A Childe’s History of Los Angeles

The Anarch Revolt (1940s)

In 1942 a vampire appeared whom Don Sebastian could not ignore. Ventrue pressure had forced Jeremy MacNeil, a 300-year old Scottish Brujah, out of his New England home, and the immortal rebel gradually made his way across the country to Los Angeles. He already had quite a reputation as a champion of the underdog, and thus no Prince would allow him to remain in his or her city for very long. He was not necessarily opposed to the Camarilla, but he did believe that an unspoken Tradition was that the Prince was obligated to maintain some fundamental system of justice for younger Licks who may have been bullied and abused by those who were more powerful. This alone was enough to ensure his unpopularity in most praxes.

Even before MacNeil’s arrival, Los Angeles had become a haven for dispossessed Kindred from all over the United States. The expansion of Ventrue influence on the East Coast and the increasing presence of the Sabbat across the South and Northeast (even up into Canada) forced more and more Kindred, particularly anarchs, to move west. As they left in search of freer, safer havens and discovered that anarchs were not welcome in any of the larger midwestern cities, they kept moving until they reached the Pacific. Not all new arrivals were hopeful anarchs: Los Angeles had acquired a reputation under Don Sebastian as a darkly decadent playground, with a Prince quick to elevate his most slavish flatterers. As a result, the city also exerted a magnetic pull on the debauched and the opportunistic who would jostle among themselves as Don Sebastian’s courtiers.

The Toreador especially flocked to L.A., particularly those who had been rejected by their more refined brethren east of the Mississippi. In Los Angeles, they found others with an equal lack of talent and passion for perversion, who never put pressure on them to actually produce anything, but valued them merely for their ability to look aesthetic. With no focus and few conventional artistic endeavors to interest them (being completely blocked from from encroaching on the film business by Isaac Abrams), they soon became enamored with the pleasures of the flesh, and spent their time trying to find new ways to enliven the hunt. Sometimes, much to MacNeil’s disgust, this included coteries of favored courtiers preying on hapless, lone anarchs.

All of this amused Don Sebastian, who was further flattered by the extravagant and empty compliments the newcomers heaped upon him. However, the increasing gap between the decadence of the Toreador and the streetwise anarchs began to grate more and more on those who felt that they were being unfairly oppressed.

Confronting the Despot (Mid 1943)

In May of 1943, Jeremy MacNeil petitioned Don Sebastian for an Elysium audience and asked for justice on behalf of a black anarch who had been assaulted by a coterie of violent Toreador for no reason save racial animosity. What happened next would change the course of Anarch history.

The truth of those nights is lost – and even Jeremy MacNeil, for all his principles, had an unashamed flair for the dramatic in his retellings. However, most versions agree Don Sebastian began the audience by mocking MacNeil for his Clan, his ancestry, his sect status and his inferior blood before ordering a cadre of his ghouls to beat MacNeil senseless. Others claim that MacNeil was far too physically powerful for even a half dozen ghouls to overcome, and instead Don Sebastian used his crushingly powerful Dominate and Majesty to force MacNeil to abase himself before the Prince and his sniggering courtiers. That MacNeil’s valiant refusal to submit, even at the last, eventually provoked Don Sebastian into inflicting the most vile and violent abuse upon his helpless form, before the Anarch leader was dragged away – naked, beaten and humiliated – and flung onto the street outside the Elysium, a mere minute before sunrise.

Somehow, MacNeil survived. On the verge of torpor, he was either found, or managed to crawl into a nearby alley and hide himself inside a filthy dumpster, mere seconds ahead of the sun’s glare which would have brought him Final Death. It is notable that MacNeil himself never described in full what he suffered that night, nor precisely how he survived. There are one or two wild theories to the effect that it was a lowly Nosferatu assigned to spy on MacNeil, that is actually secretly responsible for saving him at the last second.

The next night, MacNeil made his way to the haven of his ally, Salvador Garcia, another Brujah and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, to whom he related only that the Prince had denied him the protection of Elysium and then ordered him beaten for challenging the Prince’s authority. Salvador Garcia’s first move was to call together the most capable Kindred who he knew were openly or secretly opposed to the tyrannical Prince, including the Toreador Primogen and Hollywood mogul, Isaac Abrams, the Ventrue Primogen Louis Fortier and his lover, the Ventrue idealist Jacqueline Fairmonte. While Garcia and other anarchs who soon heard this story were outraged and demanded immediate retribution, MacNeil ultimately restrained his Brujah fury and sided with Isaac and Louis who counseled patience.

The Glorious Revolution of 1943 (Late 1943)

Initially, Jeremy MacNeil didn’t believe the anarchs were ready to take a stand against the Camarilla, and he hoped to bring the L.A. Primogen into their camp, betting that they surely must realize now that Don Sebastian’s continuing rule was untenable.

