Bram Stoker's book 'Dracula' was published in 1897. Since then, vampires have fueled the imaginations of the Western world, populating people's minds for decades. You may have seen Christopher Lee's numerous appearances as Dracula in multiple movies in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The Lost Boys was popular in the 80s, and then Interview and Buffy of the 90s. And you surely remember the Twilight films, starring Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, a vampire trying to keep Bella Swan safe from a coven of evil vampires.
But besides all the pop culture, medieval legends, and myths, there are people among us today who actually call themselves real world vampires. And they truly feed from human blood! In recent years, a few scholars, university teachers, and doctors have studied modern vampires, and here's a list of some of their most interesting data.
15 They Are Cautious About Blood Safety
After feeding on human blood, vampires do not seem to have any side effects. Doctors say ingesting a large volume of iron contained in blood, could be toxic, but the amount of blood (and iron) consumed in a feeding does not seem to be a risk or a danger for the vampires. Dr. Tomas Ganz, from the University of California Los Angeles, states that although they follow careful hygienic routines, they cannot totally avoid the potential risk of infection. Dr. Ganz says: “In sexually transmitted diseases, testing does not cover the full spectrum of potentially transmissible diseases, but at least should cover the more common ones such as HIV or hepatitis B and C.” Alexia is a female vampire from a vampire community in the UK. She affirms that the vampire community as a whole is extremely careful, cautious and conscientious about health and safety, considering both an absolute priority. Alexia also claims she researched phlebotomy before attempting an intravenous draw. The act of feeding itself, she says, is quite impersonal, something like taking a pill.
14 They Are Sort Of Normal
John Edgar Browning, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been studying real life vampires for almost a decade and has conducted ethnographic studies of the real vampires living in New Orleans and Buffalo. Browning admits real life vampires are not very easy to find, but when you do the effort and track them down, they can be quite friendly and open. They are normal people holding regular jobs as bar staff, secretaries and nurses; some are church-going Christians, others atheists. Real vampires are very far away from the Goth aesthetic, and they are quite normal people living normal lives.
13 Many Of Them Give To Charity
While working on his research, Browning has been able to meet many real world vampires, and he has been able to see for himself that there are real vampire organisations in New Orleans who feed the homeless (with real food), volunteer in animal rescue groups, and also take up any number of social causes in a true sense of helping the community around them. NOVA, the New Orleans Vampire Association, does holiday charity events regularly, and members of the vampire community come together to make food for the homeless on special dates, such as Easter.
12 They Don't Bite, They Cut
There are many ancient beliefs about vampires around Old Europe, such as vampire graves found in Bulgaria, Poland or Romania. In early 2000's archaeologists unearthed skeletons of people believed to be vampires from the 13th century. What set these skeletons apart from ordinary remains, was the rod driven through each of their chests, pinning them to the ground. With people considered to be vampires in Medieval Bulgaria Poland or Romania, this precaution was taken so that after they were buried they could not rise from the dead at night and feast on innocent unsuspecting victims. But besides those unfounded folkloric beliefs, we can affirm that drinking blood isn’t what Hollywood makes it out to be, involving biting and lots of blood. Modern vampires of 21st century get their regular dose of blood from inch-long incisions that are made by a sterilized scalpel on a carefully selected fleshy part of the body that doesn’t scar and leaves no mark at all on the skin. The vampire, in his feeding ritual, may suck it up directly from the source, but most of the times medically trained personnel usually performs the procedure paying extremely careful attention to hygiene and cleanness during the whole process.
11 They Liken Vampirism To A Genetic Disorder
From the studies and research from Dr. Browning, we can conclude that many of today's real world vampires don’t identify themselves with the dark, gothic culture of stereotypical vampires of Hollywood movies. Instead, they strongly believe they have a mysterious illness that requires them to drink small amounts of blood regularly. Without their regular dose, they become weak and sick, and they often suffer severe headaches and stomach cramps. Dr. Browning says members of the vampire communities are people who have developed, usually during puberty, some still unclear and unstudied sort of energy deficiency, and later they have found that if they consume blood they feel better. 'CJ!' is the online nickname of one vampire female. She has been suffering from an irritable bowel symptom, which she strongly affirms can only be cured after a sip of blood. "After consuming a sizeable quantity (somewhere between seven shot glasses to a cup), my digestive system reacts, healing itself and working wonderfully.” Dr. DJ Williams is an associate professor of social work at Idaho State University. In 2014 he authored a study about real vampirism. Dr. Williams says that vampires consider their own condition very much real. They don't care what the rest of society thinks. "From my experience, most vampires think that there is some kind of undiscovered genetic or medical explanation for their condition," said Dr. Williams, "Real life vampires truly believe that they don't choose their condition. In other words, they report that they have an unstoppable need for extra energy, which totally defines their vampiric identity.”
