Dallas, a city in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, which is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. The city’s population ranks ninth in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio.
The city’s prominence arose from its historical importance as a center for the oil and cotton industries, and its position along numerous railroad lines. It is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Southfork Ranch, the Dallas Cowboys and the YO Ranch Steakhouse
It is also home to a Vampire Court, not unusual you say… agreed, there are many cities in the United States that have Vampire Courts but, as you’ll see, the drive and the direction that motivates this Court is something special. This Court is not amongst the oldest, it’s probably not amongst the largest but it IS amongst the best and by the end of this interview I think you, dear reader, will agree.
It gives us great pleasure, and honour to present a One-on-One interview with Mike Burgess, Co-founder and King of The Vampire Court of Dallas.
Image courtesy of VCD
RVL: Good evening Mike, we are very pleased, and honoured, to be able to welcome you to RVL, this is, to the best of my recollection, the first time we have had the opportunity to speak with someone from Dallas… how are you today?
MB: Very well and thank you for asking…Personally, I recently started teaching at a new university along with staying busy with the wrap-up from our latest charity endeavours with the court. We are all pretty excited up here with the final results of our fundraiser for Insync Exotics (exotic feline rescue centre) along with our ongoing inter-organizational suicide awareness project. Other than that, just sitting back…dwelling on our successes…and hoping for a bit of a vacation before the rapid-fire of events in October (Austin and New Orleans). I certainly hope that you and yours are able to make it down for all of the fun events!
RVL: Now, if we may, we’re going to have to take up one of the most important questions of this time, are you safe and well following the recent disaster in Texas?
MB: Yes, quite well and doing our best to help…The city of Dallas was thankfully spared from the brunt of the disaster and was able to offer shelter to those affected. I’m sure I don’t have to reflect on the sheer scope of the damage affecting Houston given the considerable news coverage, but the impacts of Harvey are positively staggering with the economic affects already present nation-wide. Regardless, I certainly hope that your readers see fit open their hearts and donate to the several legitimate charities offering aid to the victims and those displaced – help is still very much needed for Houston and the surrounding area as they start the recovery process.
We couldn’t be more proud to see the greater VC, as well as local organizations, that set aside their differences and come to the aid of the city…not only in thoughts/prayers but in significant material donations as well.
RVL: If you would, Mike, can we begin with a little of your own background?
MB: Certainly, I will attempt to dwell more on my own personal qualifications rather than my living-vampirism since I feel that is more of a personal nature to me (anyone reading this can of course ask me in person), and I think that there are much more interesting things to know about a person than sustenance. *Laughs*
Professionally, I both teach university and work with the federal government, and thankfully I have been able to maintain these positions since my leaving the US military honourably in 2009. I hold Master’s (graduate levels for your international readers) in both International Business/Marketing and Rhetoric, and make it a point to utilize my academic background both professionally and in the running of our organization here in Dallas. My academic work recently has been aimed at the future procurement of a PhD in business communications, which hopefully can be used to aid both our organization as well as the greater VC moving forward.
Personally, I have been aware and involved as an individual with the greater VC (which I define as the international community as a whole) via social media and in-person meetups for over 5 years, with 2 of those years in my current public role within the Dallas Organization. Before that, I was aware of my living vampirism as a solitary (I’m not practically fond of the term “ronin” for many reasons) since my own violent awakening and eventual education in 2006 (while I was overseas with the US Military in Afghanistan).
Image courtesy VCD
RVL: Moving on then, if we may, where do you see yourself fitting in with respect to the modern living vampire culture today Sir?
MB: Well, I think that really is an ever changing answer especially since I try to make a conscious effort to grow and evolve. Personally, I try to be a source of encouragement for new organizations and even existing organization seeking to establish themselves as more formal entities (legal incorporation and 501C3 recognition). Building these public entities not only allow for much more mainstream acceptance and legitimacy in the public eye, but affords them countless protections by the legal system.
