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Inside the world of real life vampires

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 21/04/2015
These vampires still drink blood, but don't have much in the way of super powers. © Kamil Macniak/Getty Images These vampires still drink blood, but don't have much in the way of super powers.

They drink blood, feed off 'psychic energy' and pay taxes. ABC News delves into the shadowy world of real life vampires with researcher Dr John Edgar Browning and finds that being a creature of the night mightn't be all it's cracked up to be.

Once a month, a community group meets in New Orleans, bringing their various issues to order. On the agenda is the availability of locally available human blood for consumption.

This is the serious, structured world of real life vampires. They live, work and move among us.

John Edgar Browning, a postdoctoral fellow from the Georgia Institute of Technology, ventured deep into vampire communities in New Orleans in an effort to better understand them.

According to him, there are two types of vampires: those who consume human or animal blood (or both), and those who take so-called 'psychic energy' from other people.

Unfortunately, real vampires don't display the overt, archetypal signifiers seen in movies and television programs, and Dr Browning spent two months haplessly searching before finding any.

Even then, things did not go to plan.

'My first encounters were kind of embarrassing and didn't go very well. I was unprepared,' he admits.

Eventually, he came across a group at a gothic nightclub and was introduced to New Orleans' vampire community.

He learned that those who merely consumed animal blood normally just go to butchers for supplies.

Vampires who favour human blood, though?

'That is a little different,' says Dr Browning.

'You have to find people who are willing to exchange their own blood for money or sometimes for various types of sexual favours.'

According to Dr Browning, both the vampire and donor are tested to ensure they are free of transmittable disease, so it's 'not as risqué as it might sound'.

There are even vampire elders who help guide those entering the community for the first time.

'Usually that just means they can help fledgling vampires who are just becoming aware of themselves or becoming acclimated to their experience,' he says.

In a time of juice cleanses and paleo diets, could being a vampire be just another way for people to feel regular?

'[Vampires] say they feel tired, drained and unhealthy and they don't feel optimal and healthy until they take blood or energy,' says Dr Browning.

He estimates there are several hundred active vampires across the US. His research suggests many more could be based in Australia.

'There's definitely vampires living there and they've formed small, possibly regional communities.'

As for the famed superpowers of vampires?

'I'm sure they would love to have supernatural powers, but you'll find very few, if any, supernatural powers.

'They do not live forever.'

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