Rod Stewart and the Highgate Vampire
Rocker Rod Stewart—kids, if you don’t know who he is, ask your parents; they remember him—used to suffer from thanatophobia. Literally the “fear of death.” (Don’t most humans instinctually have a fear of death? I’d argue that they do, but the phobia refers to an unnatural or exaggerated fear of death, if not to an obsession with avoiding it.) To cure himself of this malady, as a young man he took a job as a gravedigger—at Highgate Cemetery. (That makes for a good story, doesn’t it? Better than him just being broke and needing the money, which might also have been the case. He also never actually “dug” any graves, but helped with marking them out.)
All self-respecting vampire marks know that Highgate Cemetery is the reputed haunt of a real vampire (although this claim has been largely disputed) and may have served as the inspiration for the fictitious Kingstead Cemetery in Bram Stoker’s novel DRACULA. Likewise, tales of the exhumation of Elizabeth Siddal, wife of Dante Rossetti, may have inspired the plight in the novel of Stoker’s Lucy Westenra, a victim of Dracula who is eventually staked and decapitated by Van Helsing and his cronies. Highgate has made several appearances in the movies, too, most notably in the 1970 Hammer feature TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA starring Christopher Lee.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!