Vampire Fantasy

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

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

In its article on the Vampire society, the New York Times went on to say

that Gilchrist (many of the practitioners have adopted Christian-like

names) is part of a loosely knit Manhattan clan of "vampire enthusiasts"

who frequent clubs that cater to their tastes, dressing up in elaborate

costumes for nightly visitations that has a remarkably similar air to a

Star Trek convention. And like the numerous fanatical groups surrounding

everything from the Beatles to model airplane buildings, these vampires

have built their own network of communications, putting out publications

and setting up webpages by which they can exchange information and

maintain a nearly constant connection with each other, just one more

subculture in a rapidly fragmenting social culture, seeking to find

something mainstream society lacks. Sue, who desired to relive Valerie

Solanas' experiences with the early punk movement surrounding Andy

Warhol, would have found an immediate connection with these modern

beatniks of blood, identifying with their sense of style and their

morose view of the world. Even her tan-resistant complexion fit in with

their pale faces, but more importantly, she would have found something

important in their basic makeup that connected to the frightened little

girl in her, an unspoken sense of rage that in them came out with fangs

and claws.

 

According to the Times, the entire population of this vampire world

numbers little over a few thousand nation-wide, desperate, lonely people

who have sought this means of displaying their dissatisfaction with

mindlessness of Wall Street rather than holing up in places like Waco,

Texas or blowing up federal buildings such as the one in Oklahoma City.

 

But like the numerous other millennium cults that have cropped up around

the world in anticipation of the apocalypse, the vampires have built a

rather complicated society of their own, with their own laws and

customs, adopting a history as old as The Bible itself.

 

In carrying their mockery of the Judeo-Christian world one step further,

vampires have adopted the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, but with the

same, bitter anti-Christian myth. Instead of identifying with the good,

hardworking slain brother Abel -- as Christian have in their reading of

the old testament, the vampires model themselves after Cain. He has

become their Adam, the man from which the whole vampire myth emerges,

the founding father of their faith, the outcast who Christian society

has come to hate, marked forever, doomed to wander the earth in search

of peace. When Cain killed Abel, the vampires claim, he inadvertently

became the first vampire, rejected, forced to wander the world at night.

 

 

While this retelling of the Biblical tale would likely appall the

Christian families who had spawned these children of the night, the

connection makes sense. Many of these vampires -- like Sue -- felt cast

out by their families, the victims of divorced parents or parents with

untreated mental disorders whose ill-logic got passed down to the

children in the form of subconscious, modeling. Instead getting their

sexual gratification from prom night or their sense of power from a

graduates degree, these children -- like Cain -- sought both sexual

gratification and sense of self worth from dressing up like vampires and

sucking blood, creating their own underworld in which to wander.

 

And cult breeds cult.

 

I learned a lot from a man who claimed to be a vampire hunter, a rare

breed who got his kicks from pursuing evil and conquering it, though he

was never clear as to how. But he said if Sue -- an amateur chose to

pursue these spirits into their dark world, she was asking for trouble.

 

"Maybe she thought she was taking her life into her hands by delving

into the activities of the Russian Mafia," the vampire hunter said. "But

when she came down here and started asking questions, she made a lot

more enemies. These people are mentally ill. Who knows how they might

have reacted?"

 

Was Sue's activities in this dark, neurotic world of wannabe vampires

really as dangerous as this anti-vampire advocate claimed? Were the

protests Sue made to Ridgeway real? Had she been in a real danger all

the time, only to have Ridgeway poo-poo both her ideas for an article

and the tclaimed? Were the protests Sue made to

 

Ridgeway clearly had a potent influence of Village Voice editorial

policy, which not only failed to run any report about Sue's vampires,

but did only one small notice about her disappearance until pressured

into looking into the matter ten months later. Despite the newspapers

reputation, The Village Voice ceased being cutting edge from the day it

moved off Sheridan Square, and reporters like Ridgeway knew little about

the local scene because they spent most of their time playing the roles

of power reporters in other parts of the country. Ridgeway, for

instance, relied on local interns because he spent most of his time in

Washington, DC, hobnobbing with the rich and powerful. He nvampires, but

did only one small notice about her disappearance until pressured into

looking into the matter ten months later. Despite the newspapers

reputation, The Village Voice ceased being cutting edge from the

 

