The Send Off
"I fall in love with every Pup that leaves the lab. I have my favorites...but, you have to imagine - each one is the center of attention for a few weeks. It's like raising puppies. There's a big goodbye at the end, and the greatest satisfaction comes when I get a picture of a WerePup in its new home."
Throughout growing up, Asia had a strong connection with animals, dogs being her closest companions. Looking back, she often remembers wanting to have her own pet werewolf. She spent her teenage years as a drummer in and out of rock and heavy metal bands, channeling most of her creative energy into music and writing. In her early 20’s, Asia worked for an Antique Restoration company, and took advantage of the fully equipped workshop that she was given access to. She started building fantasy creatures out of driftwood, animal bones and anything else she could find, utilizing the tools that were around her.
Asia Charity Eriksen
Born Asia Nicole Charity on December 31st, 1983, Asia Eriksen is the founder and creator of the WerePups. The youngest of three siblings – sister Karen Viney and brother Tony Bastone – the family grew up in Philadelphia and its suburbs. Asia’s earliest childhood memories take place inside a row home down the street from the famed Mummers Museum.
Asia’s mother, Kathleen, was always into horror films and all things spooky, writing her own short horror stories in school, and enjoying the pre- comics code era stories of the macabre. It’s no wonder that Kathy passed this appreciation for things that go bump in the night on to her kids. “In my family, Halloween was bigger than Christmas,” recalls Asia of life with her mom. “A graveyard was the best spot for a picnic.” Their favorite mother- daughter ritual was renting scary movies on VHS, and watching them with the lights out over a cup of tea. “We watched a lot of classics and 80’s horror flicks. We loved Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the crypt too.”
Asia's husband, Anders Eriksen, is a special FX artist and the founder/master glove maker behind the famed horror collectible "Nightmare Gloves." Anders is responsible, not only for teaching Asia the tricks of the trade, but even coming up with the name "WerePups." He still assists, creating the molds for all of Asia's sculptures, and pouring silicone rubber. The duo work closely together in every project that comes their way, and Asia has even contributed her writing and graphics work to his own company.
Asia often does graphic work for family friend and mentor, Robert Englund, the actor best known for his role as the iconic slasher Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films. "Robert and his wife Nancy have been two of the most supportive people in our lives. Anders and I both have a lot to thank them for. They supported us from day one, and gave us advice that has gone a long way."
Asia and her husband did prop work for "The Busey Zone," a short run of webisode skits centered around famed actor Gary Busey. Asia and Anders' handy-work, as custom requested by their friend Gary, is shown in the zany viral videos where he uses "artifacts from Middle Earth" to talk about his take on Hobbits!
He played a memorable role as "Uncle Red" in the 1984 film Stephen King's "Silver Bullet" - a film that Asia credits with igniting her fascination for werewolves and other human/animal hybrids.
"I am a sucker for puppies, dogs in general. Most of my kiddie pics are of me holding puppies or asleep with dogs all over the place. I've always loved the idea of baby werewolves having puppy qualities - dog lovers know what I'm talking about. I really wanted to put natural puppy things that we find cute into the WerePups, but try to keep it believable that this could still grow into a ten foot monster and tear someone's face off."
Asia's lifelong idea of creating a werewolf baby finally came to fruition with the creation of her very first baby werewolf. She had been toying around with clay in Anders’ workshop, and asked her husband “If I sculpt something, can you make a mold of it?” He supported her experiment, gave her his tools and taught her what he knew about working with clay. When the sculpture was finished, Anders built a mold as promised. On July 11th, 2010, after impatiently waiting for molds to dry and materials to cure, the very first WerePup was born – an 11” poseable latex figure with sculpted fur. “This was just an idea that I’d had for years, but all of a sudden it was right in front of me. I could touch it, I could hold it. It was an actual thing.” Though he is commonly referred to by his nickname, "L.B,"Asia named the WerePup “Laurence,” after her birth father Larry Charity, who passed away when she was very young.
"If it wasn't for Anders, I wouldn't be doing what I do today. I have him to thank for that, and so much more - just knowing him has raised my confidence. Together, we can do anything."
Among countless funny and unusual inquiries from people mistaking her creations for live animals, Asia has actually received threats from animal rights activists thinking that WerePups are the result of some inhumane science experiment. “I really hate when someone thinks that our company would have anything to do with harming animals,” Asia says. On the contrary - Asia and Anders actually used the sales of the original WerePups to raise funds to rescue Baxter - an oversized pit bull mix they found cowering in the hot sun on a two foot leash, infested with heartworms. WerePups paid for his medical treatment, and the couple decided to keep the pooch. “At the same time I have to be flattered that anyone could be convinced that a WerePup is a living thing. We’re animal lovers.”
So what’s the next step for Asia and the WerePups?
“I’m never really satisfied. There’s always more that I could do to make them better and more realistic, so I’m going to keep on moving forward.”