The Triumphs and Failures of AMC's Interview with the Vampire: Part 1
Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire series on AMC had many triumphs! But...it wasn't without its flaws. We discuss what went well, what went wrong, and what went weird from our asexual point of view.
Courtney: Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Ace Couple Podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And today we are talking about vampires, once again. If you have not listened to it yet, we have already previously posted an episode called Asexual Representation: Interview With The Vampire. And that was Courtney’s take on reading the first book where I would like to submit evidence that Anne Rice’s vampires are in fact asexual. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. We actually already recorded an episode about the second book, The Vampire Lestat, we just haven’t done anything with it yet. So if you want us to release the lost episode of The Ace Couple Podcast, do let us know in the comments or tweet at us.
Royce: What was the intent of that series? How many books do you need to get through before you find your smoking gun? Because you had an idea.
Courtney: I– Well, the thing is every time I hear an allosexual person talk about The Vampire Chronicles, I am left absolutely baffled, flabbergasted, flabberbaffled even, because it’s like we didn’t read the same books at all. I am consistently left wondering if we read the same books. Because I, as a young baby ace reading these books for the first time, felt almost a sense of weird, pseudo-representation in it. Because here you have – take the first book for example, Interview with the Vampire – you have Louis and Lestat who are very clearly, a queer couple who have a child through non-sexual means. And even though there’s this very lush, sensuous world of the vampires, and once they become a vampire all the colors are supposed to be more vivid, they see and sense things that they never did before– So it’s a very sensual world, but way too many allos take that to mean immediately sexual when there is no sex that actually happens on the page. And to my ace eyes reading it, I didn’t even see implied sex in that first book.
Royce: And in some cases it seems to be, like, the allo argument is, “Well, they aren’t having intercourse, but this thing that they are doing is basically vampire sex.”
Courtney: Some people will take it to that extent. Some people will say that they are literally having, like, mortal sex in addition to drinking blood. But some people will also take the, you know, the draining of the blood from someone or the creation of a vampire to be like a metaphor for sex. And I don’t like that either. And– and I pulled some actual quotes from the first book in our last episode about this. So, if you’re curious about our perspective on that book alone, please do go check that out.
Courtney: Now, Anne Rice has written straight up erotica. She has other books that do have sex scenes. Even within the series, in The Vampire Chronicles in later books there are some things that are like, “Okay, yeah, that is undeniably sexual.” But I feel like all the allos are just, like, playing a trick on me or something because they’re like, “Oh, those books are steeping with sex.” It’s like, where? Show me. And I swear– I think if we decide to release the lost episode of The Vampire Lestat [laughs]
Courtney: That was the one– The reason why we didn’t really release that one was because we got into talking a lot about language. Like, what does this word actually imply? Does this word actually imply something sexual or romantic? Or could there be a platonic connotation to it? Because honestly, that’s how I read it at the time that I read it. And now, as an adult, there are a couple things I read where I’m like, “Mmm, yeah… Maybe, maybe I can almost see the allos’ point when they say this thing right here.” So I wasn’t too sure. But we’ll– we’ll release that episode if you’re interested in more vampires.
Courtney: But I’m convinced that in, probably, the Queen of the Damned, I think, there is a lore reason why the vampires do not have PIV or PIA sex. I’m pretty sure there’s a reason. And like, I remember reading this reason – and mind you, this is a long time ago and that’s why I want to reread them to make sure I’m not just making something up – but I vividly remember feeling vindicated, when I read this lore reason for why they don’t have intercourse like this. And– Because at the time I was reading it I knew other folks that were reading it too, I talked about the books with other people, but they were all allos and the things they were saying– I was like, “Did we read the same book?” [laughs]
Courtney: So I would like to make the case that canonically, in the book series Anne Rice’s vampires are asexual. However, a new TV series has been released recently: Interview with the Vampire on AMC. And I was so excited for this to come out. I… wanted it to be really, really good because the movie, back in the 90s, was not really, really good.
Royce: It was a bunch of weird decisions.
Courtney: Is a bunch of weird decisions…
Royce: Odd casting decisions. How did that happen?
Royce: How did Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas all get on this movie?
Courtney: Oh my gosh. Don’t get me started on Antonio Banderas as Armand. Because that was– that was the worst of the three like– [laughs] Just departure from how they’re supposed to be in the book. But– but yeah, a lot of weird decisions. And then there was even a Queen of the Damned movie that was, like, even worse somehow.
Royce: Yeah, didn’t they make it stand-alone and went vastly away from series canon?
Courtney: All I remember– And it’s been within the last seven years or so that we watched the Queen of the Damned, because I didn’t even realize that they’d made it a movie.
Royce: I didn’t even remember that we watched it.
Courtney: We– Well, we watched it and I remember what the titular Queen of the Damned looks like. Like, visually, I can see her in my head. And I remember watching it going, “What am I watching?” This– [laughs] Did they read the books?! But other than that I don’t actually know what the plot of that movie is. I think my brain just, like, papered over it with something else. [laughs] But oh my goodness. So, here– And I think, truly, if done with the proper creative team, with good casting, good, you know, set design and costumes, I think TV series is, like, [emphasizing] the visual medium. I rarely meet a movie that I love, because I either: find that it’s too rushed; I don’t have enough time to connect with certain things; it seems like they brush over some plot points to get from point A to point B sometimes, because of the time constraints…
Royce: The structure of a TV series of an episodic release also just fits better with the pacing of a chapter book.
Courtney: Yes, absolutely. And as long as the TV series doesn’t just try to milk a popular series for every single week that it possibly can, even once they’ve run out of ideas, because that’s an issue that happens. As long as it doesn’t do that, and they tell the story they want to, with exactly the amount of time they need, to me that is a thing of beauty. So when I heard that it was getting a TV series, I was like, “Oh, I hope they do it right. Oh, I hope they do it right!”
Courtney: And we watched it. And let me tell you, I’m going to be saying a lot of things that are very critical, but overall I think I loved it. I think they had many, many triumphs. I– Most of the changes they made really, really worked for me and felt at home in this world. And I will be praising them and giving credit where it is due. But they also had some failures. In that they injected some allo nonsense into it, just because vampires equals sexy in the eyes of most people.
Royce: And I think, maybe, part of the reason why that was so frustrating was because the novels are very queer. They’re very broadly queer.
Royce: But this new TV adaptation is more explicitly gay, and less broadly queer.
Courtney: Well, and that’s the thing too. Because– I’ve seen a lot of reviews from gay men in particular who have said, like, “Yes, they’re finally showing it.” There’s– they’re using, like, words like queer-coded. They’re like, “Oh well, the books were queer-coded, but this is actually showing it.” And I don’t think that’s the case at all. Queer-coding is a thing, and it can be an issue, but I think too many people simplify that concept to: is a sexual relationship either stated outright or shown implicitly? And that is not what queerness is about.
Royce: I think they’re using queer-coded, but they’re actually saying gay-coded.
Courtney: Yes! Yes.
Royce: Because asexuality is queer. A QPR is queer.
Royce: That’s what the Q stands for.
