I wasn't following the HBO series True Blood—until I heard some of the sex scenes had BDSM overtones. I'm not surprised: Old-school vampires lurked in subterranean dungeons and modern vampires find victims in nightclubs. But regardless of locale, sucking blood is an eternally kinky activity—and True Blood's writers know it.
Blood is a metaphor for sex: It can give life or greatly enhance it. Or it might bring death. I attended my first BDSM conference in 1989. The AIDS crisis was in full swing, and the blood of a stranger was one of the most feared and dangerous things in the world. Two female attendees built a cube with two-by-fours, about 10 feet square, in the middle of the dungeon space. They made walls and a ceiling with sheets of clear plastic, forming an enclosed plastic chamber. In it, they did a whipping scene that remains, even now, the bloodiest I've ever been privileged to witness.
It takes a while to draw blood while whipping someone. By the time the top threw back her arm from a completed stroke and a red rain of blood spattered across the plastic, a crowd had gathered. Some onlookers blanched and backed away. But others—including me—were entranced. We drifted closer and closer to the plastic wall containing all that spattering blood, until our faces were pressed against it as if it were a candy-store window. As the whipping progressed, we got increasingly excited, until we were nuzzling and licking that plastic sheet like a lover's skin. I remember how the blood looked trickling past my eyes, but all I could taste was plastic. However, when the top was finished, she smiled at us and then slowly, deliberately rubbed her face against her partner's bleeding back. She licked it, with long catlike strokes of her tongue. We nearly swooned at the sight—their ultimate consummation of death-defying romance.
I thought of this exhibition years later, when I saw the überbloody scourging scenes in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. No one can fetishize blood quite like a Catholic. And I'd know, because I spent 12 years in Catholic school, where nuns tell children: "Jesus suffered for you! His blood is in this cup; drink it to show that you love him!"
With that kind of background, I find chaste vanilla vampires like Edward of Twilight deadly dull. The problem is Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon, and Mormons just don't fetishize blood enough to create sexy vampires. If sanctimonious Edward licked you, his mouth would leave a trail of dust. In real life, drinking—even touching—other people's blood is risky, so you better weigh that risk carefully. But when I watch vampire drama on-screen, I want my proxy to suck up and wallow in that taboo red love like he just can't get enough. Anything less just doesn't get my blood pumping.