Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ezine Publisher Interview: TIM BEY (REAL VAMPIRE LIFE E-ZINE) by Dave Wolff

Interview with Tim Bey of REAL VAMPIRE LIFE E-ZINE

Real Vampire Life E-Zine from Chicago, Illinois USA is a resource for Vampire culture and has a readership of more than 100 countries. Did word spread by internet word of mouth? How did it get started?
2010, February: Real Vampire News was conceived and started by John Reason. The aim was to become a “newspaper” type resource for the online participants of modern real vampire culture.
Late in 2010 Lady M (Bey) and I came into contact with John Reason via Real Vampire News as it was called then. The site, initially, was devoted to personal observation on the modern Vampire culture and was run exclusively by John.
I had been exclusively contributing to, and acting as a forum moderator at, Lady CG’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ prior to this. Formerly based in Australia, Lady M and I moved to the United States in March of 2013.
In early 2011 John asked us to take over the management and presentation of RVN since his combined commitments to business studies, starting his own specialist materials machining business, and his job had become nearly overwhelming.
I started writing for RVN publications immediately and we published a large number of articles to encourage a rapid expansion in the visibility, and interest in, the e-zine.
In April 2012 the server that hosted Real Vampire News crashed catastrophically. Pretty much everything that had been put up disappeared. Lady M and I began the arduous month long task, of recovering as much as we could from data cached on the internet. We could not recover everything.
As of June 2012 we re-assembled Real Vampire News and set about re-building and growing. In the latter half of 2013 we renamed the publication Real Vampire Life to reflect a more inclusive and "E-Zine" format.

Discuss what Smoke and Mirrors was and when it was active on the internet. What articles were you contributing to it as forum moderator?
At the time I was a full member of S&M it was a forum board in the older Php style, different section by topic, you know the type of thing. The articles I contributed were basically short commentary and opinion pieces about Vampire culture and its various “comings and goings” and controversies. As a moderator, I was privileged to oversee the Mythology, History and Folklore forum. By far one of my favourite topics, especially when it comes to Vampires and modern Vampires. One of the major projects I undertook was the development of lists of various pantheons and in particular a study of the mythological representation of Lilith, a daemonic whom a lot of people like to call a “Vampire Goddess”.

Does Lilith as vampire goddess relate to her being Adam’s first wife according to Hebrew folklore, or her being a night demon who steals children in the darkness?
Now that is a $64,000 question to be sure. The connection, an extremely loose one I might add, to Vampires sprang primarily from the concept of Lilith as the “child-stealing” devouring daemon, but it really is a lot more complicated. Around March 12, 2011, after reading some “strange” ideas that connected Lilith with vampirism and vampires, I decided to undertake my own “quest” in search of the “real” Lilith.
Lilith has always been a favourite when you ask anyone about “vampyre deities”. During the four weeks of study and compilation of the information I presented in a “God/Goddess of Vampires” discussion at Smoke and Mirrors, I found no indication that she was imbued with the attributes common to a deity. However, there was an apparent connection to vampyrism in some fashion.
I reviewed dozens of sources from translations of the Mesopotamian heroic tales to the Dead Sea Scrolls. I have hunted links and clues across a wide range of resources and there were two important things I learned during the project: The translations from Sumerian to Babylonian-Akkadian, to Hebraic and then to English are fraught with discrepancies. And that Lilith is not a singular entity but a polyglot of many ancient concepts.
Since the earliest recorded histories there have been Goddesses of multiple capacities and sometimes the benevolent is combined with the malign in a single entity.
From my studies, I believe that the name “Lilith” was derived from earlier, similarly spelled names such as Lil, Lilitu, Lilla, Lilu etc. This was simply a handy semantic association since the evil demons of antiquity already bore parts of the eventual name. However, the similarities do not end there.
With the beginning of the Biblical (read Hebrew/Judeo-Christian writings) the patriarchal, biblical view that saw Eve succumbing to the serpent’s suggestion in the Garden of Eden, women became the “negative” influence and within this framework the writings were expanded to include Lilith to give further strength to the correctness of those assertions. When the character of Lilith came to be described she was made even more malevolent by the inclusion of nasty tidbits that were drawn down from knowledge of, or loosely translated as, antiquated demons.
In my opinion, Lilith only became Lilith at the time of the first Hebrew biblical writings and was an amalgam of the attributes of a variety of much older known demonic spirits. Thus, Lilith herself could not have been a ‘goddess’ previously since in nearly every single example of these writings she was thoroughly demonized.

How many discrepancies did you find in the multiple translations from Sumerian to English during your research?
During the comparative readings and research into the entity that became known as Lilith I would say there were twenty or so potential discrepancies, if the linguistic roots are correctly understood by modern and contemporary scholars. The fact remains that the Babylonians, Assyrians, Akkadians and early Hebrews had versions markedly similar to the Sumerian Lilith and the discrepancies become even higher with each new linguistic family added. All in all, the beginning of the Lilith saga seems to rest with the earliest Daemonic referents attached to the tales of the Sumerian epics, as I noted in the examination, "Lilith ~ A Study":
The oldest known term relating to Lilith would be the Sumerian word “Lili” (plural “Lilitu”), which seems to imply the same definition as our word “spirit.” In many ancient cultures, the same word for “air” or “breath” would also be used for “spirit.”
The very word “spiritus” is one such example. The Hebrew “ruach” is another. Therefore, the Lilitu were either a specific type of demon, or were simply “spirits” in general.” Again, demonic entities but there is no proof linking the term “Lili” to the word “Lilith”; it could amount to linking the word “game” and “gamete”.

