first round game
(7) tones on tail, “go!”
(10) inkubus sukkubus, “vampyre erotica”
and plays on in the second round
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchvladness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on March 3.
your whole world could change: raquel gutiérrez tumbling through “go!”
What’s going on here? Brandon asks after realizes he’s about to start dancing when he doesn’t normally dance.
You’re opening your doors of perception, Emily responds, a giddy Cheshire Cat for her straight-laced boy-toy who’s finally loosening up.
This is the episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where Brandon loses his wits when his rebel girl girlfriend Emily spikes his club soda with a drug called U4eA (say it aloud and you get Euphoria)—what you and me and my poor dopamine levels know as Ecstasy. What our kids know as Molly now.
No, no, no, Emily, I told you I didn’t want to do drugs.
There is a cultural dissonance at play as this scene features Brandon Walsh making out and losing his shit while the sounds of Tones On Tail’s “Go!” plays in the background of an underground drug den-cum-nightclub called Egg. There is something strange about the whole Beverly Hills high gang showing up in shades of black leather and light wash denim to a spot with no bouncer, an unwieldy yet democratized space where the password is to present an actual egg. But that egg earns you access into a dungeon of unruly appetites, unbridled sexualities—a formula for a night of dangerous conviviality.
Hey B, maybe we oughtta get those fishnet shirts, they seem pretty hot. Dylan McKay knows the score.
I’ve already got my eye on a rubber jumpsuit Brandon counters no homo.
This exchange helps me realize how hard it was for anyone trying to be goth in Southern California. It also helped me realize why I like dungeons as an adult.
But even darkness penetrates the hearts of those of us raised under the tyranny of near year-round 70-degree weather. Any given holiday season—the time of goth hibernation—in the early 1990s could have easily ebbed into the low 80s though. Our brown goth hearts beating in the barrios of Southeast Los Angeles burned with diabolical desires as we glided through the malls of nicer towns that put Christmas lights on palm trees. Still, all-black everything was de rigeur. We had K-ROQ which meant we had Love & Rockets and Peter Murphy at our aural disposal in the East Los hinterlands. At Saint Rose of Lima in Maywood for example we had a few of the cuter 8th grade boys who’d wear all black on our free dress days—Cure shirts and rosaries, Doc Martens and black jeans to chase the even blacker Catholic school blues away. They’d come back to tell the tale of being swept up in the downtown riot that was the Depeche Mode 101 record signing. Those boys—Frank Pacheco and Little Man Guzman—we called those boys death rockers.
In high school, once I could revel in the sheen of my own self-invention, I toggled between post-punk and goth, between Rick Deckard and Heathcliff. My Mercury is in Gemini and I was still coming of age into my genre promiscuity (gender promiscuity would come later). I wasn’t ready to choose normative self-costuming despite the Catholic school uniform but I certainly enjoyed dalliances with each cultural behemoth to be revered by my generation. This was before Riot Grrrl of course. It was Operation Ivy or Death In June depending on the context of the conversation. Or what boy did I need to best?
I couldn’t wear any of my hard-earned goth accoutrements to school though. Every morning I commuted twenty minutes from Bell Gardens to attend a one-gender Catholic high school in Lakewood, California. I could only wear this at home because my parents were already concerned by the collection of Levi’s Sta-prest jeans I’d amassed at the thrift stores near our Southeast Los Angeles home. Mami was stoked when I asked to go to the thrift store—it meant I’d never burden her asking for Esprit or United Colors of Benetton sweaters unlike my sister. I wasn’t sure who I was trying to impress except for the chorus of disapproval that paid no rent in my mind. The girls at school would hardly notice. But you still knew who the goth babes were. And there were three of us at Saint Joseph’s (sometimes four and sometimes five until something cooler came along to tickle their fickleness). Goth was more powerful than any scratchy herringbone skirt or navy blue culotte that tried to contain our dark yet discerning souls.
