What Makes Vampires Sexy?

by WiseFool

The current prevalence of vampires in pop culture isn't exclusive to the modern era. And throughout history, we've not just been frightened by vampires, but also turned on by them.

Vampires are sexy. It's a fact that can't be denied.

From Bram Stoker's Dracula to Stephanie Meyers Edward Cullen (and a few female vampires in between), there's always been something either subtextually or downright overtly sexual about a vampire.

But why? I mean, there's not the same appeal in other mythological or folklore monsters: zombies aren't sizzling with an undercurrent of sexuality, nor are werewolves.

So, what is it about vampires?

Why do You Never see an Ugly Vampire?
Twilight - Eclipse

What Makes Vampires Attractive?

There are, of course, a number of different reasons that we find vampires so irresistible  On one hand, they frighten us, and we tend to be very fond of scaring ourselves silly. But the reason we keep coming back to vampires is about much more than just fear.

It's a combination of factors that draw us to these mysterious, dark characters. And they pull us to them in a way that may be difficult to logically untangle, but we'll try.

When we read a vampire novel or watch a vampire movie, what keeps us interested is a strange vacillation between fear and a deep attraction.

I would argue that this is more true for women, for reasons I'll explain later, but that's not to suggest that male vampires have the monopoly on sexiness, because they most certainly don't.

Female vampires, even comedic ones, can be just as sexy as their male counterparts

We Love a Bad Boy or Girl

I think some of our attraction to vampires can be summed up this simply.

Vampires are bad boys (or girls); bad to the bone. They're soulless, after all. And we seem drawn to someone who is just the right side of wrong.

They are, by definition, not just living outside the bounds of normal society, but also (as far as we can understand) living outside the bounds of science and logic.

Move over James Dean, these really are rebels without a cause. But still, we come back to the same question: why vampires rather than other folklore creatures?

So, there has to be more going on here. 

Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Dracula - Dead and Loving It
$8.96  $9.86

They're Ageless and Always Attractive

Being immortal, vampires are like Dorian Gray - always lookin' good.

That is, on the surface (literally and figuratively) appealing, but I also think the fact that vampires are centuries old provides another facet of sexiness, especially for modern female viewers and readers. Imagine being able to transport Heathcliff or Mr. Darcy into the present day.

I know, they're fictional characters, but bear with me. The reason we're still drawn to these romantic heroes is that we crave some of that old fashioned charm; the chivalry; a man who, quite frankly, behaved like a man. Of course, the realities of the Regency period were anything but idyllic for women, but this is all fantasy remember.

A vampire who has old-fashioned appeal, while also having a vast knowledge accumulated from hundreds of years' worth of stalking the planet is sexy.  

They're Dark, Brooding and Mysterious

Always something sexy about a dark, brooding figureA vampire can never be truly tamed or understood. He or she, will always be a bit of a wild thing, no matter how in love they may be with a 'human'.

In fact, it was the love of his dead wife that caused the Vlad of Bram Stoker's Dracula to desecrate the cemetery, denounce God and drink the blood that would turn him into a vampire. So, they're a passionate bunch, too.

And this makes them vulnerable (if not physically, then emotionally), as well as scary. Frightening and vulnerable -That's a pretty heady cocktail.

Women, in particular, are drawn to men who are mysterious or impenetrable; perhaps believing that they can be the one to 'change' or 'tame' him. Of course, they never will, but hope springs eternal.

The Sexual Subtext of Vampires

Christopher Lee is DraculaBut all of the above is incidental, as far as I'm concerned, because none of it is exclusive to vampires. What really makes vampires sexy is the sensual nature of how they go about their business.

Today, in The Vampire Diaries and even Twilight, there is no attempt to hide the sexuality. However, there was a time when vampire stories were, actually, more often than not a metaphor for something that authors would otherwise not get away with writing about.

So, why do vampires make a good metaphor for sex?

Well, they're dominant; they're even able to hypnotize their 'victims', all leaning very heavily towards the art of seduction. On top of that, we've got an exchange of bodily fluids, albeit blood - but let's not forget that this is a primal, life-giving substance, too.

And the very act of consuming something is steeped in sexuality. After all, we consummate a relationship or marriage: it is the act of fulfilling, or achieving satisfaction - eating and sex are inextricably linked.

