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April 15, 2004updated 22 Nov 2022 1:36pm

Arlene Russo

By Press Gazette


It’s a cursed life being an editor of a vampire magazine. I call my life the Curse of the Vampire – because it is.

Turning a hobby into a business has been a nightmare. It’s hard running a whole magazine almost single-handed and I often curse the day I bestowed magazine status on what started out as a strictly fanzine operation. I’m writing a book about it – The Un-Life and Times of an Unhappy Vampire.

So what nightmares do I have today? Well, for starters, the magazine goes to print soon and I still don’t have a cover. I scan stills for the new bigbudget vampire flick Van Helsing and am drawn to an image of a fangbearing female bloodsucker. I think I have found my cover.

I have a meeting with my new designer. A fine arts graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, she is unimpressed with my sketches for business stationery – it’s all glow-in-the-dark fangs stuff. We compromise on a black background with a full moon.

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Russo: ‘Queen of the Vampires’


I talk on the phone to Graham from the gory tourist museum, the Edinburgh Dungeon. I have been invited to the opening party next Wednesday for its £100,000 vampire attraction, which celebrates the story of the Boabhan Sith, the vampires of the Highland Glens. I also agree to attend the press launch and bring some Glasgow vampires that I have handpicked. One girl I discovered at my local Tesco checkout.

On the packed bus home I get a call from Rick, a male vampire. I try to talk quietly about fang fittings and vampire weapons and pray no one is listening to this bizarre conversation.

Mind you, on a Friday night, they would probably think they just had had one too many at the pub.


The Edinburgh Dungeon calls.

There’s good news and bad news: they have found a horse-drawn hearse for the whole day, so the press call is now at 11am instead of 3pm. I’ll have to rearrange times with my models.

In the afternoon I go shopping for dresses for my vampires. I head straight for Glasgow’s premier gothic boutique, Hellfire. I choose a red cape for my “Lestat” and black corset dresses for the lady vampires. My outfit is a little more extravagant – a fitted corset jacket with a blood-red fur collar. Well, I am the Queen of the Vampires. I choose a huge “diamond” crown to complete the look.

I edit some articles and write my “On the Prowl” column. Then I e-mail my (real) vampire agony aunt in the US and tell her I need her latest batch of problems for this issue.


I visit the city centre to check how the current issue is selling, fuming that Bite Me is never on the front display.

I start checking flights on the web for Düsseldorf, where I have been invited to attend a private vampire salon hosted by my German correspondent Britta next month. There are 15 vampire-related guests, including a psychic vampire and forensic biologist Dr Mark Benecke, whom I met at a Dracula Congress in Transylvania when he was speaking on impaling.

In the evening at Borders Books I meet Ronnie Scott, a former journalist who is doing a PhD on the Glasgow Necropolis. Next week he is organising a private tour of the graves. I sign up. Again. He tells me he has discovered a new grave for Gypsy Lee.


The latest issue is selling pretty well. I’m convinced this is the year of the vampire, with the forthcoming releases of Van Helsing and Blade III.

And Bite Me is a prop! It’s a new week and I look at my plan “Building a Vampire Empire” and feel I am getting closer to my goals. It’s been five years since I launched Bite Me, so soon I will have think about throwing a party to celebrate.

I get my press pass for the Edinburgh Science Festival and scan the programme hoping to find a lecture like last year’s “The Rise of the Vampire”. I learnt that 27 per cent of the US thinks vampires actually live. I also attended an open day at a nearby crematorium where I almost managed to get locked in for the evening, but that’s another story.


I think about the cover again. I always wanted Buffy on the front, but I recall faxing Los Angeles for my launch issue and being refused permission.

I went into a huff for years but have decided to relent and give Buffy another chance. I have permission now. So, it is Van Helsing or Buffy? Kate Beckinsale or Sarah Michelle Gellar? I collect my mail from my mailbox in the city centre. I always get excited when there is a packet. Today it’s goodies of cartoon character Emily Strange.

She’s ever so cool, but she’s fictitious – I am a real, strange girl. Always have been.


We all head to the Edinburgh Dungeon. I tell the vampires not to try any tricks on me because I faint at the sight of blood. I don’t think I would make a very good vampire. I refuse to get in the hearse the organisers have hired for a city tour. I have never been in one and I never intend to unless there is a corpse in the back – whether mine or somebody else’s.

I watch Dawn of the Dead for the first time on television, but only last 10 minutes until a zombie bites a chunk out of somebody’s shoulder. It’s too much for me. I switch over to a repeat of Sex and the City – I’m like Carrie, except I write about death, not sex. I stare at the pretty clothes and listen to their girlie talk. Sometimes it’s nice to join the world of the living…

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