Since 2002 our guest this evening has been gathering friends and followers in the modern Vampire culture, as well as helping hundreds, in the culture, she has created one of the most enduring cultural resources that we know of today, she has represented us in documentary work and has authored works directly aimed at guidance and practical help for every modern living Vampire.
Her contributions can’t be underestimated and now she is working to further ensure that modern living Vampires have the knowledge and resources to deal with this gifted existence.
Returning with a reviewed, refined and re-developed… could we pardon a pun and go so far as to say, “revamped” support and reference resource, it gives us the greatest pleasure to welcome back to RVL one of our dearest and most special friends, from points North, the amazing, indefatigable Lady CG.
RVL: Good evening Lady CG, it is always an honour and genuine pleasure to have you with us. How are you dear lady? And how’s the family? Survived the Yule season okay? *chuckles*
CG: Good evening Tim, always a pleasure to be your guest.
RVL: Over the last couple of months we have been eagerly awaiting official word of this new venture of yours– would you tell us how, and when, the original concept came about?
CG: Anyone who has been by Smoke and Mirrors over the past couple of years is aware of how full the old message board is. It has gotten to the point where it is now difficult, even with the search to find anything on that site. Our counter doesn’t turn anymore, we seemed to have exceeded the max number of posts it is willing to show us. It was just time. It all came to a head when Yuku who used to own the site was bought out by Tapatalk. Tapatalk has the nice feature of being mobile friendly but it completely ruined all the formatting on our old threads. I could fix them all but it would take forever. Combined with how full the site is, it just makes sense to start something new, mobile friendly and EMPTY!
RVL: What is your aim in moving away from the previous “Smoke and Mirrors” format that we are all familiar with?
CG: Smoke and Mirrors was created in 2002. That was a long time before “mobile friendly” was even a catch phrase. We needed space to continue to grow and I wanted that space to be modern, mobile friendly and attractive. I wanted it to be updateable. I wanted more control over the background processes. I finally found a tech who wanted to work with me, so I hired him. The new site we developed is what you see today on The Darkened Mirror.
RVL: Now, we have established that you are no stranger to the modern Vampire Culture… May we ask, of your personal background, would you give just a quick bio for newcomers that may not know of you… as difficult as that they may be to believe of course… do you identify as a modern living Vampire and for how long have you been aware of your true nature?
CG: I think it was about 1995 when I first found people I related to online. While my Vampiric experiences predate that time, those things are very personal in nature and appropriate here but the first online people I found who were “like me”, I found in a little IRC channel called “Parents Kitchen”. My experiences there convinced me to look for even more information and others who related to the term “Vampire” elsewhere on the net as the community awakened to the new internet age and I found my first public home in the old OneGroup e-groups that would later become Yahoo Groups.
My first home was Vampiric e-group. A relatively small group hosted by Blue Moon Occult Shop in the UK. I became a moderator there in 1998, I believe. I met a lot of good friends in that group, some who are still good friends today.
It was only a couple of years later that some of the first “modern” message boards were starting to become popular. I found my way to The Pathways to Darkness message board run by the Sanguinarium. I loved that board. I was still moderating Vampiric but this was different, fun and the people there were amazing. It was my first exposure to people like Sebastiaan Todd and Michelle Belanger, but they were far from the only friends I met there. I collected a great group of people around me and the discussions were first rate. When the board closed a year or two later and left we poor message board orphans out in the cold I started looking for a new board where we could continue our discussions.
In 2002 I was hanging out on Drink Deeply and Dream when Hapsburg and I decided to create our own board. We wanted a place where there were no bars on what we could discuss, where there was no topic that was off limits. Haps found ezboard and we built what would become one of the largest and one of the longer running message boards in the community. As you know, Smoke and Mirrors still exists today as an archive of community history and discussions dating from August 11, 2002 to present.
RVL: The development of the new initiative comes during the 16th anniversary year of Smoke and Mirrors, how does it make you feel to be still a major source of cultural reference after that long?
CG: I don’t know that I actually think of it in those terms, lol. In truth it feels like I’m starting over. When Facebook came into its own a lot of the community went all in. Message boards all over the community more or less “died” as people chose to favour instant messaging and groups where reactions happened in seconds rather than the hours and days it often took to get feedback on the old message boards.
When I decided to rebuild I felt like I was looking at a monumental task in trying to drag the communities back to message boards. Most young Vamps cut their teeth on cell phones and instant messaging. I was afraid it might even be a hopeless task. I tried once or twice to see if there was any reception to the idea. In the end I had to wait till “Facebook Burnout” actually became a thing and enough people, besides myself, began to miss all the advantages of message boards over Facebook groups. It’s a slow process but I think we’re finally seeing enough interest in things outside of FB, and enough technology updates to the message board systems to draw people back, at least a little bit.
