Vampire mania spawns blood-sharing subculture

Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:49pm EST
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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - They work as doctors and lawyers by day but lurk as vampires by night. While they may not wish to suck your blood, there are plenty of willing victims on tap, according to a top U.S. scholar on a subculture that emulates the undead.

Idaho State University sociologist D.J. Williams, hired as a consultant for a proposed television documentary about "self-identified vampires," said true modern acolytes of Dracula seek consensual blood-sharing relationships.

The popular fascination with vampires dates back to the 1897 publication of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," and later books such as Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles."

But it has exploded in recent years with the best-selling "Twilight" novels by Stephenie Meyer and movie franchise, along with a plethora of TV shows. The seductive vampire character Edward Cullen in the movie "Twilight", played by Robert Pattinson, became a teen idol and made vampires cool.

Vampire mania has spawned an international subculture that strongly relates to traits associated with mythical vampires. They are believed to be seductive beings unafraid to explore the dark side of human nature that is usually masked for the sake of social acceptance.

"Self-identified vampires realize humans are a mix of light and dark," said Williams. "There is the socially desirable self that people show in public and then there is the shadow self that may not be as nice, not as optimistic. It varies from person to person, but generally vampires don't pretend it's not there: they acknowledge it and try to manage it."

What separates them from mere vampire wannabes -- the guy in a cape who sleeps in coffins or believes he is capable of morphing into a bat -- is an internal lack of energy that makes them seek energy from external sources such as the high that comes from the crowd at a rock concert or from the blood of a willing donor.

"They call it feeding," said Williams, who also moonlights as an FBI consultant for investigations involving violent criminals who are claiming to be vampires.   Continued...

<p>A demonstrator dressed as a vampire gestures in front of Frankfurt's stock exchange, September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach</p>