Since the inception of the OVC on the world wide web there have been a number of iconic names that have gone hand in hand with the sub-culture, from the first webpage of Sanguinarius.org and the establishment of Sphynxcat’s Real Vampires Support Page in 1999; from some of the largest sub-culture groups like the Vampire-Church and Darkness of Fear to the renowned Darkness Embraced and one of the most constant, and prolific, of the organizations was Lady CG’s Smoke and Mirrors.
A vital resource in the sub-culture online since 2002 Smoke and Mirrors provided help, guidance and support for a generation of newcomers and a place for the many disenfranchised to come together in the wake of the dissolution of other, similar, resources.
After a decade the matriarch of S&M, as it became affectionately known, knew that the time had come for a personal hiatus and that has been the order of things until now.
In the last few days the Mirrors have been re-hung and the Smoke has been rising, the news is now official. Smoke and Mirrors is back, back with renewed vigor and purpose and set to resume its place as one of the premier internet resources for the modern vampire sub-culture.
We were fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to chat with S&M owner, the highly respected and popular Lady CG. Personally, I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Lady CG for over 10 years. She has been a good friend, mentor and an excellent source for educational information regarding the community. It is great to see the S&M flag flying once again.
RVL: Good evening Lady CG, thank you for joining us today it’s a great honor for us to be able to spend a little time with you today.
Lady CG: Good Evening, it’s been a long time, it’s good to see you!
RVL: There are going to be many people who are not familiar with the history of Smoke and Mirrors, would you give us, please, a short history lesson about when and where S&M came about?
Lady CG: Smoke and Mirrors was born in 2002 on the old Ezboard network (now Yuku). This was a time when the community was getting away from our old haunting grounds on the e-groups and moving to a format that better allowed us categorize topics and cover ground that was awkward to cover in emails. It was a time when Vampires were just starting to become more public. I belonged to the old Pathways to Darkness board and when it closed down it left many of us without a place to call home. I tried a few other boards and found that this sensitive time of Vampires “breaking out” brought with it a certain paranoia and many boards had topics that were important to Sanguinarians but totally taboo in discuss on public forums.
S&M was the brainchild of Hapsburg, my original partner in the venture and me. It was born out of a need for a place where ANYTHING could be discussed, from Awakening to dealing with blood rage; from learning to feed and respect a donor, to learning to control our feeding impulses, in a supportive setting. There was a myriad of issues that Vampires wanted to collaborate on in a more open setting. While the board’s original focus has always been on Sanguinarians, we created places in our community for all types of Kin, in the course of doing so we became a family.
We’ve had our rough times, but the dream became reality and Smoke and Mirrors has indeed become a safe haven for those Vamps and Kin who want to find material to further their gifts and the time, space and advice to help them learn to thrive.
RVL: Smoke and Mirrors has a huge store of articles and information from historical sources to modern sub-cultural sources and has, for a time, been an “archive only” resource. What’s going to be the new direction for the ‘re-vamped’ S&M?
Lady CG: We’ve reopened the archives to posting, as we have all our forums *smiles* We get a LOT of requests from those doing research and this way the information can continue to grow. I don’t see us going in any new direction. Those were forums we always allowed posting in originally, so we’re simply going back to allowing that. We hope to see our resources grow with new articles and we certainly encourage our staff and members to contribute to our growing collection.
RVL: I suppose that one of the main questions that everyone will be wondering is why are you re-opening S&M after your personal hiatus? What has brought you ‘back into the fold’ so to speak, at this time?
Lady CG: By the time I’d run S&M for a decade I was burning out. When I became aware of how outside of myself I’d become I decided it was time to do something different for a while. I know how to look after my Vampiric needs, and I am very comfortable with who I am. While I loved my community and missed my friends, I didn’t need the VC to teach me how to live comfortably and happily as a Vampire, so it wasn’t that difficult to change my focus for a while and spend time doing other things I enjoyed. I needed the break. Anxiety was taking over my life and I was no longer of much use to the community except as a source of drama, something I despised seeing in myself.
So I took some time to look after ME for a while. A lot happened that has changed my life and my outlook on a lot of things. The daughter who was kidnapped by her father many years ago, who I looked for, for years, came home. After a bout of health issues, my medical team helped me find the right anti-anxiety meds and I spent some time looking after me and healing.
I can honestly say I’m happy now. While I tried to give a lot to the community, I feel I now have more to give and I hope my experiences dealing with what I’ve been through can help someone else not have to go through it.
I have always taken an interest in both young vamps and those of us who are going through the changes that come with being an Ageing Vampire, and those are things that I’d like to turn my focus to, once more. I think there is room and interest in the community to discuss and learn from each other on these topics.
So while I once thought S&M had become obsolete, recent events and the winds of change blowing through the VC, once again, have caused me to rethink my closure of Smoke and Mirrors and reopen it to those who didn’t get to experience what we offer there, the first time.
RVL: Do you see S&M as having a particular ‘mission’ or purpose to fulfill now?
Lady CG: I believe our mission is what it has always been. A place where ANY Vampire can find shelter and the resources to further their gifts and learn more about themselves in a safe, accepting environment. I believe with 12 years of articles and discussions and research on the board, it is our duty to continue to find and offer support to those who seek to find themselves. We don’t have the answers, but we have the resources to help people find their own answers.
