Vampires have a superb PR agent. They’re being thirsted after in Baldur’s Gate 3, they’ve us watching Twilight once more on TikTok, and even Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting a second shot at fame with a brand new audio collection. It’s simple: Vampires are in once more, even whereas the lore surrounding them continues to be advanced and at occasions contested.
Does their pores and skin sparkle sexily within the solar or flip to ash? Can they cross transferring water? Are their fangs completely on show? What we will all agree on, nonetheless, is that vampires, whether or not they’re sizzling, grotesque, or residing on Staten Island, drink blood. Queen Regent of Pop Rock Olivia Rodrigo bit down on the heartbeat of tradition when she launched her single “Vampire” over the summer season, crooning about bloodsuckers, and Ok-pop group ENHYPEN’s cinematic launch of the idea album Darkish Blood pulled no punches, inviting listeners to recollect one factor: “Chunk me.” Nowhere is the affect of vampires now extra evident than in movie star tradition and its obsession with youth, glamour, intercourse, and, in fact, blood.
Regardless that it’s been over a century since Bram Stoker printed Dracula, the vampire fantasy lives on in innumerable cultural diversifications, remixes, and interpretations in movies, video video games, tv exhibits, and books. However the place vampires are most alive and scarily closest to actuality is within the sphere of movie star. Core parts of vampire lore — everlasting youth, aristocratic glamour, and naturally, a form of darkish sexiness — are nonetheless haunting us, however this time in Hollywood. To start with this critical popular culture inquiry of movie star bloodsucking, one should begin at Kim Kardashian’s notorious “vampire facial” method again in 2013, immortalized endlessly on Instagram. The publish has been lodged in my millennial-Gen Z-cusp mind for over a decade. The silent era might need had sexy-scary Bela Lugosi as Depend Dracula, however we’ve got Kim.
If the phrases “Kim Kardashian vampire facial” imply little to you, permit me to let you know a story. Kim, to advertise the E! spinoff collection Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, snapped a shot of herself receiving a vampire facial — smiling coyly on the digital camera together with her completely sculpted face coated in blood. Vampire facials aren’t far off from Bioré pore strips, besides, properly, it’s blood. A vampire facial includes a microdermabrasion of the pores and skin adopted by a blood draw, then an utility of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) slathered again onto the pores and skin for absorption. All this to maintain the pores and skin easy and youthful, similar to our handsome undead buddies. Price ticket? Between $1,000 and $2,000. And if you wish to spring for the extra intense vampire face carry the place you get to inject your individual blood, that’ll run you about $3,000.
Kim Kardashian, like all movie star, is not any stranger to weird magnificence therapies, however the excessive motion of harvesting one’s personal blood to reabsorb it in pursuit of higher pores and skin captures a key side of the vampire fantasy — everlasting youth — that’s central to our understanding of up to date vampires. There’s a disturbing overlap between the vampiric embodiment of immortality and our personal obsessive need for youthfulness, which we pursue via skincare, make-up, and even surgery-adjacent strategies, just like the vampire facial. That is no shock in the event you’re an individual with a smartphone, given the explosion of facial modifying apps and even bespoke cosmetic surgery procedures all to attain the a lot sought-after “Instagram face.”
The place as soon as in fiction and movie vampires have been distinguished by sallow pores and skin and bloodied mouths, at the moment a vampiric look includes being each smoking sizzling and wealthy. Even Vogue is in on the development, lavishing reward on Olivia Rodrigo’s model by calling her new look “positively vampiric.” Our fashionable vampires have washboard abs or an ideal no-makeup make-up look. These with out million-dollar incomes may not be capable of spring for a vampire facial, however anybody aspiring to Undead Stylish can get shut via developments like “vampire pores and skin” tutorials now proliferating on TikTok. First popularized by influencer August Sombatkamrai, the glowy complexion is achieved by mixing basis with glitter eyeshadow and making use of liberally to the pores and skin. Kim would possibly now remorse her facial, however it’s cases like these that present what number of celebrities will take any bloody means crucial to attain eternal magnificence and energy. On this case, it’s the darkish powers you get with an elevated follower rely somewhat than turning right into a bat or swirling cloud of mist.
