[Interview request is from Cory Kai Draken, agreed to by Alexia for posting on TRC’s website]
First off please allow me the express my sincere appreciation for you taking the time to enlighten us about the donor and med sang relationship. You have a wonderful website, www.theredcellar.com where they can read blog posts that go more in-depth on the views of med sangs/donors and the world you call home.
1. So the first question has to be what is the difference between a vampire and a med sang?
Med sang stands for ‘medical sanguivore’. A med sang is a person who perceives a need to drink blood to maintain their physical health and to offset health deterioration; and perceives this to be entirely physiological, absent any metaphysical connotations to the condition. Typically, med sangs are skeptics and atheists, though some may have different beliefs. We drink blood in large quantities. ‘Vampire’ is a creature of folkloric myth and it is an identity I do not subscribe to. It’s an umbrella term and catch-all that many people identify with for various reasons. For the purposes of scientific inquiry, that all is undesirable baggage and we do not perceive ourselves to be vampires. Med sangs encourage introspection, asking questions, and the pursuit of ‘why’.
2. How do you describe yourself to those in the world that ask?
I only ‘come out’ to people where it is appropriate and I feel they should know. One has to dip their toe in the water before submerging oneself. It can be dangerous to come out to just anyone. I describe myself as a regular human being who needs to drink blood to maintain my health. I emphasize that I do not identify as a vampire, I do not adopt a vampire lifestyle, and the sole reason I do this is to stop the detrimental side-effects and to support the positive health benefits. That I have a duty to maintain my health for myself and my loved ones. I emphasize how I see it as an as of yet unknown physiological condition that I hope scientific inquiry will shine some light on, that I remain inquisitive, introspective and am happy to discuss. I then open up the floor to any and all questions, comments and concerns. I enjoy educating others about the subject, and this has included a group of people asking me questions about my sanguivory at a Waffle House at 2am.
3. You’ve made it a point to separate yourself from those that label themselves as vampires. Why is it important to you that people know the difference?
As mentioned before, ‘vampire’ has a lot of baggage. One of the main goals of med sangs is to engage scientific researchers to learn more about our condition. We wanted to differentiate ourselves so we could focus our efforts, define our terms, hone our goals and really make a push for the kind of support and engagement we want. This isn’t a lifestyle for us. It’s a condition that can at times be debilitating, isolating. We needed a focus on a specific demographic with specific goals, which needed to be differentiated from self-identified vampires.
4. When readers see the word “Med” in Med Sang they may assume that this is a diagnosed medical condition. Would you elaborate on why the term Med Sang is used? (So readers don’t run to the doctor begging for a prescription)
Honestly, it was just a term that kind of came about in the beginning to emphasize that we perceive this condition through a medical lens. It was just thrown out there and got cemented in time with the BBC “Human Blood” article we participated in. It kind of stuck. It’s not my favourite term; I prefer to use sanguivore. At this point though, it’s grown far beyond me and there’s no going back. I categorize sanguivores and med sangs as two distinct things; med sang is a perspective. It’s perceiving the need for blood through a purely physiological lens. I see being a sanguivore as a physical state of being, regardless of beliefs.
5. Sang is short for Sanguivore which basically covers any animal that must consume blood in order to survive. How much blood and how often is common for a Med Sang?
That varies from person to person. Personally, I’m allergic to animal blood, so I am limited in how much I can drink. I typically drink at least a pint of human blood per month. That’s barely enough for me and I’m sure I’d feel better with much more. I’d drink a pint every 2 days if I could. Others drink 100-200ml every day. We generally drink large volumes.