And sure we wore it but no one ever uttered the phrase “pass me the pancake make-up” en route to Gene Loves Jezebel concerts, Scream nightclub in Hollywood or Studio K, the dance club for the over-16 set at Knott’s Berry Farm. I didn’t wear it to school. When I did I would sweat and I would just let that shit run all over my face. I realized later in life what that meant—white mask, brown face. Can I get an amen, Fanon?
I never admitted to anyone it was hard though. But isn’t all of it hard? Choosing what armor to put on was everyone’s burden. How to dress up my child of immigrant sadness into something more recognizable to the kids at shows I’d see throughout the Southland of California. To disguise all the ways I hiccuped into the American culture that lived in my friends’ homes who ate white bread at dinner. How wrapping myself in the gothy gauze made me visible to my idols as it helped me stay invisible to myself. How to appeal those close, especially the girls around me. But I wasn’t tough enough for Aquanet and tulle, rayon blouses and short skirts. I preferred to hide behind the confessional booth of my trench coat. I was lucky though. I could march myself into Retail Slut while Mami waited in the mini-van to spend my allowance on fishnets and green-and-black striped tights and sucked it up. I dyed my hair black, I thrifted long threadbare black jersey t-shirts. And I had a goth lunchbox with every expression of love for Siouxsie Sioux.
Was this assimilation?
Punk rock legend Alice Bag screamed We don’t need the English! on a song once, decrying this reliance on bands from the world power across the pond to demonstrate our righteous anger and pain. We could do it ourselves. But white make-up on brown faces made for a type of invincibility I didn’t know I needed until I was tested one October night at Knott’s “Scary” Farm where my friend Bianca Blanco, a high school junior, my 8th grader sister, and I, a high school sophomore, dressed in my Goth best got chased out of the amusement park for freaking out in the haunted house.
Hey B! Shit, this little Mexican girl just hit me.
Knott’s had an aggressive team of employees dressed up as zombies and psycho killers that in one turn through a dizzying maze my sister got so spooked she screamed and automatically flung her pre-teen arms out smacking the chest of the werewolf gaining on us. But my sister’s instinctive move to protect herself was nothing when I saw werewolf guy break character and grab my sister by the arm. I had to use this costume of good breeding and demure femininity to my advantage somehow to deescalate a situation that brought my sister’s and my brownness into dangerous relief.
I'm sorry, sir, but you really did scare her I said feeling the adrenaline coursing through my brown blood as my voice ached with a cloying sweetness trying to hit all of my consonants, accent-free. We promise we didn’t mean to hurt anyone. We’re so sorry. So, so sorry.
He let my sister go but what was the point of continuing being there? My fun had been shredded by the exposure of our difference. I remember needing to shake it off because I didn’t want to call Mami to come pick us up earlier than we had negotiated the way American kids did with their exhausted immigrant parents.
Damn, could you have kissed his ass any harder. Bianca was right. But Bianca was also white passing and didn’t say a damn thing and it’s not like any one of us was swimming in privilege that night except for our ability to thread please and sorry together, like our freedom depended on it, or at least our mobility to get to the next place unencumbered.
Your whole world could change
if only you just broke through
Through the fears inside your head
'Cause your fears are doing nothing for you
Raquel Gutiérrez is an essayist and poet and had every Siouxsie and the Banshees album on vinyl once upon a time. An adult child of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants, Raquel runs the tiny press, Econo Textual Objects (est. 2014), which publishes intimate works by QTPOC poets. www.raquelgutierrez.net for more, more, more.
