The Lesbian Vampire is a literary trope with its own visual aesthetic. The general idea, dating back to the 1872 novel Carmilla, is of lesbian attraction within a gothic horror setting, typically with one woman as an innocent heroine and the other as a female vampire who aims to seduce her.

The visual aesthetic borrows heavily from gothic horror, involving sinister, shadowed castle settings, conflation of sex with mystery and menace, and appropriations of female purity and innocence. However, due to the prevalence of this trope in cult media over the past 150 years (from early cinema to Italian horror films to webseries to K-Pop music videos), there are arguably many variations of it, and ways in which to invoke it.

Literature

Carmilla (1872)

Sheridan Le Fanu's novella about a female vampire who falls in love with an innocent girl.

Film

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

An early horror film about Count Dracula's daughter (starring Gloria Holden), who seduces a girl off the street and sucks her blood in a scene full of lesbian subtext.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

In this Czech experimental film about a young girl who loses her innocence, Helena Anýžová plays (among other characters) a vampire helping to prey on the titular girl. This film is a useful lesson in assimilating the trope into a Cottagecore setting, with light colours but a creepy, vaguely medieval atmosphere.

Vampyros Lesbos (1971)

A 70s exposition of the trope, featuring era-specific erotic montages.

Music and Music Videos

LOONA/Go Won: One&Only (2018)

Although the exact vampiric trope isn't quite fulfilled here, this music video is a good example of a feminine take on gothic horror, with some lesbian subtext added. LOONA member Go Won is the third girl in yyxy, a subgroup revolving around another LOONA member, Yves, and the love, admiration and anger bestowed upon her. In this video, Go Won is alternately dressed in white as innocent heroine and in the Gothic Lolita style, and dances around a similarly dark, medieval set, casting strange shadows. At the end, she is shown kneeling in a mock-up Gothic church where Yves, in shadow and wearing dark robes, crowns her as queen and hugs her.

Irene & Seulgi (Red Velvet): Monster (2020)

This video is charged with lesbian subtext and features a bright, signature K-Pop take on both sides of the aesthetic, with imagery appropriated from many previous incarnations of the trope. Irene and Seulgi are shown in a church setting, dancing in dark outfits which appear to be takes on Victorian corsets, sitting together in a bedroom wearing long white dresses, and crawling towards each other in a dark tunnel. In some shots, they stroke each other's faces tenderly and seem as if they are about to kiss.

Politics

There are several interpretations of the Lesbian Vampire theme. On one hand, the use of lesbianism to invoke menace in this horror context has homophobic undertones - on the other, it could be said that this use of horror as a genre is a safe outlet to explore hidden love and desire for those to whom it has often been denied. In the case of Vampyros Lesbos and other films of this era, the use of the trope is intended to be titillating.

Many lesbian and bisexual women relate to being attracted to female villains and the actresses who play them, rather than innocent heroines, and embrace the trope as an extension of this desire.


Yves and Gowon in LOONA's One&Only

Fashion

To be a lesbian vampire:

  • Fangs
  • Clothing from or reminiscient of the late 19th century (or the period your vampire self hails from), especially if in black or originally designed for men
  • Pallid, washed-out makeup

To be victim to a lesbian vampire:

  • White dresses and blouses
  • Corsets
  • Christian iconography
  • Violets (the secret lesbian flower) in hair/corsages/bouquets

Interiors, activities and miscellaneous advice

  • Four-poster beds or curtains around a bed make this aesthetic, which revolves around being preyed on in the comfort of your own bedroom. Make your sleeping area as elaborate as possible for maximum visual power.
  • Make it a habit to wander around dark hallways of your home, holding a candle in a little silver dish (you can find fake electric ones to avoid a fire hazard)
  • Make sure your neck is always on display (but be careful about showing shoulders and ankles)

Gallery


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