10 A Real World Vampire Probably Lives Near You
Although real life vampires are very concerned about their privacy and don't want to reveal their real identities, several studies have been made in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2015. The Atlanta Vampire Alliance has conducted several surveys, finding that there are at least 5,000 individuals in the US who describe themselves as real vampires. Dr. Browning identified 50 real vampires living in New Orleans alone, so he says there must be around that number in most major cities in the US. Sociologist, DJ Williams, confirms Dr. Browning's theory based on his own studies and researches in Houston and other populated areas. Although most real vampires are members of vampire-based communities called "vampire houses," they also have regular jobs such as bartenders, nurses, clerks, etc, and maintain very typical American lifestyles outside of their regular blood drinking habits. The real world vampires know very few national boundaries, from Russia and South Africa to England and the United States. Living in the internet age, in the 21st century, vampires are often well attuned to community issues.
9 They Only Drink Donated Blood
Merticus is a 39-year-old real-life vampire fro Atlanta. He has been living openly as a vampire since 1997. He is an antique seller, frequent worldwide traveler, husband, dog owner, and he even listens to Radiohead. He is also one of the founders of the Atlanta Vampire Alliance (AVA), an organization in charge of offering support to newly found vampires, and promoting unity among its members. AVA is one of the most far-reaching organizations of real-life vampires in the world. Today, he runs and operates the Vampire Community News network, an internal social media organization that he created back in 2008. DJ Williams, an associate professor of social work at Idaho State, and author of one of the latest and most documented studies about real vampires, has become also a very good friend with Merticus, and he can explain in detail how the feeding process of a blood drinking vampire works. The process is surprisingly systematic, and begins with the “living donors” —people who consent to let a real-life vampire drink their blood. Finding a donor isn’t easy; vetting them is also a quite difficult process. Most real life vampires ask their living donors to be screened and undergo careful medical evaluations in order to prevent blood-borne diseases. Merticus feeds once a week, anywhere from one to two tablespoons of blood. He also says that sometimes real world vampires can resort to animal blood if a living donor is not available to satiate their blood hunger.
8 Vampires Realize What They Are In Adolescence
According to Browning's research, most vampires realize that they want or need to drink blood in their teens. The majority of the people he interviewed in his investigations, reported going through a long period of extremely low energy and then, by accident, consuming some blood (say, after accidentally biting or cutting their lip), then feeling better, and after an "awakening moment" deciding this meant that blood consumption helps sustain them. As an example to illustrate this, Dr. Browning tells the case of a real vampire woman he knows who found herself unable to go to work or even walk after a period of not ingesting blood. When her husband came to visit her in the hospital, she fed on him in her room and immediately felt better right after drinking a bit of her husband's blood. On the other side of the story and with totally opposed ideas, Tomas Ganz, a medical doctor and professor at UCLA, told BBC journalists that the “cure” offered by blood in these cases may very well be psychological having a placebo effect.
7 They Know Their Vampire History
Myths about vampires didn't start with Dracula, Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes (3 names for the same person). The first myths and legends about vampires can be tracked back to ancient cultures such as China or Greece, where stories about the dead coming back to life and harming the common citizens and population were abundant. Myths about evil undead creatures killing the living were popular in Eastern Europe from the 11th century. The first vampire in Europe can be found in the 18th century Serbia. His name was Petar Blagojevic. In 1725 local news reported that Blagojevic was dead and buried, but he rose from his grave at night, killing local villagers. The autopsy report claimed that Blagojevic's body was completely fresh and left no sign of the characteristic odor of the dead bodies. As far as the vampiric looks becoming sexy, with fine Victorian outfits, that all comes from a short story called "The Vampyre," published in 1819 by John William Polidori. Before Polidori's tale vampires were always described as stinky creatures or diseased ghouls.
