I stumbled upon it, like most good things in my life, by happy accident.
My best friend, Anita, and I were strolling through the aisles of Half Price Books, looking for last-minute Christmas presents. I was trusting in Anita’s superior bookstore knowledge and absently following her footsteps when a specific book cover caught my eye.
The background was entirely white while in front two eerily similar women (most likely the same model twice) leaned toward each other in a kiss. The women wore heavy makeup and scarlet nails, and they were as pale as the background itself. Seemingly, to assuage its own fears that this was too subtle, the title happily filled in the blanks for those still left in the dark: “Girls Who Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica.”
Needless to say, this title caught my attention.
Knowing Anita’s love for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” it seemed like that this book was made for her. I felt obligated as her friend to make sure that this book was in her life, whether or not she wanted it. In fact, Anita did not seem entirely excited when she saw the book in my hands, and she looked even less thrilled to accompany me to the register. However, I was determined. Anita and I were going to read this book.
During my checkout process, the cashier immediately commented on my purchase.
She said she passed it daily and it would always make her pause. I shrugged and said that I would have to come back and tell her how it was. On my way out, I retroactively realized how flirtatious this offhand comment must have sounded. Maybe the confidence boosting power of “Girls Who Bite” was already rubbing off on me. Maybe I read too much into every social interaction. Who can say.
The only certainty in my life, at the moment, was that I had never been that excited to read anything. Making plans to read erotica with Anita had never been on the itinerary before, but now, inexplicably we had finally reached that stage of friendship. I was ready to discover the unknown.
Nothing could have really prepared for what the reading of this book was going to be like. “Girls Who Bite” comprises 15 short stories from different writers. Each story touches upon the theme of “lesbian vampire erotica,” yet most authors only use this as a starting point for their erotic fiction. From stories centered upon a crew of lesbian vampire pirates (“Red Horizons”) to buddy cops stories with immensely complicated backstories (“Dark Guard”), there is more variety in the vampire genre than I previously anticipated. Still, despite this range of narratives, there were a few striking similarities in every erotic offering.
There were some memorable words that kept popping up during the stories, such as “nubs” and “cupping.” I’d like to point out that I am woefully ignorant about erotica in general, but the bizarre vocabulary choices just seemed ridiculous. Far from eliciting a sexual response, these words deeply confused us. What are “nubs”? Why does every story, without fail, mention cupping? Are these essential aspects of sex that I’ve been messing out on?
It was also deeply comical to see just how many different words for “vagina” that the talented authors in “Girls Who Bite” could come up with. Words such as “center,” “folds” and “entrance” were all fascinating to consider in erotic contexts. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing sexier than hearing about a vampire’s “stimulated erogenous zone.” Reading these words were always a little jarring, but also relatable — what writer hasn’t gotten creative with vocabulary after using the same word a dozen times?
The biggest difficulty with “Girls Who Bite” was finding a place to read it together. Anita and I prefered to read aloud each short story to each other, punctuated with our own commentary. However, this was obviously hard to do in the presence of other people. During a brief trip to Tahoe, I undoubtedly alienated both my parents and my brother by making no effort to hide the book in our shared hotel room. Anita and I had the politeness to refrain from reading until my parents went to bed, but my brother was probably a tad disconcerted by our nightly ritual of reading passages out loud to each other.
After the initial shock wore off, I had to come to terms with something. I was shocked to discover that I actually grew to love the book, A great deal of pleasure came from its reading, although probably not the exact type of pleasure the authors might have anticipated. I think most of this was due to whom I was reading “Girls Who Bite” with. Cackling alongside Anita, I was reminded again and again of how much I appreciate our friendship with each new story. Our laughter in unison was a reaffirmation of how close our sense of humor is and a testament to how the strangest things can bring people together — such as cupping.