Portraits in Submission or Why I Love All Those Vampire Women: Joshua E. Borgmann on “vampyre erotica”
I was asked to write a piece on Inkubus Sukkubus’s track “Vampyre Erotica” for March Vladness, a month-long tournament pitting various goth songs and essays about them against each other. Inkubus Sukkubus is one of my top five bands of all time, so I could ramble on about why you should vote for them and why they are more deserving than at least half the bands in this tournament, but I’ll just sum all that up by saying that the tournament is called March Vladness, and “Vampyre Erotica” is actually a goth song about vampires which cannot be said of its first round opponent or likely second round opponent, which if the bracket holds true is an industrial metal song not a goth tune at all. Let’s just leave all that there and get down to the real business. The fact is that before I started thinking about this essay, I didn’t consider “Vampyre Erotica” to be a particularly strong Inkubus Sukkubus song as on the surface it lacked the Wiccan spirituality that drives much of their work. This was just a song about vampires. However, as I dug in mentally, I realized that the song was saying more than that. It’s a song about power. The vampire’s power, yes, but more importantly, the power of the female vampire. It’s a song about submitting to female power where the vampire becomes a feminist symbol that uses sexuality to bring patriarchy to its knees. This made me think about my own fetishes for the figure of the female vampire and the fact that what I was really attracted to was less her beauty than her power and sense of sublime danger. The female vampire is feared, but is she feared because she might suck your blood or because she represents the power of unbridled female sexuality? I’d say it’s the later, and if one looks at the history of the vampire in popular culture, it’s easy to see that this has long been the case. “Vampyre Erotica” ends up being a song that shows us what we’ve all been missing about the feminist nature of the female vampire in pop culture.
I'll scold you
I'll touch you, I'll hold you
I'll take you, I'll bite you
I'll calm you, excite you
I'll love you, I need you
I'll kiss you, I'll kill you
I'll beat you, I'll eat you
I'll crush you, I'll thrill you
I'll scratch you, attack you
Destroy you, devour you
I'll hold you, I'll hurt you
I'll maim you, I'll drain you
Whether it is from Bram Stoker’s novel, the stage play that followed, or the numerous film versions that have been birthed upon the world, Dracula is likely the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of the vampire. Of course, Count Dracula with his foreign nature is often portrayed as a bastion of male sexuality who tempts young women to their doom. He’s almost a walking cautionary tale about the danger of giving in to the charming stranger, a bloodsucking Big Bad Wolf. However, he’s never been the figure that I’ve been most transfixed by in the Dracula tale. In both Stoker’s novel and the best film adaption, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jonathan Harker is tempted by a group of vampire women who are held off only by Dracula himself. This scene has always been my favorite scene of both the novel and the film. Of course, the vampire brides are extremely sexualized and portrayed in a way that would tempt men, and some might claim that this is objectification; however, I wholeheartedly disagree with this assessment. Yes, I admit that my “male gaze” is coming into effect, but the thing that attracts me to the brides isn’t their looks, but their power and their danger. They are not passive instruments of desire in this scene. In fact, they are in complete control to such an extent that Harker is rightly terrified. He clearly finds them arousing but at the same time repulsive. I believe that it because of their power. Harker is used to being in control, but the brides’ rampant female sexuality essentially emasculates him. Stoker seems to be saying that female sexuality is dangerous. Of course, this is true in this case, as the brides are tempting Harker with hopes of killing him and drinking his blood. However, for me, the appeal of the brides is in giving up control and placing myself at the mercy of the sublime. Ever the Victorian, Stoker doesn’t agree and quickly has Dracula’s masculinity put the brides in check.
The novel and Coppola’s movie also include two major female characters, the rather timid and ditzy Lucy and the much stronger but conflicted Mina. Lucy seems to care about little other than attracting a good husband and hanging out with her dear friend Mina. Unfortunately, she is the first to attract the attention of Dracula upon his arrival in England, and due to the utter incompetence of the male characters, especially Van Helsing, is transformed into a vampire. Vampire Lucy is portrayed as being beastly but enticing. In fact, she is said to be even more attractive in her undead form than she was in life. Throughout her long death and short undeath, she is more sexually aggressive toward her fiancé and seems far less foolish than she was as a thriving youth. However, Van Helsing is quick to point out that this is because she is no longer Lucy, essentially saying that she who had been a bastion of Victorian purity has been transformed into a vessel of sin. Surely, she has become more dangerous; however, she never kills a single victim and still seems to maintain much of her personality. However, she must be destroyed because she has become a creature of beastly desire. Once Dracula infects her and turns her into a sexualized creature, Stoker tells us that she is no longer the proper Victorian woman but rather a beast that must be killed by the men who loved her only days earlier.
