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The Past. Because I never wrote about it.

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Jan. 6th, 2011 | 11:08 pm

VAMPIRE CHRONICLES ROLEPLAYING IN MY MEMORIES. LE JARDIN SAUVAGE TIMES

One upon a time I spent relatively much time – with a few breaks - on a roleplaying board known as Le Jardin Sauvage. I joined that place in 1996 or 1997 as Corbeau. I was like 17? 18? Now, trying to invoke memories from the first time when I entered that world, I wasn’t hyper excited. I was a bit distanced yet curious. I found the place by accident, as I was mostly interested in what the World Wide Web had in offer when it came to sites about Anne Rice. I’d already had experience in roleplaying. I’d played a lot in the Vampire Masquerade.



I can’t really tell you the beginnings because I simply don’t remember them. But unlike most of people, and what would have been wise and polite, I didn’t introduce myself first, read and observe the interaction between “vampires” and “mortals”. No, I went right down to my business and posted some nonsense about Memnoch. THAT I remember! But I am getting way ahead! Haha! It’s funny actually that I can’t recall anyone from the first crew, or some solid memories of interaction with them. It was so long ago, you know. All I remember is that I was conscious, annoying and arrogant, but eloquent and entertaining enough, so I wasn’t kicked out after all. I learnt that special brand of arrogance is common for all newbies. And no, I wasn’t immediately loved. Hmm, I had clashes with Gabrielle, at least on the beginning. But truly serious issues I had with Dennis (an additional character, not present in Anne Rice’s books). As you see, even then I was a traditional Ricean. Heh. I think I played on his nerves as he did on mine which risked often with me being removed from the board. I can’t say I cared that much if I’d be or not. Anyway, I found out later that the only reason I didn’t get banned was because apparently Armand (who was more often on the board then than Lestat himself, unless my memory plays some tricks on me.) found me amusing, and every time when Dennis wanted to kick me out, Armand would say no. I found it rather strange because, at that time, Armand and I hardly interacted on the forum. Later, even if Dennis had wanted to get rid of me, he couldn’t. I was already behind the scenes and his days on LJS were counted. Dennis went really batshit crazy and was removed from LJS, so what did she do? Yes, you’re right! She started her own board where she continued her games.

I can’t say that on the beginning I was interested in interaction with any of the vampires anyway. No, I wanted to challenge them! I wanted to put their creditability and talents to test! Now I think it was really idiotic but daring too. I behaved like Rimbaud in Andre’s café.

And oh boy, I loved those nights when Lestat would make that “Enter of the Dragon” appearance, and would post something, it could be anything, even a chocolate cake recipe, and then you had a thread with 45 or something pages of comments alone, plus, a dozen of threads with questions addressed to Lestat alone. Hah.

Like on other boards of this kind, it was not only about the interaction with the infamous immortals. But truth is, and it’s true on every board, the vampires are the magnet. And as much as the most of people would deny, they came and come to such places to interact with the vampires. They want to communicate with the vampires. If it wasn’t true, they would join forums about gardening or simply Anne Rice related sites. No, they needed and need this element of excitement. They do not want to read about their most beloved vampires, they want to talk to them and feel this thrill. Naturally, bonds between members are made, sometimes friendships are built too.

There were conversations about, what do you call it? Meaningful stuff? Haha Yes. Art and Literature, Politics, religion, God and Devil, you name it. I participated in all of them. Hmm then again, scratch Memnoch from that list. Haha. Memnoch was forbidden. Except that I couldn’t help myself, and with the stubbornness of a maniac I teased Lestat and posed a few – in my misplaced faith – “zehriously” deep questions concerning the book I really didn’t like. He didn’t like the book either. He usually ignored my posts of course. Or would comment in a nonchalant manner. Then Gabrielle would come and tell me I was boring (Pah, whatever I’d say, I was always boring to her anyway), to which David or Louis would add their a few paragraph long theological musings to which you could only nod. Haha. At that time I was under a heavy influence of Rimbaud, Decadence, Symbolism in Art, etc. and it was seen in my posts or conduct. And oh boy! It wasn’t about looooooooooooooving Rimabud’s poem or two. The name of my Church was Rimbaud! Dead Can Dance, The Doors, and Nine Inch Nails played in there often! So, it explains why me and Armand found we had things in common. Damn, I wrote a few good things back then, and it wasn’t some emo graveyard poetry. Haha!