When Ridgeway questioned Sue's credibility over the threat of the

vampires, he knew as little about their cults as he did about the sex

industry, and clearly needed to make a distinction so that he didn't

look too much like a fool. He needed to believe that Sue's fears came

from Xanax and alcohol addition, and that this paranoia had evolved

during a period after she had completed her writing of "Redlight." While

he later took full advantage of Sue's disappearance to promote book

sales, Ridgeway maintained a high profile, and apparently pressured the

Village Voice itself into maintaining a stern silence on Sue, the

vampire scene and the details of her reporting. In this way, he had the

best of both worlds, the mystery behind Sue's vanishing broadcast

throughout the world via tabloid journalism, and the luxury to say he

and the Village Voice were not exploiting her vanishing. The fact that

Ridgeway himself pulled strings to get the TV show Unsolved Mysteries

involved in the case may cast a strong light on what his real

motivations were -- despite his claims otherwise.

 

Because Ridgeway spent so much time in Washington, DC, he would not have

known how much danger Sue was in from elements of the Russian Mafia or

cranks from the Vampire world. Ridgeway also seemed to lack knowledge

about either entity, paying backhanded tribute to Sue by saying she had

real talent for digging out details on the street, talent he relied on

all his interns to have, and as long as the information seemed

reasonable to him, he was willing to cooperate on joint ventures -- to a

point.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

As said earlier, the vampire subculture evolved out of a combination of

Anne Rice's gothic fantasy, and the more elaborate cyberpunk fiction of

William Gibson, a kind of schizophrenic blend of the ultra primitive and

the cutting edge modern, adopting fangs, claws and body piercing at one

extreme and the blazing electronic trails of cyberspace on the other.

 

But instead of having fangs surgically implanted the way Gibson's novels

portray, these vampires purchase theirs at a price that varies between

$40 to $300, from companies with names like Nosferatue and Type O

Negative. These people, according to the article in the New York Times,

even have home phone messages such as "feed well" and make distinctions

between those vampires in or out of the casket (as to which vampire as

made his or her vampirism known to the public -- something akin to being

"out" as a gay."

 

In Manhattan, vampires have their own cable access television show which

is broadcast on Tuesdays at 1 a.m. and features vampires and vampire

hopefuls.

 

"The scene has really taken off in the last three years," said Hal

Gould, owner of the Bank, a club in the East Village that plays Vampire

music, something called Gothic Rock, or "Goth" for short.

 

In many ways, these poor self-deluded fools cling to this movement as if

some new revolution, and not a sophisticated marketing tool for a

particularly avante gard product. These kids like all kids search vainly

for a niche in the social fabric they can claim as their own, the way

the pioneers of other movements like the beats and the hippies, the

glitter and the punk people clung to theirs. But the times have changed

and the shadow of the baby boom hovers over potential movements such as

these, sucking the blood from them with clever advertisements. Nor is

this movement nearly as original as it proponents claim, just one more

link in a long line of protest movements that sprang up from as early as

the 1830s.

 

As a modern movement, however, much of what these so called vampires do

now can be traced back to one 1970s cult classic: The Rocky Horror

Picture Show, a film that set the standard for public role playing. It

was a night out, where people adopted personas, dressed up in elaborate

costumes and acted out fantasies of lust, which over time and the

shifting more violent desperation of modern children, has translated

into public displays of fangs and the desire to suck blood.

 

Living with the fear of AIDS has also elevated blood to a new status, a

risk-taking that competes sharply with the 1950s version of playing

chicken. Instead of rushing headlong towards each other in souped up

hotrods, this modern subculture dances on the edge of death in this way.

After the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, our generation made

technology the grim reaper, and our games centered around defying its

lust for death. But with AIDS, blood has become the symbol of the modern

generation, and drinking it, as symbolic an act of defiance.

 

According to the Times article, music is one key to this subculture,

something that draws hordes of characters in crushed velvet, pale makeup

and assorted Victorian jewelry. These characters invade The Bank,

Downtime, and the Bat Cave. The Limelight now holds vampire balls

featuring bands such as Jerico and the Angels -- the lead singer of

which is said to drink his own blood on stage. Sabretooth, Inc. of

Brooklyn says its has sold over 2,500 sets of canine teeth over the last

five years, with prescription contact lens that alter people s eyes to

look red or like a cat s as part of a growing fad. But if asked, the

modern vampire will say nothing of the contemporary nature of this

trend, instead, he or she will tell you that their myths are as old as

the bible.