Sadly, given the polarized political nature that things have become as of late (albeit politics have always been a staple of the Greater VC in my short memory), people’s suspicion of new organizations have ramped up…The first thoughts should be “how can I help?” or “what kind of example I can set?” rather than simply tearing them down based on their initial structure or ideology. Organizations are evolving things, I know our own Vampire Court of Dallas has changed so much over the past year that we would be hardly recognisable to those that first saw us a year ago…and why should these newer groups be any different. People learn…I say let’s give them a chance to grow instead of being so quick to reach for the torches. I think through my own involvement, both personally and professionally, we can try to improve the uphill battle for these younger organizations…both through greater communication and through setting a wonderful example here in Dallas with our incredible work.
RVL: What, officially, is the primary purpose, aim or goal of the Court of Dallas?
MB: Our formal mission statement is “To Serve and Empower the Vampire/Other-kin Community of Dallas/Fort Worth” but I think our membership has overwhelmingly gone above and beyond this mission to serve the whole of the city that we love in a focused two prong approach:
- Charity Work: So far we have ran multiple highly successful charity events partnered with local causes raising well-over $2000.00 in material/monetary support over the past year. We make it a point to not only look for different ways to help, but keep things local so that our city benefits directly from our efforts. We also try to impact causes that directly matter to our membership such as our on-going relationship with Carter Blood Care and the Suicide Awareness Week project that is currently underway. We have really become recognised inside and outside of the Greater Community not as a Vampire/Other-kin group that does charity work…but really a charity organization that is made up of Vampire/Other-kin…a distinction that shows the sheer passion and heart of our membership body.
- Community Support: This is really the less-public facet of our organization but is none the less an important function of what we do…namely the support and uplifting of individuals in the vampire/other-kin communities within the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex. Namely, we try to offer not only fellowship, understanding, and education to our membership and really all who take the time to contact us. We pride ourselves on being a community safe space (governed by our by-laws) so that anyone can ask questions and learn about themselves in a judgement-free zone, without any of the hubris or drama that has plagued organizations like ours in the past. As such…every voice matters and is celebrated, with each having a say in our operations and path forward.
RVL: Can you share with us, who your co-leaders are?
MB: We currently have an officer’s council of 7 members with different responsibilities from keeping accounts to promotions…with each holding votes on all of our day to day business. Unfortunately however, we make it a major point to respect our officers and all of our membership’s privacy including their personal wishes for anonymity but their professional concerns as well….Thus, I will refrain from identifying them by name out of respect for that policy. But any local reader of this can personally visit and meet these wonderful folks first-hand. However, I can in good conscious say that Ms. Rayne Drawps (Ed. Note – Co-founder and Queen of The Court) and I serve as chief executives of the organization (co-leaders) as well as the overall public face of the organization.
Image courtesy of VCD
RVL: If we can step back a little, when did the Court of Dallas first come about and why?
MB: Honestly we were on the drawing board for quite some time, over 3 years if not longer. Most of the ideas at the time took an inspiration from several public organizations operating in Houston, Austin, New York and New Orleans…and not to mention we made a point to incorporate several original ideas based on the overall history and atmosphere of the Dallas/Fort Worth Community. Finally, around early 2016, we began assembling our charter and officer core…leading to our first meeting and then our eventual legal incorporation as a non-profit in Oct 2016. From there its been an absolute blast and I don’t think anyone would have thought we would have made it this far, but every day I am surprised by the sheer energy and work of our members to not only grow the organization but the local community as a whole. Our success is completely due to each of them and their passion.
The ‘why’ is an interesting question…personally, my first several years since awakening were primarily operating solitary or under the tutelage of a single teacher…but I always seemed to fall back on group support structures for the various other facets of my life. So really why should this aspect of myself be any different? I can easily guess that my military service is ultimately where this need comes from I think…I’ve always had a squadron, a battalion, a team to fall back on and since leaving that structure there has been a need to fill that void. Luckily for us, there were others, locally here, that felt the same thing and saw fit to join us and add their voice to our membership.
