5 April 2012
Presented by: Tim
All of us who are a part of the vampire community, either on or offline, have our own perceptions and prejudices when it comes to “the community”. We have our own ideas about what’s right in it and what’s wrong in it and we have our own ideas about what needs to be done to improve things.
We spend a good deal of time exchanging information within our “subculture” and we spend a good deal of time “discussing” the different aspects of it. We also spend an inordinate amount of time disagreeing about things.
Many times there has been talk and discussion, often at great length, about how to make the concept of the community more palatable to those not in it. Rather than thinking about how to make vampires more popular; we’ll leave that to Hollywood, there is a tendency to consider how to make the community more acceptable.
In some quarters it is believed that the way to do this is to give ourselves some sort of presence in an academic manner and thereby instead of drawing a reaction something like, “Oh, another book about crazies” we can possibly engender the response, “Oh, look, someone important has written another book about crazies”, in the hope that the reputation of the author will lend credibility to the community through the content of their work.
While the “academic” approach is undoubtedly a useful item in the toolbox it can’t be expected to make a large enough impact with a large enough group of people who are already jaundiced in their view of people who make claims of being modern real vampires.
RVN decided to make contact with a number of people and ask some questions to gauge what their reactions to them would be as people who are not real vampires, connected to “the community” in an observational way, in a remote way and not directly connected at all except perhaps through some small interest in research.
Accordingly, for this special edition of “Chatting with Vampires” we decided to change the recipe ~ we left out the vampires!
In part one of this two part article we would like to welcome our first guests, C. Michael Forsyth, Darren Mann and Nadine.
C. Michael Forsyth is a Yale graduate and former writer for Weekly World News. He is the author of the critically acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast and writes a weekly blog The Best and Worst of Horror (http://freedomshammer.wordpress.com) featuring movie reviews and bizarre news. As a WWN reporter, he investigated many stories related to vampires and continues to be fascinated by them.
Darren Mann runs the Paranormal Database, collecting both contemporary stories of the supernatural and myths & legends across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Although his interest in vampires started while writing a paper on the creatures as metaphor in cinema for his degree during the 1990s, Darren current interest lies in the handful of legendary vampire reports scattered across the isles.
Nadine tells us, of herself; “I was born in 1981 in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa’s City of Gold. A variety of influencing factors and individuals has helped shape my journey towards writing my first novel of a series.
I grew up during the apartheid era and was exposed to numerous cultural influences within South Africa. In my youth I participated in and excelled at various cultural and creative activities at school. I have always loved reading and writing, and made the leap into novel-writing in my late twenties while juggling a full-time career in the property industry, marriage and the parenting of my children. Writing became an important part of my “me-time” or when I needed time to escape reality in the end it became an addiction which I endeavour to thrive on daily.
“My Addiction – My Gift; My Curse” originated during a period in my life when I wanted to create a legacy.
I am told that I am a creative, candid woman, who relies on my emotions and experiences to create memorable fiction. I trust my gut (and my very demanding editor) for inspiration.”
RVN: Good evening and welcome to Real Vampire News.
CMF: It’s a real honor to be included.
DM: Thank you for inviting me.
N: Thanks again for requesting my participation I am honoured to be part of your interviewing process.
RVN: Ok, just to break the ice and before we get into the good stuff, who’s your favourite vampire?
CMF: Spike from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Before he arrived on the scene, British vampires were typically stuffy aristocrats in capes. Suddenly this badass dude with a Cockney accent, withering sarcasm and a Billy Idol hairdo takes Sunnydale by storm.
DM: Christopher Walken’s Peina from The Addiction (but I’m a big Walken fan, so I’m bias!).
N: Ha ha ha – this is one of those questions that might actually make or break my writing career. But, here it goes.
I loved Lestat (he was the ultimate persona that hovered in between being angelically perfect and deviously devilish); I also had a small liking towards Count Dracula. And, then … I hate to admit it but I relate to Edward. I am guessing it is due to the fact that he reminds me of the idea of first love. Usually in a girls mind (the girls I know) everything about that is perfect. (I can absolutely hear the cringing sounds of teeth being clenched by female writers around the globe at me uttering that sentence).
