A commission of PaulD’s character, Chiron, by Viergacht.
The Centaurica Interview: Chiron
I first became aware of PaulD AKA Chiron way back when I had an adult MSN Group, the first permutation of Centaurica, in 2002. Over the years we have touched base only fleetingly, but I have noticed and admired the commissions of Chiron he has had done. They are always very beautiful and tasteful. The kind of centaur art you could hang on your living room walls.
This series of interviews is still in its infancy and I hope, over the course of time, to get interviews with artists, writers, collectors and other people who identify as centaurkin. It is fitting that PaulD would be one of the very first interviews I would do and I thank him for his cooperation on this project.
TReg: Tell us a little about yourself. Nothing that reveals your true identity, but something that helps readers get a better grasp of who you are, your education, involvement in art, etc. A mini profile as it were.
PD: I was born and raised in Northern California in 1953. I attended two years of Junior College where I studied computers and electronics. After some time in retail sales, I wound up working for an electronics R&D company in Los Angeles, then for Mattel Electronics, before moving to Central Florida. I work for a major Orlando theme park, and I’ve been there over three decades. I’m an actor, and have been in several small productions, and I’ve worked backstage in various capacities. I’ve been singing since I was in 5th grade, and my husband and I are founding members of the Orlando Gay Chorus (currently prepping for our 25th anniversary concert). I prefer dogs to cats (we currently own a Chihuahua that we got from the pound), I prefer Macintosh to Windows, and Apple iOS to Android. I love photography & cinematography.
I’ve been with my husband 27 years, and we legally tied the knot 3 years ago in Provincetown. Our married became legally recognized in Florida at the beginning of this year (2015)
TR: What first sparked your interest in centaurs? (who, what, when, why, where)
PD: I discovered centaurs, satyrs and minotaurs in high school. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology was a textbook containing illustrations of mythological creatures. There was a cover illustration of a centauress on Jack L Chalker’s “Midnight at the Well of Souls” that captured my imagination in the late 70’s.*
About the same time I discovered Piers Anthony’s ‘punny’ series of Xanth books. “The Source of Magic” caught my attention, with its centaur on the cover, but I had to read “A Spell for Chameleon” (with no centaur on the cover) as it was the first book in the series. I remember reading a lot of the books in this series, but eventually the puns got to me, and I gave up on them.
I was an avid reader and book covers with (what I call “anthromorphic”, meaning to me, a mix of human and animal characteristics) always caught my attention. As did books with muscular men. I was dealing with being attracted to men at the same time as I was dealing with being attracted to “furries.” I think I accepted furriness before I accepted being gay. To many, being gay was a sin, but being a furry was not even a thing.
I went along this way for a long time. I even got married. Furry stories and artwork always depicted heterosexual characters. There was a slight disconnect for me. I would read these stories, but imagine that the characters were male. And, to be honest, when I had sex with my wife, in my mind I was with a male bodybuilder, or centaur, or satyr, or manwolf.
Starting married life, we moved to Los Angeles. There I was exposed to the mega-magazine stands/stores. I went in on day, looking at bodybuilder magazines, and discovered one where they had only men, and they were naked! I discovered the gay magazines. I read the Advocate clandestinely. But I never cheated on my wife, and it wasn’t until we had moved to Florida that I was finally forced to come out. (That’s a long story, for another time and publication, but I can tell it involved a story that I wrote & printed, but never posted, of a man being taken by a werewolf (not the title)).
Along the way, I had discovered BBSs, CompuServe., and American PeopleLink (PLink). I was able to talk to other gays, and this is what really helped me with the coming out process. I found other gays were not the effeminate stereotypes that we were too often portrayed as. I discovered that there are effeminate gay men, and that was nothing to be ashamed of. There were bears, and geeks, and people who were intrigued by my name (Chiron, usually, but sometimes Chiron1, or a variation if I couldn’t get either. Then along came access to the Internet with full on access, without having to use a gateway and archaic commands. Suddenly there was a wide world of stories, photos and artwork, and I found that, besides not being along as gay, I had a lot of company in what I would come to know as The Furry Community. Especially, when I found an image of two male centaurs having sex.
Wait… What was the question again? 😉
TR: How did you come to create Chiron? Is he your “fursona” or a character? Tell us some particulars about him. Why him? How exactly does he relate to the Chiron of Greek myth and to you as Chiron?
PD: In high school, I discovered the Edith Hamilton book “Mythology.” It was filled with images of centaurs, satyrs and minotaurs (although the minotaur was a quadruped, with the lower body of a bull, and upper torso of a man with horns and a mane running down his back. I actually found him more attractive than the centaur that was depicted). This peaked my interest in such hybrids.
This stuck with my strongly, and when I began checking out the “pre-internet” BBSs and CompuServe and such, Chiron seemed like a natural name for me. A couple of times I was even involved in some online role-playing.
I’d chosen Chiron, because he was kind, knowledgeable, and a teacher, whereas most of the tales of centaurs had them as wild beasts; more animalistic than human. Chiron was much more human.
TR: After you created him, how did it come about that you enlisted other artists in creating their visions of him?
PD: I was seeing a lot of furry artwork start to show up on the web, but it seemed like a very small percentage of it was centaur-specific. I believe that the first work that I commissioned was from Megan Giles. One of my close Internet friends at the time was a good friend of hers, and introduced us (online). We exchanged emails, and soon I had a completed work.
TR: What have been the circumstances around your obtaining these works? In other words, how do you choose artists and commission them?