Sadly for what might have been the future, a slim majority of the Primogen either failed to understand the gravity of the situation or were still cowed by the example made of the late, Alonzo de Portola. Reluctantly, its members chose to endorse Don Sebastian’s insult as an admirably intended lesson to remind the anarchs of their place. All they would consent to MacNeil’s diplomacy, in a vain effort to keep tensions to a minimum, was their allowance that the alleged violation of Elysium was a troubling accusation, and would have to be investigated ‘once order was restored’. The sole voice of official dissent was the Primogen of the Nosferatu, who resigned his seat – and then wisely disappeared into the sewers. The Toreador and Ventrue Primogens, Isaac Abrams and Louis Fortier respectively, were initially too cautious to immediately and publicly break with Don Sebastian, given he was a creature of such frightening power. Both knew that Don Sebastian was dangerously close to turning on them next.

The anarchs were predictably furious. Many of them wanted to go to war immediately, but Salvador, Isaac, Jeremy and a number of other anarch leaders (who would eventually become known as the Revolutionary Council) restrained them, with the exception of a crazed Malkavian who tried to attack one of Don Sebastian’s childer before being brutally subdued. Instead, they made plans, formed hit squads and sharpened their stakes. This planning, combined with the carelessness of the Camarilla loyalists, explains more than anything else why L.A’s anarchs succeeded where no others had in centuries.

The anarchs then spent several months identifying the havens of the loyalist Camarilla officers and of other prominent Kindred (mainly Toreador) known to still support the Prince. When the time was right, the anarchs deliberately provoked several riots among the mortal population, in some cases by firing up mortal allies in the nascent civil rights movement and in others by staging incidents intended to cause police crackdowns on those very same protesters. The goal was to overwhelm Don Sebastian’s influence network, using the riots (and the crackdowns) as cover for carrying out a spectacularly wide range of targeted assaults against the Prince and all of his allies in the city.

On December 21, 1943, Jeremy let slips the dogs of revolution.

A few hours before dawn, small groups of heavily armed Kindred made their way towards designated targets to ambush and destroy the leading Camarilla officers returning to their havens. Not all met with success: The occasional ‘elder’ defeated their attackers, while several others are claimed to have disappeared, never to be seen again (or, perhaps more likely, secretly diablerized). What is undoubted is that a majority of Don Sebastian’s closest supporters died the Final Death in the first night of the uprising, and those who did not, fled Los Angeles. Many of them later turned up in other Camarilla-held cities, ensuring that the dramatic events played out on Los Angeles’ streets would soon be known across the continent.

Of course, killing or chasing away the Primogen, or such Officers as the Sheriff or Keeper did not ensure the Camarilla’s defeat. A significant percentage of the city’s rank and file supported the Camarilla, even if they didn’t care for Don Sebastian personally, and took to the streets to defend it. They only managed to prolong the fighting another couple of nights: Although individual Camarilla supporters tended to be older and more powerful than their opponents, they were badly outnumbered as well as disheartened by the Final Deaths of so many of their leaders. The anarchs on the other hand, fought with a fury pent up for years – in Jeremy’s case, centuries. They felt they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And they were right.

The legends of the 1943 Revolt include many accounts of cunning and valor on both sides, including the exploits of such famous anarchs as Smiling Jack and the future Baron of San Diego, Tara Kearney. The best-known tale by far is of the battle between Don Sebastian and Salvador Garcia in the Don’s secluded rancho. There, the brave Salvador, hard-pressed by an ancient vampire significantly more powerful than himself, managed to defeat his tyrant enemy in a vicious combat mano a mano, take his blood, and then set his detested foe’s haven on fire.

There are some cynics who allege that the actual events of that night differ considerably from the popular version. And inevitably, there are those who claim the revisionist cynics (themselves mostly old school MacNeil loyalists) are merely seeking to blacken Salvador Garcia’s past reputation, in light of his later infamous betrayal. But such questions wouldn’t matter to anyone for half a century.

What mattered in 1943 is that – in less than a week – the Anarchs, almost miraculously, had claimed praxis over a major city of their own for the first time in centuries.

Midnight Massacre In Malibu (Early 1944)

By the end of the second night of the Revolt, it was clear that the anarchs ruled Los Angeles. All of the Camarilla elders had been killed, driven away or forced into hiding. Just before dawn on December 22, 1943, Jeremy MacNeil declared the founding of the Anarch Free States. Gangs of anarch warriors lurched through the darkened streets of L.A., screaming their triumph to the night sky. They celebrated for weeks afterwards as they continued to hunt down the remaining supporters of the Camarilla.