Louis (Interview with a vampire) and Edward (Twilight) are actually very much the same types of characters when you get to the bottom of things. Love and sparkle are the only things that separate their defined traits. (In my opinion)
RVN: When you think of the word “Vampire” what, immediately, comes to mind?
DM: The classic creature from myth; a dead person who rises from the grave to feed on the living. Not particularly nice to look at, and pretty removed from the modern romantic portrayal in film and TV.
N: Powerful, angelic type being that has existed since the beginning of time.
CMF: A being that feeds on others in one form or another, whether it is taking blood or psychic energy.
RVN: If we use the term “Real Living Vampire”, what, immediately, comes to mind?
N: For me, it refers to people that struggle with a disease which over time, might ultimately have led humanity to believe in them as special or different. From what I have discovered in my research there are a couple of occurrences that could have created the vampire as we know it today.
There is porphyria which has been around for many years. Porphyria is I’m sure you know is a rare genetic disorder in which the production of haemoglobin is impaired.
Then there are parts within the bible and scroll readings from monks that date back to the early six hundreds in England. Monks had a notorious reputation for adding God and his works into things they wrote.
It is my understanding that in the bible – vampires are referred to as the demons that range back to the time of Cain. These statements come to light if you read the legends of Lilith. Lilith in Jewish tradition is known as the mother of demons. If you search the Vulgate and the Latin Bible for Cain’s reference it would seem as if Cain’s evil myth is eventually well obscured.
It leaves people to assume that the authors meant that the evil was born from Cain’s heart as he committed the first murder. His children were therefore born in sin as they had been fathered out of hate.
There are some readings that say that the vampire as a creature originated in the Balkans and it was mostly inspired by the older Sumerian myths.
These are just the basic ones that I am aware of I’m sure if one had to be a thorough researcher there would be plenty more detail to list.
CMF: A person who drinks human blood and doesn’t claim to be immortal.
DM: A person from a countercultural group. The stereotype is of someone who wears blacks, reds and purples, listens to heavy metal, partakes in bloodletting and sleeps in coffins or under headstones, although stereotypes and reality seldom complement each other.
RVN: What, if any, knowledge do you have of the subculture and community of persons that define themselves as modern living vampires?
CMF: I had the opportunity to interview a number of these folks for an article I wrote for Weekly World News. They were the real deal – most drank other people’s blood. Some sported porcelain fangs that had been bonded on by dentists at great expense. In most cases, this was an aesthetic choice; they actually used a razor blade to access the other party’s blood.
The article, which appeared in 1996, was among the first to cast light on the subculture and it deeply shocked readers at the time. Most of these individuals drank the blood of a willing donor, often a partner. Some admitted to getting a sexual charge from the act. A few claimed, rather, to be psychic vampires who drew life force from others. None of them claimed to have supernatural powers like those portrayed in movies, although some said that drinking blood gave them heightened awareness.
The most interesting case was a rock performer whose stage name was Vlad and who incorporated the vampire theme into his act. He claimed to have lived before in the court of Prince Vlad, the 15th century historical Dracula — hastening to add that he was merely a henchman. He said that he knew this because blood-drinking gave him the power to recall past lives each time he was reincarnated. Hence the sense of Immortality enjoyed by him and his kind. Here’s a link to the article:
What impressed me was how matter-of-fact Vlad was in relating all this. He was clearly sane and wasn’t straining to convince me of what he acknowledged “must sound crazy.”
Of the thousands of stories I reported for Weekly World News, this was only the second that made me think the supernatural might truly be at work.
N: There are different forms of humans that would classify themselves as vampires.
There are those that struggle with porphyria.
There are those that suffer from a type of depression that falls under this category.
There are those who are self-proclaimed and belong to a cult.
DM: I’m afraid I have little knowledge of the vampire community. I’ve caught fragments of the occasional documentary on television, but my cynicism of the mainstream media prevails – I would much prefer to talk to someone from the community and carry out my own research then be spoon-fed advertisement driven programmes.
RVN: What, in your opinion, are the key factors that would attract people to this “community”?