PD: I follow a lot of artists on Fur Affinity, SoFurry, and several others. When I see a style I like, I do some research; do they accept commissions, do they draw centaurs, or humans. It’s interesting how many artists will not draw centaurs, because they don’t feel they draw humans very well. If I don’t see centaurs, I will sometimes just ask. There are artists who don’t have centaurs, equines or humans, but when asked say “Sure! I love centaurs.” Sometimes this may be because they never been asked, perhaps because the people who follow them prefer another species. But I did have one artist who tentatively took a commission, stating they’d never drawn a centaur, but had always wanted to, but then when it came time for it, refunded my money stating they weren’t feeling confident enough, and was too busy to put what they felt was an appropriate amount of research and effort at that time.
Never take anything personally, if this happens to you. Unless you’re being an obnoxious ass about a commission, it’s likely exactly what they say the reason is. Also, don’t expect finished artwork over-night. Quality work takes time, and the more detail you want, the longer it takes. I have other tips, if there is anyone who is interested in getting their own character displayed.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what the cost would be, it depends on the artist and what you want done. I’ve had sketches done for $10, and full color drawings for $50. I am currently having artwork done by one of my favorite artists, and it’s $180, which puts it at the top of what I’ve ever paid, but I love how it’s going.
TR: Do you attend furry conventions or engage in any other activities relating to the broader anthro community?
PD: Not really. I’ve attended SciFi conventions, like MegaCon and Oasis (two Orlando conventions). My first convention was Equicon in Los Angeles back in the 70s. I’m not familiar with any of the furry conventions in the Orlando area, but I’ll likely check some out before long.
TR: Do you have a philosophy about centaurs and/or centaurkin? i.e., what is your centaur consciousness?
PD: There is a debate raging (seriously? “Raging?” Okay, maybe more of a slightly heated discussion) about the nature of centaurs. I think there’s room for more than one definition, but for me centaurs are their own creatures. They may LOOK like half-man half-horse, and it’s certain easiest to describe a centaur as having “the lower body of a horse, and upper torso of a man” but they are not a mix os species. They have their own DNA and their own health issues.
If you take a human and cut off everything below the waist, then take a horse and cut it off at the neck, then sew them together (this is just for illustration purposes, of course) you would see that the creature was not aesthetically pleasing, because the human portion would be too small. Basically to get the best appearance (IMHO) the human portion needs to be about 33% larger, or the equine portion about ⅓ smaller.
Now this does not preclude the possibility of a story where a man and horse are combined, but the process and end result need to take all of this into account.
Also, I feel that centaurs are very intelligent and adaptable. They’d feel equally at ease using an iPhone or a bow & arrow. I think most people tend to picture them in forest/farm settings, because they fixate on the “equine” aspect.
TR: Is Chiron ever included in RPs or any more intimate homocentric activities.
PD: A couple of times, in the early days of my coming out, but not so much these days.
TR: What are your future plans for Chiron?
PD: Years ago, before I came out, I started a story. I have a binder of hand-written pages. I would like to take that story, put a gay spin on it, and complete it. As I recall, the character was named Ron, and after he changes, he calls himself Chiron. If I recall wrong . . . that is the way it WILL be! 😉
TR: How many pieces do you now have in your collection of commissioned works? Are they displayed proudly at home?
PD: I honestly don’t know. Many of them are… And I have one that I won on eBay that we had framed and is in the bedroom.
TR: What does your partner think of your fascination with centaurs? Does he share it?
PD: He knows about it, and he finds a lot of it “hot” but really isn’t in to it to the level I am. But he loves me, and he understands that it’s a part of who I am, and he’s fine with it.
TR: I assume you are out in your real life. But are you out to others with your love of centaurs?
PD: Yes & no. Like being gay, I don’t hide it. If you check me on twitter, it’s listed among my interests. I’ve had to explain it to some of our friends, and it rarely raises an eyebrow.
The world is a lot more understanding of centaurs, thanks to movies like “Narnia”, and “Percy Jackson”. When asked if I would like to become a centaur, I have to honestly say “No, not in our present culture.” All you have to do is look at how anything “outside the norm” is treated to understand. Things are changing slowly, but I don’t think I’ll see acceptance within my lifetime. But I keep a positive outlook on life, and will do whatever I can to change it.
Centaurs do show up in unexpected places. If you visit Walt Disney World in Florida, you’ll find Fantasia Mini-Golf where the gender symbols on the bathroom doors are noted with either a male or female centaur.
I love to write. Much like acting, I love to create characters, and worlds. I like to imagine what it would be like to be or become a centaur or satyr, or other “alien” creature. One of my favorite stories would have to be “The Prince and the Bodyguard.” The title alone makes you think about the characters. You might imagine a spoiled royal prince; someone not at all likable. But if you didn’t know me, you likely wouldn’t expect the main characters to be centaurs. Yeah, you’d figure that out as soon as you saw the cover, but I like to think that even knowing that, you’d find the story surprising in many aspects. And I wrote it as a commissioned for a very nice young man in Australia.
That story contains a transformation, and as I think abut it, most all of my stories do. How does the person handle the change?
Would I become a centaur for a day? Definitely!
* This interview was edit for minor errors and to improve readability.
Again, a big thank you to PaulD AKA Chiron for accommodating me with the answers to my many questions.
As my life is in major upheaval at the moment what with the passing of my closest friend, a lengthy bout of flu and moving underway, it will be a while before I can get around to arranging the next interview and posting it.
If you or someone you know would like to be part of this project please contact me:
Happy Trails, Centauricans!