OF ALL THE ORGIES IN ALL THE TOWNS OF THE WORLD, YOU HAD TO COVERTLY BE ASSIGNED TO MINE
I last saw him two Sundays ago. I found him sitting under the fire escape, round the back of the tanning salon. Grubby orange paws cradling his furry head. A dozen shades of lipstick smeared around his pointy mouth. On the concrete next to him was an old rat bait dispenser. One of those big plastic ones that poison-resistant rats use as restaurants. I slid it aside with my foot and sat down next to him. “Listen to me, Rusty. I’m not trying to kill you.”
Rusty Badger, the tanning salon mascot, said nothing, but from deep within his filthy costume came a desolate cry: “I can’t do this any more.” His furry shoulders began shaking gently. Was he weeping? I hoped so.
I found his distress unbearably erotic. He murmured something that sounded a bit like “help me.” Maybe it was “hurt me” or “hit me”—I couldn’t be certain. I gave his shabby knee a squeeze and told him I’d do my best, and the two of us sat beneath the fire escape while all around us quietly swirled his astonishing body odor.
That beautiful smell, like a Camembert made from otter milk, was how I tracked him down, two months before, at the orgy. I was nuts deep in the Pink Panther when a dark waft of forest floor hit my nostrils. I knew instantly it was a “wild one,” and close by. On the plushophile scene “wild ones” are the rare and committed furries who never take off their costumes. They eat in them, sleep in them, mate in them, and only ever wash in ponds or puddles, as animals might.
Until that night I’d never met one. Only ever heard stories from other plushophiles. I turned to see a darkly stained orange creature passing through a set of curtains. Moments later I exchanged business cards with the Pink Panther and followed my nose through a maze of rooms, where eventually I found him, at the center of a circle of furries, getting a yub nub from an Ewok.
A haunting, ditchy fragrance filled the chamber: something between a dog’s burp and a dolphin’s corpse. I could have stood there forever, drinking it in, if I hadn’t at that very moment been asked by a My Little Pony if I wanted to bang.
The next day, as I dropped my Big Bird costume off at the dry cleaner’s, I found myself thinking back on that intoxicating musk. I put in a call to my friend Orlando Villar, whose party it had been. A former Brazilian backstroke champion, Orlando became disillusioned with professional swimming and now organized adult cosplay events. He laughed when I asked him about a rancid orange mammal.
“Oh, my friend, he is my obsession! He smells like the devil’s feijoada. Come to my club tonight, and I will have a present for you.” And that’s how I met Rusty Badger. Face down in a black leather sex-hoist. After an hour or so I unstrapped him and we got chatting.
For the last three years he had been employed, he said, as a promotional mascot by a bronzing studio. Across his filthy orange chest I could just about make out the woven slogan, “YES YOU TAN.” His story checked out. I popped him back in the sling, and we became firm friends.
Rusty told me that he’d been given the mascot job as part of a relocation package, after being called as a witness in a murder trial. A former piano tuner with a string of wealthy clients, Rusty was crouched behind a Steinway when the owner of the house was tortured to death with a hosepipe by a member of the infamous Tonioli family.
“They promised I’d be safe testifying, but someone must have leaked my name. I was getting death threats. Notes through my letterbox. So they decided to make me disappear.” He moved to a new city, cut all ties to his past, and was given a one bed apartment above a tanning salon in a heartbreakingly ugly strip of shops.
The salon itself was part of the protection scheme: a kind of halfway- house for threatened witnesses to earn a bit of money. Everyone who worked there was nursing a new identity. Trying to carve out a career in the budget tanning industry.
“The staff never talk to each other. Everyone there is terrified. I was too scared to take off my costume, even in bed. My fur was my safe space. No one was out there looking for a man-size orange badger advertising spray-tans. So I became Rusty, full time.”
Zipped-up day and night, Rusty stopped showering or bathing because the fur took too long to dry. In the early days he would soap himself every couple of days through one of the costume’s abdominal flaps, but he stopped when he realized his heightening scent was not only an integral part of his new identity as a badger, it was part and parcel of his protection.
People would veer away from him in the street; locals learned to stay upwind. Passing dogs would bare their teeth, sensing prey, or confused by the musky bouquet would wildly hump his leg. The first few of these Rusty would kick away, but later on he learned to let them finish if their owners allowed, as the jouissance added some colourful top notes to his increasingly complex odour.
