Potpourri: More Than Just Links Cause There’s Twilightness

It’s not just links, it’s an internetical experience. Ready:

First: from SpiritHorse, a link to MookyChick’s list of Victorian slang sexual terms. Warning: NSFW due to very hot vintage nude photographs and daguerrotypes in the margin – gosh, remember when you saw pictures of women naked and your first thought wasn’t “Get her a sandwich, stat?!” No? Neither do I.

I’m not entirely sure of the source of the MookyChick list, as I don’t see a citation – unless I missed it in my re-read. I am planning to work “green gown” and “whirligigs” into conversation as soon as possible.

Here’s a new theory from the “Hur, wut?” Department: According to Stephen Marche of Esquire, vampire romances are popular because young straight women want to have sex with gay men. Ooh, so THAT’s it.

Marche’s point is that what used to be considered freaky is now normal, mostly because “Everyone is a freak, even the people who claim to rail against freakiness.”

Twilight’s fantasy is that the gorgeous gay guy can be your boyfriend, and for the slightly awkward teenage girls who consume the books and movies, that’s the clincher. Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening. That’s what everybody wants, isn’t it? Sex that’s dangerous and safe at the same time, risky but comfortable, gooey and violent but also traditional and loving. In the bedroom, we want to have one foot in the twenty-first century and another in the nineteenth.

I see the point but I don’t agree. I think, and have said before, that Edward’s appeal, and the appeal of many vampires, is a throwback to the old-skool romance Alpha hero, punishing kisses and all.

But the question of vampires as representative of gay men is curious – because in most portrayals, vampires are almost always the most depraved or the strongest and most superior to humans.

And speaking of Edward, Tina sent me a JPG of a DVD that’s being rereleased with new cover art?

Why? Because thar be Pattinson ahoy.

Check out the new cover for the 2006 film The Haunted Airman.

image

image

You think in 25 years, his contract will call for copious undereye shadows and a sullen, pale face that continues the trend of totally milking his Twilightism? Hey, maybe that’s what it’s called. Twilightism. Deep shadows under your eyes, oddly bulging eyeballs, pale skin, and utterly befuddled expression.

 

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  1. 1

    LMAO!  The more I read your blog, the more I realize that you and I think a lot alike!

  2. 2
    joanneL says:

    You think in 25 years, his contract will call for copious undereye shadows and a sullen, pale face

    You think in 25 years, his contract will call for copious undereye shadows and a sullen, pale face…

    Hell, that’s done well to pay the bills for years for Ozzy Osbourne.

    Re: vamps in romance books—there is also that search for eternal youth that can cost a fortune at the Lancome counter but is free with just one bite.  And power. Even if the power twinkles it often has more appeal than the constraints in the everyday life of many women.

  3. 3
    AgTigress says:

    Many of the words and expressions are (long) pre-Victorian, of course.  Slang/cant terms up to the late 18th century can be found, as I am sure you all know, in Francis Grose’s The Vulgar Tongue (1785 / 1811).  I think the 1811 edition has additions to the 1785 dictionary, and is available as a modern reprint:  I have not inspected a copy of the original edition, but possess a reprint of the 1811 one.  At least some, and possibly most, of the definitions on that website are quoted directly from Grose (e.g. at a random glance, “Bunter:  a low dirty prostitute, half whore and half beggar”).
    Grose’s dictionary is not confined to sexual terms, and includes both everyday colloquialisms and many expressions that were used only in the criminal underworld, and would certainly not have been familiar in the more respectable echelons of society.  Like all jargon, thieves’ cant was intentionally exclusive, intended to be understood only within a given fraternity.  The dictionary was one of Georgette Heyer’s basic sources for her recreation of everyday Georgian/Regency slang. 
    I think that the information on the link is useful, but could, perhaps, say a little more about context and register.  Many of the terms would probably have been unfamiliar to ‘respectable’ women, and possibly men, too.

  4. 4

    Ha!  I just used the “barber chair” metaphor in a manuscript. 

    I have Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, which is a lot of fun, and Captain Groce’s[sp?] slang and cant dictionary from the early 19th C.  That one includes some great terms for being drunk or vomiting on your drinking companions—much like what you would find in “Texts From Last Night”.

    Truly, there’s nothing new under the sun.

