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Vampire Sexuality

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Vampire Sexuality

Post  Aslinn Dhan on April 28th 2011, 12:28 pm

Vampire Sexuality

One of the things that is definitely intriguing about Vampires is their sexuality. Unlike human sexuality, they have a catholic or universal approach to pleasure. They have no sense of prejudice in matters of sexual taste. Gay or straight or somewhere in between, there is something for every Vampire and something for every human who loves them.
From the beginning, Vampires were metaphors for sex. Their own Judeo-Christian beginnings have to do with sex as in the legend of Lilith/Lamia and her desire to be sexually equal with Adam. One of the interesting facets of the story is that Adam complained to God he had to “hold her down” suggesting Adam was forcing Lilith to have sex with him. This element of being forced, a sort of rape is also in the Vampire legends.

As the story has evolved from the obscure apocalyptic stories of the first Vampire til now, we have seen their complex sexuality and while cultural mores restricted certain aspects of male Vampire sexuality, the first literary stories of the female Vampire were blatant in their sexual ambiguity. The stories of Camilla and Christabel and The Bride of Corinth were obviously lesbian in undertone and in the earliest times of the movies, it was far more acceptable to show a female Vampire feeding from a female human than to show a male Vampire feeding from a male human.

This is because it is well understood that Vampire is a symbol for all sorts of sexual activity. Oral sex is the most obvious with the act of sucking blood, and then there is the penetration of the fangs that is a more direct suggestion of sex. For a male Vampire to bite another man is a suggestion of homosexuality and that was something simply not successfully portrayed in early literature. Homosexuality was the thing that would not be named in polite society and those who did were admonished.

Cinematically, there were many images of lesbian Vampires. Why this was permissible and not the images of male homosexual Vampires is of course because of the less than prurient interest of men in lesbian sexuality. Fetishizing female on female sex is well known and a glamorized fetish while male homosexuality is considered offensive. But there were images of male on male Vampirism in underground literary and cinematic movements and though rarely seen up to now, they are now considered classic gay male Vampire story telling.

Dracula of course was the most famous of the Vampires and he was blazingly straight, though I recall as a young girl wondering why Dracula did not just feed off any human that was around. Surely there was a separation between feeding and romance (as my mind called it) and I wondered why I never saw Dracula feeding from Renfield or from Jonathan Harker. When I got older, I understood of course that Harker had been fed from by the Vampire wives, but also felt he was likely fed from by Dracula as well, adding to Harker’s guilt. I felt Harker would be confused by the contact Dracula had with him as he fed from him which would work as a further reason for his hate.

The various sorts of incarnations of Dracula in the cinema was something that interested me. I have seen both the strange and the bizarre and the tasteful and the disgusting by the way of fangs. Christopher Lee was the first Vampire with fangs which I found intriguing, sort of the Vampire equivalent of the full Monty. Andy Warhol, the king of the bizarre and strange was the first to have openly sexually omnivorous Dracula characters. In his take on Dracula, he makes Dracula something of a mad scientist, building a Frankenstein type of creature to do his bidding (what that was I never completely understood, but I don’t think that was important to Andy). What Dracula did, however was perform a sort of necrophilia. Dracula believed that if he f*cked the gall bladder of the creature he was building he would add some of his immortality. Okay…a collective ewwww..is in order. So in one scene, we do see Dracula having sex with the thing on the slab through an opening in the side of the corpse.

In retrospect, though I hate to give Andy too much credit of foresight and knowing about mythology and lore, there are considerable stories in mythology about where the seats of certain human emotions would be located in the body, following the notion of the humors from the Greek and Roman ideas of disease and mental illness residing in various organs of the body. The gall bladder was the residence of the strong emotions like revenge and hatred and bloodlust, so as disgusting as it sounds, Dracula may have merely been “stirring” the pot of his creation.