RVL: Since the names, Smoke and Mirrors and Darkened Mirror seem to, ahem, reflect a common theme, that is, mirrors, what is the continuing message being carried by the name?
CG: When we looked for a name for our first board, Haps and I tried out quite a number of possibilities. In the end there were a couple of factors: We wanted a board whose name was not obviously vampiric. We wanted something that would “sell”. Smoke and Mirrors was catchy and when shortened to S&M it became something that stuck in the minds of our members in a humorous way.
When I was looking for a name for the new site I didn’t want to give up all association with our old board and yet I wanted it to be different, and there is still some hope that it will be a smaller project, quieter, perhaps a little more scholarly. Darkened Mirror seemed to fit the bill, alluding to our old site and still fitting into the community theme, so to speak.
RVL: If we may ask now, a little about the format of the Darkened Mirror, will it be a similar sort of site to Smoke and Mirrors or is there going to be a departure from the S&M format?
CG: Now that the site is built you can actually see that for yourself! We’ve gone with a similar format with a twist. While we still have some general forums, hosted by myself, we are now offering a more “Collegiate” format site with some of the best teachers in the community offering their expertise in their own forums, teaching what they know best, while still under the safe umbrella of our site. We take care of the tech and the trolls and the teachers can do what they do best, teach.
Along with that change we have also added a Discord server for text and voice chat. You read that right, we are now offering voice discussions and support in addition to text chat to enhance the services we provide as teachers and mentors. On top of the obvious social benefits this also supports our teachers in providing a place for actual lectures and channels for both group and one on one support in real time. We can actually TALK to our members and offer voice support that does not run up their cell bills.
RVL: …and will you be employing “moderators” or “co-admins” at the new resource?
CG: Moderators definitely, as well as Teachers who run their own courses in their own forums.
RVL: How has the initial growth curve and response been to the set up thus far, from your point of view?
CG: We’re in a good place for having officially opened just a couple of weeks ago.
RVL: Given the current shape of the modern Vampire culture, and its often volatile and changeable nature, will anyone who comes seeking a place in Darkened Mirror be afforded one? Will there be some sort of “checks and balances” employed to maintain a certain standard of membership and interaction within the resource?
CG: We have talked about that among some of our staff, but in the end it was obvious that we wanted this resource to be as accessible as possible to those wished to avail themselves of it. We have moderators to keep an eye on things and the teachers will largely moderate their own classes. If there is an issue it will be dealt with by myself or my tech. Abuse of the system will result in i.p. bans, no fooling around. I’m counting on the support of the community to help keep the resource friendly and so far it’s working out well.
RVL: Prior to embarking upon the project did you consider changing, rearranging and refurbishing ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ or, do you feel S&M has served its purpose admirably and now it’s time to change direction a little for you
CG: We did. I did initially consider just “revamping” the place. The problem with that is the amount of community history filling up the old S&M forums. It seemed dishonest to edit it all, especially since it is still used as a resource to those looking for information or researching VC history. So in the end I simply locked up the forums, put most of the important ones on READ ONLY and decided to leave it be. My tech and I have discussed possibly moving the whole archive to the new site, but for now it’s safe and fine where it is and we have put of that discussion for a later date.
RVL: …and have you, as yet, received endorsement from any other major group or organisation for the initiative?
CG: The support has actually been tremendous! I don’t even know where to start thanking people for all the encouragement and all the advertising we’ve been given. It’s been overwhelming and it’s been wonderful. I think our community writers have been one of the biggest sources of encouragement, time and articles for the site. Vampire Community News and Vampire Network News have both been generous in allowing us to post news of our opening and new articles. VNN has been tremendously supportive. I can’t even start to thank them. RVL has been supportive in offering this interview, Berinvonn offered me an interview for Alaska After Dark, so eventually I’ll be doing my first podcast interview. Almost everyone has been supportive either in offering time, teachers, people to work on our new project, the Knowledge Base, where which we want to turn into a community encyclopedia. I am sure I am missing some names, but support for the project has been community wide and I just can’t say enough about how good everyone has been.
RVL: …can we, dare we, ask… any plans to turn the Darkened Mirror into the Court of The Darkened Mirror? I’ve voted at S&M; along with many, many others, to make you a deity, what about Her Royal Highness Queen CG… being as how you live in a commonwealth nation and all?
CG: No, no courts for me, *laughs*. At heart I am a writer and a teacher. I run a Coven here in Brooks and THAT is about as much time and responsibility as I can handle.
I just think Courts and Houses should have a physical presence. I largely limit the scope of my boards to being oriented to the online community, which in my mind, takes them outside the possibility of being a court or house. I am Canadian, as you know, and with we Canadian Vamps scattered across a vast country I find I am most useful as an OVC facilitator rather than one based in an actual physical court. Most Courts and Houses prefer their members to be adults. Online we can stretch that a little and help younger Vamps get ready for life in the Houses or Courts, as well as being here as support for Vamps who prefer to remain solitary or who live outside of areas covered by the Houses and Courts. So no… no Queen CG. – You WERE kidding right? ‘cause that’s just a plain scary thought, *laughs*
RVL: …and what is the true ultimate goal, or aim, of the Darkened Mirror project?
