Mark Kaufman

Cyber the War Pony—not his real name—has been involved in the fetish scene for nearly a decade. In that time, he's spent $100,000 to build a dungeon in the basement of his Renton home, acquired 300 gas masks and a gynecology table, and started an online pony-play fetish group, Northwest Pony Players (NWPP), which boasts nearly 700 members. But after two years of running NWPP, Cyber, 51, is locked in a tense battle for ownership of the group, which has splintered the pony-play community and sent members stampeding away from the group.

"They've said if I do not turn [NWPP] over, [I] will not play in this town again," Cyber says. He claims several former group members—who are also members of the Center for Sex Positive Culture (CSPC), formerly known as the Wet Spot—have been attempting to undermine him and steal away the pony-play group in which he's invested years of his life.

Cyber contacted The Stranger to complain about the supposed hostile takeover of his group, which has apparently caused quite a rift in the pony-play community.

Pony play is a fairly small subgenre of the fetish scene. As Cyber explains it, pony play is "a form of performance, a form of animal play. It's not S&M; it's more bondage and role-play." Members of NWPP dress up in elaborate leather gear, pull each other on carts, and act out other scenarios. Sometimes sex is involved, sometimes not.

It's an expensive fetish to get into, and ponies apparently require a great deal of space to play. The limited appeal and resource-heavy nature of the fetish led Cyber to hook up with the CSPC, which hosted parties for his group.

"I was having people coming from all over the area to get a pony and fetish group together," Cyber says. "I had people coming from Idaho, Portland, and Vancouver."

At the CSPC, Cyber met several like-minded pony players. Like Cyber, all of them have code names—like a clandestine group of superheroes that get together and fuck instead of fight crime.

Over time, one of the pony players, Snakeman, became the NWPP's unofficial photographer, snapping pics of group outings for the group's message board. Then, says Cyber, Snakeman and other members, including Sugar Pony Jake, became active in setting up activities for the group.

In the last year, several NWPP members set up pony-play events without running it by Cyber. Cyber says these "unapproved" events were tantamount to a coup, which added to the tension within the group.

Despite Cyber's insistence that members of NWPP have threatened him and turned against him, Jake says that's simply not true. "I don't believe I ever recall anyone threatening to shut him down or take away his mailing list," he says.

Last September, after Jake and several other members had distanced themselves from Cyber and NWPP, citing concerns about safety at NWPP events, photos posted on the group's private message board began disappearing. Cyber received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice from Yahoo—where the NWPP site is hosted—notifying him that Snakeman had requested the photos be removed. Cyber also says he was told by Snakeman that he would lose the support of the CSPC if he didn't give up NWPP. However, Allena Gabosch, executive director of the CSPC, says Cyber has never been denied access to the center.

Cyber says he has faced harassment from former NWPP members, including the posting of his personal information online and late night hang-up calls. "I'm worried about every car that stops in front of my house," Cyber says.

But he isn't the only one alleging harassment. "As the years have progressed, [Cyber's] seemed to get more and more agitated about things," says Jake. Another NWPP member says she was "outed" to the group when Cyber posted her real name on the message board. "I told him at one point, don't use my real name on the list. He did it anyway," says Pony Mistress D. "Not everybody wants to be that out.... [Cyber has] managed to alienate almost everyone in the group."

Finally, Cyber's supposed nemesis, Snakeman, contends that he's the one who has been receiving harassing phone calls and e-mails—from Cyber. "He [called and] said, 'You killed my group. If I see you, I'm gonna punch you in the nose,'" Snakeman says.

In addition to the threats, Snakeman says Cyber continues to trash-talk him and other members on the NWPP list. "A lot of my friends are being slandered without cause," Snakeman says.

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Cyber, meanwhile, says he is considering filing an antiharassment order against Snakeman.

Whatever happens, NWPP's membership remains scattered, and the ongoing fight has severely disrupted the Northwest's small pony community. "The turnouts [for events] right now are a lot thinner than they used to be," says Sugar Pony Jake. "There are certain people who just don't feel particularly safe coming out." recommended