A private vent from a friend of many donors who have been abused by self-proclaimed “vampires” inspired this article. Many med sangs are loathe to acknowledge the existence of the “vampire community.” In the long run, active connections to the community may hurt our campaigns toward medical studies to find what may be behind our perceive need for blood, as evidenced through Dr. Tomas Ganz dinging Alexia stating that calling herself “Countess Alexia” resonates fantasy rather than actual need, despite the name being a nod to her Lady Gaga fandom rather than her sanguivory. Right now, providing practical support for blood drinkers with perceived physiological needs and donors without fantastic pretense is our priority and this necessitates some interaction with the vampire community. Many blood drinkers, donors, and even some metaphysically oriented people have found sanctuary in our community as an escape valve from the cults of personality and abuses of authority which permeate the vampire community.
In an informal survey, narcissism and grandiosity was the overwhelming choice for the heart of what is wrong with the vampire community. In his 2011 book Vampires Today, Joseph Laycock emphasizes the role of “re-enchantment in adopting a vampire identity”. To paraphrase, “re-enchantment” is the desire to bring back mystery and awe to one’s increasingly mundane life. In itself, this is not a bad thing: spiritual belief or adopting a radically different aesthetic can be very empowering. Re-enchantment can be the avatar through which someone is inspired to do wonderful things for others or discovers a self-esteem one never knew he or she had. Laycock did bandy about the idea of whether vampire identity will lose its re-enchantment effects as it becomes just another personal identity.
So far, this quasi-prediction has not come to pass. If anything, self-proclaimed vampires are doubling down on re-enchantment. The best example involves two well-known commercial cults (which are likely easy to figure out via the examples). The first of which spawned in the late 90s through a vampire party promoter who borrowed cultural elements and beliefs from the Gotham vampire scene. As self-proclaimed vampires became critical of his approach and his questionable business practices, he further isolated his group and his beliefs became more idiosyncratic. He now speaks to outsiders in a rather Zoolanderesque fashion: absolutely convinced of his greatness but just as clueless of the greater world around him as his followers are. He seems only cognizant of other similar groups who are a threat to his imagined empire, such as the second commercial cult which was designed to be the antidote to the first commercial cult. This organization started with a “Vampire Court” in the South and borrowed its stated beliefs heavily from mainstream vampire community beliefs (especially the blood=energy gambit) as well as popular culture such as True Blood. As its media imprint grew, criticism of the disingenuity of claiming “actual need” while clearly and almost exclusively emphasizing pop culture vampire aesthetic in their actions have led this organization following the path of the first commercial cult: blocking criticism and attacking critics with demagogic rants. With this isolationism, their beliefs are starting to become more idiosyncratic and less aware of greater world around them. Yet, these two commercial cults are mainstays of media presentations about “vampires” and “vampire events,” essentially free advertising for raw meat to enter their cults.
If narcissism is the fire burning down the community, mass self-delusion is the fuel. No one is actually a vampire, thus there is no wrong way to be a vampire. The former is a major point of insecurity to many self-proclaimed vampires who seem not to look for support, but rather have their vampire identity confirmed as legitimate. Questions urging introspection on the basis for one’s claims and beliefs are akin to personal attacks within the self-proclaimed “vampire community.” Such shutting down of honest discourse to prevent the shattering of “re-enchantment,” encourages self-delusion, and allows for abusive opportunists to create thriving cults of personality where donors are abused and donors and members alike are sexually exploited.
The vent brought up some sort of “donor protection racket”: the concept that a donor should be thankful and thus subservient to a self-proclaimed vampire for protecting him or her. This concept was absolutely foreign to me: what on earth would these “vampires” be protecting the donors from? The person making the vent was just as puzzled. Perhaps, much like the commercial cults, these “vampires” are defending their donors against subversive thoughts which could instill agency within the donor. Equally as likely, it’s narcissism fueled by the desire for re-enchantment mutating into full on self-delusion: adopting the vampire persona to feel more powerful and talking as if donors were food so often in that pursuit for illusory power that he or she begins to believe it themselves. Such controlling and infantilizing behavior is likely why there are very few donors as backbones within the “vampire” community.
Cults of personality and abuse of authority are no means exclusively among aesthetically oriented commercial cults nor anything mystical. Even the most mundane institution can have rampant abuses of authority and many people to excuse or protect the abusers. In the United States, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) had a proud football tradition. The Nittany Lions played in a stadium that seats over 100,000 people. The team has won a few national championships and had never been slapped with any NCAA violations. Penn State football has a large fan and alumni based proud of their coach Joe Paterno who led the team for 45 years and “did things the right way.” When reports came out of former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky being a serial sexual abuser of young boys while having free access to Penn State football facilities, Joe Paterno knowing of this abuse and doing nothing about it, the vast majority of the Penn State faithful came to Paterno’s defense. The community of Penn State football fandom: the memories, friends made, the shared belief that they “did things the right way,” wanted to preserve its own image of itself rather than admit the undeniable truth that the program aided and abetted child rape.
In this sense, you can understand why donors and other people in the “vampire community” stay silent. Authorities may hold some financial clout or leverage against those either formally below them or those who just hold less esteem within the group. However, most of the time it is that desire for donors or self-proclaimed vampires not to lose the community as they know it. Fear of expulsion or just having the majority of what they love about the group, whether supplying re-enchantment or just providing a haven for misfits to feel free to be themselves, will be completely uprooted if he or she speaks about sexual or emotional abuses to a donor or other self-proclaimed vampire. Much like Penn State football fans, no one wants to believe that a community they cherish was built upon lies and abuse and want to maintain the feeling about the community he or she always had.
Penn State purged the old Paterno regime (but sadly not its legacy) from its staff and is building anew and has become a football power again. Med sangs and the Red Cellar felt the necessity to break off from the vampire community and create something new where questions on the topic of blood consumption and physical need are freely asked and differing opinions are not sacrosanct but still respected. Donors, allies, med sangs, and even self-proclaimed vampires: feel free to ask questions and making challenging statements. If you are badgered for asking questions or making counterpoints: being called “ignorant,” a “hater,” or being told “I don’t have to prove anything to you,” run from that place as far as you can as that place is likely a breeding ground for a cult of personality. If you are already in an organization where you fear retaliation for speaking out or losing the community you have, I assure you there are organizations and communities you will feel far more at home at. It is important to always be cognizant about why you donate, drink blood, conduct metaphysical practices etc. If you lose track of this, there are always vampires willing to feed upon your insecurity to maintain their self-delusion.