I can think of few more controversial topics among vampire fans than the issue of eroticism. Some people clearly like sexy and sexual vampires. Others believe vampires should stay firmly rooted in the realm of monsters, undead creatures with no sex appeal at all.
I believe eroticism has been part of vampire fiction, if not vampire folklore, since the beginning. Few would argue that Bram Stoker’s Dracula has strong elements of barely repressed eroticism. There’s Jonathan Harker’s encounter with Dracula’s brides, vampire Lucy’s attempted seduction of Arthur, and of course, Dracula himself finds his way into the private bedchambers of his victims. Even before Dracula, Varney the Vampire shared the same modus operandi. There are numerous stories in the folklore of vampires haunting former lovers. I followed this literary tradition of erotic vampires when I created the Scarlet Order vampires. In fact, the illustration for this post is the Vampire Marcella as imagined by artist Nick Rose.
To me, it makes sense that vampires could have an erotic component. In the past, I’ve discussed beautiful vampires and how they might use their beauty to lure prey. Of course, a vampire doesn’t have to be beautiful to be erotic. A great example is seen in 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre starring Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani. In that movie, Lucy Harker seduces a very rat-like Dracula with hopes of keeping him from returning to his coffin until after sunrise. The scene is very erotically charged, even though it’s not at all sexually explicit.
One of the reasons why I think eroticism is controversial among vampire fans is the very thing I think makes it effective. Sex is scary. We’re afraid of stumbling across sex on the computer lest we get fired. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing to a co-worker, lest we offend. We’re afraid of meeting a co-worker who isn’t afraid and turns out to be a predator in their own right. In fact, vampires could be seen as a metaphor for “sexual predators.”
Perhaps this is the key to why some vampire fans don’t like eroticism in their vampire fiction. They don’t like it when the vampires move from frighteningly erotic to safely romantic. I can see that, but as someone who has been married for nearly twenty-five years, I can say that romance when done right is hardly safe. Two people open up to each other and become vulnerable as they know their deepest, darkest secrets. In the Scarlet Order vampire series, the ultimate expression of this idea is the blood circle, where two or more vampires drink blood from each other and share their inner most thoughts. They truly have opened up to each other and their are no longer secrets at all. I suspect there are some who would find that prospect even more frightening than the idea of erotic vampires!
In the end, I think this points us to the most legitimate criticism of eroticism in vampire fiction, or any fiction for that matter. It’s when the vampires and humans go about their adventures and then suddenly there’s a pause in the action and the characters start having sex. Okay, at that point I’d argue we’ve crossed the line from eroticism to porn. The sex only exists to titillate.
I’ll close with a reminder that Lachesis Publishing is having a sale on all their books in September, which include the Scarlet Order vampire novels, eroticism, violence, and all. Vampires of the Scarlet Order is only 99 cents. Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order is half off this month. Don’t be afraid to be seduced by the Scarlet Order.