreamer), one of her biggest challenges is helping others understand that her fursona is not a form of role play; rather, it is actually an extension of herself. Nalvir explains, “Rhythmic is me in furry form so when you are talking to her, you are actually talking to me. I don’t like to hide behind a character…I want people to know me.”
This, along with others stealing Nalvir’s art and artistic interpretation can make things very difficult for a person that has truly embodied their fursona. For this reason, Nalvir has the following warning in her Second Life profile:
PLEASE DO NOT STEAL, COPY, TRACE, USE HER IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM OR COLOR OVER ANY OF MY PIECES OF ART I GOT DONE OF HER. RHYTHMIC TOOK ME 3 YEARS TO FINALIZE I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF SHE WAS NOT STOLEN.
Like Nalvir, Katscher often relies on warning-based stipulations to not only establish boundaries with the SL public, but to stress how important it is for him to truly express his furry self. Katscher would often tell various venues that since they are hiring him, they have to accept him as a furry. In fact, Katscher says that he would tell them, “‘You’re hiring a furry ‘jock’. I’m willing to dress to be appropriate for the event or venue. I will not change anything else. If you insist on a human-looking jock, may I suggest – (link to DJ Referral Group)'”.
Besides establishing boundaries, Nalvir, Katscher and Mahogany all agree on the importance of surrounding yourself with those that embrace who you are. In terms of great places to hang out, Jaysen Katscher suggests furries frequent hangouts that are furry friendly. “FurNation…” Katscher says, “…is a furry hangout…Muddy’s Music Cafe and Muddy’s Country…while not exclusively furry are fur-friendly and don’t give me a hard time showing up in fur avis…”
Rhythmic Nalvir (viviandreamer) prefers adult-rated places like the YIFF CLUB, YIFF ALLEY LOUNGE, KNOTTY BEACH, IYC, GYC, and JUST POSEBALL. She continues, “…apologies, as these are all adult places…I just like to go to them cause there usually filled with [anthropomorphic and feral] people….”
For Kit Mahogany, the best place to be is beside his owner Panther Amorosi. Because his function is primarily as a pet, he is generally embraced by whatever venue Amorosi frequents, and can be seen at Fogbounds and a plethora of other venues, too. Mahogany continues, “Kit Kat’s role in the Amorosi family is as a family pet. The role is light and easy and would not be considered a complex feral RP. That is to say, no hunting or mating RP is taking place at all.”
V. Furries and Their Families: Another Way To Align With Like-Minded Individuals
As Kit Mahogany mentioned earlier, creating an in world family is another way for furries to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Because Mahogany functions inworld as a pet (and hence, a member of Panther Amorosi’s family), his role is a relaxed one. He reiterates this claim by saying, “I would say overall that I chose to go furry as it appeals to my relaxed side, nobody expects much from a cat, except to see it laze around or chase a toy. This way, I get to enjoy the company of friends in an easy going RP manner, no stress. It is my break from reality and isn’t that what SL is about?”
As if echoing Mahogany’s sentiment, Rhythmic Nalvir (viviandreamer) agrees that she can be more relaxed around her SL family. However, in Nalvir’s opinion, relaxing around her SL family means having the flexibility of sharing your true Real Life personality with them rather than role play. She explains, “…I have a family on here and we are all furries…We been a family for 5 years now and we are all really good friends…but we don’t role play. There just like me…they act like themselves….and we don’t do the whole daddy/mommy thing…”
While Jaysen Katscher also has an SL family, his family is mostly a human one that enables him to be himself. Katscher continues, “My family is mostly human, and while I don’t have a role, per se…I don’t get treated differently for being a furry, I think….”
In addition to having an SL family, both Katscher and Nalvir both have furfinity.net accounts; these accounts allow them to connect with other furries, as well as admire their artistic efforts. To contact Rhythmic Nalvir (viviandreamer) on furfinity.net, please click here: Rhythmic Nalvir’s Furfinity account.
Whether to demonstrate our fashion prowess or escape from Real Life, many of us come to Second Life for a myriad of reasons. Yet, what if one of those reasons involves the desire to encourage others to not only network, but to help one another too?
As if this question were posed directly to Edward Travis (known as Travis Suave inworld), he dutifully answers it via the creation of The Hangout. While The Hangout is a place for SL community members to party and relax, it’s important to note that Suave has created more than a place: he has also created a website directory aimed at connecting SL business owners to not only customers, but to other business owners as well. This, along with the creation of The Hangout Radio Station encompasses a multi-layered effort to spread the word about SL businesses across the grid!
