A gay man now in his early 20s has come forward to answer questions about a life so out of the ordinary that it sounds more like something ripped from an abandoned True Blood plot than anything that could possibly be real. And yet, he writes with such maturity, detail (not to mention near-perfect grammar) and unexpected poignancy that we had a hard time not getting wrapped up in the yarn.
Here’s the gist of it: A small-town queer grows up feeling like a total outsider — nothing unusual there. Beginning around age 11, and in lieu of any significant connections with other kids, he visits his school’s computer lab regularly to get lost in the electrifying vastness that only asking Jeeves could supply.
He comes across a vampire subculture site and meets someone who seems to understand him — “someone who didn’t treat me like a kid or a loser, someone who was really charismatic and seemed to really care about me. I remember feeling really cool that someone like that would even talk to me, more sophisticated than the other kids at school.”
That connection winds up being the tip of the iceberg, and he tumbles headfirst into a strange, dogmatic vampire community. By the time he’s 18, a bulk of his adolescence has been under the influence of the group and its message. He’d just graduated high school with a GPA so low it “looked like a typo.” His mother deceased, his father detached and his stepmom a source of endless contention, he accepts the offer of a contact he’d made online to put him up in a New Orleans “vampire house.”
He describes the border-line cult he was thrust into:
I wouldn’t even know where to start with all the crazy shit they did, but honestly the craziest thing about them was not what they believed, but how they related with each other. The person who I had been communicating with online for years, in person, did not have the genre of charisma I had imagined.
They had a hold on the minds of the other people who lived in the house that was disturbing to see in action. No one had an opinion until they stated their’s and on the rare occasion someone did have a thought on their own they would change it on the spot if the “leader” of the house said something to the contrary. They all seemed to construct not only their present beliefs, but even their memory of past events around what they said.
I definitely believed it at the time, but not in the way one can believe the sky is blue or that what goes up must go down. It was more that the want to believe something and the fear of it not being true sort of functioned in place of any real belief, as is probably often the case and like anything else, it felt easier to “believe” when I was surrounded by other people who did.
At 19-years old, he was fully immersed in this warped life, but soon discovered a means by which he could gain a bit of independence — selling himself to lonely men.
Weirdly enough I didn’t find clients, not at first, they found me. I was relatively naive and people in New Orleans were a lot “friendlier” than what I was used to, so when older men started being “friendly” with me it took me a moment to catch on, but due to my shitty circumstances, it didn’t take me long to try to get something out of it. Ultimately it was by spending time with those who approached me first and going with them to the places they went that I figured out that I just had to spend time in the right places, the right clubs and the people who were looking for someone like me would find me.
With a surprising business savvy, he was able to put away a sizable income. He describes his strategy with unsettling nuance:
If people think they’ve already gotten the only thing you’re selling, they may as well just pick up someone new.
So I focused more on building “relationships” where I was sort of “on-call” for them and in return I expected to be taken care of, have spending money (very little of which actually got spent) and not have to worry about living expenses. Which isn’t to say that I never did the “I will perform _____ sex act for x amount of dollars” thing, I did, but even then I realized it was better to aim high.
The secret to the fact that I did well is that at first I genuinely didn’t want to do it and in the process of being talked into it I realized holding out, in all its various forms, would get you further than having sex with everyone who asked. This wasn’t common, but I did once get $250 dollars to give someone a hand job, because I had basically said no to him every time he tried to pick me up and he kept coming back until I think it sort of became a matter of principle for him to get some sort of acceptance from me.
The truth was he detested nearly all of his clients, but the money kept coming in and life with the vampires was becoming more unbearable by the day. The income was his ticket out.
He did have one client, though, who was different from the rest. We’d be remiss not to include that story:
There was one client who I had a distinct lack of resentment towards. I think what I liked about him…was that I never felt truly USED by him. With most guys there was always some deep longing or loneliness you could sense; I was an illusion to them and the whole interaction was shrouded in a fantasy that was taxing to maintain.
With him, he knew I was only there because I was getting paid — he didn’t seem to have any illusions about who I was as a person and we got along amicably in a way that didn’t really require my constant vigilance of trying to create the illusion of being the right shape to fit some un-fillable void in a lonely man’s life.
He was older than most of my clients, like straight up elderly and the sex was… almost comically bad as a result, but he had a sort of bluntness and grace about it that made it simple, even a little openly silly.
He also had known Tennessee Williams and virtually every other person of note who had passed through the south in his long lifetime spent as a lazy, hedonistic heir of a fortune (or a “patron of the arts” as he might put it) and occasionally could be coerced into drawling on one topic long enough to actually finish a singular story about a person or event that was genuinely interesting to listen to.
He died sometime last year I think, I only found out about it by chance and honestly, I felt the tiniest stirring of sadness about it and considering that this whole time in my life feels like it happened to a completely different person… that I felt anything at all feels significant.
See what we mean? Kind of hard to pull away from.
Eventually his success as a prostitute wound up coming to a head with his living situation — financial independence gave him power in a space he was expected to remain powerless — and he was pushed out of the house.
He went to live with one of his clients for a short time, and after earning enough of a nest egg, left both New Orleans and prostitution behind. He’s now in a relationship and learning how to be whole again.
I’m doing much better, I came out of it with a pretty good chunk of money, but pretty much emotionally worn down to a nub. I’d spent so long thinking about people in terms of what they wanted from me and what I could get from them, that I just couldn’t have meaningful interactions with people for a long time. I had let parts of myself die under the impression that I’d be able to just flip the switch back on when it was more convenient for me and then sort of had to deal with the reality that it wasn’t going to be that simple.
But, with time, I left New Orleans, I fell in love, truly, deeply in love and that made me softer in some of the hard places and life has been relatively uneventful since.
And in case you have some lingering curiosity about the vampire house (we did), here’s a more detailed description. A quick googling of the references yielded some chilling results:
As for the cult, they were socially linked to the Temple of Set and House Kheperu through knowing Michelle Belanger and also knew people from Aset Ka (a widely frowned upon House Kheperu rip off), but they were their own solitary organization and, of course, believed themselves to be the most accurate interpretation of this sort of spectrum of ideology.
There was a slight overlap between the group and the Aryan brotherhood through an individual who was an important figure in both groups. We were by no means the same group and our leader was, at least in theory, deeply anti-racist, but power meant more to her than any particular moral issue and utilizing the “scouts” (usually young homeless gutter punks) of the Aryan brotherhood to be her eyes and ears in the city must have pleased her. Just as having a fanatically devout group of people who were deeply entrenched in the City at his disposable must have pleased the local Aryan Brotherhood leader (who was, I shit you not, named Wizard) who had the task of existing in a City where the gang were constant outsiders in a place where black people are really not a minority in any significant way and the gang had trouble forming established pragmatic relationships with other groups.
Ultimately it was a pragmatic relationship between two power hungry individuals and those of us caught in-between it just had to deal with it.
If he’s making this all up, he deserves credit for having a remarkable imagination, because true or not, this is one hell of a story.
You can read the full Q&A on Reddit.