why are we all obsessed with sexy vampires?
Who wouldn’t want to have their own great, great, great, great, great granddaddy?
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Sharing spit with a corpse, enjoying necrophilia, and willingly draining yourself of your own blood is kind of gross, but from 17th century sapphic romps to Buffy and Twilight, vampires have constantly been depicted as being hot AF.
Somehow vampires are not only easy on the old retinas, but actually function as the erotic sum of societies’ nastiest fantasies. As figures of abject horror, the vampire personifies tabood. We project all that is condemned upon them so they become emblems of moral decay, perfect to pull us into the world of pain and pleasure, kink and S&M. Less chains and whips excite me, more like fangs and a cold broken heart which hasn’t beaten for over 200 years. Humans find vampires so attractive one Texan couple actually started using razors to slice neck wounds so they could suck blood from each other; and remember when Angelina and Billy Bob Thornton wore vials of each other’s blood around their necks? Big vampire energy.
As figures of abject horror, the vampire personifies taboo. We project all that is condemned upon them so they become emblems of moral decay, perfect to pull us into the world of pain and pleasure, kink and S&M.
Vampires didn’t always used to be fit. In folklore dating back to the 4000BC Babylonian era, blood-suckers emerged from the wilderness as soft, boneless shapes, the vampire’s skull would burn with glowing eyes and purple bulging veins. Instead of a nose, vampires had a sharp snout for drinking humans dry.
This changed with 1871 lesbian erotic novella Carmilla, which follows protagonist Laura as she becomes intoxicated by the vampire Carmilla after she invades her clouded dreams. The text is an expression of Victorian anxieties about a new, queered, female sexuality. Within Carmilla delicate feminine bodies best suited to embroidery and sipping from tea cups are replaced by a monstrous female whose autonomous sexuality has ravaged her into a beast. After meeting Carmilla, Laura notes herself being overcome by a “strange and tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust”.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula remains the classic description of vampirism. Living in a castle with a harem of women who devour children; the charming Dracula hides his own monstrosities behind a defined jawline and well-tended moustache. With his high camp collar, Dracula mirrored the pleasure-seeking aesthetics of flamboyant figures such as Oscar Wilde. Stoker portrayed Dracula as the sort of corrupting and overzealous dandy that women of the time lustily blushed at.
With Anne Rice’s 1976 Interview with a Vampire, blood-suckers got feelings, as newly turned Louis de Pointe du Lac is viscerally pained by his desire to eat humans. When his maker Lestat drains the wrists of a woman, offers him a goblet of her blood and says, “you can pretend it’s red wine”, Louis storms away. Instead, gazing into an ornate gold mirror and confronting his place as a creature so evil, hell might not even want him. In the 90s Anne’s novel was turned into a film, which is great because Brad Pitt plays Louis and he looks even prettier than his ex-wife Angelina Jolie.
No longer were vampires merely evil, alluring figures, they had issues and feelings. They wanted to be good but were consumed with thoughts of death. They are the supernatural equivalent of a drunk man getting angry and punching walls because he doesn’t know how to talk about his feelings. But he likes you so much he hasn’t even eaten you; maybe you can change him?
In cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer the need for human blood became a metaphor for puberty, with teenagers driven into wild creatures by their burgeoning sexual desires. In continuation of 80s drama The Lost Boys, where capes, brocade waistcoats in colours called ‘nightshade’ or ‘absynthe’ and billowing white lace, were replaced with punkish smudged eyeliner and PVC, Buffy showcased a modern version of the undead. Rebellion replaced satanism, and sexual awakening replaced the one-dimensional quest for blood. Spike, the hollow-cheekbone anti-villain and on-off lover of Buffy, was most 13-year-old’s first crush. Bleaching his hair way before pretty boys with camo trousers and shotter bags were, he appeared on our screens with his slick brill-creamed hair, a delicate scar running through his eyebrows, and skin like frost.
Within Buffy, Vampires were especially virile. Buffy losing her virginity to Spike sees both of them slapping each other around a decomposing building until her cheeks flush raw. It was less kissing, more punching each other in the teeth with their lips. Another scene sees Spike touch Buffy as she looks upon a boy she could have a nice happy relationship with. Pressing into her until her glossy lips heavily heave out air, Buffy with her pink blush and cream satin top, resembles a sickly-sweet prom queen in comparison to his hard and emptied face. “Look at them, that’s not your world, you belong in the shadows with me”, Spike implores.
Even Twilight, a teen flick about a monogamous relationship with a vegetarian vampire (lol) written by a devout Mormon managed to be steamy. After enough lip biting to give blisters, Edward and Bella eventual bang (it only took four films) and it is a surprisingly tense affair. Due to what people refer to as “erotics of abstinence”, Bella and Edward might begin the scene looking like two conservatives off to parents evening -- what with his crisp baby blue shirt and her Hillary Clinton style shift dress -- but soon Edward’s passion become sufficiently powerful as to crush their marital bed frame beneath his fists.
But no vampire programme was as spicy as True Blood. Especially Eric, 6’4 inches of cold blooded hunk and the only man able to make a matching blue velour tracksuit look sinister. When the main character, sunny blonde southern belle Sookie meets him, he’s straddling a muscled nude man. His mouth dripping blood, he looks up at the breathless Sookie and says knowingly: "I got your rug all wet".
True Blood fully realised the appeal of vampires as beings that could full fill all of our pain driven kinky desires. In a disgusting example of hate sex, vampire Bill twists Lorena’s neck around, the bones of her spine crunching until something snaps and out of the mangled head come pornographic wails. Lorena’s own blood slurs out of her mouth as Bill furiously tries to inflict enough harm that she stops enjoying it. It took sadomasochism to the next level, one which those with a pulse are not likely to enjoy.
Vampires have been images of nocturnal glamour and potent sexuality ever since Carmilla went writhing in other women’s bed sheets. By treating humans like edible sex dolls, they are the height of kink. Vampires might find the impulses of compassion and love ungraspable, but then again, don’t we all love emotionally unavailable people? They are basically an eternal One Who Got Away who like to pull your hair a lot.