RVL: What, personally, have you hoped for from The Court from day one?
MB: Personally, I hoped and still hope to build an organization that reflects the diverse and unique landscape of Dallas / Fort Wort first…with lessons learned from the greater VC and other organizations second. This beautiful city and the community that it nurtures is fiercely independent, libertarian, opinionated…while at the same time: kind, generous, and passionate. These values have been ingrained into our organization from the first day while taking into account what I feel are hard lessons learned from other public organizations such as ours. This is why we do our best to limit political drama, in-fighting, and individual ego’s (my own especially) while at the same time celebrating and heeding the voice of our members.
VC Dallas is a product of everyone….not just me or our officers…it belongs to the city and the amazing people that push us forward every day.
Img. source: thinglink.com
RVL: Texas, in general, has been a very active area within the modern Vampire culture for a long time, how do find that The Court works in with neighbouring Courts and Groups?
MB: It does seem a bit counter to how Texas is portrayed doesn’t it? I always reflect on that question with a bit of a chuckle given the stance of our state in most political arenas. Last year, I was privileged enough to have a short conversation about this topic with prominent VC leader and she blessed me with an interesting historical parallel involving the Weimar Republic…namely that while political instability and intolerance was on the rise, art and film flourished. I think this important historical parallel may be heavily at play here, since Texas isn’t particularly known for its progressive politics (with much exceptions). Groups like ours flourish because they offer the acceptance, fellowship and community that one of our people wouldn’t be able to find in the open easily. This may be one of the many reasons why I believe the vampire and other-kin communities have grown so strongly in Texas in particular.
As for our court specifically, we are fortunate enough to enjoy great relationships with all of the other organizations operating publicly and privately within the state. Enough so that we have been able to set aside any differences that we may have to work on charitable projects affecting the whole state. I think the most recent example is the Suicide Awareness Week project currently in work with both us and our counterparts in the Court of Austin. Overall, I make it a major point to try to involve and stay involved with the many great organizations operating within our state since there are such a great many charitable causes that need our help.
RVL: …and what form does membership take? Is it by application and, if so, what are the criteria for membership based on?
MB: Membership is by application but anyone/everyone is welcomed to come and visit our public events or meetings. All that we ask of our guests is to respect the diversity of views within the organization and the atmosphere of inclusion that we have worked hard to forge.
As for the membership application, this is posted freely on our public Facebook page and on www.vampirecourtofdallas.org, and is primarily designed to give officers an insight into an applicant’s character and a feel for their personal goals in joining organization (education, volunteering, charity work, fellowship, spiritual growth). From there, the prospective member is encouraged to visit a public meeting and visit with the membership socially.
Essentially the goals from here is to give the body of membership a considerable length of time to get to know the person that they will be voting on and a period of 30 days (or more) is assigned to allow this to happen.
After this waiting period expires, the membership votes on induction and the associated probationary period (30-90 days)…once passed, the applicant is considered a fully integrated member of the court.
RVL: What are your fondest memories from the time you have been active in the culture?
MB: Well, I think your readers could have easily guessed that I am an idealist of the highest order, and all of my fond memories often involve these ideals being reaffirmed and reinforced by the amazing actions of our members, the people of Dallas/Fort Worth, and the greater community as a whole. Often times during our charity events there is always at least one of my “Three-sizes too big moments” where it seems like my heart is going to beat out of my chest in pride and amazement. But really I am absolutely blown-away EVERY TIME that people come together for the sake of a great cause and celebrating what makes our community special in the first place.
None of us chose to speak-up in this community or take a public role for the sake of argument or politics…it is because we have fun and relish the culture that we have been awakened into. Anytime I see that fact first hand and witness the generosity of our people is simply breath-taking in its beauty and movement.