Courtney: Absolutely. And so I don’t know who could possibly like– Uh, I guess I’ve known some straight people who have read Interview with the Vampire who have taken it to very weird places. [laughs] But I don’t like the argument that so many allo queer people make, where it’s not actually canon, or it’s not perfect representation if, you know, the sex isn’t shown. If we don’t know that this is a sexual relationship. Because representation for all folks is important, right? But people treat non-sexual relationships as inherently less queer, than say, a gay sexual relationship. And that’s not how this works. We aren’t doing any of that. And I’ve even– I saw a gay man review this series recently who even made the assertion that this is not gay male representation, because in Anne Rice’s books all the vampires are pansexual. And I was like, “Pardon me, did we read the same books?” And did we watch the same TV show? Because in this TV show, they made Louis gay. He says out loud on multiple occasions that he is gay.
Courtney: Lestat has said on multiple occasions that he is– He’s fluid or nondiscriminating. So he’s very much in the– the bi/pan kind of realm. But like, Louis is gay, gay in this show. And if you’re still picking a bone that this is not gay male representation, imagine how the aces feel. This was like, the most lush non-sexual relationship that I had ever read. And I was completely enamored at the time. So forgive me if I’m a little– a little bit ticked off if they take that and decide to add sex to it, because “well, that makes it even more queer.” No it doesn’t make it more queer.
Royce: It makes it a different area under the queer spectrum.
Courtney: Yes! It makes it a different type of queer. So let’s get started on this show because honestly, there were triumphs. I was really impressed with some things. But there were also some failures where I was like, [disapprovingly] mmm, mmm.
Royce: I do think that it was– it was well produced, it looked good, it sounded good. A lot of the– I thought it was pretty well paced. They did make some substantial changes to the timeline.
Courtney: Yes, substantial changes. Which makes me curious how they’re going to progress with the story, because certain things are going to have to change the time of the world, which I don’t necessarily mind, but I’m curious to see what they do with it. Visually speaking, it was everything I wanted from Anne Rice’s vampires, New Orleans, the costumes, the atmosphere, the darkness. It was impeccable. That– that is what I think when I think of Anne Rice’s vampires. So, visually they absolutely hit the nail on the head.
Courtney: Now, the really interesting thing is they have the same writer interviewing Louis. They have Daniel Malloy.
Royce: The same writer from the original book and from– that was shown in the movie only significantly later in life?
Courtney: Yes. And what they say is that he did actually interview Louis, like the original book says, and like the movie says 50 years ago at this point, but he didn’t actually write the book. The interview happened but the book did not. So now 50 years later Louis contacts him out of the blue. He’s clearly an elderly man at this point. He’s also– Was it Parkinson’s that he has? He has some kind of illness.
Royce: I think that’s right…?
Courtney: And so he gets this message from Louis saying, “Hey, let’s redo the interview and let’s do it right this time.” And I think that’s fascinating, because now we’re also in present day when this new interview is happening. They’re kind of giving a nod to the source material by saying, like, yeah that did happen, we did have that interview but this is very much a retelling of it. And they even do some– There’s kind of an unreliable narrator situation thing happening that is a common thread, which as they continue the series forward, I’m really, really curious to see how that plays out. Because there’s some– Like, obviously just the question of memory issues is going to come up, time and time again. But then you have Louis completely retelling the story and saying, like, “The interview I told you 50 years ago was a rehearsed lie. What I’m telling you now is correct.” But they’re so vastly different from one another. So that’s kind of interesting, and that’s also, just adaptation wise, a unique way to kind of give a nod to the source material but also say like, “Yeah, we’re changing some things and we’re acknowledging that, in the world.”
Courtney: But since it is happening in present day now, they even acknowledge things like the pandemic. Like, this elderly man traveling. Like, Louis has, you know, mortal servants who come in to cook meals for Daniel Malloy and they’re all wearing masks. They mentioned the virus that’s, you know, taking the world by storm. But one of the biggest changes that I love, love, love about this adaptation is that they made Louis a Black man. And when I first saw that in the casting, I immediately, as someone who read the book, I was like, “Now, how are they going to do that?” Because Louis in the book was a plantation owner, a very white one.
Royce: But by moving the historic setting up– how long? Was it nearly a century?
Courtney: Oh, I’d say a little over a century, or just about, yeah. They moved it up to 1910. So we’re in like right at the end of the Edwardian era, we’re post Victorian era. But in the book we’re talking like late 1700′s, is when the story begins. But what I really loved about this casting choice, was it made the character more interesting. Because they made being a Black man at this period in history an important part of who he was, and they built additional story elements around it. So they didn’t, like, just cast a Black man and call it the same– call it a day and write him exactly the same way. They incorporated many elements of Black Culture, about historical racism. And there’s this really fascinating power dynamic that is in all vampire media that I think is made even more complicated and nuanced when you add this element of race.
Courtney: And one line– I actually wrote this down because I just thought it was another very good way to add a nod to the fact that Louis in the book, and even to a certain extent Louis in the TV show, does come from a family that has profited from chattel slavery. He said the lines, “Capital accrued from the blood of men who looked like my grandfather, but did not have his standing.” And I liked that line, I liked it so much I wrote it down. But also just the– the capital accruing from the blood, deepens to me the significance of blood as a device for storytelling in vampire media. Because at the end of the day, no matter how, you know, tragic or sympathetic you make them, vampires at the end of the day are predatory. They feed on the lives of others to sustain themselves. And so being able to play with that reality and that power dynamic through this new lens has got me thinking in all different kinds of directions. I was– I was so happy to see how things played out.
Courtney: But while watching this, I also– I didn’t realize when we first watched it through, that they were already in production for a series for Lives of the Mayfair Witches. I think AMC just straight-up bought, like, the rights to all of Anne Rice’s books.
Royce: I don’t know exactly what ones, but it does say eighteen novels. Which the extended Vampire Chronicles does encompass eighteen, when you include–
Royce: I don’t know if those are the ones specifically that they have the rights to, but when you include the Mayfair Witches and the New Tales of the Vampire Series that– that totals eighteen.
Courtney: Hmm. Okay. So yeah, I don’t know if we’re going to watch those or not. I tried reading exactly one book of the Mayfair Witches and I did not like it. But I also read it at a very different stage in my life than when I read the Vampire Chronicles. And I also listened to it on audiobook, which I had not ever listened to an Anne Rice book on audio before, and I don’t know if that changes things. Because I don’t know, maybe if I was just reading silently to myself I could have just, like, skimmed over the very sexually charged parts that I didn’t like that much. [laughs] Whereas when you’re listening to an audiobook… Uh, can’t do that as well.
Royce: Yeah, I think that’s a good argument. I have found myself preferring manga to anime more recently for that same reason.
Courtney: [laughs] Just skip over the parts.
Royce: I can just run right through some panels that I don’t care about.
Courtney: [laughs] Well, and it doesn’t linger either like you can–
Royce: Yeah, you can control the pacing yourself.
Royce: The Interview with the Vampire TV series, has been renewed already for an eight-episode second season.
Courtney: They better. Because they didn’t even finish the first book. Oh, my goodness. But yes.
Courtney: So people who have read the books, and people who do know the Anne Rice world a little bit– They put little nods and easter eggs into the script, that– there were definitely things that I was picking up on that I knew you were not, so we’re going to get into some of those.
Royce: There are a couple that I caught because we had already recorded the episode for the second book.
Courtney: Oh, the lost Ace Couple Episode. Yes, I did tell you the secret of the Vampire Lestat, so [laughs]
Royce: There’s one very quick slip that Lestat makes.
Courtney: “Those who must be kept–”
Royce: “Those who must be kept–”, I say slip, I don’t know if Lestat does anything unintentionally, but does not go into it further.
