What Is Vampire Sex?

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Ladies and gentlemen of consenting age, an announcement: Traditional forms of lovemaking are out. Vampire sex is in.

From television (HBO's "True Blood," The CW's "Vampire Diaries," ABC's "The Gates") and movies (the oh-so-profitable "Twilight" series) to literature (Google "vampire books," get approximately 44,900,000 results), vampires and their signature form of sex have sunk their teeth into pop culture (apologies) in a major way.

It's even bled into (sorry, again) entities outside the vampire oeuvre. Ted Danson's character dabbled in vampire role-play in a recent episode of HBO's "Bored to Death;" Kanye West raps "I've gotta feel you, bite your neck to get familiar" on La Roux's "In for the Kill."

But, uh, what exactly is vampire sex?

"Everything is more intense, more dramatic, and more passionate than what one would normally expect," said writer L.A. Banks. "It's a love that can go all night but without the little blue pill."

Banks is the author of the "Vampire Huntress Legends" series, a 12-book saga dripping with erotica of the underworldly sort. She's won awards for her work in paranormal fiction; she was featured in the 2008 HBO documentary, "Vampire Legends." With those kind of credentials, she's pretty much the Dr. Ruth of vampire sex.

"The biting on the neck has to happen," Banks said. "What it does is it makes the sex something exotic and taboo. It makes it terrible and intriguing at the same time."

Blood need not be drawn, but a bit of red isn't unsavory. A little -- or a lot -- of waiting never hurts. Often, the mere anticipation of a romp with an immortal is enough to make a human heart race. That's how the "Twilight" series, which doesn't feature sex until the final "Breaking Dawn" installment, manages to keep up interest while everyone's pants stay on.

"The suggestion of 'What would happen if,' the curiosity -- the whole thing of the vampire is desire," said Banks. "If you have this pining, aching desire, that's part of the draw."

Other musts for vampire sex: domination and the ability to go from 0 to 60 in the time that it takes to whip a cape.

"There's an S&M, domination aspect that can be kind of violent, but in a mutually willing sort of way," said Amelia McDonell-Parry, editor in chief of TheFrisky.com and a self-proclaimed fan of vampire sex. "It's never slow love making. It's always very crazy, very fast and very ferocious. Occasionally, when two characters are in love, it's more tender. But most of the time, it's not."

In vampire sex, immortal status trumps gender.

"The vampire is always the dominant one," said Parry. "You can be a man and be super beefy, but if you're getting it on with a female vampire, she's running the show."

But vampire sex need not be heterosexual. University of Richmond literature professor Elisabeth Gruner said that in the 19th century, when Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was all the rage, part of the allure of vampires was the fact that they weren't constrained to the same societal norms as mere mortals.

"What you see in the 1872 novel 'Carmilla' is a female vampire who feasts on another woman, so you get a kind of homoerotic experience," said Gruner. "The non-human quality of the vampire allowed for exploration of alternate sexualities that couldn't be expressed. It allowed for other kinds of intimacy that you don't see in mainstream Victorian literature."

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