 

 

Most of the vampire lore comes from a non-existent text called "The Book

of Nod," which vampires claim have come down to them over the centuries

in fragments. This largely talks about how vampires descended to modern

times from Cain.

 

After being cast out from human society for killing his own brother

(some claim he also drank Abel s blood -- but that s a disputed item),

Cain was cursed with eternal life, and he wandered the earth, craving

blood. Like traditional vampires, he apparently continued to repeat his

crime. Like legends in the Christian Epic, Lord of The Rings, Cain

returned to the world of mortals, but he came as a king, not a pauper,

ruling over a mystical city called Enoch.

 

Vampires sometimes call this "the First City," and here, Cain created

the next generation of Vampires called conveniently, "The Second

Generation." This generation in turn gave birth (so to speak) of "The

Third Generation," whose number depends on who you ask. Cain, apparently

understanding just how dangerous these creatures had become, told his

"Kindred" they could not make any more vampires, a rule most of the

vampires ignored.

 

Cain became the Moses and Christ of the vampire movement, so important a

character in their mythology than some of the more self-deluded actually

took up his name. Some, delving into the artificial history, have traced

the movement of Cain through time, showing how he'd appeared and

reappeared during critical junctures in human development. Sometimes,

these historians claim, the Cain character is an obvious fake, but

always these reported characters, fade out of history again after

completing their history-altering mischief or some other duty of which

none now know the details.

 

All this rising and vanishing would have a remarkable appeal to Sue, who

herself believed herself driven by an insidious energy. Did she think

herself the Cain character reemerging in the world, seeking some new

mischief to cause in our time? Or did she simply want to sell this idea

to the gullible masses of young vampires with whom her own paranoid

ideas fit so well? According to Vampire lore, Cain is responsible for

"unleashing misery and suffering upon the world," something Sue also

seemed dedicated to, and something according to people she knew in

college, she did very well indeed, leaving the ruins of human psyches in

her wake.

 

Sue would have found the history of the vampires very conducive to her

own philosophy, as in Sue's private world, vampire history is full of

deceit, plots, paranoia and self destruction, pitting vampire again

vampire in precisely the way Sue pitted friend against friend. Like Sue,

vampires of the past apparently competed with each other, using each

other to gain an advantage upon each other, doing almost all of this in

secret until Christianity emerged with their inquisition to root them

out, a kind of medieval FBI seeking to uproot this ancient and ignoble

order.

 

During her probing of the vampire scene, Sue was bound to uncover some

of the details of this history, and perhaps even how similarly the

cycles of the vampires resembled the cycles of her own life. According

to this lore, the Second Cycle ended just about the time of Christ's.

Some modern vampires believe we are now approaching the end of another

cycle, and like their Christian counterparts, believe Armageddon will

result. This disaster, they call "Gehenna," and the serious vampires

prepare for its arrival.

 

In many ways, the last six months before Sue's vanishing was staged in

anticipation of such an Armageddon, a growing sense of tension that she

helped manufacture. Something registered in her head, but Sue was not

yet ready to make that commitment. She was still deep into the mythology

of the vampire cult, and her own private research for her master's

degree at NYU. She seemed to think that she had inherited some of Cain's

blood, more or less becoming something the vampire's call a lesser

vampire, one of the later in the fifteen generations of vampires since

the raising of Cain.

 

According to the mythology of these cults, the 15th Inquisition

accidentally killed off real vampires along with numerous gays, overly

bold women and anyone else insane enough to stand up for his or her

rights. This sent vampires into hiding as they began a disinformation

campaign to distort the perception of mortals, much in the way UFO

cultist believe the US Governoverly bold women and anyone else insane

enough to stand up for his or her rights. This sent vampires i

 

This apparently succeeded so well that most people stopped believing in

vampires at all, though the veil lifted with the 1960s advent of LSD,

allowing mortals to once again see behind the vampire's mask. This

revealed a world with as complicated a social structure as the mortal

world, where Fledglings go through "the becoming" and feel the ravishes

of "the hunger."

 

"Gothic-Punk," say Mark Rein-Hagen in his book The Masquerade, "is a

metaphor for our won world, a warning of what we might become and a

shadow of the sickness that infects us now. It is a world with problems

like our own, but where vampires are to blame for much of the misery."

 

Rein-Hagen said in order to understand a vampire, you must be able to

savor it s mood.

 

"It is stark and brooding, but with an underlying sensuality. It is an

exotic and sonorous nightmare, in which reason does not always play a

role," he said. "It is a neo-Gothic vision or romance laid atop today s

hyper-kinetic MTV world."

