The Vampire Tour of San Francisco
Before, you read this article, I stand corrected by lady vampire Rhiannon. She sent me this email, correcting my article. Thank you for allowing the readers and I, to better understand the vampire culture. Here is her email in her own words:
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"Thank you for sending this article. This is a very detailed and interesting piece, good work, but there are two problems I noticed, and you said we should point out to you any problems with what was written when we got this.
One was a misquote of what Cole said about blood drinking. You state that he said he drinks blood, but that is not what he said. Cole does not drink blood, but he did say that even vampires who drink blood rarely drink very much at a time, and sometimes only perhaps a teaspoon or two per feeding, maybe once in a month.
I will elaborate a little for you, since you forgot to ask us about it. This can vary, actually, from blood drinker to blood drinker, and some take more than the amounts he was talking about, just not usually. Some vampires, though it is the energy that they require, and not the blood its self, they feel that this is the only way they are able to connect enough to take from another person. I think they might be able to learn how to do it other ways, some like to do it both ways, since it is a very intense way to connect.
And since you were curious but didn't ask me, I will tell you that though what I usually take is energy, I do drink a little blood, but my blood drinking is only from two of my closest friends, both people I know are healthy and clean of infection, and have lifestyles that would not make them likely to contract things like AIDS, hepatitis, or other blood carried disease.
I am able to pull the blood through the skin in a very tightly concentrated area with my mouth, and this is good because I don't like the risk factor for scarring or infection involved with anything that breaks the skin. I take much more energy, more deeply in this way, but since this method is not required for me, I don't do it often.
The second thing I would ask you to be more careful about how you put is when you talk about us having fangs. You make it sound like we're walking around with theatrically huge pointed teeth, and claiming they are natural. In fact, our teeth might be considered subtly unusual (a thing I was careful to point out is something I think is purely coincidence), but they are well within the realm of normal length or sharpness for humans. People reading your article as it you have it now might easily get the impression that we have huge fangs, when really, they're just healthy teeth." -Rhiannon
Now, let's dive into my article, where I did some misquoting or did some misinterpretation, I apologize to Cole and Rhiannon.
Shannon McCabe, President of H.P.I. (Haunted and Paranormal Investigations) of Northern California learned about The Vampire Tour of San Francisco through Ricardo Pustanio of Haunted America Tours. Like I have said many times before, we investigate all things 'paranormal' and vampires are not an exception to the rule. September 29, 2007, Saturday, I headed over to Shannon's home and met up with fellow paranormal investigator Chris Grissom. The three of us were heading to San Francisco this day in Shannon's Ectoplasmobile aka Ecto 1, with Shannon driving. It was around 1:30pm when I arrived at Shannon's and she told Chris and I, we're going to pound flesh and hand out fliers at Sierra 2 Center and Curtis Park, where they were having a festival in the park. The fliers indicated that HPI is having a Halloween Bash at the Sierra 2 and the community was invited. So, that is what we did, introduced ourselves as HPI paranormal investigators and handed out fliers. After walking around the park for a good couple of hours, I heard my stomach growling, it was time to eat and head off to San Francisco. We got back in Ecto 1 and stopped at Shannon's favorite eating spot. AM/PM Mini Mart for hamburgers and hot dogs. Okay, maybe that's not Shannon's favorite eating spot, but the meal was a reasonable price and we weren't hungry anymore. Shannon treated Chris and I, to bottles of Starbucks ice coffee that she had in the trunk of the car. Now, that was a good pick me up.
Shannon, like a bat-out-of-hell, zoomed down Hwy 80 towards San Francisco and maneuvered through the streets of San Francisco with the experience of a street cop. We finally located a place to park and headed over to the elegant Hamilton Hotel to meet with our first vampire. As we waited for our first vampire interview, we dined on decadent spring rolls with shrimp and crab and chased down some Heineken and Anchor Steam beer. Then as I looked over to the left corner, I glimpsed a lady in black, it was our first vampire. She calls herself Mina Harker (a character from Bram Stoker's book Dracula). Her real name is Kitty Burns.
I learn all kinds of fascinating things about Kitty. She was actually a host at a vampire tour in Transylvania twice and once spent the night in Dracula's Castle. She hosted one tour with Eddie Munster aka Butch Patrick. She tells me how she once booked a vampire tour in New Orleans, during a business trip and wondered why San Francisco doesn't have a vampire tour in their own city. Then it dawned on her, she is a published playwright and why not start her own tour, she immediately started writing a script for the tour and has been giving the tour for 6 years now. She says the tour is more lighthearted and really doesn't dwell on the dark side of vampirism. It's more comedy than horror. I can just imagine that the script must have been pouring through her mind, while she cruised down the Mississippi River, when she made that business trip in New Orleans.
