Some friends of Vampyres wonder what it is about vamps that expects them to become donors, to give a small amount of their blood for them to consume, and even to feel guilty for not doing it? Well, I can’t expect someone to feel guilty about being afraid of a needle or other sharp object, or for not wanting to get emotionally or physically close to me – but what I do find objectionable on the part of a friend, is someone who watches me starve, grow tired and weak and even become sick – and then cheerfully looks me in the eyes and says “I’m sorry”. Is that a friend? Though I will not bear a grudge, this is the question I find myself asking these days. Today I take a closer look at the Vampyre-Donor issue in our local context.
The Vampyre’s need for a donor – specifically the sanguine Vampyre, that is the blood drinker – stems from our need for human blood. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out that anyone who goes around cutting on people against their will to feed, is going to get themselves in some serious trouble – along with the rest of the community. That’s where the Donor comes in as a concept. It’s a person whom we take into our confidence in one way or another in order to obtain a little of their blood with their consent, usually on a regular basis.
One question we are asked is if there isn’t a “donor directory” that we could use to locate a donor in our area? Yes and no. Yes, there are a few semi-public donor directories on the web, but these are rather strange affairs, and they do not come without a significant element of risk. More often than not, there will be all sorts on there, from the genuine and serious who are really willing to help Vampyres, to those who just post on there for the “thrill” of it, to those Twi-hard fans who beg to be “turned”, to the occasional sexual predator. Add to that the detail that Donors aren’t an actual community like vampyres. They aren’t marked by a central identifying characteristic which makes them anything specific – other than the genuine desire to help a Vampyre – or a friend, in need. Other than that, they are ordinary people who make a choice to help Vampyres, or A Vampyre of their acquaintance. At least, that’s the theory.
There are many different kinds of people who are willing to be a Donor or to consider donating to a Vampyre. Some start out as being someone’s romantic partner who was a Vampyre, and they donated for them. Some are self-harmers who feel the blood shed by their self-harm would be better put to use by feeding someone who needed it. Some enjoy the mystique of the Vampyre, others enjoy the experience, and still others feel they have too much energy and need the release brought by donating to a Vampyre. Whatever their reasons for donating, these are considered the most pure of intentions, and donation and what passes between the Donor and their Vampyre is its own reward.
Donors don’t all have the same motives for donating, it’s true. Some do it for a romantic interest, some are self harmers, and some do it out of love or concern for the Vampyre. The ideal though, for the Vampyre, is to meet one that won’t have some ulterior motive, or make trouble for them if things don’t work out. Sadly, this is often the case. Donors take a risk, it’s true – but it’s more often the Vampyre who ends up looking like the bad guy. Some would say that is ironic.
Further, although there are numerous message boards, forums and Facebook groups set up to cater for Donors, few have lasted for very long, been active, well maintained and organized – and there are certainly none today that cater for Donors in South Africa. Yes, several were started by SAVA over the past few years, but they always came to nought because, well – people feel awkward about being dragged into a group to chat with other people about – well, about why they allow so-and-so to drink their blood, and how to do it etc, etc. Face it – if you’re not a Vampyre – it’s just weird.
South Africans don’t like to talk about stuff like that, do they? Most South Africans won’t even go see a shrink, because it carries a stigma. If you need psychiatric help you’re “weak” and should be locked away. At least, that’s the stereotype – and that’s why South Africans chat about rugby or sport around the braai fire and women go to book club and talk about how ripped Jake is. Everybody is terrified of standing out – or, horror of horrors – standing out in a “bad” way! “Nobody” criticizes the status quo, “nobody” defends those typecast as pariahs and “everyone” goes to church despite also going for monthly tarot readings and reiki healing sessions. “Nobody” talks about not being a stereotype, about neo-paganism, the constructed nature of modern race-politics, or being a Vampyre – or a Donor to one. In this country, the elephant in the room is a puzzled and lonely animal, because people will squeeze over, under and around it rather than to talk to it and ask it to move out of the way.
Most Shinai don’t understand Vampyres anyway – and there is a very, very good reason why vampires in fiction have been part of the “horror” genre in movies and books for more than a century. People fear the monster that bears the name “vampire” – the name which we claim as energy and life-force feeders. Even were it not for the name, the fact that we consume blood – their blood – irrevocably ties us to this stereotype in any case, so that even those who will take the plunge and help us, will be nauseated and even horrified by the notion of someone drinking their actual blood – even though they may find themselves morbidly fascinated by it.
It’s the blood thing, you see. It allows us to function normally and to be healthy and balanced and a little like you for a time. Steak blood, or “cow juice” or “moo-negative” as some of us call it, might do the job, but in my experience, only does it part-way. We are still left wanting and less satisfied than we should be. I know it’s hard to understand, probably impossible if you don’t have the need for it… but for us, human blood is the most amazing thing there is. Some people will think of us as “mentally ill” monsters and even tar us with the label “evil” because of it. Sometimes even the people who will give us their blood.
The relationship between a vampyre and a donor – even if a once-off and the two are complete strangers and there is no other purpose to their relationship than donation – is a complex one. The Donor trusts the Vampyre to stick to their agreement to take only what is offered, and no more, and to not hurt them
outside of what was agreed prior to the meeting (different strokes for different folks, which is sometimes why we are viewed as being part of the BDSM/fetish scene. I’m sure there will be vamps and donors in the BDSM community, but that is not a true reflection of the whole community, nor our culture perse’. I do not think the average Vampyre and Donor mix donating with sex. I most certainly do not.). The Vampyre trusts the Donor to supply what is needed according to the agreement – and to keep the arrangement and what passes between them confidential.
As you may gather, there is a great deal that one or the other may be blackmailed or threatened with, so yes, mutual TRUST and RESPECT is key.
To add to the motives some feel people should donate, it has been suggested by some that Vampyres “ought” to provide the Donor with “something of equal value” in return for services rendered. In effect, this “profit motive” amounts to paying for the donation; money for blood.
How do you put a price on life?
When you start bringing a profit motive into this equation, you turn the procurement of vital life essence into nothing more than a financial transaction. This becomes little less than donors prostituting their blood to Vampyres – and just in case you didn’t know, blood is human tissue, and the trade of human tissue is a crime in South Africa. Aside from the legal aspects and other serious risks to the individual and to the community as a whole, it demeans and cheapens the relationship between a Vampyre and a Donor, and detracts from something which is supposed to be a beautiful, selfless and honest thing between two people. If taken to a macro scale, this could lead to the development of a black market blood – well, market. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the consequences.
We need more local Donors, yes – but we need to go about it the right way, in a manner which builds the community, builds friendships and keeps all of us safe.
I will leave you with that thought. Be well.