Liliane Hunt:My name is Liliane Hunt. I have been involved in animal role play, interested in animal role play, and curious about it since I was about five years old when I discovered Beatrix Potter. If you’re not familiar with Beatrix Potter, she was a Victorian writer and illustrator, and she told these stories of animals living these very human lives, so I began by playing and acting out these different animals, and it opened my mind to the concept of human and animal role play. Then, as I got older, I got involved with theatre and have a background as a classically-trained actor. I moved forward in my life and discovered the fetish community and animal role play just became such an organic next step for me, and somehow, the animals started coming to me.
Speaker 2:This is the intriguing … It’s almost like you’re the human animal whisperer.
Liliane Hunt:It is a little bit like that. I think a part of it is that I didn’t want somebody simply to come to me, and I’ve seen so much of this, is where somebody feels this need to experience puppy play, and I did not want to be the person that walked them up and down on a leash and that was that. I wanted these human animals to have this fully immersive experience, that they could really let go of their human self safely and explore their animal identity on every level, every sensory level, of touch, of sight, of smell.
Speaker 2:How did it come to manifest in your life and in your family? How did you come to … When did you realise that you were surrounded by people that had more primal instincts?
Liliane Hunt:In my professional life or in my personal life?
Speaker 2:I imagine it’s a mix of both, wouldn’t I?
Liliane Hunt:The two seem to come simultaneously. I’m reminded actually that I was … I’m trying to remember the first time that I actually saw a animal role play in existence. Maybe it was at Folsom, and then somehow I remember that I ended up at a human fox hunt, and I’m running around in the woods chasing human foxes, holding a human pony with human hounds howling because they found the fox, and I had one of those moments of epiphany in my life where I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. This is real. This is powerful. This is where I need to be.
From that point, I do believe my theatre background really aided my ability to create these really magical experiences, and that’s what I began doing, creating these fully immersive experiences with lots of different characters. For example, I might have a wolf come to see me. Depending on the type of wolf, and one I’m thinking of, in particular, was really drawn by the mythology of Little Red Riding Hood and all of that, so I would create these fully immersive experiences with all these different characters involving midnight hikes up mountains and parks and all kinds of things.
Speaker 2:This is very different because there are people who would say that the animal role play or even more the Pup Community is a derivative of the Leather Community, but I don’t know many Leather bars that hold fox hunts.
Liliane Hunt:I think that certainly the roots of pup play as we know them have come from the Leather Community, but I think that human beings metamorphosizing their spiritual self, embodying the animal spirit has been from the beginning of time. When you think about the fact that we were living in this hunter gathering existence and you see inside the caves the drawings of the animals and embodying those animal characteristics to then go out and be a stronger hunter, to be safe, to be protected, we have been doing this far longer than the established form in the Leather Community.
I truly believe when humans and animals came together in existence, we observed each other. We watched each other, and human beings intuitively took on these characteristics to be braver, stronger, to safely do the hunt. Certainly, some of what we studied in Native American history, the Pawnee tribe, they would take on the characteristics of the wolf, and apparently, their howling was so convincing that they would convince the dogs that were at the camp that they were actually wolves, so this I think is just … It’s primal to us.
Speaker 2:Do you think in some ways that almost domesticated animals are doing human play?
Liliane Hunt:Yes. I think it’s really, really interesting because they study us just as much, and there’s talk of dogs learning how to smile, like the human smile, that they understand what it is when a human smiles, and you’re looking at dogs actually picking up these characteristics of being around us, so I think the two of them are working simultaneously together.
Speaker 2:It’s two groups of animals observing each other.
Liliane Hunt:Learning to live with each other and developing different characteristics from each other. This is what a smile is. When my human is smiling at me, it means that I may get more food. When my human is smiling at me, it means, and so forth.
Speaker 2:Absolutely. It must be interesting times though because when I first became interested in human pup play, there was nothing in Australia. There was nothing. I imagine it must have been in a similar space for you.
Liliane Hunt:When I discovered human pup play, I do believe it was on the fox hunt the first time that I actually saw all of these human animals interacting with each other. The first time I saw it, it was, “Wow, I mean, what even is all of this?” Then I remember one of the horses fell. One of the human horses fell. Immediately, all of these individuals gathered together to make sure that this human pony was all right. They brought ice and they’re all taking care of this human pony. That was something that really spoke to me, that there was this level of compassion that seemed to come together through all of these different human animals, that we were all having this experience together, and I felt it was really beautiful.
From there, I became more and more involved, but human pup play specifically, it seemed to be that we had to penetrate it, that we had to seek it out. It certainly wasn’t as open as it is now.
Speaker 2:Was that in San Francisco or was that somewhere else?
Liliane Hunt:I was living in San Francisco at the time that I went on my first human fox hunt and saw the puppies at Folsom and needed and felt compelled to explore more of it. Once I got into the community, I began to see the more private communities all across the country, but it still was pretty private and not as open as it is now.
Speaker 2:Certainly Folsom I think is a very interesting environment because there’s a lot of different things on display and it was similar … Dore Alley was where I discovered pup play. You’re an important part of Folsom now really.
Liliane Hunt:I am.
Speaker 2:There wouldn’t be a Folsom without you.
Liliane Hunt:People have told me that, and people have told me that they come to Folsom to see not just me, but my family [be there 00:09:19]. I think one of the things was that we never tried to hide in the shadows. For me, it was very important that what I did I did very openly and people could see it. I think that is …
Speaker 2:For people that may not be fully familiar with some of the imagery of you at Folsom, can you tell us a little bit about-
Liliane Hunt:What I do?
Speaker 2:Some of the … It’s almost performance art, isn’t it?
Liliane Hunt:In many ways, it is. We have our family and that we get together and do family things. Then we have what we do at events and so forth. A lot of our family have an art background, a dance background, a performance background, which I think in many ways allows them to fully immerse themself into what is the movement of the animal that they might be and allows them to be a little bit more exhibitionist. What began really on a very small level of me just going to Folsom with a pony and a cart grew over the years to include all of the different members and creatures of my family, which involve horses and it’s many different creatures have been involved.
Speaker 2:Within the animal kingdom, how many … What species are we talking about?
Liliane Hunt:I have acquired a centipede from Brazil, a puppy from Mexico. I’ve also had a peppermint-striped zebra and a fox and a wolf and a panther and, of course, puppies and [tyke 00:11:12].
Liliane Hunt:It’s across the board. There really aren’t any animals that I would say no to probably, with the exception of a spider. I really don’t do spiders.
Speaker 2:I haven’t seen spider play as a huge fetish yet.
Liliane Hunt:I’m hoping it won’t be.