Marcus Wilson, the bar manager and de facto marketing director for Pony and the catalyst behind its throwback Castro and West Village aesthetic, resigned from the popular Capitol Hill gay bar two weeks ago, The Stranger has learned. In a terse text to a friend, Wilson—who also performs as drag artist Ursula Android and plays in the excellent electro-punk group Ononos—wrote, "I have resigned and chosen to move on and focus some on other new projects, that is all." He has not responded to a request for further comment.
Regarding that decision, Pony owner Mark Stoner said in a text to a source, "[W]hen Marcus resigned two weeks ago, I was absolutely stunned. Marcus is the genesis of Pony, back from the original 'temporary' bar down on Pine. All I can say is that I really can't wait to see what his next project is."
Pony bartender Jack Caton said that Wilson's departure "was a very amicable one. I think he put so much energy into perfecting his vision that it left him a bit overworked by the end of the day. [Marcus has] invested so much energy into improving the quality of the nightlife in Seattle, I think that Pony was the final culmination of his efforts. I know that Ononos are working on a new album, he's focusing more on his visual art, and I know he won't be able to keep his hands out of the party scene for long. I'm very excited to see what he'll do next and I hope I can be a part of that, too. His 'Connie Merlot' [character] is performing at my Dolly Parton night [at Chop Suey January 20] and I know he's working on other performance projects."
Kurt B. Reighley (aka DJ El Toro), who spins at the World's Tiniest Teadance weekly on Sundays, said he is "shocked and saddened" by the news and has "some soul-searching to do." Discussing the importance of what Wilson built at Pony and what he brought to gay-oriented nightlife in Seattle, Reighley said, “Culture needs revolutionaries to keep moving forward. As LGBT culture becomes increasingly homogenized, Marcus has played a vital role in creating spaces where outsiders can flourish and thrive, and traditions can be passed along. Having watched so many of the men and women who nurtured my young creative spirit cut down by the AIDS epidemic, that last point is especially important to me."
Reighley continued, “I'm hard pressed to think of a bar owner/manager who's allowed his DJs as much creative freedom, and I'm incredibly grateful for his continued support. Speaking as a veteran of the late-'80s and early-'90s New York club scene, I've always been deeply inspired by Pony—and Marcus's vision for it—captured the irreverence, wit, and originality that embodied the clubs and parties (the Pyramid, Boy Bar, Squeezebox at Don Hill's) that shaped my own nightlife aesthetic.”
Garth Skovgard (aka DJ Girth), resident jock at the Bloodlust party every last Wednesday, said, "Pony will always have Marcus's DNA. He originally created the aesthetic and hired folks, staff and DJs, that get what he was going for with the bar. He hired smart and talented people to run the place that agree with his vision for Pony and will keep things in the same direction while still finding ways to excite us, get us in the bar, and scaring off the muggles."
He added, "Of course, Marcus will be missed as a constant at the bar, but he's still part of the scene. And while his absence has been felt at Pony, my hope is that he will be back as a performer/DJ in the future, but that is really up to him. I don't think there will be huge change in the types of events that we see at Pony; they have a really special niche in town. While there is a lot of room for new ideas and voices, I think they will stay in basic line with giving art to the weirdos."
Skovgard continued, "Marcus has built a place where we weirdos can go and hang out and know that our presence is wanted. The norms are meant to feel uncomfortable and as the work in the bar by John Criscitello says, 'We Came Here To Get Away From You.' It is a queer oasis in the growing tech-bro desert that Seattle is becoming."