Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/faq/most-report-article.html
Every few weeks we get one of those e-mails, or one of those people pops into IRC. While I understand the curiosity and interest in doing one of these (I had the "bright idea" to do that in school myself, oh so long ago...) there are a few pointers you should know before jumping in with your list of questions that may include ones already asked in the past:
Are you really a vampire?
Yes. We just don't look like what you expect from most movies or books.
If so, how and when did you become a vampire?
I was born this way. I'm sure that sounds strange to a non-vampire, but you'll find that's a common answer in the vampiric community. As to how, well, that's still up for debate - gather six vampires together and you'll probably hear at least 8 answers to that question.
How do you know for sure that you're a vampire?
We go by what seems to work for us. There's no definitive medical test (and most medical professionals would think we're crazy anyway) so we find out by trial and error. The biggest characteristic is the Thirst, whether for blood or energy. And the individual may have other issues, such as generally feeling run-down or even sometimes physical pain such as body aches They may have these issues for a long time before finally getting a good blood feed or energy feed, and finding that these problems they'd had mysteriously go away.
But doesn't that sound like withdrawal symptoms?
I suppose, but withdrawal symptoms are usually experienced AFTER taking the thing that is addictive. When a person first awakens, they get these (or other) symptoms BEFORE drinking blood or draining energy.
"Vampire" has such a bad rep, why use the word at all?
Currently the word "vampire" and it's associated imagery are easiest for people to relate to when doing a web search, so that is why I use it on my site. In person, some people will use terms other than "vampire", such as "sanguinarian", but others (such as myself) will still use the word "vampire" for simplicity and ease of understanding. Sure, there's always the problem of people getting the wrong ideas, but I accept that as an occupational hazard. If the person I'm talking to is willing to listen with an open mind, there's usually no problem. (Well, beyond the inherent "eww" reaction some people get when finding out "OMG, you drink blood??")
Do you kill for your food?
Yegads, what do you think we are, barbarians? No, we don't. We have donors who voluntarily give us what we need. For bloodvamps, it's usually not more than the equivalent of a few teaspoons of blood at any feeding.
Really? Why so little?
We don't really know. One theory has it that the blood allows a link into the donor's life-based energy, and we use the blood to tap into that. I'll say that's a possibility since I am aware of the life energy when I bloodfeed, but we don't have any definite way of telling for sure. Others say there's something in the blood and that it doesn't have anything to do with life energy at all. *shrugs*
Do you still eat regular food?
Oh yes, definitely. As with anyone else, however, there are cases of food poisoning that can happen, and food allergies that any individual may have. But otherwise, any food is fair game. Yes, even garlic. :)
Stereotypes / Folklore
What about running water, mirrors, and such?
Sheer fiction. Many of us can swim, and dying one's hair or getting dressed in the morning are so much easier when you're able to see your reflection. :) There are some who say they don't like looking at themselves in a mirror and see that as a trait, but I see that as typical for anyone at some point, say....after getting quite thoroughly drunk the night before at a bar, and seeing yourself in a mirror with a hangover to end all hangovers? *shrugs*
Do you really get to live longer? Do you still age?
I don't know if we actually get to live longer or not. I do know I look younger than my actual age, however that could easily be a result of good genetics and very deliberately avoiding visual aging factors as much as vampirism. *shrugs* Other vampires I know look older than their age, so I suspect that environmental factors as well as genetics come into play more than anything else. I'll have a better idea as the older folks in the community that I know get beyond retirement age, but that won't be for a while yet.
Do you sleep in a coffin?
Hell no, I use a bed, just normal people. Although I have considered renting or building a coffin as a Halloween prop....
Do you have a heart?
Yes, and a pulse too. No, it doesn't stop when I sleep either. I've actually had my blood pressure tested and it's usually found to be in the category of "low blood pressure" (unless I'm stressed out) but it's not low enough to scare the doctors into thinking I'm about to have a heart attack.
Do you have fangs?
Only if we buy prosthetics or get the luck of the draw genetically. The vast majority of us are not born with fangs, no matter how much any of us may wish otherwise. I don't personally mind that much - it's easier going to job interviews and talking to people when I don't have to hide two long canines while trying to convince them I'm a harmless employee. :)
What about retractable fangs?
