Pansensual, Non-bisexual Vampires

I have just been reading Megan Cashman’s post on my favourite subject (see, e.g., here and here): The Ambiguous Sexuality of Vampires. I want to pick up on a couple of points.

Interview With The Vampire

People keep giving this book as an example of bisexual vampires, but I have never understood that – Anne Rice’s vampires are not sexual creatures. TV Tropes describes them as biromantic and bisensual:

Vampires don’t have actual sex, but the enhanced senses make them Sense Freaks to a point where rubbing against any sufficiently interestingly-textured surface makes an orgasm seem rather dull. Additionally, gender isn’t an issue for romantic or sensual purposes; things become beautiful (to them) because said things are alive. So, everyone is Bi-romantic, bi-sensual and extremely hedonistic.

This fits reasonably well with my interpretation, but I would go further and describe them as pansensual (i.e., sensually attracted to people irrespective of their gender and sexual expression and identity) rather than restrictively bisensual.

Sensual attraction is a physical attraction that is distinct from sexual and romantic attraction. Pianycist describes the distinction thus:

What makes the difference for me is that a sense of urgency is a hallmark of sexual touch. Sexual touch often involves a need to either maintain or increase arousal, so urgency as a defining quality of sexual touch makes sense.

Sensual touch for me, by contrast, does not involve any sense of urgency. Since there is no urgency, there is no feeling (or much less feeling) of pressure to perform, or pressure that one is inadequate. The goal of sensual touch is only pleasure – never arousal or orgasm, though it is possible for those things to occur during sensual touch for people whose skin is particularly sensitive.

Perfect! And a vampire’s skin is, in The Vampire Chronicles, particularly sensitive…

Sexual Fluidity

There are people whose sexual and romantic identities are fluid. It’s quite heartbreaking to read stories of people whose attraction to a long-term lover dissipates in a shifting of orientation. You’re happily married with children, and one day you realise that you’re in love with someone else – and they’re the wrong gender! Suddenly you’re thrust, completely unprepared, into a world of bisexuality, and no one understands.

Perhaps sexual fluidity occurs naturally in all of us. If so, and assuming any sexuality is possible, a vampire living through eternity would experience a range of sexual orientations over time. But that just makes bisexuality an occasional identity, not an inevitable identity.

In The Vampire Chronicles, the transformation to vampire is quite extreme, and sexual attraction is erased completely. Some vampires are not only sexual creatures, but also fertile creatures – usually these are natural-born vampires, and essentially a different, living species, so there is no transformation from human to vampire to trigger a change in sexuality.

However, many transformed vampires are very sexual creatures, but the biological imperative is lost; usually, when vampires are immortal, they don’t need or want – and can’t have – children, so any sexual desire is a residue of their humanity. Why should a non-bisexual human become a bisexual vampire? Sexual fluidity… maybe, but see above. A side-effect of the transformation… possibly, but why? Loss of inhibition… yes, but only if the human was bi-curious, and that’s splitting hairs.

About Frank

A Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and lyrical poet with a mild obsession for vampires, succubi, goddesses and Supergirl.
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