Courtney: Yeah. So it’s very interesting, but right in the very first episode, Louis is with his family. He’s, like, around the breakfast table with his mom, his sister, his brother, and he’s just sort of like, lightly ribbing and antagonizing his sister and he just says, “Plenty of brooms down the street at the Mayfair home.” And I was like, “Oh! Edwardian era burn!” [laughs] I just– I thought that was so funny because I was like, I know that the Mayfair home is witches. I know what that broom comment meant. So I thought that was a fun nod.
Courtney: Now, in this series, some of the changes they made I wasn’t mad about, because I still think it was very in line with the characters. I will give the show creators this, that I do think they genuinely love this world and genuinely care about doing it the right way, because they made a lot of very good choices.
Courtney: In the TV series, for example, Lestat, like, toys with Louis as a mortal for a while before he actually changes him into a vampire. And that is something Lestat does, and has done, just not necessarily with Louis. And Lestat has a lot of, like, new powers and abilities that aren’t necessarily present in the book, but I think visually they were able to add to the storytelling of the TV series. Like, in that very first episode, Lestat and Louis are playing poker with a bunch of white capitalist men, you know, talking business, smoking, drinking whiskey. And Lestat just, like, pauses time.
Royce: That was a weird one.
Courtney: That was a weird one because Lestat does not have the ability to pause time. And I don’t know if that was actually meant to be diegetic or not. I don’t know if– Because he uses that time, when he– when he sort of freezes everything, to communicate telepathically with Louis, and I don’t actually know because they didn’t really– this wasn’t a regularly occurring thing that happened. So I don’t know if they were trying to convey that literally he is pausing time temporarily, and this is literally happening, or if that was just supposed to be like how Louis feels. Like once Lestat starts talking to him in his brain, like, the rest of the world melts away and it’s just the two of them. So I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be literal or not.
Royce: Didn’t he physically interact with one of those players’ hands though?
Courtney: You’re right! He did!
Courtney: He did! He took a card!
Royce: That was where it threw me off, because–
Royce: Because time slowing down to show something else happening, like communicating, that made sense. It was when he actually started manipulating the physical world around him, where I was like, “Wait a minute.”
Courtney: That’s right, that’s right! So they did make that literal.
Royce: Get the magic of your world straight.
Courtney: Okay. So, yeah, that– that– you’re right, I’d forgotten that. So that was diegetic and that’s a thing that Lestat is not able to do. [laughs] And I do think the– the question of why Lestat picked Louis in this version is interesting. Because, in the book, Lestat still has a living mortal father who is in very poor health and he actually, like, moves his father into Louis’ house, on the plantation. And his father is nowhere to be seen. He sort of mentions his father, and there were these little story nuggets that came out from Lestat that are things we ordinarily don’t learn until the second book, The Vampire Lestat. So they were sort of dropping little elements of that. And I don’t know if they intend to actually go into the story of The Vampire Lestat in this series, or not. Or if they’ll have an opportunity to do so. But I think it would be interesting because no one’s ever adapted The Vampire Lestat, and they’ve– they’ve got some interesting things to play with if they do.
Courtney: But to me, it seemed Lestat is very much about power. And when he first sees Louis, who is a Black man, he is a businessman, he has a very religious brother. And he ends up actually pulling a knife on his brother to threaten him to, like, get out of my street, get away from my place of business, like you can’t be here. And he sees when Louis, as a Black man, holds his ground with white men. And I think it could be that he’s very drawn to his power as a mortal. But then he kind of becomes eternally frustrated with Louis, when he does eventually become a vampire because he doesn’t want to use his vampire powers. He doesn’t want to feed off of people, for example. So the way I kind of interpreted that was he loved the power and the strength he saw in Louis as a mortal and then felt like he wasn’t coming into his full power and his full potential as a vampire.
Courtney: Which then got me to thinking, if that’s the reading of it, then is this a case of Louis struggling to grapple with the power that has just essentially been handed to him? And that is very fascinating to think about, even more so with the race element, as a Black man in the early 1900′s. Because he has been oppressed, because of unfair and discriminatory practices, but he has also benefited from familial wealth, and from – to a certain extent – the exploitation of other people, because he’s primarily working as a pimp right now. I don’t think I mentioned that yet. But now he seemingly randomly, seemingly just because Lestat liked him, was given this power over all mortal men, including white men, including very wealthy men. He’s been given this power to read minds, to manipulate, to kill, and he is uncomfortable with it.
Royce: Well, did he ever want that kind of power in the first place or was he just doing what he needed to do to survive in the environment that he was in?
Courtney: Exactly. It makes a much more compelling narrative than even the original, I think, when you start thinking about those added dynamics. Because then– He also sort of has these two different ways to think about power, and who has power, and how they wield power over others. Now, in this first episode, before he does become a vampire though, they’ve already made a couple of other changes, like having regular sexual relations with a woman, which did not happen in the book. And one of my favorite lines to pull out from the book was later on when– when Claudia is a vampire and she’s asking, like, “What was– what was it like making love?” Louis was like, “I don’t want to talk about this. But also it wasn’t great.” [laughs] He was like, “It was hurried, it wasn’t ever savored.” He called it like a pale imitation of killing. Like, definitely was not one to talk up sex. He seemed like he wasn’t all that into it. So my personal belief is that Louis was always asexual, even as a mortal. Then he was double asexual as a vampire. [laughs]
Courtney: But now that he does have this woman who he sees pretty regularly, they kind of have this, like, threesome scene going on. Lestat, like, watches them and then kind of joins in, and that was very much a departure from the book. Because Louis wasn’t even a mortal for that long, for something like that to happen. But it was very heated, it was a bit of a menage-a-trois, but then this woman, like, falls asleep, and whether or not she just does that not naturally or if Lestat pulled some shenanigans, I don’t know, but then the two of them just go at it alone. And I was comparing that scene in my head to a scene in the book, where after they’re both vampires, Lestat does bring home some women, who are prostitutes, and they’re like teasing him for how cold and, like, uninterested in them he is. And that’s why everyone’s like, “Oh, Lestat is so sexually charged with everybody all the time.” It’s like, is he? In the book, here are women who are, like, teasing him for not being interested in them.
Courtney: So the fact that there’s this very heated scene now, with the three of them and then the two of them after the woman falls asleep, was like totally just added and fabricated because whoever made this adaptation read the books, and read sex where it was not stated. But the added sex aside, the part that I hated, they did this… [struggling] they did the silly floating thing again. In the movie, when Lestat, like, bites Louis’ neck, they, like, float up in the sky, and I was like, why? It looks so cheesy. It looks bad, it’s weird. I–
Royce: It’s a great way to get seen by the entire town.
Courtney: Yeah– [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Well, here after the two of them are, you know, butt-naked and we see them from behind, like, Lestat just, like, grabs Louis, and they just, like, hover above the floor. Like a foot. And that’s it. They’re just… s– suspended in air for no reason. What is that? Stop doing that. I swear, I never want to see another vampire float while having sex or draining blood from anyone ever again. Let’s– let’s retire that. I don’t know why, or when, or where, or how that started but let’s end it. I don’t like it. [laughs] But not only that, but just the fact that, like, I’m just still not convinced that vampires can have sex in that way. I’m just– I’m not convinced. But during that floating episode, situation, whatever it was they had, session, whatever was they had going on there, Lestat did bite him and took some blood, but not enough to kill him, which is interesting. Because that also very much did not happen in the book.
