The Joy of Vampire Sex: The Schlocky, Sensual Secrets Behind the Success of 'True Blood'

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Moyer and Paquin started dating a few months into the show. She had just moved to L.A. from New York, he was newly arrived from London, and the network put them up at the same hotel. They started having breakfast together every morning at a cafe in West Hollywood, and they told each other everything about themselves. Their first kiss happened onscreen, but when they took a break in filming, they found that they wanted to keep talking on the phone at night. "It was like, 'That would be all right, wouldn't it?'" Moyer says. "Nothing has to happen here! It's just one puff!" Within a few months, Moyer's girlfriend in London was out of the picture. Now, the marriage is impending—Paquin is wearing an engagement ring, a rustic diamond in an antiqued platinum inset, even though she's not a "jewelry girl." "We pretty much consider ourselves married now, even though we aren't yet," says Moyer over lunch, then takes a beat. "Doesn't it make you a little sick in your mouth?"

Moyer is the opposite of Skarsgård—he's perky, flirtatious and open, referring to every woman under 80 as "darling." He might not feel great about Skarsgård rubbing up naked against Paquin, but he deals with it. "I do wear a sock in my scenes, but I've got nothing to hide," he says, sniffing a little. "I just think it might be embarrassing for the crew." At 40, he's been an actor for almost 20 years since he left Essex, where he grew up the son of a secretary and a double-glazing salesman—"although he did have a pet company called Petarama, but that was a pet project, wah-wah-wah." He loved buying records, and was never more upset than when Elvis and John Lennon died. He tried piano and trumpet, but ended up the head of the local choir in his adolescence, and he formed bands with his friends, including "Rod, Jane, Freddy and Mike" (a play on the Seventies band) and "BP." "Our logo was the same as British Petroleum's, except we added a pair of boys' fronts and changed it so BP stood for 'Bulging Pants,'" Moyer says.

Moyer got the callback for True Blood the same day his apartment was burglarized. "When you have things stolen, you become much more aware of what's important—fucking take the camera if you want, but don't take the tape that's in it. I lost all those sex tapes, the ones of me giving head when I was young. That was supposed to be my meal ticket."

In conversation, it becomes clear that Moyer enjoys the sexual peculiarities of the show. He loves that vampires are a method of sexual liberation for Sookie. "It's about taking things to the point where normal frames of society wouldn't think that was an OK thing for a young Southern girl to do," he says, then becomes lost in a fantasy. "It's interesting to think about sex as the search for a moment together which is a glorious combination of orgasm and the sexual oneness that might lead to death. Have you ever read William Burroughs' Cities of the Red Night? People fuck while attached to nooses on elastic, and when ejaculation happens the floor falls away." He smiles a little. "But Bill would be able tobring her back, wouldn't he? Hmm."

Soon after sharing that daydream, he's out the door. "Got to go find some cherubic, virginal flesh. See you later!" he says.

So there you go. Here's some evidence that a beautiful love story can flower in the midst of a TV show about vampires. After all, True Blood isn't just about sex and gore, and as we've seen, it's not about gay persecution either. Series creator Ball says that it's about something else entirely: It's about self-fulfillment, about wriggling out of the clutches of repression, about letting go of the things that define you—whether vampire or human—to find the real person underneath.

Ball experienced a lot of death when he was young: As a teenager, his sister died in a car accident while he was in the car, followed by the death of his grandparents and his father. "For me, death was a reality, a companion, a force that was just there in life and could show up anytime," he says. "It's hard for me to get interested in stories that ignore death, which is what American marketing culture would like to do: pretend that death doesn't exist, that you can buy immortality; just buy these products, and you'll be forever young and happy."

Instead, Ball figured out another path to happiness. He fi nally loosened the bounds of his WASPy household, where he had learned to suppress his feelings early, and came out as gay at 33. "I was conveniently bisexual for a long time, and then I went, 'Come on, who am I kidding?'" he says. "And I have to say, it was the single biggest step I took toward emotional well-being, to stop feeling like I had to hide who I am. I'm not saying that being gay is what defines me, but at the same time, if you feel like you have to hide it, then it becomes what defines you. You keep it hidden, and the secret becomes you."

Then again, True Blood is just nasty fun. "You know, working on Six Feet Under could sometimes be depressing, but True Blood is very different—it's about archetypes, the subconscious, mythology and wish fulfillment," he says. "I'm like a kid going to the playground every day."

This article appears in the September 2, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

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