Another part of the Andy Warhol take on Dracula was the fact before he could actually resurrect his creature, he must feed and feed well on the blood of a virgin girl. He had one picked out too. This girl was something of a Red Riding Hood/Snow White figure who was a captive in his castle and was being looked after by the “groundsman”. His orders were to keep her safe, but he actually intended to beat Dracula’s time. In the film he is both seductive and beastial, not much difference in how we see Vampires. He makes obscene suggestions to her, tries to have his way with her multiple times and eventually thwarts Dracula by telling the girl Dracula’s plans for her and putting her against the wall and deflowering her before Dracula could get to her…The groundsman stakes Dracula.

One of the interesting and ewww inducing facets of the Vampire story is the necrophilia implications. I would argue that a robust active Vampire having sex is far different from having sex with a corpse, which just sort of lies there. While Vampires are technically dead, they are actually alive. The duality of Undead is what separates them from the folks who go to funerals to “hook up”. The same argument might be made of having sex with a werewolf and bestiality. But back to the topic at hand.

Anne Rice opens the door to Vampiric androgyny. Androgyny or asexuality does not mean homosexuality and though the gay press would really like to latch on to Anne Rice Vampires as gay Vampires, they can’t. Louie and Lestat do not have sex and they do not have an interest in sex. I think for Anne Rice, the Vampire is a metaphor for her frustrations with the Catholic Church. She was frustrated with the antifeminist attitudes of the Church and the fact sexuality was being controlled by the Church. You could partake of Holy Communion and be saved or you could partake of the flesh and be damned. Rice then reverses Louie and Lestat by making their Communion damned and by rendering them impotent. Perhaps in this way, Anne Rice is saying the Church is a Vampire, feeding off the believer.

But the film Interview with a Vampire was embraced by the gay community and even fueled rumors which had been going around Hollywood that Tom Cruise was gay. The fact we actually see Lestat make Louie a Vampire and bite his neck and drain him and then feed him his own blood was just erotic enough, even if they missed the obvious point.

For straight audiences though, the first sexy Vampire who moved beyond the Vampire/Sex metaphor was Dracula staring Frank Langella. He was the first Dracula to have obvious sex with his victim. It capitalized on the metaphor and played with the reality: Dracula is a Vampire, a monster that drinks blood and kills people but he is also a man and he has needs…

Vampire films like the Hunger and The Lair of the White Worm with its science fiction elements and images of sadomasochism and religion suggest a struggle between human sexuality and the taboos placed upon it by church and state, but Vampires did not follow the strict limits of human society. They could behave as they please. They offered a sort of non-judgmental freedom where everything was available and there were no consequences, you are immortal and therefore need not fear spiritual retribution. And no other Vampire would judge you for your appetites.

The fact that Vampire was a community who would open to your various and sundry tastes and twists is what many people who feel confined by their sexual or philosophical identity appeals to subcultures and Vampirism is a true subculture. Vampire cannot be confined to human law and religion. Vampire says if you want to do it.

After Frank Langella, Vampires had a stiffy. We see Vampires as sexually full faceted. There are some things that will always be taboo, such as images of children and suggested images of pedophilia, but there are Vampire children such as in Let the Right One in. Let the Right One In is a Swedish film from a book about Eli, a gender ambiguous child who is a Vampire and under the control of a Renfield like keeper who wants to have sex with Eli and Eli’s interest in a young boy who is being bullied. In the book Eli is eventually raped by the keeper and Eli tells the friend they are neither boy or girl, simply Eli. The 80’s offering Fright Night has the transformation of the obnoxious Ed by the Vampire. This scene is shot in the tradition of the early Vampire movies where the Vampire actually pulls a large coat around him and shields the viewer from the actual blood exchange that transforms Ed into a Vampire.

Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot has Vampiric children, even a Vampiric toddler who feeds from its mother. Stephen King plays with the notion of sex as a lure. The promise of sex and immortality and revenge and retrieval of lost love is something that is impossible to ignore for most of the inhabitants of Salem’s Lot. Though Stephen King is often reticent about writing about sex, the lure of sex places it in the category of sex as a weapon.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a strange sort of story as we have a young girl, again cast as the Red Riding Hood / Snow White type character who kills Vampires. Trouble is, she falls for a couple of Vampires. This story also carries on to many copy cats, like the Laurel K. Hamilton Books. These adult Buffy Books are pretty saturated with sex. It was unique in that it shows a strong, sexually confident woman, completely bypassing the Red Riding Hood/Snow White archetype and going straight for the lusty, fully functioning adult female character who patiently works her way through the supernatural world, killing what she can, screwing what she can’t. In recent years, the relentless sex scenes disturbed only with short battle scenes have become a point of criticism against her books.

