A Brief Interlude: Why It Might Be Time to Abandon the Masquerade (Revised)

I have never been one to hold my tongue, ever. My lack of restraint has gotten me into my fair share of trouble, so much so that I have become a household name—and that’s not my ego talking. Many of my public outbursts recently have concerned, among other things, allegedly challenging an Elder of questionable authenticity within the Gotham Halo, refusing to perpetuate the delusions of several high-profile individuals within the online vampire community (medical sanguivores, Asetians, etc.), maintaining an elitist view of the unique and eclectic brand of Vampyrism practiced by some within New York City’s vampire scene, singling out amateur or fraudulent individuals and organizations who would tarnish the already questionable reputation of the Gotham Halo, and opposing the vampire scene’s obsession with promoted parties. But my most inflammatory complaint concerns many people’s unhealthy obsession with the role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade.

For those who might be unfamiliar, V:TM is a tabletop role-playing game in the same vein as the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons. It was published in the early 1990’s by White Wolf Publishing. Instead of playing as a mystical avatar in a medieval setting, however, you play as a fictional vampire character à la Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles or Hammer Studios’ Dracula—physically immortal, photosensitive, weakness to religious iconography, etc. The beguilingly Gothic and nauseatingly over-exaggerated in-game universe, simply called the “World of Darkness,” is vaguely similar to real-world experiences shared by true Vampyres and other Nightkind. The game itself, allegedly, is based off of social games and ritual drama performed in an alternative nightclub in Atlanta, Georgia, though this claim is difficult to verify.

What we do know for fact is that the social aspect of the game formed the framework for the earliest incarnations of the Sabretooth Clan, predecessors of the current Gotham Halo, since Fr. Sebastiaan, or Todd Sabretooth as he’s known within the Gotham Halo, was and is still a fan of the franchise. According to Fr. Sebastiaan, he was allegedly inspired by an acquaintance to develop a lifestyle similar to that lived by the fictional characters in the game, and this, apparently, is where Clan Sabretooth began.

To a spiritually-oriented individual such as myself, who views his Path religiously and once held the New York City vampire community in very high regard, this history is not only distressing, it is patronizing.

Personally, I view any kind of occult-based role-playing as inflammatory and offensive as a “sexy Pocahontas” costume. I am a Vampyre; my Path and my beliefs are a tangible and credible facet of my life and who I am as a person. My experiences are as real to me as that of a nun or friar who receives the Virgin Mother in a vision. One does not “role-play” as a Christian or a Moslem. One does not “role-play” as a black man or an Asian woman. I accept that V:TM and LARPing in general will never go away, but as a practicing Vampyre, I would prefer to steer clear of anything related to LARPing and those who do it.

It is from this perspective that I regard anything related to V:TM and its plethora of spin-offs with such violent contempt and hostility. We are not role-players, or at least I’m not. I think it’s about time we began to compose ourselves in a respectable and mature manner, whether you be Vampyre, Therian, Otherkin or what have you. I was once the youngest citizen of the Gotham Halo, and it is both depressing and nauseating that there are entire Houses and Bloodlines with names stolen from the Clans of the Masquerade. We can never expect the outside world to accept us or respect us, who we are and what we do if we continue to refer to ourselves as Gangrel, Malkavia, Brujah, Toreador and the rest.

I understand that the archetype of the vampire is difficult to separate—and indeed heavily drawn from—fiction. Many of us choose to live what is commonly referred to as a “vampire lifestyle,” or in other words, a lifestyle believed to be one appropriate to be lived by vampires. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this aspect of ourselves, whether you draw the line at wearing prosthetic fangs or whether you choose to sleep in a coffin. I myself live a lifestyle many would call, “vampiric,” but I make it very clear that I understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

I am an openly gay, promiscuous aesthete who obsesses over beauty and wealth. That does not make me a “Toreador,” that makes me a narcissist.

We are Vampyres. We are something unusual, amazing, legendary and difficult for the ignorant and close-minded outside world to grasp. Fiction has been an unfortunate crutch to our kind for far too long. No more. We know who we are now, and what we are. We don’t need fiction to identify ourselves anymore. I can bet that many of you own signed copies of Interview with the Vampire; how many of you own books like Vampires Among Us or Vampires In Their Own Words? When will we realize that our lives can be—and for some, already are—more exciting that anything penned by Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton?

If everything about what makes you “Vampyre” is drawn from fiction, then perhaps you’re living just that—fiction. Come on, people. Cut the shit.

Revised 2 Dec 2017

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