Why Women Are More Attracted to Vampires

Frances Dade and Bela Lugosi in DraculaI've said it before and I'll say it again, female vampires can be just as sexy as male vampires. However, there is a reason the vampire in Twilight is male rather than female - and it's all wrapped up in almost everything I've mentioned so far.

All of the points above, are very much playing into the traits that women find attractive in men - vulnerability, being inherently bad, confident, seductive, charming, intelligent. However, above all of these, is the simple fact that vampires give women an 'excuse' for desire.

Because, for centuries, women have been discouraged from having any kind of lust, and certainly forbidden from acting on it, there remains an appeal in an encounter for which she cannot be held responsible.

Although, of course, it doesn't have to be a man doing the 'taking'. For example, this is an extract from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (first published in 1872), in which the female narrator, Laura, is recounting a dream she's had about Carmilla.

"Sometimes it was as if warm lips kissed me, and longer and longer and more lovingly as they reached my throat, but there the caress fixed itself. My heart beat faster, my breathing rose and fell rapidly and full drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of strangulation, supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion, in which my senses left me and I became unconscious."

This is incredibly sensual stuff, not to mention the lesbian overtones. If this description had been given in any other scenario, Fanu would have found himself in trouble with the censors.

However, because our narrator is under the 'spell' of a vampire, she is in no way responsible for the sensations she experiences or, more importantly, the desire she feels. And this sense that any experiences of lust and desire are beyond our control, coupled with the other things mentioned above, is why we find vampires sexy.

Bram Stoker's Dracula and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla
Dracula (Norton Critical Editions)Carmilla
Annie Lennox Explains it Better Than I Can
Updated: 07/04/2014, WiseFool
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cmoneyspinner on 10/28/2013

I never thought of vampires as sexy. Not until I saw Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt play vampires. Made me do some rethinking. :)

WiseFool on 03/23/2013

Hey, Elias. Yes, it is quite literally in the blood. : ) Thanks for stopping by; I'm very glad you enjoyed reading the piece.

EliasZanetti on 03/23/2013

In a lighter tone - no wonder that all those ladies born&raised in Transylvania are usually thought to be so sexy! It runs in the blood ...
The article was a very nice read! Great job!

WiseFool on 03/23/2013

I'm in the mood for vampires now, too. I think we've got Jo to thank (blame?) for that!

katiem2 on 03/23/2013

It is indeed. Now I find myself longing to watch a good vampire flick...

WiseFool on 03/23/2013

Hi Catana, I must admit, on a personal level, vampires (with the exception of Gary Oldman and maybe Leslie Nielsen) don't really do it for me. I never got into True Blood or The Vampire Diaries or even Twilight. But it is very clear that these dominant, seductive men are always created with that simmering undercurrent of sexuality. I agree, the conflicts within them are fascinating, too - and that, in part, makes them attractive also. Conflicted and morally ambiguous characters with a frisson of danger are always alluring. That 'bad boy' thing may be corny, but time and time again we see that it's always been true - look at all those women who lusted after Byron!

Hey, Jo. I definitely think, in more modern examples of vampires, that's exactly the vibe they're going for. And I obviously haven't been thinking about it enough, because the teeth hadn't occurred to me as sexually metaphorical.

Thanks, Katie. Glad you found it a good read. You're so right, to a certain extent it's all about fantasy, which in itself is a huge factor in pushing our buttons. Vampires represent the forbidden in so many ways, and within the safe bounds of fantasy, the forbidden is incredibly sexy.

katiem2 on 03/22/2013

Ewww so true there is that alluring bad boy quality of forbidden thrills and adventure with someone a girl might only fantasize about. Great article I enjoyed it a great deal and like the way you think. :)K

JoHarrington on 03/22/2013

I've so been over-thinking this. I'd got the metaphor in attraction = erect fangs, but missed the exchanging of bodily fluids part! I love your theories on this and I have to agree with them too.

It's funny that you should mention James Dean. I was watching 'Interview with the Vampire' last night. Brad Pitt acts Louis like he's James Dean. There were some looks and gestures which just showed he'd been watching 'East of Eden' or 'Rebel without a Cause'.

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