Unlike the foul-smelling and gross folk vampires, modern vampires are generally more sophisticated and take better care of their appearances among the living.
The sexual allure and prowess of vampires is almost entirely a literary embellishment, again owed chiefly to the Victorian imagination of Bram Stoker. There is little doubt that the popular success of vampires has been enhanced by their dangerous sexuality.
These dark lovers were nearly perfect for a society that discouraged open expression of sexuality, especially for women. Vampires embodied both forbidden sexuality and escape from death but their wretched form of existence was punishment for their transgression.
From the tenuous balance of comedy and drama in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the title character is eventually wooed by not just one but two of the formerly living (each with restored souls), to the thoughtful Edward of Twilight, vampires have come a long way from the still purely evil, but seductive, Dracula.
In recent years, vampires and other creatures of the night have featured prominently in adult-themed fare, such as innumerable urban fantasy/paranormal romance series in popular television programs such as True Blood, a recent HBO series, also based on a series of books, in which vampirism stands in for issues of race, religion and gender.
Stuck in an in-between world balancing humanity and their own darker natures, vampires traditionally commit monstrous acts because of their inherent supernatural nature.
Recent stories often describe the blood-drinkers plaintively struggling against their fate and trying (in some cases) to become even noble.
Edward and his vampire “family” in the books abstain from feeding on humans. In the True Blood television series, vampire Bill Compton, played by Stephen Moyer, is a Southern gentleman of the oldest school, being turned into a vampire during the American Civil War that attempts to build bridges between vampire and human society.