As I let Kitty talk, she discussed a very colorful character Emperor Norton and how no mortal could pull off printing his own money and collecting taxes from the people. She talked about James Flood, a successful businessman and how the vampire community loved him. In fact the vampire community learned how to start their own businesses through James Flood. We discussed various vampire clubs in existence around San Francisco and how people have embraced the vampire culture. Some of the vampires play the game Masquerade. Masquerade is a role playing vampire game. I mention to Kitty, that role playing games like Masquerade can sometimes get out of hand.
For an example:
A group of three teenagers were charged with the bludgeoning death of a Florida couple, parents of a fourth girl in their group. These teenagers were involved in the fantasy role playing game Vampire the Masquerade. Police said They "tortured puppies" and even "drank one another's blood." "Police said [the teens] were attracted to vampires by the best selling role-play game.
A Virginia Beach man was sentenced to 26 years in prison for sexually molesting [and biting] eight teen-age girls he [had] recruited for his vampire 'family' through the playing of "a game in which players assumed the roles of ancient vampires."
This is the dark side of vampirism that Kitty shuns and doesn't want to think about. It made me think, that everything seems to be a balance of Yin and Yang. There is the balance of good and the balance of evil. There will always be a balance of good and evil, it has been with us since the beginning of mankind and it will be with us to the end of days. Fortunately, this evening we are seeing the good side of vampirism through Kitty's eyes.
Kitty tells me that she dresses for the tour and wears a vampire costume of all black. Many Goths have taken her tour. She was approached once by a vampiress . The vampiress placed her hand on her shoulder and said "some of us really do exist darling."
Mina Harker, aka Kitty Burns, gets 15 to 30 people that take her nightly tour, at one evening she had 95 people show up! The vampire movies that Kitty loves are Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein, Interview with a Vampire (except that it was too bloody for Kitty's taste), Bela Lugosi's Dracula. She goes on to tell me that one time Kim Basinger took her tour and she didn't point out Kim to the crowd and just let her enjoy the tour. After the tour, Kitty approached Kim and said..."has anyone ever told you, you look like Kim Basinger?" Kim laughed and said..."yes, all the time!"
After I interviewed Kitty, I went over to the park across the street to interview two more vampires. Shannon introduced me to Cole and Rhiannon.
Cole states that when he was 17 years old, he had misconceptions on vampirism, he compared vampirism to what he watched from Hollywood movies, until he met a woman that explained to him what vampirism is really about, then he knew that true vampirism implied to his own persona. This is a woman he met at a Goth club. Rhiannon said she didn't realize it at first, but something was different about her, starting from what she felt in the 3rd grade. She felt other people's energy, she felt empathy for others, she could feel people's energy signatures left behind on objects, sort of like psychometrics. She could go past a school desk and feel the energy signature of the person that sat on that desk. Cole says that the scientific community needs to catch-up and discover what vampirism really is, it could be referred to as bio-deficiency syndrome as Cole likes to call it. Rhiannon says maybe vampires should be called energy absorbers. Cole elaborates and says that certain people as we call vampires, don't create enough energy within their beings and must acquire energy from others. Blood is a source of energy, some vampires may take their energy from ambient energy sources, like from a Black Sabbath concert, where there is a high abundance of energy. Rhiannon says she does better from one person, a willing host to her energy feeding. She and Cole can absorb energy from a touch and do not attempt to take energy from an unwilling host. The touch can last from 30 seconds to a minute.
Rhiannon, a lovely red haired vampiress tells me that she met Cole at a vampire oriented club called The Glass Cat. The Glass Cat was having a vampire ball. The Glass Cat is known to play electronic and industrial music. When Rhiannon met Cole, they knew they'd be friends for a long time to come.
I asked Rhiannon and Cole how they acquired their canines. Both have small fangs that stand out a bit more than usual, and they told me that their fangs are actually natural. Cole is a handsome young man, that wears a black trench coat, black shirt, black pants, black tie and has long black hair, he definitely looks the part of a vampire. These two were a pleasure to meet and I and HPI thank them very much for letting us into their world.
As the interview ended and I saw Rhiannon and Cole walk away, I remembered something that Cole had told me. He said that at times he takes in 2 or 3 teaspoons of blood. I forgot to ask him if that was human blood or animal blood and how does he acquire that blood? Does Rhiannon also drink blood? I was completely absorbed with the energy absorbing topic, I completely forgot about the consumption of blood. (Found in Rhiannon's email above.)