Courtney: But in Queen of the Damned Armand did that to Daniel, the author, and in doing that, they were able to establish a kind of psychic connection, even not having transformed him into a vampire yet. So there’s some level of precedence for this in the book. But I found that very interesting. Because the whole Armand and Daniel thing, that’s the biggest thing. We’ll– we’ll talk about them, we will get there. But as far as timelines are concerned, in the way they’re changing it, that’s what I really need to know what their intentions are with this. Because like, I don’t need Lestat to be a rock star, specifically in the 80s, he can do that in any decade as far as I’m concerned.
Royce: Or we can just scrap that whole thing.
Courtney: [laughs] Oh, you don’t– you don’t like the rock star Lestat?
Royce: I don’t like the vampire rock star, no.
Courtney: Well, that’s– that’s what wakes up the Queen of the Damned though. Well– [laughs] So that timeline is fine. But Armand and Daniel are so much more interesting, and I need to know what their intentions are with them. But here’s where Louis says, “I did not consider myself a homosexual man at the time. I had had experiences, guilt, shame, floating on a sea of vodka type encounters. Obviously, I’ve come to embrace my sexuality. Of course you know that, we met at a gay bar, didn’t we, Daniel?” So Louis is saying, you know, back in 1910, I didn’t think I was gay but now, as a vampire, over 100 years later, I’m like yes, out-and-proud rainbow vampire. [laughs] Which… [sigh] I would still love for there to be an asexual Louis, but the thing is, they added sexual tension almost everywhere that they possibly could have. And it’s like, could you’ve maybe just picked one or the other? Like they made a sexually charged Louis, and they made a sexually charged Claudia! Did you have to do both? Did– did you have to do both?
Royce: So, Claudia is aged up here. Do you know how old she is in the TV series? Because she was five in the books, right?
Courtney: She was five in the book! So she was like a kid. But in the series she’s 14.
Courtney: At the time she dies and becomes a vampire. Which is another thing where I don’t inherently mind them aging her up. And I will say this, the casting is brilliant. I loved every single casting choice that was made. And when it comes to Claudia, they also made her a Black girl. So you continue to have this power dynamic of Lestat with his two fledgling vampires, who are both Black, who have less experience as vampires, who do not have the same level of power he does. So that makes it very complex. I almost like that they aged her up because the acting range, and the things you’re going to be able to do with an actress playing a 14 year old, is a lot more expansive than what you’re going to get out of a literal five-year-old. So just for the sake of the character and being able to play with her more, I think it probably was a good call on their part to age her up to a teenager. I just didn’t like the way they handled the teenager part of it. But we’ll get there, we’ll get there.
Courtney: So, I did mention the dinner that Lestat had with Louis and his family, and this is when you start getting little nuggets of his backstory. He talks about his mother giving him his first mastiff, and him getting a rifle, and wanting to be a priest, and how much he hated his father. And these are all things we get almost nothing of Lestat’s backstory in Interview with the Vampire. And that’s one of the curious things too, because– Talk about having an unreliable narrator, when you go between the books, the Lestat you get in The Vampire Lestat seems completely different from the vampire we knew as Lestat in Interview with the Vampire. So then there’s always the question of like, who’s manipulating the story? Whose is closer to the truth? And how much of this is just changing over time, because we are spanning, you know, decades and centuries between plot points, and between books in some cases.
Courtney: But let me just say, they incorporated really good additions to show the Black southern culture at the time, and I was really, really impressed with that. Because it seemed very natural and it fit, and it added to just the lusciousness of New Orleans at the time. I am so very, like, romantically fond of and enthralled by New Orleans. Because I went to New Orleans when I was very young, five or six years old, absolutely fell in love with the city. And obviously five or six years old, this was before I even read Interview with the Vampire. So I was already utterly enraptured by New Orleans. And then I read this book. And this book has a couple with a daughter, who do not seem to have any sort of sexual relationship, it’s very queer, and it was just like everything I wanted for myself and my life. Minus all the horrible abuse.
Courtney: But the funny thing about reading these books as a minor, is that the abuse is kind of secondary to the romance.
Royce: Is that kind of the impression you’ve gotten from the commentary around the series? Where a lot of people have forgotten.
Courtney: Oh, yeah. Oh… yeah. I mean, there– there is romance. There is abuse. It is tragic, it is dark, it is emo as all get-out. But the thing about vampires, and maybe this is just something that’s so fundamentally teenage about it – and I don’t mean it derogatorily – but there is something about it that you will get very different takeaways depending on what period of your life you’re reading them in. When I read Interview with the Vampire, as a teenager versus reading it again as an adult, like very different stories hit very differently. And part of that is a really good thing, because when I think to all of my favorite pieces of media, it’s not necessarily because it is the best suited to my taste. It’s not necessarily because it is the best written, best produced product. It’s because it came into my life at exactly the right time. There was something about it that resonated with my life at the time I consumed it. And I think that’s part of the magic of a book. Because if I read this book series, for the very first time, this year it probably wouldn’t be on my bookshelf as one of my all-time favorites. But at the time I read it, it was everything to me.
Courtney: But these ways they incorporated– Back to the Black culture, they had this beautiful tap dance scene at Louis’ sister’s wedding. And Louis and his brother put on their tap shoes, the band is playing asking, you know, “What kind of– what kind of rhythm do you want?” And they do this tap dance for the audience. And as someone who has been a tap dancer myself, I loved that. But also just the intimacy of that moment, because you do not get a lot of time with Louis’ brother. Because he is not long for this world by the time you meet him. But the two of them sharing that dance at their sister’s wedding, to me, just really solidified what their relationship was, and how much they meant to each other, and how much their sister meant to them. And maybe it’s just the dancer asexual in me, but I feel like some people try to convey the same emotion with sex scenes sometimes. Like, let’s do a short sex scene to try to cram in a bunch of emotion that actually takes longer to build up. And that never works for me.
Courtney: But a properly done dance scene, to me, can show so much more intimacy than a sex scene can. And I say properly done because they aren’t all properly done. But this was the first of two really brilliant dancing scenes in this show.
Royce: I was going to say, so many occasions when we’re watching something and a dance scene comes up, and you’re like, “Why didn’t they hire an actual dancer? That person hasn’t been dancing for their career.”
Courtney: [laughs] Well, there are some shows, like– Well, take like the movie Black Swan for example, like, Natalie Portman was not doing the big dance scenes on the stage. But, like, being a dancer was the part. She is supposed to be the principal dancer in this dance company. They could have hired someone who actually knows how to dance. But, yeah. So things like that. And even in this one, like, even the tap dance, they weren’t doing most of that tap dancing. I saw what those cuts were doing. I know they cut down to the feet of an actual, like, properly trained tap dancer for some of those. But I wasn’t too mad about it because it was just fun and the music was right, the vibes were right. I loved it. And, I mean, honestly, thank god that they made Louis a Black man in this, though. Because truthfully, truthfully, truthfully, I would rage if they made two white gay vampires this sexual, in this show, as a departure from the source material. Oh, I would be so mad. Oh, I would be so mad!
Courtney: Imagine it! A white plantation owner. Make him gay and sexual. I like– To me, there is nothing empathetic about that. There is nothing empathetic about that to me, even if he is gay. But you know, a Black gay man coming to terms with his sexuality, and needing to become a vampire in order to fully come to terms with it…? All right, I’ll allow it. [laughs] That at least has some nuance in it. But, yeah, I love this dancing. It’s fun. It’s intimate. It shows the love between two brothers, before a character who dies early.
