Monday, January 25, 2010

Q & A with Martin V. Riccardo, Part 1

Welcome to the second installment of "Q & A". My first guest was Danish vampirologist, Niels K. Petersen (Part 1 and Part 2).

This time around, we have Martin V. Riccardo, founder of Vampire Studies and author of Lure of the Vampire, Vampires Unearthed: The Complete Multi-Media Vampire and Dracula Bibliography (both 1983) and Liquid Dreams of Vampires (1996).

I presented my questions to him by e-mail ("Possible Interview", Friday, 22 January 2010 2:39:04 AM) and his response ("Re: Possible Interview", Sunday, 24 January 2010 8:25:52 PM) forms the basis of this interview.

I should point out that the questions were originally numbered, but I have changed them to names, i.e., "1." becomes "Anthony Hogg", etc. That's a format I'll continue to use for future interviews.

Also, due to formatting issues with the e-mail, I've had to insert paragraph breaks myself.

Lastly, he provided a correction ("Interview correction", Monday, 25 January 2010 4:51:29 AM) to one of his responses concerning the publication date of Sumners' The Vampire in Europe (1929), which I've edited into the interview.

Due to length, this interview will also be split into two parts.

Martin V. Riccardo
(Photo: "Bitten!: Chicago-Area Vampire Enthusiasts", Chicago Magazine)

Anthony Hogg: How did your interest in vampires start? What's their appeal to you?

Martin V. Riccardo: I loved monster movies when I was a kid, but vampires did not really appeal to me then. In the old Universal films they often just seemed to be standing around posing rather than actually doing anything.

When I was in college I heard a lecture on vampires by Leonard Wolf, author of the book A Dream of Dracula. He discussed the strange appeal of the vampire that manifested itself in popular media. Around the same time I saw the Christopher Lee film Dracula Has Risen from the Grave in which the Count is much more dynamic and physically powerful than the older films I was used to.

From these influences, I became intrigued with the vampire image. Over time I have learned that there are many aspects of the vampire that appeal to people, but the element that attracted me most at the time was that this creature was an outcast and outsider who was shunned by the world of the living.

AH: In 1977, you founded the Vampire Studies Society. What was its intent and purpose? How did it differ from existing fan clubs, like the Count Dracula Fan Club?

MVR: I have always had a strong interest in the paranormal. As a result, the Vampire Studies Society had a special interest in collecting true stories of vampire encounters and other otherworldly attacks. However, there was also an interest in everything related to vampires, including fiction, film, and television. In that regard it was quite similar to the Count Dracula Fan Club.

AH: The Society produced the Journal of Vampirism, which ran from 1977-1979. Why did it have such a limited run?

MVR: I believe the Journal of Vampirism was the first periodical that focused on the subject of vampires. The Journal came out during one of the major surges of popular interest in vampires, when Frank Langella was getting attention in his portrayal of Dracula on Broadway and in his new Universal film version of Dracula.

When that particular surge died down, there was no longer enough popular support for me to keep up the publication.

AH: In 1990, "Society" was dropped from the organisation's title. Why was that move made? Is Vampire Studies still operational today, and if so, in what capacity?

MVR: I decided that it no longer served a purpose as a membership organization. Vampire Studies now functions as an information clearing house in which individuals can contact me with questions on the subject.

It is not intended to compete with all the instant information on the Internet. People can email me if they choose to, but most inquiries are still sent to my mailing address: Martin Riccardo, Vampire Studies, P.O. Box 151, Berwyn, IL 60402 U.S.A.
To be continued...

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