The Vampire Lestat (The Lost Episode)
We recorded this like a year and a half ago and never released it, but many of you asked to hear “the lost episode” and thanks to AMC The Vampire Chronicles are relevant again, so here you go...
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. Together, we are The Ace Couple. And we have the Asexual vampire content you are hungry for. We have already discussed Interview with the Vampire – the novel, with some nods to the movie, but primarily, the canon book. Today we’re gonna take that conversation even a step further. We are going to begin by talking about the second book in that series, The Vampire Lestat.
Courtney: This story in particular, I think, is… lesser-known? Only because there hasn’t been a movie about it. There are definitely people who have seen the Interview with the Vampire movie who did not read the book, so that might be the extent of your knowledge as it pertains to this franchise.
Royce: The Vampire Chronicles?
Courtney: The Vampire Chronicles. So, Royce, you actually fall under this. You saw the movie but have not read any of the books.
Courtney: So if any of you out there listening have not listened to our last episode, where we talked about Interview with the Vampire, I do recommend it. Because especially if you have not read these books yourself, you might be a little bit lost.
Courtney: But, to just give a super-brief recap, I am making the argument that Anne Rice’s vampires are Asexual – even though a lot of allosexual people I know read these books definitely read into it as something that is just seeping with homoerotica, a lot of people who try to make the argument that a vampire taking a victim and drinking blood, is, in fact, an allegory for sexual activities. I’m buying none of it.
Courtney: But before we really go any further: when I found myself rereading The Vampire Lestat – it’s been at least a decade since last time I’ve read it – I found myself really needing to try to overanalyze what the implications of certain words are. And I still haven’t quite come to an agreement. So, Royce, what is your definition, or association with, the word “lover”?
Royce: Then – [laughs]
Courtney: If someone said, like, “Oh, that person is my lover,” what’s your out-of-context, first assumption about that relationship?
Royce: Well, again, context. If this was a person speaking to me, in person – meaning that they were living in this era, and spoke the good old American English – then I would assume that they were either sexually active or in a monogamous relationship or both. One could be exclusive of the other, because someone – depending on the person, they could have multiple lovers. Or, if they were like, “This is my singular lover,” I would assume the relationship aspect of it, which may or may not include sex.
Courtney: That’s interesting that you define it as being sort of like either/or, possibly both. [laughing] Because “lover” is a very complicated word. I think it’s a word that everyone assigns a lot of weight and meaning to. And I’ll be perfectly honest, I tried Googling the word “lover,” and every dictionary-esque website will have a slightly different take on ‘em. Some will insist that it is sexual in nature. Some will say that it only pertains to “romantic in nature.” Or, like you said, it could be romantic and/or sexual.
Courtney: And I remember – “lover,” to me, as a Baby Ace Courtney, long ago, I always thought it was just romantic in nature. That was what I took it to be, just in my own head. And I kind of liked it. You know, [wistfully] “They’re lovers.” There’s a romantic air about it. But then I was utterly appalled to one day find out that a lot of people think the word “lover” is exclusively sexual. And I was like, “Oh no! Have I ever called someone my lover when that was not the case?” And it led to some Ace anxiety. [laughing] And I was like, “Have I been using this word all wrong?”
Courtney: So, yeah. It’s a weird one. It’s a weird one. And I ask because the word “lover” is used so often in these books, and sometimes in ways that are hard to explain or justify. But for the purposes of my argument, I am going to say definitively that “lover” does not inherently imply sexual activity. Because the vampires are Asexual. I’m stickin’ to it. But we’ll get there. [laughs]
Courtney: So, going to the story. We left off at the end of the last book where Louis the vampire, who is being interviewed in the first book, has sort of gone his own, separate way. The last time we saw Lestat, the vampire who made him a vampire, was sort of growing weak, not really taking care of himself, really struggling to live without Louis any longer.
Courtney: But in the second book – as perhaps you gleaned from the title, being as though it’s called The Vampire Lestat – this book talks about the vampire Lestat. Except we are now in the ’80s, baby! Lestat had gone underground, which is apparently quite a common thing that vampires do. I guess it could be read as a bout of depression, where you just sort of bury yourself in the ground for decades.
Royce: Wait, actually literally?
Courtney: Yes, literally. [laughs]
Royce: As in, what? He just climbed inside of a coffin, and that coffin got put under some dirt?
Courtney: Not even coffin, just, like, in the ground. Just, “I’m in the earth now.”
Courtney: [laughing] Yes!
Royce: He just spent, like, a hundred years underground, but still conscious.
Courtney: It was more like 60 years.
Royce: [laughing] That’s still a lot of years –
Royce: – with no stimulation.
Royce: Most unbelievable thing I’ve heard in a series about vampires so far.
Courtney: [laughs] So, Lestat comes out of this sort of sleep dream haze state and reawakens in 1984.
Royce: Oh, if it was, like – I asked if he was conscious. If it was a hibernation, sure. Lestat just did a grizzly bear. Went to sleep for a long time. Hopefully ate a lot first.
Courtney: They… [sighs] The way it’s described, I think there is some amount of consciousness. But I think time just doesn’t really take on meaning for them in this state. Because there are allusions to, like, [foreboding] “The creatures you feel moving about you in the ground.” And, so, yeah.
Royce: What did What We Do in the Shadows call it?
Courtney: Oh, yeah! They did that too.
Royce: It was some sort of grand slumber –
Royce: – that Nandor was about to go on.
Courtney: Yes. Yes. So it’s like that, I think.
Royce: Spoiler alert.
