Vampire folklore has been around for centuries, and while many enjoy donning fangs and pale makeup for Halloween, there’s an entire subculture of people — “real vampires” — whose lives are immersed in vampirism all year round.
Yahoo Life spoke with Father Sebsastiaan, an author who identifies as a vampire, and has played a lead role in defining modern-day vampire culture. “The vampire experience has defined my life,” he says.
Starting off working in nightlife, Father Sebastiaan began the task of rallying a vampire community in New York City in 1995, which he says also marked the beginning of his work as a “fangsmith” (someone who makes prosthetic fangs).
“My grandfather was an orthodontist,” he says. “And it took me about 18 months of training under a prosthodontist to learn how to do it safely.” The first pair of fangs he ever made were for his own mother, and now he’s known as one of the most celebrated fangsmiths in the world, having created fangs for thousands of vampire followers around the globe.
When asked how one knows if they’re a real vampire, Father Sebastiaan says, “I think the best way to do it is say it's like being gay. You just know.”
What are “real vampires”?
According to Father Sebastiaan, while there are many types of vampires, the most well known are ‘role-player vampires’ and ‘lifestyle vampires’.
“A role-player knows they're playing a fantasy, they know they're playing a role. They put the character down when they're done,” he says. “A lifestyle vampire is someone who embraces the identity of a vampire as a culture.”
When he began life as a ‘real vampire’, Father Sebastiaan says there were no defined roles or elements to the culture, so he penned 'Black Veils: Master Vampyre Edition' to solidify a language and serve as a manual of sorts for modern-day vampire ethics and culture.
“A lot of TV show [creators] would read my books and go to clubs and they would try and understand what the vampire lifestyle was so they could use it in their vampire stories,” he says. “Like True Blood, for example, copied some of the stuff from our culture.”
The culture, he says, is based in spirituality and energy work. There is a ‘no religion, no politics policy’ in the community, and members come from a broad array of backgrounds. “We have nothing to hide. We're not breaking the law, we're not eating babies we're not worshiping Satan,” he says.“We're not about death, we worship life.”
How do ‘real vampires’ feed?
“So [there are] a lot of misconceptions about vampires and the most major is blood,” he explains. “I would say about 3 to 5 percent of vampires have experience or practiced blood drinking.”
According to Father Sebastiaan, myths of blood drinking, or “sanguine feeding,” came from writings like John William Polidori’s The Vampyre back in the early 1800s. While blood drinking is uncommon in modern vampire culture, he says, the idea that vampires need to “feed” is very real.
“Vampires need energy because their physical body does not generate enough energy to satisfy their hunger or their thirst, “ he says. “Their soul needs more life force than their physical body... [and] human beings generate the same frequency of life force that a vampire needs.”
His book discusses how vampires can learn to tap in and absorb energy, rather than blood. “You have the realities of blood-born diseases... then you have the legal end,” he explains. “It's just the most impractical way of getting energy possible.”
There are various ways of taking energy from others, he says, some quite simple, while others are more complex rituals that require consent from the “donor.”
“You go to events like a concert, you'll feel the energy, you can take it in,” he explains. “A vampire knows how to tap that energy and harvest it. That's the easiest one that almost anybody can do, so anybody can be a vampire.”
What role do fangs play?
While fangs are a key element to the vampire persona, Father Sebastiaan says they only serve as a symbol. “It sets the tone of the psychological archetype,” he explains. “I don’t wear them all the time, because I don’t need fangs to be a vampire. They’re an aesthetic symbolic thing.”
When creating fangs, Father Sebastiaan combines techniques from special affects art and dentistry. “There's a lot of sanitary standards and we even have a union, a Fangsmith Guild.”
Father Sebastiaan says there’s a ritual in creating fangs to set the tone for the experience, which involves the person choosing their “vampire name” from a book. “When I make someone a pair of fangs, I feel like I'm a father to them. I connect with them energetically,” he says. “I kind of awaken them a little bit by exchanging energy with them.”
As for Halloween season, Father Sebastiaan says that he gets such an enormous flood of orders for fangs that he has to cut off requests after October 1st. “I just want to make sure I do a good job on every pair.”
Are “real vampires” sensitive to sunlight and silver?
“The sunlight question is one I get all the time,” he says. “Vampires often complain about headaches during the day, most vampires are nocturnal by nature.”
Father Sebastiaan says that he typically goes to sleep around 10pm and wakes up around 6am, and while he does go out in the day, he generally avoids the midday sun.“I feel more comfortable when the psychic energy of humanity is more chill.”
As for silver, he says that it is actually very popular among vampires. “Silver represents enlightenment and evolution,” he says. “Vampires are not allergic to silver. In fact, most vampires wear only silver.”
What is it like to attend a “vampire ball”?
Father Sebastiaan is the impresario of the Endless Night Vampire Ball, which he describes as a “worldwide phenomenon” of vampire themed celebrations. The New Orleans based vampire ball that happens every Halloween at the House of Blues is the most popular.
Endless Night, he says, serves as an opportunity for role players to immerse themselves in a night of vampirism. “There are people that want to go to a vampire ball, run by vampires who take it seriously, and see burlesque shows and rock bands and beautiful costumes,” he explains. “Trip Advisor has called Endless Night the No. 1 Halloween party in the world.”
Although life as a vampire may seem unconventional to some, Father Sebastiaan says he’s extremely grateful for his life, and that his favorite part is the “family element” of the community.
“We have tea parties, and classes, and seminars, and discussion circles, and rituals, and games, and archery, and we eat together,” he says. “There’s no blue or red definitions in politics, everybody comes together… This does not happen in mundane life.”
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