By Lady Lily
As one of the many who went to see Twilight this last Friday, I couldn’t help but think about how in vogue vampirism and the goth look seem to be this season. There have even been poorly written puff pieces designed to shock and/or frighten the unassuming public into the reality of our existence in local papers all over the country, doubtlessly inspired by the starry-eyed infatuation of Bella Swan and her beloved Edward. One has to wonder if we’ve arrived at last.
It’s everywhere you look: On the Parisian runways, in fashion magazines, on the small (or not so small) and silver screen. Even mainstream cosmetics companies such as Christian Dior and Lancome are getting in on the act.
And for most, that’s precisely what it is; an act. Silky and slinky black clothes are stripped down and makeup is scrubbed off at evening’s end after a night of clubbing and cavorting. All that remains are the decadent memories and darkly tempting desires of living the vamp aesthetic for a few hours.
But what about those of us who can’t just pop out our designer acrylic fangs as we curl up in lush ebony satin sheets? Yes, my cosmetics can be cleaned away, my clothes tenderly washed and hung up until my next nocturnal adventure, and I can put away my fedora and heels, and then settle to sleep as the sun comes up thinking about mainstream concerns.
But in the back of my mind, my vamp awareness can’t be returned to elegant packaging and put on the shelf. I am analyzing how well I’ve fed. Did I take too much even though the donor wanted me to drink my fill? Can’t I have a feed where sex isn’t always mentioned? If the prana wasn’t exactly high quality and more along the lines of fast food energy, how long will it sustain me before I am in serious need of another feed? When will I come down off my “high” enough to fall asleep, or will I even sleep at all today?
Not to mention my endless mulling over of the everyday concerns living as a vampire in modern society creates. I don’t have a remote and rustically endearing ramshackle family dwelling on the outskirts of town that encourages all my eccentric interior design and landscaping notions. I live in a working class neighborhood with neighbors who are less than liberal. I have children and am conscious of the fact that not all the parents of their friends would feel comfortable letting their little dears play in the home of a vampire if they knew about that aspect of who I am. I work, care for my family, pay bills, and all the other minutiae of daily life.
I just have to keep a creative schedule that minimizes my time in the sun (which makes avoiding mosquito bites while gardening a literal pain), try to keep my temper when ignorant family makes ridiculous assumptions about my parenting and character, and remind myself that every irritating encounter is a chance to teach even if I’d rather rant.
Yet I am hopelessly drawn to and enfolded in the gothic subculture, being a member for as many years as I have. I still bust out Bauhaus at parties even if I’m the only one enjoying it (I’m often the DJ so like it or lump it), I clean my house with VNV Nation on my MP3 player, and I will happily wear anything… As long as it’s black. I am probably the only mother on the block whose daughter asked for and received a stuffed grim reaper, and who keeps their children’s construction paper bats up for decoration all year round.
I am also a walking list of contrasts and contradictions. Born of Norse, Louisiana Creole, and African-American blood, I have walked the border between ethnicities, social groups, and many others since I learned to toddle. I am involved with the vampirism and gothic culture and communities, but also have a love of old school Prince and good Cajun and Creole cooking. I am the mother of a golden-haired, porcelain skinned, blue-eyed child, but also of dark brown-haired, slightly tanned, brown-eyed twins. I am a parent and partner, but also a lover and member of the kink community.
And, I am a vampire. Whether I’m crammed into a theater full of ‘tweens drooling over Edward Cullen as he skulks on screen, or dragging ass as I throw another load of laundry in the washer at eight o’clock in the morning, I am a vampire. No matter if I’m blushing at the feet of a Master or Mistress, or cradling a friend in my arms during an intense energy exchange. I won’t be condemned to consignment shops when I go out of style during the next New York City Fashion Week, and even if I’m forced to wear something other than black for an event, I am still a Goth at heart.
So while some in the community are shaking their heads as Twilight takes over Hot Topic and suddenly, babybats are squeeing over the hot psi vamp in science class, I am reminded that vampirism is akin to ripples in a pond. There is a catalyst that falls to Earth like a shooting star, the glittering trajectory catching society’s eye as it descends to pop culture, impacting with a flash and splash such that no one is able to ignore the intriguing aftermath.
The stimulus prompts oohs and ahhs, throwing off waves of novelty and glamor for a time before the seduction of our presence gently diminishes. Gradually, black lace corsets and blood red lips are replaced with baggy sweatshirts and the latest fashion shoe. Hair once dyed black returns to its natural color and the seducing vocals of Peter Murphy are then drowned out by more modern thumping beats under lyrical observations about the struggles and victory of everyday lives.
But whether we’re bathed in the light of the media spotlight or simply basking in the familiar shadows that feel like home, we are still vampires. It is inconsequential to us whether society notices us, and quite often, beneficial if it does not, because the more prying eyes there are, it’s a sad fact that they are often accompanied by pointing fingers. We are who we are, whether we’re dancing with a donor or preparing dinner. And we aren’t going away. We will always be here, even when the next wash of popular vamp merchandise goes on clearance.