Perhaps it is because I’m approaching the ‘old git’ stage of my life. Perhaps it is because I’m a bit of a luddite, but as much as I love my iPhone and my Kindle, as much as I live on my computer and wouldn’t want to be without Netflix and YouTube, as much as I live in my head, I can’t help the feeling that more and more we are living in a bloodless world. I’m not talking about violence, because bloodshed, needless death and destruction, of which we have no shortage. I’m talking about living in a bloodless world in the Klingon sense of the word, in that willingness to get messy in the pursuit of the fullness of life. As a writer of erotica and romance, I often ruminated on whether internet porn, virtual reality, social media and all of the technology that makes an inconsequential voyeuristic experience possible have made sex too safe, too bloodless. The bloodlessness of virtual sex and the closed, once-removed, environment in which it takes place makes me think that perhaps fang bangers, shifters and all things paranormal and fantasy in books, films and television is, in a very literal sense, an unconscious offensive against that too safe, bloodless sex.
The cleaning up of sex, the dressing it up for proper company by keeping the physicality of it once-removed isn’t just something that happens online. It’s something with which we’re bombarded every day by the media and by social pressure. We are informed on a regular basis that the sanitizing, deodorizing, decorating waxing and reshaping of the equipment, is a must if we want good sex. We are led to believe that only people who look a certain way can have good sex, and those who don’t, well that’s what internet porn is for. With the idea that good sex is for people of a certain type, a certain age, a certain smell or lack there of, it’s hardly a surprise that the more bloodless — and scentless our encounters become.
Fang bangers return our animal nature to the bedroom. What could be a better counter for bloodless, sanitized sex than sex with a vampire? And how better to get back in touch with the animal in us than sex with a werewolf? I wonder if on some unconscious level we miss our animal nature, we miss dirty, nasty sex that doesn’t involve a computer, or expensive lingerie, or waxing off all body hair and making sure all of our bits smell springtime fresh.
When I first conceived the idea of The Pet Shop back when it was a short story for Black Lace, and later when it became the Zoo in one of my favourite chapters in The Initiation of Ms Holly, it was that same desire to reconnect with the natural, unashamed, naughtiness that our animal counterparts seemingly partake of, to reconnect with a spontaneity driven by desire and not marketing. It seems to me that fang bangers are at the forefront of that return to a more earthy connection with sex. Ultimately I think it was this earthiness, this blood and dirt approach that enticed me to explore the paranormal in my story telling. But it was more than that, it was also the danger of the paranormal encounter and the way it indulges our fantasy of losing control to something too powerful to say no to.
A quick glance back through mythology – all types of mythology, reveals the common archetype of creatures that are half animal, half human, often gods or demigods. There has never been a time when the part of us that is most closely related to our animal cousins hasn’t frightened us. The creationist, battle against evolution is a modern example of it.
How can we be both like gods and like animals? If anything, having a big brain only strengthens the drive of our ‘lower’ brain. We can run but we can’t hide.
Our archetypal connection to the beast and the blood may be temporarily sublimated or denied, even dressed up and
taught to dance, but it will never go away. The loss of control we fear is ultimately the very thing we crave, the thing we find so alluring in tales of vampires and werewolves and demons and gods.
True enough, biology cares nothing for control, nor does it care who it hurts in furthering its cause. Our big brain can balance our lower brain, can come to some sort of agreement with that lower brain, but it can’t deny it, at least not in any way enduring or healthy or satisfying.