Modern-Day ‘Vampires’ Sink Their Teeth Into American Public
She loves the taste of blood, hates the sun and if you ask, she will tell you she died in a train accident back in 1892. Meet actress Seregon O’Dassey, a would-be vampire living in New Jersey. And she is not alone.
“It’s like a religion. There are [vampire] houses, pageants and clans [with their own] presidents and ministers,” she says.
For a pastime with dark, antireligious overtones, vampire fashion is spreading across the United States, fueled by the “Twilight” movies and hit TV shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and “True Blood.”
The phenomenon is like an organized religion, with its own rules, priests, private gatherings and celebrations.
Hundreds of “vampires” attend balls every few months. The next vampire ball will take place in Philadelphia on July 31.
Believers in this sect-like lifestyle range from teenage devotees of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” to adults who got hooked on Ann Rice’s “Vampire Diaries” in the 1970s.
Rice is credited with turning the European model vampire — exemplified by Dracula, the horrific Transylvanian character at the center of Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel — into a more user-friendly American version.
Still, this is an age of kinder, gentler vampires.
In the very un-Transylvanian setting of New Jersey, O’Dassey keeps the curtains in her apartment closed against the sun and decorates with bat motifs.
She actually enjoys garlic, the traditional weapon against vampires, and her blood consumption is modest, to say the least.
“Every once in a while I drink blood. I make a prick on my finger and taste the blood,” she says.
And there’s no chance of leaving nasty marks on her neighbors’ necks. “We don’t bite. That should never be done. Everything should be consensual,” O’Dassey cautions.
Joaquin Latina, who claims to be 2,744 years old — even if his passport puts him at 35 — says he has been fixated on vampires since childhood.
He has read all the literature on the subject and never misses an episode of “True Blood,” which he rates far above the more anemic “Twilight.”
“Vampires are not monsters as such. They are more beautiful than the average person, and they are immortal. It’s a dark ideal of mankind. Today they are more like rock stars,” Latina says.
The only problem in this thriving vampire environment, Latina says, is that New York has become “too clean and law-abiding over the last decade.”
“New York is too safe now for vampires,” he says. The best vampire scene, Latina says, is in Philadelphia.
Sociology professor Robert Thomson, who teaches at the University of Syracuse in upstate New York, says vampire culture has been around for a long time, even before “Twilight” and “True Blood.”
However, “Twilight” domesticated the vampire. “It got rid of the Eastern European monster,” Thomson says. “Vampires are surprisingly marketable. They are mysterious, dark and very, very attractive and erotic.”
He says the vampire movement takes style and attitude. “There’s a sense of belonging to a community. It can also be a branding,” Thomson explains.
There’s no shortage of branding out there. Modern vampires going to the Philadelphia ball could, for example, pick up an outfit at Vampire Freaks boutique in New York’s East Village neighborhood, and purchase custom-made resin fangs for $138 at another vampire-friendly establishment.
If that isn’t enough, there is always the vampire tour of Central Park run by a man (or vampire) who goes by the name John Seward, the character in Stoker’s “Dracula” who attends to patients at the psychiatric asylum.