I've just started reading Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead, by Paul Bibeau. As the back cover explains:
At eight years old, Paul Bibeau had the footie pj's scared off of him when his sister sprang out of a crawlspace in the dark wearing plastic fangs. It was the start of a lifelong fascination with vampires. Now a "grown-up" journalist, he has embarked on a quest to discover how a second-rate Wallachian Prince named Vlad, inserted into an odd little nineteenth-century book by some guy named Stoker, became such a pervasive cultural icon.
I'm about fifty pages into the book now; the early chapters, mostly about Romania, are very good and funny. But for now, let me share with you one passage from the book (pp. 34-36), about why Romanians haven't been so keen to capitalize on the international fame of their native son Vlad Dracula.
As of 2000 almost half of Romania's population lived in poverty . . . . But the country also had a potential fortune -- a character whose legend had launched a multimillion dollar media empire. Romania was like a homeless guy carting around one of those stolen supermarket carts filled with bags of aluminum cans, a pile of dirty laundry, a half-drunk bottle of Night Train, and a framed Van Gogh original in mint condition. It just didn't make sense. Why couldn't the country cash in? . . . .
Sighişoara [a Transylvanian town that at one point was going to be the site for a Dracula theme park] had already seen its share of Goths . . . and locals wanted none of it. At a rock music festival a few years ago, it was mobbed with up to 90,000 people. . . . [T]he rock fans actually scrawled pentagrams on the gravestones at the local church . . . .
[I]n late 2001 . . . a Miramax crew filmed a series of movies called Dracula Resurrection there. Locals reported stumbling over fake-blood-soaked mannequins in their town square. "My daughter was terrified," said one townie.
It wasn't hard to see their point. To Romanians Vlad was a national figure, not a vampire. Imagine foreigners coming to visit the Lincoln Memorial by the thousands -- wearing stovepipe hats, false beards . . . and plastic fangs. They love Lincoln. They love how he can turn himself into a bat. How he freed the slaves and rises at night to suck the blood of the living. Imagine you know you could make major bucks off these freaks if you chiseled a pair of wicked-looking teeth on Lincoln's statue.
You'd have to be desperate to even consider it.
As someone whose middle name begins with "Vlad," I may be blogging in the future about my own interests in vampires and the law -- what Buffy has to do with property law and the law and economics insights of Angel.