6. What inspired you to create your website? ( www.theredcellar.com )
Now that’s a rabbit hole… Well, I felt there was a need for a focus on physiological sanguivory with a practical, skeptical angle. I went through a difficult time with the Vampire Community as a young teenager, so I wanted to provide what I needed when I was young. It actually started as a sister site to Sanguinarians.com, but soon took over as the primary site for ‘med sangs’. It started out as just four of us, but it has grown so significantly in the span of a few years – beyond what I could have even imagined. We are our own distinct community now with our own culture. I am in the process of starting a new project that will reflect the rapid expansion of medical sanguivores as a whole; an umbrella hub for localized sanguivore communities under one name, with a bunch of us as chapter heads for geographical regions. We’ve a culture of learning, growth, introspection, personal development, family, and support. There have been people who are not med sangs coming to our support channels because they know of the culture we cultivate. We have many active donors, some of whom have said it’s their favourite because there is never even any question of equality. This community and the chapters have one common binding thread; one of hope and of sanctuary. We are an alternative. One of our members shared a quote with us recently, which I found to be quite relevant: “Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri, quo me cumque rapit tempestas, deferor hospes.” roughly translated to: “I am not bound over to swear allegiance to the dogmas of any master; where the storm drives me I turn in for shelter.”
7. With a website and blog, you’re public figure of sorts. What are some of your greatest experiences as a result of “coming out” and what are some of your worst?
Honestly, I never wanted to be a public figure. If I could have done all of this anonymously, I probably would have. Ego stroking is too rife in blood-drinker communities and cults of personality are harmful. That’s definitely not what we have. We talk about baguettes and Boo the Dog, no hierarchical structure or bullshit. We all contribute, we are all as valuable as the other and we all have an equal voice.
Anyway, I’ve not had too many issues when I’ve come out. I’m incredibly selective and careful when I choose to come out. Someone has to demonstrate to me that they are open-minded enough with a capacity to understand. I’ve come out to several co-workers before and they’ve been understanding, allowing us to foster a deeper friendship. I’ve come out to my father who was simply concerned about blood-borne disease. I feel that tackling the subject from a skeptical, pragmatic angle and opening oneself up to questions absent defensiveness really helps when exposing someone to something that, objectively, is pretty bizarre shit. We should all be mindful of ourselves, introspective and ask the same questions of ourselves that the objective reasonable person would have.
8. In one of your blogs you discuss the ferocity of the hunger or thirst. Can you give our readers some details on what that hunger feels like? Symptoms you’ve experienced.
In one word: intense. It triggers a sympathetic nervous system response causing dilated pupils, the urge to bite and tear, changes in breathing, posture. Almost appearing like a rabid animal. It can be useful, and it can be controlled. It has saved my life before when I was being assaulted by a former lover, and the SNS activation gave me the strength to throw him off me to the other side of the room. It’s not too unlike the response any person would have if they saw their wife and child in a burning car; feats of inhuman strength are well-documented when those kind of fight or flight events happen. It isn’t always so pronounced like that either. It can be more subtle, what we call ‘twoofing’. That is probably more like the ‘thirst’ the general public would be familiar with. Seeing pronounced veins, talking to someone and seeing them stick out in their inner elbow or their neck. Hearing their heartbeat thud in your mind. Your own heart rate elevating and a throbbing in your gums as you feel the impulse to bite rise up. Again, these things are normal for sanguivores, can be controlled and they do not make us bad people. Most of us would be horrified at the thought of actually doing any of these things. We are compassionate, caring individuals who take the utmost care and safety precautions with our donors. Still, it *is* important to talk about the feelings we get and to let people know that it’s okay and it can be managed. It’s not uncommon for new sanguivores to feel like they are monsters and that they don’t deserve to live. That simply isn’t true. Our donors want to help us and they understand. We understand and are here to help you.
9. The opposite side of that is that there are supposed to be benefits to drinking blood. Health, strength, beauty. Do you experience these?
