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An Interview with MemoryandDream, October 2005

1) Memory, you are 28 years old now. A) How old were you when you first realized that you craved blood? B) How long after this realization did you taste blood for the first time?
The norm seems to be that in the latter stages of puberty, it starts to show up. You often see people around 17/18 who begin to experience the first signs of what we call, "Awakening" (i.e. the period in which you come to the realization of your nature.) I was a little later then most. I was more like 22ish or so when it first made itself noticed. It started with re-occurring dreams; very vivid and emotionally powerful dreams. It was around that time that I also met my Love who was able to help me through the rough stages and who, himself, had similar personal experiences. He was also my first shared experience in the realm of blood/energy and that really helped ease what is normally a painful, confusing and traumatic period. Because honestly, you can't help but think you might be going crazy when it all starts to come into your awareness and make itself known.

2) Before you "became" a vampire, were you attracted to the mainstream, Hollywood notions of vampires?
Just to clarify, it's not so much "becoming" as it is that it comes to the surface. It's like a pre-disposition to a medical condition that eventually makes itself known. It's an internal process as opposed to an external force or change. It's part self-discovery and part physical change.

But as for your question, no. Honestly, I was never into the whole "goth" look or scene. (I'm still not.) I was never really drawn to the vampire fiction or mythos. I always was (and still am in fact) drawn more towards general fantasy. I love things like faeries and I thoroughly enjoy modern fantasy (sometimes called "urban fantasy") much more. I've even been known to read a "high fantasy" novel or two in my time though it's not my favorite. I'm actually a very non-dark person. I'm not into "evil" or "darkness" or any of that sort of thing. I do enjoy a vampire movie or novel in general though now, mainly in an ironic sense and as a bit of fun. I think it's kinda sad that so many kids these days (and, even sadder, many adults) want to be so morbid and focus on being "darker then thou." There's so much negativity in the world as it is. Why would I want to wallow in that level of melodrama? It's like people don't know where to draw the line anymore. When you leave the theater or put the down the book, you need to come back to the real world. Leave the capes and the fangs and the immortality and the dark sensuality where it belongs and just be yourself. Too many people want to be someone - and something - else entirely.

3) What are some of your interests?
I am an avid reader. As mentioned, I really love fiction in general and fantasy specifically. I truly enjoy photography. I daydream about getting a really nice digital SLR camera and taking lessons. I think I have the eye for it but I'd like to get more technical knowledge to back it up. Even with a point-and-shoot digital camera, I'm often quite proud of my results. I'd like to pursue it further. I'm also a crafty person in general. I make jewelry for example ( and love learning new things. If I could, I'd have an art studio in my home and learn ceramics, pottery and glass working. My Love and I enjoy Walt Disney World. We go as often as we can. There's just something utterly amazing about completely getting away from all the stress of your daily life and just really letting yourself be child-like again. It's like therapy only better and cheaper. I enjoy working on my websites and forums (of which there are far too many) though I continually get frustrated at my lack of coding skills. *chuckles* I can be a perfectionist in things and it drives me crazy when I can't figure out how to do something.

I'm really a very normal person with very normal hobbies and a very homebody attitude. I enjoy going out when I can - theater, galleries, art fairs, that sort of thing - but I'm also good kicking back and watching some tv.

4) What would you say are some of the most common misconceptions about vampires in modern culture? What do you think is the single biggest or most dangerous misconception?
Misconceptions? Oy, where to begin! The problem is that there's so many people who make claim to the word. So there's this huge mixed message right from the start. You get all these people who run around looking like escapees from the set of a B-movie vamp film that like to go on tv and proclaim their "darkness." I just want to slap people like that. It gives honest, down-to-earth sangs ("sang" is short for "sanguinarian" which is a term used to define a real vampiric person that consumes blood. It's the community's self-created term to separate it from the lifestylers and the posers) such a bad image. It's so impossible to ever be taken seriously when every person who goes on tv or starts a webpage is trying to be the worst stereotype possible. There's so many of us who'd like to explore the origins of the condition in a serious and legitimate scientific matter. But it will never be possible so long as the kids-in-capes crowd make such a point to be the self-elected face of vampirism. Hell, even among the serious communities (of which there are far too few), there's numerous theories and debates about the nature of vampirism. Is it spiritual? Is it genetic? Is it environmental? Is it some freak DNA mutation? These kinds of answers are vital to ever fully learning to do more then deal with the condition. But the climate simply isn't right for an honest exploration of it yet.