The Southern Vampire Mysteries try to balance that out. We have of course Sookie. Sookie is a sexual archetype similar to the Red Riding Hood/Snow White character. She is a struggling orphan who lives with her grandmother and feels put upon because of multiple things including her social status. She is also the legendary archetype of the virgin luring “mythic beasts” to her with her virginity like Andromeda and the Kraken and the Lady and the Unicorn and the innocent child and the fae. She is also the typical “Girl Next Door” the American Dream, the cute blond who likes to lay in the sun and be pretty and flirt. She is also the Southern Belle. For such a simple character, she certainly has her roots in most of the ancient and modern archetypes. What makes her unique to us is that she is a telepath, something that hampers her ability to enjoy sex. We also have the added modern “Turn of the Screw” feature that she was molested by her Uncle Bartlett.

Bill is her first lover. He takes her virginity and her blood, something that is as alluring as her sexual awakening because of her fae ancestry. He also gives her his blood which awakens an already wide awake libido. But, I would like to note that Sookie has her first fantasies about Bill before she has his blood. It is the fact that she discovers Bill’s brain is silent to her intrigues her as this was the one thing that kept her from exploring her sexuality. After she has his blood this interest is increased.

With the SVMs we also have the notion that Vampires are hated as a minority because of their Vampirism. Their race and sexuality is not very important to the haters. That they are life challenged is the troubling aspect to them. And Vampires come in all colors and genders and orientations in both the books and True Blood. Charlaine Harris simply writes them that way. There is no real agenda for this other than the fact there are gay people in all walks of life and unlife. Once they are Vampire, they cease to have any other identity than being Vampire.

Pam is an interesting counter point to the story and emerges as a reverse image of Lafayette. She is a woman, white and mostly gay but would not turn down an interesting male partner, but he better be really interesting. She is sort of like the female Praying Mantis who would mate and then bite their head off. She is flirtatious to Sookie and she enjoys Sookie’s friendship in an odd sort of way. She sees her Vampirism as liberation. She would be able to control a human male with no problems.

Eric too is a dichotomy sexually. Though he prefers his sex straight and with Sookie Stackhouse, he has a vast range of experience. He has no reaction to sex around him, as in the sex party Sookie invites him to and he is so indifferent to human opinion of him, he is undaunted by Sookie’s proposal he look “gay” or at least bi. Later we learn that Eric’s maker was male and forced Eric into a sexual relationship with him, which was something he eventually learned to enjoy though his preference lay elsewhere.

This goes back to the complaint Adam had about Lilith. He said he had to hold Lilith down to have sex with her, suggesting Adam forced Lilith to have sex, in effect raping her. In this way, you could argue the same thing had happened to Bill who was taken from the woman he loved and forced to make a new “marriage” with the woman who forced him into his Vampiric life as well as Eric who was forced to be the sexual partner of his maker. This sort of highlights Eric’s deference to the Vampires in his area who work for him. Felicia in the SVMs tells Sookie that Eric is a good Vampire to work for. He pays well, the hours are good and he does not press the Vampires in his employ to have sex. This also gives Sookie and Eric a sort of strange bond of victimhood. Both had been abused sexually by someone older and stronger than them and while Sookie’s victimization may have stopped with fondling, she is still scarred by the experience and Eric is certainly changed.