CG: The Ultimate Goal is to provide a learning and teaching and support site that meets the needs of a more modern community. The mobile friendly forums, the Knowledge Base project, the Discord server are all designed to work together to help Vampires, Therians and Otherkin find support and information online to help them learn skills that will benefit them in the outside world. I’ve always believed that it’s not enough to survive being a Vampire or Kin type. We have the right to THRIVE, and on DM we are hoping to help people find the path and skills to help them to do that in the way that best suits their natures.
RVL: We are aware that you have, in recent months, withdrawn from certain other places around the way… was this to concentrate specifically on the development of the Darkened Mirror?
CG: Almost entirely. DM has been a work intensive project. It became obvious early on that I had too many irons in the fire. I HAD to drop some things, so I prioritized and dropped the areas that were most stressful to me. Life requires us to pick and choose what we expend our energy on. I needed time to get DM up and running. I hope I will eventually have time to return to things and places I’ve had to leave behind but right now this was just more important.
RVL: We’ve spoken of practical things, such as aims and goals but can you tell us, what is the guiding philosophy behind the Darkened Mirror project?
CG: I’ve always only ever had one philosophy in my GVC goals. Being a Vampire or Kin is hard. When I went through “awakening” I did so not knowing what was happening to me, which was ridiculous considering my mother’s family was full of Vampires! My goal has always been to try and insure that no one who goes through this does so alone and uninformed. My goal with S&M was to insure there was always a light on and a hand to hold when it got tough. My goals for DM are the same, but now we want to do so with the benefit of newer technology.
RVL: As far as the group website is concerned, may we ask, is the infrastructure fully in place and, relatively, bug free now?
CG: *Laughs* Well we hope so. My projects are almost never a “finished product” Even when the site has all its ducks in a row I am forever finding things I want to do and having my poor tech talk me out of yet another of “Cg’s Hare-brained Ideas“… Hmm sounds like a new forum name… but I digress. Things seem to be largely working. Avatars now work, signatures are now possible. We have some “unfinished areas” like the Knowledge Base, which will be an ongoing project for a long time to come, and we have an unused “shop” which we are toying with, perhaps with the idea of a “kin marketplace” but we’re still messing with how we want that to work. The basics are up and running both on the site forums and my blog. What else will get added, I have no idea, but it’s me so anything is possible.
RVL: So, if people want to be considered for membership where should they go to find the Darkened Mirror?
CG: You can find our site at https://www.darkenedmirror.com and our “discord” chat facility is available at https://discord.gg/HgPGprE They should just come on down, in the case of the forums you need to make an account if you want to post and take part in the discussions, no membership is required if you just want to read. For the Discord just bring yourself and your sense of humour. Texting is possible on phones or desktops, if you’d like to take part in the voice chats you’ll at least need earphones to hear or better still, a headset if you’d like to take part in voice discussions. We have some tech friendly people who can help if you come in and have issues either on the board or on Discord. I spend a lot of time in the voice channels, and I really look forward to hearing the voices of people I have known online for years, but never actually spoken to!
RVL: …and how does Lady CG, personally, feel about heading into the 16th year of providing resources, education and support for modern living Vampyres?
CG: Old?… With my 55th birthday coming up in March I admit to sometimes feeling my age, especially when I watch those who started out as kids on S&M now taking their place as community writers, teachers and leaders in their own right! All in all it’s actually a good feeling, it’s been rewarding. I am actually looking forward to getting to know a whole new generation of members. Exciting times!
RVL: Dear Lady CG, it has been an absolute joy to be able to spend this time with and we are very happy, and excited, to help you unveil this new project. We hope; and we are sure, it will become just as iconic in the modern culture as Smoke & Mirrors before it.
CG: Thank you Tim! It’s always a pleasure talking to you. I’m ecstatic about the new project and I think there are going to be some truly exciting days ahead as the community helps me to define my new project in terms of the modern community.
The new project, Darkened Mirror, is, as you now know, a brand new and by Lady CG’s owns words, empty playing field. I have joined to represent RVL there and I know that Lady CG and her team are looking for contributions to fill the knowledge base there. I urge everyone, don’t be jealously protective of your knowledge, share it so that the entire culture might benefit from it. Lady CG and her team have built a splendid new place that is leading the way for support and information for modern Vampires in the age of instantaneous communication and cell-phone apps, it would be a measure of the maturity of the culture if people were to get behind this latest venture by a renowned, admired and deeply respected leader in our culture.
Go take a look, it’s stylish, it’s ‘sharp’, it’s classy,
Copyright RVL, the Darkened Mirror & Lady CG, 2018
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