Well, it was time to move on as Shannon, Chris and a Berkeley journalist named Kevin Jones were approaching me. Kevin Jones was here to interview Shannon, Chris and I, about our ghost hunting. He has a show for the Berkeley University radio station called the Berkeley Radio Magazine.
As I was walking with Shannon, Chris and Kevin, I remembered how Cole told me that psychos are psychos as I questioned about the darker side of vampirism. Such as the serial killer Richard Trenton Chase, aka The Vampire of Sacramento. Cole also told me that he was aware of 10 true vampires in San Francisco and how vampirism is a condition. The reason why vampires wear black, is because black is an absorbent color. I talked about physical vampires, vampires that get their boost from the physical exertion of others, or sexual vampires, a person who goes from one partner to another, acquiring energy from their conquests. Cole tells me that in all cases, it's energy they are acquiring. To have sex, is exerting energy. To be physical as being pushed to do a lot of exercises, is exerting energy. I can only wonder if Army drill sergeants who push soldiers over the limits are energy vampires? I can only wonder again, if playboys like Warren Beatty who go from one conquest to another, are also energy vampires?
Cole and Rhiannon are two delightful people that enjoy life and Rhiannon's favorite vampire movie is Interview with a Vampire, while Cole enjoys the old Bela Lugosi's Dracula movies.
Vampires are everywhere. Right down the street from where I live, I have a vampire neighbor named Tremaine. He has silver plated vampire fangs. How Tremaine became a vampire is anyone's guess, he really doesn't discuss it, but he came from a family that was once associated with the Los Angeles Crips, his family is now disassociated with the Crips and live a descent suburbia life in Elk Grove. In HPI we have a ghost hunter named Carol Gillis that is a self-proclaimed vampiress. Also, in HPI another ghost hunter named Cherie Vincent embraces the vampire culture and has two vampire bite tattoos on her neck. Like I said, they are everywhere...
The SF Vampire Tour commences: Kitty takes on the character of Mina Harker. Mina Harker tells of falling victim to Dracula. She discussed Bram Stoker's book Dracula and elaborates her transformation of a living human being to a vampiress. There is black lining around her eyes, her skin is pale white, she wears a black cape and her outfit is all black. Mina carries a candleabra as she starts her tour. She discusses everything about an underground vampire culture that originates in Nob Hill, San Francisco. She blurs fiction with history as she talks about the following:
1. First Stop: The Grace Church. Mina talks about the battleship General Harrison and many ships that are part of the landfill that San Francisco is built upon. Beneath San Francisco are buried opium dens and brothels. That Hollywood has us snowed on what real vampirism is all about, that vampires can actually walk into churches. While Mina is talking about the graveyard of ships that San Francisco is built upon, towering behind us is the majestic Grace Church where once Charles Crocker lived on that land, before the church was built. Charles Crocker is the founder of the Crocker Bank. Mina discusses the Wall of Spite and the presence of skull and crossbones near the wall. How fires at the church were blamed on the vampire community and further discussions of Mark Twain residing in San Francisco and the colorful character Emperor Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico and that the things that he pulled off, he couldn't have been a mere mortal, that he must have been a vampire to excel with the accomplishments during his reign. Some of those Norton accomplishments were making it a misdemeanor if anyone said the name 'Frisco' referring to the city of San Francisco. San Franciscans do not like the name Frisco and until this day, this misdemeanor is still in the law books. Mina connects Dracula to Emperor Norton and goes on to discuss a Masonic cemetery. She tells how the Bay Bridge may be renamed to the Norton Bridge.
As I surveyed the crowd, I came upon another HPI paranormal investigator named Hanako Zeidenberg. When Hanako lived in Sacramento, she participated in the 400 Capitol Mall Haunting Investigation. She now lives in Oakland and decided to see what the vampire tour is all about. Shannon and I, gave Hanako a big warm welcome hug. Hanako has been away from HPI since her move and Shannon tells Hanako, she is always HPI and is part of the family forever. Hanoko radiates a big beaming smile and I tell her about the Mt. Shasta UFO/Bigfoot Pre-Investigation that is coming up and she is interested in participating in this pre-investigation. I hope she does!
2. Second Stop: Nob Hill Cafe. Mina explains that Jack the Ripper (who she claims is a vampire) came to San Francisco and changed his name to Choker Barnes. She claims at the cafe, the greatest vampire vs. mortal battle happened, in which 20 people were killed. It was because that a vampire den was discovered at the cafe and since vampires are very secretive, they fought the mortals to retain that secrecy. Mina elaborates on another Hollywood myth and talks about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She says that Buffy can kill vampires with any type of wood, that this is an untruth. Vampires can only be killed with ashwood, the wood from the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on. Mina says that San Francisco City Hall is the 2nd most haunted building in San Francisco and Alcatraz is the most haunted and takes the #1 spot.