RVL: There are a number of other forum style resources established and available around the sub-culture, will you be maintaining S&M in line with that style or are you looking to establish something ‘different and unique’ from the standing “forum” boards?
Lady CG: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” I’m a firm believer in that. I’m afraid S&M is remaining “Retro” *laughs*. We like what we have happening there and we’re gonna keep offering more of the same. The community has certainly matured over the course of more than a decade. It’s already a unique environment, *laughs*
RVL: Speaking personally, what is your impression of the modern vampire sub-culture today and how has your impression changed over, say, the last five years?
Lady CG: I think the subculture has something to offer everyone. I think that is the beauty of the inclusivity of the greater VC. Has it changed? I believe the focus on the media has become a bit overwhelming, but I can feel the swing of the pendulum again and change is in the air, so we’ll have to wait and see what direction we take off in next, I believe. My crystal ball is cloudy and the 8 ball says “try again later”
RVL: What do you see as being one the greatest needs in the sub-culture today and what role do you see the re-opened S&M as having to play in this?
Lady CG: I honestly believe that as a maturing subculture it might be time to take our eyes off the media and what the outside world has to think of us. I think we’ve been influenced far too much by opinions and pressures coming from outside our community and I fear we are losing sight of the original community goals of bettering ourselves both in understanding of our kind and in our individual journeys. Vampires are incredible people (this applies to the Kin community as well) , and it is way past time we celebrated our gifts and our community. I believe we were given our gifts to make our lives easier and to benefit ourselves and those around us. I’d like to see more focus on building on our strengths both as a community and as who we are as individuals.
RVL: Obviously you’ve been having a long hard think about re-opening S&M, what is the personal aim for you and what expectations, if any, do you place on the re-vamped board and its staff?
Lady CG: I’ve missed seeing my Staff on S&M *smiles* Not that we lost track of each other *laughs* I play Warcraft and Final Fantasy with some of them and the rest of us keep up very well on Facebook and communicate pretty much daily. We are a family and while we took a break from the work it took to run S&M I think we always knew that someday we’d put it back together… I just needed to recuperate from my first round *chuckles*
My personal aim is continue doing what I’ve never stopped doing, in continuing to quietly mentor those who seek guidance, and to insure a place still exists on the net where no one has to go it alone. On S&M there is always a light on and someone to talk to, a place to be safe when you don’t know what to do or how to handle what you’re feeling. There are safe people to confide in and it’s a place where tough subjects can be brought in the open and discussed safely, and hopefully resolved as kindly as possible. Why? Because I care about Vampires and having gone through awakening alone, I would never wish it on anyone else. So I guess I’m driven to do what I can to be there for others, in the way I wish someone had been there for me.
RVL: We presume that the S&M forums will be welcoming members both old and new; who does S&M cater for and what ‘specialist’ forums will be re-opened?
Lady CG: As of this morning I think we have almost ALL the old forums reopened. Our staff graciously came flocking back and posting privileges have been reinstated, and the backlog of forum applications has been processed. While we do and will always cater specially to Sanguinarians, we have forums for everyone and open discussions that include all parts of the VC and Kin communities. We’re already back posting up a storm *laughs*
RVL: In general, what message, if any, would you like give the modern sub-culture?
Lady CG: Stop being so hard on yourselves. It’s not a competition and there are no hard fast rules outside of the legalities we ALL have to obey. The community needs to stop judging itself and others and work on themselves FIRST. There is so much out there to help us be so much more than we are, both as a Culture and as individuals. All the drama and bickering is a waste of energy so great that all the feeding in the world will never replenish it. Stop. Be Kind. Work on yourself before you stop to point out a flaw in someone else that they didn’t ask you to address. We’ll do ourselves a great service if we go by the creed “Love is Louder”.
RVL: Thank you for giving of your time today, we are very happy to be able to cover this event and we would like to wish you all the very best with the return of the excellent Smoke and Mirrors.
Lady CG: It was my pleasure, as always. I’m hoping things around the board fire up a little slowly. *laughs* I’m out of practice, but as a friend pointed out to me, jokingly, after spending over 5 years wrapped up in MMOs and running raid groups, I should be able to wield a ban hammer LIKE A BOSS! … It’s a joke… really… *smiles*
It is with delight that we look forward to once again having Smoke and Mirrors as a strong and vital part of the modern sub-culture. The wealth of information, stretching back over twelve years, forms a splendid source of information and learning for newcomers who are just now arriving on the scene and, once again, a place for those who have in depth experience and knowledge to be able to share that with everyone.
Looking after each other, and ourselves, as vampires is one of the most important choices now facing the sub-culture and its members. Smoke and Mirrors is poised, once again, to resume its pivotal position in promoting the culture and the care of things important to us.
Copyright RVL and Smoke and Mirrors 2014
NB: The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented, and accept no liability, nor responsibility, for the use or misuse thereof. Anything that the reader takes from this article is taken at their own discretion.
This information is freely available to all FOR PERSONAL USE only, it may be reproduced , or linked to, on personal web sites WITH FULL CREDIT but it may not be used for commercial purposes nor for general distribution without PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT from Real Vampire Life and our guest/s.
For further details please see our Website Disclaimer