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'Vampire is not your friend' -- professor to debunk myths

10/25/2007

By WILL MANLY

Hays Daily News

Beware the vampire.

He is not a friendly puppet who helps us learn to count. He is not a funny-looking man on a cereal box.

And a vampire certainly can't be killed by a teenage girl named Buffy armed only with a pointed stick.

He is, according to former Fort Hays State University history professor (and director of the supernatural studies program) Robert Luehrs, much more sinister.

"I want to get back to basics," said Luehrs, who will present Morbid Meditations Upon the Kiss of the Vampire at 7 p.m. Monday at the FHSU Memorial Union. Luehrs presents Morbid Meditations annually. Previous shows have explored werewolves, goblins, the legend of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and a handful of other spooky phenomena.

This presentation will aim to correct some popular perceptions of vampires, Luehrs said.

"Besides telling some real vampire stories, one thing I'm going to rant against in this production is the fuzzy nice vampire, the vampire is your friend," he said. "Think of the Count on Sesame Street, the vampire breakfast cereal, Count Chocula, the vampire is your friend. No he isn't! He's a filthy, rotting animated corpse after your blood!"

Admission to the presentation is free, but the subject matter is not appropriate for very young children (unless they thoroughly enjoy monsters), Luehrs said.

The presentation also will shed light on some long-standing myths about vampires, Luehrs said. Even "Dracula" author Bram Stoker included details -- false details, Luehrs says -- about vampire detection. The idea that vampires don't reflect in mirrors is just one example.

"I kind of suspect that the vampire lobby -- which is very powerful -- wants us to believe these myths so they can get about their business secretly without us understanding," Luehrs said. "So if somebody doesn't reflect in mirrors, he must be a vampire. If somebody does reflect in a mirror, no problem."

Not so, Luehrs says.

"Are you ready for this one: Traditional vampires reflect in mirrors," he said.

Luehrs also will provide insight on self-defense from vampires. A simple stake to the heart to kill a vampire, he said, is not nearly enough.

"The stake has sort of become the ultimate vampire killer. When teenage girls, Buffy for example, has to kill a vampire, all she's got to do is stab him with a stake," Luehrs said. "It doesn't work that way. We'll get into some things like this. This will be unusual stuff that maybe folks haven't heard."

Will Manly is a reporter for The Hays Daily News and The Stir. He can be reached at (785) 628-1081, Ext. 139, or by e-mail at will@thestironline.com.