  5. 5

    There seem to be a lot of theories about, and a lot of interest in, vampires at the moment. Just looking at a few of the recent announcements of conferences on H-Net there’s

    Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture

    Since their animation out of folk materials in the nineteenth century, by Polidori, as Varney and in Le Fanu and Stoker, vampires have been continually reborn in modern culture. They have stalked texts from Marx’s image of the leeching capitalist, through Pater’s Lady Lisa of tainted knowledge, to the multifarious incarnations in contemporary fictions in print and on screen. They have enacted a host of anxieties and desires, shifting shape as the culture they are brought to life in itself changes form.

    and various forthcoming PCA/ACA sessions about vampires have been announced which focus on Twilight, Trueblood/Sookie Stackhouse, Buffy and The Vampire in Literature, Culture and Film.

    I think Marche might have had a valid point if he’d stopped at saying that

    HBO’s cult series connects vampirism to homosexuality explicitly. In the opening credits — best opening credits ever? — a passing road sign reads GOD HATES FANGS. The vampires call the humans “breathers” instead of “breeders,” and the series opens with a talk-show interview about vampires “mainstreaming,” or “coming out of the coffin.”

    But the fact remains that it’s quite possible to make comparisons between one group and another without implying that one group represents or is synonymous with the other. And extrapolating from a metaphor or comparison made in one work of popular culture in order to make sweeping assumptions about the sexual desires of viewers/readers of a different work of popular culture may provide the reader of his article with a glimpse into Marche’s own stream of consciousness, but it’s hardly rigorous, evidence-based analysis.

  6. 6
    AgTigress says:

    People might like to know that Grose’s dictionary (the revised 1811 edition) is also available online:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5402

  7. 7
    JJ says:

    I agree with you that Edward is a traditional alpha male, although now that you mention it, I can sort of see the argument for TWILIGHT vampires = gay. I mean, COME ON…they sparkle, they’re rich, they’re well-dressed, AND THEY DON’T WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU.

    I did a lot of research into Victorian slang for my novel (which is actually YA). Oh those wacky repressed Victorians—-they were not at all as sexually ignorant as convention makes them out to be. The upper classes were certainly discreet, but isn’t that still true in these modern times? (Not to draw broad, sweeping generalizations, of course.) To those people who say Victorians were prudes and/or repressed, I can only direct you to James Joyce’s letters to Nora Barnacle. (WARNING: SO NOT SAFE FOR WORK. OR PERHAPS YOUR SANITY. READ WITH CAUTION.)

  8. 8
    Mary G says:

    The interesting thing for me about the Victorian slang is that some of the terms are still quite common in both the UK and/or Australia.  Eg: “Roger”, “Bedfordshire”, “Bollocks”. 

    Also interesting are derivations (Eg: “Tallywhacker” – male masturbation or penis, seems to have come from Tallywags) or same word used, but with a different meaning: Eg: Nib – now refers to a penis instead of a woman’s mouth.

    I love the English language… all variations, different national idioms and generations of it! There’s something really delightful about how flexible, adaptable and colorful it can be.

  9. 9

    Aw, I was hoping against hope that the Victorian slang index would have my favorite UK / Antipodean slang term for the lady bits—front-bottom. Dang, must be a recent development.

  10. 10
    Ken Houghton says:

    I’ve used “whirlygigs” for years, and heard it used by others, but never in that context.

    Am I the only one who suspects that treating women’s breasts as “Cupid’s kettle drums” is more likely to ruin the moment than lengthen it? (“But, honey, you said we were using the rhythm method…”)

  11. 11
    Jan Oda says:

    Aw, I was hoping against hope that the Victorian slang index would have my favorite UK / Antipodean slang term for the lady bits—front-bottom. Dang, must be a recent development.

    6 or 7 years ago, my young niece asked me (in Dutch), if I already had hair on my front-bottom. I died laughing. What I find curious is that apparantly the same slang term is being used across languages, which isn’t that very common I believe. (Just for reference, the Dutch word would be ‘voor-poep’)

  12. 12
    Leslie says:

    First off, meh on Robert Pattison. I just don’t find him good looking at all. I’ve yet to see a picture that does anything for me.

    But I loved your link to the Victorian slang terms.  It was a hoot to read. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can use any of it in my Victorian novels. Modern readers would have no clue what those words meant and would prefer to read more contemporary terms.

    I did think the nudes were beautiful though and none needed a sandwich!

