May 13 2011 5:00pm

A Party to Die For: Night-Clubbing in Paranormal Romance

Eliza Dushku as Echo in Dollhouse

“Welcome to Guilty Pleasures. We are here to serve you. To make your most evil thought come true.”

~Jean-Claude, owner, Guilty Pleasures (Guilty Pleasures, Book I, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series)

In chapter three of Laurell K. Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures, Anita arrives at the eponymously named nightclub for a surprise bachelorette party for her friend Catherine, thrown at the last minute by one of Catherine's co-workers, a lawyer named Monica. The club is so hot it doesn't take reservations, yet Monica has her own table.

When told that the entertainment is about to begin, Catherine asks, “Entertainment?” Anita smiles in return and responds, “Welcome to the world's only vampire strip club, Catherine.”

It's a heady scene. The cat-and-mouse game between Jean-Claude and Anita is revealed, as is her not-quite-human ability to remain out of thrall when other humans are pulled under a vampire's spell.

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. HamiltonTaking the stage first is Phillip, a gorgeously built human stripper scarred by bite marks. He makes his way to Monica's table, where she sits waving cash. Before biting him she is eager; afterward “her eyes held that lazy fullness that sex gives...she was basking in the afterglow.”

Next up, a vampire, who decides to make a meal out of Phillip. The vampire horrifies Anita because he drinks from Phillip without bespelling him. Though Phillip is horrified, he appears to have enjoyed his painful experience. And then...and then Anita's beeper sounds off, and she departs.

Night clubs feature heavily in urban fantasy. For an appropriate visual, harken back to the cantina scene from Star Wars, all sexed up:

Star Wars Cantina scene








Half vampire/half werewolf Riley Jenson visits the Blue Moon nightclub in several of the books in Keri Arthur's urban fantasy series, to satiate herself when experiencing moon heat/moon fever surrounding the full moon. The smells and sounds of sex surround the reader during these visits. Riley's need is such that she reserves a table at the club for the last two days before a full moon.

The dance floor was a sea of naked, gyrating flesh, and most of the tables were occupied. The air was as hot as the music and rich with the scent of lust and sex. I breathed deep, allowing the atmosphere to soak through every pore, right into my bones.

~ Riley Jenson (Full Moon Rising, Book I, Riley Jenson series)

Riley undresses, putting her clothes in a locker, then makes her way back to the dance floor. Another patron leads her into a dance that is “sensual and playful,” and she realizes that between the moon, atmosphere, and her own “raging hormones, she was primed to take...or be taken. Had she not been on a case, she “might have done both, right there, right then.”

I never really thought about it, but after reading a critique of this book on Goodreads, I too wondered about “the need to have sex for 7 days a month, 84 days a year, or one-quarter of your life.”

Now You Can Own a Piece of Your Favorite Fictional Nightclub Too!The night club plays a prominent enough role in Gena Showalter's Lords of the Universe that it didn't take much effort to find a Club Destiny baby doll t-shirt for sale online. I was less surprised to find a shirt for ZeroSum, Rehvenge's notorious night club in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

ZeroSum may be the most infamous of urban fantasy night clubs. Megan Frampton wrote about Rehvenge—whom she deems the most fucked of the BDB—and ZeroSum in the recent KhageMatchh between Zsadist and Rehvenge:

“Rehvenge dulls his symphath nature with drugs, the side effects of which leave him numb, impotent and constantly cold. He walks with a cane, owns a nightclub where all sorts of nefarious things go on under his watch—not to mention, he’s a pimp and drug dealer. Oh, and he’s having all kinds of nasty blackmail sex with his half-sister.”

Which means that gambling, drug dealing, and prostitution are among ZeroSum's VIP services, which caters to the rich and heavily armed.

ZeroSum is the kind of place that packs 'em in. “Liquor sales were good. But the drugs and sex had even higher profit margins.” Xhex, the female head of security (and star of Lover Mine), wanders through the bar one night wondering why she attracts so much sexual attention given that she wears muscle shirts, leather pants, and sports a buzz cut:

She caught attention as much as the half-dressed prostitutes up in the VIP area did. Then again, rough sex was in fashion these days, and volunteers for autoerotic asphyxiation and ass-crack whippings and three ways with handcuffs were like the rats in Caldwell’s sewer system: everywhere and out at night. Which resulted in over a third of the club’s profits every month.

~ Xhex (Lover Avenged, Book VII, BDB series)

Lover Avenged by J. R. WardGuys named Trez and iAm work for the Rehv, and Brothers who visit tend to wear Affliction Ts, Z-Brands, combat boots, and black leather jackets covering their guns and knives. The HBIC (head bitch in charge) in the VIP section is a hooker who earns big money at the club named Marie-Terese. Among the most attractive women at ZeroSum are those who don't per se work for sex; they still “give it up for money, a more legal fashion called a relationship,” wear short, tight clothing, often sans panties, readily displaying their “below-the-waist” assets of the Brazilian kind.

ZeroSum is no more, though, by the end of Lover Avenged. The Rehv does what romance novel heroes have done for years; he “proves” his unworthiness to the heroine by having her witness the whores and the drugs so she won't miss him when he's gone. Where's he going? Into hiding, natch—he blows the place to kingdom come, leaving others to assume he's dead and gone.

The Rehv, though, isn't entirely out of the biz, though; mentioned both in the BDB and Ward's newer Fallen Angel series, is Iron Mask, his goth sex club. Xhex describes the music at ZeroSum as technopop. By contrast, the music at the Iron Mask is “acoustic suicide, as depressive as anything that ever carried a backbeat.” There's no dance floor or VIP section and fewer drugs. Instead of the “sparkly jackass set” who frequented ZeroSum, Iron Mask, with its “neo-Victorian” decor, is filled with moody, introspective Goths. While both clubs share the “escapist vibe,” there are lots more places for sex at the Iron Mask.

As a married suburbanite, it's been many a year since I frequented night clubs. Goodness, how things have changed! <g>

Which paranormal nightclub would you most like to hang out at?


Laurie Gold cannot stop reading and writing about romance—she’s been blabbing online for years. She remains a work in progress. Be one of the few who visits her at Toe in the Water or follow her may-be-too-political-for-you tweets at @laurie_gold.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Brook Freeman
1. longstrider
Monica is not a vampire. She's in thrall to the vampires.
Laurie Gold
2. LaurieGold
When I read through the text to write this piece, and again just now, I read that Monica bites the guy's neck and sucks his blood. So I put two and two together. But I just now found an Anita Blake wiki and read that she is indeed human. I'll ask Megan to correct things. I apologize.
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
Hey @LongStrider and @LaurieGold, I'll go in and edit later on today. Thanks for the catch, guys!
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