This is one of the most interesting questions in popular fiction in the past decade or so. The obvious answer to what makes vampire stories erotic is that the content itself that we’ve seen for 10 or 15 years now is, by definition, erotic. Over time, True Blood became known for its sex scenes, and Twilight had people so riled up over romance that women across the country were choosing teams between male protagonists. According to a column by Time, people’s passion for romance and erotica in Twilight even led to some problems in real life relationships!
So, the simple answer is that the content just is, literally, sexy. But then again, so are a million other books, films, and shows, and none of them causes the displays of sexual and romantic fandom we tend to see with regard to vampire fiction.
But why exactly is romance with a vampire considered so much sexier than anything else, by so many people? Here are a few possible explanations.
1. It’s Abnormal
When you think about it, people find sex appeal in pretty much any romantic scenario that’s out of the ordinary. It’s why we read erotica, watch pornography, etc. We like to daydream about fantasies that may not be realistic in our everyday lives—hence why 50 Shades Of Grey managed to more or less spawn an entire generation that’s suddenly intrigued by BDSM. Think about it: if there had been sex in Harry Potter, or if we’d seen elves get it on in Lord Of The Rings, there would have been legions of fans intrigued by the erotic potential in these stories. Because vampire fiction tends to “go there,” so to speak, fans latch on. It’s not because the sex itself is necessarily more interesting, but because the scenarios around it are not normal.
2. There’s Obsessive Attraction
Regular attraction occurs in just about every piece of fiction. But obsessive attraction is a common aspect of vampire stories that makes for a more intriguing erotic premise. Consider this blurb describing an adult film based on Twilight: New Moon: “As the uncontrollable urge for sex consumes her in the absence of her vampire lover, she desperately searches to fill her lustful desires….” Granted, this is literally a description for erotica… but does it seem that far off from what an honest description of a female protagonist in a True Blood or Twilight may look like? These characters don’t just fall for each other; they get into deep, needy bonds that make for explosive sexual tension, and that draws an audience.
3. The Whole “Penetration” Thing
Perhaps the most basic explanation of why vampire fiction is erotic is that entire relationships tend to focus on the exchange of bodily fluids—even if that means blood. Fangs are phallic, blood signifies pleasure and surrender, and the intimacy of a vampire sucking blood is usually responsible for the sort of deep erotic bond described previously. But what many people may not fully realize is that this whole setup goes back a lot further than the beginning of True Blood or Twilight. io9 wrote about what makes vampires sexy and went all the way back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula—arguably the first piece of vampire fiction as we know it—as a source for erotic themes. Says the piece, “whether vampires actually have sex or merely exchange bodily fluids, they always seem to star in tales about sexual desire that overstep the boundaries of the conventional.” There you have it; any type of penetration counts.
Depending on the specific story, there can be other explanations as well. Sometimes, there’s an element of fear that helps to heighten sex appeal; sometimes authority plays a role. But whatever the case, it’s the deep intimacy and forbidden nature of vampire romance that make these stories so consistently exciting from a sexual perspective.