6 They Know Biting Doesn't Make Another Vampire
Real life vampires are the regular people you pass on the street, that you socialize with on a daily basis. Most of the time they keep their vampire side secretly hidden for fear of being misunderstood, and to safeguard their lives, families, and friends against reprisals from what society deems taboo. Modern vampires are way over the legendary tales and literature or movie stories telling us that a vampire was made when someone was bitten by another vampire. But historically, the popular idea that vampires "make" new vampires by biting but not killing a human is pretty new. Centuries ago, people thought that you became a vampire if you were born with a sinister mole or other "deformity" in your body. That meant you were related to the Devil (or at least likely to eventually start hanging around him). Luckily, today real vampires are regular people, smart and informed, that don't believe in superstitions.
5 There Is A Truth About Dracula
Most people know Bram Stoker wrote his novel taking inspiration for his Count Dracula on the 15th-century Romanian ruler Vlad III, Prince of Walachia. He was known in his domains as Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes in Romanian). During his years as a ruler, Vlad III was known for his cruelty towards his enemies. He was tremendously happy and enjoyed impaling his enemies on stakes. As his most famous (or infamous) achievement it’s believed that in 1462 Vlad Tepes filled a battlefield with thousands of impaled victims. He wanted to send a message to stop the Ottomans in their intent on invading his territory. But Vlad Tepes was also known in his territory by another name: Vlad Dracula. And it’s this word, Dracula, that drew Stoker's attention. Historians have recently proved that Bram Stoker knew next to nothing about Vlad the Impaler and his practices. Stoker simply found the name Vlad Dracula in a footnote and thought it would be perfect for a vampire character he was working on. In actual Romania, the word drac refers to the devil.
4 They Ignore Pop Culture
One of the most surprising conclusions we can extract from the studies and research conducted by Dr. John Edgar Browning, is that after almost a decade of investigations and surveys among the vampire community, it was found that they have a very remarkable LACK of knowledge about vampires in popular culture. They pay little attention to how their kind is described or depicted in literature, films, and so on. To Dr. Browning, this means that the majority of the people didn't become blood drinkers by suggestion, like reading too many Anne Rice novels. Merticus, the real vampire that has been living openly as a vampire since 1997, summarises perfectly what vampirism is and what is not: “it is not a cult, it is not a religion, it is not a dangerous practice, it is not a paraphilia, it is not an offshoot of the BDSM community, it is not a community of disillusioned teenagers and definitely it is not what’s depicted in fictional books, movies or television.”
3 They Fear Discrimination
The myth of vampirism has been around since the most ancient civilizations, telling us tales about the dead people coming back to life, leaving their graves and terrorizing peaceful and innocent citizens for blood. But in real life, real vampires are people who simply enjoy drinking a little blood here and there to feel good. A modern-day vampire has much less in common with Dracula and is more like your average joe. Dr. Browning has found that those who identify themselves as vampires live in deep fear of hate crime and discrimination. Maybe if they had called themselves something else, another totally different name, their reception by the mainstream may have developed differently. Regardless, anytime real vampires have mentioned doctors of their special health issues, it has almost always been treated with lots of suspicion by medical professionals.
2 There Are Three Types of Vampires
Inside the worldwide community of real vampires, they all know there are 3 types of vampires. "Lifestyle vampires" are kind of "light vampires". They are the kind of people that feel attracted to the vampire aesthetic but don't feel any interest in drinking blood. Lifestyle vampires can be described as those interested only in the "gothic look", or the "Victorian look". They all wear black clothes, prosthetic fangs, colored contacts... anything related to the gothic/sinister vampire stereotype. They could also be defined as "fashion vampires" because they are only interested in the look. "Sanguinarian vampires" are the second type. They don't adopt the vampiric aesthetic. Sanguinarian vampires need to feed on animal or human blood. For them, not feeding on a donor is not an option, and there are many documented cases where if they have spent a long period of time without the regular dose of blood, they become lethargic, sickly, depressed, and suffer physical discomfort. "Psychic vampires" are the third type of vampires. They are those individuals who cannot adequately sustain their own physical, mental, or spiritual well-being without taking vital life-force energy from other sources. These vampires feed through giving massages or holding hands with their blood donors. They feed on "life force energy".
1 They Are Rejected By Modern Medicine
Dr. Browning explained in his reports that although many vampires have tried to get a treatment or diagnosis from medical professionals, the results have always been the same: “No condition or abnormality can be found”. That is the final conclusion of many health professionals. Real vampires believe that they have not chosen their condition. It has been a hard process of learning or "awakening", mostly during their adolescence, until they have become conscious of their biological need of drinking blood. In other words, they report that they have an unstoppable need for extra energy, which absolutely defines their vampiric identity and their whole existence as healthy human beings.