I too must confess that the best conversations I had on LJS were the ones between the members alone, with some occasional interruption from the immortal side. Maybe because they were so light-hearted, laid-back and so damn entertaining, these threads. We were fooling around and had hell of a fun! So were chats, but I can’t say I was much talkative in them. I didn’t type fast at that time, and there were those nights when we had many people in chat typing at the same time like 20 times “Good evening ‘insert the vampire here’” whenever any moderator jumped in etc. I really got annoyed and lost interest when I was talking to someone and had to find the line when he or she was answering my question. I always preferred more intimate way of communicating than the LJS chatroom, it was aol or icq then.

I guess, the Le Jardin Sauvage’s best years are those between 1997-2001/2. I still am impressed and amazed when I recall that exquisite graphic from that time (and after 2002-2003/4?). At that time it was something; professional and elegant, vintage and subtle. And I don’t need to remind you that it was the time when people would choose an eyes-killing red colour for background, violet for the font, and they would plant unedited pictures all over the pages with blood-dripping animated graphics as interlines. Needless to say, that it took hell of a time for pages to load. The Time of Geocities. Heh. I won’t forget those vintage portraits of Lestat in sepia or other vampires. Now, you’re served edited pictures of actors or models.

I met many wonderful people on the board, a few of them I consider true friends and I am in a very close contact to this day. And, no, I am not only talking about moderators. From all the LJS original crew, I am in contact with only two people. I don’t remember when and how it happened exactly that “I crossed the other side”, so to speak. It will sound silly, but it seriously was as if I had woken up one day and was in. I simply don’t remember. Caro does not remember either. Haha. It just happened. I guess the fact I was a normal girl, who didn’t join the forum in search for real Lestat, and I was just a girl who’d just show up from time to time, show off, post something here or there, fool around with Jacq, drive Dennis mad…all of it, I guess, somehow led to my “crossing”.

No, I did not play any vampire on LJS. I’ve always found it rather funny when people kept pressing that idea on me. I don’t know whether I should feel flattered. I did roleplay Ricean vampires, but it wasn’t on LJS. Anyway, maybe that is why I still remain sceptic and distanced when it comes certain TLG members being accused of playing the vampires there. I’ve got no doubt whatsoever though that they knew/know who is who, but playing? On the other hand, I am certain about one person from TLG, whose Louis’s style of writing and gentle conduct was to much obvious even when she posted as a member.

If I were to describe my role on LJS, I’d say I was “Consigliere” of some kind. But ehh, it’s truly not a good choice as it has a very negative connotations.

Like I said, I wasn’t always on the board. It happened that I was month or two, three away. I was lucky – or unlucky – to miss a few dramas. But yes, it was on LJS when I learnt that there are people who really believed they could interact with the vampires and that belief of LJS vampires being real. And it was then when I noticed that LJS had no proper disclaimer. Of course there was the information that the vampires belong to Anne Rice and blah blah, but it was somewhere on some subpage of a subpage, and there was nothing about “it’s all a game”. You see, I never paid attention to it because it was so obvious to me that there’re no vampires and that it’s purely an entertainment, so naturally it never crossed my mind that the board of this nature should have a disclaimer stating THE obvious. LJS moderators never played games with the members, there was no vicious manipulation. But you couldn’t know every soul that logged in and what state of her/his psyche was. If someone wants to strongly believe in something, they will.