Courtney: [laughs] Those vampires: not Asexual. Those vampires: extremely sexual. So what does the ’80s have but a lot of androgynous people. Lestat loves it. Lestat wakes up and he’s like, “This is my time. Look at all –” He uses the word “beguilingly androgynous.”
Royce: How did he wake up in the ’80s? Was this just luck, or did he have, like, an alarm clock set to “Androgynous”?
Courtney: [laughs] If I recall, he is kind of pseudo-conscious, and I think things like electric guitars and the music of the ’80s and the sounds of the cars and the streets and the radios, like, kind of called him in a way.
Royce: His vampire senses were just like, “Now’s a pretty good time to be awake.”
Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. Because Lestat is definitely some level of bisexual, possibly pansexual. Or at least almost probably was before becoming a vampire. Now, I don’t think, as a vampire, you have any actual sexual attraction, but he’s very much like, “I love all these androgynous people. Look at the women with short hair and the men with long hair!” [laughs]
Courtney: And… so Lestat’s having a good time. And so Lestat’s like, “You know what I want to do. I want to join a rock band.” And so he does. He finds a band that is just starting to form that has three members – all of whom are beguilingly androgynous, mind you. And he basically approaches them and is like, “Hello. I am the Vampire Lestat.” [laughs] But they’re like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool! Like from that book.” And Lestat’s like, “What book?” [laughing] So they pull out a copy of Interview with the Vampire and they’re like, “Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty cool that you’re trying to be Lestat the vampire and not, like, Dracula. Like, old news.”
Courtney: And Lestat’s like, “Give me that.” And he goes and reads the book – which of course didn’t, um, talk about him very favorably, as we recall. It was very much made out to be an extremely abusive relationship that he and Louis were in. But Lestat was immediately like, “There are lies in this book. There are falsalities, gross over-exaggerations. This is not how it happened. Not how it happened one bit.”
Courtney: So at that point, Lestat says, “Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write a book called The Vampire Lestat, which is going to be a response to Interview with the Vampire. We’re going to name the band ‘The Vampire Lestat.’ I’m going to be the frontman, and I have, like, ba-billions of dollars. I’m just going to throw all my money at it to get the best music videos, to get these books published, et cetera, et cetera.”
Courtney: But I did want to call out just a couple of the ways he talked about Louis as he’s seeing all this happening. He uses “My beloved Louis.” He says, “And of course, I hated him for the lies he told about me, but the love was still far greater than the hate. He shared the dark and romantic years of the 19th century with me. He was my companion as no other immortal had ever been.”
Courtney: Which I think is good to keep in mind, because we start to get Lestat’s backstory from before he made Louis in this book. So right off the bat, he’s still saying, like, “Louis…” If there’s a relationship hierarchy kind of situation here, like, “Louis’s at the top. He’s my number one.”
Courtney: So, [sighs] we’re gonna get into all the uses of the word “lover,” but I think there’s one other [laughing] we need to talk about: “love” versus “in love” or “falling in love.” Do you think that “in love” or “falling in love” has to mean romantically speaking?
Royce: I think that’s the only context I’ve heard it used before, but I think if it’s something that’s used frequently in the book, what you’re trying to figure out is what was Anne Rice’s intention with these words.
Royce: And if you have words and phrases being used enough, and then you have enough contextual information to back that up, you could probably find situations where, okay, this phrase was clearly used with a different meaning behind it.
Royce: But I think that in the common everyday language that I hear, “in love” is used to distinguish sort of the love you feel towards a family member or friend, versus a romantic partner.
Courtney: Yeah, and I think that’s fair. I think most people would sort of default that to being romantic in nature. But as I’m thinking about it, I’ve also heard, like, parents say, like, “Oh, I fell in love with my daughter the moment she was born and the moment I first laid eyes on her,” and…
Royce: That’s true. That is one situation where I’ve heard it. And just coming off of what we were talking about with the last book, Lestat’s extra, so…
Courtney: [laughs] Lestat is very extra.
Royce: I could see him using that phrase for anything that’s infatuating.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, and… So let’s talk about Lestat being extra. He’s also French. And the very first time I read this book, I remember just not subscribing anything necessarily romantic to all of the instances of, like, “I kissed him” or “I kissed her,” because they throw that out all the time, especially before he becomes a vampire, when he’s still a human. And in my mind, I was like, “Well, yeah.” Like, the cheek kissing is different from the culture I grew up in, but you see the same sort of description used over and over for multiple people in different situations.
Courtney: So, Lestat was 21 when he was turned into a vampire. And he comes from kind of a…I believe they said his father was a marquis – he comes from some level of nobility – who once was very rich and prosperous, is not really anymore, but they still kind of like live in a castle, because they just have that property. And yet he’s, like, hunting for their food because they don’t have any money to buy food, even though they live in this massive castle, but, I don’t know, pride or something stops them from selling it. Maybe it’s one of those properties that’s just so big, no one would have bought it anyway.
Courtney: But I wanted to really try to look at his behaviors pre-vampire versus post-vampire. And pre-vampire, he uses “I fell in love with such-and-so” about on par with post-vampire. He uses that a lot. He falls in love with a lot of people, to the point where I don’t think it’s all necessarily exactly the same type of love.
Royce: That sounds more like an infatuation –
Royce: – sort of thing.
