Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Almost Having It All

The idea that vampires suck the blood from a living host lends itself well to many metaphors ranging from economic to sexual. Vampire's Kiss (1989) was written at a height of yuppie awareness and movie critics sometimes reference it as a commentary on capitalist failure because the protagonist was a Wall Street trader gone mad. Whatever... Perhaps a more believable metaphor is a near-forgotten TV episode I saw about the same time as Vampire's Kiss in which all the partners in a law firm were vampires. Now that's more plausible.

These got me to thinking about those stories in which ladies have entered into vampirism not so much as victims but as willing participants. The resulting creature is so much more fun and participatory than the usual vampire victim.

One favorite of mine is in an episode of the Canadian-American TV show Dracula: The Series (1990) titled "Damsel in Distress". An attractive, high-powered finance executive living in Brussels is also a single mom and approaching "that age". She becomes entwined in a business dealing with Dracula himself and all is normal until, surprise! she's in his castle sipping wine and laughing diabolically while flashing some wonderful fangs. Things happen fast in the 22 minutes alloted to actual story telling in a half-hour TV show, so I'll be happy to fill in the details...

This is what we see and know:

Eileen is back in town from yet another business trip and as usual gives short shift to her 2 sons and good-but-wayward niece (more on her another time.) She meets with a financial representative of Dracula and is drawn to his business office. At first she's all business, dressed in the de rigueur power-suit of the day; a high-shouldered red jacket and black skirt. Then they leave the stuffy confines of the office and proceed to a large room in the castle where they stand, sip wine, discuss art, life, and seem to have developed a small personal relationship.

Her children, alarmed by the tone of their mother's voice when they cautiously called her on her primitive mobile brick-phone (it was the early 90's, after all) rush into the room while Dracula is temporarily in another. Her maternal instincts kick-in and Eileen begins to rush them away and up the stairs when Dracula re-enters the room. The kids whip out the crucifixes and that's when Eileen's maternal instincts are trumped by what evidently was a damn effective bite by Dracula. The kids run away and Eileen laughs and laughs, her luscious and full fangs fully exposed.

So what happened? I'll fill in the missing pieces for you. Eileen is in her mid-40's, single and damned horny. Her high-powered international finance position coupled with the responsibilities of raising children as a single mom leaves little time or opportunity for getting laid. She meets a rich, powerful man and views him as a worthy companion. She's heard the rumors he's a vampire but dismissed them as silly folklore. Then she begins to wonder: "if the rumors are true I can keep my remaining looks forever and live in his fabulous castle and inherit his aristocratic title. My American friends would be so jealous even as they crumbled to dust throughout the years as I remained pretty," and so on. So when it came time for him to sign the contract, so to speak, he bit her in the neck, they had crazy mad demonic vampire sex, and he turned her into a vampire and she got her wishes. And it was an immediate transformation too. No extended drama and pathos, no sappy string music in the background, just immediate fangs for the lady.

So here we have a smart and powerful woman in her own right snogging and canoodling the vampire-way with Dracula himself. She gave it up but got something even better in return, and in exchange Dracula got her expert professional services and eternal fealty. A smart deal all around. Not so unlike many real marriages.

The next we see Eileen she's absolutely fawning and enraptured over Dracula like a love-struck freshman who just lost her virginity to the varsity quarterback, only instead of talking about the Thanksgiving Day football game she's swooning about her wonderful experiences of being a vampire. It would be intolerable to see if she weren't such a sexy vampiress. And none of this implied vampirism crap for Eileen, her fangs are fully extended and the power suit is replaced with what resembles a girly, frilly, come-take-me-now prom dress.

Finally, the children come back to the castle to rescue their mom and Eileen almost does it...she almost obeys Dracula to bite and kill her kids with those lovely fangs he's given her but she collapses instead and is miraculously cured by virtue of her love for them. What crap! Honestly, one of the best set-ups ever is ruined by such a lame-ass cure?!?

Alas, Eileen wakes up at home the next morning all showered and fang-less, not remembering a thing about the good suck-and-fuckfest she obviously had with Dracula. In another time she would have woken up with a piece of wood stuck in her chest and her head removed and shoved with garlic cloves but this is the age of woman-empowerment so she gets off scot free and yet again we're only left with what could have been.

Eileen gets a special bonus from dealing with Dracula.

She's exhilerated at being Dracula's wench.

She almost had it all. What a lame ending.

"I can bring home the bacon and never let you forget you're a man. Enjoli"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Drawn to Them

When the other students of my 8th grade Spanish class looked at Ms. Monsanto, our hot Puerto Rican teacher, they probably didn't see what I did. While she recounted and possibly embellished stories of her youth in Spanish Harlem (just like West Side Story?), only a few short miles away from our own toney suburbs, the other kids most likely saw a very pretty woman in her early 20's enthusiastically teaching the curriculum. The girls probably wanted to emulate this strong, statuesque, slightly exotic woman. The boys...well, it's not hard to figure that one out. Come to think of it, probably the same went for a few of the girls too. She dressed very well; tasteful enough in stylish clothes that never crossed an unspoken danger zone sure to alert the other faculty, but enough to mildly stimulate the raging hormones in all of us. Or rather, some of us because for me the attraction was more than mild.

