In the simplest of terms, a Brony is a bro that likes My Little Pony. But over the past few years, as the phenomenon has grown in popularity, that definition has come to encompass any adult fan of the make-believe equine universe. ANIMAL wanted to witness this culture firsthand and so we recruited the city’s Most Official Bitch, Leah McSweeney to speak directly with the cosplaying demographic at the place most likely to find them: #PonyCon2015.

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Now entering its third year, the multi-day conference took place over the weekend at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Inside, both children and adult fans of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic mingled together. The updated cartoon, inspired by earlier versions of the animated series, debuted in 2010 and became not only an instant hit, but also, shockingly, a lifestyle. Whereas one group – the kids – have a very innocent take on MLP, the Bronies – comprised of adults – seems to possess a bit darker and near-fetishist take. The differences couldn’t be starker, both in terms of the provocative rave-like costumes many Bronies wear and the merchandise offered to them. One booth sold prints of what looked like sexualized MLP characters.

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ANIMAL spoke to Bronies who ranged in age from 16 to 60 and hailed from all over: New York, Albany, New Jersey, Mississippi, Indiana, Minnesota and even the UK. Spread across several floors, attractions at the event included a space for vendors; a Pony spa where attendees could have rainbow hair extensions and “cutie marks” applied; a place to get autographs signed by the show’s voice actors; and a food area where My Little Pony fans could feast on cupcakes and other confections, providing a constant sugar rush.

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PonyCon pulled out all the stops with arts and crafts, workshops, and even a concert by MLP-inspired bands, but, as the highly popular character Rainbow Dash famously says, “It needs to be about 20% cooler.”

(Photos/Video: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)