  13. 13
    joykenn says:

    Ah,“copious undereye shadows”—check.  “Sullen, pale face”—check.  Thin, hollow-checked face—check.  Dark tangled hair—check.  Didn’t they used to call models who looked like that “heroin chic”.  Not at all attractive to me but I’m no 14 year old girl.  Maybe someone who looks like he could use a good meal, some vitamins and detox is appealing to some but I prefer a healthier apprearence.

  14. 14
    AgTigress says:

    Aw, I was hoping against hope that the Victorian slang index would have my favorite UK / Antipodean slang term for the lady bits—front-bottom. Dang, must be a recent development.

    Yes, ‘front bottom’ is quite recent. It isn’t in the 1961 edition of Partridge, and I certainly never heard it as a child or adolescent in the 1940s-1950s.  I became aware of it only in the 1970s or so, specifically as a childish euphemism.

  15. 15
    Alpha Lyra says:

    I read that article about vampires earlier, and I didn’t buy it either. Edward doesn’t strike me as being representative of gay men at all. Instead, I think Twilight is a classic “bad boy” fantasy where Bella gets to experience the thrill of being with a guy who is scary and dangerous without suffering what would be the real-life consequences of such a relationship (high likelihood of abuse).

  16. 16
    Lostshadows says:

    To me, the whole vamps=gay argument lost any credibility when I ran across this quote:

    Vampire fiction for young women is the equivalent of lesbian porn for men: Both create an atmosphere of sexual abandon that is nonthreatening.

    I’m really not buying that as the main reason men like lesbian porn.

  17. 17
    liz m says:

    I’m still stuck on men like lesbian porn…… OH! VIEWING IT!!!! ok, I thought he lived in some world where they READ it.

    Whew.

  18. 18

    Is Robert Pattinson already type-cast? If so, I hope he has a very very good percentage-of-profits deal, because the species known as the teenage girl is a fickle one. What is he going to do when Twilight is remembered with embarrassed giggles and hasty declarations of rejection? Or am I being too harsh? It’s possible I’m being too harsh. I’m being too harsh, aren’t I. Hmmmm. Wonder where he gets his hair goop from?

    (What he needs to do now is star in a play on West End where he strips down to his birthday suit, smokes and swears a lot. It worked for another young actor in danger of being type-cast. Oh, wait…Daniel Radcliffe can, in fact, act.  Uh-oh, I’m being harsh again. Sorry.)

  19. 19
    beggar1015 says:

    It seems my vampire days are long past since reading Anne Rice books. I tried to get on the bandwagon with everyone else, downloading Halfway To The Grave and Dead Until Dark (something like that – whatever that Sookie Stackhouse book is. And what kind of name is Sookie, I ask you?!?) Anyway, I got a couple of pages into each book and realized, Eh. I didn’t care about any of the characters or what was going on. That Grave book just made me think of Buffy done lite. I’m anxiously waiting for this literary fad to pass on to the next thing. Perhaps then I can join the crowd.

  20. 20

    And what kind of name is Sookie, I ask you?!?

    I’d wondered if it had anything to do with the word “sook,” meaning “to suck,” which seemed appropriate given that there are so many vampires in the Sookie novels. But then I had a look to see how common the word “sook” is, and now I’m wondering if it’s pretty much only used in Scotland.

  21. 21
    Beadgirl says:

    I haven’t read much of the recent vampire lit, but I think there is something to the guy’s point (not that it applies to every vampire, by any means, or that everything he says is right).  After all, a lot of hoopla around Interview with the Vampire back in the day was about how vampirism was a metaphor (intended or not) for AIDS.  And I know little about film theory, but I remember watching a documentary that said during the Hays Code period filmmakers often used vampires (among other character types) as a stand-in for gay men.

  22. 22
    Lostshadows says:

    After all, a lot of hoopla around Interview with the Vampire back in the day was about how vampirism was a metaphor (intended or not) for AIDS

    I’m guessing most of these people missed the fact that the book came out in the mid 70s.

    but I remember watching a documentary that said during the Hays Code period filmmakers often used vampires (among other character types) as a stand-in for gay men

    Now my brain is trying to picture vampires in Tennessee Williams adaptations from that period.

  23. 23
    DS says:

    The connection between Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and gay culture was discussed when the book first came out—in fact the first person who urged me to read it was a gay friend who thoroughly identified with it—and this was very pre-AIDS.

  24. 24
    Tina C. says:

    And what kind of name is Sookie, I ask you?!?

