Vampyres beyond borders: Dr. Death and a Vampyre Beauty
A special Interview about Vampyres with Mark & Ines Benecke
https://realvampirenews.com/dr-death-and-a-vampyre-beauty/ :: Posted on August 17, 2018
By Lady Suzanne Carré
(Editor Note: Spelling of vampyre (with a “y”) is used in this article to denote a Real Living Vampire and thus distinguish those who “need to feed” from the vampire (spelled with “i”) of fiction.)
It is a privilege to meet a researcher studying real vampyres, but it is truly extraordinary to know two collaborating researchers. Our guests tonight are a husband and wife team of remarkable vampyre experts from Cologne in Germany.
Dr. Mark Benecke is a world-renowned forensic biologist, has worked in many countries, and is a prolific author publishing 100’s of academic papers and articles, including specialist texts and popular books. He has broad interests covering diverse subjects from insects, especially necrophagous specimens, to the dead in forensic research, and a fascination with the undead, gaining him the titles of “Dr. Death” and “Dr. Maggot”. Mark is tireless in his efforts to inform and educate, so beyond giving formal lectures, he has appeared on talk shows, on radio, and in television series’.
Lady Ines Benecke is the head of the largest online and offline real vampyre community in Europe. Unlike most vampyre investigators, Lady Ines works within the community through both networking and with vampyres living in German-speaking regions. Her insights into the function of vampyrism are not only unique but significant in the way she presents her findings dispassionately without compromising the sensitivities associated with vampyre studies.
So, without further ado, I welcome our guests, Dr. Mark and Lady Ines Benecke.
RVL: Good evening Mark and Lady Ines Benecke, it is a distinct pleasure, and honour, to welcome you both to RVL. Thank you for taking a break from your busy schedule to be here with us. How are you both today?
MB: It’s a pleasure and an honour to us, dear Suzanne.
RVL: Let us begin with an introduction, for our readers, and tell us a little about your interest in real vampyres?
IB: Es motivieren mich zwei große Themenkomplexe bei realen Vampiren. Auf der einen Seite die Aufklärung über Energiearbeit und Blutaustausch, da in beiden Fällen sehr viel schief gehen kann und auf der anderen Seite die Frage nach den Ursachen für Vampirismus.
(Trans: Two significant issues about real vampyres motivate me. On the one hand, the explanation and education about energy work and blood exchange, as a great deal can get distorted in both cases, and on the other hand, the question regarding the cause for vampyrism.)
MB: My neighbour Jeanne in Manhattan (I lived and worked there in the 1990’s) was the wife of Oscar-winning director Robert Youngson. She was head of the ‘Vampire Empire’—formerly the ”Count Dracula Fan Club,” founded in the 1960s—and told me that in Transylvania, there were meetings of the ‘Transylvanian Society of Dracula’ (http://tsdracula.org/) with all kinds of scientists gathering around vampire topics.
Since I already had visited some nice vampyre parties, actually quite close by to my home in St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, I delved a little deeper and found more parties, communities, and literature after I returned to Europe. I am now head of the Transylvanian Society since the old chief died (careful: quite nerdy) and my wife is head of the largest European vampyre community.
So we thought it was a good idea to share our knowledge and do a scientific study that was recently published as a beautiful hardcover edition. I also collect old books on the topic of vampires from graves like the ‘Calmet’ from the 18th century, vampyre magazines since around 1995, and all types of ankhs from different vampyre communities, so sometimes I feel quite like the prototypical Talamascan.
Mark Benecke & Ines Fischer: Vampyres among us! Volume III — A scientific study into vampyre identity groups and subcultures, Roter Drache eds.
RVL: How did you both became aware of and got involved in the modern living vampyre culture?
MB: Like I said, I was curious and just went… I like things on the edge of regular social perception, hence my job (forensic biologist).
IB: Ich bin schon in recht jungen Jahren auf die Suche nach realen Vampiren gegangen, da ich die Hoffnung hatte, das ich nicht allein bin. Ich habe erst viele Sachbücher über Vampire durchstöbert, auf der Suche nach realen Hintergründen, aber bin erst im Internet wirklich fündig geworden.
Die richtige Vernetzung hatte Ende der 90er begonnen und die ersten Internetplattformen waren gerade entstanden, als ich die noch wenigen Informationen gierig aufsaugte und die ersten Kontakte zu anderen realen Vampiren knüpfen konnte.
