By Nicole Stinson
Photo by Alisha Vargas.
The dark underworld of vampirism is a difficult one to breach. As shrouded in mystery as Hollywood portrays them, self-styled ‘vampires’ are hidden in today’s society. One just needs to know where to look. You may have even passed one on the street.
Labeled by religious groups and media coverage as a cult, vampirism has effortlessly gained a negative image. In 1998, The New York Times reported the case of Rod Ferrell, a leader of a vampire cult charged with two murders. Farrell claimed that murder “opened the gates to hell.”
True Crime Report published an article in 2010 on a couple that killed their roommate because he refused to let them drink his blood. A year later, NBC News reported a woman claiming to be part of a vampire cult, which killed an 11-year-old boy in Florida.
Sphynxcatvp, an alias assumed by the vampire who runs a real vampire support website, tells BTR that humans have a tendency to resist anything that challenges the concept of “reality”.
“Considering what the word ‘vampire’ means to most people, especially those with a steady ‘diet’ of Hollywood movies and popular vampire fiction, real vampires, whether by nature or by circumstance, are often forced to live under a mantle of secrecy, and while that may sound very cloak-and-dagger, believe them when they say it’s not all that fun or exciting,” he explains. “In many ways it’s, well, scary to tell someone about their vampirism.”
Many vampires use aliases to conceal their identities, according to a report by The Washington Post. Clinical and forensic psychologists as well as psychiatrists, according to Philip Jaffé and Frank DiCatalado, describe the ‘modern vampire phenomenon’ as clinical vampirism.
Clinical vampirism is when some one has “a delusional notion that he or she is a vampire and therefore needs blood,” says forensic psychologist, Katherine Ramsland. “This arises not from fiction and film but from an erotic attraction to blood and the idea that it conveys certain powers.”
So are ‘modern’ vampires to be feared?
Tim Bey, co-administrator for the online magazine The Real Vampire Life and self-identified modern living vampire, tells BTR, “the modern real living vampire is no more to be feared than the neighborhood postman or the clerk at the local video store.”
Bey, who uses an alias, says that he discovered he was a vampire when he first tried blood; he realized something had been missing from his life.
“If you are speaking of the people today who identify themselves as modern, real living vampires, the fact of the matter is that no one can explain why it is,” he says. “There is no proof, there is no measurable test and there are no comparative scientific studies.”
TruBlood, the HBO television series based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries book series by Charlaine Harris, would have us believe that vampires drink synthetic blood, while The Vampire Diaries’ character Stefan Salvatore suggests that vampires can survive by drinking animal blood and blood bags from blood banks.
“One must be cognizant of the fact that television shows and movies about vampires are fiction, nothing more, and as such have no real connection to the reality of the modern living vampire,” Bey tells BTR. “Blood banks are not a particular source to our knowledge. Animal blood is said to be somewhat helpful but it would seem that its potency is not the same as the reported effects of consensually obtained human blood.”
An interview with a vampire by The Washington Post, also highlights that is blood is not the only source of energy for real modern vampires. Linda Rabinowitz identifies as a psychic vampire and feeds off the energy of others.
Online sources such as Sphynxcatvp’s Real Vampire Support Page suggest that there are three main types of vampires. Sanguinarians fit the “traditional Dracula stereotype” and drink blood; psivampires or psychic vampires like Rabinowitz, consume human energy including the energy created from human emotion; and finally Hybrid vampires, which feed on both blood and human energy.
“The common consensus amongst responsible members of our community is, however, that the act of obtaining blood or energy is commonly dealt with between consenting parties,” says Tim.
Online forums such as The Black Swan Haven provide many vampires an avenue to find consenting donors and similarly donors can volunteer their services. Posts include guides on how to donate, personal experiences, and advertisements.
There are also many online hoaxes including as The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency website which mimics the style of an authentic agency complete with an agency logo, history, biographies and links to other “sources.” The website does however, provided a disclaimer at the base of their homepage if one looks.
There is also the story of vampirologist, Stephan Kaplan who created the Vampire Research Center in Queens, New York. Founded in 1972, the center conducts socio-anthropological research on those that identify themselves as vampires, according to a 1983 story in the ‘Metropolitan Diary’ section of The New York Times. Research on the existence of such a research center is limited.
For some the appeal of vampirism is not in the literal existence of real vampires. Anthony Hobb, owner of the blog thevampirologist.blogspotcom tells BTR, “I don’t believe in the literal existence of vampires.
“Vampirology, simply put, is the study of vampires from a variety of academic disciplines,” he says. “I’m merely intrigued by the folklore and legends.There are many vampire interest groups, catering to various aspects of vampire interest, be it people who identify themselves as vampires or have an interest in vampire literature or folklore.”
The Oxford Dictionary may lead us to believe that vampirism is a cult but then so could a love of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or, dare I say it, most religious institutions. Is it a dangerous cult? Well that is for you to decide.