29 APRIL 2020

Greetings from quarantine, to you: the perusers of the pixilated page! The Miriam/Webster dictionary online has this to say about quarantine... quar·​an·​tine | \ ˈkwȯr-ən-ˌtēn , ˈkwär- \

Definition of quarantine

(Entry 1 of 2)

1: a period of 40 days

2a: a term during which a ship arriving in port and suspected of carrying contagious disease is held in isolation from the shore

b: a regulation placing a ship in quarantine

c: a place where a ship is detained during quarantine

3a: a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons or the transport of goods designed to prevent the spread of disease or pests

b: a place in which those under quarantine are kept

4: a state of enforced isolation

So what can we really be blogging about during this time? There isn’t really much going on. We are all dealing with the “enforced isolation” in different ways. I admit that I myself have not shaved since early March, and have also probably gained at least a good 5 lbs or more. One thing I began losing was motivation. Without the self-enforced daily routine, that happens. I mean, really, what’s the point of getting up at a certain time right now? Will I be late getting from the bed to the couch? The same applies in reverse: what’s the real motivation to go from the couch to the bed in any timely manner? So, by my own admission, I’m now nearly two months behind on blogging to you, an oversight I mean to rectify right now (as you can probably guess by reading this now). This self-isolation is affecting many of us in a variety of ways. Some of us are falling into the malaise that I just described above. Some of us are overcompensating: we simply HAVE to make “the most of this time”. For some, that means learning a new language or skill. Some of us have signed up for online scholastic courses. Some are taking the time to “get things done around the house”. Some others have taken to either downplaying or outright ignoring the “shelter-at-home” edicts from local governance. A good writer writes with an affectation of impartiality, but I know personally too many people with immune systems which are repressed for one reason or another, and for them this is a very serious issue, as not only their health but their lives depend on it. I for one have to wonder what my dog will be thinking once this is eventually all behind us. She’s gotten accustomed to my being home 24/7, with the exceptions of important errands such as the bank or the grocery store. She enjoys my always being around. I’m here for her to wake up so she can go outside, and then give her breakfast or supper. She gets her belly-rubs and playtime. She can attack me with both front paws to indicate that what I’m currently doing is not as important as walkies time. And of course she gets to lay on the couch anytime she wants, and either cuddle against my leg, or stretch out on the other 2/3 that I’m not occupying.

