If you live in New Orleans, this story probably won’t surprise you, but if you live in Buffalo, New York, you may be shocked to learn that so-called real vampires live among you. At least that’s what non-fiction writer John Edgar Browning says in an article about his research project on them entitled “The real vampires of New Orleans and Buffalo: a research note towards comparative ethnography.”
Browning is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Tech. The article is based on research he conducted in 2009–2011 in New Orleans in 2011–2013 in Buffalo. In it, he defines “real vampires” in this way:
The umbrella term “real vampire community” is used to describe “modern vampires” or “real vampires”,1 terms that refer interchangeably to people who consume human and/or animal blood (sanguinarian), absorb psychic energy (psychic vampire or psi-vamp) or both (hybrid), and do so out of a need that, according to my study participants, begins to manifest around puberty and derives from the lack of subtle energies their bodies produce.
He says he met 35 vampires in New Orleans (out of the estimated 70 that live there) and 14 of them participated in his study along with four from Buffalo. They filled out a questionnaire and were personally interviewed. The vampires told him they either drink actual blood or absorb the power it gives them through sexual contact or remote “astral” feeding. After the feeding, they said they felt energized.
Before you put on your garlic necklace, the vampires assured Browning they get their blood from volunteers who participate in their blood-letting rituals. The vampires themselves get regular medical exams and claimed they’ve had no health issues from drinking blood. While some wear Gothic outfits and fangs, they don’t find it necessary to live 24/7 dressed as vampires and only a few sleep in coffins.
The article exams in depth the details of vampire life like how blood tastes (coppery), when they noticed they desired to drink it (puberty), how they find other vampires (vampire houses) and what else they do (organize charities).
Browning concludes with the observation that vampires know that their behavior is considered “deviant” but they would still like to be accepted by society because they think they can help others deal with their own problems.
In short, modern vampirism offers a valuable lens through which to understand and, perhaps, dispel some of the ideological “baggage” each of us carries; through them, we see the dark side of ourselves.
It’s an interesting study but I’d rather read Anne Rice.
What do you think?