CALEDONIA - If you watch "True Blood" and you do a double take at the Racine County Fair today because you think you recognize a vampire, take another look - it might be exactly whom you think it is.
Kristin Bauer-van Straten, of Caledonia, who plays the dry and sarcastic Pam on the HBO series based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, said she'll kick off her first day of married life with the County Fair.
She married Abri van Straten, a South African singer-songwriter, just months after they met. She first fell in love with his music - he is the lead vocalist and guitarist for a South African rock band, The Lemmings.
She found his music by chance, when she went to sit and found the chair was already occupied by a CD. It could have been the last straw of a bad day, but she listened to the CD and the more she heard, the more she became intrigued - to the point she contacted the band manager and "name-dropped," by her confession. They met for coffee in January and the rest was history.
She came back to her hometown for her wedding Saturday among family in the backyard of her mother's house, where her father's ashes are scattered.
Raising her left hand, she teared looking at her ring, saying it was the engagement ring her dad gave her mom more than 50 years ago.
Wandering through the house looking at her dad's old rifles and canes and family portraits she painted herself, she seemed at home in jeans and a casual button-down shirt wearing minimal makeup, as much as in a vampire costume stalking the set in front of a camera.
Bauer-van Straten, formerly Kristin Neubauer before she dropped the "Neu" when she began acting, almost literally walked into acting. She was walking down the street in Los Angeles 16 years ago when someone asked her if she wanted to be in a movie. Washing windows and working as a nanny and maid at the time, she said she jumped at the chance, thinking, "I'll never be good at this, but it'll pay the bills."
Despite the popularity of "True Blood," which is in its second season and has been renewed for a third, she said she considers herself "a blue-collar worker" who just happens to act for a living.
The California-based actress said people in L.A. recognize her more for her vampire role than from other work, including a full season on "The Crew" as well as guest spots on "Seinfeld" and "Everybody Loves Raymond." She mused she must look like a vampire even without the vampire makeup, the red corn syrup and a Southern accent because whether she's in sweats grabbing coffee or shopping at a store, people will say, "Pam?"
"I had no way to know the show will be this well done and this popular," said Bauer-van Straten, who easily slipped into the role of a vampire who eyes humans as food, or pets.
She said she enjoys visiting Racine during the summers to spend time with her family and walk through Downtown. And she said she never forgets to grab a Kewpee burger or pick up cheese from Mars' Cheese Castle in Kenosha for her friends back in California.
"Oh, and I can eat miles of kringle," said the actress. Her favorite is O&H Danish Bakery on Douglas Avenue.
Bauer-van Straten said she was excited for the Demolition Derby today and the fried fair food. She laughed, imagining introducing her husband to the county fair among other Racine highlights.
After honeymooning in a cabin in northern Wisconsin, Bauer-van Straten said she and Abri will head back to L.A., but that they looked forward to spending their free time in Wisconsin and South Africa.
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