Technically, this has only really lasted for two months, and in just that short time people are becoming as nostalgic for the Good Old Days of just eight weeks ago, sounding every bit as nostalgic as their grandparents did of two generations ago; longing for the days before the virus pandemic. That will be the next new cultural catch-phrase: “Remember how we used to do that before the pandemic hit?” Certainly there is no shortage of conversational topic regarding our current state of affairs. We have the anti-lockdown protesters. We have of course the conspiracy theorists. We have the extremists, and their polar opposites. We have the hoarders and the helpers. Hell, for some of us it’s not even been much of a change at all, and for others it’s been the end of the civilized world as they know it. But you can read any news or even social media site for that. Here, you’re expecting something more to do with the Vampire Community, in particular the Community in Chicago. One serious blow that our Chicago VC has taken came to our monthly Meet-Ups. Obviously, we cannot really do that anymore. Even if we chose to ignore the stay-at-home orders and meet in secret (ooh, how very underground!), the scarcity of the turn-out would not be worthwhile. For this, we can look at the very beginning of the pandemic, immediately following the 2nd weekend of March. I remember that because our last GCVC Meet-Up was on Saturday the 14th. The first annual Chicago Vampire Ball, which was held at The Hyde, back in October was such a smash hit, especially for the owner of the venue, that something new was created. To ride the wave of that success, a new monthly Coffin Cabaret feature was added, and March 14th was to be the 2nd of three “trial dates”, and, if successful, would become an ongoing feature. Well, the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions nipped that in the bud. That is not to say that the Coffin Cabaret shows will not return: they’re just not returning anytime in the next couple of weeks. As for the 2nd annual Chicago Vampire Ball, I cannot really say how this will affect it. I am one of the planners for it, and up until March we’d already been throwing around some very good and viable ideas to make the 2nd V-Ball even bigger and better than the 1st. To be perfectly honest, there has been no discussion of the event as of yet. We really need to wait and see how we all come out of this, before we can lay down any real and set plans. We all still have our ideas and our hopes, but in this situation there is really no way of knowing until we get there. Another big hit came not just to the GCVC, but to the GVC itself: the Greater Vampire Community across and outside of North America. The end of May was to have been the date for the 2nd annual Elders & Leadership Summit, to have been held in New Jersey. That, of course, had to be cancelled due to the harsh limitations from the pandemic. I am also on the inside of ACE, the organization behind the Summits, and I can tell you that the current plan is to keep what would have been this year’s plans (the vendors, the performances and acts, the speakers, etc) and simply roll them over to the following year. The original plan was to have Chicago hosting the Summit for next year, but now with NJ bumping back a year, this does work in our favor as it gives us another full year to plan on how we’ll be playing host; more on that later as it draws nearer. Certainly the biggest blow to the GCVC was the necessary cancellation of our 2nd Anniversary Celebration. This was a huge blow to us, as we were really shaping it up into a Big Deal. We had a house booked, locked and loaded for our overnight celebration. We had a dinner planned out. We had a ritual to be performed, blessings and wardings. Guest rooms were assigned. Fees collected. Every arrangement had been made. As of right now, GCVC Leadership has not determined where we will go with this Event after virus restrictions have been lifted. This, like the plans for the 2nd Vampire Ball, will just have to be played as we go; there will be many factors to be considered, and there are simply too many unknown factors at this point to even table ideas. The GCVC is, at its core, a physical entity. By that I mean that we are not just names to comments on a Facebook group; we actually do meet up offline, in person, and physically do things. We go to and hold events. We meet, we go places, we do things, we build our bonds. However, we do not have to remain completely isolated from one another. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the GCVC has begun holding video chat conferencing every week or so. For those who wish to join in, these video sessions have generally been on Friday evenings via Facebook Messenger; a post in the GCVC Facebook Group will precede the video chats, and those who wish to be included have merely to say so in a comment, and will be added. One thing about the video chats is that it is easier for outside affiliates of the GCVC to join in as well, including representation of Clan Rahamdalph, House Of Storms, and House Of Lore, to name a few. So keep your head up and your eyes & ears open during this time. The GCVC has been moving ever onward and upward ever since its inception, and will continue to do so. Even during this “down time” there are still many plans and ideas brewing, which are simply awaiting the safest times after the lifting of restrictions. Not all of our summer plans have been cancelled outright; we are merely waiting and watching to see if it will be safe to proceed with them, postpone them, or if need be to cancel them. As always, continue to follow us on social media, and here on our website, for news and updates and information. Check in with the GCVC Leadership if you have any questions, suggestions, or even a hello. Please be sure to check in on your friends and neighbors during this time, especially the sick, the elderly, the immune-compromised. By all means, show your thanks and appreciation to those who absolutely have to work in public during this time; be respectful of and to them. Be smart when it comes to going out or being in contact with others. If you get bored, there are in-house options. If you miss going to music events, many artists are doing live-stream events; simply find when and at what link. They appreciate you watching them as much as you’ll appreciate them performing for you. Some are streaming their classic concerts for free each week. Some Broadway shows are available for free for limited times. Listen to internet radio; there are many options to choose from there. Many movies, TV shows, and specials are being made available for free on YouTube and on streaming sites. Now would even be an optimal time to read a new book, or even reread an old one you’ve enjoyed. If you’re creative, immerse yourself in your craft. We will get through this together, even though we must be apart.

by Derek Lestat, Elder & Patriarch of the GCVC 13 FEBRUARY 2020

Greetings and salutations, everyone! For this blog installment, I thought I would touch on a very hot-button topic running rampant in the VC (and reaching into the GCVC as well) over the past two months: Predators within the Community. Please note that unless otherwise indicated, the following are the opinions that I myself have personally formed, based on facts I know, facts related to me by others, observations, history, and other valued opinions.

Many of us are familiar by now, at least with the basics, of what Logan said about Todd, so I won’t even try to recap it once again; it’s been covered so many times by so many viewpoints that no matter what you say about it, you’ll be wrong in somebody’s eyes. Suffice to say: allegations were once again levied against “Father” Todd (yes, the Endless Night guy), concerning him and sexual abuses against women. I am not here to rail on about whether or not Logan could’ve handled it better, or whether or not the allegations are true, or how long the VC has known about it, etc etc.

What I will be doing is telling you the importance of arming yourself. Not with firearms or such (although if you do, that could prevent you being sexually abused, but while neither advocating or dismissing it, that’s another entire topic for another time). No, I mean to say that you should arm yourself with knowledge. Research the accused individuals. (In the case of Todd, note that allegations go back over 25 years; ask yourself why that is?) Try to find out what happened, what circumstances were. Talk to people who were there, especially the accusers. I myself was told by a friend what happened with her when she was underage and left alone with him.

