David Rumfoot is a bestselling author and the creator of Motivational Monsters™. He has adventured in over 60 nations, prompting ABC 20/20 to broadcast, “This man has seen it all.” He has won dozens of literary awards, including the USA REBA Grand Prize, and been featured in articles across a dozen nations. Rumfoot writes of his global experiences with a self-mocking wit, an astute insight into human behavior, and a love of quirky history.
Below is an excerpt from his next book, The Motivational Vampire Book, coming out October 13, 2023. This fictional tale was inspired by a visit to the Erotic Heritage Museum and discussion with its director, Dr. Victoria Hartmann. Check out David’s website www.rumfoot.com for his podcast, blog, and more!
How Vampire Orgies Build Friendships
By David Rumfoot
Most people have not been to a vampire orgy. I have. As you may imagine, it’s difficult gaining access to such an event. During my four years living in Transylvania, I never found a single one. So, did I instead find this party in London, Paris, New York? Nope. Where, you ask? Where else?
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
Living in Las Vegas skews your perceptions about what is and is not normal. You get used to hotness of the highest order. It’s so often over 110 degrees Fahrenheit that 80 becomes literally jacket weather. And the people are hotter. With all the strippers and Cirque du Soleil performers and billionaire arm candy, a trip to Whole Foods is like attending the Miss America pageant. But the attendees of the vampire party were hottest of all.
On the men was much leather, in jacket, in chaps. On the women was much transparency, in fishnet, in cellophane. Since everyone was clearly in the supermodel category, I felt a little self-conscious. Not only was I not wearing ass-less chaps, I didn’t even own any. What was I doing here?
‘Here’ was outside a sex museum, waiting for entry into a private vampire party. It was two a.m. The hot concrete was lit only by the neon light of the strip club sharing the parking lot. Deja Vu Showgirls. Behind me, the line filed past the billboard advertising a show. Puppetry of the Penis. Vegas, for the win!
I’d been invited by the museum’s executive director. I never thought to ask her why she invited me because I was too excited by the possibilities it offered. Was I expecting a pansexual vampire orgy? Well, yeah. Duh. Was I hoping to join in? Well, no, more’s the pity. I was then, as I am now, happily married. But seeing that line outside the sex museum, I must admit to a pang of regret. It looked like it was going to be exactly what I expected—dare I say, hoped—it would be.
So, what did I expect? As high as the bar was set by Vegas and a sex museum, literature set it even higher.
The Inclusive Classic Vampire
It’s easy to imagine vampires being into pansexual orgies is a modern take, but that would not be correct. Classic vampire stories were surprisingly inclusive, or alternative, or whatever outside-the-norm moniker you care to use. It’s important to understand that while such monikers used today are trending towards neutral, when stories like The Vampyre, Carmilla, and Dracula were published, they skewed negatively.
The first modern vampire story, 1819’s The Vampyre, featuresLord Ruthven, who was an absolute slut. That’s not surprising, though, because it was originally written by Lord Byron, the famous lover. He ascribed his own behavior to that of vampires, even coining the phrase “vampires in their nocturnal orgies.”
Perhaps more surprising, considering its prudish times, is 1872’s Carmilla, which openly featured lesbianism. Take the following passage, when Carmilla the vampiress kisses Laura: “She kissed me silently. … ‘I have been in love with no one, and never shall,’ she whispered, ‘Unless it should be with you.’… Her soft cheek was glowing against mine. ‘Darling, darling,’ she murmured, ‘I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.’”
But, as always with vampires, 1897’s Dracula is the ultimate. In Transylvania, the count had a polygamous relationship with a trio of sexpot vampiresses, referred to as his brides. He also, while in London, waited outside Lucy’s window to leer at her in her nightgown like a total creep. Okay, that’s not sexual, but predatory. Let us not forget that while vampires can entice us with their style and symbolism, they are, and always have been, predators.
A clack, a shifted bolt. The doors to the sex museum opened.
The Erotic Heritage Museum
A clarification is in order; this is not a sex museum, per se. It’s called the Erotic Heritage Museum for a reason. It was created as a partnership between a preacher and a pornographer, Rev. Ted McIllvenna and Harry Mohney, respectively. Together they created the largest museum in the world for the preservation of erotic artifacts, fine art, film, education and cultural events.
Still, there is plenty of sex to be seen here, though it’s less about the act than the people who engage in it and its effect on culture. Yes, I know many of us claim to already be experts on sex, but of course we aren’t. The museum’s executive director, Dr. Victoria Hartmann, however, is the real deal. She has Ph.D’s in both Human Sexuality and Clinical Sexology and is trained in Forensic Sexology. Under her guidance, the museum has reached new heights, such as financial independence, taken seriously by scholars, and a place for high-profile collections and artists.
“The Las Vegas slogan of ‘what happens here, stays here’ sends a message of secrecy,” says Dr. Hartmann. “We want to add a deeper, more scientific and historical dimension to sex.”