After reviewing the cultural concepts surrounding Lilith, why do you think she was depicted differently between cultures?
In the Sumerian ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ a feminine entity, dwelling in the sacred tree of Inana/Ishtar, receives mention. The creature is described as having the wings and claws of an owl but otherwise looking like an alluring woman. The name given to her in this (Sumerian) composition is ‘kisikillila’ (*ki.sikil-líl-ak), which means ‘maiden/young woman/pure woman of the wind’.
In later versions of this small myth, written in Akkadian, the image becomes transmuted into the ‘Ardat-Lilî’, and lîlu, f. lilîtu, and ardat lilî which are storm demons.
These are the earliest referents we have and from these roots the changes to the concept came about with the successive changes in the perceived role of women in society and culture. Bear in mind, one of the highest of stations in the Sumerian culture for women was that of “sacred temple attendant” (read prostitute for all intents and purposes since their role was to provide sexual communion)… a spiritually pure vessel for communing with the goddess Inana/Ishtar.
The eventual demonization of Lilith, in all her forms, came about at the hands of the people who later came to invent monotheism as we know it. Though they were acquainted with the Gods and Goddesses of Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria these people received a steady influx of west-Semitic groups, such as the Amorites, who brought their beliefs with them, and as such, the ‘Israelites’ were subject to broad religious influences. Thus when the Zoroastrian philosophy (roughly estimated around 700 or 600 BCE) reached the Levante and the Libanon/Antelibanon, the people who would later embrace a strict monotheism were exposed to a dualistic view of the world. With the ‘deutoronomic revolution’, a part of the priesthood-scholars of the ancient near east, and proponents of the ancient biblical studies (we might them the ‘JHVH alone!’-movement) gained power and completed the social institution of the patriarchal system of life.
It was this series of shifts away from the feminine ultimate power to the male ultimate power structure that degraded, and eventually destroyed, the female ultimate power.

What do you think embracing Lilith as female archetype and studying its history means to women in the present?
(Laughs) Well, I don’t know if I’d pass the physical for this question… any answer would be conceived in a thoroughly shallow, male sort of way and would have your lady readers saying, “What can he possibly know? He’s just a man!!!”
One the one hand I might observe there are lady acquaintances of mine that ascribe to the Inana/Ishtar incarnation of the Goddess of which Lilith was deigned to be merely an aspect. There are others, I might suspect, that may well consider Lilith’s original aspect as being a daemonic, vampiric harlot. And there are perhaps, those of the school of thought that equates Lilith with the Sumerian archetype of the “sacred harlot” and “temple prostitute” that served in Inana’s temples in ancient times.
Personally I couldn’t say for sure and I wouldn’t dare speak for any of the ladies I know. I’m brave… NOT stupid…
Seriously, the best thing I can offer is the summary and conclusions I, and my esteemed colleague Lady Hellkat (formerly of Smoke and Mirrors) compiled. It can be found in its complete form at “Lilith: A Study”. ( )

Would you consider it a good idea for women today to embrace the Lilith archetype?
Oooooh, a religious question… now I’m gonna get burned, I just know it. That would depend on where you read, what you read, how far back you go. There are a wide range of archetypes that can be applied since Lilith was a polyglot of many sources. Do I think women should become sacred temple prostitutes in the service of Inana? Not unless they wish to. Do I think women should become the child-devouring mothers of Daemons? No, not at all. Do I think women should embrace the Lilith aspect of the sky deity Inana? Worshipping pagan deities is something personal but yes, people should be free to worship as they will.

I meant to ask if you considered it as an issue of women self-empowering after centuries of male dominated religion.
The male domination of religions and religious purpose has been fairly complete for millennia, however, if we look far enough back we can easily find evidence of female domination of religious and spiritual life. As an example, one I mentioned before, the worship of Inana/Ishtar in ancient Sumeria. In ancient Sumer, the goddess Inana(k) was worshipped as the queen of the sky (her name comes from the Sumerian construction *nin-an-ak, which literally means ‘lady of the sky’); she was associated with the planet Venus, and her dual nature as the morning and evening star was well known.
During the reign of the dynasty of Akkad, Inana(k) was fused with the Semitic goddess Ishtar in such a way that it becomes nearly impossible to distinguish between those two goddesses. Ishtar, as a Semitic goddess, was not only the lady of love, sex and fertility (as Inana(k) had been), but also of war and death.
Now, if we look to the perceptions and the multiple “histories” behind Lilith, we find that in no case was Lilith ever identified as or considered a deity. Personally, I recognize the rights of everyone to worship as they will but to worship an entity such as Lilith is something akin to worshipping Charles Manson or Marilyn Manson… it doesn’t hold water for me.
One of the most telling moments for the feminine sacred came with the recognition of the Wiccan movement as a religious entity. Occurring in 1986 with a United States court proceeding (Dettmer v. Landon) it was established that Wicca was a religion, and therefore should be treated as such under the eyes of the law. This was probably the single biggest triumph for religion over male dominance and, in my mind, restored the prominence and accessibility of the feminine force as being equally powerful as the male force behind religion.
Today, women, like men, can choose how they worship and what they worship… there are so many ways to eschew the load of contemporary religion that the mind boggles, I think it would be quite fair, and accurate, to say that the male religious dominance of the last four thousand-odd years is no longer the norm.