It was classic hot for teacher stuff, and in a slightly warped perspective included images of the comic book heroine Vampirella, whom I only recently discovered. Add a dash of fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, some Hammer Studio horror movies, and the result was a potent and swirling stew of intoxicating confusion. It made Ms. Monsanto morph right there in front of me into something fantastic. She was animated, no - I mean literally animated and walked around the room a lot teaching and talking, which gave me ample opportunity to never avert my eyes and soak in every detail of her form. There were fangs, naturally. And high heels, but sometimes cloven hooves. A green scaly devil's tail magically poked through her pants and languidly, hypnotically swayed behind her in an almost absent-minded sort of way. She had a habit of pulling her hair back into a pony tail revealing bat-like ears. When she moved toward the clutch of cheerleaders at the back of the room I knew those red lips were ready to conjugate something good. "Voy, vas, van. Vamos, vais, vampire?" Then wham! I was back in class merely holding my pencil and staring into space.

Such are the travails of adolescence but my fantasy life didn't end there. I wrote previously (A Fresh Start) the dearth of pretty vampires didn't stop me from creating them, so I learned to illustrate. Poorly. This was a time before PhotoShop, so I surreptitiously tore full-page picture ads from fashion magazines and applied onion paper over the photos and began tracing, and coloring, until a feeble approximation of what was in my mind appeared on paper. The subjects were usually vamping anyway; silky hair-care models...smiling toothpaste girls with perfect teeth...sultry women with perfect makeup...the genesis of an obsession was begun. (Not all images below are mine.)

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My drawing of Ms. Monsanto layered atop an advertisement photograph for hair a care product.

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My perfect woman in extremis has cloven hooves, a serpent's tail and wings.

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This sweetheart with fangs just makes me feel happy. I'd buy her an ice cream sundae anytime.

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Here's supermodel Cindy Crawford looking pensive in a Maybelline cosmetics ad.

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Cindy Crawford again in Maybelline.

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Top model Shalom Harlowe.

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Supermodel Christy Turlington has long been a favorite subject of mine

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Truth be told...Vampirella is more sexy than pretty but she's what inspired me early on to like ladies with fangs and other supernatural abilities.

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I'll take a pretty one with a nice set of fangs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Fresh Start

For all it did to popularize vampires, Dracula (1931) also embedded the idea into popular culture that female vampires are dark, scary and brooding misanthropes worthy of a horror movie. That's understandable, given the unsavory vampire legends of eastern Europe upon which this and many subsequent movies were based.

For a long time thereafter, female vampires held the same special place for all women unfortunate enough to become victims of their own moral turpitude. If they brought it on themselves through sexual adventure they had to pay the consequences, or so the thinking goes. For lady vampires the price to pay was usually a sharp stick inserted between her heaving breasts while she screamed. There's a metaphor in there somewhere just in case some of you weren't paying attention.

By the 1980's some unrelated trends were developing that unfortunately merged with the vampire zetigest. Goth sensibilities, extreme piercings and tattoos, and other unsavory practices began to effect the vampire look. By the 1990's way too many people who looked depressed, mentally unbalanced and frankly not that pretty, were dressing like vampires and Tom Cruise became the idyll gay male vampire poster child. Fooey on Anne Rice and her crappy books and movies.

By the time Underworld (2003) came out I knew things had gone too far. The classy and beautiful Kate Beckinsale was made to look as if her thang smelled like old tuna. It rained a lot in the movie and she looked like she could have used a nice warm shower and some scented soaps. The black latex unitard she wore was quite awesome but that's all she wore. In every scene. Personally, I would have preferred a skirt and sweater combination with a nice white pearl necklace to really complement some fangs, but I understand that may be going a bit too far given the subject matter. Worst of all, Kate's fangs were almost non-existent. This is wholly unacceptable in a vampire movie and occurring way to frequently lately. Vampire chicks should have big fangs. End of story.

Some vampires are pretty, however. And if they don't exist, I sometimes make them up. That's why I write this blog; there should be more pretty vampires.

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A pretty vampire in a field of lilacs. I can almost see the unicorns and rainbows. (Keri Russell)

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This is top model Christy Turlington. She's not a vampire, but I wish she was.

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Angie Everhart was also a top model, and played a vampire in Bordello of Blood (1996).

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I never understood why those other trollops in Sex and the City got all the media attention while classy Kristin Davis took the back seat.

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Actress Jennifer Esposito and singer Colleen Fitzpatrick frame actress Jeri Ryan in Dracula 2000. Interesting note: Jeri is probably the vampiress closest to becoming the wife of a US Senator that we know of.

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I know...Katie Holmes broke my heart too.

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If you don't remember the 80's, then you probably don't know Jennifer Beals was once America's sweetheart. That made it even more exceedingly gratifying to me when she grew fangs in Vampire's Kiss (1983).

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Listen, I have really good radar about this kind of thing. Kate Bosworth is totally a heterochromiac. There, the truth is out. She was also 19-years old when she appeared in Blue Crush (2002). Enough said.

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"It was a Brazillian supermodel vampiress. A Brazillian supermodel vampiress to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window." (Adrianna Lima).