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Inside New Orleans’ Vampires and Voodoo

Voodoo

As a New Orleanian, I often forget about Voodoo — until I am reminded by businesses with Voodoo in the title or dolls in French Quarter gift shops. It all seems so commercialized …

And that’s because those who do practice Voodoo keep it a secret.

During a recent conversation, one of our team members, Jake Clapp, explained that there are indeed people who practice Voodoo in New Orleans (Jake wrote a piece on the topic last year for Baton Rouge daily newspaper The Advocate).  He said there are two types of Voodoo that independently grew out of African and Catholic customs, New Orleans Voodoo and Haitian Voodoo.

New Orleans Voodoo developed when Catholic plantation owners forced slaves to exercise their faith. While slaves embraced Catholicism, they held on to African religious traditions — using herbs, poisons and charms. These practices are seen as good luck and connections to a spiritual world, not unlike the customs of other religious sects.

Then there is false interpretations of Voodoo that link them to satanic rituals or magic.  The rise in films and stereotypes negatively portraying Voodoo in the mid-20th century is what caused practitioners to keep their beliefs close to the vest.

A newly finished pair of realistic (and very sharp) vampire fangs modeled by team member Jake Clapp. Photo by team member Emily Slack.

 

Vampires

When I was about 13 or so, I remember walking through the French Quarter one night after dinner with my family. On this stroll, we passed a man with red contacts wearing a top hat. My parents told me matter-of-factly that the man was a vampire. I had always heard of New Orleans vampires, but this was the first evidence of it I saw first hand.

As I grew older, and started to go downtown with friends, I began to notice businesses that were frequented by people identifying themselves as vampires or that hung vampire art (with vampire either as the subject or the artist).

Jake Clapp also wrote a piece for the Times Picayune about New Orleans vampirism.  He explained that people gravitate toward vampire culture for several reasons: religion, being part of group, enjoying the mysticism, or simply for the fashion.  His story focused on a French Quarter fangsmith who crafts pointed dentures for both vampire fans and vampires themselves.

The storeowner explained that his clientele had dropped since Hurricane Katrina, when a lot of the New Orleans vampire community left the city. However, the rise in vampire pop-culture from “Twilight” and “True Blood” has brought business back to some vampire shops.

Most vampire devotees seem to focus mostly on demeanor and costume, while only a minority take it to the extreme, drinking blood or eating raw meat.  Overall, they are similar to other enthusiasts, taking bit of tradition and giving it new life in the modern world, and adding to New Orleans’ multi-layered cultural landscape.

Comments

  1. Vita
    Colorado
    May 11, 7:14 pm

    Yes,I am a death angel..most commonly known as a “vampire”. I believed but was truly convinced when I met more than one and was turned into. If any of you have questions just email me is be glad to hear from you.

  2. vicki
    hinesville,ga
    February 24, 9:25 pm

    , I’m a huge vampire fan. I think the question still stands: Are vampires real?

  3. makayla
    bogalusa la
    November 8, 2013, 10:59 am

    okay so were can you see a vampire at in new orleans cause I’m looking for info on them and i just wanna just talk to one because my greatgrand papa was one

  4. Edward
    Alabama
    October 20, 2013, 2:01 am

    There is no need to question myths. Myths are real, just take a look into any bible to seek the answers you wish to know. I believe that Vampires are real and I also believe in other life forms on other planets, that is more inteligent then us humans. I visit New Orleans a few times and at the time, I just I saw something strange. What was strange? I saw this guy walking on the other side of the street, I then looked to my left and there he was. Hmmm… To my self… He then entered this building and I kelp walking. Two blocks up the street from the French Quarter, I saw it or him again in window, maybe like on a 4th floor and I was so spooked, I never been back. That place is evil and very much creepy.

  5. n/a
    sacramento
    October 15, 2013, 1:37 am

    Iam from new orleans and in my family we always talk aboutour auntie she always knew where we was even when we move from one location we notice early that she never aged no matter how long its been its been to this day we don’t know where she at and no one in the familt knew where she live

  6. Abi b
    England
    September 27, 2013, 8:05 am

    Very interesting article well done! Any one else that has information on vampires please email me thank you!

  7. John
    Sacramento
    August 23, 2013, 5:36 pm

    Vampires are real. I’ve seen one; my cousin confirmed sighting this “person” as well. It’s something I always thought I imagined or hallucinated but decades later my cousin recounted to me the seeing the same things.

    They are demonic (ashura, jinn, etc.) in my opinion.

  8. John
    Sacramento
    August 23, 2013, 5:30 pm

    They are real. Unfortunately movies, tv, recording artists, etc. provide a smokescreen for the real thing.

    I’ve seen one; they are demonic (ashuras) in my opinion.

  9. Sabrina Murphy / blood tears
    Indianapolis Indiana
    July 27, 2013, 1:22 am

    Britney Campa of Ohio
    Yes there r reall Vampiers I am indeed one of them if u want more info friend me on Facebook at
    Vampire_icp_love@yahoo.com

  10. Maggie
    los angeles
    July 11, 2013, 1:06 am

    i would really like to know if vampires are real or not? please answer me.

  11. Britney Campa
    Ohio
    June 6, 2013, 2:30 pm

    Hi, I’m a huge vampire fan. I think the question still stands: Are vampires real? If so, do they all reside in New Orleans or do they travel across the country? Do they really burn in sunlight, do they drink blood, and is it possible to become a vampire? Please answer me via E-mail.

  12. Lalisa Derrick
    Los Angeles
    August 3, 2012, 10:48 pm

    To correct a few things in your article: Voodoo and hoodoo are spelled as such, though the correct spelling of the former religion can also be voudon or voudou. Hoodoo and voodoo/voudon are both legitimate, valid expressions of African Traditional Religions, aka West African Diasporic Religions. To state that hoodoo is a simply commercialized voodoo/voudon/voudou is completely erroneous and insulting to practitioners of hoodoo. Hoodoo is more Americanized and incorporates aspects of Native American beliefs and knowledge, as well Catholic, Pennsylvania Dutch PowWow, and ATRs, along with Western folk and herb magic. I truly expectmore from NatGeo writers in terms of research and respect for faiths.