Shed light on Dettmer v. Landon and how its decision led to recognition of the feminine force in the occult community. How much information did you gather about it?
“Dettmer was a Virginia prisoner and a member of the School of Wicca. He desired access to ritual objects, including several varieties of knife, with which to practice Wiccan rituals. When the state would not provide him these ritual objects, he sued Landon, the Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, to access the objects he claimed were necessary for his practice.
The United States District Court in East Virginia decided in Dettmer's favour, finding that Wicca was a religion, despite the Department of Correction’s argument that it was merely a "conglomeration" of occult practices.” -Dettmer vs Landon
As far as the specifics of the case it really was a simple argument and revolved around First Amendment rights. Whether you believe that felons should or should not have constitutional rights is another argument entirely. The fact remains the Courts, both initially and at appeal, upheld the decision that Wicca was legally a religion. Naturally, that decision affects every Wiccan, male or female, transgender or gender-neutral. Since, from the studies by Gilhus and Mikaelsson, the majority of alternative religious practices’ membership is female then it follows that the benefit afforded the feminine practitioners was, in a legal sense, invaluable and that it certainly puts the feminine Wiccan practitioners in the box seat over any other major recognized religion.
(Additional supporting information: As much as this decision, however, were the historical inclusions of women in clerical roles and, while it remains a controversial issue even today, it has been that way for almost 2000 years, indeed in AD 494, in response to reports that women were serving at the altar in the south of Italy, Pope Gelasius I wrote a letter condemning female participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, a role he felt was reserved for men.
This flew in the face of historical practices from Sumeria and Akkadia where the EN were top-ranking priestesses distinguished by special ceremonial attire and holding equal status to high priests, the Later Egyptian historical position Divine Adoratrice of Amun, a title created for the chief priestess of Amun. During the first millennium BC, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh to the next, to ancient Greek religion where some important observances, such as the Thesmophoria, and the Eleusinian Mysteries were made by women.
In ancient Rome, The Vestals were a college of six sacerdotes (plural) devoted to Vesta, goddess of the hearth, both the focus of a private home (domus) and the state hearth that was the center of communal religion. Freed of the usual social obligations to marry and rear children, the Vestals took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.
The Ramakrishna Sarada Mission is the modern 21st century monastic order for women. The order was conducted under the guidance of the Ramakrishna monks until 1959, at which time it became entirely independent. It currently has centers in various parts of India, and also in Sydney, Australia. Just as there are two types of Hindu priests, purohits and pujaris. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.
In the liturgical traditions of Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism and Anglicanism, the term ordination refers more narrowly to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons, however, certain Protestant denominations understand the term “ordination” as a more general term and representing the acceptance of a person for pastoral work.
Historians Macy, Madigan and Osiek have identified documented instances of ordained women in the Early Church and, in fact Paul's letter to the Romans, written in the first century AD, mentions a woman deacon, writing, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.” — Rom 16:1, [72]
The Protestant Reformation introduced the dogma that the authority of the Bible exceeds that of Popes and other church figures. Once the Roman Catholic hierarchy was no longer accepted as the sole authority, some denominations allowed women to preach. For example, George Fox founded the Quaker movement after discovering, in 1646, the "inner light" of Christ living in the believer. He believed that the inner light worked in women as well as in men.
In some cases women have been permitted to be ordained, but not to hold higher positions, such as (until July 2014) that of bishop in the Church of England.[2] Where laws prohibit sex discrimination in employment, exceptions are often made for clergy (for example, in the United States).

Is vampire mythology, history and folklore something you have researched extensively? How long has this been a preferred topic?
Vampire myth and folklore has been a favourite subject of interest for me since somewhere around 1980 or so, since that time, initially haunting every library within travelling distance and later on the web, I have never been far away from the reading, the books and the papers and publications. You see, initially, I "awoke", if you like at around the same time and was part of a small, close knit offline group in my hometown. In those days we didn't know what we were and we didn't call ourselves "Vampires", we didn't call ourselves anything. Still, even without the unspoken characterization, the "label", we sort of knew there was some sort of similarity there.

How intensive were the discussions on the history, folklore and mythology of vampires at Smoke and Mirrors? How often was Lilith included?
The discussions at S&M, with the exception of a couple like-minded folks, were quiet, sparse and marked by in depth essays and articles for people to read. The biggest issue was the assertion that "modern" Vampires have absolutely nothing in common with their historical counterparts. As for me, I don't hold that view and never have.

How did you establish contact with John Reason through Real Vampire News, and what made you decide to get involved with it?
Lady M and I came across the link to it one day and went to take a look. We were impressed by the open, honest and pragmatic views and opinions. No fantastical claims, no frills, nothing about Hollywood. We contacted John to chat and befriend him, and we congratulated him on having a sensible place without drama or bullshit. In early 2011 John was heavily involved in graduate studies in college, working and setting up his own specialist business. One evening he broached the subject of having us help out with RVN so it could be given proper on-going attention, more so than his time allowed. Lady M and I talked it over, took us a day or so to decide and agreed.

Explain the reasons you and Lady M relocated to the U.S. from Australia. Had Real Vampire News already had a Stateside readership when you decided to move here?
They call Australia “the lucky country’, did you know? Well, I suppose it is as long as you’re earning over $100,000 a year! Even though I was earning good money at the time we were fighting a losing battle against rising costs and charges with no consideration in the wage arena. After two and a half years of battling to keep creditors on our side, and with my kids all grown up, Lady M said to me, “how would you like to live in the U.S.?” where we have family also. I grabbed my suitcase and said, “sign me up lady!”
Real Vampire News, as it was known, already had a readership, albeit a limited one, by virtue of the work John had already done and the work we were able to put in since early 2011. Being in the U.S., on the ground among the main readership, so to speak, enabled Lady M to work in earnest, and develop networking and contacts. See, I write, I think up the projects, I do the art and graphics and the interviews. Lady M does the hard background work, she is the mastermind in the networking, the winning of friends and the making new contacts office. Without her we wouldn’t have half of what we have to work with.