It’s not just Todd. There are many other predators lurking in and around the VC. Why? The Vampire Community is home to many strong and wise individuals. It is also home to many more younger and more vulnerable people, particularly young women, many of whom are searching for something. They may not fully understand what it is they’re searching for, only that they feel a need for direction, someone to teach or lead them, or even just to listen to them and give them the direction they’re seeking. Enter the predators. Enter a handsome smooth-talker with money, reputation, social “power”. Like the classic snake-oil salesman of old, these hucksters are just waiting for the next ripe fruit to pluck from the tree. They have all the answers, all the charm. They’re able to convince these seekers of just about anything, and convince them into situations they wouldn’t normally consider, or situations they cannot get out of.

Or enter someone even worse. Enter the cult leader type. Here comes someone who, like the huckster above, has all the answers for those seeking them. They also are looking to build up their “fan base”, to gain followers and a following. The cult leader, however, will go beyond trying to make a buck off of you (although they’ll do that, too). This guy is looking to establish another kind of power base. They will use lies, deception, isolation, and more. They crave the power they have over others. Gullible young disenfranchised women are prime candidates to be sucked in to this world. Charles Manson started out as a small abused boy bounced through the legal system during his formative years. He found himself to be more than a mere thief; he found he had a charismatic gift of getting people to do what he wanted. He had his followers (mostly young and impressionable women) withdraw from mainstream society with him. Some were sexual “gifts” to Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, to gain Manson access into the rock music scene. Eventually Manson’s followers began to regard him as a Christ-like figure, and committed murders for Manson in his name. While Charles Manson was himself present for some of the murders, he himself did not commit them: these young and gullible women did that for him. Reverend Jim Jones was indeed a legitimate religious figure, and despite the horrific end chapter of his life, he did genuinely work towards, and made some very bold strides, in racial integration in America. However, Jones took a turn towards becoming a cult leader. While he did say that his people were free to come and go if they wished, in reality they were not. The plane they were seeking extraction on was chased down, and all were shot dead. Shortly after came the “Kool-Aid” incident which most of us have at least heard of, where his followers were made to either drink the poisoned beverage on their own or with assistance, while Jones himself was said to have been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head; whether it was self-inflicted or not remains a subject of debate. More recently was David Koresh, who with his 1980s rock-star looks and penchant for religious flair, found his calling preaching. He found a religious branch where he quickly rose to become their leader, and wound up recreating them into his own personal cult. Among many changes to the group, he declared that the women, married or single, would cede to serve his own sexual desires. The men, including the husbands, were to remain celibate. Koresh sired at least 15 children from this. Koresh and his Branch Davidians began amassing weapons, which drew the attention of the law which eventually led to the downfall of both himself and his cult. All three of them, and many others like them, used the same tactics of deception, outright lies and falsehoods, isolation, propaganda, and more. Cult leaders will choose their targets, usually those who are easily swayed to what they’re telling them (leading into brainwashing), and gullible young women who respond to the notion of a figure of “power”. Cult leaders will have the answers you’re seeking, even if they have to fabricate them from other sources to sound more credible to you. Cult leaders will make you feel as though they are the only ones you can or should trust. They’ll seek to gain your loyalty; even if it doesn’t seem quite right, you’re going to feel more inclined to believe them over anyone else. Cult leaders will work in isolation. While they will say they have nothing to hide, they have plenty to hide. They’ll play aloof to distract you from what they are really hiding. What better distraction? They have plenty to hide, including but not limited to illegal or illicit activities, sex crimes, abuse, neglect. Cult leaders prey on your fear and gullibility. If you’re looking for answers, if you’re afraid of something or someone, they’ll show you that they’re there for you, that they’re the one and only you should trust. Once they’ve gained your trust, you’re much more likely to be there for them too. You’ll feel that since they were there for you, you should be there for them. And now they know they can control you, that you’ll do things for them. Cult leaders will control the narrative. You might question them at first, but they will smooth-talk you, they will deal with what they tell you is “factual” information, that they know the “one true way”. They will borrow tidbits from other legitimate sources to bolster their claims. They will manipulate your thinking, while all the time letting you believe you’re thinking for yourself. (Yes, there is one such individual right here, in our own City of Chicago. I myself am old enough to remember the television news being saturated with stories of John Wayne Gacy and his atrocities. That hit far too close to home. If anything even remotely like that can be prevented, be it a disguised serial killer or a rising cult figure, then damn it as Leadership there is an obligation to see that nothing like this is allowed to continue in this City.)