Courtney: But he ends up becoming a bit of a folk hero in his town because he ends up nearly dying when he slays an entire pack of wolves who are menacing the area. And he basically doesn’t have a good relationship with anyone in his family. So he kind of runs away to become an actor. And it was the actress who played opposite of him who is the first person who, as a human, he mentions presumably having slept with. Because we have this line: “That night, the actress who played my inamorata gave me her very own special and intimate accolades. I went to sleep in her arms. And the last thing I remember her saying was that when we got to Paris, we’d play the St. Germain Fair, and then we’d leave the troupe and we’d stay in Paris, working on the Boulevard du Temple until we got into the Comédie-Française and perform for Marie Antoinette and King Louis.” So, that’s pretty obvious what happened there. There was another instance of him offhandedly speaking as if, in the past, having gone to a whorehouse.
Royce: Pre-vampire transformation, correct?
Courtney: Yes. Pre-vampire, all pre-vampire. So those instances: definitely sexual in nature. Also, presumably, all with women, which I think is very interesting, because most people I know who read these books and haven’t in years just associate Lestat with being very gay. But there’s definitely at least some level of bi in there. So let us not do a bi erasure. But those all seem to be casual, fleeting, single-night occurrences.
Courtney: Until we get to Nicolas. Nicolas, who grew up in the same Village; they’ve known each other since childhood. They reconnect, and there’s sort of this romanticized moment of, “We were boys again in that moment.” So you can sort of picture them, sort of like laughing and giggling together. And right off the gate from that first meeting again, he says, “I think I loved him already.”
Courtney: And what I find exceedingly interesting: in my memory, I was almost certain that they had slept together, in the book, on the page, before Lestat became a vampire. Rereading it, I did not see any evidence of that at all. They definitely had dinner together. They drink a lot of wine together. They kept calling it “Our conversation.” “Our conversation, which never ends, which keeps going on and on,” and “We could talk forever.” And so, it’s a very… and they’re talking about running away together. So – as lovers might do.
Courtney: But as I kind of mentioned in the last episode, Anne Rice is really not one to usually try to hide or sugarcoat sexual situations, and even the ones with the women that were mentioned, it’s mostly off-handed and smaller details, but it’s pretty obvious what’s happening. But just by nature of the way their relationship is and the fact that it is very sort of romantic, almost star-crossed lover-y, I can see how someone might try to read between the lines there. But I don’t know why Anne Rice would go out of her way to say, “He slept with women, and yet he is falling in love with this man,” and there’s just no mention of it whatsoever.
Courtney: So I want to give another example of just the same word being used over and over that [laughing] could have multiple connotations. And it’s the kissing one. Because when he first meets Nicolas again, Nicolas shows up, like, with other people, with his family, and both of the families are there. It’s just a social calling. And, like, everybody kisses everybody right then and there as, like, a greeting. Yes, some times and places do that.
Courtney: And the only time there’s really something more than “I kissed him” or “He kissed me” is actually another totally unrelated woman. So, Nicolas is a violin player, and with Lestat wanting to be an actor, they decide, “Let’s run away to Paris. We’re not going to get any money from our family to do this. We’re going to be, you know, dirt poor. We’ll be broke. But let’s just go for it.” And they talked about this for a long time before they ever did. And after Lestat actually gets a job at a playhouse, he gets one big break on stage to fill in for someone else. And at the end of the performance, he is so hyped up on the audience energy and the performance he just gave that offstage, once the curtain falls, he grabs the woman who is playing the lead opposite him. And it says, “I grabbed her and kissed her, and I realized that she was kissing me back passionately.” So that “passionately” seems like this is more of a making out situation.
Royce: He also seems surprised.
Courtney: He also seems surprised! [laughs] And again, this is a woman, and yeah, there might be some just like emotions running high, adrenaline kind of a thing. But that word “passionately” is never assigned to any kissing that he does with this Nicolas of his – who he starts to call “Nicki”, by the way, which I think is very cute. And since they ran away together, they live together. And yet, there’s nothing to explicitly state that they’re sleeping together. And I don’t want to fall into the same trap that historians do – like, [laughing] “Oh, they were roommates.” Because there are definitely historical queer people who were not just roommates that history has just glossed over. So I don’t want anyone to accuse me of doing this – because, again, Anne Rice has literal erotic novels. I haven’t read them. [laughing] I don’t intend to read them. But she’s far from a prude.
Courtney: And the word just “love” can be… [laughs] such a complicated word, because there are so many different ways you can love someone else. So it’s really hard to even read into, like, what is the romantic and/or sexual nature of this relationship, when you’re just having dialogue like Nicolas saying, “Lestat, I love you. I love you as I have loved few people in my life.” Because there is friendship love. And I think this transcends that – I’m not making the argument that this is a friendship love, because I do think it’s more. But for lack of actual evidence of a sexual relationship of any kind, I could almost see this being a queerplatonic kind of a situation. This is more than a friendship. It may even have romantic undertones. It may outright be romantic in nature. But every instance of explaining any sort of passionate kissing, any sexual activity, is not with Nicolas at all.
Courtney: One line almost got there. One line almost did, but this Is still very vague. Lestat said, “I was still sitting there, too unsure of myself to say anything, when Nicolas kissed me. ‘Let’s go to bed,’ he said, softly.” I wish there was more than just that, because they ran away to Paris together. They are living together. So is this a shared bed kind of situation? We don’t know! Because she never told us.
Royce: And that’s just where that scene ends?
Courtney: That’s the end of the chapter, yeah. That’s –
Royce: Does the next chapter pick up on the next day? Or is it a passage?
Courtney: No. No.
Royce: Okay. Yeah, unspecified.