(Trans: I started quite young on the search for real vampyres because I had hoped I was not alone. At first, I had searched many non-fiction books about vampyres, in the search for real information, however, was not until on the internet I began finding relevant hints. The proper networking had begun at the end of the 90’s, and the first internet platforms were just emerging, yet I eagerly absorbed the little available information and made those first contacts with other real vampyres.)
RVL: You are both vampyre researchers, so may we ask, what are your backgrounds, and what expertise do you draw upon in your vampyre studies?
IB: Ich bin vollkommen unbedarft an das Thema herangegangen und bin aus keiner wissenschaftlichen Disziplin. Ich sehe mich selbst als Netzwerker, der mit allen zusammen arbeitet, um gemeinsam auf ein zufriedenstellendes Ergebnis zu kommen. Als ich eine Umfrage unter realen Vampiren begonnen habe, sprach ich mich mit einem Sozialwissenschaftler ab, um zu wissen wie ich die Fragen stellen und sinnvoll auswerten muss.
Als ich einen Vortrag über die Häufung von psychologischen Auffälligkeiten unter realen Vampiren gehalten habe, sprach ich dies vorher alles sehr genau mit einem Psychologen durch. Ich spreche auch mit Biologen, Medizinern, Energiearbeitern und vielen anderen Experten, um Informationen aus Gesprächsrunden mit realen Vampiren auswerten und abzugleichen.
(Trans: I was totally naive when approaching the subject 20 years ago and not starting with a scientific discipline. I see myself as a networker, who works collectively, to arrive at a mutually satisfactory result. When I had begun a survey about real vampyres, I spoke with a social scientist, about how I arranged the investigation and got to evaluated sensibly.
When I held a lecture about the increased frequency of psychological features real vampyres possess, I went very precisely through everything with a psychologist previously. I also talk with biologists, doctors, energy workers and many other experts, in order to analyse and deduce information from discussions with real vampyres.)
MB: That allows us to give speeches even at scientific meetings, i.e. at universities and research organizations. It really works as long as you stick to facts.
Personally, I just stumble into things like vampyres because I am convinced that it is better to go out and check what is going on instead of just reading and talking. Being a forensic biologist, for example, I wondered in the middle of the 1990’s if there was really MDMA (Ecstasy) around in Techno parties in Cologne (which was, together with Berlin, a strong centre of the Techno scene).
I had realised that not one single forensic person in Germany had checked out the actual setting, so I went together with two young colleagues who — hold your breath — never in their lives had been to a Saturday night out (not kidding). I was quite surprised how nice the parties were, and how little we really understood, so I wrote an article about the topic with original statements from the party kids in the largest criminalistic journal in German-speaking countries. The party kids were quite open to tell their stories, too!
Later I started to check decomposed corpses for “vampire signs” since the descriptions from the ‘vampire hunters‘ were pretty accurate concerning red liquid in the mouth, bloating (alleged ‘fattening’) of the corpse in the grave, protruding teeth, etc. I am a forensic biologist so gladly, I could make the connection there and show that not the observations are wrong but the interpretation.
So basically, it is always the same technique: Things that sound odd attract me, and then I check them. See also my scientific papers about DNA typing, necrophilia, neglect of old persons and insects on their bodies, etc.
RVL: You both have come from different backgrounds but when did you first become intrigued with vampyres?
MB: The first I remember is the Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie (1992), but since it is just fiction… it was a very nice movie, nothing else. When the chance finally came, I checked out the subculture and real lifers (real living vampyres) with lots of energy and enthusiasm because that was finally happening in a measurable, social reality, not on a screen.
IB: Ich war so jung, dass ich mich nicht mehr erinnern kann, wann ich das erste Mal bewusst ein Interesse an Vampiren an mir registrierte.
(Trans: I was so young that I can no longer recall the first time when an interest in vampyres and vampires consciously made an impression on me.)
RVL: What inspired you to commence scientific research on real vampyres?
MB: Many of my colleagues do not dare to address odd topics because they are afraid it might tamper their reputation. I find that strange. Since I believe that truth is truth no matter what, I just go and check, like a kid, and let the others care. Real lifers are quite a hidden subculture, but a very peaceful one, so I liked it. Good thing that came to my aid was that we have a super huge Gothic festival in Germany in which I am involved with speeches and as the opening DJ. Before, I only met regional real lifers, but there, they came from all over the place.
IB: Ich war selbst schon in jungen Jahren auf der Suche nach Erklärungen in Sachbüchern über Vampyrmythen und erkannte später auch bei anderen realen Vampiren das Bedürfnis nach wissenschaftlichen Erklärungen oder allgemeiner Aufklärung über verschiedene Praktiken. Ich fing an, mein gesammelten Wissen über reale Vampire zur Verfügung zu stellen und versuchte auch die Lücken zu füllen und die aufkommenden Fragen zu beantworten.
(Trans: Even when I was younger, I was in the search for explanations in non-fiction books about vampire myths. Also, I subsequently realised the need for scientific explanations or general clarification of different practices among varied real vampyres. I managed to make my collected knowledge about real vampyres available and also tried to fill the gaps and then to answer the upcoming questions.)
MB: And there are a lot of questions coming up at meetings, congresses and regulars’ tables that often take place all over Germany.
RVL: From all your research or experience, how do you define a real modern living vampyre?
MB: I respect the definition of each coven, clan, house, etc. Some are energy vampyres; others prefer blood or just romantic talks and candlelight dinners (the purely romantic ones were nice ones, that clan sadly died out), others prefer BDSM or — probably my favourite — so-called ‘Flauschhaufen,’ i.e., cuddle balls where all cuddle all.
As long as some definition is actually given that is not just a dry (or wet) fantasy, I can and will work with that. I can also live with the U.S. definitions and paradigms from Merticus (Atlanta Vampyre Alliance) for his very good study, rules developed from roleplay, the Black Veil from Michelle Belanger and Father Sebastiaan and his papers but also all definitions of pretty gated, close-to-vampyre communities who, for example, deal with Otherkin matters, werewolves, dragons, etc.. To verify or better to falsify something, you need a definition first; that’s why I stress the matter of clan types and identity definitions so much.
IB: Ich definiere einen realen Vampir im Moment durch vier Merkmale die ein großes Gesamtbild ergeben, aber die Individualität und Vielfalt kaum einschränken.
Als erste und wichtigste Merkmal ist der Drang zur Einverleibung: a) regelmäßiges Bedürfnis menschliches Blut oder Lebensenergie aufzunehmen, b) deutliche Senkung des allgemeinen Wohlbefindens bei Nichterfüllung des Verlangens , c) bewusster Umgang mit der entsprechenden Neigung.
Das zweite automatisch einhergehende Merkmal ist die Bereitschaft zur Identifikation: a) Annehmen der persönlichen Bezeichnung als Vampyr, b) Ausleben der Bedürfnisse und Vorlieben von Vampyren, c) teilen der Ansichten und Einstellungen in der Vampyrgesellschaft.
Das dritte Merkmal ist die Neigung zur Hochsensibilität: a) deutliche Überempfindlichkeit gegenüber Sinneswahrnehmungen, c) gesteigerte Konzentration auf unscheinbare Details, b) intensives Erleben von eigenen und sogar fremden Gefühlen. Das letzte Merkmal ist der Hang zum Antagonismus: a) große Befangenheit zwischen Bindungsbedürfnis und Unabhängigkeitsverlangen, b) starker Zwiespalt zwischen der altruistischen und egoistischen Seite, c) permanentes Pendeln zwischen Wertlosigkeit und Selbstüberschätzung.
(Trans: Currently, I define a real vampyre by four characteristics to give one grand overall picture but barely restricts the individuality and diversity.
The first and most important feature is the urge for assimilation: a) regular need to intake/consume human blood or vital energy, b) significant reduction of the general well-being in the failure to satisfy that desire, c) deliberate contact with those of similar tendencies.
The second characteristic is the willingness automatically associated with identification: a) acceptance of the personal designation as a vampyre, b) fully expressing the needs and preferences of vampyres, c) sharing the opinions and attitudes in the vampyre community. The third characteristic is the inclination to high sensitivity: a) evident hypersensitivity versus sensory perception, b) increased focus and perception of on insignificant details, c) intense personal experiences and even strange sensations.
The last feature is the tendency for antagonism: a) substantial bias between needed relationships and desire for independence, b) strong conflict between the altruistic and egotistic side, c) constant oscillation between worthlessness and self-overestimation.)
MB: Another way to define vampyres and related kind would be to describe the creative way they use to connect emotionally to donors, friends, swans, etc. It’s a little “I may not trust, but I want to connect” sometimes.
RVL: I must ask THE question because our readers are dying to know… do you identify as a modern real living vampyre?
IB: Ja, jetzt mittlerweile seit genau 20 Jahren.
(Trans: Yes, for exactly 20 years by now.)
MB: It is a very small facet of my life, yes. I refrain, however, from all esoteric and genetic definitions. I see it more as a feeling, a deep vibe, an image or symbol that describes a lifestyle, not an urge. Mostly, I am just an oddball, your curious and friendly neighborhood scientist.
RVL: Tell us about the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, and how you became involved?
MB: By just travelling to the meetings with the night trains over Vienna, Budapest and sometimes București… it is very romantic. A few times, I even dragged some real lifers with me to the meetings or encouraged them to join it. But they found it boring since it goes very deep with charts and brain structures and old coins and whatnot. The last larger TSD meeting (end of 2018) I did was, therefore, a one-day real lifer’s meeting in Germany that, of course, unofficially, extended for a long time into the evening and night.
So I really try my best to bring everyone together. It is complicated because the movie lovers, for example, are sometimes afraid or spooked out by the real lifers, and vice versa. Actually, now that I think of it, these two are the groups that fit least together, whereas historians or psychologists are comparably more open to the topic.
IB: Mark fragte mich vor langer Zeit, ob ich Mitglied werden möchte, da ich mich seit vielen Jahren bereits bemühe, Informationen zusammen zu tragen und diese immer gerne zur Verfügung stelle. 2015 hielt ich dann in Transylvanien meinen ersten Vortrag über die Vampirsubkultur.
(Trans: Mark asked me, a long time ago, whether I wanted to become a member since I already tried to collate and make the information available for many years. In Transylvania, 2015, I delivered my first lecture about the vampyre subculture at the University of Timișoara)
RVL: Your collaboration has been going for some years now, and you have recently published another book, could you tell us a little about this?
MB: I started with persons I met during my travels in vampire and vampyre matters, from Russia to Canada. They contributed whatever they found relevant, aspects of tourism in Romania where, of course, nobody believed in vampires. I also included Anglo-American vampyre ‘memes’ that come mostly from movies as well as very funny, witty and enlightening articles written by real lifers.
Later, we did the big quantitative study, since we thought that the material by AVA and Joseph Laycock already carved some paths into scientific directions.
It is hard and nasty work since I also finance it all by myself, but I really wish to make the knowledge and data available not only to allow open discussion but also allow future persons to fetch the stuff out of a digital or paper library. I refer to very many old research books, often starting with Augustin Calmet from the 18th century, so I know things take their time.
RVL: So how did you two meet and formed this amazing collaboration to study vampyres?
IB: Wir haben unabhängig voneinander das Interesse für Vampirismus entwickelt, sind uns aber immer wieder auf Veranstaltungen begegnet, wie zum Beispiel auf Buchvorstellungen von Sachbüchern über Vampire. Ein gemeinsamer Bekannter hat ihn irgendwann zu einer Veranstaltung von mir für reale Vampire eingeladen und wir kamen schlussendlich ins Gespräch gemeinsame Projekte zu planen, da wir beide ein Interesse an der Vermittlung von Wissen haben.
(Trans: We independently developed an interest in vampyrism, but we always met at events, such as non-fiction book launches about vampires. A mutual acquaintance invited him [Mark] to one of my real vampyre events, and we finally started discussions to plan a joint project, as we both have an interest in the communication of information.)
MB: It was fate and love and peace and a little blood, I guess.
RVL: With your focus on real vampyres living in Germany and German-speaking regions of Europe, could you please tell us about this community, and how it functions?
IB: Die deutschsprachige Region ist sehr gut miteinander vernetzt. Wir haben den ‘Nexus’ als neutrale und abgeschlossene Internetplattform, wo Kontakte geknüpft und Events geplant, Informationen ausgetauscht werden können, die als übergeordnetes Netzwerk funktioniert. Es gibt verschiedene, unabhängige Häuser, die sich dort organisieren und neue Mitglieder anwerben, aber friedlich miteinander koexistieren.
Es gibt in vielen größeren Städten im ganzen deutschsprachigen Bereich regelmäßig sogenannte Stammtische, die ebenfalls dieses Netzwerk zur Planung von neuen Treffen benutzen. Einmal im Jahr findet für fünf Tage unter dem Banner des Nexus ein Kongress für reale Vampire statt, wo bei Workshops und Vorträgen Wissen vermittelt und der soziale Austausch gefördert wird.
(Trans: The German-speaking region is very well networked. We have the ‘Nexus’ as neutral and closed Internet platform, where established contacts and planned events, and all types of information can be exchanged; it functions as a network to connect all houses and covens who wish to be connected. It also allows independent houses to self-govern and recruit new members, but peacefully coexist and work together. There are regular meetings in many major cities, within the whole German-speaking area. This network also is used for the planning of new meetings. Once per year, a Congress for real life vampyres is held for five days under the banner of the Nexus, where knowledge is imparted in workshops and lectures, and the social exchange is promoted.)
MB: It is the friendliest social network I know of. Ines has a very long breath and lots of patience, even with quite difficult characters in the scene. At the same time, the rules about safety, lying, organizational matters and open-mindedness are not to be meddled with. It would be an interesting model for other social groups since there is less useless fighting as well as solid protection for those of goodwill compared to what I often see in the allegedly normal world.
RVL: …and in your opinion, how do you think the German community will develop or evolve?
MB: Observing the scene internationally for more than twenty years now, I realize it is kept together by committed people—committed to parties, to internet networks, to fangsmithing (if that is a word) or just vampyre glamour like Viona Ielegems does it in ‘Noble Blood Vampires’, a beautiful color atlas (I wrote the preface).
The glamour thing can be as intense as the community vampyre life, but it is just for short durations —no wonder, it deals more with the outside than the inside. Still, as long as a person decides to be an actual focus point who actually brings people together with a certain consistency, there will always be some kind of vampyre subculture. Consistency, of course, is a problem due to the numerous depressed beings in the community, but until now, it always worked out somehow.
IB: Ich lasse mich gerne davon überraschen, da noch viel Potenzial in verschiedenen Projekten steckt, wir im deutschsprachigen Raum aber schon eine sehr gut organisierte Gemeinschaft haben. Es kann wohl keiner voraussehen, was noch auf uns zu kommt.
(Trans: I enjoy surprises from them, there is still a great deal of potential to input in several projects, but we already have a highly organized community here in German-speaking countries. No one can foresee what is yet in store for us.)
RVL: As researchers, do you think that real modern vampyrism has a scientifically quantifiable explanation?
IB: Ja, in der Umfrage lassen sich starke Überschneidungen und Wiederholungen in den Antworten der Teilnehmer herauslesen, aber was dies genau bedeutet, muss dann ein Soziologe erklären.
(Trans: Yes, in the survey the participants’ replies show strong overlaps and repetitions, but a sociologist then must explain what this means exactly.)
MB: Yes, from many perspectives. The pure description of identity groups (Laycock) but also further sociological, psychological, historical and other research options already started to bring some light into the field. The last conference in Timișoara was a nice example of how gender research, literature, ‘fun facts’ like the search for the allegedly “real” Castle Dracula and so on also contribute a little. It may take another 25 years until a really ‘high definition’ description of real lifers in contrast to or mixed with movie aficionados, Goths, depressive individuals, megalomaniacs and all types of identities will emerge. We are on our way, and I will do what I can to continue to bring them all together.
RVL: Do you believe there is any biological basis to modern living vampyrism?
IB: Es gibt auch Persönlichkeitsmerkmale, die auf eine veränderte Gehirnchemie zurück geführt werden, deswegen würde ich es nicht ausschließen, dass auch bei realen Vampiren irgendwann eine biologische oder medizinische Ursache gefunden wird.
(Trans: There are personality traits that must lead back to an altered brain chemistry; that is why I would not exclude that one day a biological or medical cause might be found in real vampyres.)
MB: All boils down to chemistry, biology and physics, and of course mathematics. This is however not the level we prefer to mostly work on. For example, in Manhattan in the 1990s, I had some discussions about alleged vampyre genetics, but the topic led nowhere. First, you would need a solid definition of a real lifer, second we would need the money (which we may collect via Kickstarter, you never know) and third—and that is the true problem—, vampyres would have to accept a possible falsification. We even offered genetic tests, paid by me, to falsify or verify the vampyre genetics claim. I do lots of scientific tests when I work on religious miracles, so no worries there, but the real lifers all of a sudden started to become too defensive for my taste. So I decided, together with Ines, to let the genetics matter rest and focus on more manageable and less community-distressing topics.
To me, a possible genetic basis is not too much of a concern since I see several troubled souls in the community, and the types of trouble, as well as obvious hypersensitivity matters (light, sound), are overlaps or gates I find more easy to define and to manage compared to relatively boring genetic details.
At the same time, I must say, most private vampyre gatherings, as well as those at Goth festivals, do not touch scientific contents at all, so in such cases, I just lean back, have fun, and leave science aside for those moments, or stick to decompositional questions of vampire sightings, i.e., forensic biology aspects of the topic.
RVL: How well do you think the general population has responded to your work investigating real vampyres?
IB: Ich habe noch nie negative Reaktionen erlebt, sondern nur ein sehr starkes Desinteresse und Verdrängen, da das Thema zu unwirklich und verrückt erscheint, um tatsächlich wahr zu sein.
(Trans: I have never experienced negative reactions, but only a very strong disinterest and repression since the subject appeared unreal and crazy to some.)
RVL: Academically, what interest or feedback does your work achieve in the study of modern vampyres?
IB: Einige Soziolog*innen sehen reale Vampire als gutes Beispiel für eine sehr homogene Identitätsgruppe aus sehr heterogenen Individuen an. Einige Psycholog*innen versuchen aus einer positiven Motivation heraus, ein Persönlichkeitsprofil aus verschiedenen charakterlichen Auffälligkeiten zusammen zu erstellen.
(Trans: Some sociologists see real vampyres as a good example of a very homogeneous identity group from very heterogeneous individuals. A few psychologists attempt to construct a positive motivation out of a personality profile of collectively various character abnormalities.)
MB: Everyone can use AVA’s and our data in their own field. When I gave a talk at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting in New Orleans last year, I even carried a printed hardcover version of the English version of our vampyre study including all tables and raw data to a cute vampire shop in the French quarter and gave it to them. Who knows where it ended up. The data are out; the sources are open, let the games continue.
RVL: Other than your work, and studying vampyres (of course), what other passions do you share?
MB: We travel all around the world for work and research. Oh, and we love vegan food. Check out my literally thousands of food photos in the ‘Happy Cow’ app (my nickname there: marky_mark… yes, I know).
IB: Ich programmiere, tätowiere, male und bin allgemein an kreativen Prozessen interessiert.
(Trans: I programme, tattoo, paint, and I am generally interested in creative processes.)
MB: Ines actually writes and applies code excessively; she programmed several complex PHP software solutions from total scratch before my eyes.
RVL: How much a part do you think the vampire history, mythology, and folklore play a role in modern vampyre culture?
IB: Es hat nach meiner Erfahrung keinen Einfluss auf die realen Vampire.
(Trans: It does not influence the real vampyre in my experience.)
MB: It probably influences a little the style, like ‘Underworld’ mixed old-fashioned clothing styles with latex, and (that was formerly unknown in German-speaking countries) brought vampires and werewolves together a little but that is mostly a surface thing.
Mythological motifs define what real lifers sometimes see and accept as core elements of their and other’s vampyre identity. But even there, maybe it is more the vampyre playwright who brings the topic out in the daylight, not the other way round.
For example, I talked several times to Michael Kunze who wrote some of the most famous German songs in the past fifty years, and who also wrote (in German text) the musical “Tanz der Vampire” (based on Polanski’s “The Fearless Vampire Killers”) In it, he gives superbly elegant and fitting descriptions of vampires and vampyres, but he insists that it is just a story about growing up and becoming an adult. I have no idea what to make out of that since he certainly knows what he does.
Maybe he is just very empathic and distilled the motifs into perfect songs… please note however that the English text version of the musical is less elegantly done.
But basically: Most vampyres I met in the past twenty years were not too concerned with fictional vampires. They feel that it’s “just a story” or a movie, nothing real.
RVL: Now, for some fun questions… what do you both do to relax, have fun, and forget about work (and maybe even vampyres) for a bit?
IB: Die Wunder der Stadt erkunden, in der wir uns gerade aufhalten, und in abgelegenen Ecken ein veganes Restaurant suchen, da wir das ganze Jahr reisen und neue Eindrücke lieben.
(Trans: We explore the wonders of the city in which we work. We also look for vegan restaurants in remote corners because we travel throughout the year and love new experiences.)