At the same time, Stoker seems conflicted as he creates in Mina Harker a character who is caught somewhere between wanting to be a Victorian wife and actually being a strong modern woman. Stoker tries to down play this by having her insult the “modern woman” especially in regard to their sexuality. In particular, he has her make a quip about how the “modern woman” would even go so far as to ask a man out or possibly even propose marriage herself. At the same time, a case can be made that Mina does more to help bring about Dracula’s destruction than any other character in the book. Of course, Stoker can’t simply acknowledge her feminine power and competence. Instead he chooses to have her infected by Dracula. Once this happens, she becomes far more powerful and far more useful, but the men, especially Van Helsing, see her as more dangerous. She is not a vampire and is a long way from becoming one, but the slightest hint of Dracula’s sexual taint while making her all the more valuable also makes her all the more dangerous. Why? I would say because Stoker doesn’t want to give a woman sexual power or any power to be honest. Still, Mina is by far the most interesting and competent character in the book. This is something that Bram Stoker’s Dracula seems willing to admit, and that Stoker himself may have known but was unwilling to full acknowledge.
For a glance at what a more feminist version of Dracula might have looked like contemporary indie author Rafael Chandler has produced a literary mashup entitled Dracula: the Modern Prometheus which combines elements of Stoker’s novel and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While the book is billed as a mashup and Chandler certainly uses some of Stoker and Shelley’s language, I would label it more as a retelling that keeps a good bit of the narrative structure of Stoker’s novel, introduces some scenes and ideas from Shelley’s, but reshapes them at a fundamental level into a work that stands completely on its own. The biggest change is that Chandler makes all three of his main characters female: Countess Dracula, a brilliant scientist and vampire who desires to cure death in hopes of resurrecting her dead sister; the Monster, Dracula’s creation who is shunned from society because of her ugliness and ends up seeking revenge on her creator; and Mina Harker, a combination of a stronger version of Jonathan Harker and the original Mina. Chandler somehow manages to give each of these women very human motivations for what they are doing and each bristles with power and competence that the male characters often lack. In fact, both the Monster and Mina grow substantially through the text, and while it is clearly Mina’s hero’s journey, the Monster is allowed a very human level of emotional catharsis. In other words, the book uses much of Stoker’s storyline and some of his language to completely subvert his rigid embrace of Victorian gender roles.
Come to me, come to me
Come to me, come to me
I'll have you, I'll own you
I'll tempt you, I'll drop you
I'll hit you, I'll kick you
I'll take you, forsake you
Deny you, defy you
Condemn you, desert you
I'll cut you, I'll scratch you
I'll harm, disarm you
Catherine L Moore’s 1933 science fiction/horror masterpiece “Shambleau” may or may not be viewed as a vampire story; however, the alien female certainly displays many of the same characteristics as other female vampires, chief of which is a sexual power that is viewed as dangerous and even taboo. Moore starts her story with a brief bit of exposition that reads a lot of like a theory one might hear on Ancient Aliens as she claims that many previous civilizations existed before our own and at least some of these had contact with alien beings who influenced the mythologies of ancient civilizations leading to the creation of stories about beings like Medusa the Gorgon, who was a misunderstood recollection of a real alien species not a human creation. The story itself is starts out like most pulp science fiction of the time. We find ourselves in a desert town on Mars that is populated by people from Earth, Mars, and Venus. On the streets of this backwoods town, we meet Northwest Smith, the archetypical scoundrel hero who contemporary audiences would likely associate with Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, or Peter Quill. Smith encounters a mob of people chasing a young girl and intervenes to save her. The mob does little to resist him essentially telling him that she is Shambleau, and he is a fool to save her. Smith takes the exotic looking girl in and is attracted to her feline looks but can’t bring himself to make love to her because something seems off with the hair she hides behind a scarf. Smith often leaves her in his dwelling while he goes off doing whatever it is that space smugglers do during the day. However, he is troubled by strangely arousing dreams. Finally, Smith learns Shambleau’s true form when she reveals that instead of hair she has long flowing tentacles. While Smith is terrified/repulsed he is also sexually attracted to her and gives in to her advances. It is suggested that she is siphoning off his masculine life energy; however, he is saved by a Venusian friend who shows up just in time to free him from the Shambleau.
