Sometimes on a blue summer night a girl standing on a garage roof in the Alberta prairies can have her wish come true. Did you ever, when you were, say, fourteen, wish for something so hard and then a star sparkles in the distance and you just know you’ve rearranged the universe with your earnest yearning? What I wanted was that vampires were real and that the vampire Lestat would come take me away. Would you believe that it happened?
Turns out vampires are real, and there are plenty of them in Montreal. They are otherwise known as comedians, outrageously dressed creatures of the night who take their life-force from hapless civilians. Watching from the fringes of society, they mock and mimic our ways. But do not fear, a comedian must always be be invited in.
You’ve got a mixed bag of charming SOBs and total fucking psychopaths. Just like in the Vampire stories, there are always those who use their powers for good and those who suck at comedy and, night after night, just suck the life right out of good paying audiences.
There’s plenty of similarities between comedians and vampires, the eyeliner, the angst, the penchant for love triangles with two men falling for the same lady. Some vampires even feed off of other vampires, especially if they have trouble finding willing audiences. Most vampires though feed off of volunteers, with folks even paying for the privilege of donating their laughs to the life-force of the comedian.
I know a lot about vampires because I’ve been hooked on vampire stories since even before Anne Rice rocked my world with her perfect novels about sexy, lonely monsters. Over the years my tastes have matured. Well, actually that’s not true at all, more like my taste in vampire novels has sunk considerably since my Anne Rice and Bram Stoker days. About halfway through the fun and trashy Anita Blake Vampire hunter series, I discovered a whole new genre of books that I like to call vampire erotica.
Sometimes when you are in your University years, you end up living with people that you wouldn’t necessarily hang out with otherwise. Carrie* was one such person. As much as I tried to wrap my head around her, our differences would make it hard for us to get along. For one thing, she was quite invested in the cleanliness of her surroundings, while I had, shall we say, a more casual attitude towards order. For another, there were so many things; she couldn’t drink properly, with an strange tendency towards drinking games – culminating in this “clever” new shot chess board that I had to feign interest in – her and her friend actually wore their Diva pins when they bought their first Diva cups, there was a bottle of pepto bismol in the bathroom with the following note on it :
Carrie’s pepto bismol, do not touch! She chugs it like water, seriously.
… which was at least half a sentence too long, in my opinion. I still think of her every time I see a bottle of the pink stuff.
So many things, but especially it was her bookshelf. Like so many of you, I judge people by their bookshelves (isn’t that what bookshelves are for?) and Carrie’s was a puzzler. In a house filled with English majors, treacherous piles of books threatened to slide off of every available surface and cluttered, eclectic bookshelves lurked in the most unsuspecting corners. Carrie had only one immaculate shelf hanging on the wall in her room, and all it contained was the Anita Blake vampire hunter series, in perfect order. Of course I was curious, so I asked for and was granted permission to read the books as long as I not to get any mess on them.
The thing about Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is that it starts out as a pretty fun vampire story, with a few were-creatures thrown in for good measure. The narrator is a kick-ass vampire hunter chick who raises the dead for her day job, I mean, sounds pretty great right? But somewhere along the series it transitions into pure, unadulterated smut. I’m talking sex sex, so much sex, all the way through the book, with several different partners, inclusive of varying flavor of supernatural entity from vampire to were-cat to succubus and back again.
I’m talking an overarching and intricate plot always engineered just to get her in bed with various exciting partners, often more than one at a time. I’m talking rough sex with dangerous creatures, I’m talking she has sex with a were-SWAN at one point. (He gets way too excited about the whole thing and involuntarily flies up to the ceiling, which is low so he hits knocks himself against it and falls back down. This is a thing that happens.)
As with all campy series, the thing gets repetitive. There are a few things that Laurell K Hamilton really, really loves to describe, and I will list them here for your enjoyment:
Anita Blake’s arsenal. Typically including plenty of helpful advice on being a short woman with breasts carrying a gun, as well as seductive descriptions of the knives, holsters, and sheaths she has to have custom-made so they will fit a person of her specifications. (female)
The Men (creatures?) Hamilton’s Vampires and werewolves (and other) are always tall, generously-hung, and hirsute. Ok, that last part might be unfair, they’re not actually hairy, they just have an awful lot of hair, as in all her men have long hair, at least to their shoulders. Many of them have hair down to their ankles, and she talks about that like it’s a good thing. I don’t get it.
The outfits. No adjective is spared in the fabricating of ridiculous vampire outfits. They are so outrageous that it becomes a challenge to actually picture them, especially when paired with the aforementioned ankle-length hair. She is particularly fond of putting her heroes in thigh-high leather boots. Thigh-high. Leather. Boots. On men. You heard it here first.
Power. There’s a lot of magic in the books, and people like Anita Blake can feel the magic, building, roiling, boiling, just under or over things, whatever, there are a lot of magical power struggles between the different monsters. I think the word “power” is probably the most frequently used after “hair”
Man feelings. There’s a lot of men/monsters (manmonsters) having sex with Anita Blake Vampire hunter. Inevitably, feelings get involved and she has to deal with them. Usually, she doesn’t have time to deal with the feelings because there’s a bad monster in town that she has to deal with. Unfortunately still, man feelings won’t wait. Also, sometimes we get pages and pages of sex negotiations, with the more level-headed parties in play carefully working around man feelings and monster feedings. The negotiations are especially important when there’s a new player up to bat, where more than one manmonster is involved, and where someone needs to feed… on someone else.
Snappy asides. Anita Blake is one deadpan dame.
The sex: every inch of it.
It’s equal parts awesome and awful, leaning more and more heavily towards the awful as the series goes on. (This woman is still writing books people.) You have to hand it to Hamilton though, the world she has created is fully formed and memorably complex, and the carefully developed plot device that keeps throwing her, actually sort of prudish, heroine into bed is pretty ingenious. Anita Blake never seems to have sex by choice, more often she pretty much has to do it in order to save the world or someone she cares about. But don’t worry ladies, she always get’s right into it anyway.
Turns out I had no right to judge anyone on their bookshelf, since here I am, not only reading these smutty books, but, you know, blogging about them. I actually got in front of a theater full of people recently and admitted that I read vampire erotica. Apparently this is something that might happen to you if you get involved with a kiss° of comedians. You might get asked to participate in a live talk show about porn, and then you might also get your picture in the entertainment section of the Gazette and Bill Brownstein might write about you. All because you happen to be engaged to one of the elder comedians.
I don’t watch a lot of porn, most of it isn’t exactly intended for the ladies. No one would say the same for vampire erotica, this is definitely a corner of the bookstore more frequented by the gals. So for the porn episode of Life Lessons I talked about my not-so-secret obsession. People actually seemed to love it, maybe it was a welcome departure from all the porn talk, but more likely because I brought some books to give away. Hilariously, I had to go to my local used book barn to buy my own smut books back. I had recently unloaded a bunch of them there since I don’t actually keep these books on my bookshelf. (This shouldn’t surprise anyone.)
Would I go back and tell that girl in Alberta to be careful what you wish for? I don’t know, vampires are complicated, but, you know, we have fun.
*Obviously her name has been changed, who is actually named Carrie?
°according to some authors, a kiss is a pack of vampires, don’t ask me which, all this shit is starting to blur together in my head.