The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

It’s okay, I played Jesus and George Washington, says Vampire LARPer/Florida GOP candidate

You know the congressional campaign is going well when you have to issue a statement explaining that the Creepy, Explicit Sex Machete Post From The Vampire Role Playing Online Forum Was Written By Your Friend On A Shared Account.

This is something that candidate Jake Rush, challenging Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd congressional district, actually had to do Wednesday, after a pretty hot April 1 as the Saint Peter’s Blog broke the news of his involvement in the Mind’s Eye Society. (According to the group’s Web site, “Mind’s Eye Society is a non-profit organization that is part of the Camarilla network of authorized fan clubs. Established in 1992 as The Camarilla, Mind’s Eye Society has been hosting Live Action Role Playing games set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness settings, both in Classic settings like Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and in the New World of Darkness, such as Vampire: The Requiem and Changeling: The Lost, with interactions with other players around the world.”)

Supping with werewolves and vampires, using your supernatural awareness to get out of tight spots, seizing control of the narrative? Sounds like good practice for Congress.

But once the smoke clears, maybe we’ll see reason on this.

Rush certainly hopes so. His campaign has issued not one, but two news releases, first proclaiming that “As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue, and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions” — including playing Jesus and George Washington. Jesus and George Washington, everyone. That’s the kind of live-action role playing behind which America can get! What is the tea party, if not a large, live-action role playing society, where people dress up in stiff woollen ensembles and wigs and try to drag all of America back to 1776?

The second release notes that, out of context, things you said as a vampire might sound somewhat unnerving — “As I have said, I have played heroes and villains and in the spirit of gaming I have said things that when taken out of context would be considered embarrassing.” No arguments there. Context is everything!

(Frankly, I found the blog post a little misleading. It is just a list of disturbing-ish images JRush uploaded to the group’s wiki to break up the walls of text with a few colorful pictures of book burnings and angel wings, not Things Jake Rush Has Dressed Up As Before. He is not a succubus. Nor are the wings his. And he is not the one shooting the dog. Any online dark fantasy vampire role playing community worth its salt has to have one or two open-source pictures of succubi. Are we seriously going to judge our congressional candidates on the quality of the photo images they have uploaded to the wikipedias they edit?)

Look, this is the United States, where everyone does something weird in his spare time. This is not just America. It’s Florida. As someone posted on the Jake Rush Facebook page, “i could care less if you dress like an undead nancy reagan and ride on bill clinton’s back but if you are pointing guns at dogs you are a creep.” The Rush page wrote back: “categorically denied. What you refer to is a still from a movie.”)

Sure, there were some uncomfortable-sounding postings, but the Rush campaign released an e-mail from Lee Snyder taking responsibility for the explicit machete cocaine sexual violence thing. So, that is, uh, fine, I guess. Besides, it was in character! If everything you post online as Chazz Darling, vampire, sounds like the kind of thing you would stand proudly behind if you ever ran for office as a Republican, Chazz Darling would be a terrible character and no one would want to play with him. “Chazz walks into the hall. The smoke clears, a figurative sword of Damocles hanging over his head. “Do you have it?” asks the man with smeared, yellow teeth, over the thrumming bass. “Yes, I have it, if by It you mean Tax Reform We Can Get Behind!” Chazz says.) He will be unable to interact and feed, and his bestial side will take over! Nobody wants this for Chazz Darling.

Look, if we are going to be judged by our postings in anonymous online Web forums under the guise of vampires, I’m certainly not safe. I mean, none of us is safe. I mean, er, what? Never mind.

There is no one whose browser history, if broadcast, would not fill the world at large with shock and horror.

People are weird. And now the Internet has made this weirdness searchable. Where once your neighbors wondered why you toted that sword around, now thousands of people can peer at your obsession and declare it odd, never mind what they have open in the next window. Everyone has something open in the next window. If you think you don’t, you’re Anthony Weiner.

Now this is out, and Rush is trying to double down, pointing out that, yes, he’s active in the role playing community, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s not, in itself, a bad thing. It’s certainly as normal as Civil War reenacting. Also, can we get back to the campaign now?

Frankly what concerns me is that the Rush line of pushback attack is not that, as someone with experience making deals with the undead, he is eminently qualified for Congress, but rather that Ted Yoho is not conservative enough. “I don’t understand gaming, I don’t get it, but I do know that these so-called scandals are drummed up by opponents in trouble to turn attention from their misdeeds, moral lapses, and political problems. And the question is not ‘Does Jake game, but is Yoho a conservative?’,” said Remzey Samarrai, Rush’s campaign manager,” in the second press release.

This is Ted Yoho, who said that not raising the debt ceiling would “bring stability to the world markets.” What more dangerous fantasy do we need? How much farther can we go? Some vampires might be a nice change.

If you want to learn more about the live-action role playing that Rush was involved in, here is the Kickstarter video for Vampire: The Masquerade. You can see that the kind of straight-shooting GOP candidate Rush appears to be in his other ad might feel lost and out of place in this setting.