The character of the Shambleau is obviously a reworking of the Gorgon myth; however, Moore has taken the character in a very different direction than the Medusa. The most obvious difference is that the Shambleau doesn’t turn men to stone, and she is certainly not portrayed as hideous. In fact, Moore suggests the opposite. The Shambleau entices men into her grasp with her exotic looks and sexual power. In fact, a single touch from her tentacles is suggested to be nearly orgasmic. Furthermore, the character is only seen as a monster by the villagers. Smith isn’t even able to see her as a monster after his Venusian friend frees him, and he cannot agree to kill another Shambleau if he ever comes upon one. For while the Shambleau clearly needs to feed off of psychic energy to survive, it isn’t completely clear whether this would have been deadly for Smith or if he simply would have found himself bound to her for life. In fact, her constant statements that she plans to stay with him from now on suggest the later to me. Whatever the case might be, she is certainly portrayed as a woman whose power is irresistible to the most masculine of men. She can bend an uber-man like Smith to her very whim with a single touch. In the end, it seems to be this that the villagers fear. If we must ask what makes her a monster, there is little doubt that is because she represents the power of female sexuality. She is taboo, a sexual deviant, something that goes against the basic “natural” masculine order; therefore, she must be subdued or destroyed to preserve the natural order.
I find the Shambleau interesting on so many levels. First, there is the total subversion of the Medusa myth which is essentially a tale of a rape victim being stripped of her beauty and power due to something that was done to her by a man. Moore replaces this by saying Medusa was actually based on a race of beings that were sublimely sexual in nature and had to be “monsterized” to preserve the ideas of patriarchy. Second, the Shambleau represents the figure of the dominate female; something that I would say is often associated with the vampire. Her exotic looks and strange hair can perhaps be compared to the leather and bondage gear of many modern female vampires. Certainly, her power over men fits with the modern view of the dominatrix or domme. The idea of males willing submitting to female power is still considered taboo by many who know little about BDSM other than what they’ve read in misleading books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Many try to portray the image of the dominatrix as just another example of objectification or the male gaze. This idea is outdated as the BDSM community tends to be extremely progressive and more concerned with issues of consent and sexual harassment than the mainstream. It is also interesting that the most feminist of superheroes Wonder Woman was essentially based on the idea of the dominatrix and was created by a polyamorous psychologist who was inspired by both of the females in their life long triad. The Shambleau, of course, is not Wonder Woman nor is she a contemporary dominatrix, but the manner in which she is able to willing get men to give up control certainly evokes those images, and I would argue that this is a central appeal of most female vampire stories.
My heart burns for love
My soul burns for blood
I'll take you, I'll break you
I'll crush you, I'll break you
If you want me, I'll need you
I'll kill you, feed from you
I'll take you down that road
That leads to destruction
Come and take a walk with me
Where the angels fear to tread
Kiss the flame, feel the pain
In the furnace of our love
Queen of the Damned:
Aside from Stoker’s Dracula and some recent teenage drivel that I shall leave unnamed, the most well-known vampire stories are likely those of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. The hero of most of these books is a brash young vampire named Lestat de Lioncourt. While he is only several hundred years old, Lestat is often portrayed dealing with vampires thousands of years his senior. For my purposes, I care only about the third and best book in the series, Queen of the Damned. This tale features Lestat; however, our vampire prince is reduced primarily to the role of witness as he becomes the unwilling consort of the unbelievably powerful Akasha, vampire queen and first of her kind. Akasha may be the villain of novel; however, her plan centers entirely around the notion of female power. For centuries, she has slept and watched the horrors of the world before being awakened when Lestat uses vampire lore to launch his own rock band. Akasha is enraged at the world she finds, and she quickly hatches a plan. In her eyes, men are the source of all the evil in the world; therefore, the majority of the male population of the world must be eliminated. Her belief is that if she kills most of the human males and installs herself as queen of what remains of the human race, she will usher in a new age more peaceful and environmentally friendly age. Certainly, Akasha’s plan is dreadful, but it is based in what she has seen of the world and its wars, sexism, and environmental degradations. She sees herself not as a villain, but as an avenging angel. She is the embodiment of female power. She is the goddess returned to the earth, and nothing can stand in her way. As I mentioned, Lestat is no hero here. He is no match for Akasha’s power even after his power is greatly increased through drinking of her blood. In fact, the combined forces of the oldest and most powerful vampires in the world as well as their human allies are no match for her. She offers them a place at her side, but they refuse. However, even if they had the ability to kill her, her death would doom their entire race. In the end, Akasha’s female power can only be matched by the combined power of two equally ancient and nearly as powerful vampire sisters Maharet and Makare, who were witches that played a role in the creation of Akasha and found themselves transformed as well. Only female power is able to challenge female power, and even then, Makare must take up Akasha’s mantle as queen in order to save the vampire race.