Courtney: [reconsidering] You know, I guess it does, because that’s actually right before Lestat does get turned into a vampire. And now that you ask, and come to think of it, it is, like, 3:00 in the morning, he wakes up and a vampire is, like, in the room trying to spirit him away and steal him and take him and fly out the window. And there’s just like a stark lack of Nicolas. It says, like, “I heard his breathing. He was still in the room.” Like, “I tried to call out to him.” But this vampire, like, whisked him away too quickly and it’s like, still nothing to tell us whether or not this is a shared bed kind of a situation or not.
Royce: But even if it is, two people can sleep in the same bed and not have sex.
Courtney: That is very true. So we just have very few details about what the nature of this relationship actually was. But what I can say is that Lestat becomes a vampire. This vampire named Magnus has just sort of hand-selected him. And Magnus is a very old vampire, and he is, like, done with life. He’s like, “I’m not into this eternity shit. I’m gonna go into the fire. [laughs] But before I do that, I’m’a hand-select my progeny,” and steals Lestat away and does that and is kind of like, “Hey, here’s a ton of wealth and money that I’ve accumulated over the years. Here’s a giant tower that I live in. And I have human servants. And you can have all of it as long as you scatter my ashes after I burn myself alive. [laughing] Because if you don’t scatter my ashes, I might come back to life and I don’t wanna.”
Royce: Okay. That’s something I didn’t think was possible. I guess if you’re old enough?
Courtney: Yes, that’s… We get introduced to this idea in this book for the first time where the older you are as a vampire, the stronger you get with just, like, everything.
Royce: And so the thought process here is that if an old enough vampire gets incinerated but their ashes are still in one pile, they could potentially regenerate from that?
Courtney: Yes. It does seem like a very young, brand-new vampire probably would not regenerate from that. But if you’re old enough, [laughs] it seems possible. And Magnus is like, “Nah. I’m…”
Royce: So, make sure you burn yourself on a windy day.
Courtney: Or make a new vampire and make him pinky-swear [laughs] to spread your ashes.
Royce: What about all those human servants?
Courtney: Well, one of them Lestat kills, like, immediately, because he’s a new vampire, the next day, and a human comes to him. And he was like, “Oh, that was kind of neat. I could just, like, kill him real fast and drink his blood.”
Courtney: Which, speaking of – I mean, this is, this is how they describe Lestat drinking this other vampire’s blood to become a vampire for the first time: “Blood and blood and blood. And it was not merely the dry hissing coil of the thirst that was quenched and dissolved. It was all my craving. All the want and misery and hunger that I had ever known.” So blood is very satisfying to the vampires. And when I read lines like that, and when I see allos interpreting drinking blood as a sexual thing, it kind of just makes me wonder how allos actually view sex, because that sounds like… probably better than sex? [laughs]
Royce: I wonder if it’s just being compared to any sort of, like, psychological need. Because I remember being, I think, in college and hearing someone, somewhat exasperated, be like, “I haven’t had sex in, like, six months!” And that just the concept of feeling something in regards to that just did not make sense to me. Like, what are you –
Courtney: Yeah, you were like, “What’s the issue?” [laughs]
Royce: “What are you actually experiencing, like, physiologically from that?” I just, I can understand theoretically that there’s something there, like, some need that needs to be met, but I have no idea what it actually feels like.
Courtney: Yeah! Yeah. I don’t know. But like, even if there is a sexual urge and desire, like, sex isn’t going to make you not thirsty and not crave anything and sate all the hunger and misery that you have ever known… I don’t think! [laughs]
Royce: If you’re going to make a comparison to anything mortal, I think the closest you could probably get is, like, an extreme drug addiction. Like, the physical response to a drug withdrawal, to where you actually feel physically ill.
Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. So there is one issue that this book does have, and that is the love escalation. [laughing] I mean, we talk about some shows that don’t do power escalation well. This book has a love escalation issue.
Royce: Are you saying that during the course of this book, every time a current love has sort of settled down, a new, bigger, badder love shows up to challenge the protagonist?
Courtney: Exactly. [laughs] So, for example, there was first the young lady who was an actress who didn’t last but a night. And then it was Nicolas, it was Nicki, the great love of the life. But then, like, as soon as this vampire turns Lestat, Lestat says, “I gathered him to my chest. I felt such love for him as I had never known before.” So whether or not his relationship with Nicolas was sexual or not, this one is not. And yet, this is the greater love here, by his own words. Because sex is just not the end-all be-all. But the number of times he’s like, [laughing] “This was the greatest love I had felt” is a little ridiculous.
Courtney: And so, yeah, Lestat has exactly one night with Magnus. Because Lestat’s even like, “Just stay with me a little bit longer and teach me how to do this vampire thing,” and Magnus is like, “Noooo! You’ll figure it out. I left you clothes. I left you money. Here’s my house. That fire, it is calling me.”
Courtney: And that single night – I mean, Lestat ends up saying, “I hated him for leaving me. And it struck me with full ironic force that I’d felt love for him before he’d left into the fire. I’d felt love for him when I saw the red garments,” which was clothing that he, Magnus, had, like, laid out for Lestat. And then he starts to ruminate. He says, “Do devils love each other? Do they walk arm in arm in Hell saying, ‘Ah, you are my friend. How I love you’ – things like that to each other? It was a rather detached intellectual question I was asking, as I did not believe in Hell. But it was a matter of a concept of evil, wasn’t it? All creatures in Hell are supposed to hate one another, as all the saved hate the damn without reservation.”
Courtney: Which is kind of just a recurring theme in the book. Like, “Are we evil? Are we damned? Are we children of God? Are we Children of the devil?” And they pretty much all resign themselves to, like, “Yeah, I’m I’m definitely evil. If there’s a devil, I come from him, and that’s fine.”
