In Once Bitten, Lauren Hutton headlines as a ferocious and fashionable vampiress on the prowl. Jim Carrey stars as the goofy virgin who falls into her arms (and fangs). Yet it's Cleavon Little who steals scenes as the beautiful bloodsucker's sass-slinging sidekick, Sebastian.
When this 1985 horror-comedy kicks off, it does so to Sebastian's rhythm, following his nightly ritual of waking the undead. Giving a clue to Once Bitten's cheeky humor, tango music plays as this smirking stud struts through the Countess' modern mansion, adjusting decor and with precision and a pose. It's very nearly a dance scene in itself, with Sebastian clad in knee-high boots and pale jodhpurs, a black-as-night rose clenched between his teeth as he shimmies through his duties.
Clueless mortal Mark (Carrey) writes Sebastian off as a "butler" and "chauffeur." But though he does the bidding of a ravenous vampire, Sebastian is no simple servant or lowly Renfield, groveling and gross. More than just Countess' right-hand man, he's her gay best friend. Sebastian embraces fashion, including the more silky elements of her glitzy wardrobe. And when this glamour girl can't see her reflection in a mirror (pesky vampire rules), it's her most loyal friend who is entrusted with doing her make-up for the big night.
He's a servant, but not subservient. When Countess gives him attitude, Sebastian responds in kind, snarking, "Did we get up on the wrong side of the coffin this morning?" But he's ever there for her, plucking her up when she suffers brutal defeat, or just when she's feeling low and needs a bit of campy humor.
Over the course of Once Bitten, we see Sebastian is so much more than the chauffeur. He's Countess's dedicated partner, playing stay-at-home dad to her children of the night, scolding them as "jocks" when they recklessly smash her things, and seeing them all off to their coffins after a long night of hunting. And most importantly, he loves her even when she's old and gray, promising to care for her for better or for worse.To steal a line for another romance between a straight(ish) woman and a gay man, "Maybe there won't be marriage. Maybe there won't be sex. But by God, there will be dancing."