To me Queen of the Damned has always been a tale about feminine power. In fact, I’ve generally found Akasha’s quest to be at least partially justified. Perhaps, this has something to do with the fact that I have trouble developing relationships with men as I find many of them lacking in emotional depth or the fact that male politicians keep making a mess out the world. Whatever the reasons, I understand where Akasha is coming from even if I think her plan is misguided. She is a terrifying figure, but at the same time, I’m drawn to her power. I also enjoy seeing a bastion of masculine power like Lestat turned into little more than an unwilling lap dog.
I'll cheat you, I'll eat you
I'll maim you, I'll drain you
Come to me, come to me
To the dark side where love sleeps
Come and take a walk with me
Where the angels fear to tread
Kiss the flame, feel the pain
In the furnace of our love
Kathryn Bigelow has become one of the hottest directors in Hollywood winning an Oscar for The Hurt Locker and vast critical acclaim for Zero Dark Thirty and Detroit; however, her 1987 vampire masterpiece Near Dark doesn’t get nearly as much attention. This is unfortunate as it is one of the best vampire films ever produced. It also reunites three actors from the previous year’s hit Aliens; however, that is of little concern here as my focus is on the character of Mae. The movie opens with our supposed hero Caleb approaching Mae and offering some lines about the ice cream cone she is eating. Her responses are the first thing that clue us in that she is not a normal girl. To Caleb’s “Can I have a bite,” she responds oddly with the single word “bite,” and when he follows up with “I’ve been dying for a cone,” she simply repeats “dying.” However, Caleb offers her a ride in his truck and she accepts. The two stop to look at the stars, and Mae keeps talking about the beauty and sounds of the night. When Caleb says that he hasn’t met a girl like her, she agrees by telling him that he’s correct because when the light of a star a billion lightyears from Earth finally completes its long journey she will still be here. He doesn’t seem to get it, and as dawn approaches, he attempts to make out with her. At first she pushes aside his advances, but eventually, she accepts a kiss, which culminates in her biting his neck. At this point, she runs away and leaves Caleb stranded with a broken down vehicle. This should be no big deal as he lives nearby; however, as he approaches his home, the sun starts to burn his skin, and the audience realizes exactly what has happened here. Eventually, Caleb is kidnapped by Mae’s coven and a series of adventures begins.
Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton play male vampires with a sense of brutality fitting of the predators that they are; however, Mae seems more conflicted. She tells Caleb that he simply has to accept that he needs to kill to survive and that he’d be better off not thinking of it as killing. Certainly, she is predatory; however, she uses charm and sexual energy to get her way. While the males including Homer, who is stuck in the body of a preteen boy, use deception and ruthless aggression to trap their victims. Mae seduces her victims willingly into her arms and is almost comforting as she takes their lives. She seems to hold onto more compassion than the rest of her coven and constantly remains the most level headed of the coven. Henriksen’s Jesse might be the leader, but it is clear that even though she’s only been a vampire for a few years, Mae’s opinions are listened to and she is respected by Jesse who it is inferred is over 100 years old.
