Photo by Francesca Torricelli
Lilith isn't a creature of the night, and she's not allergic to garlic. She's just your average transgender, theatre-loving, Celtic-ritual-performing Berlinerin... with a craving for blood.
Do you remember the taste of blood? As a child, when you fumbled with scissors or fell from a tree, did you put your mouth to your wound and suck it? And did it make you feel different; did it sharpen your senses? Perhaps you should try it again – it could just be the thing you need to trigger your awakening. To become a real, living vampyre.
That’s what happened to Lilith Desideria B., née Büschof. And yes, that Y is intentional. “There is a big difference between vampire and vampyre,” says Lilith. “A vampire is a fictional book or Hollywood character. A vampyre is an actual person that believes they need to get energy from others to survive. We as vampyres are not immortal, we are not undead, and we don’t die by sunlight. We actually like sunlight, it gives us energy. The only similarity is that I just need a little bit of blood.”
Raised by a Greek Orthodox mother and a German/Irish Catholic father in the small conservative village of Rodalben, she (then a he) had her awakening at age 13 – in more ways than one. “Within that year it became clear to me that I was trapped in the wrong body, and I had my first homosexual relationship. Then came the blood thirst.” This happened after accidentally biting her partner during oral sex. “Suddenly everything was clearer to me, like an overdose on sensitivity. At first, I just thought it was the best sex I ever had, but a few days later, I started having an urge for more. More blood. He became my first-ever donor for the next two years.”
Today Lilith has several willing donors, all fellow vampyres who have given testimony to a healthy, non-diseased blood exchange. “No HIV, syphilis or hepatitis; no psychic diseases, border-line or self-cutting behaviour. If they have any of those, I don’t drink from them.”
The process itself is also very clinical. A sterile needle in the vein of her donor, 25mg of disease-free blood extracted and mixed with red wine, Bulgarian preferably. Only once every four weeks is enough for her to avoid what she describes as withdrawal symptoms. “If I go three months without drinking, I go crazy. I become aggressive, apathetic and very, very nervous. My hands will shake and if I walk out in public, I’ll literally stop seeing people in front of me and only imagine their veins and hear the blood pulsating. And then, of course, I have to control myself not to do bad things to them.”
Lilith remembers how after her first taste of blood, she became thirsty for more. ”Once my mother was making dinner, some steaks, and I took the package where the rest of the blood was and drank it in front of her. She freaked out.” Her parents brought her to a psychiatrist. “Maybe he had had another client before me, because he knew about a guy in Frankfurt who practised vampirism and that there were many others. My parents kicked me out of the house, and my only option, it seemed, was to look up the guy in Frankfurt. I never returned.”
There, she lived in a “haven” – a collective vampyre hive. “When vampyres live together, they’re more bloodthirsty. We had a game where if you could succeed in biting into someone’s neck, the person had to give you blood. And I was really good at this,” she says, laughing. After about 10 years of daily human blood consumption, including house “bloody Marys” (vodka mixed with pig blood) and embracing the occult to the fullest, the Frankfurt collective dissolved and Lilith made her way to Berlin.
Here, she found a secret community of like-minded bloodsuckers: “There are about 1500 in Berlin. I know a judge, a policeman, a lawyer and a doctor – the best part is, he works in the blood bank. I also know a few nurses in the Charité hospital who are vampyres.” She also found her true self. “I reached a point of no return in 2006: either I keep living as a male and end up killing myself, or I get an operation done. Through the next three years I went through every obstacle there is to becoming a woman. Name change, operation and telling everyone, including my estranged family. Since 2009 I’ve been what I am: a female vampyre. I am much calmer today. It was the best decision of my life.” It wasn’t her first transformation. In 2000 she had her teeth filed into fangs by cult figure Father Sebastiaan, the American former dental assistant who founded the now-international gathering Endless Night Vampire Ball.
Aside from practicing vampirism, Lilith works as a female druid, or Celtic priestess, and makes money performing Celtic rituals for clients looking for love or better health. She volunteers in the kitchen at Berlin’s Twelve Apostles Church – which, she says, knows all about her lifestyle. And she’s an avid performer – whether role-playing at medieval markets, going onstage as the drag queen “Vivian Vermont”, working as a scare actor at Filmpark Babelsberg’s horror nights in October or singing in a street choir.
So is her blood consumption a performance as well – or, as some claim, a sexual fetish? “No, it’s not a fetish. It’s more like a disease – I need the energy; that’s why I take blood. But blood definitely spices up my sex life. I have sex with two of my donors.” As for the taste, “If a donor eats oranges for a month, the blood will taste like oranges.” Blood oranges.