Courtney: And then, of course, to round out that first episode, they have this really dramatic scene in a church that doesn’t happen that way in the book, but it is perfectly in line with Anne Rice’s constant battle with faith. Not even just in this book, not even just this series, but just the woman, like, she famously, like, had multiple crises of faith throughout her life.
Courtney: So to have this big, bloody, gory scene in a church, after Louis has just lost his brother – he sees his brother walk off a roof, fall to his death, after his sister’s wedding – he now goes to the priest who gave his brother so much comfort, the church where his brother was always at, and he sort of confesses. He says, “I’ve made money off of, you know, the bodies of women, off of the pain of men.” And sort of spews all this guilt. But then he also clearly has this, you know, devilish figure, this vampire, who has been courting him. And I don’t know, I really liked it. I really liked it. I think the casting is so good. The visuals are so good.
Courtney: I do think it was really interesting, because the– the actor who plays Daniel Malloy, the interviewer, I heard him say in an interview once that, when he got the call for it, he was really excited because the last thing on his bucket list is to play a vampire. And then they told him, “No, you’re not going to play a vampire. We want you to be the interviewer, because we’re aging him up a lot.” [laughs]
Royce: You get to be the primary human.
Courtney: [laughs] Which is, you know, if they continue the series long enough, maybe he will get to be a vampire, who’s to say? But yeah, it’s– Even hearing some of the cast, like clearly some of the cast who have loved the books and have read it, still just see vampires as a sex thing. This– this quote I pulled from– I should probably look up the actor’s name, I’m so bad with actors. Eric Bogosian. Is that how you say that last name? So he even said, like, “With vampires there’s always this really primal sex thing, especially with Anne Rice. The rhythm of the blood sucking, it’s like, whoa!” And it’s like, that’s– that’s why it’s different. I read the blood sucking scenes and never once does my brain go ‘sex’. Never once! Like, there’s this connection where, like, the heartbeats sync up, and to me that is not sexual at all. It’s– it is intimate, but it’s a very different type of intimacy in my eyes.
Royce: But that’s probably a good note to make as members of the Asexual community. We are much more– We are more used to segmenting things like that, separating them. And I think that allos aren’t for the most part. [Courtney agrees] And because of that, a lot of things end up getting twisted together. They become inseparable. And that’s how you end up with this strict hierarchy, where anything intimate has to lead to sex, because that’s the– that’s the end of the rope. That’s the end of the ladder.
Courtney: That’s the goal.
Royce: It’s the highest point.
Courtney: Yes. Absolutely. And especially when it comes to the concepts of, like, romance and sex. That’s why I think so many, especially gay men from the commentary I’ve been seeing, will say, you know, this is the ultimate version because the original version was romantic. Which means there needs to be sex if it’s actually going to be real. But if it’s not on the page, then that’s either because of bigotry – which not a lot of people are accusing Anne Rice of, but other authors – but then they’ll start saying, “Well, it’s queer-coding because, clearly, if they’re romantic on this level, sex is happening, but they aren’t showing it to us. And they aren’t showing it to us either because of marketability, or this or that, or the other thing.” And I mean, as aces, we know those two don’t have to go hand-in-hand every single time. And that doesn’t mean it’s less queer. That doesn’t even mean it’s less gay if it is, you know, a homo-romantic relationship in question.
Courtney: But because so much of this logic is that to be a properly queer relationship sex needs to be involved, that’s when even aces start getting accused of like, “Oh well, you’re homophobic if you don’t want the sex scenes.” Like, it’s not because I’m homophobic. It’s because I want you to understand that sex is not what makes queerness. I want you to understand that a sexless relationship can still be queer. This isn’t me trying to rob you of your queerness. This is you not acknowledging mine. And me saying please acknowledge my queerness.
Courtney: And truthfully though, we do have a lot more gay, sexual relationships, depicted in TV then we have close intimate romantic or queerplatonic relationships. That’s just how it is.
Courtney: So, I can understand when people say, you know, “I want more gay male rep.” Because if you’re a gay male, you’re gonna want more gay rep. But don’t take away the little crumbs that we have! Don’t take away our little crumbs!
Courtney: So episode 2 was my first indication that something funny was going on with present-day Louis’ assistant. They’re calling him Rashid, who– I knew from reading the books, I was like, “That’s not a character.” But he was present enough that I was like, “What’s his deal?” Like, I don’t think they just made up this character.
Royce: I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I remember the way that they were going about things, I kind of assumed he was not mortal. I didn’t know the gist of it, and there are some odd cases like where I think he stepped into a little bit of sunlight where it made it sort of questionable, or something like that. But it did– it did seem odd.
Courtney: Yes, the sunlight scene was interesting. Well, I’ll get there later. Because it was one of the later episodes, it was after the interview, or Daniel Malloy was already like, “Is he immortal?” But then sees him step out in the sun and is like, “Wait a minute.” So that was– that was odd. But in episode 2, this is one for those who read the books, Rashid comes into the room and Daniel Malloy is looking at this big painting on the wall, and Rashid says, “Oh, that’s, um, by painter Marius de Romanus.” And I was like, “Wait- just- a hot second!?” That is the vampire that made Armand a vampire! And that was the moment where I was like, “Is that Armand?” [laughs] Is that Armand? So we’ll put a pin in that.
Courtney: But here’s a line that I took down, because it didn’t work for me. There were a lot of lines that did work for me, but this one, Lestat just talking saying, “Oh, and every mortal thought just boils down to: I want food, I want sex, I want to go home.” And he says that as if he is so much superior to mortals, because like, oh, that’s not how vampires work. But it kind of seems like that’s how vampires work in this world…? That would work for me if the vampires weren’t sexual, if the vampires were not sexual in there, like, “Ugh, all mortals wanted sex.” I’d be like, “Yes, give that to me. Absolutely.”
Royce: But of the other two, aren’t substantial factors–
Courtney: “I want blood… I want sex…”
Royce: Well no, significant parts of vampire mythos surround needing to feed. [Courtney agrees] And there are– there’s a lot of folklore about returning to your coffin, and about– some myths revolve around the– is it the soil and the place where you were buried, or the place where you grew up? Or something of that nature.
Courtney: Yep. I– Like, Dracula carries some soil from his homeland with him when he travels.
Royce: Vampires seem to be more bound to food and home than mortals.
Courtney: Yes! And then they make these vampires very sexual. And it’s like we’re supposed to believe that Lestat is looking down on mortals because all the mortals want is food and sex and to go home. When it’s like, if you’re going to be that judgmental of The Mortals, I need a stark difference between the mortals and the vampires in this thought process. And it’s like, I do get, in some ways. Because part of me wonders if the reason why the average viewer of – or the average consumer of – vampire stories sees it as inherently sexual, even if it’s not shown or written, is kind of the same reason that aces use cake as one of our symbols.
Courtney: There’s kind of this conflation of the appetites. Where like food and sex are two major appetites that are usually assumed that everyone experiences both. We know better than that, but that’s something that humans have been comparing long before the Ace community even said, you know, cake is better than sex, and made cake one of our symbols.
Courtney: So there’s almost the reverse of it happening, where these vampires want to consume blood. That is their food, that is their sustenance. But you’re conflating that need for food with the need for sex. So it’s like it’s the same thought process, it’s just in reverse.
Courtney: So in a way, I can understand that but it also especially doesn’t work if you’re also saying, “I want food, I want sex, I want to go home,” like, “Silly mortals, so simple they are.” Like I need more. You can’t just say that, you need to show that.