How much material was lost when your server crashed, and you and Lady M went to work recovering the needed information? What precautions have you taken to prevent it from happening again?
When the Real Vampire News server crashed we lost everything that was online. Literally. We had perhaps 10% of the total saved on computer at the time. The rest we rebuilt from internet cache files. Our current precautions include complete back-up of everything on external storage here and we are activating the recently new WordPress feature of site back-up for it as well. Believe me, we don’t want to have to rebuild the site again - once was enough.

Since Real Vampire News became Real Vampire Life, what new features have been added?
In late 2013 we expanded the format to move beyond the relatively narrow focus of cultural discussions and interviews about Vampires, and stuff like that. We included Fangs And Parties ~ The Events Page, Fangsmiths and FX Artists listings, focus articles on different groups, associations and societies, an information and education section (important information for new arrivals), presentations on Vampire culture models and artists, music, vampire nightlife information including the ever popular Steven Unger’s Guide To New Orleans, Vampire fashion, Vampire History, Mythology and Folklore and, one of our newest, Beyond Borders in which we conduct interviews with culture figures in countries outside the United States. Our goal is not simply to represent the modern Vampire but celebrate everything it is to be a modern Vampire.

Who is Steven Unger and how well versed is he on New Orleans vampire culture? Does he cover parts of New Orleans tourists and readers don’t usually see?
Steven P. Unger is an author of a several books including his 'Guide To New Orleans', one of the most popular and highly frequented articles at RVL and his travelogue/journal about Transylvania. Generally considered to be most well versed in the history and tales of New Orleans, his guidebook is a very popular tome indeed among the denizens of the modern culture.
Steven is constantly updating and refining his information about New Orleans, the book was but the first part of a continuing adventure. Keeping up with developments is easy with Steven’s Facebook page “In The Footsteps Of Dracula” and with the regular guest spots and articles he produces for other publications.

For what other publications does Unger cwrite articles? What subject matter does he cover?
Ultimately, you’d have to ask Steven. I don’t know what he’s working on at this moment. I know where he’s been and he doesn’t restrict his work to one genre or subject, aside from “In The Footsteps Of Dracula” he’s published “Before The Paparazzi: 50 Years Of Extraordinary Photographs” and written a novel entitled “Dancing In The Streets” wherein “Now and then, you still can see the tattered remains of a bumper sticker exclaiming: ‘If you remember the '60s, you weren't there!’ But Steven P. Unger is an exception to the rule-he took notes.”

Which cultural figures do you interview for the Beyond Borders section of Real Vampire Life?
We've been privileged to have been able to have a number of guests from outside the United States as guests over the years. "Beyond Borders" is actually a recent formalization of an effort we have been involved in for around four years. In that time we have been joined by Presidente Davide Santandrea and Vice-Presidente Lady Maria Amico of the Liga Italiana Real Vampires National Association in Italy, Prince-Lord Andreas Axikerzus from Sao Paulo, Darren Demondaz of the London Vampire Meetup and Magazine, Lady CG of Smoke and Mirrors, Canada. We have been joined for round-table discussions by Spurn of the Danish Vampire Community and we are currently conversing with the leader of a German association with a view to our next "Beyond Borders". This is one of the most amazing things about the growth we have experienced, the avenues to make contact with real living Vampires in different cultures and to be able to bring their words and ideas to our readers so the sometimes insular views modern Vampires have are not allowed to hold sway and impose barriers where there aren't any, or rather, shouldn't be any.

What did you and Prince-Lord Andreas Axikerzus discuss when he appeared on Beyond Borders? Do each of your guest interviewees have different tales to tell about their respective vampire scenes?
Prince-Lord Andreas and I covered a number of things, amongst them a little of his history. We covered the overall status of the modern Vampire movement in Brazil and, in particular, local interactions between Vampire culture and non-Vampire culture. We spoke of how his work attracted criticism from certain quarters and discussed the founding and development of his House. We discussed future hopes, projects and the general differences between cultures in Brazil as opposed to American Vampire culture.
These are, probably, the most common areas of discussion we employ when we do a “Beyond Borders” editorial. It’s a way to showcase the differences as well as the similarities.
With the series we set out to not only highlight differences but also to portray similarities. It was our intention, and still is, to demonstrate that even though Vampires in countries other than the United States may speak a different language and live by a different clock, in essence the things we do and the way we do them are pretty much the same with a local flavour. It demonstrates that Vampire culture is global in nature. Sure, there are differences. For example, in Italy and Brazil major Vampire culture groups are recognized legally, they are involved in local politics and local festivals to the point where their existence is taken for granted as being part of the norm… something that, say in the States and the U.K. for example, is not the case. Perhaps this is one of the key messages we at RVL deliver. With time, patience and common sense modern Vampire culture and Non-Vampire culture can become interwoven at a mutually beneficial level.