In the show we see that Bill is not immune to the possibility of homosexual situations. When he is confronted by the obviously gay Malcolm and offered a chance to feed from his male companion, both in the book and the show the man does approach Bill in a seductive manner. In the flash backs of Bill and Lorena hunting as a pair, the two corner a couple and while Lorena is with the woman, Bill is with the man. And Bill does use his sexuality to batter his maker Lorena, not to mention the twisting of her head around in a violent sexual attack on the woman who raped him spiritually and psychologically and emotionally if not physically. Then the act of torturing Bill is of course very exciting to Lorena. Sadomasochism is highly referenced in the Vampire literature. Then the mirroring of Coot and Debbie feeding on him just as she and Bill fed on countless victims of theirs is strange sort of sexual turn on with intense grief. Sex and grief is two fold. Men especially seek sex for comfort (like Jason and Bobby Sue) and since Lorena is the dominate character between Bill and her, she is the one who is having the shameful gratification of seeing Bill a victim.

Another interesting facet of the show with Eric was his love and devotion to Godric. Godric is an old child who finds Eric at his most vulnerable on his funeral pyre about to die. His attack on Eric and his turning Eric Vampire is almost paternal, with Eric being the child. When speculation about season three began and there were rumors of Eric having a sexual encounter with another man, there was some suggestion it may be an encounter with Eric and Godric. As free thinking as Alan Ball may be, there are taboos in the homosexual community about problematic images which could be perceived of young males being exploited by older males. While we would have understood the situation and the fact Godric is actually a thousand years older than Eric would have negated our view of the scene, but the passive viewer would have been upset and there would have been an insurmountable outcry.

The sexual scenario in question is buffered by our knowledge of several things. Eric is not above using sex as a weapon. He will use sex to meet his ends and in the show he has a definite reason to go to such extremes: the death of his human father. The fact that he may have to play the part of the seducer to reach his goal means little to him. It simply is what it is. And the same could be said of Bill who uses his seductive powers to procure Sookie for Sophie Anne.

But Eric is not gay. Not even close to it. He is an unrepentant lesbian of the highest order. He loves women and he loves Sookie Stackhouse. He also knows she is a good girl: In book two he asks: So, what does a nice girl like you wear to an orgy? Sookie has no idea…Of course Eric would like to give her some hints but she draws the line. He loves to kiss her. In fact some of his most intense moments have been in the act of kissing her. When she sucked the bullets out of his chest, he kissed her hard. When he took her to the orgy, he kissed her a lot. When they go into battle at various times, he takes a moment to kiss her. To say Eric is really into oral is an understatement. But the fact of her being fairy does not change Eric’s interest in her. He is interested in her for multiple reasons. He is intrigued I think by her sort of innocence. In a world of free love and even freer sex, Sookie is more virgin than virago with just enough experience to take on Eric without being too much of a slut. The first time he has sex with her, she had only one lover, Bill Compton.

Speaking of virginity, Jessica’s conundrum seems to be one of perpetual virginity. Perhaps one of the witchy storylines and the reason for Jessica kicking up her heels sometime in the future is that she solves her little virginity problem. Her interest in making Hoyt her first lover and having a human companion is cue that her relationship with Hoyt is problematic. They are serious limited her ability to have sexual relations with Hoyt for the time being because she will endure the pain of losing her virginity over and over. This is a sort of morality tale that plays out like the wages of sin. But Jessica is guilty of only one thing: Being made a Vampire. And even that had subtle overtones.

When Jessica is brought to Bill to be made, she is a terrified young girl in the hands of savages. Sort of like all the legendary stories of the pure maiden set before beasts. She is like sacrifices for a pagan god in all the old stories. Bill is the Kraken, Baal, King Kong, the dark brooding demon bent on her defilement. And while Bill does not have sex with Jessica, her being made Vampire is an erotically charged public event. She thrashes against Bill in a fruitless attempt to escape and Bill is caught between a rock and hard place. He wants her blood and gluts himself with it in order to steal her human life and then gives her his blood to make her Vampire. To feed and to be fed upon is usually sexually stimulating for the Vampire. Eric is turned on by Sookie feeding from him in the third book, so sexually stimulating he has an orgasm, and Bill is very turned on by Sookie feeding from him in the first book when he gives her blood before she goes to Fangtasia. And as we are told by the three Vampires in Bill’s house in season one, virgin blood is the best blood there is, besides baby’s blood. So whether Bill wants to or not, he is experiencing sexual and Vampiric pleasure when he makes Jessica.