Smearing blood in your face, although, that’s vampire-spawn vitality. Other people, like Bryan Johnson, reported billionaire and biotech entrepreneur, are veering towards full-blown vampire. Johnson, one of many many vocal wealthy guys on X (previously referred to as Twitter), not too long ago carried out a transgenerational blood infusion between himself, his 17-year-old son, and his 70-year-old father, in pursuit of everlasting youth. The method concerned taking a liter of blood from his son — which, to present you a psychological picture, is a bit more than a trenta Starbucks iced pumpkin spice latte — and injecting it into himself. This blood-swapping apply has been round for ages, however the newest iteration is an element and parcel of Johnson’s $2-million-per-year self-care routine that he describes as designed to “reverse the getting old course of” by mainlining “younger blood.” This isn’t Johnson quoting Bram Stoker, to be clear.
And whereas Johnson’s bloodsucking habits hook up with our bigger cultural fixation with youth, the backlash he obtained additionally connects to a different historic a part of vampire lore: their illustration of rich glamour. If we bear in mind all the best way again to Stoker, Depend Dracula’s first order of enterprise was to go house procuring in London — typical wealthy man conduct. And what concerning the Cullens’ ultra-modern home in Forks populated with what number of luxurious vehicles, precisely? Affording that home on Carlisle’s single wage is more durable for me to consider than vampires really present. As a tradition, we will’t assist it; we like to each revile and “glamorize the bourgeois wealth and energy of the vampire way of life,” or the existence of celebrities.
Vampires at the moment aren’t solely recognized for being wealthy and sizzling, they’re additionally recognized for being attractive. What else is there to do in the event you’re undead? Play pickleball? Among the most outrageous examples of movie star bloodsucking aren’t dressed up with the medical language of infusions and platelet counts — they’re surprising cases of celebrities consuming one another’s blood in a dramatic present of romantic possession. In any case, vampires and intercourse have been “bedfellows” lengthy earlier than Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson, and even Bela Lugosi wandered onto our screens enjoying the a part of bloodsuckers.
We’ve most likely all forgotten about Angelina Jolie’s marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, however I guarantee you, as soon as upon a time they strolled round crimson carpets sporting vials of one another’s blood as a result of they have been so in love. Later in life, Jolie fondly recalled participating in knife play with one other boyfriend the place that they had an “change of one thing” and “have been coated in blood,” illustrating the endurance of the literal movie star blood fetish. And like all beloved Y2K developments, horny blood play has had an enormous comeback. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly and actress Megan Fox, star of the underappreciated teen horror flick Jennifer’s Physique, which options some pleasant literal bloodlust by a demon-possessed teenage lady performed by Fox, went past cute little vials and drank one another’s blood for “ritual functions.”
Picture: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Photos for MRC
Vampires could be mythic figures, however they’re additionally mirrors reflecting our personal cultural anxieties, predilections, and beliefs again to us. At the moment, we’ve come a good distance from the unique Depend Dracula, and we’ve additionally moved between different vampiric iterations — the darkly charming Damon in Vampire Diaries, Edward Cullen along with his sparkly pores and skin, and Jasper the Accomplice vampire soldier from Twilight (really for the most effective). At the moment, essentially the most recognizable bloodsuckers aren’t lingering in musty European castles; they’re extra prone to be discovered within the extravagant mansions of the Hollywood Hills or coastal penthouses. In any case, every time the century or wherever the place, “vampires go the place energy is.”
And our personal celebs, fictional and in any other case, have taken a web page from these creatures of the night time. Twilight, in any case, served because the inspiration for E.L. James’ souped-up fanfic that ultimately remodeled into the 50 Shades of Gray collection, that includes horny, broken billionaire Christian Gray. Blood consuming may not have been in Christian’s BDSM repertoire, however along with his wealth and tendency to solely hit up Anastasia in the dead of night hours of the night time, he performed the a part of vampire fairly properly.
Our vampires at the moment have pores and skin easy as glass or perky vampire breasts (sure, along with getting a vampire facelift, you may get a vampire breast carry to provide the good tits of the undead!). They don’t cope with the messy realities of stalking their prey; they pay for it, performing blood infusions at medi-spas and posting #sponcon on social media. And these elementary parts of vampire lore — everlasting youth, rarified glamour, and darkish sensuality — aren’t simply metaphorically on full show in at the moment’s social media-driven movie star tradition, they contain literal bloodsucking. Olivia tried to warn us in any case: “Bloodsucker, fame fucker / Bleedin’ me dry like a goddamn vampire.”