For how long have vampire culture groups been recognized in Brazil?
This is an excerpt from our “Beyond Borders” interview with Prince-Lord Andreas of June this year: “São Paulo is the only city in the world that has an official date and a law called DAY OF THE VAMPIRES that encourages the donation of blood in public hospitals and campaigns against prejudice and encourage the artistic diversity created by Lás Vamp cineaste for 15 years. I live in a country where social activists have started dressing up as vampires to collect and collect works and promises from politicians to poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods.” The standing of the Rede and other Houses in Brazil is one of social activism and peaceful change. He goes on to say, “So I decided to share content and translate various materials on all this to inspire and find similar in my lands… today 14 years later I notice that the plan worked out. We’ve already taken events and ours into the City Hall of the largest city in South America claiming their rights as citizens and many other fantastic things…”

What is the Liga Italiana Real Vampires National Association according to Presidente Davide Santandrea and Vice-Presidente Lady Maria Amico?
The Liga Italiana was founded in 2012 by Presidente Davide Santandrea. In 2013 it became a legally recognized entity.
An excerpt from our highly successful, and inaugural, “Beyond Borders” interview with our good friend Presidente Davide:
“…the only legal association and national existent in Italy. This my underlining of only legal association existing is not a way to give against the other Italian RV communities, but only to underline what the Italian laws says about associations. To create a legal association, legal and recognized, you have to follow certain procedures given by the Italian state that are different from other countries in the world.
First of all a legal association has to have a council e give every member cards and it is imposed by the Italian law and have a list of all that have subscribed. I can understand that in other countries it could be different but we have to follow the Italian laws to not have legal problems of every genre. Obviously it’s not the LIRV card that makes a person a real vampire or give to a person the license to be a vampire, but is a legal norm of the Italian state: the card only tells that you have subscribed to a certain association and in case of a legal check form the competent Italian authorities, the first thing that they check is if all the people that meet is a certain association or private circle have the card that recognize them as partners. And they ask everyone to show the card.
The real vampire Italian league or simply called LIRV was constituted officially as an association in 2013 depositing the national status to the Italian “IRS” (*Translators note: I think is something similar to IRS, it’s like a police control on finance and having the card, protects you and the club or association from legal problems in case of a check from that agency) that is commonly called “Italian guard of finances”, this is required by the Italian state. Our status it’s visible and can be checked by everyone. For this we are not a cult or a secret group, we are thanks to this an association legally formed and recognized by our state. Once that the vampire community, not only in LIRV, but even out of it, saw that nothing changed, if not for the better, towards Real Vampires, they understood that I was right and that visibility in Italy for real vampires is something indispensable if you want to obtain that in Italy even real vampires can be recognized just as much as the homosexual.”

What insight into London vampire culture has Darren Demondaz given you since you met?
It’s been an ongoing collaboration that began with the “Artists And Models” inaugural presentation in 2013. In 2015 Darren was a guest on one of our “Roundtable” editorials as a member of a panel of commentators considering Vampire media. With our thanks, he provided a rundown of “What’s On” in London Town for Halloween this year. As I said, our relationship with the dapper and debonair Mr. Darren Demondaz is ongoing. See the links from June 2013, July 2015 and October 2017.

Who else is on the staff of Real Vampire Life with you, and what are their respective functions as staff members?
Owner John Reason: “When I began this site, I wanted to help people with different ideas and experiences from around the world come together and share in their common bond. It has been so amazing to see so many wonderful people from all walks of life find an opportunity to grow and learn together. Thank you all for helping to make Real Vampire Life welcoming, informative, and compassionate for everyone. I’ve never found a more accepting and considerate group in my life, and that is exactly the perception that I would like people to have of the vampire community. I have a college degree and I like writing for and about the real vampire community whenever I get the chance. The reason I started Real Vampire (Life) News was to have a place where the real vampire community could come together to learn and interact with each other. My greatest dream for the site is to have vampires, donors, and those interested in the subject from all different walks of life involved in what goes on here at RVL. I currently live in East Texas”
Editor in Chief & Chief Staff Writer: Tim Bey-Sahjaza: “I am a Vampyre, true but that’s only part of it, as well as that I am an energy worker. I have been this way since I was 16… trust me, that’s a long time now… Born in the United Kingdom I moved to Australia in 1974 and then, with my lovely wife, to Illinois, USA in 2013. My passions are my wife and family, my writing and RVL. I’ve always been a proponent of the free sharing of information for education and improvement of life quality and circumstances and I don’t, and never will, accept that anyone has the right to withhold information from others… idealistic? Yep, I get that from my honoured mother. Writing for RVL is my way of, hopefully, improving life and/or circumstances for people, any people but even if it’s only one person, sometime, someplace, then my job’s done. I am passionate about learning and I am at my happiest when I am researching a piece, an editorial article and/or, particularly, a new interview piece. I hope I bring something here that people like and find beneficial.”
Operations Manager and Chief Researcher Lady M: “Born a Vampyre, I have a passing interest in a number of natural magic and occult topics but first and foremost I am a modern living Vampyre, and always will be. Having worked for a major magazine and a major advertising firm during my life I have a passion for research, development and an eye for detail which is what I bring to my role at Real Vampire Life.”
Editor & Researcher Gordon Smith (a.k.a. Hesperus) of CLAVIS Research Group: “I discovered in adolescence that some of my strangeness could be attributed to a need for psi energy. Years later I came across the greater vampire subculture where I met others freely offering the wisdom of their experiences. I have a knack for noticing patterns, which makes me no fun to sit next to at predictable movies, but decent at translating a jumble of statistics into an accessible model. I use that skill to better understand the vampire subculture and, as those before did for me, to provide some insight for others seeking it. Currently an Initiate of the House of the Dreaming and a member of the Voices of the Vampire Community, I’m also the proud founder of CLAVIS Research Group.”
Editor, Staff Writer & Foreign Correspondent (Italy) Lady Ronin Costa (aka Sarah): “I’m Sarah, an Italian Psy-Sang vampire, I’ve know to be one for over eight years now and since then I discovered that I’m also a canis lupos. I have yet to find which breed specifically and it will be my journey to discover it, maybe, or maybe is not something I must know ever and it doesn’t matter. I am myself and this is all that counts. I’ve lived in the states for over two years in Tennessee, and now I’m currently living in Italy where I live my passions as a rope bunny for shibari rope artists, as a writer, as a discoverer of abandoned places where sometimes I encounter various presences, as an eclectic pagan, as a lover, and as a sinner. I’ve studied tourism and languages, took courses on psychology and marketing, lately I’m learning something about photography while I work for a music band for which I work as a promoter on social medias, I will be doing their music videos and pictures of the backstage too if I get good with the camera. I love nature and hiking. My motto is “always try everything once.”