3. Third Stop: James Flood's Home, which is now Pacific Union Club. Mina explains how the vampire community gave James Flood protection and security, because they respected his knowledge on business affairs. They also wanted to make James Flood a vampire and James stood up to the vampires and proclaimed that he came into the world as a mortal and is leaving this world as a mortal. James Flood had an underground tunnel from his mansion to his mistress house across the street. Some underground tunnels in San Francisco lead to brothers and clubs, Mina explains. When Mina entered James Flood's home one night, she heard an unearthly voice tell her 'it's true!' from a comment that Mina had made in the house. Mina talks about the comedian/ accused murderer Fatty Arbuckle and how he was associated with the St. Francis Hotel.
4. Fourth Stop: The Fairmont Hotel. Many movies were made at this hotel from Vertigo to The Rock. Prince Charles to Mick Jagger have stayed in this hotel as guests. The 7th Floor is reputed to be very haunted. It could be haunted by WWII soldiers that once stayed on that floor. A lady of the evening was murdered in the tower area of the hotel and a guest once saw the phantom of this murder victim as she laid on a 4 poster bed that no longer exists in the hotel, she was in a red teddy and actually talked to the guest. When the guest told hotel management, the management explained to him that they no longer have 4 poster beds in the room and when they went back to the room, there was no woman laying on a 4 poster bed in a red teddy. The guest was startled and realized he encountered the phantom of the murdered woman that night. The penthouse of this hotel is reputed to be haunted and Mae West's ghost is sometimes seen near the Penthouse. President Truman once stayed at the Penthouse. The lobby area of the Fairmont Hotel has a gorgeous staircase, this is where Gone with the Wind was filmed. Chris Grissom, HPI investigator, points out to Shannon "Ms. Macabre", that there was a figure in one of the darkened windows that peaked out at the crowd. Shannon saw the figure too, it was a head moving swiftly to the window and then moving back to hide. Chris and Shannon both thought this was quite odd. If it was a normal person, why wouldn't they just look normally from their window upon the crowd, why go back and hide behind the wall? Could this have been a phantom?
5. Last Stop: Mark Hopkins Hotel. During the last stop I was being interviewed by Kevin Jones about my own ghost hunting activities with HPI and didn't hear much about what Mina had to say about this magnificent looking hotel, and only gathered some information about 100 variety of martinis and the variation of martinis that is associated with this hotel.
The tour was fun and informative and Mina presented the information with enthusiasm and delight. As I was leaving the tour, I got a tap on my right shoulder. I turned around and a man dressed all in black asked me how I enjoyed the tour. I told him, it was a blast and wished it didn't have to end. He smiled and said that I have a lot more to learn about vampires. I asked him what his name was. With a hypnotic stare, he said 'Lee Stat' and walked backwards into the shadows. As I tried to follow his steps, he was no where around. As I rejoined Shannon and Chris, I thought about the name. Did he say Lee Stat or Lestat? Hmmmm.
After the insane day of vampire chasing Chris and I piled in Shannon's Ecto 1 and headed over to The Gold Cane on Haight Street and came upon Puppy, a guy we interviewed during the Haight Haunted Walking Tour. We talked with Puppy for a while, while Chris and I had a round of Jack and Coke. Shannon had to play the straight arrow, since she was driving Chris and I home. All three of us were getting tired and we rushed back to Ecto 1. Going to San Francisco, expenses gather and this is how I add things up for this trip.
Gas for Shannon's car: $20.00 Paul's pocket.
Parking for Shannon's car: $15.00 Chris's pocket.
Drinks at Hamilton Hotel: $20.00 Shannon's pocket.
Drinks at The Gold Cane: $15.00 Chris' pocket.
Midnight Snacks at McDonalds: $14.00 Paul's pocket.
The San Francisco Vampire Tour: Priceless!
For more on H.P.I. Haunted and Paranormal Investigations of Northern California, go to their website at: www.HPIparanormal.net
Paul Dale Roberts, HPI Ghostwriter
Email: JazmaPika @ cs.com
Edited by Shannon 'Ms. Macabre' McCabe and Ricardo Pustanio of www.hauntedamericatours.com
Paranormal Cellular Hotline: 916 203 7503 (for comments on this story).
If you have a possible investigation call: 1-888-709-4HP
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