HOST INTRODUCTION: Just when you think the vampire craze might have run its course, a new book hits the stores or another T-V show launches. Next week, the latest Twilight movie opens nationwide. And HBO's True Blood just started its third season. Fans of the undead keep wanting more. Rookie Reporter Hawa Lee reports on the sometimes spooky connection between vampires and teenagers.
NARRATION: When I was around 9 years old, I watched Interview with a Vampire. Claudia, the little vampire girl stood out to me the most. She gets furious when she finds out she's going to be a child forever. I thought she was overreacting.
CLAUDIA: What you told me to do!
VAMPIRE: Leave a corpse here to rot?
NARRATION: Why is she having a fit about never having to become some old lady?
Claudia: Which one of you did it? Which one of you made me the way I am?
NARRATION: Ugh, be quiet little girl! After watching that movie, I didn't want to be a princess anymore; I wanted to be a creature of the night. Vampires were pale, beautiful and sometimes rich. Meanwhile, I was two tones from brown, not really considered beautiful by some people and money-wise, probably in the low middle class. My early obsession with these creatures made people feel uneasy at first. Then, Twilight burst into the scene.
NARRATION: Vampires are making people go crazy.
NARRATION:Now Edward, the main guy fictional character, has more power over teens than Miley Cyrus! What did this book do to these poor people?
FAN 1: We're going to make eye contact, and he's going to throw me into his arms and he's going to tell me he loves me and we're going to get married.
NARRATION: Before I knew it, Twilight infiltrated the minds of some of my friends and peers.
JESSICA: Now every girl in the world wants an Edward.
NARRATION: That's Jessica aka "the spazz machine" of my group of friends.
JESSICA: I feel so bad for their boyfriends because some of the girlfriends actually broke up with their boyfriends saying, "I want an Edward. I want an Edward." I'm like, "What! You're never going to get an Edward."
NARRATION: Then weird stories started to circulate in my school about this one couple who said they were vampires. I was like "What!"
EDGAR: I gotten bitten but I don't know if they did it like on purpose, or if it was just a joke, but it really annoyed me.
MELISSA: They just bit me out nowhere!
NARRATION: I'm really not ready to become one of those victims, but fate likes to mess with you and it did with me when I was walking with friends to the subway. Right in front of me, behold...the vampire couple.
JESSICA: You want to talk to them now?
HAWA: No! No, I don't want to! No stop, stop, stop don't. Don't do that.
NARRATION: I really don't believe the vampire couple are vampires, but it's never bad to be cautious. So yeah, I'm scared.
HAWA: Are you ready?
HAWA: Do you know what my topic is on anyway?
NARRATION: Yeah. I try to be as casual as possible.
HAWA: Okay, you seem to know a lot about vampires. So I'm going to jump into it. So I heard you think you guys are vampires, is that true or false?
NARRATION: He said his girlfriend isn't.
JONATHAN: I don't think she would be able to control herself.
HAWA: 'Cause last time, from what I heard from Edgar, he was walking with you both and then he had a scab or something and apparently she ripped it or something. Did that ever happen or is he, do you think he's just making it up?
JONATHAN: No, that happened. Because of me she had a few weeks of just complete and total blood lust.
HAWA: So, you think you are?
Jonathan: Per se.
HAWA: Anything that makes you specifically different from being a human?
JONATHAN: Mild light sensitivity, I eat really rare meats, I don't really like everything too cooked. You get a little paler.
NARRATION: That's it?
HAWA: Well, Melissa told me you that you bite her often. Do you bite other people often or is it just for fun? Like do you seriously do it like you need something from them or do you just like do it for fun?
JONATHAN: Well in school I just really do it for fun. I'm not really going to try to attack you in school, that's just dumb. The taste of flesh is good though.
NARRATION: O-M-F-G. Note to self: don't ever go near him when he's hungry. I wonder if other teens think they're vampires.
HAWA: In your school are there people that are obsessed with Twilight? Like crazy?
HAWA: Like did you ever hear one of them say "Hey, I'm a vampire!" Or like heard rumors they drink blood or something like that.
GIRL 2: My Spanish partner thinks she's one. She's like "I want to bite someone. I'm thirsty for blood!" I get so scared, oh my god.
BOY 4: There's these people in my global class and they claim to have been bitten by vampires actually. I'm pretty sure they drew it on their neck, but there were these two marks on their neck, and then like over the next couple weeks they started acting like vampires, you know dressing in dark clothes and not clipping their nails so they look like they have claws.
NARRATION: Eww, I don't like long nails! Those kids should have gotten custom fangs instead.
NARRATION: Ra Ubasti is an artist who makes clip-on fangs for basically everyone under the rainbow!
RA: Everything I do is custom made so basically only you can wear your fangs, no one else can wear your teeth. There's some people that think "oh, I could put on Shelly's fangs." No, you can't.
NARRATION: Ra says she can see why some teenagers would want to believe they're vampires.
RA: Especially if you're one of the dorky kids and you don't really fit in, you know you wanna identify with something powerful. I'm edgy and I'm scary, and you don't wanna be around me, and like they embrace this archetype. So like you kinda identify with a romanticized character that like is always ostracized. What is better than a vampire?
NARRATION: When I first got into vampires in middle school, I had trouble socializing, had no friends and only really talked to my family. I was basically an outsider, and in the fantasy universe in the books I read, vampires were like me, but much cooler.
LAUREN: It's interesting because when you hear experts talking about vampires they say that the reason teens like them so much is because they are on the cusp of very sexy, but also very safe.
NARRATION: That's Lauren Mechling. She's a culture editor at The Wall Street Journal and writes young adult novels.
LAUREN: In all of these Vampire books the whole thing that everyone is distressed about and everyone is toggling back and forth between is can we or can't we. "Oh, I love you, I really want to get it on, but if we do, I might die! And enter the world of the dead and become a vampire." So people are saying that kids like vampires because they're actually scared of sex.
NARRATION: Hmm...weird, but true. To do or not to do. That theory makes sense since we're between adulthood and childhood. So one part of us is cowering in the corner, the other one is like, "Yeah! Let's go!" Then again, we teenagers are like Rubix cubes. You may be able to solve us at one point, but in a flash we turn, flip, turn, back into a hard puzzle. Like me, I used to think vampires were cool, but I really hate stuff on repeat all the time, so I soon lost interest.
HAWA: Would you guys ever turn into a vampire if you guys had the chance?
GIRL: Oh hell no! No, I would not turn into a vampire. I wanna be a werewolf.
NARRATION: For WNYC, I'm Rookie Reporter Hawa Lee.