Longform

Real Vampires: The Houston Subculture That Drinks Blood and Chases Psychic Energy

"Generally we use single-use sterilized razor blades, the individually wrapped ones. It's usually not as much blood or as big a cut as most people think of it being."

Blut Katzchen has a softly lilting voice and sounds as comfortable speaking on the subject of bloodletting as some people do about the latest episodeof their favorite reality shows. She is a Black Swan, a person who allows herself to be cut and have her blood drunk by another individual. It's a very personal exchange for her, one she shares with a friendly but intense man who goes by the name of Reverend Michael Vachmiel.

Vachmiel has the demeanor of a man who has seen and experienced many things over the years, with an inner intensity forged from decades of watching his community grow and change. There are many subcultures living and prospering in Houston, but what sets Vachmiel apart from other community leaders in Houston is the nature of his group. They call themselves "real vampires" and live lives that draw inspiration from the supernatural monsters of folk legends and horror films.

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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.