Name: Jillian Waterhouse
IG Name: Lavinia
Number of Years LARPing: 12
Home Game: Mystic Realms
In 2007, a young woman named Jillian Waterhouse started LARPing at the age of seventeen. She attended a game Mystic Realms where she engulfed herself into various genres, including a three-day long fantasy game. Today, she’s been LARPing twelve years and wants to talk about her experiences within the community and hopefully to inspire and persuade others to join.
Catherine C. J. Baxley: How did you first learn about LARPing and where was your first event?
Jillian Waterhouse: I originally learned about LARPing through a friend after moving back home to my hometown in 2004. My first event was at Camp Kettle Run in Tabernacle, New Jersey, back in October 2004.
CCJB:How do you become infatuated with being your character(s)? Do you often break from role-playing while at event?
JW: Infatuated? Maybe. I’m a bellydancer, and that is without a doubt Lavinia, which is also my stage name. Elizabeth is my obsession with steampunk, and everything technical about it. Sometimes I’ll take a break from roleplay to go get food, go get cleaned up, change an outfit, or check up my makeup, etc. Once I set foot back on the camp, right back into character.
CCJB: In what ways has LARPing helped you overcome significant “real-life” obstacles?
JW: It’s taught me to be more outgoing and embracing the fact that not everyone will want to be your friend.
CCJB: You mentioned that you’ve participated in multiple genres. Do you have a favorite?JW: That is a tough call. My favorite has always been our three-day long high fantasy game, Glory of Guildhall. The next runner-ups would be Sci-Fi related and a SuperHero/Villain theme.
CCJB: Many LARPs focus around political, environmental, and other destructions and controversies in the storyline. What kind of situations is your character drawn to? Are you personally drawn to them as well?
JW: As Lavinia has gotten older and more world-weary, she’s become very politically active with things going on in town. She’s drawn to things involving nature and the representation and protection of animals. She’s also embedded deep in her culture and if anything happens to any of her race, she sees it as a personal blow, and gets very involved in “righting the wrong.” Lavinia is my chance to be that table banging, point pushing individual that I’m normally not in real life. She’s fiercely protective over the younger Tradesmen in her life, and takes time to spend with her boyfriend (my OOG good friend), Yarik.
Elizabeth is my more behind the scenes person. She’s drawn to being the quiet helper, the wall flower. She’s delicate, maternal and enjoys taking care of the weary soldier on their trek home, or looking after her shield brothers, and actual siblings that she lives with.
CCJB: What type of characters do you enjoy portraying – more leadership-oriented or subdued?
JW: Lavinia is my leader, between the two of them. She jumps head first into situations and is terribly impulsive. That meme of “Don’t do the thing?” That is basically every situation she’s been in. Elizabeth is content to let others make the decisions, and provided it doesn’t cause her immediate harm, she’ll follow.
CCJB: Do you LARP to experience situations you don’t normally experience in “real-life?” Why?JW: Well, who else can go back into the office on Monday and say they stared down a six-foot-tall orc? Who can say they they fought a demigod and his insane siblings from another dimension? Who gets to experience these things in real life?
CCJB: When you first started LARPing, how much do you budget for your participation then compared to now?
JW: Oh geeze… When I first started, I was a table busser making $4.35 an hour. My entire paycheck for a week went into LARPing. Now that I’m older, I give myself at least sixty dollars a month to LARPing.
CCJB: Is there anything you’d like to add?
JW: Be the hero. Let that character you wrote up back in high school come to life. If you think that you can’t be the sneaky rogue making shady deals, try. If you’re a wallflower in real life, your character doesn’t have to be! Be the loud outspoken bard. Pick up an instrument and learn to entertain yourself and others at events. Take up sewing and make yourself that sick outfit you saw and think would be great for the game. Learn and live while you grow. LARPing is like life. It’s not a destination, it’s an awesome journey.
Games Featured: Mystic Realms
Photography: Melissa Buccine and Michelle Lynn