In the two weeks of exhilaration, triumph and chaos that followed the destruction of Don Sebastian, there was only one cloud to darken the moon of freedom rising over Los Angeles’ night-shrouded skyline. That was the increasingly hysteric rumors that a significant number of the former Prince’s entourage had fled to and regrouped in Malibu, where they had incredibly linked up and joined forces with a hitherto unsuspected Setite Temple. It was said they intended to hole up in Malibu until enough reinforcements had arrived to retake L.A.

It was only belatedly discovered that Dawn Cavanaugh, a ravishingly beautiful and depraved Follower of Set had founded her own Temple of Set in the Malibu Hills as far back as 1923. The temple was spectacularly successful, drawing mortals and Kindred alike from all over Southern California. In time, Dawn became extremely popular, and gathered many worshippers for her dark master. The reputation that Hollywood gained in the ’20s and ’30s was the “Sin Capital of the World” got a substantial boost from Dawn’s efforts. It is highly unlikely that Don Sebastian ever cared one whit for the Snake’s religion – but it is clear by now that she enjoyed the Prince’s perverse patronage. Just after the New Year of 1944 this all came to a sudden end.

There must have been quite a few of the former Prince’s inner circle that were even more seduced and corrupted by Dawn than he was, since so many of them retreated to Malibu rather than seek refuge farther afield.

The Revolutionary Council did not relish the idea of battling both the late Don Sebastian’s most desperate holdouts and the cunning Snakes on their home turf. There were few anarchs who had any familiarity or experience with Malibu, after all. Just the same – they could not leave the pocket of resistance to fester. MacNeil issued the orders, and on January 2nd, just one night after the most raucous New Years Eve that Los Angeles had experienced in half a century, and three cars full of armed Kindred headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway intent on tracking down Dawn Cavanaugh and destroying her.

Just before they got there, a tough-looking, shaggy-haired man flagged down the anarch caravan, approached the first car and warned them in a graveled voice, “Turn back. We have done your work for you. Gaia has had her vengeance, and there are no vampires in the hills tonight – nor will there ever be again. Go, and do not return.”

The vampires were about to object when the shaggy-haired man dropped to all fours, turned into a wolf and trotted off into the underbrush. Hearing growls from all around them, the Kindred decided to reconnoiter Malibu later, and got out of there as quickly as they could.

Subsequent (and very cautious) investigation proved that the Lupine had told the truth, after a fashion (since in time, vampires – worse than Setites – would return to those very same hills). The werewolves had attacked Malibu that night, and not a single vampire had survived. They had also rooted out the Temple of Set, so recently discovered by the anarchs, destroying it and its adherents.

It took decades longer for a more complete account to emerge, and even then it was never verified. It seems that one of Don Sebastian’s supporters, who had been seduced by Dawn Cavanaugh and fled there to Malibu, had himself corrupted and enslaved (some say Embraced) a beautiful young woman who was (allegedly) the sister or possibly even the daughter of one of the ferocious Lupines. Coincidentally, the Lupines had been preparing to strike when the Revolt broke out – and so followed their fleeing leech quarry to Malibu, who unbeknown to his Setite allies, brought their imminent destruction with him.

Fortunately for Dawn Cavanaugh, she was not there to be slaughtered alongside her unfortunate followers. She claims that she was visiting the temple in San Francisco, but others believe that she was somehow tipped off and for her own reasons decided to leave her cult to its savage fate.

Birth of the Anarch Free States (1944)

The Revolt did not stop in L.A., or even in Malibu. The same forces that had swollen the ranks of the anarchs in Los Angeles also existed in San Diego, Fresno and San Jose. While the discontent in those cities did not equal L.A’s, the mutterings of revolution were everywhere.

All princes prop up one another and can be more or less be counted on to come to the aid of a fellow prince in case of an insurrection. With the destruction of Don Sebastian, along with his coterie and most of his supporters – the strongest bastion of the Camarilla on the West Coast – anarchs throughout Southern California took heart. They began to have hope that what had been accomplished in L.A. could happen elsewhere.

Tara Kearney, a well-known anarch from Texas, had shown up with a dozen swaggering Brujah from Texas shortly before the Revolt kicked off. Their support was a major factor in the defeat of Don Sebastian’s forces. It surprised no one that when the anarchs needed a strike team to go to San Diego (the most likely source of a Camarilla counterattack after San Francisco), Tara immediately volunteered. She proved to be brutally effective: A mere two weeks later Prince Maria of San Diego was found staked and beheaded in her bedroom. That same night anarchs swept through the city, declaring loyalty to Tara, the cause of freedom, and their membership in the Free States (roughly in that order). This scenario was rapidly repeated in Fresno and then in San Jose as other Anarch leaders seized cities for themselves throughout the following Summer and Fall of 1944.