Courtney: But then Lestat’s like, “Ah, but I feel love! How can I be evil if I feel love?” And it’s like, man, you met him tonight, [laughing] and he just left you high and dry. Magnus also, like, kind of turns him into a vampire against his will, because he drains him of blood almost to the point of unconsciousness and is like, “Do you want to die or do you want to be a vampire?” And Lestat’s like, “I don’t want to be a vampire! Just let me die!” And Magnus is like, [laughing] “Haha. Nope. Vampire.”
Courtney: And I don’t know what it is about Magnus, but the next day – or the next evening, I suppose, Lestat wakes up and sees a bunch of bodies in varying states of decay in, like, a cell in this tower. And all of the corpses who are new enough that you can discern features of, Lestat’s like, “Oh, they all look exactly like me. We all have blond hair. We’re all men about the same age.” So Magnus has a type.
Courtney: And when he sort of describes the first whiff he got of a mortal, he describes it as a number of things. Basically just anything that could mean desire, I suppose. Because: “The scent was faint, but it was almost irresistible. It was the musky smell of the first whore whose bed I had spent my passion. It was the roasted venison after days and days of starvation in winter. It was new wine or fresh apples or water roaring over the cliff’s edge on a hot day when I reached out to gulp it in handfuls.” So, again, blood just sort of being, like, all-encompassing everything good.
Royce: Well, at this point, it is his only physiological need, right? Because if he stayed buried underground for so long, he doesn’t need air, doesn’t need food or water.
Courtney: Yeah, it’s just blood. It is just blood. Which does start to complicate things a touch. Because now Lestat’s a vampire. Nicolas is not a vampire. Lestat kind of decides, “I’m going to just withdraw from life. And I’m gonna send money to Nicolas to make sure he’s okay. I’m gonna send money to the theater” where they were both working at, to make sure they can still keep producing plays and stuff, “and just kind of generally withdraw from life other than that.”
Courtney: But the first time he actually does come face-to-face with Nicki after being a vampire, all sorts of things start to happen in Lestat’s head. “For one heady moment, I felt love and only love obliterating every recollection of the horrors that had deformed me. Maybe I felt a profound joy, too, that I could still love, if I’d ever doubted it, and that a tragic victory had been confirmed. But something else stirred in me, and I knew it for what it was: something monstrous and enormous and natural to me as the sun was unnatural. I wanted Nicki. I wanted him as surely as any victim I’d ever struggled with, wanted his blood flowing into me, wanted its taste and its smell and its heat.” So there’s love, but also, uh… quite murderous.
Courtney: But then here’s one more line that once again is like… when I finally feel like I’m getting to the essence of what this relationship actually is, he refers to him as “The one whom I loved even as I loved my mother and my brothers,” which makes it sound more familial.
Royce: Yeah. I don’t know what else that could mean. And that’s a very specific set of relationships to use for comparison.
Courtney: Yeah, and it gets a little more complicated because he turns his mom into a vampire because she’s sick and she’s close to death.
Royce: So, is the motivation there to keep her from dying?
Courtney: Yes. She is, like, literally on her deathbed. And as he is turning her into a vampire, we get this line: “And jetting up into the current came the thirst, not obliterating but heating every concept of her until she was flesh and blood and mother and lover and all things beneath the cruel pressure of my fingers and my lips. Everything I had ever desired.” That’s where that “lover” word keeps popping up, and I’m like, “What do you mean by that?” Because that’s not the only time the word “lover” is used to describe Lestat and his mother after they both turn into vampires. So it’s at least vaguely Oedipal. [laughs]
Royce: Yes, and from these excerpts, I think that the main indication that I’m getting is that Lestat is so in the moment and stimulation-focused, he seems to have a difficult time reconciling feelings. And I think that’s why everything happens to him is now the biggest, most important thing that has happened to him and how a lot of things tend to be described in the same terms.
Royce: Because it kind of seems like –
Courtney: That’s a good point.
Royce: It kind of seems like the part where this got weird was the part where blood was introduced. And previously, he’s described blood as, like –
Royce: “Everything.” It sort of wiped away everything else. And if you take that in reverse, blood becomes a proxy for everything else and just kind of gets mixed together. So I’m calling unreliable narrator with Lestat not having the self-awareness to accurately describe what he’s experiencing.
Royce: And that makes it difficult.
Courtney: Which is so funny, because basically, by the end of this book, everyone has an issue with Lestat. [laughs]
Courtney: Yeah, that’s pretty good. So yeah, then they get into this weird, weird relationship with his mother that might be a little, a little, a little Oedipal in nature. He starts to oscillate between calling her “Mother” and “Gabrielle,” which is her name. Because there’s a moment where he’s like, “Oh, how could I call her ‘Mother’ after turning her into a vampire? She’s now just Gabrielle to me.” But then kind of uses both interchangeably, so.
Royce: That doesn’t surprise me, actually, because some of the vampires in these novels have referred to life before and after vampirization as separate things.
Royce: Like, once you’re an immortal, you’re different.
Royce: But Lestat still has all of those past memories and experiences.
Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, he even goes so far as to describe Gabrielle as “The only woman I had ever loved.” And she, kind of immediately upon becoming a vampire, rejects, like, all signs of femininity. Because they steal a dress for her, and almost immediately, she’s like, “Mmm, nah,” and goes and kills a young man who is about her same size and just, like, steals his clothes. And then she’s like, “Yeah! This one’s better,” and tries to cut her hair off, her very long hair, and was utterly horrified to find that it grew back. Which, come to think of it – I mean, you’ll be familiar with this concept, because they did that for Claudia in the movie. Claudia did not actually do that in the book. So they kind of, I guess, took the same concept but applied it to a different character.