It was really a roleplaying in that traditional sense with the strict set of rules which we all abide. All the moderators kept a distance towards the members, so to speak. Except for Dennis, but he was kicked out for messing with people. And there was no game of “vampire’s favourite” or posts by vampires informing they visited this or that mortal while they were asleep. There were no members roleplaying they met the moderators and then would swear on their children’s lives that the vampires of Le Jardin Sauvage were real either. Naturally, to newbies it might have looked like as if “the vampires were closer with some members than others”, but it’s rather understandable, the longer you stay somewhere, the better you’re known. Building a relationship and trust needs time, doesn’t it? I don’t recall that any of the older members, who’d know the moderators off the site, would show off or share some fantastical stories about it with other members. Even when the moderator engaged in private conversations with the member, like Armand or Lestat with me in the beginnings, there were no messing. But then again, we never talked about blood, immortality, the malady of immortality, or me wanting to desperately meet them or hear from them, we talked – one might say – about ordinary things. For example about NIN’s uncut “Happiness in Slavery” clip.

The truth is, the moment I had known the moderators, I got in less and less interaction with them on the forum. We mostly talked via chat clients. I still participated on the forum of course, engaging in conversations with the members, occasionally leaving a cryptic remark here or there under threads posted by the vampires.

I must confess though that the years 2001-2002/3? are a bit oblivious to me. Those were the years, I didn’t frequent LJS as often as used to. And I believe, those were the years where all of us were hit by something I’d call “a material fatigue”, as well as one or two forum dramas. LJS even changed a name for a moment. Whether it was for letting some fresh air in or trying to squeeze some juice, I don’t know. The publication of Blood Canticle and Queen of the Damned film even worsened our already quasi-hibernating status. We all were so disappointed with the book and film. Sure, we had fun laughing while discussing the book or the movie off the forum but roleplaying a Catholic Lestat? Still, we added Quinn and Mona. It’s just that it wasn’t fun anymore, it was boring. Le Jardin Sauvage was apathetic. I guess, we began to grow out of it. Meanwhile, sites dedicated to Ricean vampires with pictures of Stuart Townsend were growing like mushrooms. VC roleplaying forums too. And there was that cold war, I guess, this war for the control over mortal souls, this silent war for hegemony in the Ricean rpg world which resulted with –among other things – one roleplaying Lestat publicly declaring that he’s more real than other roleplaying Lestat. How ridiculous and idiotic it sounds, judge for yourself.

Now, I don’t remember, but I think Je Jardin Sauvage officially closed its gates somewhere in 2004 or 2005. I can’t recall when exactly. Probably 2005. And that’s it. It was fun while it lasted. Did my time spent on LJS enrich me? It’s honestly a difficult question. I came to LJS with pretty shaped passions and goals. People with whom I am in contact to this day enriched my life. Time passed, I am older, and when I am thinking about it now, I honestly doubt that it’s a VC roleplaying forum that shapes or awakes one’s passions, but it’s Anne Rice and her world of the vampires. For instance, if you never heard of Bosh or Ancient Ostia, early Rice’s books may be a wonderful introduction to find out about them. Before you notice, you’re fascinated with the fantastical creatures painted by Bosh. People who come to VC roleplaying boards/sites are mostly the people who immersed themselves completely in the Rice’s vampire world rich in art and its splendour. VC forums offer them a place to animate this realm, this beauty. These people are sensitive to the subtle (dark) aspects of life and they identify themselves strongly with the characters from the Vampire Chronicles. They ask the same questions as Lestat or Louis; concerning life, art, existence, morality etc…As (book)Lestat himself said “reach for the finest”, and they did and do. And I don’t mean roleplaying.

Le Jardin Sauvage was to me, first and foremost, a site where I met fellow Rice’s fans. In late 90’ there were but a few places where all the Riceans could engage in conversation. I am not counting mailing groups, those were really annoying. So, forums turned up to be a real blessing. I think of Le Jardin Sauvage as of a favourite Gothic club I used to go when I was young. Do I think that any ‘deep’ conversation I had there meant anything in the Grand Scheme of Things or changed me in any way? No. As a matter of fact, when I recall now so called philosophical discussions from the forum or other rpg boards I visited later, they seem rather silly and pale – Children’s play of Lost Boys and Girls. They were entertaining nonetheless. I never romanticised LJS or tried adding some sentimental and ideological meaning to whatever reason of my staying there. Was it my sanctuary? No. I never needed a sanctuary. I didn’t build an altar for LJS in my memory. Was it an escape? No. It was more like an escapade with but a few cherished people whose faces are forever imprinted in my memory. The End.

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