Because of Dr. Hartmann, the museum hosts some truly singular events—particularly if they are private, as was this vampire party. Of course, few, if any, attendees were living corpses, but a variety of bodily fluids were exchanged that did include blood. So it was, by some definitions, a true vampire party. It was a suitably open-minded endeavor from a museum founded and run by superlatively open-minded individuals. But nobody’s more open-minded than the modern vampire.
The Sexuality of Vampires
Like so much with the modern vampire, it all stems from Dracula. When the rights to the intellectual property became public domain, the United States bucked tradition immediately. Throughout the 1970s, the Count gave expression to underserved minorities. In Blacula, the count was African. In Deafula, the count was deaf. In Nocturna, the focus was on the Count’s granddaughter. More relevant to the location of the party, there was Dragula, wherein the count was gay, and Spermula, wherein the count was… prolific. Into this playground came the legendary vampire author, Anne Rice, who would change vampires forever.
Ms. Rice was a delectably naughty girl, with, shall we say expansive tastes. Read her Sleeping Beauty trilogy, under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure, for a taste. And while her hugely successful Vampire Chronicles were not pornographic, they were certainly hyper-sexualized—so much so that when her seminal vampire novel Interview with the Vampire was made into film, its homoeroticism was portrayed by Hollywood’s hottest heartthrobs, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas. And the director was none other than Neil Jordan, famous for bringing transgender storylines into the mainstream way back in 1992 with his film, The Crying Game.
All these things built my expectations for this private party to blow my mind. And it certainly did…
I made the social rounds, striking up a conversation with a woman of indeterminate age. She wore a black netting thing with patterns of flowers wrapped around her body like a sheer toga. It was held in place by a large, antique broach. Ivory, yellowed by time. There was something about the way she wore it that said ‘talk about me’. So I asked her about it.
Anne, as I’ll call her, was delighted to answer.
“It was my great grandmother’s,” she said. “First thing my great grandfather bought her after coming to America. He said to her, ‘This is to celebrate that you’re an American now.’ I’ve always wanted to wear it, but didn’t have the courage. This is my first time.”
“Why is that?”
She paused, mouth resting in a musing smirk. Then she said, “This was a gift celebrating her change in identity. I always thought that was too special for me to just wear it wherever. But tonight I didn’t even hesitate. I just wore it. I thought at first it was because it was so perfect for my costume. But now that I’m here, I realize it’s not that at all. I was finally ready to celebrate my own public change in identity.”
She reached over to a nearby woman who was talking to a man. I surmised the influence of Queen Akasha and Angel, respectively. Anne took her hand and gave it a squeeze. ‘Akasha’ instinctively returned the squeeze, then glanced over to give us a smile.
“I thought I wanted to dress up as a vampire to be sexy and powerful,” Anne continued. “But when I got here, I realized that what I’d actually dressed up as was me. The real me. And you know what? Me being me is sexy and powerful. No more hiding.”
A Fractured World
For me, that night, the inclusive nature of vampire lore transitioned from page to reality, from a means of entertainment to a means for self-expression. These people owned their interests and empowered themselves by doing so. They used their love of vampires to taste some freedom, the freedom to be themselves, in a safe environment with like-minded people. For some, after a taste of openly being themselves, there was no going back into the shadows.
This wasn’t a vampire pansexual orgy. It was a convention of self-expression. It was a safe place. The fangs were just an excuse to get there.
That’s when I realized why the museum director had invited me. No, not because I was into vampire stuff and a total horn-dog. Though of course I am both of those things. She invited me because I’m a kindred spirit, a good listener, an ally. And, maybe, just maybe, a friend to someone who needs one. This latter point means much more than just sharing a drink or a laugh (or a fluid).
As author Richard Reeves observed in his excellent Big Think video, The Friendship Recession, “One of the necessary steps to making a friend is admitting that you want to make a friend, to being open to that. That requires a certain vulnerability. It requires you, in some ways, to reveal a need, a desire… saying ‘I need a friend,’ is maybe one of the hardest sentences that any human being can utter.”
Those who are marginalized by society are already vulnerable, and justifiably hesitant to reach out.
“Sexuality has been a favorite target for those who would wish to silence and control people,” says Dr. Hartmann. “We must always be vigilant about not letting this happen. We do better as a society when we accept each other’s sexual expression.”
“The sexy vampire stuff is great, but we also need to look at the more challenging things, so we’re aware of all aspects of sexuality. The EHM is a space primarily seeking to empower women, LGBTQ people, and other traditionally marginalized segments of the sexual spectrum. Sexuality doesn’t have outliers, and this museum is meant to be all-inclusive. We want to celebrate everyone’s erotic history in a non-judgmental space of acceptance.”
Ultimately, this party was about more than consenting adults using sexuality to express themselves naturally. It was about the human need to reach out to other people, and to feel accepted by them. Amazingly, it was a shared interest in vampires that helped many overcome hesitation, to try to connect. Vampire orgies can build friendships with others, and also ourselves. I say live a little.