Courtney: But yeah, you definitely get these feelings of his mother, Gabrielle, being just, like, really trapped in her social role. She was very withdrawn from her family, didn’t talk to her husband much, didn’t even really talk to her children all that much, and just sort of holed up and read books all the time. And so as soon as she was a vampire, she’s like, “Good. Love this. Never… never gonna look back. Not going to think of your father or your brothers. I’m just gonna go and do my androgynous vampire thing now.”
Courtney: And yeah, couple more weird things. Because you’ve got the weird familial nature of this now. You have the fact that multiple people have kissed multiple other people in varying different situations. But when referring to his mother, Gabrielle, recently vampired, he says, “I went to kiss her again and she didn’t stop me. We were lovers kissing. And that was the picture we made together, white-faced lovers, as we rushed down the servants’ stairs and out into the late evening streets.” [sighs]
Courtney: And then… I have trouble placing this, too. Because… well, I’ll ask you, Royce. What do you make of this? So after she puts on some, you know, trousers and breeches, a waistcoat, scarlet frock coat, takes the ribbon from the boy’s hair, ties hers back – as soon as she sort of boy-modes, Lestat says, “Then I wanted to ravage her.”
Royce: Has that phrase been used –
Royce: – elsewhere in this book?
Courtney: They haven’t yet, in the book, actually introduced the concept that the vampires do not actually have sex, but that seems like a very sexual comment.
Royce: It does. Um…
Courtney: But to a vampire, like, could that also just be, like, “I wanted to ravage her blood”?
Royce: Yeah. I think that I’ve heard that phrase used in that context. I think, in this case, you know, we have to find other examples of Lestat using similar language. At the very least, I think Lestat is expressing more attraction towards the male figure, which is something that there’s a ton of evidence for throughout the series.
Royce: But what does that actually mean? Is this just a turn of phrase for Lestat suddenly feeling, like, very aesthetically attracted? Or… what is the underlying implication?
Courtney: Yeah. It’s hard to know with a word like “ravaged.” Because that one is really, really hard. [laughs]
Courtney: But yes.
Royce: I mean, I guess the question is, is there any evidence of really any physical activity?
Courtney: No! None.
Royce: None. So then I have to think that that was just a means of expression.
Courtney: Yeah. Yeah, and I think it’s the next book, so it’ll probably be the next time we discuss The Vampire Chronicles in our upcoming episode, whenever that will be. I think it’s in the third book, The Queen of the Damned, where we actually get a little more solid evidence that they do not have genital sex as vampires, because that’s what I still have in my mind, the whole time while I’m reading these. Someone who’s just reading chronologically up to this point doesn’t necessarily know that.
Courtney: But there definitely is the, you know, queering of gender, because he even says, “But then, she was not really a woman, now, was she, any more than I was a man?” And, I mean, we’ve already been presented with the fact that Lestat’s really into androgyny.
Courtney: And this will be the last one for Gabrielle I think. But she cuts it a little too close to sunrise at a certain point and is feeling really weak getting lowered down into the coffin. I’ll just read this as it is, because I don’t even feel comfortable enough to redo this in my own words. [laughing] So, from the page: “I let my teeth cut into the tip of my tongue until I felt the pain and tasted the hot blood there. Then bending low, I let the blood fall in tiny shining droplets on her lips. Her eyes opened. Violet blue and glittering, they stared up at me. The blood flowed into her opening mouth, and slowly, she lifted her head to meet my kiss. My tongue passed into her. Her lips were cold. My lips were cold. But the blood was hot. And it flowed between us.” That’s the most, like, explicit passage, I think, in this entire book.
Royce: Oh, okay.
Courtney: I just don’t even know if I have any other comment, but, like, no scene like that with Nicolas. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. I mean, that scene isn’t actually that remarkable to me. I mean, that was a decision, to bite your tongue instead of your wrist or hand or whatever. But as was shown, I think, in other cases, that was a decision but Lestat’s extra, so.
Courtney: So you’re just chalking that up to Lestat being extra? [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. I’m more trying to figure out how Lestat’s blood has an elevated temperature, but his skin has a low temperature. How do vampire thermodynamics work? Why are their lips cold if their blood is hot?
Courtney: I think the idea is that the blood is, like, the blood of their victims that they have sucked. But I don’t know why. Like, how long does it take to lose all that heat in a body that isn’t generating its own, you know? Good points. Good questions. I don’t know.
Royce: Yeah, the reason why that scene didn’t really bother or surprise me is that in most indications where some sort of blood transfer is shown, there’s some sort of, like… there’s a physical manifestation of that thirst. There’s, like, a hunger or an attachment. Like, usually the creature drinking blood will grasp at the source or suck on it or something like that. So yeah, of course, if you bite your tongue, that’s what’s going to happen.
Courtney: It’s just the decision to bite the tongue.
Courtney: Because that’s the only time that ever happens either. Normally, it’s the wrist or sometimes the neck. But Lestat’s just like, “No. Tongue. This is perfectly normal.” So, there happens to be a coven of vampires nearby who have kind of been silently watching Lestat and Gabrielle.
Royce: Because there’s always a coven of vampires nearby silently watching.
Courtney: And they’re not too happy with them because they’re breaking the old laws. They are doing… especially Lestat is doing business as a mortal. He hired a lawyer to take care of his affairs during the day, and…
Royce: Isn’t Lestat’s existence in violation of the old laws? He was turned a vampire by someone who was too old to make new vampires, so…? Or would punishment have just fallen onto Magnus and not Lestat in that case?