Courtney: They do have sort of a similar lesson in the book of stop drinking right before the point of death. That’s– that’s what they’re taught in the book. But in the show, it sort of turns into it just flat, like, don’t drink the blood of the dead. And Lestat outright says, “We need the blood of the living.” And so we’ve got this–
Courtney: Clearly, you have the food and the sex parallel, but then you get the feeding off of the lives of others. This very predatory, parasitic thought process. And like, honestly, thinking of most, like, modern vampire lore, there are a lot of white Confederate, like, slave-owning vampires in lore. Like, there was even one in Twilight. [laughs] And I’ve kind of wondered why that is. And there’s the sort of simple answer of just, you know, the Civil War was one of the bigger, bloodier events in American history. Because America is a much younger country than any other country where there’s prominent vampire lore. Like the European vampires are a lot older than the American vampires, because those countries, and cities, and civilizations, are just– have a longer written history.
Courtney: So it could be as simple as that. Just big- big bloody event. But I think there could also very well just be a parallel in that of, like, taking the life of another to feed your lifestyle. Using– Like, Louis said in the very first episode, profit or capital– “Capital accrued from the blood of men who looked like my grandfather.” And I think, with Louis being a pimp in this version, that sort of also fits the parallel to a certain extent. He is profiting off of other people’s bodies. But then when he is given this vampire power, he also – as an individual character – starts reconciling more with, you know, class and race differences. Because as a business owner, as someone who has been invited to the poker table of all these white businessmen, for example, things that people have said to him his entire life – like you’re an exceptional negro, for example – where normally it would be like, you know, a “Yes, sir,” a smile and a nod, now that he’s a vampire, he starts seeing those things as being as fucked up as they are. And he gets even angrier about them.
Courtney: And at one point even, you know, lashes out and kills a white man for telling him he did a good job, because it was done in a very, you know, condescending and racist way. And Louis has this, like, deep unwillingness to separate from humanity. He wants to still see his family, he wants to still run his business, he wants to still, you know, talk to people as if he were a mortal, albeit at night. And that causes issues for Lestat. Because Lestat is like, “You’re not a man anymore. You’re a monster.”
Royce: And the people around him, the mortals around him, start to take note. When you–
Courtney: Oh yeah.
Royce: When you start only appearing at night, when you start covering your eyes frequently, when your behavior changes, when you stop aging over long periods of time, people start to notice.
Courtney: Oh, yeah, absolutely! And some of his family are– were the first to notice, too. Like his mother saying, like, “Oh, the devil’s in you.” But there is sort of this fight. Because they’ve got an incinerator where they burn bodies, because what are you gonna do when you’re killing a lot of people every single night? But Louis and Lestat have a little bit of a tiff, because Louis just went off and killed this guy. And Lestat is like, “What are– what are you thinking? Why did you do this?” Louis was like, “Well, he told me I did a good job.” And Lestat’s like, “You are a library of confusion.” I liked that scene a lot.
Courtney: But then, you know, Louis kind of puts his foot down and he’s like, “You and I are not the same. What works for you is not going to work for me.” Because he’s pointing to himself and then back to Lestat, he goes, “Colored, white. Creole, French. Queer, half queer? Mostly queer? What is it?” And that’s when Lestat says, “Nondiscriminating.” [laughs] And I just liked that so much.
Courtney: But then it was during this little fight at one point that Lestat calls Louis ‘fledgling’. And that’s when Louis goes, “Oh, no, no, no. You’ve got to stop saying that word because it’s starting to sound an awful lot like ‘slave’.” And oh… Oh! I think that really, really sets up the themes for the dynamic of this relationship. Especially as how it changes after Claudia enters the picture.
Courtney: And then– I am excited for the next season, because I feel like there are a lot of questions I have where I’m not sure if there might have just been a writing slip up here and there, or if it was intentional manipulation on the part of Lestat, if it’s memory manipulation on the part of Louis, if it’s just unreliable narrator forgot some details.
Courtney: But like, after they have this fight, Lestat even says, at one point, like, “For the record, if he disrespected you, I would have killed him myself.” And I thought, wait a minute, there are a lot of people who disrespect Louis that do not get killed by Lestat. So, what’s up with that line? What’s up with that line?! And it’s also because Lestat just– he wants Louis to kill more humans. Louis starts feeding on rats and animals, and Lestat thinks that’s repulsive. He’s like, “You’re a freaking vampire, eat a human.” But Lestat’s also very much a drama queen, and he loves the drama of it, and he plays with his food. And I think he was more mad about this because Louis killed this man out of a knee-jerk reaction of anger, not because he wanted to kill him and that killing him was fun. It was done out of anger. And I think Lestat really prefers play and indulgence over instinct or high emotions.
Royce: Controlled and deliberate behavior over irrational responses.
Courtney: Yes, even though he does do that sometimes too. [laughs] But when he does, he’s incredibly extra about it. But yes.
Courtney: And so they each have their own casket, but you’ll find in this version, where they are explicitly sexual, they often sleep in just one which looks uncomfortable as hell. It is not a double-wide, it is just– And I’m trying to picture in my head. I think Lestat has a coffin and Louis has a casket. Which– the difference in that being, like, caskets are what you’re more likely to see these days, just like rectangular box. But coffins are, you know, kind of more body shaped. Like, it’s wider at the shoulders and tapers down at the feet. It is anthropoidal, I believe is the word for that. But especially in a coffin, imagine how uncomfortable that is, to lay inside of it with two people. And plus, even if you’re having sex, how do you– do you have enough room to do that?? I don’t think they have enough room!
Courtney: But not to mention that, in the book, the only time they share a coffin was the night Louis becomes a vampire. And that line was like, “I knew in that instance that I hated him.” Like, “I viscerally hated his guts as I– as I laid down in the coffin on top of him.” And then he gets his own coffin and never wants to share one with him again. So it’s [laughs] Very different dynamic. But in this one, I also find it interesting. Because Louis, who still doesn’t want to separate from humanity, he wants to build and expand his business, and he ends up, like, borrowing money from Lestat to do that. Which is very interesting. Because in the book, Louis has more than enough of his own money. He’s handling a lot of the, like, business affairs. He has a lawyer doing financial transactions during the day and whatnot. So that just adds another power dynamic that Lestat has over Louis.
Courtney: They really just love piling that on, and I’m not too mad about it. But with this constant back and forth, with Lestat saying, “You need to leave your family, you need to separate from them.” That’s interesting because in the book, like I said, Lestat has his dad. So he hasn’t separated from his own family, by this point in the book. But as a result of this conflict, Louis says, “I’m never going to have a family of my own, am I? No sons, no daughters.” And Lestat’s like, [angrily] “I’m your family now!” So, even though he is a gay man, you can see that he does have a desire to have a family. And he is now not only starting to grieve the fact that he’s losing his mortal family, but that he’s not going to be able to necessarily create one of his own.
Courtney: But the thing in Anne Rice’s world is that relationships get very, very queered when vampires are created. And I think that’s most evident in The Vampire Lestat, because once he creates his mother as a vampire, there’s a whole bunch of weird undertones going on there. Where he, you know, uses the word lover to refer to her. She was his mortal mother, but he created her into the vampire world, made her a child of darkness. So, and– And now, it’s like, what– what are they? Are they companions? He even says, like, it doesn’t feel right to call her mother anymore. He starts calling her her real name. So like, that’s one of the most glaring, like, what is the nature of this relationship. Whatever this relationship is, it is not something we as mortals can identify or empathize with.
