These days, it seems, everyone wants to bed a vampire. Forget Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, a hideous foreigner intent on taking the life and the virtue of nineteenth-century English ladies. Today's vampires, like True Blood's Bill Compton and Twilight's Edward Cullen, are portrayed as crush-worthy hunks. Their combination of unearthly beauty, perfect chivalry and dangerous nature make them irresistible to women.
Bill, Edward and co. are the stuff of fiction, but there is, in fact, a community of people who identify as vampires and existed long before the current pop culture craze. So what's it like to date a real-life vampire? To talk about that, first you have to know a little about vampires.
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Most real vampires believe they were born with a "vampiric nature," meaning they have to feed in order to maintain their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There are two main types of vampires: sanguinarians, who feed on actual blood, and psychic vampires, who feed on energy.
Sanguinarians consume the blood of other vampires, the blood of regular people (called "mundanes" in the vampire community) and sometimes animal blood (usually cow blood). Sanguinarian vampires distinguish themselves from "blood fetishists"—those who are aroused simply by seeing, touching, and smelling blood. Vampires define their feeding as a health requirement, distinct from sexual pleasure. (On the other hand, blood fetishists occasionally make good donors!)
Psychic vampires feed on the vital energy of others, either through physical contact or by soaking it up like a sponge. Ordinary people will do, but some seek out "spiritual types," artists, or other vampires. Psychic vampires describe feeding on each other as a "cycle" that refines and purifies their personal energy. Spiritual Sex: 10 Erotic Commandments
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Anshar, a 29-year-old psychic vampire from Truckee, California says, "If I don't feed I get terrible migraines, dizziness and nausea. With the migraines comes terrible photosensitivity and irritability." These symptoms completely disappear after feeding, either from a donor or his partner Shade (also a vampire). "I feel warm, content," explains Anshar, "At times I break out into laughter depending on the amount of energy I've taken."
The vampire community emphasizes ethical feeding. Sanguinarians, as well as many psychic vampires, only feed on consenting donors. In fact, the community has created a donor's bill of rights along with other ethical guidelines.