Vampirism has given rise to more than its fair share of latter-day metaphors, but perhaps none is as bizarre as the fetishistic criminal known as the piqueur. The French élan of this term can be traced back to what was considered something of an epidemic of this particularly strange crime that took place around 1820. Paris was the central location of the piqueur; especially the area around the Palais Royale. The piqueur was a unique specimen of the vampiristic sadist and though his method of perversion seems to have died out over the centuries, every once in a while this particular type of criminal rises as if to shake off the dust of decades and take his rightful place amongst contemporary depravity.
The piqueur’s relationship to the vampire is through the affectation of fangs. In the case of the piqueur, the fangs were not lodged into the jaw, but simply carried in the hand. The sinking of the fangs of the piqueur was not into the neck, but usually the buttocks of a woman. The modus operandi of the piqueur was to lose himself in a crowd as he withdrew an ice pick or awl or some other easily concealed sharp implement. Safely cauled within the covering of the crowd, the point of this sharp instrument would penetrate the buttocks of a woman in front of him. The piqueur acted quickly, decisively and without an inopportune amount of malice. Rarely did the piqueur cause enough damage that his victim required hospitalization. The sudden and unexpected infliction of pain was enough to satiate this peculiar type of vampire. Lodging the sharp point too densely into the flesh would mean difficulty in withdrawal. The whole point of being a piqueur was to quickly cause a bit of pain and then disappear.
The psychological breakdown of the piqueur is one that places him squarely within the domain of the inferiority complex. The act of anonymous stabbing that causes a fair amount of pain, but little in the way of permanent damage is viewed as a metaphorical rape as much as is it as a metaphorical vampirific biting of the neck. The piqueur is also assumed to be acting out sexual frustration. The fixation on the anonymous victim is the result of a lack of courage or conviction deemed necessary to engaging in a positive sexual relationship with a woman. The act of stabbing the unsuspecting woman in her buttocks carries with it a certain kind of sexual sadism that is obvious, but what may be less obvious is that the backwise attack is also the result of inability to face the woman because even in his sexual daydreams he often faces rejection. The rejection may not be entirely clear; the rejection may not come at the hands of the woman in fantasies, but rather as a result of the inability to complete his end of the fantasy. In other words, lack of sexual ability at his own hand leads to a confusion within his mind that he cannot fulfill his manly function because of actual rejection from the object of his affection.
The action of being a piqueur then becomes an act of revenge that is located confidentially within the buttocks of his particular victim, but is actually far more broadly reaching. The insertion of the ice pick or awl or other type of sharp object takes on a symbolism that extends well beyond the singular act. By stabbing one woman, the piqueur is actually stabbing all womankind. And womankind is that species of creature who has caused him such misery by rejecting his fundamental aspect of humanity: his maleness.
The buttocks are not the only part of the anatomy that the piqueur may attempt to conquer. In addition to suffering from an inferiority complex and in addition to lacking the necessary qualifications to carry on an authentic relationship, the piqueur is usually sexually fixated on the body part he attacks. Some piqueurs go after breasts, others go after the thigh and some even have the morbid courage to attack the face. The most dangerous piqueur is the one with the obsessions with breasts. This danger should be easy enough to detect, but just in case it is not, consider what lies beneath the breasts that could be punctured fatally by the tip of an ice pick.
Wilson, Colin. Mammoth Book of True Crime. 2nd ed. London: Robinson Publishing, 1998.
Wilson, Colin. The Occult. New York: Duncan Baird Publishers/Watkins, 2006.