The meeting of the monthly Los Angeles Pony and Critter Club does not look like your average club meeting. One of the first members I met approached me wearing nothing but a horse mask, complete with a bridle, his penis dangling like an awkward comma between us. The rest of the club members – around 15 total showed up throughout the day – were dressed in similarly kinky outfits.
They were there to practice animal roleplay, with petplay being the most popular subcategory. The difference between animal roleplay and petplay is that petplay is a fetish within BDSM, with the human animal being subservient to the handler like an actual, well-trained pet. Pony play is in this category as well, with the horse wearing a bridle and being trained by a human rider who controls them from behind them with the reins. It’s all about mentally getting into the mindset of the animal.
Animal roleplay as a whole doesn’t necessarily have dominant and submissive dynamics. A person can simply act like the inner animal they are on their own – as if they were still a child and playing house as the family dog. And this is exactly why the whole concept of mature adults crawling around on all fours chasing after a chew toy is not that odd – if you really think about it, hard.
ROLEPLAYING IS STRESS RELIEF
“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Those who’ve read the first page of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will be familiar with this quote. It rings especially true for the animal roleplayers, many of whom say they like the psychological and emotional release of being in their animal character. The biggest concern when you’re a dog is not missing mealtime.
Known as “headspace,” this state of mind is similar to getting into the zone for athletes and method acting for actors, explains Pepper, a human-pet dog who knew she was a dog since she was a child. “I just enjoy mentally going into the place a dog goes in because dogs are fun and curious and enthusiastic and don’t feel guilt or shame – they just like to play.”
IT CAN BE NATURE AND NURTURE
“It’s not that she grew up and suddenly wanted to be a dog,” explains handler Pollux of his human-pet dog Pepper, “She just never stopped being a dog.” Some people are born knowing what their spirit animals are.
Others come into them as they grow older and learn more about themselves. Zarpa, for example, didn’t know she was one until she went through her gender transformation two years ago. After this transformation, she chose to become a fox.
“Foxes aren’t hugely gender-related, so I just became a fox, and I’m female, so I get treated as female, so it’s just nice,” she said.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
“There are probably about 200 people that are members of our Yahoo site,” said Submiss Ann, founder of the Los Angeles Pony and Critter Club, who goes by her submissive name. “We just keep growing…There’s an Ottawa Pony and Critter Club, one in San Diego, I think there’s one in New Jersey.”
As more people find out about these clubs, they’re ecstatic to discover that their fetish has a name and that there are others like them out there. They find their tribe, and in their growing numbers they find a sense of normalcy.
All this is definitely not to say that animal roleplay in general is innocent of sex. This particular club has a more educational, non-sexual slant to it, but there are others who are into it for the sexy aspects (see video below). However, for the members of the LAPCC and groups with similar outlooks, getting into their animal headspace is like an innocent trip to the dog park. Just no humping allowed – unless the owners say it’s all right.
Check out Playboy’s video at DomCon 2015 to see a kinkier side of pet play.