Halloween means something more to Hellen Schweizer than it does to others who merely carve pumpkins, go trick-or-treating or bob for apples.
This Halloween marks the two-year anniversary of an epiphany for Schweizer. On that date in 2021, the Ohio woman was struck by her connection to vampirism.
There has been no turning back for the 28-year-old woman who identifies as a vampire, who wears fangs and a makeup palette of dark red lipstick with a “Phoenix eye,” punctuated by red, orange and yellow and a beak and a tail. She also wears a white shirt with “flowy sleeves” and a black cape.
“It’s my go-to look.”
‘All about vampires’
From the time she was young, “I’ve always been all about vampires,” Schweizer said, citing her preoccupation with Anne Rice books and with Dracula.
There are different kinds of vampires, she said. They can be lawyers or janitors, as well as psychics and witches.
“Vampires and witches get along famously,” she said, and “run in similar circles.”
“Not every vampire is bad,” attacking people or offering human sacrifices, she said. “I follow a higher path.”
A 2015 survey by the Atlanta Vampire Alliance said 5,000 people in the United States identify as real vampires, and some of them do drink blood from willing donors, TODAY.com reported. Others consider themselves psychic or energy vampires.
For the record, said Schweizer, “I’m not interested in sucking anyone’s blood.”
Life as a vampire
Schweizer also doesn’t subscribe to the notion she will live forever, another concept people associate with vampires.
She does “suck in” energy, she said, which she feels all around her.
As others do some time during their life, she reached a point where she found “a key that unlocks everything.”
Living as a vampire “just felt right.”
As she traverses her hometown of Wooster, Ohio, about 50 miles from Cleveland, clad in vampire garb, people are not scared of her, although they may do a “double-take.”
They are “more intrigued,” she said, stressing “one of my biggest fears when I started dressing like this” was causing others to feel afraid.
She had pledged to herself, “if I scare people, I will stop.”
When she realized she was a vampire, she was actually cosplaying, or dressing up in costume, she said.
A community of vampires
But after posting a TikTok video with herself as the character of a vampire, she found a community of vampires.
“I came out of the coffin, as it were,” and, “never felt so free in my life.”
Schweizer blends her life as a vampire with a regular day job as a social media manager helping businesses to thrive.
In establishing a relationship with a company, she doesn’t usually dress as a a vampire on the first meeting.
“I want them to feel comfortable,” she said.
“A big part of my career is TikTok,” because her fans love it.
City has been very accepting
Schweizer said she is “surprised and proud of my city” because it has been so open and accepting of her.
“For being a small town of (primarily) Christians, I thought I’d get burned at the stake.
“When I grew up here, I felt that (acceptance) wasn’t the case,” said Schweizer, who was a victim of bullying as a child, long before she knew she was a vampire.
There were signs along the way, however.
“The sun makes me nauseous,” in addition to dizzy and weak. “I felt that way since I was a kid,” she said. Her comfort zone is “cloudy and snowy.”
She gains most of her energy in the night.
“Some of the stereotypes are rooted in reality,” she said. However, “I love garlic. That’s just a legend.”
She described her faith as Norse paganism, represented by the god Odin — “my man in Norse mythology, the top god.”
However, “I believe in all things.”
Using crystals and incense, “I sometimes practice witchcraft,” she said, adding, “Magic is everywhere.”
Schweizer hasn’t yet met any other vampires in Wooster, but she will know one if she sees one.
When she went to Salem, Massachusetts, “they were everywhere.”
“My life is really cool,” said Schweizer, whose lifestyle is supported by her friends and family.
“My husband is super supportive. He helped me get ready today,” she said. “He thinks it’s kind of cool. I made a character for him on TikTok.”
Her parents treat it as “a thing I do. They’re proud of my journey … being true to myself.”
The future is a little less clear. Schweizer acknowledged as she grows older she may not be able to portray a vampire on TikTok.
But “my soul is a vampire,” she said. “It’s all about soul stuff.
“I follow a lighter path. You see how happy and bubbly I am,” she said.