Suave’s creation of The Hangout is especially beneficial for businesses who are currently not listed in Second Life’s Destination Guide, because it allows owners a choice as to how their business is advertised, as well as the flexibility to choose what target audience they wish to market to…in a way that dutifully functions with, yet independently from Linden Labs–all in one swoop. To sign your business up, please click on the following link: My Radio Stream.
Travis Suave, whose Real Life occupation specializes in Sales and Website Development, brings a plethora of real life work experience with him; this real life work experience becomes more fluid and tangible within the scheme of Second Life because it represents how real life skills can benefit SL community members.
II. When The Hangout Was Founded And Other Ways It Helps Businesses Flourish
Founding The Hangout in June 2015, Suave has successfully maintained his venue’s location for over two years. In fact, if you would like to take a look at The Hangout parcel, please click on the following link: The Hangout. When asked about his business’ endeavors, Suave answered, “My aim is to help people in [the SL] game… get their brand out there in a much easier way then the way it is usually done in world…”
To meet this goal, Suave relies on his ability to personalize service to SL business owners, just like he does in his Real Life Sales profession. His business location for instance, offers a variety of scenic backdrops aimed to entice even the most discerning customer. For instance, there is a beach area that overlooks a scenic ocean…complete with crashing waves and a modest gurgling current. This scenic beach area also features a venue perfect for wedding ceremonies.
There is also a very interactive forest, a children’s playground, bustling restaurants and a romantic waterfront for couples interested in bonding with one another. This, along with acknowledgment of the Asha Group’s landscaping contribution to The Hangout, are indicators of Sauve’s willingness to help employ other businesses to realize his goal of helping others.
The Asha Group is owned by Asharhia, who is also responsible for the creation of the Africa sim located at Caprina. To take a look at her additional landscape contributions, please be sure to also pay a visit to Africa by clicking here: Asharhia creates Africa. Feel free to also contact her via Facebook by clicking the following link: Asharhia.
Visiting Africa, as well as visiting The Hangout Sim will offer SL community members an interactive look at Asharhia‘s work, while also supporting Travis Suave’s efforts to create formidable connections with SL business owners. To take a look at The Hangout’s Waterfront please click here: Waterfront Romance at the Hangout.
III. The Hangout Venue: Offering Intimacy At Its Finest
For those that crave a more enclosed yet intimate environment, Suave has also placed a venue in the sky that aims to showcase live performers as well as DJ’s. Enshrouded in blue and seemingly crushed velvet, this venue features white drapery and has its walls and ceilings bordered in gold. The stark color contrast, along with a pleasantly smoky vibe, make this section of the hangout perfect for romantic outings…or even as a place to meet up with friends, family, and colleagues.
This, along with an area of The Hangout sim designed to cater to the needs of SL families and their children, make for a destination that not only addresses a varied audience, but one that offers personalized service with the aim of catering to the discerning SL community member. This is because, as a consumer himself, Travis Suave began to realize that he wanted to offer more to the SL community then merely a place to park their avis while mindlessly listening to music.
He explains, “…I saw people hanging around [different venues]…and all they were doing was standing in one spot, looking at each other as they listened to a stream…”
Suave contends that this mindless listening and standing around is one of many key things that can lead to unnecessary in world arguments and griefing. Thus, Suave’s goal is to not only create a way for others to positively network with each other, but to do so in an environment that is healthy and safe. He continues, “My goal is to not only create something more than a place to hang out in world, but to also create a place that helps others find a different place to go and not be harassed with drama…”
To better demonstrate how The Hangout sim encourages peace within Second Life, please take a look at the slideshow below:
He is also interested in using The Hangout (including the website, as well as his radio station and his variety of venues) to foster new ways to function in world; in fact, Suave believes that there is more than one way to get the word out about your business, and he also believes that a business owner has to be flexible and open to change in order to help their business better flourish. Suave explains, “I want to build on creating a strong information center for people; I want to help SL Community members locate great places to hang out and to find businesses that will gainfully assist them in their endeavors. I want to help people come up with new ways of doing business within the Second Life game, and better assist those who are open to change…In fact, I prefer to be around people who are open to new ways of thinking….that are open to change.”
Please check out some additional photos compiled of The Hangout here:
As seen in the above photos, The Hangout offers the SL community a way to not only demonstrate their openness to change, but in also actively spreading the word about how business owners make a profound difference in the community they serve.