Vampire Play

Blood Bath

Sonoma’s Neodanze Performanze Companie bites into vampire legends

By Gretchen Giles

The dull orange moon hangs misshapen in the sky, swathed in nicotine-yellow tulle fog. Shadows throw themselves desperately to the ground and cling darkly to the alley walls. Dry husks of leaves skitter like rats down the windblown pavement. There is no one on the street.

“It’s not dangerous to meet you at night, is it?” the reporter asks. “Oh no,” Robin Parvin trills, laughing in a bubbly way–bubbly the way blood bubbles out of an open jugular vein, not bubbly like champagne overflowing a high heel. “Not at all.”

And so we meet. In public, in a cafe, in the light with other people. And Parvin isn’t scary at all. At least, not at first.

At first, it is her companion Stephan Buchanan who gives one the willies. A strong, powerfully built man in his early 40s, with close-cropped, white-dyed hair and a heavy brow, Buchanan smiles in greeting. His canine teeth–those that our primal ancestors used to tear and, er, bite into animal flesh with–have been filed. Filed straight, filed pointy, filed long. With his other top teeth filed up to accentuate the difference, Buchanan has fangs.

Parvin’s are in her purse.

“We live vampires,” she says.

Companions for the last 10 years, having met when Parvin was a 19-year-old student of Buchanan’s Neodanze studio in San Francisco, learning his unique blend of dance and martial arts, the two have an indulgent ease with one another, interrupting and adding asides to each other’s comments.

For the last five years, Buchanan and Parvin have been into vampires. Way into them. “I was looking for something that would tie it [his artistic abilities] together and Robin had read the Anne Rice books [such as Interview with a Vampire]” Buchanan explains, “And she said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to read them.’ And I read them, and I thought they were great, because they’re very erotic and very seductive and very appealing,” Buchanan explains.

An artist of many talents, Buchanan has become obsessed with vampires–painted them, written songs and plays about them, designed sets around them, and is writing a book about them. Parvin–a tall, slender woman with masses of strawberry blonde hair and an angular, attractive face–masquerades as the bimbo vampire Roxanne on a weekly public-access pro-wrestling TV show called “Canvas Cavity,” produced and hosted by their dentist, the man with the file. Together they are producing, directing, and starring in a play that Buchanan wrote called Nosferatu in the Valley of the Moon–A Symphony of Love. It opens Friday at the Lincoln Arts Center in Santa Rosa.

With Buchanan playing the ancient being Gaius, who was transformed into a vampire as a reward for valor in Roman times, Nosferatu tells the erotic and bloodthirsty story of Gaius’ quest for mortal love–a tragic love that he can never have. With onstage simulated sex, nudity, and gallons of the red stuff, this is not for the weak at heart.

“When I become a vampire, I feel an incredible amount of power,” Parvin says. “Vampires have more strength than anybody else, and it’s an incredible feeling. I have this ability to just segment myself. When I’m a vampire, I’m a vampire. When I’m in the office, I’m an office worker; when I’m in my garden weeding and tending my vegetables and flowers, I’m a gardener; and I wouldn’t say that they conflict at all.”

Buchanan adds, “One of the things that makes us work so well together is that I’m much darker than she is.” He laughs, “I mean, I enjoy gardening, too–so it’s not really that I’m that dark, snipping the heads off roses and the like–but for me it’s more atmospheric, and it fits my personality.

“That’s another reason why I was attracted to vampires, I don’t really have to change or pretend.”

By now Buchanan is easy, affable almost. One tends to forget his dental work and dark nature. When the photographer arrives to take their photos, it is Parvin who is unsettling. Slipping in her fake teeth, Parvin’s eyes go dead, and her body arches erect, waiting to pounce. There is a dark sultriness about her that is almost unbearable to watch.

While conceding that their friends and families don’t exactly understand their passion, Buchanan and Parvin remain satisfied that they’re following their own path well. “We concentrate on appreciating who we are and who other people are, and the world around us,” Buchanan says. “Appreciating life, really.”

Nosferatu in the Valley of the Moon plays Oct. 20-21 at the Lincoln Arts Center, 709 Davis St., Room 210, Santa Rosa. Parvin stresses that this show is sexually graphic and intense; no children, please. Additional shows run Oct. 27-28 at the Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco. All shows start at 8pm Tickets are $12. 935-0247.

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