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Dragon`s Blood
Written by Editor   
Sunday, 08 January 2006 17:30

Most large cities, and even some of the smaller ones, have diverse pockets of culture. Some of these can be rich with history. Inviting even. Others are those places you don't really want to be caught in after dark. You know the ones. The red light districts, combat zones, or whatever moniker is assigned to an area that is rife with sex, drugs, and violence. Boston, for example, has both a red light district and a combat zone--each bringing with them their own form of violence. New York City's East Villagers moved to the west after the Goth culture arrived, and the SoHo and warehouse districts, are but impressions of their former selves. For San Francisco, Hunter's Point--an aptly named area--unnerves both the street-wise and law enforcement. Likewise, the Tenderloin in the heart of the city. It is these neighborhoods where the shadow is almost palpable and fear is the very last thing you should be wearing on your sleeve. Or foolish boldness, for that matter.

My search for the shadow has led me to many places and introduced me to a variety of individuals. Of the latter, there are some people who are simply memorable. Specifically, those who call themselves, and are called by others, the Ancients. Believed to be true Vampires, they prowl the streets during the twilight hours to satiate their seemingly perpetual and unquenchable thirst. I learned of, and had my first encounter with, an Ancient in the warehouse district of New York City in the winter of 1998. The man who introduced me was clearly intimidated by these people. Something about being viewed as a potential meal apparently unnerved him. While he was considered an inner circle scene player, his experience with vampirism remained within the realm of genre, blood rites, and all that goes with the fetish scene. After co-founding the Sanginarium in the mid 1990s, he attempted to start the fetish club, Xorvia, and most recently, though not unsurprisingly, appears to have outgrown that particular curiousity. As with most prominent figures in a subculture, he has his enemies--a rather fascinating story in and of itself. In any event, it was while searching for the shadow that I met this individual, and likewise, was introduced to the story of the Ancients, eventually as it were, having a first hand and up close encounter with one.

Unlike the mainstream vampire scene, involving everything from role players to those who gather in fetish clubs to participate in blood ritual, the Ancients tend keep to themselves. For the most part, that is. They define eccentricity and then take it a step beyond. In New York City, their prey are those who live in the abandoned subway tunnels beneath the city--the mole people--society's throwaways who are not missed by the bustling crowds above. How many lives have been taken by these self-proclaimed creatures of the night? Who really knows? The oldest Ancient, that I know of, is in his late 70s or early 80s, though he proclaims to be much older. Whatever the case, his upper class cultural background is self-evident and he presents a rather formidable presence, though my view may well be tainted by the thing he proclaims to be. In any event, if the man is insane--the assumption regarding anyone who preys upon others while claiming to be a Vampire--he hides it well.

While vampirism is often considered a mental disorder, it was not until Bram Stoker's 1897 fiction, "Dracula," that it gained public prominence. Prior to the release of 's , which played a part in today's cult-like phenomenon, have been shown to be endemic to past and present culture. Although some have unsuccessfully attempted to operationalize vampirism under DSM paraphilias such as, Haematodipsia, Haematomania, Hematophageous, Hemeralopia, or the plethora of other terms that have come to be associated with , and Richard Noll coined the term "" to represent its symptoms, the psychology community has yet to reach an agreement regarding this peculiar behavior. Exclusive, that is, of the belief that it involves a desire to gratify unconscious sexual urges.

Contrary to popular belief, which primarily arose during the late 19th and early 20th century with psychology pioneers such as, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the Ancients continue to defy opined motives and appear to exsanguinate their prey for reasons other than what has been identified by mainstream Psychology. Furthermore, while clinicians infer underlying sexual motivations due to the choice of biting the neck, they overlook the obvious--the neck provides ready access to large amounts of fresh human blood. Otherwise put, when it comes to the kill, the Ancients do not appear to be even remotely interested in sex, much less the fetish scene. That is, outside of looking for new victims when the mole people have retired into the distant catacombs of the city's underground labyrinth. Indeed, they are a strange and somewhat disconcerting lot. And while I may not have come face to face with the shadow in those meetings, when I heard about the murders of seven homeless people in Denver the following year--which, to this day, remain unsolved--I found myself reflecting upon the Ancients of New York City. Wondering if the shadow was on the move. And if so, how many unsolved murders would be left in their wake...

 

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