Down in Gainesville Florida, there might could be a new sheriff in town.
Or rather– a Sheriff’s Deputy.
And he happens to be a Vampire.
This week, marking off a splendid April Fool’s Day, Peter Schorsch of the online Saint Peters Blog reported that 35-year old attorney and Congressional hopeful former Alachua County Sheriff Deputy Jacob A. Rush moonlights during his off hours as a regular member of the Camarilla.
This ‘Camarilla’ happens to be a clandestine Vampiric Order who perpetuate a world-wide Masquerade in an effort to prevent mankind from learning the uncomfortable truth about the presence of the undead living amongst us.
At least, that is the main plot behind the Live-Action-Role-Playing fantasy world where Jacob dons his fictional characters in. It also happens to be a setting of which I am very familiar with.
Vampire the Masquerade, put out by the venerable White Wolf Publishing has been around since the early Nineties. It is a Role-playing setting built heavily around influences like Anne Rice’s Vampire series, and set in a modern Gothic Punk universe called the World of Darkness.
In this parallel world Vampires, Werewolves, Wraiths, Mummies, Faeries, Mages and other bizarre supernatural beings share and manipulate the world of ordinary humans in ways that paved the way for the likes of Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs.
It is a role-playing world devoted towards darker real-world themes and deals with mature issues, all while players don costumes of their fictional characters and act out their sometimes grisly parts.
And this is the main source of Mr. Rush’s woeful uncovering as a would-be Congressman who also happens to be a Gamer.
While my first impulse was to rejoice at the possibility of a Bona Fide Larper running for Congress, regardless of their affiliation and views, some of Mr. Rush’s comments unearthed by the article detail a certain strain of gamer that hits a little too close to home.
The article details some of Mr. Rush’s in character (Chazz Darling) conversations he had online with an unidentified presumable female member of the community. Without listing verbatim what was unearthed (you can find the full quote here) the gist of the article was a rather irate response to another member within the Gaming group of Gainesville that he belonged to that ended with implications of the other individual being abused and left as “Free Candy”.
From a gaming perspective, the statement is clearly, from my own experience and knowledge of the WoD (World of Darkness) very much in keeping with how Vampires view humans:
Mr. Rush’s characterization of the other is in keeping with these sentiments, although the earlier commentary referenced in the article concerning body parts is less so (Kindred [vampires] are generally asexual once they are ‘Embraced’), and the fact that they are directed towards a fellow Kindred is apparent.
The overall tone of his comments though are really very much aligned with the overtly egoist ‘tripping’ that is common among Gamers– what is known as Power-gaming. This is an individual so immersed in the mechanics, story, etcetera of the gaming world that they adopt all of its values above normal behavior and generally brow-beat less ‘informed’ members of the community with these aspects (hence Darling’s derogatory comment about torpor, a situation where a Kindred, who are in the game effectively immortal, can be easily killed, and therefore a condition that only an amateur would find themselves in).
Now far from defending Mr. Rush’s words in this particular instance I simply would like to put forth the context.
In the gaming world, such power-gaming, egotistic trips are par for the course– they represent mastery of a system. It is very much like a couple of football fans talking about how a particular player deserves to get traded for failing to catch a pass, or that a particular team got destroyed or ‘raped’ by another team. Which leads into another of Mr. Rush’s comments; his Rape Face (again, see original article).
In keeping with the tone of the World of Darkness, and its Live-Action game system, the Minds-Eye Theater, the darker aspects of gaming are explored in this particular brand of LARPing, one that lends itself towards such outlandish and abhorrent phrases like Rape Face. For Mr. Rush, donning costumes is comparable to a Hollywood actor stepping into character– in fact it is exactly like that. And, as delicate as some people’s sensibilities may be, Vampires in the World of Darkness are very dark characters. Kindred in that world take what they want. Brutally. While rape jokes are not the most endearing to me personally, the gaming world, just like the real world, has its share of asinine and schoolyard humor (see, Dickwolves).
This is unfortunately the mentality of many Gamers. This is the mentality of individuals who spend copious amounts of time analyzing imaginary worlds and systems of these worlds and look to escape into them. Not all gamers are like this and in truth I enjoy gaming with folks who are less so. I myself am guilty of machismo at the gaming table– but again the jokes and stories around a gaming table aren’t all that much different from what gets told while watching a game of baseball or football, or in a break room at work. There is a certain level of testosterone and political incorrectness that goes with the territory. The gaming world, despite the costumes and burning books and occult trappings, is just another venue for people to do what they do best– communicate with one another.
And what’s more, Mr. Rush’s comments are, artistically not so different from other forms of expression. As a passing comparison, there’s a very strong kinship with the colloquial ‘gangster-rap’ that Mr. Rush’s words evoke and that were embodied in his character’s sentiments towards his fellow gamer.
Both are characterizations of individuals in a dark world, doing dark deeds to achieve dark ends. But in both (hopefully) the purpose is the same– expression. Expression of elements of life that aren’t easily discussed in society, in a safe (hopefully) environment where one is able to freely interact with others of similar mind (hence, the shared Mind’s Eye). Much like rock and roll, which came with the ancillary epithets sex and drugs, rap has its guns and ‘loose women’, and Vampire has its Kine and victims– all different forms of the same, predatory, masculine fantasizing. All things which, despite their supposed offense, attract a good deal of admirers ( Kid Rock is to Chazz as Chazz is to L.L. Cool J). The real question, which the story itself raises, is the publics ability to look at these traits as what they are, personal expression– and nothing (hopefully) more.
And much like the ‘street cred’ of gangster rap, Gamers can and do speak derogatory to new or clueless initiates, in ways very much against the grain– and very much politically incorrect.
And now having said all that, the real joy is simply in the exposure, albeit less than positive that the story brings to the gaming world. And that Mr. Rush even decided to run for office, given his gaming affectations.
As Mr. Rush expressed in his statement following these revelations, he is a Gamer. A simple enough term but one that brings into the public discourse a very meaningful step towards recognition. And as much as the media is want to label him all manner of perverse and illicit terms, the facts are that he was a deputy sheriff and attorney, both of which are serious bid’nez. But his private life, done with other consenting adults is his own business and one that I have a shared passion for.
Because what I see isn’t a guy who likes to rape people or burn books or drink blood (hopefully), but a guy who likes to get together with a bunch of folks accepting of each others quirks and personalities and spend their time engaged in harmless fun.
So when you get a chance and if you’re a gamer yourself, political affiliations aside, why not head over to his Facebook and let him know you too like to