Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey has big ambitions. The self-described king of the vampyres just got out of an Indiana jail cell after cooling his heels on a conviction for threatening a judge. He's resting up in Tampa before heading home to New Jersey.
Come spring, he plans to move back to Minnesota to run for governor on the Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans ticket.
"I've got my Rochester apartment all set," he said. "I should be back in the state by February."
He's banking on the press showing up in huge numbers when he formally announces his candidacy. He plans to chomp the neck of a youthful female assistant, with cameras rolling.
"Let's just say I prefer to sink my fangs into younger women," he says.
Sharkey wants to run Minnesota with medieval tough-on-crime efficiency: Child molesters, rapists, terrorists, and drug peddlers will join the likes of George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, Mike Tyson, and Paris Hilton on his "impaling list."
"They'll be tried by me, beaten, tortured, dismembered, decapitated, impaled, and their heads will be put on display," Sharkey says. "This is the Viking state. Start acting more like Vikings. You got a problem? Take it to the streets. People need to get a set of balls and a spine."
The time might be right for a vampire governor. Vampires are everywhere. Author Stephenie Meyer has sold 45 million copies of her Twilight book series in the U.S. alone. The first movie based on the books grossed $350 million, and New Moon is close on its heels. On television, vampire lovers have their choice of True Blood on HBO or The Vampire Diaries on CW.
Sharkey says his own vampiric awakening came as a kid in New Jersey. He remembers going to the fridge for a snack at his uncle Louie's house one day. There on the shelf next to the beer he found a bottle of blood.
"I've been feeding since I was five years old," Sharkey claims.
After high school in New Jersey, a stint in the Army during which he ripped up his knees on a bad parachute jump, and a foray into pro wrestling, he says, he developed a taste for politics. He served as a Republican district leader in his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the 1980s, and tried and failed to win the GOP nod for a congressional race there in 2000. Over the years, he's also registered to campaign for a congressional seat in Florida, a Senate seat in Indiana, and the U.S. presidency.
Politics brought him to Indiana in October 1999. While attending a Reform Party dinner, he met one of his seven former wives. The relationship soured, and she won a permanent protective order against him in 2001. For the next eight years, a sheaf of court documents shows, Sharkey refused to take "no" for an answer. He insists he was trying to get her help for various addictions; she called it "stalking."
By October 2005, Sharkey had moved on to Princeton, Minnesota, where he'd taken up with a school bus driver named Julie Carpenter, committing to her through pagan wedding vows known as hand-fasting.
It was then that he decided to run for Minnesota governor. After alerting the media, he walked into the back room of K-Bob's Café in downtown Princeton on Friday the 13th of January 2006. In front of a small mob of reporters and photographers, he laid out his platform: impaling, tax breaks, and prescription drug coverage.
A few weeks later, cops showed up at Sharkey's Princeton home and arrested him on two outstanding warrants from Indiana, including fleeing the state in violation of his plea agreement. Once again, he found himself back in Marion County, this time serving out a suspended sentence
He decided in 2007 to run for U.S. president. A few hours before his announcement, in Elizabeth, he made a move to boost his vampire street cred. After hanging his floor-length cloak on a peg at a local lunch spot, he sat down at a table with a reporter and buried his fangs in his own forearm for a snack.
Once cable caught wind of his act, the bookings piled up. At one point, on the Fox News morning show, he was squeezed between a Martin Luther King Jr. scholar and supermodel Kathy Ireland. At another appearance, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson grilled him on public policy.
In the middle of this circus, a staffer at the Speedway Public Library in Indianapolis walked past Sharkey as he was typing at a public computer. The librarian saw what she considered a threatening message to Indiana judge David Certo, who had presided over one of Sharkey's cases.
The message, according to court papers, read: "I promise this court while I am executing Certo his family will violate one of his offenses punishable by death, and I will then execute his loved one as punishment, from the youngest (baby) to the oldest."
That same year, a teenage girl from Rochester accused Sharkey of harassing her on the internet. She had contacted him on his MySpace page to support his presidential campaign, and they began dating online, she later told police. When she tried to break off the relationship by claiming she was a member of an elite vampire-hunting organization, the threats began.
"She revealed to me she was a vampire hunter," Sharkey says. "They're attacking my people. I was out for her blood and the blood of her buddies."
He faced charges in both states, but he took off for Tennessee instead, purchased a plot of land near Altamont, about 100 miles southeast of Nashville, and announced that the property was a vampire compound.
Don Kamtman, who sold Sharkey the land, knew nothing of the man's vampiric reputation, and said that at first everything seemed normal.
"Never said a cuss word or anything," Kamtman told local TV station WTVJ.
But when local police tracked Sharkey down and arrested him on a warrant from Minnesota, it made a lasting impression.
"In my 18 years on top of the mountain, this is one of the most bizarre cases that we've dealt with," Grundy County Chief Deputy Lonnie Cleek told the station.
Authorities hauled Sharkey back to Minnesota and prison. Indiana authorities learned of his incarceration and sought extradition. By last July, Sharkey was back behind bars in Marion County, which released him in December.
It sounds like Marion County prosecutors are happy to see him go. In most cases, parolees are in violation of their agreements if they flee a state where they were prosecuted. In Sharkey's case, the judge ordered him to stay out of the state for almost a year.
"It's not a common plea agreement," admits Mario Massillanamy, a spokesman for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. "But he wanted to go run for governor in Minnesota. We decided that it would be best for him and for the state of Indiana if he just left."
Sharkey wears the verdict like a badge of honor.
"I've been kicked out of a lot of places," he says, "but I've never been kicked out of a state before."
Documentary filmmaker Tray White, who created the movie Impaler after following Sharkey's first quest to be Minnesota's governor, is amazed by the continued media fascination with the guy. In all the time he spent with him, White says, Sharkey was earnest and charming, and it's impossible to tell if he was putting on an act, or if he really believes he's a vampire.
"You will never, ever get the truth out of the guy," White says from his home in Dallas, adding that he wonders if Sharkey has approached "the brink of true madness."
The Impaler has no time for such questions—he's got a gubernatorial campaign to run. And much like Governor Ventura, he won't tolerate media fools gladly.
"To the media and those who speak out wrongly against me, and tell lies, I promise you this: Upon becoming governor, I will have you arrested and personally try you myself," Sharkey promises. "Upon finding you guilty of your crime, I will cut out your lying tongue, and nail it to your chin, so the world knows that you're a liar."
So don't be surprised if you're driving on 35W and see the car in front of you sporting an Impaler 2010 bumper sticker reading, "My governor can rip your governor's head off and piss down his throat."