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(Los Angeles, 14-17 August 1997)

DRACULA 97 was a unique event in that it combined the features of a scholarly conference with those of a fan convention - with a few other things added in! It began on Thursday August 14 (mid-afternoon) and concluded late afternoon on Sunday August 17.

The idea for "Dracula 97" was conceived, appropriately, in a Dublin pub. Gordon Melton, Elizabeth Miller and Jeanne Youngson were all in the Irish capital in June 1994 to attend a conference on Bram Stoker. As we sat around one evening in a local pub, we raised the issue of some event to mark the centennial year of the publication of Stoker's novel. The result was "Dracula 97".

[Additions and/or corrections to the following report are welcome. Contact me at emiller@plato.ucs.mun.ca]

BEGINNINGS (August 14)

While "Dracula 97" did not officially begin until late afternoon, registration got underway shortly after mid-day. By 2, the feeding frenzy began at "Drac's Marketplace", the largest collection of Dracula/vampire items for sale ever gathered in one place. In fact, the merchandise was spread over three rooms, with 30 booths. "Drac's Marketplace" was set up under the auspices of Del & Sue Howison of "Dark Delicacies" (Burbank, CA) and was one of the popular meeting places at the Convention.

[If you wish to see a list of vendors with mailing addresses, go back to the main page and follow the link "Vendors at Dracula 97".]

Also starting on Thursday afternoon was the "Dracula 97" Film Festival, organized by Julia Winden Fey. This offered screenings of several well-known (and a few not so well-known) Dracula and vampire films.


Late afternoon on Thursday, four hearses pulled up in front of the Westin Hotel (LAX). From one of them, a casket was carried in stately manner into the hotel, through the main lobby, past the "Dracula 97" Registration desk, to the atrium near the Ballroom. It was then placed upright, while a sonorous voice invited Dracula to step forth and partake of his birthday celebration. The coffin opened and Count Dracula emerged! The Centennial Celebration was officially underway.


As the attendees gathered in the Ballroom, they were entertained by Barry Fisher's Drac maniacs with their unique brand of Transylvanian music.

"Dracula 97" officially opened with a procession of guests of honor, celebrities, and organizers. Leading the group into the Ballroom was ELVIRA, escorted by J. Gordon Melton and Elizabeth Miller. Other guests of honor on hand for the opening ceremonies were:

Gahan Wilson (cartoonist) who acted as Toastmaster Fred Saberhagen (author) Robert Eighteen-Bisang (publisher)

Gahan Wilson introduced Convention Chair, J. Gordon Melton, who welcomed all attendees on behalf of the organizers. Well-known film scholar David J. Skal then proceeded to the entertainment segment. Elvira took the stage and entertained the audience with a lively and humorous routine, followed by a specially prepared video of a history of Dracula at the movies entitled "Dracula in the Cinema" (created by Les Perkins).

The next person brought to the stage was a very special guest, Bela Lugosi Jr, the son of the most famous "Dracula" of them all. During a short interview with Skal, Lugosi shared impressions he had as a boy growing up with such a famous father.

Then Skal brought on two very special guests, both of whom were connected with 1931 Dracula movies. What a treat it was for the audience to see and hear from two veterans: Carla Laemmle, who spoke the very first words in a Dracula movie (as the young girl in the coach in Universal's 1931 "Dracula" with Bela Lugosi) and Lupita Tovar, who played Mina in the Spanish version of "Dracula", also made in 1931 using the same sets at the Lugosi film.

In the final segment of the program, a number of awards were presented by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, represented on stage by Nicolae Paduraru, International President (Romania) and Baroness Elizabeth Miller (President, Canadian Chapter). (A list of winners can be found on a separate link.)

Following the program, many of the attendees drifted off to the hotel Bar to imbibe Bloody Marys and Vampire Wine.

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY (daytime programming)

The full schedule of daytime programming got underway on Friday morning. Four tracks of academic sessions were offered in the mornings with three in the afternoons. Over 80 scholars and researchers from eleven countries (U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Australia). A special bonus was the participation of 5 scholars (folklorists and historians) from Romania.

During the afternoons, there were four tracks of LITERARY PROGRAMMING, organized by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. These featured panels and discussion groups with practicing writers and publishers in the vampire sub-genre, including the following: Sandrine Armirail (fan editor), Peter Atkins (screenwriter & novelist), Nancy Baker (novelist), Elaine Bergstrom (novelist), Ginjer Buchanan (editor), Suzy McKee Charnas (novelist), Chris Curry (novelist), Myrna Donato (book dealer), Denise Dumars (poet), Robert Eighteen-Bisang (publisher), P.N. Elrod (novelist), Dennis Etchison (novelist), Margaret Gillon (publisher), Donald Glut (writer), Alma Gomaz (fan), Leigh Grossman (packager & editor), Mark Hein (Jungian therapist), Eric Held (writer), Nancy Holder (novelist), Lonna Johnson (fan), Jeanne Kalogridis (novelist), Nancy Kilpatrick (novelist), Richard Laymon (novelist), Earl Lee (novelist), Charles Lucke (photographer), Margaret Lucke (novelist), Bob Madison (writer), Karen Minns (novelist), Christopher Moore (novelist), James Moore (novelist), Lisa Morton (novelist), Q. Pearce (children's writer), Tim Powers (novelist), L.A. Puopolo (film-maker), Fred Saberhagen (novelist), David Skal (writer), S.P. Somtow (novelist), W. Gregory Stewart (poet), Gahan Wilson (cartoonist, writer), Marv Wolfman (graphic writer), Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (novelist), plus several scholars from the earlier list.

Writers who participated were also available for book signings at Drac's Marketplace.


This includes live drama, dance, poetry readings, games and other entertainment and was organized by Gordon Melton. Special features included a one-man play entitled "Renfield or, Dining at the Bughouse" (Bill Zaget); "La Comtesse Sanglante" (a dance based on Elizabeth Bathory) by Paul Ibey; "Vlad Dracula" dance by Suzanne Muldowney; "Vampire Dating Game" (Bev Richardson) and much more! A special presentation was a Make-Up Workshop by Todd MacIntosh, who does the make-up for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

On Friday night, there was a Salute to Dark Shadows. A short episode, especially written for this occasion, pitted Barnabas against the Count himself! Written by Jeff Thompson, this was performed by the Collinsport Players. Two of the cast members from "Dark Shadows" - Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott - joined Ingrid Pitt and Veronica Carlson on stage for a dialogue about Vampires: The Female of the Species.

SATURDAY NIGHT saw the climax of "Dracula 97" with several key events, including the announcement of several awards. For lists of winners in different categories, follow the link "Winners of Awards". The Costume Contest was especially successful with over 30 entries on the competition. This was followed by a Masquerade Ball with music by "Element" followed by Vlad and the Dark Theater.

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