The vampire subculture describes a contemporary subculture marked by an obsessive fascination with, and emulation of, contemporary vampire lore, including everything from fashion and music to, in the more extreme cases, the actual exchange of blood. Members of the subculture ("vampirists") often prefer the spelling "vampyre" to distinguish themselves from the "fictional" vampire while simultaneously lending a pseudo-Victorian flair to their activities. These contemporary consumers of blood typically appeal to myths about vampires for legitimacy.
The subculture is typically delineated by a particular style of dress and decor that combines elements of the Victorian, Punk, Glam and Gothic fashions with styles featured in vampire films and fiction. Although often associated with the Goth subculture, most goths do not enjoy the association with the negative stereotype portrayed in the media and, as a result, actively dislike members of the vampire subculture. Although this subculture is most popular in the United States of America, it has members throughout Europe and eastern Asia.
Most modern practitioners of vampirism do not believe themselves to be undead creatures; rather, they use vampirism as a means of practising magic(k). For example, they claim that they are taking life energy or qi from another (usually a willing donor who also practises vampirism) to increase their own energy and vitality. Vampirists do not necessarily obtain this energy from blood, but will use other physical, spiritual or psychic means to obtain this energy (for example, there are self-styled "sexual vampires" and "psychic vampires").
A number of these vampires not only practise the drinking of blood but actually believe themselves to be the vampires of legend, or some other supernatural entity (for example, a "lost race" of Homo sapiens); see otherkin for further discussion of this type of phenomenon. Self-styled vampires of this sort will often claim that their own personal physical or psychological characteristics, such as pale skin, sensitive night vision, quick reflexes, emotional irritability and instability, and any number of self-professed psychic abilities are direct results of vampirism rather than independent or imagined traits. Many outside this group see this as a result of a mental illness such as disassociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, or antisocial personality disorder. A few vampiric groups have been likened to cults, and a few self-proclaimed vampires have murdered in order to drink human blood, such as Brisbane's notorious "lesbian vampire murderer" Tracey Wigginton.
It should be noted that consumption of human blood exposes both parties involved to a range of high-risk blood-borne pathogens and diseases.