Courtney: I don’t think there was anything massively bad about Magnus turning Lestat into a vampire, except for the fact that Magnus was already kind of an outlaw. Because Magnus actually was an alchemist and learned of vampires and basically stole blood from a vampire and tried to intentionally become a vampire and then just lived, like, really, really secluded from other vampires.
Courtney: But it was very much the fact that, you know, Lestat would go into bars or restaurants and work with a mortal lawyer, and the fact that he ended up buying the playhouse where Nicki was still playing violin.
Courtney: And this coven was run by none other than the vampire Armand. [theatrically gasps] What! We know him from last book! Except they are currently kind of just living out of an old cemetery. They’ve got some underground caverns going. So yeah, in many ways, this ends up starting to be not only Lestat’s origin story, but it’s a sneak peek into the origin of the Theater of the Vampires, which was what Louis and Claudia found when they went to France looking for vampires.
Courtney: Because at this point in time the vampires who know sort of the old laws and the old ways, who have sort of created more traditional covens, very much stay in the cemetery and really only go out to hunt and catch their prey, but they don’t really live in the public eye at all or pretend to be mortal or live amongst them in any way. And this really irks them when they see Lestat doing just that.
Courtney: So they end up kidnapping Nicolas and feed on him just enough to keep him weak and unable to do much of anything, but do not turn him into a vampire. But they use it as a means of confronting Lestat and getting him to actually come to them and speak, because they know that Nicolas means something to him.
Courtney: Nicolas, by the way, at this point in time: having a really rough time, because his partner of some unspecified kind just, like, up and vanished one night and yet is sending him a bunch of money, and being like, “I can’t meet you. I can’t see you again. But here’s a lot of money.” [laughs] So he’s not doing so well.
Courtney: And at the end of all this, Lestat actually decides to now turn Nicki into a vampire. However, as soon as he does, it says, “The realization gnawing at my insides like a starved animal that I couldn’t stand the sight of him now.” So, bad news bears. [laughs] They are in for some turmoil.
Courtney: And Armand kind of warns Lestat at a certain point, like, “All of your children are going to turn on you. It’s inevitable.” But right off the bat, turns Nicki into a vampire and is like, “Oh, I can’t stand to look at you now.” And he even says, like, “I was too crestfallen over my loathing of Nicki.” So, “loathing.” They don’t really explain why that happened.
Royce: But going back to how Lestat seems to be experiencing extremes in the moment and not really knowing how to describe them, I think this fits with his character.
Courtney: Yeah. So, Armand kind of goes a little overboard. And as the coven leader, he’s like, “I have the right to basically cull members of the coven as needed. Let’s just destroy the entire coven.” [laughing] So he just starts, like, throwing fledgling vampires in the fire left and right and is just kind of like, “All right, make a line. [laughing] Here we go. In time.”
Royce: What is “the fire” in this case?
Courtney: Literal fire.
Royce: They just… Yeah, but structure. They just started a bonfire?
Courtney: I would call it a funeral pyre. But yes. [laughs]
Courtney: They’re just like, “Into the flames with ye.”
Royce: And the fledgling vampires are just like, “Oh, okay. All right.”
Courtney: Not really. One of the really, really old vampires – she’s like, “I’ll go first.” [laughs] But there’s definitely some brute force forcing some of them in. And some just, like, flee before Armand can actually catch them.
Courtney: So they go to Lestat and are like, “Help us to live the way you live! Because Armand’s destroying the coven now.” And Lestat’s like, “That is not my job.” But then Nicolas, being very bitter, starting to withdraw a bit, ends up kind of connecting with these other vampires who have left their coven. And he’s like, “Let’s start a theater together.” Because technically, at this point, Lestat still owns this theater. But it’s been emptied out. He has sent all the still current living performers somewhere else to go perform. And it’s just an empty theater now. So Nicki goes back to it and says, “Hey, we can make this work, because I don’t want to be with Lestat anymore. So, Lestat, you go do your own thing, and I’m gonna stay here in the theater with these new vampires.” And thus the Theater of the Vampires is born. Technically, technically, even by the events of Interview with the Vampire, when Armand is leading the coven in the Theater of the Vampires and Louis and Claudia come, Lestat still owns that building. He still owns all of that. He just hasn’t been there in ages.
Courtney: So here’s an example of the love-scaling issue. Because now Lestat goes to Armand kind of seeking guidance, seeking something. And we get a little more of his backstory, too. But Lestat says, “Yet never had Nicolas, mortal or immortal, been so alluring. Never had Gabrielle held me so enthralled. Dear God. This is love. This is desire. And all my past amors have been but the shadow of this.” And Armand is, like, on board. Armand is like, “‘Who can love us, you and I, as we can love each other?’ He whispered.” So it’s like, how many new greater, grander loves have we already had at this point, and we’re like barely halfway through the book? [laughs]
Courtney: And Armand – they don’t say in this book exactly how old he was when he became a vampire, but he is supposedly very young. I don’t think he’s, like, a child, but he’s probably a teenager at least. Because compared to Lestat, who’s only 21 at the time he becomes a vampire, they’re constantly remarking about how young Armand looks. And even the vampire who made Armand was like, “That was a bad mistake. I should have never made one so young.” And… which makes it even weirder that they got, like, Antonio Banderas to play him in the movies. Like, that wasn’t what I pictured for that character. [laughs]
Courtney: But as we’re beginning to get some of Armand’s backstory: Armand was made by a very old, very powerful vampire named Marius. And this line – Marius, kind of took Armand in as a human… they don’t use the word “familiar,” but it’s very familiar-esque. Like, they were bonded together in some way before turning him into a vampire. And I like this line so much for my case: Marius went to Armand, as still a mortal boy, and said, “Go now and have all the pleasures that await you. Have the love of a woman and have the love of a man as well in the nights that follow. Taste of these things while there is still time.” Does that not imply that you can’t do that after becoming a vampire?