Although feeling secure for the first time since the trial, life for Rusty inside his fur fortress was increasingly lonely. Few and far between were the people who were physically able to breach his aura and speak to him: they’d either lost their sense of smell due to a head injury or were French. But then one day, when he was out distributing bronzer samples to a reluctant public, he heard a long, giddy inhalation behind him and seconds later a former Brazilian swimming champion whispered the address of a sex club in his ear. And for Rusty, everything changed.
So popular did Rusty become at Orlando’s soirees that within weeks he had to replace the velcro on his flaps. After we became friends I acted as a kind of handler for him at parties: making sure Rusty kept hydrated and the crowd around him stayed orderly. It’s amazing how much authority you can wield when you’re dressed as Big Bird, even when you’re naked from the waist down.
Rusty’s fabulous stench gained us entry into the obscurest dungeons and playpens of plushophilia. From being once hunted by criminals, Rusty was now being hungrily pursued by the furry elite, whose nostrils flared at his wild musk.We were whisked off by a billionaire squirrel to a yacht in the Maldives, which was heaven itself until Rusty got heatstroke. The smell in the back of the ambulance was so intense that a paramedic fainted and the squirrel had the most powerful orgasm of his life.
One shy connoisseur, the E___ of Wessex, would send a car for us every other Thursday. He’d spend a heady hour with Rusty on his knee, in an airtight room specially constructed for odourplay, simply drinking claret and sniffing Rusty’s armpits and masturbating.
I was having the time of my life, my feathers were hardly ever dry, but Rusty wasn’t getting much sleep: he spent every night being limousined from mansion to mansion, basement to basement, getting sniffed or nuzzled or mounted. On one occasion he was kept awake for fifty hours straight by a member of the Saudi royal family tripping on PCP in a Care Bear suit, which I found hilarious, probably due to the amount of PCP I was on.
After a time, we drifted into a darker scene in which the cosplay became more baroque. As a badger, Rusty found himself much in demand for cullplay, which would often leave his fur needing stitches. The cullplay was tremendous fun: I’ll never forget watching a senior civil servant off his nut on vintage port beating Rusty unconscious with a crystal decanter and then spending a good five minutes trying to kick the secretions out of his anal glands, before remembering he wasn’t an actual badger. How we laughed!
We later fell into the orbit of a respected Italian industrialist who had a fully equipped animal testing laboratory at the top floor of his townhouse, and Rusty would spend hours locked in a steel cage having shampoo squirted into his eyes and mouth until I was so exhausted I couldn’t squeeze another bottle. It was hard work, but at least Rusty could rest assured that he was safe from harm in his new identity.
Indeed, so cherished was he by his fellow labplay enthusiasts that he was rewarded with his very own kennel at the lab, where he was kept securely until he needed to be brought out for a party and experimented on, usually under my supervision.
It was in the early hours of the morning, after an epic testing session in which Rusty was forced to eat about a kilogram of lipstick, when I made the mistake of slightly overdoing the champagne and meth, vomited all over my clipboard, and passed out. Rusty was able to reach my keys, escape from the cage, and make his way back to the bronzing salon. He found it locked, because it was a Sunday, so he hid in the alley round the back, which is where I discovered him, trembling and fetid.
I didn’t want Rusty to give up on his cosplay. I needed him in costume for one last party. A respected Austrian politician who spent his nights as a polar bear had offered to buy me an apartment if I could provide a plushy for him to hunt and kill at his ski lodge. Ideally one with no ties. I told him I had just the creature.
I gave Rusty’s knee another reassuring squeeze. He turned towards me, and a glob of Estée Lauder All Day lipstick—Frosted Apricot, to be specific—fell from his lip. His furry head titled ever so slightly to one side. I smiled. “You know that I love you Rusty, don’t you?”
By way of reply, Rusty Badger elbowed me in the throat and ran off down the alley. He tumbled over some bins, picked himself up, and then he gave a tremendous howl, like Tarzan passing a kidney stone, and sprinted out of sight. I never saw him again, or ever knew his human name, although if I had to guess I’d say it was Andrew. I hope he’s dead somewhere. I still have trouble swallowing.
Written by Charlie Skelton