Courtney: And so Louis has a line where, talking in present-day about the nature of their relationship, he refers to Lestat as being preternaturally charming. “He was my murderer, my mentor, my lover, and my maker all at once.” And I thought that was a pretty good summation of that queering the lines of it. You might have one relationship in one realm, but it’s always more complicated than that with– with Anne Rice. And after one of their fights Lestat is even like, “I’m sorry, I’ve been neglecting our romance.” And they like to go to shows, they go to the Opera. And that was in the book, they were often going to shows and concerts.
Courtney: But with the state of things now, with Louis being Black, they say that he has to stand behind him and sort of pretend to be his valet, to take Lestat’s coat, and sort of be, you know, waiting on him until the lights go down and then they can sit together.
Courtney: But this is where we really start seeing sort of, I think, Lestat’s last real mortal love that we see, and that’s music and performance. Because he loves this Opera, he loves the soprano who’s performing, but the tenor is not up to par with her and so he must die. Lestat, like, invites the tenor back to their place and starts, like, playing the notes and he’s like, “No, It’s this note.” And is, like, coaching him on it. And Louis, just says, “Lestat removed a lifetime of confidence and joy in under half an hour.” Oh, that chilled my bones, that line did. Oh that chilled me! Because listen, your voice is such a personal part of you, that criticisms of your voice can sting like a knife for a lifetime. I am talking from personal experience.
Courtney: And the level of maliciousness and manipulation from Lestat, where he doesn’t just want to kill this man. He wants him to feel bad. Oh! Oh… But yeah, he just kills him. Like, how dare you with those notes. You are unworthy of sharing a stage with this soprano. Oh… it made me feel things.
Courtney: Okay, we’re getting aways in. So let’s do one more episode, will do episodes 1 through 3, and then next week we’ll be back with part two to finish off the final four episodes and our thoughts.
Courtney: So episode 3. There were some little history nuggets that I really liked. Like Jelly Roll Morton, who was an actual jazz legend, who is just casually playing at Louis’ place of business. Because now they’re sort of expanding their horizons. Like, not only are there women, but there’s alcohol, there’s live music, there’s jazz. And it took me a minute to get the Jelly Roll Morton, because at first Lestat just sort of heckles him from the crowd and calls him Mr. Morton and Lestat’s like, “Oh, you’ve lost all your passion, you’re losing your creativity, you’ve been playing the same– the same runs every day this week.” And he gets on stage and basically, like, steals the spotlight and goes to the piano.
Courtney: And he starts playing Bach’s Minuet in G major. That is a song that even if you don’t recognize the title of it, if you aren’t, like, a classical music person, you’ve heard this song before. [laughs] If you search it on YouTube, you have heard this melody. And he starts playing it and everyone boos him because they’re like, that’s not jazz. This isn’t– This isn’t the music we came for. But then he does start jazzing it up, with the same melody underneath, and then cut to present day, Louis says, “Lestat admitted there wasn’t anything wrong with Jelly Roll’s playing.” And I was like, “Ah! Jelly Roll Morton! That was the Jelly Roll Morton!”
Courtney: But then he says, “Well, if I’m not mistaken that night Lestat improvised the melody to Wolverine Blues.” And I was like, that wasn’t Wolverine Blues.
Courtney: And this was curious, because then here’s where you really start getting the breakdown of how reliable is Louis telling the story. Because then Daniel Malloy, the interviewer, is like, [skeptically] “The Wolverine Blues? Like, he wrote that song?” And then he pulls up Wolverine Blues on the computer and plays it, and he’s like, “This song?” And Louis goes, “Yeah, that’s right.” But I don’t think a lot of people noticed this, he did not play the same song. Like yes, he played– Daniel Malloy played Wolverine Blues, but Lestat was not playing Wolverine Blues. Even though when Louis hears Wolverine Blues he’s like, “Yeah, that’s right.” But that’s not what we heard in the flashback. That was a totally different song. Which is interesting because now, if you go to YouTube and search Wolverine Blues, half of the comments are, like, “I can’t believe Lestat wrote this.”
Courtney: And so, I don’t think a lot of people watching this noticed that they were intentionally trying to show this is not the song. And I think they even had Daniel Malloy pull it up on his computer just because a lot of people watching it aren’t going to be able to know what that song is, off the top of their head. But you heard the version in the flashback that Lestat was playing, now you hear the one they’re claiming this is what the song is. They are not the same song.
Courtney: But it is during this point when Daniel is starting to say like, “These aren’t just a few inconsistencies. This is a complete rewrite of the story you told me.” And he starts playing a few clips from the old interview, where it’s Louis saying, like, “He was so utterly beneath me, and I was robbed of having a proper mentor.” And just like dripping with disdain for Lestat. And Louis’ like, “Yeah, well this is the more nuanced approach.” And Daniel’s like, “Or the more rehearsed.”
Courtney: So that’s when you really start questioning like, what is the real story here. And Daniel is even the one to bring up, like, “Hey, there is an abuser-abused relationship here.” And he’s like, “Fifty years later, you are talking about this guy as if he was your soulmate, and like you were–” And I like this too, he calls him out, calls him out hard. “Like you were locked in some fucked-up gothic romance.” [laughs] Tell it to him, Daniel! But then Louis says, “I do not consider myself abused.” Which is even more interesting considering what happens in just a couple episodes from now. Because we’re not just talking manipulation, or gaslighting, or lowering of self-esteem. Like, physical abuse happens. In spades.
Courtney: And here is another one off comment, which– I made a note of it because it’s relevant to the sexuality of the vampires, but they didn’t play with this idea very much actually on screen. So I think you could have cut it out and not actually miss much. But Louis at one point, while he’s eating – quote – “vegetarian” by only eating animals, he says, “My libido was not what it once was.” Implying that vampires obtain their libido from drinking the blood of humans, or that at the very least, their libido is suppressed if they do not drink the blood of humans. Which I don’t like! You’re already making the vampire sexual. I already want the vampires to be asexual. Now, you’re putting libido into the mix. I’m just not too fond of that.
Courtney: And that idea didn’t go very far. It was more or less, just a one-off line. But I guess it was maybe kind of mentioned almost in way of, like, rationalizing Lestat’s behavior. Because Lestat in– in the show, is very much not a creature of monogamy, is he? No. He has some side pieces. And then having some women over to the house at one point, one of them even implies, like, “Hey, people talk about you two.” And he’s like, “Oh well, what do they say?” And the woman’s like, “Why don’t I ask you a question? Are there two beds upstairs or one?” Which – the two beds upstairs or one – makes sense that people would be talking, like whispering, like “Ooh, are they gay? Are they–” At that time – like, “Are they committing sins?”
Courtney: But a police officer later, in a later episode, also says something like, “Oh, why don’t you–” Like, “You need to add another bed upstairs before you should be talking to me like that.” Or something. Implying that– After searching their house, implying that he only saw one bed. Which is very, very weird because they have, like, coffin rooms that are hidden, and like fake rooms set up outside.
Courtney: And we see this in Claudia’s more– more often, because she’s kind of got her own little space away. But what– Did they only put one bed? Even though they don’t use the bed? Even though they know that that’s illegal in this time and place? If someone were to find it. Like, if you’re just setting it up for show–
Royce: I mean, in a show like this we don’t get a full floor plan, but it was a pretty large house, right?