Ha! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You know what I look like, so I’ll let you be the judge of that. On a serious note, I do not think beauty is related to sanguivory in any way. Strength, I covered a little in the previous answer; ‘twoofing’ leads to a nervous system response that does temporarily increase our strength. I can say that my personal experience with drinking blood is that if I drink the volume I need, my immune system is incredibly strong and essentially I do not get sick. The opposite is true if I don’t drink enough blood. Some say that sanguivores have high muscle density. Objectively, there are no peer-reviewed studies for any of this and any and all experiences are purely anecdotal, and so should be taken with a grain of salt. I do believe that my drinking blood directly correlates to my strength of immunity. However, we have to be *very* careful with confirmation bias. We should never distort science to conform to our beliefs or experiences. Whatever we are dealing with, I just want to know so I can offer better support and treatments to those who need it. Not everyone can access blood easily, nor can everyone cope. Some are happy to continue as they are and that’s fine; but we should not be forced to self-medicate with such risky measures with no alternative.
10. Naturally, the relationship between Sang and Donor has to be one of respect and responsibility. Do you have guidelines about finding and keeping a Donor? (By keeping, I mean maintaining that healthy relationship)
Of course it does. Not everyone understands this. Not only do donors understand it, but they’re giving of themselves to help us. It is a kind gift. Most of my donors have been from things completely outside of any blood-drinking community. They have been lovers, friends I’ve come out to. People who understood what I dealt with and who cared enough to want to help me. I would advise to network, be cautious, be authentic and in my experience, donors have found me. I had 6 donors in a small Southern town. That was simply by being myself and coming out to the right people. As for keeping a donor, be respectful, be courteous, be kind, and be safe. Treat them as your equal, because they are; and *never* call them your ‘food’. Donors are human beings with agency and autonomy, and should be treated as such.
11. How would you advise someone who has felt the need to consume human blood?
Need isn’t always easy to define. I think drinking blood should be a last resort. There are a LOT of diseases out there, many that are difficult to pin down and require years of testing. Follow up with doctors. Explore every avenue with medical professionals. ‘Med sang’ isn’t a medical diagnosis. Don’t just accept that and stop there. I still follow through with medical professionals decades later. It’s an on-going inquiry into what I can do to better manage my health.
If you still feel you must drink blood, then you must learn safety. Learn how to safely procure blood. How to cut, where to cut, how to sterilize, what tools to use. Hygiene.
Get blood tests. Do not drink from someone who is not tested.
Finally, I found that learning phlebotomy helped me significantly in making sure I get the volume I need and can extract it with minimal harm to the donor. I do not recommend anyone attempt this untrained. It is far more complex than sticking a needle into someone’s arm. You can severely damage someone if you don’t know what you’re doing. I have done course upon course upon course, extensive experience, I have tomes on the subject, and I plan to be officially certified by December.
12. Any advice in general you’d give to someone who feels drawn to the vampire community or believes they may be a med sang? (I know it’s similar to the previous question)
If you believe you may be a med sang, don’t go to the vampire community. 😉
We have extensive support networks and resources for sanguivores, as well as an active, bustling community. Honestly, the involvement of any given med sang in the vampire community is up to the individual. We have some people who are active in it and enjoy it a lot, and others who cannot stand it and want nothing to do with it. We cater to both.
We have a focus on physiological sanguivory. Our approach differs in that we typically eschew vampire identity, focus on immediate support and ask ‘why’. That works excellently for a lot of people. Not so much for some others. Some enjoy the specific focus we have, but enjoy other types of support in other spaces, too. I won’t lie in saying that I think the VC has some toxic elements and I do not necessarily consider it a safe space for a newcomer. Some places are more like a gladiator ring.
Do your research. Learn. Read our other articles. Come talk to us. Realize you’re not broken or dangerous or damned. There are plenty of us out there leading normal lives and you can too.
13. One last question, I would like to open this part of the interview up to you and really let you have the mic as the say goes. We have readers around the world. If you had the whole world as your audience, what would your message be?
We are here for you. We are here for med sangs, sanguivores, donors and allies. We’re on this journey together in finding out why our bodies work as they do and what we can do to make our lives easier. We are building, growing, and establishing infrastructure and support. It really is about cultivating an alternative. A safe space where we are family, where we can learn and grow together.
Thank you so much again for sitting down and taking this time with us. We appreciate your honesty and your position. If there is anything we can do for you in the future, please let us know.
Cory Kai Draken is a founder of UVOC, links to be found below: