15 January 2009

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Kinds of Vampires

Because vampires are like potato chips. You can’t stop at one.

Dracula – The Big Daddy, model for all modern vampires: rich, sensual, aristocratic, able to leap tall buildings in a single shape shift. This platinum standard of the breed comes equipped with chiseled fangs, bitchy ex-girlfriends and a back story five hundred years long.

Nosferatu – What the German director F.W. Murnau came up with when he couldn’t get the rights for Bram Stoker’s Dracula for his vampire film: bald, bat-eared, buck-toothed with lethal halitosis and a seriously bad manicure.

Lilith – Adam’s first wife and the Bible’s first divorcee. She discovered the Devil didn’t care who was on top. Her second S.O. granted her immortality. Unfortunately, it came with a nasty side effect—a taste for innocent blood.

Jiang Shi – According to legend, when a Chinese person died far from home and his or her relatives lacked the resources to ship the body home for burial, the family would hire a Taoist priest to reanimate the corpse so it could make the trip under its own power. Some of them developed initiative along the way and took a detour for a little liquid refreshment.

Chupacabra – A recent addition to the American vampire fraternity. It specializes in goats (hence the “cabra” in the name) and other livestock. Descriptions vary from something very much like a coyote with a bad case of mange to a bug-eyed alien the size of a bear with jagged spines down its back.

Cihuateteo – The Aztecs believed giving birth was a kind of battle. Therefore, women who died in the process qualified as fallen warriors. The spirits of some such women took the analogy further. These bloodthirsty spirit warriors hung out at crossroads and attacked anyone who happened by, especially children. Like their patroness, the goddess Cihuacoatl, their faces were like skulls and their nails sharp and curved like an eagle’s talons.

Empusa – An ancient Greek fashion plate who favored brass slippers and ran around with her hair on fire. She was a firm believer in pleasure before business. Wild monkey sex was her idea of foreplay. The all-important bloodsucking came later, while her paramours were sleeping it off.

Lamia – Early myths portray this half-woman, half serpent as a formerly human Libyan queen who made the mistake of believing Zeus when he said his wife “had an understanding”. Later writers used the term to describe a class of female demons who didn’t just suck your blood, they made you feel all dirty about it too.

Nukekubi – Japanese monsters which appear human during the day. Instead of taking off their clothes at night, they take off their heads, which er, head out to catch a bite on their own.

Loogaroo – The voodoo-steeped Creole culture of Louisiana and the Caribbean had their own brand of vampires long before Anne Rice. The loogaroo was a beautiful woman with lustrous eyes who exuded a fragrance of vanilla of jasmine. But her beauty was the gift of the Devil, and she paid for it with nightly offerings of blood.

Sanguinary – In the human vampire community, individuals who feel the need to drink the blood of their partners for ritual or sexual purposes.

Psychic – In the human vampire community, individuals who derive sustenance from the psychic energy of their partners or the emotional energy of large cities.

Vegetarian – A Dracula-style vampire who needs blood to live but refuses to drink it from humans. Seems a waste of a good set of fangs to me. What’s the point of hooking up with a vamp if he (or she) doesn’t act like one? I mean, who doesn’t crave a nibble now and then?

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The image is The Vampire by Philip Burne-Jones, reputedly a portrait of the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who inspired Kipling's poem "The Vampire" and Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. She's a BtV-worthy subject in her own right, but that's a story for another day.
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