No, sorry, no retractables either. This wasn't what I was referring to by "genetic luck of the draw" - I've observed that some people do naturally have slightly longer eyeteeth. However, that's not an indicator of them being vampiric, and sometimes (I see this mentioned a lot by teens) they get filed down by dentists, either because the dentists doesn't think they're normal, and thus Should Not Be There, or because the parents requested it.
Are vampires evil?
No more so than anyone else you know. We have brains, we have willpower, we can choose to "do good' or "do evil" based on our particular values or moods. Many of us are more tolerant of other people's "quirks" and habits so we're actually less likely to raise a fuss over someone else's bizarre tendencies.
Other odd questions
Any connection to Wicca / paganism / other religion?
Short answer: No. Wicca and other forms of paganism are spiritual paths, the same as any other religion is a spiritual path. However, being a vampire is a state of existence, not a spiritual path (although, as I cover in another article, vampires can and do follow spiritual paths of their own choosing, sometimes incorporating vampiric aspects. This does not mean there is an inherent connection of religion to vampirism, however.)
Sunlight / Vision
What about sunlight?
Photosensitivity is very common, and typically affecting the eyes, and sometimes it also affects the skin's tolerance. (Keep in mind that pale, non-tanning skin in general has a lower tolerance than dark skin or skin that tans well.) Photosensitivity, while common, does not affect vampires 100% of the time. Generally this can be dealt with by sunglasses and/or hats to keep direct, or excessive amounts of, light out of the eyes or thicker clothing to keep the sun away from the skin.
I thought you guys turned into dust in sunlight? What gives?
Sunlight doesn't kill us any more than it would kill other people. There are diseases and genetic ailments that *could* give this impression to people, such as some forms of porphyria that make the person extremely - and painfully - photosensitive, and Xeroderma Pigmentosum or Polymorphous Light Eruption, which are genetic ailments where the body can NOT repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light (sunlight, some light bulbs, etc.). I still have light bulbs in my house - including compact flourescents - they just don't get used much, and I don't have a lot of them on. The home of an XP or PLE patient is often lit just by candlelight out of necessity rather than choice.
Can you see in the dark?
We can't see in total dark any more than a non-vampire would be able to. However, we typically can see very well with low light levels compared to average. Usually, the more visual photosensitivity - and this doesn't apply just to vampires! - the better the night vision (unless there's a physical ailment or drug side effect causing the photosensitivity, in which case better night vision is not necessarily included) - it's just not always mentioned because many of us have to live on a day shift schedule for things like school or work, and thus don't get a chance to get out and take advantage of it. Or, the area lived in has a lot of bright lights (such as cities) and the darkness is not usually noticed, even when they are out at night.
You vampire all have perfect vision, right?
Oh hell no, many of us online have prescription glasses or contacts. Crappy vision is still crappy vision, the photosensitivity just impacts how much light we need to see by, not how well we can see without glasses.
Good examples of print interviews that treat subjects with respect
- Book: "Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism"
- "Vampires Today" covers every aspect of why the Vampire Community is difficult for researchers to understand. If you're serious about your research, start with this book!
- Article: "A Vampires Life? It's Really Draining"
Things we want to see from you
Reasonable spelling/grammar - if you write like a 12-yr old, nobody, and I mean *nobody*, is going to take you seriously unless they ALSO write like a 12-yr old.
Whether you've done your homework - if you ask questions commonly covered in various FAQ's online, we can only assume you aren't truly serious about researching the subject matter.
Whether you are willing to provide basic information such as the following:
- Name of publication you work for
- Your editor's name/phone number
- Whether our names will be used
- Your real name, if you want to meet with us.
- Prior examples of your work online
- Who is the research being done by?
- What is the information going to be used for?
- Will our names be used?
- Will it be published? How can we get a copy when it is?
- Your real name, especially if you want to meet or interview with us in person.
- What school/college/university do you go to?
- What class is it for?
- What is your teacher's/professor's name?
- Your real name, if you want to meet with us, and your contact info?
- Will our names be used?
- Are you willing to send us a copy?
- Are you already on contract with a publisher?
- If so, who?
- What name will it be published under?
- Examples of prior work if you've been published before
- Your real name, especially if you want to meet or interview with us in person.
Many people who ask questions of the community disappear and are never heard from again, and other people simply aren't what they claimed to be - i.e., they ask a lot of questions about a specific member of the community for purposes of stalking. Just as an example... As a result of abuses in the past, we generally would prefer to verify credentials first rather than take chances.