In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Bella and Edward finally (finally!) settle into a happy marriage. It only took five films for a human and a vampire to figure out how to have a good relationship, and the answer is turn the human into a vampire. Is vampire love really that hard? We asked John Reason, a nice guy who describes himself as “Your typical East Texas geek—I wear cowboy boots and jeans and a t-shirt and ride around on a motorcycle.” Except for one thing: John is a vampire. And he's not only the founder of RealVampireNews.com, he's a charmer who spent seven years married to a human. For the scoop on vampire romance, vampire groupies, and vampire attitudes towards the Twilight franchise that made them the world's number one dreamboats, read on.
Movies.com: What does Twilight get right about real-life vampires?
John Reason: One thing I really admire about Twilight is that they normalize vampires in many respects. The Cullens go to school, they go to work, they provide for their family, they take care of each other. Most vampire stories have vampires regretting that they no longer have a human life. And in the vampire community a lot of the struggles revolve around family life, whether it's just normal, day-to-day getting a job, or coming out of the coffin—as they call it—and explaining to your loved ones that you drink blood.
Movies.com: But in Twilight, vampires are made. In real life, are vampires biologically born that way?
John Reason: No one really knows for sure. But one thing we know is that you don't turn someone into a vampire. You can't just be like, “I'm going to bite you, or look at you real funny and you'll become a vampire.” In my personal experience, when I was 14 years old, I started feeling really funny and having these headaches and body aches and different sleep cycles and cravings for blood. I thought I was crazy. That period is called the Awakening, and it usually happens around the time of puberty, but sometimes people are 40 or 50 years old.
Movies.com: If you had a kid, would it be half-vampire?
John Reason: Recently, online, people were taking surveys about that very thing: looking at their children and reporting vampiric tendencies. Some people say it's generational, but there's no common consensus. I wonder about my dad, but other than that, I don't know anyone in my family who would call themselves a vampire. If I do have a kid, I'll be keeping my eye out. And I've thought long and hard about the day that I'm going to have to sit my child down—whether they're 5, 15, or 50—and say, “Dad drinks blood.”
Movies.com: What other misconceptions do people have about vampires, thanks to Twilight?
John Reason: People ask me all the time if I think I sparkle. No, I don't sparkle.
Movies.com: And you're not immortal—is that disappointing?
John Reason: I'm not, but that's just me. I have a pretty serious back injury that causes me constant, agonizing physical pain. I think that, forever, would kind of suck.
Movies.com: Do vampires prefer to date only other vampires?
John Reason: Every now and then you see two vampires couple-up, but that creates some unique issues in a relationship because if they're sanguine vampires—blood-drinking vampires—you have to find double the donors. Or if they're psychic vampires, they're going to be feeding from each other, thereby increasing each other's need to feed. I have some good friends who are vampires in a couple, and they're awesome people, the most caring folks I've ever known, and they make it work really well. But sometimes vampires prefer non-vampires. In my past relationship, the woman I married was also my donor, and that worked because we had the deep connection you share when feeding from someone. It's not something you just go do with everyone.
Movies.com: When you're dating a non-vampire, when do you break the news about who you are?
John Reason: For me, it's a hard decision when—or if—to break the news. Right now, I've been on a couple dates with someone. They're pretty nice and kind, caring and cuddly, but I'm just not sure I want to share that part of my life. I'm a romantic and I love the idea of love forever, but it doesn't always work out. If you don't think a relationship is going to last forever, it may not be best to share your deepest, darkest secrets. And if they don't want to be your donor and you have to go outside the relationship, a lot of times partners get jealous that you have to go every day, or once a week, or twice a month, or however often, and drink the blood of someone that you're close enough to that you would share your vampirism. That creates some struggles that are often akin to infidelity, even though donating isn't sexual.
Movies.com: What exactly happens during a donation?
John Reason: Safety is a big concern. One reason I started Real Vampire News was to spread how to be safe. Wash your hands, put on rubber gloves, clean the spot that you're going to be cutting. It's awfully fun to lick blood off someone's skin, but you can transfer bacteria that way. In my case, we'd get out my First Blade kit—punny, I know—and we've tried diabetic lancets, scalpels, needles, all sorts of things. Unless you've been trained in phlebotomy, it can be pretty dangerous. I have a lot of phleobotomist friends.
Of course, blood testing on both partners is important. A lot of people describe that moment when you take in someone's blood as this intense rush, this euphoria. It feels great and it's awesome and tasty, but it's not the be-all-end-all. It makes me feel relaxed, comfortable, and most importantly, satiated. Everyone has a thirst for water and a hunger for food, and if you smoke you have this need for nicotine. But craving blood adds a whole other layer to that: wanting blood is like wanting your water, food, and nicotine, and until you have that blood, nothing will fill that hole. And when you're taking someone's blood, that creates a deep connection. I know that even though my wife left me five months ago, I can tell when she gets a migraine from 100 miles away.
John Reason: No joke. A couple weeks ago, she sent me a text message that just said, “Hey.” I thought, “Oh, s--t,” and I gave her a call to ask if she was okay. She said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Oh, f--k—I'll be there in a couple hours.” I hopped in my truck and drove 100 miles to see her because in those two words, I knew she needed someone to talk to. And she can tell things, too, about me. She'll say, “I've had a bad headache all day—are you all right?” And I'll say, “I've been sick, but thanks for checking up on me.” At first, it seemed like a coincidence, but we had seven years of this. Some people think drinking someone's blood is no different than eating a steak, but I know a lot of vampires who say that even 10 years after they've talked to a donor, they can tell things about them.
Movies.com: Did the vampirism have anything to do with why you two split up?
John Reason: Not at all, even though I did ask her, “It's not because I'm crazy and I drink blood, is it?!” She said, “John, if it was that, would I be the one reminding you when you need to feed?” I just believe she married too young.
Movies.com: Because of Twilight, are there vampire groupies?
John Reason: Yes, there are. I'd tell people and they'd just think it was so romantic and they wanted me to be their Edward. That's kind of cool and flattering, I guess. And every time Twilight gets big again, girls ages 13-20 get on vampire websites and seek out vampires to find their own little Edward. A lot of people who are open with their vampirism do attract Twi-hards. My ex-wife was a fan, but she wasn't all crazy about it. Sometimes it would be cute to play Edward and Bella and joke around, but it wasn't that hardcore. And we really enjoyed going to see Twilight—the movies have gotten a lot better.
Movies.com: Be honest: are you glad Twilight is over?
John Reason: At first, there was a big resistance in the vampire community to all things Twilight because you had all these little girls coming on to websites and going crazy and saying all this ridiculous stuff. Everyone wanted to talk, “Twilight, Twilight, Twilight,” and we just wanted to talk about our daily lives. But now a lot of folks have had the chance to step back and look at Twilight for what it is—an entertaining series of books—and now that it's not always in our faces, we can enjoy it. And because of it, the media has reached out to vampires all over the world. No capes, no coffins—they're looking for real stories about vampires' real lives, which has given our community a lot of chances to really show that we aren't a bunch of crazies. Twilight has afforded the biggest opportunity I've ever seen to let the world see who we really are. For so many years, we've stayed in the shadows, and now we're stepping into a society that accepts us for who we are.