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Which Vampire Culture?

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by Klaatu

One fine day in the middle of March, 1999, in alt.culture.vampires, someone asked:

"Could someone please provide me with information about the Vampire Culture?"

* * *

Klaatu responded:

Um -- you might want to check the [alt.culture.vampires] FAQ -- Frequently Asked Questions are at

Then take your pick of which vampires' culture you want to better understand.

Also highly recommended is a book by one Katherine Ramsland, called Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today. It just came out this year -- and Ramsland delves into many of the Vampire or Vampyre cultures. She also totally overlooks many aspects of the culture, or mentions them almost in passing when IMHO they deserved a much closer look.

I have to warn you that it's very difficult to extract any useful information from novels, "nonfiction", or from "educational sites" on the Internet. Truth is much stranger than fiction.

However, insofar as regards "mainstream" vampires (the real mainstream doesn't much care to discuss themselves for reasons which should be apparent):

Many people who represent themselves as vampires are essentially the same as any non-vampire. the major difference is that some people drink small amounts of other people's blood, at assorted intervals. Some manage to get themselves into scenes or positions where they can drink some nightly, some drink more-or-less weekly, monthly, yearly, or whatever. Most state that they derive a sort of pick-me-up effect, which has been variously described as a cessation of hunger; end of a feeling of illness or sickness; or a sudden energization or invigoration. Many vampires do not represent themselves as vampires, nor will they willingly associate themselves with people who do represent themselves as vampires. In this last case, this might be seen as analogous to how some upper-class suburban blacks do not willingly associate with inner-city blacks, except when rallying against racist issues which affect all blacks equally.

Various vampires experience their vampirism in various ways. For some, it is their core identity, and some of these people seem to be thinking about their existence as vampires in an almost incessant or recurrent way. For other vampires, the issue of their "status" or "condition" is completely tangential to their general thought. For the former type of vampire, their experience of their vampirism might be though of as being rather similar to the experience of being a devout Catholic; all aspects of life and the experience of life are permeated with and colored by subcultural precept and values. For the latter type of vampire, the experience of their vampirism might be compared to the experience of a suburban German-American; they probably don't think about their ethnicity until a visitor of a differing ethnicity wonders with some consternation, "what is that you're eating?" when confronted with someone, whom they had thought to be strictly McDonalds and KFC, sitting down to a home-cooked meal of sauerkraut, dumplings, and knackwurst. For many vampires, their vampirism is something of a family black-sheep, it's not something they wish to parade-about in public.

Some vampires are gregarious, preferring to associate exclusively with other vampires. Some vampires prefer the company of non-vampires, although sometimes this is not easily done, as many (if not most) non-vampires view vampires with suspicion at best, and with genocidal intent at worst. The gregarious and public sort of vampire is often viewed with a great deal of suspicion by the more private sort of vampire. Both sorts of vampires often have a fair amount of disdain for people who are either pretending to be vampires because it's trendy or because they've somehow been deluded into believing themselves to be vampiric.

Some vampires are not merely private about their vampirism, but are downright secretive. This last group well remembers that while a vampire might (or might not) be feared and respected, hardly anyone actually likes, and almost nobody admires, vampires. Vampires have been the legitimate target for eradication throughout most of history and in most cultures; childhood exposure to fanciful demonizations in horror stories has assured that misconception of, and hatred for, the vampire is deeply instilled. Most vampires have a few deeply ingrained cultural traits, foremost of which is avoiding exposure as vampires. Reactions to the possibility of exposure vary from individual to individual.

Many of the gregarious and public vampires may be best categorized as people who have chosen a vampiric lifestyle. Such individuals have found that by operating on the fringes of the "fetish" or "dark aesthetic" scenes, they can gain access to almost any amount of fresh human blood that could possibly be digested. For those who acquire a taste for blood sufficient to qualify as an addictive or habituated vampirism, they thus have reasonably assured access to their drug of choice. For the private sort of vampire, the table is not so well set with willing victims, drawn from various deviant sexual and fetish scenes. The private sort of vampire generally must resort to seduction of one form or another. We cannot give you details as the private sort of vampire generally would prefer we didn't; it would be like giving out the company's trade-secrets to the competition.

Most vampires, while generally not shying from a fight, seem to try to avoid violence. However, there are known to be various elements of street-life and ne'er-do-well who have a propensity for both violence and hemophagy. Whether or not most of these should properly be considered vampires will be left to the cops who have to clean up the messes this sort leaves behind. Ramsland notes these types in passing under the heading of "fetish gangs", one of which is known to be active in New York City, where they allegedly are known for attacking people and drinking some of their blood. We have not verified this rumor.

Some vampires, or non-vampires who identify themselves as vampires, apparently do hunt. However, as a rule among vampires, violence appears to be regarded as the last resort of the incompetent. Rumors continue to circulate that occasionally this or that vampiric group will mark, and take, a victim who will never be seen again. We cannot testify as to the truth of such rumors. However, many vampires do commonly practice the coordination necessary for such group maneuvers, and so we will say that whatever the truth of the rumors as to actual happenings, the capability remains.

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