Sunday, November 8, 2009

Suzie Park, A Real Life Vampire

AS the clock strikes midnight Lady V raises a goblet to her lips and takes several hearty gulps. Finally her thirst is quenched - thanks to the warm human BLOOD she has just downed. By day Suzie Park is a married volunteer who helps disabled kids learn to read, bake cakes and sing songs. But when night falls, she transforms into Lady V - a vampire who sleeps in an antique coffin, shuns garlic and dresses only in black. Suzie, 36, says: "All my life there was something missing, an itch I couldn't scratch. Then six years ago I met a man called Lord Sebastian, who lived as a vampire and introduced me to his ways. "From my first taste of human blood I knew that's what my life was missing. I knew I had found the real me - and Lady V was born." Today, vampire stories featuring the mythical fanged beings who gorge on blood are as popular as ever. Later this month, British pin-up Robert Pattinson returns to cinemas as vampire Edward Cullen in Hollywood fantasy New Moon, the second instalment in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Meanwhile, the hit US vampire series True Blood is currently showing on Channel 4. According to Suzie, real-life vampires first emerged in the 1980s as an offshoot of the punk movement. The main difference between them and their fictional counterparts is that the human vamps don't bite people to get their fix of blood - and are clearly not "undead" souls trapped in a permanent limbo with an unhealthy fear of daylight. Suzie's own fascination with vampires began when she was a teenager living in New York. She was into goth music, which set her apart from her peers, and she became a loner.
Suzie Park relaxes in her coffin
She says: "My life was in tatters. I had no job, no prospects and was really depressed." Then, in 2003, she went to an underground club and her life took a sinister turn. She continues: "Out of nowhere I felt a tap on my shoulder and a man whispered into my ear. He told me he could save me from my forsaken life. "He was tall and thin and wearing a black cloak that almost reached the floor. He had long black hair down his back. "He was called Lord Sebastian and he took me to an old house on the outskirts of the city. This was the House of Exmortal, a cult where I learned to live as a vampire." In the following weeks Suzie was slowly accepted into the group as they grew to trust her. While by day she worked as a senior clerk for a security company, at night she attended vampire meetings. Sometimes they would prowl the streets by moonlight before returning to sleep in coffins. Garlic was forbidden and the house had to remain a secret from the outside world. The ultimate test came when Suzie was asked to enter the cult's closely-guarded Inferno Room and drink human blood. She says: "I wasn't nervous about trying it, I was excited. It was just another step on the road to becoming a fully-fledged vampire. "When I went into the Inferno Room for the first time it felt so right. I watched as Lord Sebastian cut a vein and trickled blood into a goblet. Then I drank from the cup. It tasted warm and metallic and as it went down I felt a rush of euphoria. "It was almost like the blood was giving me new life, restoring me. I felt like I had finally come home." But in 2005 tragedy struck when Lord Sebastian was killed in a road accident and the leaderless cult decided to disband. Later that year, Suzie was in an internet chatroom when she struck up a conversation with Nottingham electrician Paul Davies, 41. She recalls: "We hit it off immediately and soon we were chatting every night. Paul liked the goth scene and we seemed to have loads in common. "Eventually he asked me to come and live with him in the UK.
Suzie Park's Everyday look
"Although I was very keen, I didn't know how he would react to my vampire ways. I had told him a bit about the cult but not about the twice-weekly blood-drinking. Of course, I don't take other people's - I cut the vein in my left arm and drink my own. "It's the only thing that quenches my thirst and makes me feel alive. "This was the real test of how much Paul cared for me - but in the end he was fine." In 2007 Suzie started a new life with Paul in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Notts, making gothic lamps for a living. Although their home was soon overrun with her creepy memorabilia, he was unfazed by her bizarre lifestyle. Suzie says: "Paul loves my bespoke vampire teeth, which I had made by a professional fangsmith for £60. "My red contact lenses were £120 at a specialist dress hire store. "Sadly, there isn't room for both Paul and me in my coffin, so I retreat there to sleep alone three or four times a week. "It's lined with red velvet and lovely and comfy. Pulling down the lid is also a great way to block out the sound of his snoring. "I'm very fortunate Paul understands what I do and in March last year we finally got married in a truly gothic ceremony, dressed all in black." Earlier this year Suzie began volunteering as a teaching assistant at a home for disabled children. She says: "The kids and teachers don't know about my habit because I don't want to freak anyone out. "In fact, being a vampire isn't as strange as you think. There are loads of us out there in the UK, especially in the bigger cities. "My vampire friends and I aren't bad, so no one has anything to be scared of. In fact, there could even be one living next door to you. You just never know."