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Some people question this new love affair women have with vampires.

I never questioned it. I met my first and only vampire love in 1986.  He was tall, dressed well in a tuxedo and cape, and he will always be my beloved Uncle Vlad.

He nurtured me, encouraged me, made me laugh, picked me up when I fell down, and never stopped believing in me.  He let me play in his vampire sandbox as I threatened to stake him with a parasol or played his bride, once I was of age of course.

Marty Gear saw in this silly little child a kindred spirit.  A lover of the stage, a passion for fancy and fun clothing, a girl who was a little bit goth and a whole lot silly.

I met him at Balticon Twenty, my first ever science-fiction and fantasy convention.  I came with my Ozma of Oz costume from the previous Halloween, not really sure what the masquerade would entail but ready to get on stage and perform.  I already had six years of performing under my own green cape for someone of only ten years of age.

This is my trading card from Ron Miller's Firebrands.

This is my trading card from Ron Miller’s Firebrands.

Marty praised my stage performance, told me that under no circumstances could I miss the next Balticon or Masquerade, and that I would absolutely join the International Costumer’s Guild. My design and stage performance combined with my mother’s sewing skill earned us “Best in Class” and a place in Ron Miller’s Firebrand’s trading card series.  FYI: We have the painting, my mother refuses to give up custody.

No Balticon truly began for me without a hug from my dearest Uncle Vlad, with Marty demanding to know if I brought a costume.  No Balticon Masquerade was complete without a few bad vampire jokes – which I grew to love as much as Marty.

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