Some years back I bought a book called 'Blood and Roses' (Creation Press), an anthology of vampire stories (short, and excerpts of long). Some of the stories themselves are quite good.
However, the book's most memorable feature was the introduction, written by one Adele Olivia Gladwell (who also happened to be proprietor of Creation Press). I've posted the first couple of pages below (I posted a shorter excerpt a couple of years back, but I think this is still reasonable as 'fair use'); the full introduction runs to twenty-one pages, and amply fulfills the promise of its beginning.
The Erogenous Disease
Adele Olivia Gladwell
The vampire - perfect incarnation of Eros and Thanatos, whose coming ruptures the hymen of midnight, corrupts the virtuous virgin and de-enlightens the sexual morals; illuminating the eclipsed subconscious, and embodying archetypes of the sexual imagination. A vampire's spectre augurs erotic deliria: carnal debilitation, auto-erogenous metempsychosis, fetishism and lesbianism, necrophiliac dementia, auto-symbolic incest, masturbation. As the Shadow's avatar, the vampire represents the anima or animus of manifest desire and dread, born of the right side of the brain; opening the body's blood-gates, flooding the repressed psyche with wonder and disgust.
The male vampire is a catamenial harbinger supping blood from the newly violated throat (neck) as menses discharge through the cervix (neck of womb) from the rawly-opened uterus. He is the psyche's first lover, supping on the purpled maidenhead. The Prince of Darkness, with his waxing and waning crescent fangs, is the over-riding animus of menstruation prevalent in late 19th Century and modern mythology. An anathema abalienated from the recesses of the "imaginary". Appearing at the "dark" time or tenebrous side of the cyclical female calendar, he conveys the impression he is withholding esoteric knowledge and an animalistic magnetic instinct. The sexual lycanthropy of the dream-mind. Like a religious master. Frightening but unbelievably exciting. Lupine, bestial, yet often serene. He liberates his lady (his hostess). Her Victorian bustles and corsets unravel, and she swiftly cavorts in a white shroud encrimsoned with bloody maculations; utterly unhampered. Gone is her ascetic pallor as her full sexuality is embraced by her very own "dark lover" and "alternative husband". The one who relishes, feeds upon the side of herself ordinarily denied her by patriarchal Victorian standards. The accoucheur of the sexual antinomian. Worshipping the raw eternal wound.
And the vulva can be a flower. The overly lush orchid or narcotic opiate poppy. Blooming, blossoming, expanding and opening. Or stifled. And menstruation can be the flower; the bloom of power and possibility. The flow-er. The Olde English flower; a posy of roses; red, red roses; blood and roses. And as a flower mysteriously holds within it the promise of future fruit or not, so can she. Only she is forced into being passively maternal, and so the flower becomes a threat and not a promise. For it is a symbol of non-procreation, and the women turn inwards during their bleeding - towards their dreams and the multi-aspects of their deep or truer selves. Towards archetypal lovers, animal accomplices, bestial alter-egos and mythological icons.
And to the vampire, strangely internally related and connected to the hostess of blood; de-flowering and marauding in the dead of the night. The blood of de-petalment; the blood of the maidenhead; the cherry blood. And to all the behavioral phenomena that Victorian women were not allowed to execute or express. All the "female maladies". All the sicknesses and weaknesses of the mind were due to the base, carnal nature of the female flesh, and so they must be punished. The hysteria, the melancholy and the nymphomania. All perverse symptoms of she who would not settle down quietly in her cloistered boudoir - as good Victorian women should. So who was this fearsome male who appeared to encourage the evil lasciviousness and deviancy of her sex? And what of his female counterpart, the lamia? She who all the men dreamt about and slandered.
Areligious, agnostic or unholy, the recusant vampire is repulsed by the crucifix - apt, since it is the blood of Jesus which has most usurped the power from the blood of menstruating and sexual women; like all other misogynistic religions, Christianity forever stands between women, their self-awareness and the ease they feel over their carnality and sexuality.
In dreams blood is a common metaphor for semen; the visitation of a female vampire (or succubus, or lamia) can coincide with a young man's nocturnal ejaculations or masturbation. This can be the first rendezvous with the anima; the first awareness of the archetype inherent in all men. That she may be threatening is synonymous with the perplexing "lovers' games" we can play with the archetypal gender other, or simply the lucifugal essence of sexual elements. The mingling of blood, a two way violation evoking a repressed desire for a circle of cunnilingus/fellatio, oral/genital contact or incestuous indulgence.
While women may welcome the attentions of the thanatoid stranger, like an erogenous liberty, absorbing the proffered gift of undeath in a promissory eternity of small death (petit mort) or orgasm, it is more common for men to live and dream in dread of the female vampire's bloody mouth. Disembodied, the genito-features recall congested haematic labia unnaturally champing with fangs. The powerful vagina dentata, threatening him with emasculation and loss of his "attribute". The myth of the Gorgon Medusa perfectly illustrates this fear. The snakes undulating on her head (symbols of exuviation, life/death cycles and female sexuality) and the internecine fangs. The "death-stare" that can stiffen men to stone; arouse them to stiff erection, as well as petrify them. The decapitated head with its ensanguined and dripping neck is the bleeding womb neck. Concupiscence and etiolation combine in a variant chiaroscuro scenario of the male psyche.
Moreover, for men the male vampire is a sexual threat with which they cannot compete, being a projection and fantasy of the dominant power of the female imagination. A chaotic and unleashed energy of the mind and body shaking up the rhetorical patriarchal order's definitions of behaviour and morality. As Dracula, the eponymous anti-hero of Bram Stoker's masterpiece proclaims: "The girls that you all love are mine."
- For Silmaril.