The Nature of the Beast

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

 

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On July 13, 1996, three days before Sue disappeared from Nutley, the

Humane Society people found two baby raccoons stuffed into a collection

box in Kearny, most of the blood drained from the mutilated bodies.

Although, experts said this was not likely a vampire cults routine, such

incidents have occurred routinely over the last few years, increasing in

number as the blood fetish grows in popularity.

 

"Animal blood is for the chicken-hearted," one self proclaimed vampire

hunter said. "The real kinky souls go in for human blood."

 

After Sue disappeared, her connection to the vampire scene would draw

international headlines. The New York Times, New York Post and numerous

radio and TV news shows smeared the airwaves with theories that Sue

might be a victim of a vampire cult, painting these pathetic people as

members of an obscure sado-masochistic sub-culture where people

allegedly drink blood, rather than spoiled or lonely middle class

children who couldn't give up role playing even when approaching

adulthood.

 

No serious investigation was conducted into this aspect of Sue's

research, despite pleas by Sue's father for the FBI to look into the

case.,

 

"Being a vampire isn't illegal," one source said, though an outraged

Floyd -- who has spent too much time injected into the fictional world

of Sue's journals -- expressed extreme disgust for the kind of people

who were involved with the vampire scene.

 

Surprisingly enough Unsolved Mysteries when it aired in January, 1997,

did less to exploit this aspect of Sue's career than other media, yet

failed to express the wrath Sue felt towards Ridgeway when he rejected

her proposal.

 

"She was really peeved at him," Ron Goldberg told Glenn Kenny later.

 

Rob Hardin, Sue's exboyfriend, seemed to catch the real flavor of what

the Vampire scene is all about, in a kind of sad laughter over Sue's

taking on the 21-year-old Christian as her lover. Hardin, who lives and

works in the East Village and has nearly daily contact with members of

this scene, saw the vampire cult as one more excuse to do drugs,

couching their getting high in this far flung philosophy the way the

hippies did in my generation or the beats did in theirs.

 

"I had to laugh when her 21-year-old pet boyfriend said that the vampire

scene in NYC wasn't about drugs. I refer you to Eurydice's article o

Blood Sports and Vampirism in Spin Magazine, as well as the testimony of

SF writers/performers Danielle Willis and Violet, and also to Otter,

whom I've booked for readings at the Pyramid," Hardin said. "Vampire

chic is partly about "slowing down the aging process" and syringe

fetishism, both mere excuses for shooting dope."

 

Reporter Paul O'Keeffe of the Nutley Journal investigated the more

superficial aspects of the vampire culture, announcing to the world that

he had been inducted as a life time member of the Temple of the Vampire

and received his membership card for five bucks. He said he had seen an

advertisement in the back of "Fate magazine" the "People Magazine" of

the occult.

 

Temple of the Vampire has not only been in business since 1989, but is

even registered with the federal government. This Temple serves the

undead gods who roam the earth and embrace lost members of the family.

Vampire medallion and ring are available in high polished silver for $50

each. Copy of the vampire bible (the Book of Nod, for those in the know)

costs $25. O'Keeffe was even supplied a copy of the vampire creed.

 

"I am a vampire. I worship my ego and I worship my life, for I am the

only god that is. I am proud that I am predatory animal and I honor my

animal instincts. I exalt my rational mind and hold no belief that is in

defiance of reaand I honor my animal instincts. I exalt my rational mind

and hold no belief that is in defiance of reason. I recognize the

difference between the worlds of truth and fantasy. I acknowledge the

fact that survive is the highest law . I acknowledge the powers of

darkness to be hidden natural laws through which I work my magic. I now

that my beliefs in ritual are fantasy, but the magic is real, and I

respect and acknowledge the results of my magic. I realize there is no

heaven as there is no hell, and I view death as the destro

 

While O'Keeffe took a light-hearted view of the Vampire scene, nearly

opposite the fearful, blood-curdling view Floyd expressed, Sue had

sought to build up the threat of vampires so that she could exploit them

the way she tried to exploit the invasion of the Russian Mafia -- only

this time, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon, she would lead the

media frenzy in exposing the vampires, thus sexpressed, Sue had sought

to build up the threat of vampires so that she could exploit them the

way she tried to exploit the invasion of the Russian Mafia -- only this

time, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon, she would lead the media

frenzy in exposing the vampires, thus side-st

 

 

 

This is not to say that Sue was totally wrong. The vampire scene like

UFO cults, clans surrounding various conspiracies, right wing separatist

groups and any number of religious cults, all point to the same mass

hysteria growing here in the United States and across the world, a kind

of panicked reaction to an over-systematic world, where people as

individuals have lost significance and seek answers to their

insignificance in alternative scenarios.