 

The serious vampires fear government intervention, something akin to

what is presented on the weekly television show, X-files, an FBI unit

that may be looking into their activities. In fact, the "Kindred" seem

to fear the FBI and the National Security Agency most, and can trace

investigations from these back to the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Jerico, the lead singer for the band "Jerico and the Angels" sees

himself as a vampire, and calls the life-style a metaphor for the way

all human beings feed off each other.

 

For Sue, Vampirism fit in well with her existing tales, full of clans

and inner circles, full of power plays similar to those she routinely

detailed in her stories at school and later on. While she may have found

little use for the Camarilla and its Conclaves or the every 13-year

meeting of the inner circle, she would have embraced the Sabbat or what

is known to many as "The Black Hand," a clan that has evolved from an

medieval death cult to become one of the most powerful clan in North

America. "The Black Hand rules through fear, hatred, anger and physical

violence," said Rein-Hagen. "In North America, it holds undisputed

control over Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Pittsburgh and

Portland, and is close to gaining supremacy in Boston and Baltimore.

Until recently, Miami was also under Sabbat control, but recent events

have caused a swing in the power balance there."

 

According to Rein-Hagen, the Sabbat travel in packs which are loyal only

to themselves, feeding as one group, and each group demands strict

devotion and adherence to the group. In the initiation, the Sabbat tries

to destroy a person's free will, and the sharing of blood often involves

great pain.

 

"The Black Hand is interested solely with power in all its forms,"

Rein-Hagen said. "The Sabbat views mortals as lesser beast to be

dominated and used as the need requires."

 

Sue took many of these tales back to Ridgeway, claiming people had

indeed died as a result of clan activity. She detailed many of these

activities in the diaries which her father read. But Sue was living with

one of them, and must have found herself deeper into their perversion

than she had initially intended to go. In one of the photo shoots for

"Redlight" Sue wore an Irish prayer ring, a cross encircled by beads,

sometimes known as means to ward off vampires, but has since been

adopted by some clans as a marker of true believers. She purchased the

prayer ring at a wicca store near Thompkins Square Park on St. Mark's

Place in New York City, though it is unclear if she made the purchase to

ward off evil or to be accepted more deeply into the evil circles of the

Goths. She may have wanted to delve deeper still into the secrets of the

clans for a story she was trying to have Ridgeway help her publish in

the Village Voice -- though towards the end, when it became clearer and

clearer that she would not be getting credit for writing "Redlight," she

may had put too much hope in the vampire project as a means of saving a

faltering career. For those of us looking in from the outside like

myself, Floyd and other more conservative older generation souls, the

vampire scene has the nightmarish quality of a child's game gone Berserk

-- which, of course, it is. Most of these people live in a role-playing

world that is not supposed to reflect reality. On almost every level,

the vampire scene is nothing more than a game of Dungeons and Dragons in

which some of the characters have forgotten they are only acting out,

while some truly crazy people have become members, distorting reality

for the rest.

 

Floyd expressed deep concerns about this behavior, and again, his source

of information may be largely Sue's writing. Yet even Sue's vivid

imagination could not have painted more horrible characteeven Sue's

vivid imagination could not have painted more horrible characters than

some of those contained in the real life vampire scenarios, where

blood-letting and sex

 

How deeply Sue had gone into the fantasy is anybody's guess. I'm not

privy to her later stories, when at last the Sue fantasy came in contact

with the vampire fantasy. She certainly felt a close enough connection

with the Goths to bring one into her home, a twenty one year old boy

with the unvampire-like name of "Christian."

 

In both his interview for Unsolved Mysteries and his interview for the

aborted New Jersey Monthly article by Joel Lewis, Ridgeway said

suspected something wrong with Sue's behavior when she came to dealing

with the vampire cults. For this reason, he said he refused to encourage

her to continue her investigations. Ron Goldstien, a friend of hers from

college, who saw her from time to time, at the Vault and at other clubs,

said Sue was furious about Ridgeway's refusal, and a furious Sue was a

dangerous Sue, and a Sue liable to do almost anything to get even. And

those plans, began to formulate during the first few months of 1996,

plans that would lead up to the drama of her disappearance on July 16.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Plotting revenge

Main Menu

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


Sue Walsh story: 1998 menu

Spielberg menu

Main Menu


email to Al Sullivan