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Twi-Dads: Hooked on Twilight, but don't tell their friends Add to ...

Frank Coluccio won't be going in to work on Wednesday morning. The 47-year-old telecommunications specialist anticipates he'll have a wild Tuesday night and will need some time to recover.

His evening plans? He's heading to a local movie theatre with hordes of other fans to watch The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the latest film in the wildly popular vampire series based on books by Stephenie Meyer.

My daughter loves it, my wife tolerates it, my son thinks it's kind of creepy. Frank Coluccio

There are the screaming tweens, the bloodsucker-smitten moms and a contingent of gay male followers. But Mr. Coluccio is a member of the Twilight franchise's most unlikely fan base - he's a Twi-Dad.

At first Mr. Coluccio, an avid volleyball fan whose other favourite books include Ann Coulter's and Sean Hannity's offerings, didn't understand why his daughter, son and wife were interested in the series.

"I thought it was another vampire story: Girl meets vampire, vampire falls in love with girl, vampire destroys girl. The end," Mr. Coluccio says. Then, one day he was driving his daughter and niece to the theatre to see the first Twilight film, and he opted to watch it with them instead of walking around the mall for a few hours.

He liked it, and then gave the first novel a chance. "When I read the book I was like, 'Whoa! Wow! Wow!' " he says.

He devoured the series' other three books in just a few days.

"It's funny at times, it's heartbreaking at others. It's just such a good story. It's a good escape."

Mr. Coluccio has travelled to fan events and conventions in Seattle, Vancouver and Forks, Wash. In Seattle, he became a minor celebrity when he won three rounds of the Twilight trivia challenge. Last year, he dyed his hair light blonde to resemble Carlisle Cullen, one of the characters from the series.

He has yet to meet a fellow Twi-dad, though.

"[My friends say]'You gonna march in a gay parade now? Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?' " he says. "The ribbing was there. But I couldn't care less - it's something I like."

The Coluccio family is split on its patriarch's obsession. "My daughter loves it, my wife tolerates it, my son thinks it's kind of creepy," Mr. Coluccio says. "But here's the deal: My son's girlfriend and his female friends think it's great."

Washington, D.C. math philosopher and fellow Twi-Dad Doug Auclair has had the same problems.

His fandom has won him points with the teen daughters of a family friend, but his wife doesn't quite understand the appeal of the series. He persuaded her to read the series, which she dismissed as books about "angsty teens."

Mr. Auclair told her he only saw the first film twice but, he confesses, "I saw Twilight the movie 11 times ... I skipped work, I took lunch breaks."

He's so enamoured with the story of Bella, Edward and the rest of the pale-faced crew that he writes Twilight fan fiction.

"Instead of writing it like a guy would write about it, I would write about the menstrual flow and the feelings that arise at that time," he says.

His readers often don't believe he's a 43-year-old father of two, he adds. "A few times I got private messages from readers saying, 'You're a girl and you're 20. You just say you're a dad because you want to go to a niche market.'"

It may become easier for Twi-Dads to openly enjoy the series when the third film hits theatres - at least that's the hope of the folks who are marketing it.

A team of University of Missouri communications professors published Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media & the Vampire Franchise this week in which they argue that Summit Entertainment is trying to attract a male audience for its third film by selling it as an action flick in trailers.

"Why is Summit doing this? From a cultural point of view, the media industry doesn't confer cultural legitimacy on texts until they are embraced by men, not just women," Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, one of the book's co-authors, said in a release.

Even if that strategy fails, there will still be many males in theatres this week who have been dragged by their children or significant others or are pre-screening it for their kids.

When the previous instalment The Twilight Saga: New Moon hit theatres, a group of daddy bloggers took on the challenge of reading the books or watching the films as part of the "Twilight Dad Blogger Experiment" to assess whether they were appropriate for their daughters.

The great takeaway for some? The pro-abstinence message. Ron Mattocks, a stay-at-home dad in Houston, Tex., says, "That's the one lone good thing that I've pointed out about the story."

He sat through both movies with his wife, but isn't quite ready to read the books.

Still, he's won some serious cool points with his step-daughters for knowing plotlines and character names.

"The other part of me watching it was so that I could be familiar with it because the girls end up talking about it so much," he says. "I try to be hip."

Mr. Coluccio sees that benefit too. "As parents grow up and kids grow up, they tend to drift apart. Especially girls and their dads. But the Twilight phenomenon has really brought us together."

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