It’s been a few days since Konrad McKane lost his epic battle with the Dark Lord of Middle Earth, and he’s taking it pretty hard.
“Morgoth got the best of me,” he says from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Beaverton, Oregon, where he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation after being arrested last week.
A self-described rogue assassin, the 30-year-old Portlander made headlines after he rushed into a busy intersection and began jousting with a woman’s car using a sword. Loaded up with armor and psychedelics, McKane told cops that he was a “high elf engaged in battle with the evil Morgoth.”
“That woman was totally bad-vibing me, and I guess I just took it to the next level,” McKane says in an exclusive interview with Vocativ. “I wasn’t in my right mind. I was still rocking my new pair of elf ears.”
For McKane, whose legal name is Konrad Bass, going toe-to-toe with Morgoth is par for the course. He spends most of his time in leather brandishing medieval weapons, a man-turned-dark-elf living out his live-action role-playing fantasies (LARPing, for short) in the peculiar world that is Portland, Oregon. In addition to fashioning bows and battle axes, he has published a fantasy novel and performs around town in a two-piece band called Empaths that plays songs based on his fiction. But most of the time, you can find him sword dancing in the street.
McKane says he experiences hypomania, which can allow him to fully embody his role-playing characters for hours and even days at a time. When he incorporates illicit drugs into the mix, it really sends him into other universes, he says.
“The last time I did drugs, I turned into a freakin’ dragon,” McKane says. This time, he says, he simply transformed into night elf rogue Jaypar Prakkari, the protagonist of his fantasy series Alkaya: The Legend of Empyro who battles mythical creatures and a dark plague in a parallel world.
The saga began when McKane showed up for “Monday Funday” at Colonel Summers Park in southeast Portland. The weekly gathering attracts an assortment of oddballs and outcasts from the area who like to play dodgeball, get drunk, juggle, form drum circles, Hula-Hoop or do whatever else strikes their fancy.
McKane says that he and a group of like-minded friends had gathered near the park’s fountain to organize a fantasy battle filled with elaborate costumes and fake weaponry. He showed up wearing a sequined chain-mail vest, a leather kilt and a snowboarding helmet. He also came bearing an arsenal of weapons, including a hubcap shield, bamboo javelin, green lightsaber, machete, toy battle-ax and a master sword strapped to his back.
To enhance their live-action role-playing game, one of the participants broke out a stash of mind-altering substances.
“It’s not like I’m a drug addict or anything,” says McKane. “But whenever someone offers some to me, I’ll take them. I find that it’s pretty rude to refuse gifts.”
McKane gobbled up a potent cocktail of MDMA, Dimethyltryptamine and acid. “Moon Rocks, DMT and LSD—it was the trifecta!” he says. “Man, that shit’s pretty awesome. But don’t do it alone. Otherwise, you’ll end up wandering the streets on a weird spirit journey.”
Which is pretty much what happened. The drugs took hold and the game never quite got off the ground. McKane says the cops closed the park around 10 p.m. and he left to go dancing with friends. Later, he broke into a musician buddy’s practice space near the Hawthorne Bridge, where he spent the next several hours tripping balls and hanging out by himself.
By morning, McKane was channeling his Jaypar Prakkari character, fully immersed in a mission that could make sense only to a drug-addled LARPer. “I was here to save America,” he says. “In 10 days, Obama was going to be assassinated. Morgoth was chasing after me. I was chasing shadow dragons. It was crazy.”
At around 7 a.m., the weapon-wielding, hallucinating hero found himself at the intersection of Southeast Seventh Avenue and Morrison Street, where he decided to take on rush-hour traffic.
“I was walking down the yellow line in the middle of the road and jousting cars,” McKane says. “I was walking like I owned it, like I was a spaceship. People were honking horns and driving around me. Guys in trucks were being dicks. It was pretty fantastical. I was having great time.”
The fun ended when McKane found himself face-to-face with a red BMW, which he admits he mistook for a shape-shifting demon. The driver, a northeast Portland woman, had stopped in the middle of the road and was blasting her horn. A fearless McKane sprung into action.
“I hopped on her hood and tried to pierce her tires with my master sword,” he says. “I was trying to prove a point. Don’t mess with a dark elf.”
The freaked out driver called 911, and a swarm of police quickly arrived on scene and brought McKane under control. He was cited for criminal trespass, but not arrested, and was taken to Providence Portland Medical Center.
“Honestly, the cops were pretty nice,” McKane says. “Even the one who pointed a Taser at me. But they broke my master sword. I was so pissed!”
Last week’s melee is not the first time that McKane’s extreme role-playing has landed him on the wrong side of the law, he says. Cops in downtown Portland arrested him last summer for scaling a lamp post near Powell’s Books. He was in costume and had a pair of ninja swords with him, he says.
In Seattle, McKane got in trouble for bombing down a big hill in an office chair and claiming to be Kommander Kinetica, another one of his fictional characters. He also says that cops in Orlando, Florida, where he used to live, zapped him with a Taser after they found him running around his apartment complex naked.
Because of his manic episodes, which can be exacerbated by the occasional dose of psychedelics, McKane says he usually ends up spending a few days in the hospital and avoids any real time in the slammer. “That’s why I love being crazy,” he says. “It’s my get-out-of-jail-free card.”
After spending a couple of days at Providence last week, McKane says he was transferred to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Beaverton, a Portland suburb, and will be there until Thursday. He says he’s spent the last few days developing a role-playing card game and doing tarot readings for other patients. “I call it my writer’s retreat,” he says. “It gives me a break from reality.”
McKane also says he’s using his downtime to plot his next live-action fantasy.
“The more you live and breathe in that world, the more you become it,” he says. “I can now fully cross over. It’s all about balancing the light and the shadow.”