Courtney: It was, yes. Big townhouse.
Royce: I would have expected more than two beds. I would have expected guest bedrooms and whatnot all over the place.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, we’ll be talking about the location of where they live also next episode, because that was the history/New Orleans geek in me that was like, [excitedly] “Oh! Look what they did!” But we’ll– we’ll not get ahead of ourselves. But yeah, what’s– what’s up with their bed situation? I was confused by that. But Lestat, you know, spends a night with someone else, and Louis, very upset, is like, “Aren’t I enough?” And he says, “Louis we’ll be together ten thousand nights. We’re immortal, and, you know, anything to stave off the tedium of eternity.” And I think, at one point, he even says something like the pleasures of the flesh. Which– at this point we need to retire that phrase. I cringe every time I hear that phrase. I don’t like it.
Courtney: Also as an ace I have had people, like, use that against me, like, [with mocking emphasis] “Well, if you– if you can’t experience the pleasures of the flesh…” As if it’s this grand, ethereal thing that heightens life and is the pinnacle of all things. Like, [disapprovingly] Mm-mmh… I don’t like it.
Courtney: But yeah, Lestat, he– At the end of the day, he’s like, “Oh, I like variety.” And he’s like, “Oh, you can do the same thing too, if you want. Just as long as you come home to me.” And that’s when we do have Louis having a bit of a fling with a soldier, who’s about to go off to war, who he apparently had had an affair with many years earlier. And I didn’t really get, because this– this guy, about to go off to war, was talking about like, “Oh, I wanted to enlist because of European sensibilities.” Like, implying that it’s more okay to be gay in Europe than it is in the US? Which like, that’s [laughs] That’s– that’s– that’s a bit reductive.
Courtney: We didn’t get very much time with this character, but Lestat was stalking them and watching this from the distance. So he got upset about this. And here’s where we once again have this breakdown in communication. Because Louis then says, like, “Oh, well, the– the mud on his boots that I saw that night could have come from anywhere.” And that’s when the interviewer is like, “Was it raining? Was it raining that day?” Because Louis did not say that it was raining, but then he’s talking about mud on their shoes. And then it shows– I think this is the only time it shows a flashback change. Because we see him meeting the soldier in the woods on a dry night, and then after he asked if it was raining, we see the same scene again but then it starts raining. So then it’s like, “Ah! There’s– there’s something afoot here.”
Courtney: But then, you know, politics starts catching up with him. All of these white capitalist businessmen on the council are trying various ways to drive him out of business. And somewhat out of self-preservation – but I think somewhat out of just a ‘fuck you guys’, also – he ends up making the women minority business owners, which in some way circumvents, you know, some of the laws. And they keep pressure up on him for a while until it gets really bad. And then one of these guys offers to buy him out of the business for 15 cents on the dollar.
Courtney: So naturally Louis absolutely slaughters him. [laughs] Which was interesting because this was the most Lestat I’ve ever seen Louis. Because he straight-up puts a sign on his business door that says ‘Coloreds only. No white’s allowed.’ Like he is absolutely pissed.
Courtney: And after he does this, obviously people are talking, they’re like, that’s the fastest way to run a business into the ground. Like, what are you thinking? But then he goes to visit this guy at night, absolutely, like, tears him in half, disembowels him, hangs him from a fence, and then hangs up his, like, that guy’s business’, like, ‘whites only’ sign. And I think that’s the first time, while he’s killing this man, or about to kill him, I think it’s the first time that Louis loudly and proudly, with confidence, says, “I’m a vampire.” And you know, honestly, it’s kind of a ‘good for her’ moment. [laughs] I mean, there’s white men trying to drive him out of business, racist as hell, capitalist as fuck, and Louis just tears into him. Like, good for her! I– You really can’t be mad about it. And then he gets so theatrical with the body displayed on the fence, which is very out of character for Louis.
Courtney: And it also– It’s a way to sort of complicate, and reframe, and turn on its head that traditional trope of vampires as the predator with all the power. Because he does have the power. He is coming into his power now, but he’s using it for vengeance. A wrong has been done to him, and that cannot stand. And you know, Lestat ends up kind of being proud, and also kind of antagonizing him for it. Because after the fact Louis is like, “Oh no, no, no. I did this for my people, I did this for justice.” And Lestat calls bullshit. He’s like, “No, you liked it. You took pleasure in ripping that man apart. Admit it!” And he even says, like, “Ah! At last I have a companion of the dark gift! Maybe we should make this our anniversary.” And that, my friends, is very queer. Picking your own anniversary? Very, very queer.
Courtney: You know straight people have this thing where you get married on a specific day, and you get that piece of paper from the government, and that is your anniversary. Queer people haven’t always had that, and even if they do, we know that the government isn’t always, you know, great with a track record of allowing people to legally celebrate their love. So a lot of queer people are just like, “Fuck it. My anniversary is going to be whatever means the most to us, for whatever reason that is.” And for Lestat that’s like, well, finally Louis is killing people in very dramatic fashion. [laughs] That– that’s– that seems like love to me. But of course you can’t exactly disembowel a very powerful political business white man and hang the whites only sign on a fence with all the gore for everyone to see without consequences.
Courtney: So riots start. A bunch of white men are absolutely ruining the Black part of town, they are setting fires… Louis is wandering the street utterly distraught, feeling guilty. He’s also thinking back to instances when his mother is admitting that she thinks he’s the devil, or the devil’s in him, or he’s met the devil somewhere. He sort of loses his temper and scares his sister when he’s trying to bring his sister’s children paper dolls, and the family’s getting increasingly wary of him and don’t necessarily want him in the house. So he rages and smashes things, and in a fit of emotion, he even says to Lestat, “I’m about to lose the last goddamn thing I care about.”
Courtney: So this– these fires that are rampaging throughout town, that he knows is his fault, he was the catalyst for this happening. He is just absolutely beside himself. And he admits that he couldn’t save the business, he couldn’t save the neighborhood. Storyville is the neighborhood, which was a real historic, sort of red light district in New Orleans. So, “I couldn’t save Storyville and I couldn’t save her family, but I could save her. My Claudia, my redemption.” It’s very dramatic. And Claudia, for the most part, is great. We’ll get into Claudia in the next episode. I think they made a lot of very good decisions with her, but I also didn’t like every direction they took with her.
Courtney: But there were a few more easter eggs from the book that are in the second half of the series, also. So we’ll get into those.
Courtney: Trying to think of a takeaway for this episode but everything I can think of relates to blood and most– most people are not into that.
Courtney: You know? Actually, this is kind of funny – because we have a family member coming to stay with us for the first time in four years, so we’re very, very excited – but I was just sort of going through some boxes and getting the house ready, and I opened a box that I haven’t opened in a few years. And I totally forgot that we just have a box in our closet that has teeth and blood, probably also some hair. [laughs] So maybe I’ll give this a pro tip: if you are ever paying out of pocket, either due to necessity or choice, for medical care and you need to get your blood drawn, and they’re making you pay on your own and insurance won’t touch it, just ask the phlebotomist if you can have a couple vials of to-go blood. Because sometimes? They’ll do it.
Royce: Phrase it exactly like that, too.
Courtney: That’s what I did! You were there, because–
Royce: I know.
Courtney: [laughs] I was like, “Can I have some vials of to-go blood, please?” They were surprised but accommodating. So until next time, always remember to get your vials of to-go blood.