One of the subtle things that I noticed about that scene was the reactions of the other Vampires witnessing it. It is almost as though Vampires have a hive like connection and as the act is being done by one, the pleasure is felt by all who witness it. It is a sort of bizarre sexual communion and all the Vampires are tuned into it. And you can see the same sort of dreamy look on Eric’s face as the doctor heals Sookie from the maenad’s scratch. He is completely stoned watching her being treated. In the books, the cure is far more intimate. Charlaine Harris tells us they “had to tear her shirt off” to make her ready for the process of healing her and she was held on their laps as the Vampires drained her of the poisonous blood.

Probably one of the most troubling events occur in book in book three and that is when Sookie is locked in the trunk of the car with the starving Bill who nearly drains her and has sex with her. He is in a state of unconsciousness and he is acting on automatic but it is still seen as forced sex. The thing that negates this and separates this event is the fact that Bill does stop when he realizes two things: That he has almost drained her and she did not give him permission to have sex with her and he immediately stops when he realizes what has happened. Had Bill been raping her for the simple pleasure of controlling her and raping her, he simply wouldn’t have stopped.

And this is where the line is drawn I think between the ancient stories of Vampire and the more modern ones. Ancient Vampire stories would have had Bill finishing the act, but because Bill does care about Sookie and even loves her, he does not wish to violate her. Her sexuality is important to him and he has no wish to destroy her physical sexual trust in him. What he did betray, even though it is at the order of his maker, was her emotional trust. Then of course down the line, Sookie realizes he did use sex as a weapon after all to procure her for the ruthless Sophie Anne.

Well, I think I have covered everything I can think of…and of course I am interested in your take…

Aslinn Dhan
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Re: Vampire Sexuality

Post  Barrister on April 29th 2011, 12:34 pm

What I think is interesting about the way they portray vampire sex is the use of sort of bondage, rough sex imagery. It did not take that long from seeing vampires like Dracula in evening clothes and cape to seeing vampires in leather and chains. And what is interesting is how they use those images in True Blood. You see the vampires right away using bondage with the bald headed vampire and then you see Eric with his catamount in the jail and then you see Bill having rough sex with Lorena.

Why do you think that is? And do you think they enjoy that more vigourous sex because of their physical differences? Or are they more jaded and need more to stimulate them sexually? Or do they differentiate between sex for simple release, and for them that is what they like to do, and love making? (Which I define as more sensitve and gentle and loving and less "kink")

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Re: Vampire Sexuality

Post  Barrister on May 3rd 2011, 9:10 pm

One of the things I thought was intriguing is the fact Bill and Eric both like to be bitten...Wonder why that is...you would think they would not like it since it suggests a surrender of control to a certain degree....

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Re: Vampire Sexuality

Post  Aolani on May 3rd 2011, 10:02 pm

Barrister wrote:One of the things I thought was intriguing is the fact Bill and Eric both like to be bitten...Wonder why that is...you would think they would not like it since it suggests a surrender of control to a certain degree....

it is, but wouldnt it also be a signal of giving as well? Rather giving what you are taking from your lover?

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Re: Vampire Sexuality

Post  lelama on July 3rd 2011, 10:55 pm

I always felt that vampire sexuality was limitless in terms of variety. I think that this includes bondage and rougher sex, and also to enjoy being bitten--some humans like to be both dominant and submissive, and I think that this would certainly be true for vampires. I suppose I'm not ever surprised by what they like, I imagine they like all kinds of things depending on their mood. For example Bill does have rough sex with Lorena, but fairly romantic sex with Sookie (and raunchy make-up sex after they kill the werewolves). Similarily, they might prefer men or women, but most vampires seem to have some bisexual tendency, and it just shows that they are in it for the pleasure and the fun, rather than having a particular fetish.

I actually think that Jessica will be a good gauge of a developing vampire's sexuality if she continues to fool around behind Hoyt's back. Yes, she's a virgin, but that is what will make it so revealing, because she really will be trying everything for the first time.

No matter what though, vampire sexuality is deliciously sexy and I want more of it.

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