N: I think that humanity is drawn to issues that hold mystery and profound beauty – therefore the infatuation towards such beings. It’s the same type of infatuation that one gets when you hear of things like aliens and being able to survive on other planets. Whilst it doesn’t totally seem possible it doesn’t mean that it’s not probable.
DM: The same set of beliefs that attract and bind most other communities – shared tastes in music and other arts, clothing and styles, political goals and philosophical views.
CMF: The forbidden has always held an allure. Society – and the Bible, for that matter – certainly forbids blood-drinking. Also, the thrill of belonging to a secret society of “special” people is intoxicating. Vampires are the aristocrats of monsters. While some of us might dread the prospect of “joining the ranks of the undead,” others feel they’re being admitted to a very elite club.
RVN: If you were approached by a person who introduced themselves and said “I am a real vampire” what would your first reaction be?
DM: ‘I’ve never met one before, how do you do?’. Okay, perhaps not with such a clichéd British greeting, but I would be curious to know why the line is used as an opening gambit. Ultimately I would like to know what makes them a vampire, but I wouldn’t be that blunt when asking.
CMF: I certainly wouldn’t dismiss them as a wacko. I’d politely probe a bit . If the person claimed to have supernatural powers, to be able to morph into a bat or be invulnerable to bullets, I’d be skeptical. If they say they drink the blood of “donors,” I’d take them at their word that they truly are real vampires.
N: Well, I’d most probably think that the person lost his marbles.
Having said that , we live in a world that holds tons of mystery – maybe if that person got into more detail with me I’d come around. I’m very open to different perceptions. (Not gullible, understanding towards others opinions)
RVN: There have been a number of books written by, and about, modern vampires, such as,
The Psychic Vampires Guide: To Subtle Body Language and Psionics
~ Lono Fructus Vespertilio
Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today
~ Katherine Ramsland
The Psychic Vampire Codex: A Manual of Magick and Energy Work
~ Michelle A. Belanger
Vampyre Sanguinomicon: The Lexicon of the Living Vampire
~ Father Sebastiaan
Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism
~ Dr. Joseph Laycock
Have you heard of, or read, any of these titles? Would you be interested in reading them? Why or Why not?
CMF: I’m embarrassed to admit that none of them sound familiar. I’ve clearly got to catch up on my reading! I would certainly like to read more about psychic vampires. If you can accept the notion of ESP, psychic vampirism makes a lot of sense. In fact, the paranormal rules governing it are a good deal more logical than those regarding
traditional, animated-corpse-type vampires.
N: I have never come across these titles in my general research. If I had I would most probably have read them for the sake of exploration. Whether I would believe them would be another question.
DM: I haven’t read any of them – I think the last book on vampires I read was by folklorist Paul Barber. I would likely read something authored by an academic or expert in the field rather than someone who is a self-professed vampire, but that preference spans my reading habit; I would rather flick through a book by a parapsychologist over that by someone being haunted.
RVN: If you received a V.I.P. invitation to attend an “Endless Night Vampire Ball” how likely would you be to attend and why, or why not?
N: If I was younger and I didn’t have a family I would most probably have been the impulsive girl on the block, which would have jumped at the opportunity.
However, since I’m all grown up (sounds like a cliché), I’d have to decline for the sake of responsibility. I like my vampires to remain where they are – in my mind.
DM: (Just had to look the Ball up online!) If I could escape my desk job for a while, absolutely – I’m a semi-professional photographer, and the opportunity to shoot such a diverse group of people would be too good to miss. I imagine it would also be the perfect introduction to the community, and possibly a bit of a culture shock for me.
CMF: I’d probably chance it, though I’d bring along a crucifix “just in case.” I attended the Theater of the Vampires Ball hosted by the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club in New Orleans last Halloween Weekend and had a blast. The attendees were 100 % into it, renting expensive costume and donning custom-made fangs forged by an onsite “fangsmith.” But they didn’t take themselves over-seriously.
RVN: Despite there being no medical evidence currently available there are those who claim that they need to ingest blood in order to remain fit and healthy. How would you react to these claims?
CMF: As you undoubtedly know, it’s been suggested that the disease porphyria is the source of the vampire legend. It’s caused by the body’s inability to produce heme, the main ingredient of red blood cells. Today porphyria can be treated with injections of blood products. Some researchers have proposed that long ago, porphyria sufferers self-medicated by drinking blood. And so the thinking goes that maybe some modern-day real vampires are really undiagnosed porphyria victims doing the same thing. Problem is that you can’t replenish heme by ingesting blood.
