Color Me Kinky: Blood Fetish

This article is part of an ongoing series in which Ravishly editor Katie Tandy explores the psychology behind a fetish, and writer Jetta Rae DoubleCakes crafts a piece of erotic fiction that reveals how it would manifest in a sexual encounter. Color Me Kinky refers to the "hanky code," a system in which certain colors connote one's sexual interests and proclivities in public spaces. Previously we've written about Foot Fetish (coral), Mommy Play (mint green), Armpit Worship (magenta), and Uniform Worship (olive green). Stay tuned for more science-smut next week, but right now? Revel in bloodlust.

There is perhaps no other substance or symbol more potent than blood; nothing more intrinsically bound up in the sinewy cockles of our collective unconscious. 

Blood is at the very crux of our physical being—every one of us has about a gallon coursing through our veins and arteries; it transports oxygen throughout our body and staves off infection. It's also impossible to synthesize; there is no substitute for blood. 

Blood occupies a huge swath of our idioms; our language and communication is rather steeped in blood. "We've got bad blood." "She's my flesh and blood." "Blood is thicker than water." "Makes my blood boil." "We need some young blood around here." "Blood, sweet, and tears."

We sign things in blood. We make ourselves Blood Brothers. The Blood of the Lamb.

You get the idea.

So, perhaps, you won't drop your jaw or even raise a wary eyebrow when I tell you that a whole array of kinksters have eroticized it. In about a hundred different ways. 

Let's start with the crimson-soaked elephant in the room. Vampirism. 

While many blood fetishists go in for this creatures-of-the-night situation—and indeed this fantasy of foreverness, of biting your way into orgasmic immortality has seen a sharp uptick with the meteoric rise of pop culture bloodsuckers—blood fetish is not synonymous with this.

Also known as Renfield's Syndome (coined in 1992 by psychologist Richard Noll), cases of "clinical vampirism"—bloodletting from another animal (human or otherwise) and gleaning sexual excitement—was formally introduced in 1964, but traces back much further to circa 1860. Psychoanalyst Richard von Krafft-Ebing wrote extensively on sexual deviance in his "classic" tome Psychopathia Sexualis, which detailed everything from cannibalism and necrophilia to sadism, lustmurder, and vampirism. 

Talk about things going bump in the night.

While vampirism has not been incorporated into The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Richard Noll, author of Bizarre Diseases of the Mind, believes it is indeed a bona fide psychosis of sorts in cases where bloodletting becomes . . . lustmurder.

 The first stage is some event that happens before puberty where the child is excited in a sexual way by some event that involves blood injury or the ingestion of blood.  At puberty it becomes fused with sexual fantasies, and the typical person with Renfield Syndrome begins with autovampirism. That is, they begin to drink their own blood and then move on to other living creatures. That's what we know from the few cases we have on record.  It has fetishistic and compulsive components."

Like many fetishes, the research surrounding the psychology of blood play is rather meager; you have to suck the marrow to glean the truth.

But another noted facet of bloodplay is what's called hematolagnia, which unlike the behavior of devoted vampirists, usually involves the arousal of being around blood, as opposed to drinking it, or inflicting wounds. 

In its most benign manifestation, some bloodlusters would get aroused by being at a blood bank, watching the thick clear plastic slowly plump with the thick viscous red, red, red quietly pumping from a stranger's arm. In its most extreme, bloodplay can involve heavy BDSM, using razors or knives to bloodlet your partner causing possible scarring, intense pain . . . and of course, the not-so-latent danger of passing along blood-borne disease. 

It's decidedly a danse macabre.

Yet undoubtedly an intimate one. Giving and receiving pain is predicated on tangible trust, of knowing and respecting one another's edges and allowing yourself to be pushed to that very brink, your heart in your chest—pounding—the wind whipping your face as you bellow your pain-bliss off your precipice.

Anyway. I doth protest too much. Gird your loins and get your lust on below.

When she giggled, it foamed, leaking bubbles through the holes of her plastic ball gag. She liked the black bit gag better, but Madam insisted; she had choked on her own excitation before. She needed to be quiet, but breathing.

Through the makeshift veil of used pantyhose wrapped around her eyes, she caught a flash, a fleeting kiss of light—the knife. Madam had the knife. She jerked on the chain tethering her tiny wrists to the ceiling. She liked having her hands tied behind her, but Madam insisted; in her excitement she had been known to trip over herself. Thus, she was relegated—but not resigned—to hang from the ceiling, her ankles braced apart by a long metal bar.

The rattling of the chain above her gingerly wrung a wry grin from Madam as she waved the knife, sending another glint of malice—a reflection of foreboding—through the sweaty mesh encasing her blushing face.

The shimmering blur came closer, the echo of Madam’s high heels on hardwood flittering up her shivering hips. She writhed and wrenched beneath her panties, now damp and hot—unnervingly desperate. She liked to be naked, laid bare in the joy she took in her own shame, but Madam insisted; she was known to buckle, to grind, and a small layer of cloth would go a long way—as would the sensation of the knife’s handle pressed against the hot wet patch beneath her legs. She foamed. A giggle pulsed through her.

She had been respectable, once. Under the covers, with the lights off. She shrank, almost dutifully, at the sight of herself, accepting the small unassuming shrew the world offered back to her. But Madam insisted; she was meant to take space. And thus the collar stayed on when she left the house. And thus some bagged lunches contained a butt plug to be inserted in the employee bathroom.

And once a month she was to be trussed like this, left to meditate in her own emphatic masochism, and have her purpose—one that she and she alone chose for herself—lovingly etched into the heavy cream of her naked, tingling skin.

The cold tip of the blade begat a hot whisper of pain and ecstasy, and the small massage of a tiny bubble of blood coming out to greet the world. She screamed, her frenzy defiant at her self-imposed restraints.

Through the blindfold, she saw Madam savor a small suckle of blood from the guilty fingertips.

She was to descend into an absence of language. A gleeful riot of invited sabotage. 

Madam would give her the words. Madam would remind her, in slow strokes from her neck down to her navel, of her purpose.

DRINK ME.

At this rate, it would take all night to write.

She leaned towards the loving blur, straining against her shackles. She wanted more. Farther. Deeper. Faster. 

But Madam insisted.

“Patience, little one. If a job is to be done, it’s worth doing right.”

The blade continued its creep. The canvas parted and the blood—oh there would be so much of it before long—heralded the damage with cascades of parading crimson. 

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