In early 1945, an anarch force under Salvador Garcia tried to repeat the success in San Francisco, but here they met the determined, intelligent resistance of Prince Vannevar Thomas. The Ventrue prince and his troops completely closed down the city and allowed no movement at all. The anarchs reported to Salvador that Prince Vannevar was not only ready for them, he appeared to enjoy the support of the majority of local Kindred. Jeremy MacNeil recalled Salvador, figuring that the Free States could not afford to enter into a sustained conflict at this point and assuming that San Francisco would fall in its own good time. Salvador Garcia vehemently disagreed, arguing that if San Francisco wasn’t taken now, then the Anarch Free States would never be safe. Jeremy MacNeil eventually had his way, yet the two anarch leaders were never quite so close as they had once been. A similar failure to take Las Vegas around the same time resulted in unexpectedly heavy casualties, with Smiling Jack returning to Los Angeles as one of the few survivors.

Thus, by the end of February 1945, the Anarch Free States stretched from the Mexican border to San Jose, and from the Pacific Ocean to within 50 miles of the Nevada state line. But the leaders of the Revolt had little time for regroup. Los Angeles, suddenly deprived of both the inhuman despotism of Don Sebastian and then the momentum of an expanding revolution, suddenly collapsed into chaos. Isaac Abrams, who had vigorously argued against both the San Francisco and Las Vegas attacks withdrew from the ranks of the greater anarch leadership to focus on stabilizing Hollywood – and Jeremy let him go. He tried to summon Tara Kearney up from San Diego to come help him, but she would not come. It turns out that deep down, vampires care more for their own territory than any higher ideals. The Revolutionary Council was coming apart at the seams.

The Perfect State (1945)

Jeremy MacNeil and his remaining allies used what little time they imagined they had to retrench themselves in anticipation of the Inner Circle launching an overwhelming retaliation, undoubtedly spearheaded by its ruthless Justicars and Archons. The assault never came.

It was baffling at the time, yet the reason for the Camarilla’s lack of response became obvious with hindsight.

It is too easily forgotten that even into the modern nights, well into the 21st century, that the majority of the Camarilla’s strength remains centered on Europe, including at any given time, six of it seven Justicars, with only the occasional foray to the ‘New World’ as circumstances required. This was even more thoroughly the case prior to the Marshall Plan, Bretton-Woods and the rise of American global dominance.

And just what exactly was happening in Europe, in 1945-46? At the time, Europe was in a miserable shambles. Some of the mightiest scions of the Old World Camarilla (any one of which Don Sebastian could not have held a candle to), such as the Ventrue Princes of London, Berlin, and Marseilles were dead or missing. European Kine and Kindred alike found themselves creeping through war-torn, fire-bombed cities with both the specter of starvation and communist uprisings looming. There were horrific Masquerade breaches being committed on a nightly basis by half-maddened vampires desperate to survive, straining the resources of the most influential elders.

When the Inner Circle did briefly convene in the ruins of Venice to address the Anarch Revolt, the loss of a few cities on the American West Coast was brushed off as a minor embarrassment to be addressed later. It was nothing at all compared to the loss and/or ruination of cities that had been pillars of Kindred society for millennia, like Berlin (now hosting the Soviet Red Army), Prague, Dresden or Athens. Only the Nosferatu Justicar Petrodon (who enjoyed rather more recent and comprehensive intelligence on how events had spiraled) considered the ‘California Revolts’ to be an equally pressing concern.

Unfortunately, Petrodon was outvoted by his peers. Instead, to MacNeil’s amazement, it would be nearly two decades before the Camarilla would make a serious attempt to ‘realign’ the Free States. For now, Los Angeles got a much-needed breathing space. They would need it, as even without the threat of immediate Camarilla retribution, much of Southern California was still in chaos. Many of the anarchs did not fully understand what that it was they had fought for, and looked to Jeremy or Salvador to take over the role of prince – the farthest thing from their minds.

Therefore, the Revolutionary Council met one last time as a true quorum (with the exception of Isaac Abrams and Tara Kearney) and produced the document called the Status Perfectus, or “Perfect State.” Actually written by Salvador Garcia and Jaqueline Fairmonte (rather than MacNeil as many assume), it laid out the rules by which the Free States should govern themselves instead of being ruled from above.

It’s often forgotten that the Status Perfectus was only written after the attending anarch leaders had nearly unanimously (excepting Salvador Garcia) proposed for Jeremy MacNeil to declare himself the new Prince of Los Angeles – and been emphatically rejected by the Scottish Brujah. Soon enough, Jeremy MacNeil would have reason to regret his high-mindedness.