I was looking for this when I found the animated introduction, mostly because I wanted to ask PoeTV's resident scholars for their thoughts on when vampires became thinly veiled gay porn for lonely housewives. Was it Anne Rice that started it, or did it begin earlier? This is obviously not part of that at all, but it's the oldest example of a gay male vampire in popular media that I can think of.
Man, the Interview With a Vampire movie is atrocious. Worse than I remembered.
I don't know, I'll look at that but thus far every single attempt at historical psychology of any variety that I've ever encountered has been 100% grade A horseshit so I don't expect to be convinced by this any more than I'm convinced that Abe Lincoln was gay or Louis Wain was autistic or whatever (or wasn't for that matter, the point is that barring the discovery of unambiguous primary source material we can't possibly know and anyone who pretends they do is either deluded or lying). An it goes double when you're talking about literature, since literary analysis is an intellectual exercise that is so abstracted from reality to begin with, even when you're dealing with contemporary material.
That said, Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition is a fantastically entertaining book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading academic writing ironically.
But putting that aside, even if that paper is right that's not really what I mean, I'm talking about fanservicey type stuff. I would be very interested in a survey of the early history of mid to late 20th century gay vampires in literature and the media, to figure out how we got from Lugosi to Twilight, and where Near Dark fits into it.
I'm talking strictly trash culture here.
I have had to think a lot about this.
Basically it started as a race thing. The vampire represented the "other". The woman was falling for the Yellow Menace, and because she was only a woman, she could not resist. Stoker's vampire killers are men of up to date science (blood transfusions, psychiatric care and electricity were science fiction in 1894). The real tickler isn't Dracula... it's that Lucy is at the center of a three man dogpile. She can't decide whether she wants to be owned by an aristocrat, a scientist, or an American adventurer, all three of them being respectable options. Instead, she chooses the snarling autocrat from a Catholic country on the verge of Communist revolution. She can't help it... she's a woman.
Then it switches over to the Harkers, and the story becomes a little bit more insular. They're already happily married. Harker is only forced to interact with Dracula due to purely economic interests. He has no other reason to GO to Transylvania, other than his business has reached a point where the most profitable thing he can do is sell the real estate of a podunk dictator in Eastern Europe. He's basically the ultimate personified end of capitalist cycle character. Harker literally has nowhere else to make money but from a vampire.
Note that Harker's predecessor, Renfield, was also in the same situation, but he has no woman to trade in the bargain, hence putting himself in as the thing purchased. Renfield has nothing between him and the vampire. Harker DOES. Mina therefore becomes the currency in this weird psychosexual-economic transaction.
Then, of course, you have Professor Van Helsing, who isn't Anglo, and therefore is of no threat to the internal operations of the Harker-Mina-Dracula love triangle. He's the only one who CAN save Mina because he has nothing in the game to play for. Harker has traded his wife for financial success, and now he regrets doing it, but the devil has, in a very literal form, come to collect his due. Bear in mind that there's nobody currently IN Dracula's castle anymore, meaning that Harker is, indeed, free to take the money and run. If Van Helsing wasn't there, Mina would be a vampire bitch like Lucy, Harker would be very wealthy, and Dracula would be living in Carfax Abbey and starting his vampiress harem all over again.
The pseudo-Marxist criticism of Victorian society that is inherent to the story of Dracula is most obvious in "Nosferatu", but it isn't until the Bela Lugosi version that homosexuality becomes a limnus. Tod Browning's Renfield becomes the central character, Harker has no economic interest, and the sexual quartet of Lucy and her lovers is minimized. Renfield becomes the sex object to Dracula for the first half of the film. It isn't until Act 2 that Browning even presents us with the notion that Dracula might be into women.
Then, in the Hammer Horror productions, sexual perversion becomes the main crux (hehehehehe) of Dracula's entourage. Add to it that he just continually keeps coming back to annoy Van Helsing, almost as if he just wants to settle down and marry his own nemesis, becomes part of the whole aesthetic. As the series wears on, we are treated to lesbian and gay vampires, as well as all the other variations that might occur. But, ultimately, Dracula is an economic story, while the vampire itself is a sexual story. The vampire doesn't become a sexual metaphor UNTIL Dracula himself is excised. Lestat's claim to prominence was that he was the first post-Dracula vampire to exist in his own right, and add to it that Lestat and Louis were obviously a metaphor for Rice and her husband, their rocky marriage, their attempts to have children, and a hell of a lot of BDSM.
So, basically, Dracula is money.
I remember reading an interesting academic paper in college about this but I can't remember the specifics. I do remember it very convincingly argued that there was a period where the European vampire probably represented syphllis, but I forget whether that was pre or post Stoker. The main theme was the depiction of vampires as disease-ridden, rat or batlike creatures vs. seducers, and examining the cultural context that led to one or the other of those two archetypal versions being more popular at any given time. I wish I could remember who wrote it so I could find it again.
Obviously as a product of Victorian England, Dracula was the sexualized, seducer vampire more than the plague-vampire you see most famously in Nosferatu.
Isn't Lord Byron and his relationships the achetype for the genre ypu describe. And IIRC he was something of an inspiration for The Vampyre by Polidiori.
Merzbau, I'm familiar with Carmilla but I don't remember it too well. I thought it was about lesbian vampires only?
I'm interested in speculation about how vampires got here:
I have a pretty good idea of how they got here:
Interesting point about Byron, I'll look in to that.
Clive Barker probably knows.
... not that Blacula was gay, but it's Blacula that puts romance to the forefront. From there it doesn't take much to get to vampires of every possible orientation.
I named the character I wrote for Vampire: The Requiem after this guy.
I'm amazed it made it into canon.
I personally think is probably one of Polanski's best movies, but I would imagine I am in a small minority.
I continue to agree. Definitely in his top 5, probably my favorite.
I'll have to give it another shot. I have a lot of time for Polanski, and the production design here is gorgeous, but this was a slog for me.
It's closer to a Pink Panther movie than it is to the sort of thing most people associate Polanski with. The juxtaposition of slapstick and amazing art direction is kind of what makes it for me, though. It's very different from Andy Warhol's Dracula but I like them for similar reasons and would put both of them in my top 10 vampire movies of all time for sure, right up with both Nosferatus and Near Dark and Robo Vampire.
I just think it's the right combination of dry humor, out-right parody, and legitimate gothic horror style that works for me. It's sort of like a proto-Fright Night or something.
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