Other misconceptions of course are that all vampiric people are just crazy. They're so quick to point out that it must be "Renfield's Syndrome" (named for Bram Stoker's Dracula's lackey) without having spent a single moment actually researching what the Syndrome is. (It's defined by very specific sexual responses and very specific delusions of immortality and power.) Or, they want to label it as "Porphyria;" when again, they fail to read even the most basic explanations of the disease. (Actually, it's a catch-all term for a group of eight separate disorders.) They make up their mind before they even read (or hear) what you have to say. It's very frustrating. You can tell them a million times that you're not trying to be some character out of Anne Rice and they won't hear you. They just call you some "goth freak" and won't consider anything else.

I think the most dangerous misconceptions though are those that we make for ourselves. The 13 year old who mistakes her fascination or obsession towards vampirism to be something more; or who puts herself in dangerous situations searching for strangers online to "make" her what she dreams to be. There are so many sick predators out there who look for exactly this kind of desperation in children to exploit. Or the newly-awakened vampire who buys too much into the hype and starts believing that they're better then everyone else or that they're invulnerable and powerful. They lose touch with their own limitations and boundaries. The dangers of letting it rule and control your life; believing you must be evil or dark or that you can not simply live your life how you've always lived it. These are the most dangerous misconceptions. The ones that take us away from who we truly are, make us think we have to live our lives a certain way, or that drive us to dangerous and even stupid actions.

5) I've heard modern day vampires described simply as people who, in some way or another, "lack energy" and need to absorb it from an external source. Would you say this is accurate? What "makes" a vampire...genetics?
The jury is out on this one. Most people define vampirism as a need for an additional source of nutrients in their diet in the form of blood or energy. That's kind of a catch-all definition. Some people believe vampirism is of a spiritual nature. That they possess a vampiric soul or vampiric spirit if you will. Some tie this idea into their religious beliefs as well though not all. Some who believe this feel that their soul/spirit has been damaged in some way which causes the need for additional energy. Though again, not all feel this way. Some vampires believe that there is something in their DNA - perhaps some really recessive genes or even possibly a throwback to earlier human offshoots - that makes them physically different. There are pros and cons to both theories and there are personal experiences which can lend credibility to aspects of both. Right now though, it's impossible to say for sure what causes it. The only thing we know for sure is that there is definitely something there. We're just not sure what it's origins are.

6) Can you describe what a craving for blood feels like? While not an addiction, can you experience symptoms of withdrawal if you don't consume blood similar to a junk sickness? Or is it more like the way a pregnant woman would crave certain foods?
Having never been pregnant nor addicted to drugs, it's hard for me to say what either is like comparatively. The best way I can describe it is like when you haven't eaten and you get that deep emptiness in the pit of your stomach; you feel sick and everything makes you think of the fact you need to eat. Your entire world narrows down to your stomach. It's the same sort of feeling only it's not localized in your stomach. It feels more like it's from within your core. There is pain and hurt involved in it just like being hungry for food. It's why terms like "hunger" or "thirst" are often used to describe it. It is a hunger, but it's just for something other than food.

7) Are there any quick fixes for a blood craving if no blood is available to you? Do other red liquids such as tomato juice provide any psychosomatic relief?
The color of the food or liquid doesn't matter, though most sangs find things that help them personally. The only instance where there's a visual similarity is something like V8, though I believe it's the vitamin content more then the color of the liquid. Many opt for fresh fruits or vegetables; raw if possible. Being uncooked and very strong still in the living energy of the food, it can often help. For the same reason, I've heard several sangs recommend sushi. Some people find energy drinks such as Gatorade to help though some say that kind of beverage is worse for them. Many opt for beef - most especially steaks - cooked rare.

Additionally, I have known some sangs who turn to things like cigarettes or even illegal drugs though I'd never advocate either. Sadly, it seems the hunger can make some sangs self-destructive, or at least bring them to make choices they might not otherwise make. If you're starving, you tend not to think too clearly - vampire or otherwise.

8) Do you prefer blood from a certain gender or age of person or is that irrelevant?
It's a personal preference. Many heterosexual sangs find that they are less comfortable with a donor of the same gender. While not sexual per se, it is still an intimate experience. Of most importance though is the health and even diet of the donor. If they take any kind of medication, they're not a good candidate. If they have any illness or blood malnormality, again, it sours or "dirties" the blood. The healthier and the cleaner the diet, the purer the energy gained and generally, the less needed.