DM: My gut reaction would be to believe the need is psychological rather than physiological, although as you can imagine, after collecting, reading and hearing over 10,000 stories relating to paranormal occurrences, I’m unconvinced science can answer everything.
N: I would accept it. Medically it has been stated to be true. However in today’s time, medicines have advanced to such a degree that I’m sure it would no longer be required. But then again, anything is possible.
RVN: If you come across a story in the media wherein a person makes a claim that they are “a vampire” what is your first thought?
DM: ‘Does it matter?’ The context is important to me – if I read an interview which stated ‘this is Gerry, a vampire, who is suing acme chemical company after they poisoned his land’, I would be all for Gerry, regardless of his vampire identity, although I would be left wondering why his vampirism is a factor in the story – its rather like a media report highlighting the race of someone when it has no relevance. Do discrimination laws apply to vampires?
N: That he is most probably using it as an excuse to get attention drawn to what he has done.
If it happens here in Africa I’d most probably assume that it had something to do with African witchcraft and some or other weird and whacky culture.
CMF: Most of these people are nuts or frauds. Real vampires, natural or supernatural, would try to keep a low profile for obvious reasons. When self-proclaimed vamps make headlines, it’s usually for doing something illegal and/or crazy. I recall a case where an air-conditioner repairman convinced a group of underage high school girls that he was a “high-ranking” vampire lord and could convert them if they had sex with him. (Apparently a part of “Dracula” I skipped right over!)
RVN: When you think about the term “community”, in a general sense, what do you understand the term to mean?
DM: I touched on this above, so don’t really want to repeat myself. I will add that I’m a member of a local community radio station – over a hundred people from all nationalities volunteer every week, producing 24/7 content in six languages. Although we all have different tastes in music, clothing and politics, the fact we all believe everyone should have a voice in the media has ensured the radio station has run since the late 1980s. That one shared belief is strong enough to keep us going.
CMF: I see a community as a group of people who share a common world view, communicate with and to some degree support each other. Certainly real vampires have that. Nowadays they meet largely through the Internet, but there are many face-to-face gatherings as well in Meccas such as New Orleans (thank you, Anne Rice).
N: For me “community” would refer to a bunch of people that share the same interests and strive for the same types of goals.
RVN: In your opinion, what are the vital ingredients that a “community” needs to be able to exist and function effectively?
CMF: In the context of a subculture like vampires, I’d say a common cosmology – or at least a tolerance of differing views. When groups fracture into camps – for example those who insist they have supernatural powers and those who deny that’s possible – and go to war with each other, those communities tend to dissolve and disband.
N: They need basic stuff – food, water etc. They need to be comfortable with the environment they are in and they need to share each other’s perception towards life and spirituality.
DM: Good communication, a place to meet (either real or cyberspace) and shared objectives – take away one of these and problems arise.
RVN: Do you have any general comments that you would like to make on the matter of modern real vampires and their community?
N: I think that everyone has a place on this earth. I feel that over time our ancestors have created boundaries towards humanity in the form of politics, religion and general perception. Sometimes we need to see people for whom or what they are -Each different within themselves. Who are we to judge?
CMF: Real-life vampires are a mix of ordinary and extraordinary people, the lucid and the lunatic, devotees of the carnal and devotees of the spiritual. As many permutations as there are of the vampire legend, there are varieties of members of this fascinating subculture.
DM: Only to apologise if I come across a little naïve – after this I’ll be reading through RVN to ensure I haven’t made a fool out of myself!
RVN: Thank you very much for your time in answering these questions, we are grateful for your insights.
DM: No, thank you for posing such interesting questions.
N: Thanks for having me.
This special feature is, without doubt, one of the most ambitious that we have put together at RVN and in part two we will present the insights, views and opinions of our other guests, J.V. Krakowski, Johan and Ric.
Copyright RVN, C. Michael Forsyth, Darren Mann, Nadine Maritz, J.V. Krakowski, Johan and Ric, 2012
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