Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries may have dragged vampires into the glare of mainstream society, but some women are still keeping it real with their darker desires. For these true blue bloodsuckers, having a vampire fetish isn't about gazing into Edward Cullen's eyes or holding hands with Eric Northman—it's about fang blowjobs, Vlad the Impaler, and actually drinking the red stuff.
A quick look on Reddit, Facebook or the kinky social network Fetlife throws up a shit ton of groups dedicated to vampirism and blood fetishes. "I would watch every vampire movie I could ever find or get my hands on when it came on TV," a Fetlife user called Sirce told me. "As young as I could remember, I had recurring dreams involving vampires, where I met and married Dracula and had vampire children running around. When I hit my teens the dreams changed and became more sexual in nature."
As she got older, Sirce took her vampirism into the bedroom with one partner. "We'd cut each other on the chest slightly and drink each other's blood during sex," she said. "Drinking someone's blood is very erotic and having your blood being sucked is also very erotic. It was definitely very, very intense."
There's even a thriving market for vamp-related fetish gear, sex toys, and porn, which includes the clumsily-titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer Parody XXX. You can purchase a Twilight-inspired dildo, vampire-branded condoms, and a Fleshlight with fangs. Mistress Meana Wolf, a fetish porn star, said that she sells at least five $14.99 vampire clips a day on adult websites like Clips4sale. The description for one video, Fully Drained, reads: "This boy doesn't stand chance against two hungry vampire princesses."
Wolf films one new vampire clip a month to keep up with demand. "It's really really popular," she said. "All of my vampire clips have been top selling clips on the website." She goes to great lengths to ensure maximum believability, wearing red contact lenses and fangs, as well as using FX makeup. "I'll make the fangs grow, kind of like True Blood style—they're not there and then they kind of pop out."
"For most of my clips, I'll do a blowjob and things like that but then I'll always finish up feeding on the victim and that's amazing. Usually I'll feed on the neck and genitals. I know my customers love to see my fangs grazing gently up and over a hard cock."
So how exactly do you negotiate a blowjob with fangs? "It's a little hard to explain, but I just keep my head tilted back slightly so as to not scratch the cock with my fangs," she said. "I have nicked a cock before and most prosthetic fangs are sharp enough that the receiver will feel it, but it's all part of the fun and any injuries are really superficial. Men's cocks are sensitive but they can take a lot."
Wolf tells me that she sometimes gets requests for custom videos involving no sexual contact at all—just the feeding. "There's bloodlust and feeding and biting, which is sexual in itself."
The longest I have gone without [blood] has been seven months, at which point I could barely think straight because everyone seemed like a meal
Another woman told me that her interest in vampirism and bloodplay had come from a young age. "I've been attracted to blood since I was about 13 and I was 15 the first time I partook in blood drinking," Maggie said. "When I was at school a lot of my friends were quite gothic [sic] and they used to self-harm—it was really difficult for me to deal with because you were watching your very close friends get hurt and at the same time [you] were incredibly aroused by the blood."
Maggie said that she has gone on to almost become a fully-fledged vampire, albeit one without supernatural powers. She claimed that it was difficult for her to go for long periods without drinking blood (from consensual victims, of course).
"I drink up to three ounces a feeding if I am on a regular schedule," she said. "The longest I have gone without has been seven months, at which point I could barely think straight because everyone seemed like a meal."
Her attraction to blood provides a perverse sort of pleasure. "It's so scary but it's beautiful," she explained. "It's really just this great, powerful, awesome feeling. It's the consistency, the scent of it, even the fact that people taste different when you cut them in different areas."
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Maggie's bloodlust has a medical term: clinical vampirism, or Renfield's Syndrome. Reports of blood drinking and its connection to sexual pleasure have been present in psychiatric literature since at least 1892, predating Bram Stoker's Dracula by five years.