 

Because we cannot deal with the side effects of capitalism, the cold

calculation of the stock market and the inhuman treatment of a

consumer-based economy, we need answers that are beyond the boundaries

of traditional society. We won't blame GM or Ford for our inability to

buy a car, we conspire to build a fantasy about secret dealings between

space aliens and government, or in our ability to cheat death by sucking

blood.

 

The real danger is in our inability to understand the unreality of these

things, how they are like passages from the Bible, simply metaphors that

allow us to function "like robots" in the day to day society, where we

must produce and consume, live and die, in order to keep the money

flowing, and keep ourselves employed.

 

Floyd Merchant, in reading Sue's diaries saw the horror of the vampire

clans, calling them dangerous. Others see the danger of such groups in

their self-delusion, because once these people actually start believing

their own rhetoric, they are no better than psychotics, out of touch

with reality, failing to understand that the vampire gig, the UFO

abduction gig, all amount to a child's dressing up for a costume party.

Once they actually believe themselves the characters, they betray, they

become ominous and a serious threat to others.

 

A group of teens from one of the vampire clans in Kentucky apparently

beat two people to death, and possibly abducted the 15-year-old

daughter. Later, police discovered the daughter, Heather, may actually

have been a member of the clan.

 

"They apparently like to suck blood," said Kentucky Police detective

Sgt. Mike Jump. "They cut each other's arms and suck the blood. They the

blood. They cut up small animals and suck the blood. They honestly

believe they

 

Early in November, one of this vampire cults was charged with three

misdemeanor counts for breaking into an animal shelter. Some puppy was

stomped to death, another was mutilated.

 

I don't know how much Sue wrote in her diaries about her experiences

with Vampire cults, though Floyd, her father, seemed greatly agitated by

what he found there, telling me during our brief conversation after

Sue's disappearance, that I ought to search out these people and reveal

the nasty things they do, as if Sue had created for him a vampire versi

greatly agitated by what he found there, telling me during our brief

conversation after Sue's disappearance, that I ought to search out these

people and reveal the nasty things they do

 

If she was intending to publish a book, Sue would have needed to

elaborate significantly on the superficial passages she had included in

her book "Redlight," and would have had to have created much more detail

about cult activity than she did in describing what went on in the

Russian Mafia take over or even the sex industry for "Redlight" she

claimed to know so well.

 

But was Sue capable of rising over her own limitations as a writer? To

date, Sue has managed to create nothing of substance, only romantic

diatribes that hint of danger she never really managed to describe.

Floyd sounded disgusted when he reported what he had read in her

journals. But how could Sue possibly create something out of nothing,

manufacturing a threat when she had failed so miserably at doing this

with the Russian Mafia? If her diaries in the 1990s resembled those she

wrote in the 1970s and the 1980s, most of what they contained were

likely lies, distortions she shaped to fit her reality, not anything she

actually witness. A lot of the material Floyd read probably had its

origin in Anne Rice novels or one of the many other cult favorites from

which the social vampires draw inspiration.

 

But even those few incidents which may have some aspect of truth

contained in them, were altered in some fundamental way, reshaped, with

the names of people switched, with situations exaggerated. Sue needed a

blockbuster, after all, and she could only get attention for this book

if she notched up the drama.

 

This is probably the reason why Ridgeway wanted no part of it. The lies

and distortions contained in "Redlight" at least had some sense of

truth, based on realistic expectations. Sue created fictions of her

emotions, shaped people into cartoon characters, but never fell off the

edge into science fiction.

 

The vampire hunter I talked to agreed with Hardin, claiming these cults

were made up largely of spoiled children with too much money or some

mental derangement, a contemporary excuse to engage in dope and sex,

with blood as a prop upon which to hang their fantasies, something with

which these children of the 1990s could shock their parents the way

children of the 1960s did with dirty clothing and out-of-wedlock babies.

 

 

To give Sue credit, she had stumbled on something much larger than most

people understood, something that touched the soul of the modern

teenager in a way that few adults could understand, allowing for a

connection even to the apparently ordinary teenager. Body piercing and

tattoos, the moodiness of the East Village subculture, Heavy-metal

music, connecting suburban teenyboppers with the hard core cultist of

the city the way long hair, bellbottoms and rock music connected

teenyboppers of my era with the hippies of the Haight, St. Marks or

Hollywood Boulevard in my youth, but with an element of virtual reality

that scares me more than all the talk of blood sucking.

 

Like many good role game players, these vampire cultists had created a

large backdrop against which to play their elaborate games, drawing on,

and recreating a history that gives them a legitimacy they hardly

deserve.

 

"Forget what you've seen the movies," my vampire hunting friend told me.

"All that garlic and silver bullet stuff is bullshit."

