Source: Vampyre Chronicles (London) 2008, May, Volume 2, Issue 9, p. 26/27
Text & Photos: Mark Benecke, President, Transylvanian Society of Dracula (TSD) Germany
Unlike former venues (that for now 15 years had taken place in Transylvania -- beautiful: see e.g. Chronicles Issue 27, p. 32--41), this year’s meeting was held in the pittoresque yet very spooky rooms of the Institute for Folklore (Institutul de Etnografie şi Folclor “Constantin Brăiloiu”) in Bucharest, i.e., in Valachia. This location is not too far-fetched since Vald the Impaler of course ruled in Valachia, and not in Transylvania.
The director of the Institute is impressive folklorist Sabina Ispas who kind of lives in the dark brown, wooden interiors of the former prime minister of Romania’s house -- stylishly together with her three cats (some of them black, of course; fig 1).
Meeting topics circled mostly around supernatural entities that, obviously, represented different types of undead or shapeshifters. Amongst the latter are foxes who in Japan and China are thought to be (evil) women. This explains why I always have to remove my stuffed fox from my living room when Chinese guests enter...at their own free will. Japanese are less afraid of the shapeshifting women since in Japan, they can also protect families and houses. It is believed that one better does not fall out with the owners of those foxwomen or else.
My all time favorite are the three female yelle who also appear in Bram Stoker’s novel and in Coppola’s movie. In Romania, they are thought to be the result of betrayal and curiosity: They were changed to yelle after they first drank, then accidentally broke a pitcher that contained the water of life. The pitcher stood under the throne of Alexander the Great. Whilst he was on tour, his three not-so-obedient footgirls checked out the water and doing so, produced the mess for everybody. Today, yelle are known to teach human fiddlers beautiful songs that must however only be played to fellow yellele but to no one else.
By the way, wherever the wicked yellele walk, the ground will become burnt or depleted. When they sing, humans will only hear a crackling and always changing melody that is similar to the one out of an old radio when you change the stations.
Our yelle specialist, Laura Iliescu, did her best to protect the few males in the room from the horrors of those creatures. Yet, she could not fully sweep away everybodies crawlies...good to know that yellele are quite sexual, so death under their hands and breasts must be pleasant at least (and at last).
To present recent research results at the meeting, I talked about some of the results of the Atlanta Vampire Alliance’s (AVA) “Vamirism & Energy Works Study”. That group set up an amazing questionnaire that -- with more than one thousand international participants since August 2006 -- surely is the largest and most likely the only statistically significant survey into the vampyre subculture ever.
Some interesting results are that nearly half of the vampyres and vampires were exposed do physical and/or sexual abuse, many suffer from diagnosed depression, and around eighty percent believe that their spirit existed in a former lifetime. The number of sanguinarian vampyres in the study is high: More than half of the subculture people seem to
“consume small, polite amounts of human blood from willing donors. The majority of respondents to the survey reported taking only an ounce or less at a time; usually no more than once a week. Feeding is absolutely a health necessity; vampires have reported many negative physical symptoms when trying to ignore this need to feed” (quote from the AVA definition of sanguinarians).
An even larger number are psi vampires; however, the vast majority are psi/sanguinarian hybrids.
In case you are looking for such vampyres: Sixty-five per cent of all participants of the survey said that they are “not Goth”. Better forget the Annual German “Wave-Gotik-Treffen” (see Chronicles Vol. 2(4), p. 32--33)... I am very much looking to the end results of the AVA study; super phatt kudos to the group already.
At the same time that new research like the AVA study is coming up, it seems that many of the vampire groups inspired by the 1960s--1990s vampire movies and novels are now dying because their Elders disappear into profanity or death. This is true for the German “Dracula Society” and “Sanktuarium” who already vanished as well as probably for the Transylvanian Society of Dracula (International, fig. 2) and the Vampire Empire (New York) who are in urgent need for fresh blood. Even the actor playing the Count during our meeting dinner (inspired by Hollywood, not Vlad) did not manage to extract enough refreshing liquids (even though he tried hard, fig. 3).
By the way -- three participants of the meeting (suzi9mm = Jenni Tapanila, Kathrin Sonntag and Mark Benecke) tried to join the Christopher Street Day Parade in Bucharest. It was however an impossible task because the police had to strongly safeguard the just three hundred participants from violent hooligans (fig. 4). We therefore went off and checked out the excellent museum collection of the Institute for Legal Medicine as well as the spooky Tehnoimport building (figs. 5, 6). This set us in a “Nochnoi Dozor” mood. It also gave us a good reason to check out the local boozes, and to crash into the only gay club in Bucharest called “Queen” and being hidden in a basement without any signs...
Since I am at it, another travel tip: Try to use the night train vom Budapest Keleti station (fig. 7) to Bucuresti. The sleeping compartments are located in very old German train wagons. If you can, get up around 6 a.m.: You will see things you would not believe... To make sure that you are forearmed to the sight, maybe get some fried brain balls in a restaurant around the train station first -- it will set you in the right mood.
Fig. 1: Chief folklorist of Romania: Prof. Sabina Ipsas and one of her black cats.
Fig. 2: Vampires Amongst Themselves: The meeting participants.
Fig. 3: The Count gives his best: a bite in the neck.
Fig. 4: Christopher Street Day in Bucharest: Not quite what you expect. The guys in the front are real police, not participants.
Fig. 5: The museum of the Insitute of Legal Medicine has much to offer. Here some of the less gruesome exhibits.
Fig. 6: Wanna feel like in Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)? Check out the Tehnoimport building in Bucharest...
Fig. 7: Budapest Keleti station at night -- get into the night train to Bucharest or Transylvania (same train), and be very surprised.
Fig. 8: Special dish in Budapest: Fried brain balls (not kidding).
Note: Word “yelle”: The word “yelle“ has to be written differently depending on the grammatical context -- so this is intended: “yelle” // “yellele”