Bigelow does an excellent job of portraying Mae as being a bit different from the average girl and possessed of a kind of charm and sexual energy that can lead men to their destruction. At the same time, Mae seems to take no joy in killing, something that separates her from all of her coven members. In fact, she seems to change Caleb as much out of an unwillingness to go through with killing a man who she find to be kind and gentle as out of a desire to make him her mate. She constantly defends him from Jesse and Severen, Paxton’s cruel uber-masculine character, as they debate whether or not he should be allowed to join the coven.
Central to my claim that Mae is supposed to represent a kind of feminine power is the question of who is really the hero of this movie. I assume that the average viewer would say that Caleb is the hero; however, Caleb is rather incompetent. Adrian Pasdar plays him as a fairly typical young cowboy of about eighteen years of age who knows as little as most eighteen year olds. He does grow a bit throughout the movie and even briefly earns the coven’s respect. Later, he does manage to defeat Severen but this has more to do with vampires not being immune to explosions than to Caleb’s fighting skills. However, even after all of this, Caleb would either be dead or stuck running behind Jesse’s station wagon as Homer dragged Caleb’s young sister off to become his mate if it weren’t for Mae. Because of that, I say that Mae is the true hero of the movie. If she doesn’t end up seeking redemption, Caleb fails miserably; however, her actions free Caleb, his sister, and herself from what remains of Jesse’s coven. It is her power and her actions that save the day. Mae’s emotional strength proves incredibly potent because even though she chooses to stand against Jesse and Diamondback, it is also clear that she views them as parental figures. While Mae’s choice shows her strength and redeems her, ideas related to masculinity and patriarchy doom the rest of the coven. Severen views Caleb’s choosing his family over the coven as an insult to his masculinity, especially considering that he embraced Caleb as a brother and even gave him one of his boot spurs, and can’t resist taking on a battle he can’t win. Homer is obsessed with kidnapping and infecting Caleb’s sister to the extent that he’s willing to risk burning to death in the sunlight to have her. Finally, Jesse allows his machismo to get the better of him. Mae’s actions don’t doom him. He clearly has a way out as all he and Diamondback, who defers to Jesse’s masculinity and plays the good wife, have to do is turn and seek shelter rather than perishing in some undead Bonnie and Clyde moment. However, in his eyes, Mae and Caleb’s actions are an insult to his masculine power, and it is better to burn in the sun trying to kill them than it would be to simply drive away.
In the end, the strong female vampire wins the day, and in this case regains her humanity. Still, it’s hard to call any of the human males in this tale the hero as they are aligned against forces that they have no hope against.
Come along and talk with me
Sing the sweet song of despair
Give your body, give your soul
In the furnace of our love
In the end, I believe that “Vampyre Erotica” is a song that glorifies the kind of feminine power that is on display in these texts. Yes, that power is often sexual in nature, and often that is labeled as taboo. In fact, one of the things that continues to bother me is that sexuality continues to be taboo in our society. I understand that some will question how I can consider myself a “feminist” male and still speak positively of some of the topics that I’ve mentioned here. The truth of the matter is that to me not acknowledging the power of feminine sexuality is as bad as not acknowledging any other type of power. Furthermore, it is my belief that consenting adults should be allowed to partake in any variety of sexual activity and or entertainment that they choose. I embrace the beliefs of what has been labeled “sex positive feminism” with its belief in sexual liberation for all and abandonment of many of the taboos around sex and sexuality. In the end, I believe that songs like “Vampyre Erotica” support the same kind of belief system. The female is powerful, and whether or not one chooses to admit it, part of that power arises from the sexual, and there is often no better symbol of this than the vampire.
Joshua Borgmann became fascinated with all things dark, spooky, and taboo after watching family members kill and butcher a goat when he was ten. As a teenager, he played the role of that weird kid who read horror and listened to scary music. He spent much of this time reciting disturbing poetry in cornfields and locker rooms, which earned him a trip to a therapist. In his twenties, he moped around complaining about being single and unloved, but somehow earned a couple of advanced degrees. He now moves around complaining about not having enough money as he reads weird books, listens to scary music, teaches at a community college, and works as a servant to a small army of cats.