In popular culture, vampires don't have a great rep. Often portrayed as the bad guys, they skulk in the shadows, awaiting their next unsuspecting virginal victim.
But 38-year-old Georgina Condon, a modern-day vampire, insists there's nothing sinister about the mythical creatures.
In fact, her partner, Zamael Murray, 42, regularly allows her to cut him with a razor blade and suck his blood.
"I know drinking blood is taboo, but what my partner and I have is romantic and beautiful," says Georgina, from Queensland, Australia.
"Zamael has a real problem with needles and being cut, but he lets me do it because he knows it makes me happy. It's really sweet.
"I love everything about drinking his blood – the taste, the feel. It's animalistic and very intimate."
Georgina, a make-up artist, first developed her taste for blood as a child.
"By the time I was eight, I knew I loved the coppery, metallic taste. The flavour just appealed to me and I would deliberately pick scabs and dig my fingernails into them to draw more fresh blood to drink."
It wasn't until later, when she saw films featuring vampires, that she started to identify as one herself.
"I was aware the movies weren't depicting reality, but I could almost understand the creatures," she says. "I'd always known I was odd. My mum let me watch them because she knew I was into horror and the darker side of life. Everyone in my family has always been encouraged to be who they are."
But Georgina didn't meet her first proper "donor" until she turned 17. "My friendship group were all on the goth scene and I met a girl who was a virgin, and into the idea of me drinking from her.
"It was very sensual and I'd use a clean razor blade to cut her arm or breast – nowhere that might open up a main artery. A wound just needs to bleed sufficiently, without causing death or infection."
Known as "feeding", her first donor offered her blood up to Georgina every week.
Georgina has dabbled with other donors since, but refers to them as "one-night stands" as their relationships were casual.
After speaking to Zamael – who changed his name by deed poll – online, they met at annual vampire event The Bloodlust Ball, in Queensland, in 2013.
The pair started dating, but Georgina waited before asking Zamael, who works in a shop, to let her drink his blood.
"Even in goth culture, drinking blood is still frowned upon, so it was a hard subject to talk about," she says.
"He didn't recoil in horror when I finally told him, and although he hates being cut or having injections, he agreed to it out of love."
Georgina will feed on her partner's blood at least once a week, and the act always leads to full sex.
"Watching real vampire movies is like porn to me, and drinking his blood is the foreplay," she says. "There is a sensuality and sexuality to what we do."
And as the act is so intimate, Zamael would consider it cheating if she used another donor.
While she eats lots of red meat to satisfy her cravings, Georgina finds there's nothing like the real deal.
"When you have someone else's blood it feels like you're overdosing on every drug imaginable. You get high on it, it's euphoric.
"You can feel it pumping through your veins – taking someone's essence into your own body brings you closer together."
Feasting on blood isn't the only thing that makes Georgina a real-life vampire. Like her folklore counterparts, she can't go out in the sun.
"Ever since I was a child, I had trouble being exposed to sunshine and would complain to my mum about it hurting.
"In extreme heat, I'd break out in painful, itchy rashes and was diagnosed with solar dermatitis – an allergy to UV rays."
Now, she hides indoors on hot days. She rarely leaves the house without a full face of make-up, and dresses in Victorian goth-style gowns.
"My mum totally loves that I'm a vampire, and my sister is very supportive – although she couldn't be more different from me. She's the athletic one and I'm the artist."
However, with the popularity of books and TV shows like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, Georgina says many people have the wrong impression of vampires.
"I find those shows annoying and call them dolly fiction – they're teenage romance novels. That's not the world I live in.
"Mainstream movies show vampires with fangs, but in old mythology they don't. I'll wear a pair over my teeth, but they're just for show. I can't wear them for drinking blood, but I find them sexy."
She's also found strangers are often unkind about her striking appearance, saying, "Girls will stare at me or try to start fights. I just don't acknowledge them and hold my head up high.
"I often think the vampire is the evolved human being, and we should all be vampires.
"I'm my own God and accept responsibility for everything I do. My ethos is that I have my own little moral compass and abide by what is good and bad. Really, I'm no different to anyone else."
By Paisley Gilmour
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