Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 102 – June 19, 2014 – The Cult of the Vampire and Ashtabula

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Ashtabula nurtured one of the 50's most popular vampiric icons of the mid-20th Century in the person of Maila Nurmi, born Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi in Finland in 1921. When Maila was two her family moved to the US, settling in Ashtabula, home to the largest Finnish-American community in the state.

Nearly everyone has seen Maila's image, even if the late night television show she hosted, The Vampira Show, no longer runs and was never aired outside the Los Angeles area. In later life Maila supported herself by selling pictures of her self as Vampira.

We are attracted to vampires, according to the gauge available through our willingness to shell out money to read about them and view them on TV and movies. Themes which persistently generate a stream of income raise questions to be considered.

Many agree vampires are perceived as entities who, though beautiful and sexually attractive, are dangerous. Another recurring belief is that they are, “excluded from society and light and warmth.” According to David Dvorkin there was a religious aspect to this. Vampires, “were deprived of the light created by God and of the sight of God's creation.”

Biblically, this puts them in the same category as Lucifer and his legion of Dark Angels.

History places the first mention of vampires in ancient Persia. Myths also place vampires in ancient Babylon. In the Bible "Lilith," was reputedly the first wife of Adam, according to old Hebrew texts later removed from the Old Testament. Lilith supposedly had, “left her husband due to his sexual ineptitude, becoming the Queen of Demons and Evil spirits.”

Across nearly all cultures, and times, the mythos of vampires, exhibiting very similar characteristics, persist. These characteristics are startlingly similar to those ascribed to psychopaths today. Lack of conscience, violation of social mores, and perversions are associated with these entities, who also drink blood or suck the life energy out of their victims.

Vampires have fascinated us for as long as there has been history, but never more so than today. The number of movies, books, and hit television shows, for instance Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, or True Blood. Vampiric books, movies and TV is its own genre.

The wise-cracking Maila remains a contrast to the far less satiric images of vampires which proliferate in print and film today. But the question remains. What unconsidered part of us is fascinated, and terrorized, by vampires?

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