Though you didn't ask, I thought I'd also mention some sangs chose to feed from other vampires. (Sometimes exclusively.) I don't personally recommend it however. If you're low on energy as it is (which is a defining trait of vampirism), it's detrimental to then turn around and give that energy to another. Some find it to be addictive in a way; more so then a normal donor. I've always thought of it as eating candy versus eating a meal. The candy is sweet and a rush, but it's not truly filling. At the end of the day, you still are going to need "real" food.

9) Is it possible to absorb energy through methods that don't involve consumption such as standing in the middle of a large crowd or standing against a living tree?

It is possible, yes. And it's been my experience and observation that almost every single sang will, even if just unconsciously, draw from ambient energy around them when they are underfed. Some will draw from people around them (co-workers, mates, family, etc.) and even potentially to the unknowing donor's detriment. Some sangs consider themselves half/half in their feeding; they feel they can equally draw energy from nature or from people in addition to feeding directly through blood. Others feel that energy feeding (called "psy feeding") is only a stop-gap measure and that it does not provide them the fullness and relief from hunger that blood does. Some vampires ("psy vamps" or "psychic vampires" or sometimes "psivamps") feed exclusively through energy and do not consume blood. (Though some will enjoy a small amount now and then.)

When the vampire learns how to be aware of the drawing of energy around them, they can better control it. And thus, reduce the risk of harming someone from taking too much. Taking too much can lead to sickness, lethargy and even depression in the person. You can also end up drawing off of someone who doesn't have surplus energy to lose. It can leave them in deficit and it's why I try to help sangs learn to be more attentive to this unconscious tendency and how to control it.

Some vampires (psy vamps generally) can be purposefully cruel and malicious in this type of energy theft as well. They can become very greedy and regularly (and purposefully) take everything they can as opposed to having a willing donor or skimming off the top of ambient energy. The majority of vampires, however, find it morally wrong to steal energy from an unwilling victim.

10) Would you say that most vampires keep their vampirism a secret from most people? Is there such a thing as "vampire pride" or do most vampires believe in keeping that side of their lives hidden?

Most honest-to-goodness vampires live pretty normal lives. And thus, they tend to keep that aspect private. The ones who go for the drama and show are the lifestylers and dress-up-vamps who get caught up in the world of the fictional vampire character. Within vampire support communities, there is a little relaxation of that fear of discovery and accordingly, a little relief to find someone to speak to. It's why I take such an active role in ensuring my domain and forum are kept in line. I want people to be able to be themselves and to ask questions and to not have to be alone and afraid through it all.

There are some groups who make a point to loudly proclaim themselves to be superior in all ways to "humans." (I put the word in quotes because most vampires believe that they are physically human, or at least a genetic quirk or offshoot of the human race.) These are the kinds of people who propagate hatred and division. They view non-vampires as "cattle" or "food" and some even advocate harm to non-vampires. I can't stress enough how these types of people are extremists and that they do not represent the vampire norm. We all recognize that we are part of society; that our friends, families and lovers are almost always non-vampiric and that ours is a symbiotic relationship rather then a parasitic one. We are still part of the world and society.

11) Can there be such a thing as hierarchy in the real vampire community or does that run more along the lines of role playing?

Despite the influx of websites that claim they are "royal" or whatever garbage terms they use, there is in fact, no such thing as a monarchy or hierarchy to vampirism. It's like saying there is a king of diabetes or something equally silly. Some vampires form groups - often called "Orders" or "Houses" or "Clans" - that are akin to other personal, political or religious affiliations. These individual groups do not speak on behalf of all vampires though. And while they may have levels of membership, this is not to be confused with some sort of ruling class. Membership in these groups is not mandatory, nor is it a birthright. Some groups form in order to gather members who share a similar religious outlook in connection with their vampirism, others simply want to have other people to play dress-up with. The groups run the gamut of all types and reasons for being.

But no, there is no inherent bloodline/royalty/nobility to vampirism.