How experienced are the staff of RVL when it comes to working on and promoting e-zines?
Lady M and I have almost six years’ experience under our belts now. When we joined the RVL team we had no specific internet E-Zine experience but we did have a lot of communication experience with public, in professional and business communication settings, in real life settings and in being members and moderators of web groups. Other than that we applied our own creativity and networking abilities to grow RVL. Our other team members are long tenured net users and have been in or around the modern culture long enough to know the lay of the land, so to speak. Combining a passion for the culture with creativity and intelligence has been the key rather than specific qualification and experience and the growth figures have reflected that.

Has featuring vampire cultures from different countries increased your insight into vampire culture in general?
I first came to the online Vampire culture in around 2001-2002 and found a lively, underground, feisty and somewhat argumentative free-for-all. Predominantly looking in on the American model and activities, I found there was a massively insular, even, dare I say it, provincial attitude of ownership where the histories and input from other countries were given either short shrift or “no shrift” at all. Since I began working with RVL I have consciously sought to inclusions from outside of the United States so people who read our E-Zine have the opportunity to see themselves as not just somebody in a local “town community” but in a global context. ‘
There are countries we still have to make contact with and countries that we are in contact with already. Each and every one has something unique, be it from the standpoint of having legal status in Italy as does the Liga Italiana Real Vampires, or having holidays declared; and named, for them as it is in Brazil.
National Vampire associations and movements are the way to become recognized, to be treated fairly and with equality and the way to have the lifestyle and good works recognized in a broad and public arena.

Where do you have yet to contact local and national vampire associations?
All of them with the exception of United States, Canada, Italy, Brazil, Denmark, England and Germany… long way to go yet but word is getting out, we’re currently have listed viewing from 118 countries (as of December 10, 2017). The word is spreading and we are finding that – via the RVL Facebook page – we are getting people from countries outside the United States starting to make contact with us.

Which countries will you be featuring for the vampire subcultures next? How many interviews are you currently scheduling?
We are currently working with a European House for our next “Beyond Borders” and we are working on a combination “Beyond Borders – Introducing The Artists” with some folks in Australia. Generally, I find it best to keep the “International” desk to one or two items since they are definitely more intricate to put together given translation and presentation formatting. As far as on the international front, it can be as many as three or four at one time in addition to international work. You see, at RVL we don’t work to deadlines, we don’t push our guests. We work with their time and calendar restrictions and we are honoured, and very happy, that our guests choose to spend a little time sharing with us and with our readers. Having a few pots on the stove means you’ve always got something close to cooked. 

How much knowledge do you think your readers are getting from reading the articles and interviews posted at RVL?
Hmmm… a difficult question, I could tell you that the most popular reads are ‘Steven Unger’s Guide to New Orleans’, ‘Lilith-A study’ and ‘Vampire Deities’… so that’s a start. When we write and publish we make sure, if it’s an editorial/interview, the words of our guests are reported verbatim, so in that instance, the reader is getting the benefit of experiences and points of view differing from their own.
When we develop special interviews such as the ‘Art Attack’ series we are seeking not only to let our readers in on the fact that prominent culture members actually do other things than lurk in the dark and think about Vampyre stuff. It’s designed to be inspirational, maybe get other readers into designing, crafting and, with a bit of luck, retailing for themselves. When I write “Crossroads” editorials, they are the “opinion pieces” it is with the hope that the material will have some folks thinking differently about things that they may not have considered before and may lead to some beneficial change for them. Like I say to all the staff and to anyone that asks, if we can bring about a beneficial change to just one’s person’s life or circumstance we have done our job well.

What is the Art Attack series and how extensively is crafting, designing and retailing covered in this column?
The ‘Art Attack series was developed to highlight the amazing talent that many people in the modern real Vampire culture have, and explore, when they’re not doing Vamp things. Each ‘Art Attack is a feature of individual artists and what they do, where their creativity and inspiration comes from and what they do with their creations when the work is finished. In this respect we do present links to the artist’s retail outlets in the editorials. A lot of folks in the modern culture are artists for a living and we feel that if we can help them putting the message, the craft and the art out there where people will buy it then we are doing our job for them. We don’t take fee, contribution, cuts of, endorsements or any form of inducements for our time and work at RVL, we are a completely free service provider to the modern Vampire culture… heck, our hard-working and amazing staff don’t get paid, they do it because they are passionate about it. 

