They creep into the night. Some paint their faces white, with red specks of fake blood. Others wear long cloaks to conceal their wispy, undernourished frames. The rest appear perfectly normal, not unlike you or me. They gather together in hotel conference rooms across the country to share in a night of conflict, feasting, and fantasy. A fantasy in which they're stalking, blood-thirsty vampires. Unfortunately some people there seem a little shaky on the vampire part.
I decided to join a convention sponsored live-action role playing game of Vampire: The Masquerade. Basically, a bunch of overacting High School Drama Club dorks get together and pretend they're undead. Being one of those dorks myself, I seemed qualified to play. The rules were unclear, but they appeared to involve a lot of yelling and waving your arms around. I looked forward to joining this sickening orgy.
Right off the bat, I was disappointed. The evening's objective was not to suck the life from innocent, virginal hotel guests, but to unite the feuding vampire clans together. What happened to Van Helsing? The leaky castles? The garlic? Apparently they don't do that "Stoker stuff". When we broke into smaller groups to discuss what had to be done to achieve our dubious objective, my spirits sagged.
"Harken to me! The other Clans will not hear of us uniting and will strike us where we stand!", the speaker droned in a nasal, Shakespearean tone. I stared in disbelief. Did he really say, 'Harken'? What good ghoul talks like he is hawking sausages at the Renaissance Faire? If there were any justice, Bela Lugosi's morphine-preserved corpse would've made an unannounced visit and given this faux-fiend some speech lessons.
I was also astonished at the stupid-looking hats some people were wearing . I'm not talking about hooded cowls or gauzy veils, (which would have been acceptable) but leather safari hats, purple velveteen raver's headgear, soiled baseball caps, and even a cowboy hat! What ever happened to a good old-fashioned widow's peak haircut? Is that so out of style for a bloodsucker?
Turning their backs to The One True Vampire had crushed these once powerful creatures into petty beings, forever bickering and fighting amongst themselves. I vainly tried to warn them of the error of their ways, but was quickly silenced. When did Morrissey's Xtacy-loving fans become the poster children for the undead? I blame Anne Rice. I blame those Sandman comics. I blame YOU for standing by idly while the very concept of vampire mutates into something hip and sexy! I left the game, grabbed my trusty pitchfork, a flaming torch, and marched back to my peasant village vowing to become a minion of the true Romanian über-vamp, Dracula. The monsters I left behind would pay for their disrespect!
It didn't take long for my plan to unfold. A new Aaron Spelling TV show based on the very same Masquerade mythos premiered soon afterward. No doubt that same program will expose these faithless creatures to a media glare so harsh, it will turn them into dust faster than sunlight ever could. And what moody hipster would want to simply rehash a TV show like a common Trekkie? Those punks will crawl back into their hidey-holes faster than you can say Melrose Place Live Action Game.
Now that's something I could get into.
Article originally appeared, a bit differently, in SHADIS magazine #24. Check out their website at http://www.isomedia.com/homes/aeg/
Photo of Bela Lugosi courtesy of the Everett Archive
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