12) Does your doctor/family/lover know about your vampirism?
Doctor, no. Then again, I haven't had a doctor for years. (Lack of medical insurance.) Family, no. Lover, yes.
 I'm aware that most vampires have willing donors. Few questions about this process: Is there a system of etiquette in this relationship.for example, can you ever ask a donor to donate blood or must he/she always offer first? Is it appropriate for your donor to be a donor to other vampires as well? The vampire/donor relationship is a unique and personal one. The dynamics honestly are going to be different with everyone you ask. Some chose to keep their partner as their primary (or sometimes only) donor. This often works well because lovers/mates already share their lives and are very intimate with each other in all aspects and thus, this exchange is not a large step. This also ensures safety because they know the health and sexual history of the donor. Some turn to friends or people they know and trust. Some will turn to family. Some will look for willing donors from outside their social circle to keep it private from their everyday lives. It's very important to have a relationship of some sort with your donor. You need to trust them and they need to trust you. It need not be a physical or romantic relationship, but it's best if you get to truly know one another. It's a very personal experience for both parties. It can be a sexual experience for some - both vampires and donors. (Though not always.) When the donor is not your partner/lover, it's important to keep boundaries so the donor does not interfere in the relationship and so that the partner does not become envious of the donor. It can be a hard line to walk.

Most donors have a one-on-one relationship with a vampire. Because of the potential dangers in donating too much blood too often, it's usually best if the donor only has on vampire they donate to. However, some vampires will arrange to have more then one donor to help take the pressure of each of them and to allow more access and a more steady supply of blood. Sadly, most vampires fail to find long-term, honest and available donors. It's a commitment that many people decide they don't want to make. They go into it thinking it will be like the books or movies but when it turns out to be mundane and ordinary, they lose interest.

Everyone will have a different way of working out feedings with their donor(s). Some will plan x number of days on a schedule. Others will simply contact the donor when the need arises. In a situation where the partner/lover is the donor, it often becomes part of sex or foreplay. The biggest problem is balancing your need and the health and safety of your donor. You never want to take more then they can give and you never want to bring them harm. After all, they are giving of themselves for you; it's a very serious matter and one that deserves your respect. A dependable donor is a precious commodity.

13) What is the safest way to procure blood and how often can a donor safely feed you? Is blood ever procured through biting? (seems to me you would really have to know what you are doing in that case!)
Biting is a big no. Besides the fact that it's dangerous, it's also painful. The human mouth is a dirty place and biting can cause needless pain, scaring and damage to the skin. Most vampires chose to use sterile blades to make small, shallow cuts. You can massage the cut to well up a little blood which is then usually licked or sucked directly from the skin. You never want to suck too hard though, and you never want to probe too hard with your tongue or it can become painful to the donor. It's about trying to be as precise and delicate as possible. Some few chose to use needles to draw blood though I can't stress enough how dangerous this is! No one should ever, ever try to do that without proper training and certification. The best method is to sterilize the skin, sterilize the blade and be sure to thoroughly clean and bandage the cut when you are done.

As to how often it's safe to feed from the same donor, that depends on how much you take from them. Generally, it is small amounts. So it's safe to feed weekly or bi-weekly. If you were to take larger quantities of blood, you'd want to wait for the body to replenish itself. Red blood cells have a three-week maturity cycle. Standards in official blood donation say that you can donate one pint every eight weeks. Since the amount donated for a vampire is generally more along the lines of a few tablespoons or at most, a shot glass, you don't need to wait that long.

Other factors like health (is the donor sick? if the donor is a female, is she on her menstrual cycle?) can certainly change that generalization. Also, if the donor's cut isn't healing well, it's best to give the body more time before injuring it again.
 With the possibility of contracting HIV and Hepatitis B & C through blood, do you require your donors to be tested for blood borne diseases? Absolutely. Any vampire who doesn't do pre-requisite blood testing is an idiot, plain and simple. This is another reason why it's important to know your donor well and have a solid relationship with them. You need to know if they've started having unprotected sex for example, since becoming your donor. Or you need to know if they've gotten any blood-born illness. You have to keep up with not only what they tested like when you met them, but how they continue to live their life afterwards. It's something you need to be very safe about. And it's why any sang with a brain in their head would avoid drinking blood of a random stranger.

Beyond illness, it's also important to ensure your donor isn't anemic. Or doesn't take any medication that you can end up consuming through the blood. You don't ever want to jeopardize the donor's health either.

14) What would you say is the single most important piece of advice you could give to someone who has recently discovered their own vampirism?
Be safe in all things. Don't let yourself ever forget to be smart in your feeding, be smart with your donors, be smart with your choices in life. And don't let it change you. Don't think you can't still be who you always have been. Don't look at it as a curse, but don't try to make more of it then it is. Accept yourself as you are and learn find happiness from within.



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