Img. source: McKinsey & Company
RVL: …and may we ask, what ‘title’, if any, do you have within The Court?
MB: I am one of the co-founders and the principle legal author of the Vampire Court of Dallas, as well as elected king (first elected in 2016 and confirmed in 2017). The various systems of organizational titles has brought a certain amount of controversy from especially the online community as of late, given the nature of these titles to breed toxic ego as well as individual’s claims of privilege. Within our group, we tend to take the baggage that usually follows these titles quite seriously with the social aspects of our undertakings designed to combat that historical precedent…along with many of our by-laws.
Regardless, within most organizations…not just ours…titles form yet another part of the public/private dichotomy that exists within the community as a whole. While I may hold that title and may place it on official documentation (as well as occasionally be introduced as such within the community or related events) publicly as a community leader…privately my role is much more along the lines of a director or administrator…and our members know it as such.
I think it’s a natural inclination of anyone to fear the term “king” as well as any other title, especially given the spirit of our nation as a whole…I myself shared in this distaste until coming to terms with the sheer level of work involved, the service, public appeal, as well as the need congruence with organizations such as ours. Thus, I begrudgingly accept it as best I can…not to mention it sounds much more appealing than my real title of chief paper-pusher (as so lovingly put by one of our lovely members)…*Laughs*
RVL: Does The Court hold annual, or some other, events on a regular basis?
MB: Very much so…We try to have a relatively full calendar and keep ourselves occupied multiple charity events and projects throughout the year. The level of participation and leadership in our group has been very high, allowing others to take their ideas and run with them so that the same group of leaders doesn’t get burned out. The local venues/havens/businesses have been massively supportive of what we do and they have been kind enough to offer support to our many events and undertakings.
We meet up publicly once a month (first Sunday) to go over any open actions and projects, as well as conduct votes on new members and initiatives. These tend to be small get-togethers to maintain the family-atmosphere that we have maintained…all the while welcoming everyone here locally to visit and ask questions. We have often had guests appear from other local/regional organizations, and sometime just people curious about what we do. We do our best to try to welcome everyone and dispel any sort of negative press that the community has been a victim of as well as gather support for our many projects.
As for events, we run our yearly flagship event, The Bleeding Hearts Ball, every February (the Sunday before Valentine’s Day) on behalf of a local charity selected by a vote of our standing members. Usually this takes the form of a formal “vampire ball” but we have and continue to experiment with new themes/acts each time.
In addition, we try to run several other events when our calendar allows or if our venue partner’s ask us to become involved…but with the important caveat is that each event must be non-profit and benefit charities local to the D/FW area.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas.
img. source: pinterest.com
RVL: What role would you like The Court to be able to play in the culture, both now and moving forward?
MB: I think that remains to be seen really…at this time VC Dallas really has no grand wide sweeping plan to make an impact in the wider culture, our humility and love for our local area keeps us from that. While we do seek to involve greater participation from other organizations nationally in our charity work such as with the recent Semi-fang Suicide Awareness Week Project as well our local fundraising events, the bulk of our attention is focused inward in doing what is best for the cities that we represent. This is why primarily that we make a conscious effort to not actively expand outside of our communities or criticise of the other wonderful communities that are growing in other locales.
If I had my wish, I would hope our legacy is the example we set (and will set moving forward) in showing what community minded people can do when they have the goal of doing good for its own sake and the sake of uplifting each other.
RVL: What do you believe are the biggest issues facing the culture today? And will The Court be actively working to counter these influences?
MB: I think as a community, while maintaining a healthy suspicion of new concepts and ideas, we have been quick to judge and tear down new or different ideas. As individuals, I think our people are highly intelligent and creative…I’m certain we can all agree on that easily…but it is an endless source of frustration when I see that new ideas (even when I disagree) are torn down so easily through personal attacks rather than critical analysis. It is one thing to disagree and argue against a particular idea or ideology, quite another to attack a person directly and cause strife rather than education. My issue is, especially given the commonality that I see this in both politics and our community, is that no one learns anything…discussions degenerate into useless name-calling instead of creating knowledge or reinforcing it.
