Sex and vampires

Of all the monsters of fiction, the only one primaly associated with sex is the vampire.

Throughout the history of vampire lore, gender and sexuality have played an important role in the appearance and behaviors of the vampire.

Just as our culture has become secularized and sexualized, the vampire’s religious associations have been replaced primarily by sexual associations. Eventually, the vampire became an instrument of fiction and its relationship with gender changed again. 

In the folklore of the Gypsies and sourthern Slavs, the vampire is already a sexual creature. For example, corpses dug up as suspected vampires occasionally were reported to have an erection. The male vampire was believed to have such an intense sexual drive that his sexual need alone was sufficient to bring him back from the grave. His first act usually was a return to his widow, whom he engaged in sexual intercourse.

Nightly visits could ensue and continue over a period of time, with the wife becoming exhausted and emaciated. In more than a few cases, the widow was known to become pregnant and bear a child by her vampire husband.

The resulting child, called a dhampir, was a highly valued personage deemed to have unusual powers to detect and destroy vampires present in the community.

The folklore of Russia also described the vampire as a sexual being. Among the ways in which it made itself known was to appear in a village as a handsome young stranger. Circulating among the young people in the evening, the vampire lured unsuspecting women to their doom. Russian admonitions for young people to listen to their elders and stay close to home are reminiscent of the ancient Greek story of Apollonius, who saved one of his students from the allure of the lamiai, whom he was about to marry.

The langsuyar of Malaysia is also a sexual being. A female vampire, she was often pictured as a desirable young woman who could marry and bear children. Langsuyars were believed to be able to live somewhat normally in a village for many years, revealed only by their inadvertent involvement in an activity that disclosed their identity.

Nonetheless, the vampire of folklore was not an attractive figure; he was a revenant who fed on blood, with the outlook of a zombie. Bram Stoker changed all that with his novel, Dracula. We know that Stoker was intimately aware of eastern European vampire lore and enhanced and adapted the myth to the peculiar conditions of the Victorian society.