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Allyson Beatrice - "Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby ?" Book - Ledger-enquirer.com Review

Saturday 24 November 2007, by Webmaster

There is, naturally, always the question of where you two met.

Acceptable answers? A ball game, the movies, a day in the park.

Not so acceptable? An Internet message board. Especially if you introduced yourself under an alias of "Closet Buffyholic."

But those friendships are formed daily, even hourly. That’s part of the premise of author Allyson Beatrice’s "Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby?"

The book gets its title from a Holiday Inn employee’s comment during a Posting Board Party for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans.

That reference to Vampire People publicly "outed" a roomful of people whose obsession was previously confined to computer screens, Beatrice writes.

Unless you’re familiar with the world of cult fandom — and plenty of people are — the entire universe seems distant, maybe even unnecessary.

Beatrice’s "Vampire People" is a quick, witty glimpse into her involvement in the Internet fan culture surrounding "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Caution, "Buffy" fans. Don’t expect an analysis of the show’s intricacies or trivia you haven’t heard before.

Beatrice starts the book by telling readers she’s no longer a "Buffy" fan, and criticizes academic discussions like "Driving Stakes, Driving Cars: California Car Culture, Sex and Identity in ’Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’"

That said, the book’s goal is to delve into the subculture surrounding online fandom — from a female message board poster who lies about a dying baby to a group effort to raise thousands of dollars to bring an Israeli poster to the U.S.

Most of this is, of course, hardly new stuff.

Since the Internet’s rise, people have been forming cross-country, even international, friendships and romances.

Even at the initial emergence of chat rooms, people talked about commenters on a mission to sabotage the whole experience.

Fortunately, it is Beatrice’s sharp wit and unique storytelling power that separate this book from a typical collection of essays about life on the Internet.

The author portrays her own involvement in the culture without a sense of pretention. In fact, it is often the depth of her involvement that characterizes the book’s most memorable moments.

For example, after a teenage poster disrupts the message boards, Beatrice goes out of her way to contact the teen’s father.

"I should note that I was 28 at the time," she writes. "Tattling on a 13-year-old. We’re all pathetic in our own special ways."

Frantic efforts to save sci-fi shows on the verge of cancellation. A decision to give shelter to a fellow poster — without even knowing her name or (possible) criminal history.

A hurried attempt to find a home for "Buffy" producer Joss Whedon’s cat.

For Beatrice, these were life-changing elements in a world where the TV show was, in the end, secondary. "’Buffy’ wasn’t a way for me to gain greater understanding of Firearms and Anxious Masculinity, it was a way for me to gain a better understanding of people and the relationships that can be built upon the tiniest scrap of shared existence," she writes.