    According to the three or four baby name sites I just visited:  “SOOKIE, SUKY – nicknames for Susan or Susannah”, particularly in the deep American South.  (I say “deep South” as I’m from a state that is considered southern and I’ve never known anyone with that name.)

    I also read that Charlaine Harris has said in an interview that it was the name of a friend of her mother’s, but considering that I didn’t read the actual interview where she said that, you can take it with a grain of salt.

  25. 25
    kaigou says:

    Frankly, I think Stephen Marche’s argument is really a whole lot of window-dressing for the same complaint all adolescent boys make: “why do the girls I want to sleep with, never want to sleep with me?” There’s always a scapegoat, and for Marche, it’s to blame Teh Ghey: easier than admitting that what’s lurking under his observations is that tweeny girls would rather hang out with boys who do not beg, cajole, coax, and generally pressure them into having sex, and at that age, the only ones not gungo-ho about that game are the gay boys.

    Yeah, so much easier to blame the girls—and for a two-fer, blame the gays as well!—instead of maybe considering that possibly teenage girls don’t like the pressure they get from het boys. Yeah. Much easier.

    Or maybe I’m just really cynical like that.

  26. 26
    Anaquana says:

    Am I the only one who can’t get the Victorian slang site to come up?

      And what kind of name is Sookie, I ask you?!?

    According to the three or four baby name sites I just visited:  “SOOKIE, SUKY – nicknames for Susan or Susannah”, particularly in the deep American South.  (I say “deep South” as I’m from a state that is considered southern and I’ve never known anyone with that name.)

    I also read that Charlaine Harris has said in an interview that it was the name of a friend of her mother’s, but considering that I didn’t read the actual interview where she said that, you can take it with a grain of salt.

    Sookie was also the name of one of the characters on The Gilmore Girls.

  27. 27
    oldbitey says:

    My two cents on the appeal of vampires:
    Gay? No way. 21st century vampires have the anti-ageing movement and all that getting-old-is-the-real-evil advertising to thank for their appeal.  What better fantasy? You never grow old, maintain your looks and a strong libido without spending a fortune on Botox, face lifts, boob jobs, collagen injections, vaginal lifts and/or Viagra. Vampires are all about Eternal HAWTNESS

  28. 28
    Miranda C says:

    Am I the only one who can’t get the Victorian slang site to come up?

    I can’t either.  But after reading all the comments, I think I’ll try again in the morning.

  29. 29
    Heidi says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think that the article’s assessment of equating the Vampire trend with the Gay Boyfriend ideal is premature and jumps to too many conclusions with circumstantial evidence. So Polidori based his character off of Byron—how does one man’s homage to his secret heart relate to the tween ideal sparkly man hotcake trend? If we’re supposed to connect the dots between Vampires and Gay Men, then what does that say about other works of vampire fiction where the mysterious vampire is a woman, like Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, who is cast as the source of despair and ruin? I feel that if he had spent more time actively pursuing a wider breadth of today’s vampire fiction and a better analysis of today’s social climate, instead of rehashing choice books from the past and rebranding them (because seriously, I don’t think that Dracula is the best example of “safe and dangerous sex, you go girl!”), he might have made a more convincing point. His generalization that vampires=gay men just doesn’t quite cover it.

  30. 30
    Amanda13 says:

    I read two of the Sookie Stackhouse books at the urging of a friend who loves all things vamp. Ugh.
    I also read two of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Walker books, about a skinwalker, a woman who can turn into a coyote, and has to choose between a hot werewolf and a hot vampire. I threw the second one across the room in disgust and decided that I was not participating in the VAMPIRES/WEREWOLVES ARE HAWT movement. Yuk yuk yuk.
    The theme that runs through the books for me, that makes me feel sort of dirty, is that what women REALLY want is to be dominated by an irresistible, dangerous man. She may THINK she’s a confident, modern, strong woman who knows her own mind, but inside she wants that scary, dangerous wolf/vampire to overcome her and sexx her up, making a real woman out of her. It’s like she’s raped, but she likes it, because her rapist overcomes her resistance and makes her his own personal blood donating bitch.
    Going to the bookstore and checking out the fantasy section is depressing, it’s all vampires, vampire hunters, Anita Blake books where the heroine is all psychically mated to a vampire, a werewolf (and probably the Zombie king for all I know). I loves me some romantic fantasy (The Sharing Knife series), but it gets harder to find as the Vampire Plague takes over.
    I know it’s popular because so much of it is selling, but it squicks me out.

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