Georgina Condon, a 38-year-old woman from Australia, drinks her boyfriend’s blood at least once a week – because, apparently, she’s a vampire. She allegedly has been a vampire since childhood – way before vampires became such a modern fad as a result of the movie Twilight, and television shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries. Though she does enjoy watching those shows, she thinks they don’t capture the true essence of what it’s like to be a vampire. Dr. John Edgar Browning of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has spent five years studying vampires living in New Orleans and Buffalo, says his research confirms that most vampires aren’t influenced by television or film. “What was perhaps most surprising about the vampires I met though was their marked lack of knowledge about vampires in popular culture,” he explains. “They seemed to know much less than you might expect – at least for vampires – about how their kind were depicted in books and films. By this I mean to say that the people I met with and interviewed hadn’t turned to drinking blood or taking psychic energy simply because they had read too many Anne Rice novels.” According to Dr. Browning, vampires are relatively rare. “They are not easy to find, but when you do track them down, they can be quite friendly. ‘Real vampires’ is the collective term by which these people are known. They’re not ‘real’ in the sense that they turn into bats and live forever but many do sport fangs and just as many live a primarily nocturnal existence. These are just some of the cultural markers real vampires adopt to express a shared (and, according to them, biological) essence – they need blood (human or animal) or psychic energy from donors in order to feel healthy. Their self-described nature begins to manifest around or just after puberty.” Sure enough, Georgina got her start as a vampire when she was 12, picking off her own scabs and lapping up the blood that emerged as a result. Eventually, she filed her teeth into fangs, and started hanging out at goth clubs and vampire balls, which is where she met her current boyfriend, Zamael. After years of sucking other people’s blood, Georgina now sucks only Zamael’s blood, because he considers it cheating if she feeds on someone else. Since filed-tooth fangs aren’t really sharp enough to draw blood, she just carefully cuts him with a razor, and drinks until she’s satisfied. “He sacrifices to give me what I want,” she says.