I cannot stress enough to arm yourself with knowledge! They’re smart; be smarter. If you get that “gut feeling” that something seems even just a little off, listen to it. If something doesn’t seem quite right, question it. Question it with someone else, bring it up to other people. In the Vampire Community, there is no shortage of Eldership and Leadership. We do much much more than throw fashionable parties and pick up the bar tab. While you’re taking Facebook quizzes, we are the ones working away our free time to research these individuals for you. We will listen to you. Ask us questions. Bring your suspicions to us. If you do not have a House or Clan or Court near you, or you don’t belong to any group, reach out to ANY Elder. We network. We know each other. We work together. We will help you. If you are already in a situation like a cult, or if you are or have been a victim of abuse, please tell one of us so we can help you. The Eldership is not here to sell you books or jewelry or fake fangs. We are here to protect those who need protecting. We are here to leave our beloved Community in better hands and condition than it was when we joined it, when we must pass it down. We are here doing what we do for YOU. Even if your story does nothing more than helping just one person, look at the huge life-changing difference that alone will make for that one individual. And now you’ve at least gotten the word out, and that will lead to steering others from making a bad decision. Reach out to us, you may just be saving a life. Learn. Do research. Arm yourself with knowledge. If you’re hearing a lot of negative things about someone presenting themselves in a leadership role, ask yourself why that is. Ask questions. We live in the electronic information age. Look for court cases or arrest records. If something feels off, do what you can to find out why. If someone else comes up to you with concerns like these, listen to them. Help them, as well. Please, reach out to your Elders and Leaders. Chances are we are already aware of these individuals, and can give you all the information and evidence you need to draw your own conclusions.

A large number of the younger generation of the Vampire Community is prone to complaining that the elder generation are doing nothing to fix the problems. Come to us. Bring issues like this to us. Work WITH us. If we work together, we can begin removing these predators and cult leaders from OUR Community.

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Derek Lestat, Elder & Patriarch of the GCVC

31 December 2019

Hello, everyone, whether you’re a member of the GCVC or not. This is the inaugural blog posting on this, the website of The Greater Chicagoland Vampire Coalition. Firstly, thank you for stopping here to read this. In the future, I want it known that while you’ll be seeing more posts from me, this blog forum is meant to be open to any members in good standing within the GCVC; you can feel free to compose a blog entry, offer a commentary or editorial, write an article or paper, compose a story or other work of literary art, whatever works for you. Simply submit it in a Word Doc to a member of the GCVC Council for approval and inclusion. That said, let’s move on. Most everyone ruminates on the past year come December 31st, and for the GCVC it’s really not much different. We’ve come a long way in the past 20 months. We’ve gone from a conceptual idea to realizing that idea. We’ve had our fair share of growing pains. We saw our original Council form, fall apart, and dissolve. We’ve seen a new cohesive and streamlined Council emerge and take things to the next level. The GCVC was there at the first-ever Elders & Leadership Summit. We’ve launched our website. The GCVC was in prominent attendance at Chicago’s First-Annual Vampire Ball burlesque event, as well as advising. We have solid relations with some of the biggest, oldest, and most respected Houses in the Vampire Community. We’ve grown from numerous individuals scattered across the Chicagoland area into a cohesive membership and a group of friends. We are making positive waves in and outside of Chicago, across the Lake Michigan area, and rapidly growing respect throughout the Greater Vampire Community as a whole. We have a founding voice in ACE, a new organization of Elders seeking to actively unite the Community, and work towards solving the myriad problems plaguing the Greater Vampire Community. We’ve had our share of bumps along the way, but in short: we are here.

We have even more than that in store, yet to come. We have our banners, which will be flying alongside the banners of other Houses, Clans, and Covens at vampire events across the country. Our membership will be attending these events, solidifying and maintaining our good relations with other vampire groups both here and abroad. You can expect to be on the lookout for our merch table at upcoming events beginning this coming year, both at GCVC events and as a vendor at other events. You can expect us to be representing at the 2nd Elders & Leadership Summit. Look for us to have a larger presence at the 2nd Chicago Vampire Ball, working to make it even bigger and better this year. Our monthly Meet-Ups will continue, promising to get bigger and better, expanding our solid local relations to become the main name in the Vampire Community across the Midwest. We’ve a very solid footing coming out of 2019 and an amazingly bright future ahead of us in 2020. We sincerely hope you’ll stay with us for the wild ride ahead!

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