How many topics have you covered in your Crossroads editorials? Have you gotten feedback from readers who were inspired to think after checking it out?
Goodness me, big question… hold on! The count is, currently, 29 separate editorials tagged as “Crossroads Editorials” that cover 26 different topics. Now, they are the ones that have been published, or re-published, since the 2012 server meltdown. Could be there’s a few that go back prior to that but the majority were written after that. We have had feedback. In fact, one of the Crossroads editorials was actually in the nature of a rebuttal to the original editorial I wrote and I was so impressed with it, and with the approach of the author, that I published it, in full, at RVL. Crossroads ~ In Response To Separatism, Isolationism Or Just Good Sense? By Rev. Mercutio of Haus des Dunklen Lichtes.
I’m quoting from our official “About” statements now.
“What RVL cannot be ~
RVL cannot become a “public forum” of debate. We do welcome comments from our readers that are presented in such a manner that is consistent with informed opinion, rational in manner and presentation and to a large extent, non-inflammatory. Though we appreciate candid and honest expression RVL will not be party to fostering inappropriate dissension and argument. We will undertake to review all comments that are sent in but, as with any periodical, the final decision whether to permit comments to be posted or not rests with the administration of the site. We will not accept any comments that are vulgar, obscene, needlessly provocative, and derogatory or aimed at harassing any other person who has posted or commented here. We will remain neutral in position, of a high standard of presentation and non-discriminatory in our dealings within and outside the subculture.”
These days our readers find it far easier to contact us via Facebook or Twitter, where we publish the links to all our published stories.

What changes do you see in the mainstream’s perception of vampires in recent years? What media outlets are doing the most to alter those perceptions for the better, between internet, books, magazines, television and cinema?
To be honest the changes in perception we have seen over the last decade or so have been at the hands of sympathetic Vampires on the television. I suppose you could say it began with the 2008 British television series “Being Human” wherein a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost move into a flat together and try to live a normal life. The “mainstream” or what we like to call “mundane” world perception suddenly becomes one of sparkly fictional vampires and people suddenly get swept away in “Twilight”, “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries”, all grist to the mill for television ratings but doing absolutely nothing positive for the culture. The only legacy we inherited was the absolute flood of youngsters who suddenly wanted to be Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, Bill Compton or Stefan Salvatore. Seriously, we’ve even fielded pleas from people in certain countries who have said they would be willing to die in order to become Vampires. That’s how dangerous these portrayals have become.
The only periodicals, magazines or publications that even attempt to counter these perceptions are books written by people associated closely, sometimes in an academic way, with the culture and e-zines that write for and within the culture while still maintaining a public portal. The problem is the mass media can, and does, reach far wider an audience than all of us could ever hope to.
In the early to mid-2000’s there were documentaries that brought out the realistic image of the culture. A&E and the History Channel spring to mind but again it comes down to the scope of the audience.

Name some examples or factual vampire programs you have seen on A&E and the History Channel. How strongly would you recommend each of those programs?
The A&E and History Channel programs were before the time I started working with RVL but I have seen, via the net, the A&E special that featured Lady CG. I would strongly recommend that one to anyone who wished to listen to what a real lady Vamp had to say. Aside from that I have seen certain “factual” programs that treated the Vampire tales. I’ve seen the National Geographic documentary “Vampires” which starts out with the most salacious primer, “It's the most unholy of acts—drinking human blood. Committed by creatures of the night—vampires! Most people don't think they really exist. But could it be they're closer than you'd ever dream?”… Wouldn’t be recommending that one anytime soon. Invariably you find the majority of Vampire documentaries, or docudramas, are obsessed with the “Elizabeth Bathory” and “Vlad The Impaler” archetypes… definitely NOT what real modern Vampires are about.

What was the information divulged by Lady CG in her special A&E program?
The 2005 A&E documentary featured Lady CG and Lady Michelle Belanger, and other well-known figures from within, and outside the culture and community. In essence, Lady CG explained the concepts of modern Vampire culture, she told of the realities of being a modern sanguine Vampire and, perhaps most importantly, she stressed the safety aspects of sanguine practices, her book “Practical Vampirism” was introduced and with help from other members of her family, she let the viewer have a glimpse into her private, family and very “normal” life. She delivered a message that modern vampires are not weird, dangerous or predatory monsters. The documentary is available still, in parts, on YouTube. One of RVL’s ongoing projects is to put the “parts” of past documentaries together to re-create the whole. The messages that were given in these early documentaries are still valid and will be important to newcomers to the culture, it’s something that’s part of our legacy.

If you were ever to produce a historical program about vampires, what sources of information would you draw from?
That would have to be a three pronged approach, in my opinion. Firstly, one would have to be drawing from the folklore of just about every single country in the world. Every race, every nation, every people have tales of Vampires in their history and folklore so you would have to start with the overwhelming amount of “common” knowledge of the Vampyric. Secondly, contemporary reports of investigations into Vampire claims. Reports such as the written accounts of Charles VI’s Regimental Field Surgeon Johannes Fluckinger. Appointed on December 12th, 1731, Fluckinger headed for the town of Medvegia where a Vampire had been reported and began to gather accounts of what had occurred. Written copies of his reports, which appear to support such claims, survive in museums to this day. Similarly, the American author, professor of Russian and East European History at Boston College, contemporary and colleague of Radu Florescu, Raymond T McNally made a journey to the region to examine accounts and ostensibly court records. He discovered that although none made mention of bathing in blood, some did indeed recall her penchant for biting some of her victims. Father Laslo Turóczi had written about her in his historical account of Hungary, published in 1744.
Other written, and surviving, records from the days, and investigations, of the 18th century Austrian court regarding the matter wherein the Empresses personal physician was dispatched to investigate and report on similar incidents are available.
The third thing, and the thing that everyone tends to forget, is the history of the modern Vampire culture which emerged beginning in around 1966. From that time forward we have studies, academic papers, personal recollections and reports from the people, rather I should say people AND Vampires, who were actually involved in the emergence and growth of the modern culture. We can’t restrict ourselves to one period of history nor to the accounts of one country.

