I Want to Suck Your -- Blood?

Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh



Perhaps nothing attracted more media attention after Sue's disappearance

than her involvement with New York City's vampire scene. The whole

concept of bloodsucking crazies seemed to tickle radio and TV

commentator fancies when ordinary sex and violence could not. The jaded

editors of the New York Times seemed unmoved by the fact that a strip

dancer had vanished under mysterious circumstances, that she might have

been the victim of stalkers, booze, prescription drugs or even the

Russian Mafia. But when reports surfaced that Sue had investigated

Vampire Cults with the idea of doing an article for the Village Voice

and that during the course of her investigations she had even taken one

of the poor blood-thirsty devils home, that got a few inches of precious

ink, as well as broadcasts on WCBS all new radio, WINS radio, FOX and

NBC TV. For that brief moment in time, Sue was a star.

The vampire she brought home had the remarkably ironic name of

Christian, and was far from being the furiously fanged creature media

might have painted him. In fact, Christian feared his own shadow and fit

so well into Sue's paranoid world that he believed every fable she

created and shook with terror each time the telephone rang.


Christian inherited Sue's bed after Walker fell out of it, a 21-year-old

boy who was vulnerable enough to think he loved Sue. Her certainly was

infatuated with her aura. She was the experienced older woman who would

teach him how love, seducing him via his ego. But for the most part, he

was one of the hundreds of emaciated boys and girls who had taken role

playing games of their teenage years one step too far, dressing in

black, painting their faces in a death-like parlor, living a fantasy

life because they lacked the credentials to succeed in the real world,

sharing each others company and their lack of worth, developing a

community of friends who never once had to realize just how foolish they



Sue realized in the middle of her research for "Redlight" that she

needed to find a follow-up story for the Voice, something that broke new

ground the way her "Russian Mafia" fable seemed to do. The vampires

(sometimes spelled vampyres) or Goths, as the movement has been called,

had become quite a social scene on the Lower East Side of New York City

with a network of lonely boys and girls across the country inspired by

Anne Rice novels and this need to dress up and shock their parents. A

whole new society was forming around a series of clubs, where such kids

could go, acting out roles their imaginations had manufactured.


But Sue was as behind the times on the Goth movement as she was with the

invasion of criminals from the former Soviet Union, with the network

already stretching tenuous webs from one coast to the other, an dramatic

fan club who had lost touch with the basis of their reality, walking

with the streets in imitation of 1950s b-movies, while believing they

remained loyal to the principals of a new Gothicism. Floyd Merchant,

Sue's father, was nearly taken totally in by Sue's diaries, when he told

me how dangerous he believed these people to be. Yet if anything, these

people were largely overgrown children, threatening to hurt themselves

by sheer accident, rather than any intent.


Christian was an ample example of this, hiding in Sue's apartment,

fearing each ring of the telephone, each knock at the door, believing

every piece of deception Sue sold him on stalker, mobsters and

mysterious men from the CIA. So utterly convinced was he that Sue's

fabrications were true that he moved out of her apartment within days of

her disappearance (needless to say that he had sponged off Sue for

nearly a year and wasn't about to come up with the rent himself now that

Sue had fled). From all accounts, Christian suffered conspiracy problems

of his own, and was the man responsible for leading Sue through the

dark, narrow passages of that particular underworld, creating more drama

than the situation deserved.


In many ways, this, too, was a logical extention of Sue's mythology,

another slide show projection from those days in school when she read

and re-read Valerie Solanas' manifesto for the Society of Cutting Up

Men, when she envisioned herself in her heroine's place, saddling up to

the likes of Andy Warhol and Lou Reed. Sue regretted being born too late

to be an active member of that scene, though more than one source

suggested that she had met Warhol during her high school tours of New

York, while one source said Sue actually claimed twhen she read and



But over the years between 1994 and when she disappeared, Sue was no

longer the innocent child she had portrayed through most of her younger

life. Age and her lifestyle had begun to catch up with her, wrinkles had

begun to form around her eyes, and men began to expect that she would

put out for them when they saw her. She could not as easily tease them

into giving her what she wanted. Most of the time, she really did have

to sleep with men, charging them the way any ordinary prostitute would

-- and that offended her dignity.


In the Goth world, she could start over, a kind of queen of the tribe,

an elder spokesperson, who hadn't shot Andy Warhol, but had seduced him,

who could wander in and out of their scenes without the stigma

associated with the more conventional sex world. As the grand dame, she

could seduce boys like Christian, and lure him along with her stories

without fear of his ever catching on. When he was still talking to the

press, Christian said he lived in constant fear of stalkers, and the

fearful beeping beeper than went off nearly every fifteen minutes as if

Sue had arranged the calls herself, so as to heighten the fear and

wallow in its glories.


"She was my first girlfriend, she was my only girlfriend, and having her

gone is both horrifying and terrible," he told the press.


She picked him up during one of her tours of the Goth clubs. She

professed to be researching a story on Vampires for the Village Voice.

Christian said she and he would hang out at the clubs, where the main

entertainment was the exchange of blood. Sue in her usual fictional

fashion would attempt to do for the gothic set what she had for her life

with mobsters, creating whole fearful scenarios, detailing her lies in

her diaries with the idea of creating yet another book, a book she hoped

would serve as sequel to "Redlight."


Yet Ridgeway, who was willing to lift vast passages from her book on the

sex industry, wouldn't even look at the manuscripts she offered on the

vampires. Perhaps he had finally realized just how much a fool he had

been in accepting Sue's word on the sex industry and wasn't about to

make the same mistake with the vampires. More than likely, Ridgeway

suspected much of Sue's deception from the start, but felt he could make

use of those Sue invented about the sex industry, but did not wish to

step over the line of credibility by accepting her lies about the



When he appeared on Unsolved Mysteries to talk about Sue's

disappearance, he stressed his disbelief in Sue's tales.


"She used to be very dramatic about going into this van," he said. "She

used to say: `It's dangerous for me to go into that van. I might not

come back.' and I used to tell her, don't go into the van."


As she had done for Ridgeway in her research on Redlight, Sue wrote a

detailed reports in her diaries about what she found, reports her father

Floyd would later find and take as fact -- though Sue did as much

perverting of fact for these diaries as she had in all the previous

diaries she'd kept since high school. Whether because of some mental

illness keeping her from understanding the difference between fiction or

fact (the way Hardin seems to believe) or from some deliberate move to

deceive people (the way Dorothy from college believes) Sue's diaries

reflected accounts that hardly rereports her father Floyd would later

find and take as fact -- though Sue did as much perverting of fact for

these diaries as she had in all the previous diaries she'd kept since

high school. Whether because of some mental illness keeping her from

understanding the difference be


Ridgeway claimed he distrusted her judgment when it came to the

vampires. It seemed important during his interview with Unsolved

Mysteries to make a distinction between Sue's vampire research and her

research of the sex industry, when Sue clearly painted both with the

same distorted brush, giving both works the tint of her own paranoia.

But Ridgeway -- both in public and to private sources -- pressed on with

his theory that Xanax and alcohol had changed Sue and put her on a path

of self-destruction, of which the vampire research was a symptom. He did

not mention, however, the numerous calls from Sue over the course of

"Redlight" long construction, when she complained bitterly about what

might happen, whose name might appear on the jacket. She was in constant

search of reassurance, and Ridgeway constantly assured her all was well,

telling her not to quit dancing, not to stop writing in her diary,

giving her assignments related to his book in order to ease her jittery



But she knew she would be betrayed. She knew deep down that he would

walk away from her, and for that reason, pressed him harder to share the

vampire book with him.


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