Vampires walk amongst us.
According to researcher Dr John Edgar Browning, from the George Institute of Technology, real-life vampirism is a growing blood-drinking subculture worthy of academic attention.
Indeed, although they may not transform into bats or hold the secret to immortality, a vampire subculture has been well documented in Australia since at least the 1990s.
Here is everything you need to know to satisfy your blood lust.
The origins of the vampiric lifestyle can be traced back to the early S&M and goth scenes of the 1970s, which attracted quirky individuals interested in the darker side of life. However, vampirism didn’t quite gain a distinct identity until blood fetishists, new age spiritualists and cosplayers started talking online and creating their own vampiric mythos.
According to Sanguinarius.org, one of the longest running online resources for the vampire subculture, real-life vampires feel a desire or need to consume blood or – in its more spiritual variant – absorb “psychic energy” from willing donors.
The subculture is a broad tent encompassing individuals who see consuming blood as a health need, a sexual kink, a lifestyle choice and a deeper spiritual yearning.
Real-life vampires have always had some presence down under, with media attention waxing and waning depending on the latest film releases – we got a lot of ‘real-life vampire’ stories at the peak of Twilight for example – however, very little attention has been paid to the health and legal considerations of the subculture.
Is this safe?
It will come as no surprise that blood consumption doesn’t exactly have glowing support by health authorities.
Along with the risk of blood-borne virus transmission, biting or even surgically cutting the skin of a willing donor carries the risk of scarring, infection or even death if not done correctly.
The blood itself isn’t very dangerous, consisting of mostly water with a bit of protein thrown in. The only potential hazard is if you consume too much iron, the only significant nutritional component of the sanguine fluid.
Real-life vampires mitigate health risks by screening donors for transmissible disease, using sterile tools to lancet blood and by limiting the amount of blood consumed to a couple of spoonsful.
Whilst having a quirky habit like blood drinking isn’t necessarily an indication of mental illness, a psychiatric condition called Renfield’s syndrome (or clinical vampirism) has been documented if behaviour becomes obsessive or harmful.
If blood drinking is compulsive or is coupled with delusions of grandeur that you are Dracula once the sun goes down, it may be time to seek help from a professional.
Is this legal?
Whilst the vampire subculture prides itself on ensuring (often written) consent of donors before bloodletting – consent will not always act as a defence to criminal charges where actual injury or death occurs.
Vampires have tried to negate legal risks by establishing a Donor Bill of Rights, to provide for the safety and wellbeing of donors. However, it’s unlikely these guidelines would protect someone being prosecuted for inflicting injury or – if something were to go horribly wrong – murder.
Things get even more complicated from a legal perspective if money is exchanging hands. It is possible that paying to drink someone’s blood could be considered a form of sex work: triggering a number of specialist regulatory regimes, often backed by criminal offences if not complied with.
So, whilst blood drinking appears to be just good fun on paper, it comes with a number of legal liabilities!
Unlike an Anne Rice novel, vampirism in the real world comes with a number of health and legal considerations.
It’s important that burgeoning blood suckers know all the risks before biting down on their next meal.