Unlike the rabid monsters in vampire literature, women like Maggie try to drink blood as safely as possible. Cutting your partner and drinking their blood, especially during intercourse, does have its risks. "You sterilize the blade [and] sterilize the area that you're going to cut—and you can't brush your teeth [before] or anything, because if you cut open your gum and are putting blood into your mouth, that's cause for disease transmission."
"There are lots of people who really enjoy bloodplay as part of their kink," said Dr Ian Kerner, a Manhattan sex therapist. "It actually requires a lot of intimacy, safety and regard for your partner, and aftercare.
"Sex is often a very hygienic, manicured experience, we worry about what we're wearing during sex, how we're looking, how we smell, how we taste. But in reality, sex is wet, it is sloppy, it is bloody and it can be noisy." He argued that a vampire fantasy—especially one involving blood—"allows us to embrace the sloppiness and the wetness, all the sensual aspects."
Vampires feed for survival, but the act of feeding in itself is shrouded in sexual desire.
"We live in a culture where we are so paranoid about fluid exchange, we worry about unsafe sex," he said. "Getting to dress up as a vampire and play with blood and bathe in blood? What a potent way of subverting that fear."
This rampant craving and thirst is perhaps one of the things that makes the fantasy so attractive. "Vampires feed for survival, but the act of feeding in itself is shrouded in sexual desire," Wolf explained. "It gives vampires an intense feeling of satisfaction, even euphoria... Perhaps there is a parallel to orgasming there." As for the vampire's victim, isn't there something to be said for the idea that your body prompts such unbridled lust?
After speaking to several vampire lovers, I found that the creature's super-human strength and powers were key elements of attraction. One Fetlife user told me of Vlad the Impaler: "I loved his strength. Who else could die and come back as something else? Something strong and deadly."
Wolf explained that another essential turn-on was the idea of glamoring. Vampire kinksters enjoy the idea of being completely overcome and forced to do something, which Wolf regularly incorporates into her videos. "Vampires have the ability to look you in the eye and tell you to do something and you have to do it—it's a mind control thing." The popularity of erotic hypnosis speaks to S&M themes of domination and submission. One Fetlife user described their vampire fetish to me as "the ultimate surrender."
Being seduced by a vampire and sexually ravished is a very easy, sexy and culturally mainstream way of accessing that submissive role.
"In some ways vampires are just taking S&M further into the world of fantasy and roleplay," Dr Kerner explained. "The women I talk to who enjoy submission say it's a chance to explore a taboo that they don't normally get to explore—many like exploring rape [fantasies]. In some ways, a vampire fantasy could be a [form of] rape fantasy."
Dr Kerner added some women feel embarassed or ashamed about their fantasies. "Being able to play with a vampire fantasy is also a way to access these submissive roles that might otherwise cause shame," he said. "Being seduced by a vampire and sexually ravished is a very easy, sexy and culturally mainstream way of accessing that submissive role."
But it's equally important to note that not all women fantasize about being the submissive, paralysed victim in their fantasy. Maggie has always drunk her partners' blood, but never the other way round. She described herself in the bedroom as "a very dominant person and it is a very commanding place I usually come from."
Vampirism has been around as a form of sex-play for a long, long while. While Dracula is often thought of as the primary depiction of a vampire, there was Carmilla—a gothic novel depicting a lesbian vampire who preys on lonely women—some 25 years before that.
"I think we've seen so many sexual portrayals and sexy portrayals of vampires throughout the years that it's become kind of a cultural archetype," Dr Kerner adds. A helpful one, too. While I don't play with blood, I think my younger self probably experienced its sexual awakening thanks to Angel, the broody vampire-with-a-soul off Buffy, and hey—what's wrong with that?
Ian concurs. "I think fantasies are really positive—vampires provide a quick shorthand for people to shed their inhibitions in the bedroom and enjoy exciting sex. It lets them inhabit roles that they might not otherwise be able to inhabit—I'm all for it."