Are vampires emotionally dead creatures whose passions died along with that once beating lump of meat in their chests? Are they cursed to walk the avenues of night with nothing but the memories and echoes of mortal loves to sustain them through eternity?
If this is true, however, why do the myriad writings speak of the Kindred passions in the hunt, the embrace, the nightly Kiss that prolongs eternal life and brings ecstasy to victor and victim? Why are the Kindred described as feeling desire, remorse, lust, anger, hurt, jealousy, and a myriad of other emotional reactions? Obviously the death of the Vampire heart is a fiction, a lie perpetrated by the old upon the young to explain the ennui and failing humanity that comes with age and moral compromise as the Kindred marches further and further into eternal night, ever more distant from the memory of their mortal existence.
Vampires do suffer the cacophony of emotional turmoil - desire, anguish, lust, and heartbreak are all real companions on the endless dark road of the Embraced. Their bodies may no longer function the way they did in life, but the Vampire still feels as acutely as ever. Love, anger, hatred, lust, and even pleasure. Pleasure, the honeyed cup that passes to our lips in a plethora of forms, whether we are alive or undead. What is pleasure to the Vampire? What is erotic to the children of the night?
What form does Vampiric erotica take?
Many think of pleasures of the flesh when the word 'erotica' enters the conversational fray. Carnal desires and gratification are the first, last, and only consideration of the average contemplation of erotica. While the pleasures of the flesh are far from the only form of erotica, this still brings us to an important question. Are carnal pleasures beyond the purvey of the undead?
Yes, and no.
Carnal desire and pleasure is largely a physiological response to stimuli, and is largely sub-conscious. What 'turns us on' varies from culture to culture and person to person, but the physical responses to stimulation are universal - arousal. This is true of every relatively functional human being alive. But Vampires are no longer human, and certainly no longer alive in the medical sense. Their bodies do not function, hormones are not produced, their physical responses are truly dead in any erotically relevant terms. In short, autonomic arousal is impossible for the Kindred.
It is possible for a Vampire to simulate arousal through an expenditure of precious vitae. The male can ready himself to perform through an act of Will, and the female can be receptive through a similar moment of decision - although close examination of the 'aroused' female Vampire is unwise, since it is blood with which she prepares herself for the act. Neither will respond involuntarily to any amount of physical or emotional stimuli, no Vampire will ever become physically 'turned on' unless they choose to seem to be. In the end, it will always be a simulation, and not the hot, sweaty, and steamy coupling of their remembered mortality. The vampire body is cold and unyielding, stiff, dry and dead to the touch. Even more precious blood must be wasted for the Kindred to temporarily do away with these realities as well.
Your average Vampire is reticent to waste so much vitae just to simulate an act which will never give them the pleasure they once felt. They are even less eager to pursue this pointless exercise when they compare fruitless carnal couplings with the intensity and ecstasy of the Kiss - of feeding.
The Kiss has been described by a Vampire himself in this fashion: ' drinking the finest champagne and the sensation of the most sensual lovemaking you've ever experienced. Overlay that with the rush the opium fiend feels as he takes that first breath on the pipe ' (Vampire: the Masquerade, 3rd edition, Prologue: p.5)
A powerful description, and undeniably one that paints an image of the heights of pleasure. Does this mean that feeding becomes the only pleasure in a Vampire's nightly existence?
No. Not necessarily.
Feeding may be the epitome of physical pleasure for the undead, but the realm of the physical is far from the summation of all things erotic. The mind and emotions play the largest part in what anyone responds to as erotica, and these faculties are still powerfully functional in every Kindred.
What is erotic and erotica quickly becomes a game of the mind and heart for the undead. Feeding brings them life and pleasure, but the means by which they garner their prey can become a large part of their new erotica.
For some, the hunt becomes an intense rush of pursuit, capture, and sanguine rape. They stalk their potential victims carefully, admiring them, lusting after them, imagining the final moments far in advance, building themselves towards a frenzy of desire. They sweep down upon their intended meal and drag them into their embrace, reveling in a viciously sensual coupling with an unwilling victim that is as ecstatic and erotic for the Vampire as any sexual release.
Others plan their feedings with deliberation, weaving elaborate seductions of the mind and heart that lead to the final willing - even eager - surrendering by their 'lover' of both body and blood. The Vampire builds herself into an icon of sensuality and passion in the eyes of her paramour, while elevating her victim on a pedestal of desire. The final Kiss becomes an emotional and physical apex of pleasure for both. Victims of these grand seductions are often helplessly enslaved to the passions and desires of their dark 'lover', while the Vampire becomes so intensely focused on her play of pleasure that she may come to love her mortal vessel, or at least believe she does.
There are many ways that this kind of substitute eroticism can be manifested, but beyond even this there are many ways for Vampires to be erotically active and sensual beings.
Beside the means and ways of feeding, there are other forms of erotica and gratification for the Kindred, each of them methods that reach to the mind and heart.
Many Vampires develop voyeurism of one type or another as they find their emotions piqued by visions of beauty. A Vampire does not need to be from the clan of the Toreador to develop a fascination for beautiful things, and in the realm of the erotic it is possible for many Kindred to develop a taste for 'watching'. This voyeurism may take the form of peeping in windows of favorite victims or enraptured ghouls. In the more brazen it may take the form of staging erotic or sexual 'performances' from the romantic to the lurid that the Kindred oversees and watches openly. Or it may simply be long and sensual contemplation of a beautiful figure as he or she lounges before an admiring master.
A step beyond this voyeuristic pleasure is the vicarious enjoyment of sensuality with the intended victim or favored 'partner'. The Vampire gains their pleasure from watching the effect of their touch or caress on their paramour. This form of vicarious eroticism can take many guises, from the gently passionate lover that brings their partner to the heights of ecstasy through a night of erotic massage, to the sadistic dominant that tortures their submissive into orgasmic release. However it is accomplished, the Vampire participates only vicariously, drawing their own satisfaction from watching the emotional and physical heights of their mortal 'lover'.
Vampires are not reduced to sexless and emotionless creatures by the death of their mortal bodies, they are simply redefined, and are still capable of living richly erotic and sensual lives. The act of mere sex may no longer play a direct part in their eroticism, but this lack is by no means a death of sensuality, merely a change.
And to some - even a refinement.