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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 Steamboat 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 Transyvania 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 darkside 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 that embrace 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. Police said They "tortured puppies" and even "drank one another's blood." "Police said [the teens] were attracted to vampires by a best selling role-playing 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 one time by a vampiress during the tour. The vampiress placed her hand on her shoulder and said "some of us really exist darling." She gets up to 15 to 30 people that take her nightly tour, at one time she had 95 people on the tour. 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!"
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 and when she met Cole, they have been friends ever since. I asked Rhiannon and Cole how they acquired their canines. Both have fangs that stand out 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. 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. 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.
As I was walking with Shannon, Chris and Kevin, I remembered how Cole told me that psycho 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 where I live, I have a vampire neighbor named Tremaine that 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.
2. Second Stop: Nob Spring Cleaners/Nob Hill Cafe. Nob Spring Cleaners is next to Nob Hill Cafe and 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 points out to Shannon McCabe 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 and didn't hear too 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 the 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.
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!
Paul Dale Roberts,
Jazma Freelance Writer
H.P.I. Ghostwriter/Paranormal Investigator