Do you think you would ever have an opportunity to make such a special on vampires?
That’s an interesting question. Personally, I think Vampires and Vampirism are somewhat yesterday’s news now. Television series have come and gone, Vampire films are not main fodder at the movies now… too many Jedis still left out there I guess. Unless something comes of the current drive toward scientific inquiry and study about the “modern condition” of Vampirism I don’t know whether we’ll see too many more documentaries, docudramas or even movies about Vampires unless someone decides to add a new twist somewhere. To my knowledge ‘Dracula Untold’ was the last cinematic venture and that was 2014, and ‘Shraap 3D’ was Bollywood's first ever Vampire horror film in 2016. Television examples, such as ‘Blue Veins’, from Hong Kong, in Cantonese, hit television about nine immortal humans who fight Vampires in 2016, the American-Canadian television series ‘Van Helsing’, a fantasy horror drama television series, that premiered on Syfy kicked off in 2016 and ‘Let the right one in’, a proposed American drama television series created for TNT and based on the best-selling novel written by novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist, had the pilot filmed but was ultimately passed up by TNT. As I say, perhaps aside from niche television productions, we appear to be going “off the boil” somewhat and that’s a good thing in some ways since one of the biggest, if you’ll pardon the pun, ‘crosses’ we bear is the continued number of young people who would, “give anything to become an immortal creature of the night/undead prince/princess of darkness”, and so forth.

Vampires may be yesterday’s news in terms of media gaining financially from the mythos (before that it was zombies and torture porn), but in terms of uncovering legends and covering the contemporary underground culture, can new ways still be found?
Vampires will always have a home in media, granted not to the extent that they have but as far as a mythos that has survived, with and alongside mankind, for somewhere around 5,000 years they will never disappear completely. As far as uncovering legends and the underground culture goes, yes, new things will continue to be discovered.
Contemporary archaeological findings in the near east and Eastern Europe will keep the spirit of the folklore alive, discoveries such as those in Pardubice, East Bohemia, in 2008 where archaeologists uncovered a 4000-year-old grave in Mikulovice, eastern Bohemia, containing the remains of what might have been considered a vampire at the time, and in 2012, two medieval “vampire” skeletons emerged near a monastery in the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Sozopol dating back 800 years to the Middle Ages. The modern underground starting to become “above ground” with the legal recognition of Liga Italia Real Vampires in 2013 and the establishment of “public holiday” days recognizing modern living Vampires are their folklore in Brazil.
There are still discoveries to come, I believe, on the physiological side of the modern condition as well, we will develop ways of recognizing, and defining, the condition known as ‘modern living Vampirism’.

How many differences in perception of vampire culture do you see among other websites and forums on the internet?
(Laughs) Put ten experts in a room with the same question and you’ll get eleven different answers… ever heard that saying? Seriously, there are as many theories about Vampyrism as there are Vampires and it’s something that is a personal, private experience. No one has ever really been able to come up with a definitive list of “traits” common to all because there isn’t such a thing. No one has yet come up with a wholly acceptable definition of what a “modern living Vampire” is because no one can agree on it. No one has come up with a definitive explanation because there are too many factors that are reported as having influence.
The differences are myriad, and it’s largely because of this that there are so many different groups and so many different “pages” that all purport to have “the truth” about modern Vampires.
What is the truth about modern Vampires? (shrugs) No idea, and anyone that tells you they have it are being misleading. However, at RVL we bring all sorts of things to the table, referenced and cross-referenced where possible, without fear, favour or bias, so that people can read and form their own opinions.

Are you thinking up more new ideas for Real Vampire Life you will be implementing in the near future?
Always; we never stop thinking about it. All the staff have input in this process, evinced by the fact that since coming aboard as our first Foreign Correspondent in Italy, Lady Sarah has published a couple of pieces in her own right, as Editor and Writer. We are, via the RVL Facebook page feeds and follows, always keeping tabs on what is going on in modern culture. We have between us a great number of networked contacts and sometimes they ask us to write about certain things. The ideas come from all over; we just put them together in a coherent, informative, and hopefully entertaining fashion.
It's mostly keeping an eye on the 'comings and goings' you find material, inspiration and stories. There are so many people in the culture who believe they don't have a story, anything to say or anything to contribute and that's wrong. There are some that don't deserve the space and time because, by and large, they do things for themselves without any sense of belonging to something bigger than they. That's sad, in a way. That's why we try and look for positive things to write editorials and interviews about. 

How would you want Real Vampire Life to be remembered for its contributions to vampire communities worldwide?
“An impartial, freely available source of reporting and sharing of information for the improvement and education of the modern Vampire culture...” that's pretty much the aim. That's what our owner described to us when Lady M and I first came aboard. The only little "deviation" I am permitted from the mission is in producing the "Crossroads" articles. As I said to our owner, it's just not possible for people to write and report and NOT have an opinion. I mean, look at any of the major newspapers throughout the country, heck, the world... opinions vary depending on who they like, politically or socially, and who they don't. Opinion is the fuel of discussion and discussion is the source of progress. Without good, informed discussion; I don't mean clawing, scratching, spitting and biting arguments that you tend to see frequently; you can't develop good, informed ideas and initiatives for improvement.

Would there be anything else you would want to mention in relation to RVL or any new projects to wrap up the interview?
Just like to thank you on behalf of the team at J. Reason’s Real Vampire Life E-Zine for allowing us to present our work, what we do, why we do it, who we do it for. We’re going to keep doing it for everyone who has an abiding interest with the Vampire spirit and we hope that folks will come take a look, either at  the E-Zine or RVL’s Facebook.
November was a watershed month for us and December’s heading the same way… nice to know we’re doing something right.

-Dave Wolff