MB: Fact. Also, old books and taking an extensive bath. Since we travel a lot, and since that it takes much time, and since bathtubs in hotels in our price range have died out, extensive bathing is a very rare event I always look forward to.
RVL: There is a rumor that you don’t own a television but I have to ask if you have any favourite vampire(s) either in a movie or a television show (you may have heard about) or a favourite vampire in literature?
IB: Marius, der Maler aus dem Anne Rice Universum, der seine Fähigkeiten fantastische Ölgemälde zu malen, über die Jahrhunderte perfektionierte.
(Trans: Marius, the painter from the Anne Rice universe, who perfected his skills over the centuries to paint fantastic oil paintings.)
MB: Haha, you need to know that Ines is quite a good painter because she spent most of her time alone when she was a kid and teenager, so her super precise painting and drawing techniques are already there. She got just some problems with signs of emotions and facial expressions. Still, she can draw upside-down as well as the right way round … wtf?
Concerning the rumour: It is true that I never had a TV set and also do not watch any TV-like stuff (except currently Rick & Morty of which Ines bought some episodes). I did, however, watch all seasons of ‘True Blood’ (2008–2014) and Hannibal (2013—2015) on DVD/Bluray. ‘True Blood’ was good! I would really like to know who was the real lifer in the storyboard team was since there must have been one, it is too precise for a mere fictionalization.
RVL: Do you anticipate another study or book about real vampyres? Are there aspects of your scientific research you have not covered, and you want to investigate?
IB: Ja, es gibt noch unendlich viel zu Erforschen und zu Entdecken, da mit neuen Antworten auch neue Fragen aufkommen.
(Trans: Yes, there is still infinitely much to research and to discover, as with new answers new questions also emerge.)
MB: The idea of identity groups may have put it all on a level that scientists may now agree upon. So the topic is out in the open now and will hopefully attract researchers who were ashamed or blinkered before. Nice sources are the AVA study, papers written by Joseph Laycock, John Browning, D. J. Williams, subculture persons like Sebastiaan but also now historical material like the already mentioned Calmet book, Rosemary Guiley, Katherine Ramsland (I meet her sometimes at our “Bring Your Own Slides” meeting at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, by the way) and many others. My library with books and papers on the topic is huge, and much of it is far less repetitive than one might believe.
RVL: Mark and Lady Ines, thank you again for giving us your time to answer our questions and letting us into your world. We are honoured that you permitted us to work with you, and we would very much like, to welcoming you back to report on the progress of your research, if you don’t mind?
IB: Wir würden uns über weitere Zusammenarbeit sehr freuen.
(Trans: We are delighted about further cooperation.)
MB: Ready for all adventures! Thanks a lot for your interest and yes, please let’s co-operate internationally. If you wish to intrigue people a little, I have a brand new booklet about vampyre research in six languages including Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and ready to send out for free as long as it lasts. Just send an e-mail
I find this amazing couple inspiring. A forensic expert who enjoys the challenge of solving curiosities approaches the problem with the resolve of Sherlock Holmes working harmoniously with an artist who tattoos in a manner reminiscent of her hero Marius, who painted skin in a living canvas.
Finding a scientific explanation of vampyrism has been a goal for several real vampyres. For our guests, their quest for answers allowed them to blend the rigours of science with the mystery of the vampyre condition in a way that is not only useful but meaningful.
What does the scientific method offers to real vampyres worldwide? It could prove frustrating and disappointing. The experimental process doesn’t always yield meaningful results, and it cannot guarantee to reach a verdict on what vampyrism is. If the wheels of justice turn slowly, then the wheels of science often stop and even retrograde, while the investigation grinds on. Validation is not a given.
Falsification is a process of testing and doesn’t mean everything is wrong; we cannot dismiss the claims of vampyres, nor can we claim them right. As a result of scientific scrutiny, cherished beliefs might require rethinking. Old ideas will probably yield to new definitions. Is it possible that what vampyres think they suffer is just in their minds? Yes, however, the scant evidence in the deficient research conducted to date suggests this is not the case. It gives a strong argument for further investigation.
So far the questions concerning real vampyres are complex, and the sought answers are not simple. The next phase of vampyre studies looks promising.
Copyright RVL, Lady Suzanne Carré, Dr. Mark Benecke and Lady Ines Benecke 2018