 

Unlike Ridgeway and the Village Voice, the New York Times did broach the

subject vampire cults -- partly prompted by Sue's vanishing. The Voice's

silence after Sue vanished on July 16, 1996 said much about the paper's

feelings towards her and the work she had done for them, bearing a sense

of deep shame and embarrassment it would take almost a year to over

come, and then, only after questions began to surface about basic

journalistic ethical behavior when dealing with its interns.

 

In dealing with these cults, the New York Times focused in closely on

some of the members, describing one Manhattan vampire as "reclined on a

plush bedspread ... a figure of pale ivory ... [with] sepulchral notes

in his laughter and undercurrents of menace in his smile, [a smile]

which reveals long, sharp canine teeth that curl over his lower lip like

incipient fangs."

 

This and other fantasy figures have stepped out of the books of Anne

Rice and William Gibson, part of what Millennium psychologists are

calling "the new great hysteria," something similar to the social

madness that caused millions of children to flee farm life for urban

centers during the final vestiges of the industrial revolution. This and

other cult phenomena part of the backlash against the suburban sprawl of

the 1940s, psychologists are calling "the new great hysteria," something

similar to the social madness that caused million

 

These kids -- now growing into adults -- are aching for social

revolution their generation cannot manufacture, lacking the sheer

numbers of the 1960s, as well as the ideology. Love and Peace have been

converted into silent aggression that has to be acted out in the modern

equivalent of parlor drama. These young men and women, dressed up, act

out their fantasies once or twice or three times a week, then revert at

dawn to the clerks and stock brokers they must be to survive, living

boring, mundane lives without purpose, without philosophy -- and without

hope.

 

One of the people the New York Times article focused on was a

20-year-old man who called himself Ethen Gilchrist who claimed himself

part vampire, his overbite and distaste for sunlight products of that

part of his genetic makeup, as was his attraction to blood. If he got a

cut, he lapped up the blood like a dog lapping water. If a friend got a

cut, he would lend his tongue to do the same. He called this exchange

"intimate," some psychologists call it sexual, one more thrill-seeking

experience for a generation without geographical frontiers or

intellectual challenges. In the age of AIDS, blood becomes the symbol of

mortality -- and immortality, and the vampire cult, like cults in other

plague-ridden eras -- becomes a way of challenging death, a

blood-sucking Russian Roulette (though without likely risk of

contracting the disease.)

 

In many cases, these are not conscious challenges or attractions, and

the mystery of "unconscious, insidious desires" makes them seem that

much more mystical. Cultists such as these do not evolve out ofthem seem

that much more mystical. Cultists such as these do not evolve out of the

more intelligent gene pools of humanity or out of the better educated

families. Like many who seek religion of any kind as an answer to their

psychological problems, they take things literally, and adopt those

things they can't explain as magically or beyond understanding. In some

ways, the vampire cult depends heavily upon Christianity for its

mythology, a kind of flip-side religion to which many of these kids have

flocked in their protest against their middle class parents' Christian

rebirth in the 1970s. To these kids, Christianity is part of the reason

life has become so boring and without hope, the challenges

 

Rapture, for those who do not know the psychedelic-like Revelations of

The Bible, details the return of Christ. At the end of each century,

proponents of this part of The Bible perk up and begin carrying their

generation's version of clapboards to predict doom for mankind. But this

doomsaying grows more frantic before the change of millennium, and has

been ongoing since the end of the 1960s, when my generation --

disillusioned by the promise of love and peace and desperate to regain

some sense of order in their lives after those years of chaos --

returned to fundamental versions of Christianity in droves, giving to

the new Christian Movement the power of numbers that New Left had during

the 1960s. This New Fundamentalism helped elect Ronald Reagan as

president, but also created an atmosphere of doom, a different kind of

mushroom cloud under which many of today's 20-year-olds had to grow up.

 

Instead of fearing "the bomb" the way we did in the 1950s and early

1960s, these kids confronted a much more psychologically stunting power.

While we could protest for Nuclear Test Ban treaties and propose

"banning the bomb," these children faced the wrath of Christ Himself,

unable to do anything but seek the darkside in protest, dooming

themselves psychologically to the eternal flames of hell. For none could

live up to the perfect standard set by the New Fundamentalists,

therefore these children, whose hormones and young hopes stirred up a

passion in them not so different from our own, but in a world which

their parents said was doomed from the start, hormones won out over

hope, and they reverted to fantasies such as vampire cults -- which

protested and rejected the religion of their parents, at the same time,

held out the lure of an immortality that wouldn't leave them victims of

Satan.

 

By becoming vampires, each became a Satan unto himself or herself,

wrapped up in the cloak of doom, embracing its culture, celebrating its

abnormalities, engaging in its rituals -- ritual that takes literally

one central element of Christianity, and that is the drinking of blood.

 

Vampire Fantasy

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