The Dallas Court, by its very nature and governing structure, holds that all ideas are valuable and that the consensus of the membership is held in the highest regard. While this may seem to risk our organization to engage in endless debate on a topic…I believe that it not only allows for full-scale participation of our members in every project we do, but the ability incorporate all manners of ideas into our day to day operations.
On matters not applicable to our business or projects, these debates allow for the add to the overall body of knowledge as well as the refining of beliefs of the individual regarding vampirism, other-kin, and energy-work…since each point of view is respected and discussed on its own merits. This is why we value open-mindedness so highly in our members and prospective membership.
RVL: In closing, Sir, do you have any advice for the wider culture, or for your fellow modern living Vampyres out there?
MB: Why do we keep allowing our collective talents to waste away in the perpetuating cycle of strife, drama, and intrigue when we could be putting it to better use serving the communities we love? We are a global community of talented artists and ambitious souls that can easily be mobilized for the good of serving the localities that give us our home. Through volunteerism, fundraising (we all know that VC events are always spectacular!), and taking the time to reach out a hand to others, I am certain that we can collectively dispel the atmosphere of distrust and online bickering that still plagues us to this day. While there are multiple organizations doing a great many things, especially in the wake of the unfortunate string of disasters facing our nation, I hope that by adding our organization’s voice to this growing contingent of the VC the scales will begin to tip in the direction of the greater good.
RVL: It has been a great pleasure to catch up with you, we wish you, and The Court, every success in your endeavours. We would like to carry the link to the site in our recommended sites section if that’s alright?
Beyond that we would like to keep in touch on and off and see how The Vampire Court of Dallas grows and develops, as we are sure it will.
MB: Certainly! I’ve really been blown away by these questions and I have really enjoyed the level of thought put into them. Personally, I was expecting a good deal of depth based on the high quality of the publishing that your e-zine has done in the past…but nowhere near this…thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and ask the questions that matter. I certainly hope that you and your readers have gained a bit of insight into how our organization operates and I encourage everyone to reach out to us if you have any other questions or comments about me or the organization we have built.
Please feel free to post a link to our organization, and we will be sure to drop a line to you every now and then to keep you updated on our recent projects and endeavours.
Mike Burgess, Co-founder and King – Vampire Court of Dallas
Here at RVL it is always a privilege and an honour for us to highlight, and report on, strong positive influences in the modern Vampyre culture. We actively seek to bring these things to our readers in order to show that the culture is not, completely, mired in its own drama and conflict which, all too frequently, appears to dismay and confuse. The Vampire Court of Dallas, under the stewardship of Mike Burgess and his staff, stands out as a shining example of the good that can be accomplished by a proud, passionate and active membership. It is a group that looks not only to its own immediate membership and their well-being but also casts its vision, and strength, to the community of which it is a part in the world. Outstanding charity work, outstanding relationships with local business and community and, I doubt that anyone can argue with me, outstanding leadership combining vision and practicality.
Not only has its Co-founder, and King, served his country in a military capacity – and honourably but he, and his staff continue to set that example of selflessness in the conduct of their Court. It is always a “three-sizes too big” moment for us when we are able to present an article such as this and, without doubt, it reaffirms the deeply held faith that, in essence, the modern Vampyre culture has the capacity to produce strong, devoted and overwhelmingly positive things. The Vampire Court of Dallas stands as an example for us all to aspire to.
Copyright RVL, Vampire Court of Dallas and Mike Burgess 2017
1) “Texas Almanac | Texas State Historical Association | Facts, Profile & Rank”. TexasAlmanac.com. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
2) “Largest 100 US cities”. City Mayors. May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
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