Royce: That is certainly what it sounds like. Which, at the very least… I know you’re saying that there’s evidence to this later on, but even if it doesn’t explicitly mean you cannot do this after becoming a vampire, it at least implies that it will be substantially different somehow.
Royce: Courtney Mhm.
Royce: And kind of thinking into vampire senses or what happened visually when Louis became a vampire, if all of your senses change dramatically –
Royce: – when becoming a vampire, that could be another interpretation, potentially.
Courtney: Which, it often explains the vampire senses as everything being heightened. But clearly not everything is heightened if it’s not, like, “sex but as vampire is even better!” [laughs]
Royce: Yeah. From “senses heightened.” I thought that was just sight, hearing, smell sort of thing.
Royce: Not, like, nervous system, stimulation sort of things.
Courtney: Yeah, makes makes sense to me. But yeah, I loved that line. And I also love the line that it’s like, “Have the love of a woman and a man. At least one of each. See what you like.” The implication, also… I feel like if all of these vampires are not at least biromantic, I feel like they all have the ability to be. It’s like, straight is never the assumption in the way any of this is written, which is kind of refreshing – especially at these books being a little bit older at this point. Because I almost wanted to relate that to a much more recent and modern media, which I’ve listened to, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, and read their books. And I’ve always just loved that straight isn’t the default nor the assumption in the way everyone’s written.
Courtney: So, yes. And in talking to Armand and learning a little bit of his backstory, we also start to get sort of the old laws that the traditional vampire covens abide by. And this one actually kind of had me cringing a little bit. The law number two had me cringing. This is the one that technically put, like, Claudia as a child vampire in the “illegal category,” because they also lump in children. But the way this one is written is: “That the dark gifts must never be given to the crippled, the maimed, or to children, or to those who cannot even with the dark powers survive on their own. Be it further understood that all mortals who would receive the dark gifts should be beautiful in person so that the insult to God might be greater when dark trick is done.”
Royce: That’s a lot.
Courtney: That’s a lot! [laughs] That is a lot. It was like, okay, so no disabled people. Okay, cool. And only the conventionally attractive… [laughs] are allowed to be vampires. So that’s kind of a yikes. That doesn’t have to do with sexuality, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out the yikeses when I saw them.
Courtney: So Nicki leaves Lestat and builds his own new little coven in the Vampire Theater. And then Lestat and Gabrielle just go adventuring, exploring, traveling the world. In particular, Lestat wants to find Marius, the vampire who created Armand, because he just has a sense that Marius is still alive and still exists, and this is someone who can tell me more ancient secrets. So he’s trying to find this very old ancient vampire.
Courtney: And it’s at this point that Gabrielle just, like, starts disappearing for prolonged periods of time. Because she’s very much a loner now, and she likes to just sleep in the dirt instead of a coffin, and she likes to just go wherever the heck she wants to go. And so he starts seeing her rarely. And she kind of makes a last attempt to say, like, “Lestat, you’re living way too much like a human sometimes. Why don’t you try turning over to your more wild vampire nature and try living the way I do? And we can go off and do this together.” And Lestat’s not really into it.
Courtney: He hears word that his brothers had actually been killed trying to defend their home, because now the revolution is happening in France and there is an uprising. His brothers have passed away, but his very elderly and blind father managed to escape with a couple of loyal servants, and he fled to New Orleans. Gabrielle tries to keep this information from him, because she’s like, “I don’t care about that guy who was my husband, and I don’t think my son should care about him either. So let’s just pretend he doesn’t exist and [laughing] withhold all this information from him.” Gabrielle’s a bit of a savage. But Lestat finds out and is really upset that she kept that from him.
Courtney: So, at that point, Gabrielle’s like, “Fine. I’m just going to go live my vampire life. I’m leaving.” And Lestat’s like, “Fine. I’m gonna go try to find Marius, and then maybe go take care of my still mortal, elderly father. We’ll see.” And eventually, success! Lestat does, in fact, find Marius, who does, in fact, share some ancient vampire secrets.
Royce: Good, because he didn’t get many of those when he was first turned.
Courtney: No, [laughing] he did not. So these are secrets, by the way, that even Armand did not know. Apparently, Marius had intended to tell him these secrets much, much later, once he was older and wiser and strong enough that this information couldn’t be, like, stolen from him. But with Lestat, Marius is just like, “Yeah, I’ll tell you the secrets.” [laughs]
Courtney: And Marius has been taking care of whom he calls Those Who Must Be Kept, all capitalized. And Those Who Must Be Kept are said to be the original vampires: a man and a woman clad in old Egyptian clothing, who, for some reason, have, like, white, alabaster skin, which is another thing that they kind of imply happens over age and time with vampires. But these were definitely not white humans. So that was just a weird choice. But they’re basically like statues at this point. They can move, but they almost never do. And they don’t seem to need to drink blood anymore.
Courtney: And somehow, telepathically, this woman is able to tell Lestat what her name is. And that is Akasha. The man’s name is Enkil. And Lestat is just, like, really, really drawn to Akasha. In fact, we have this passage: “I drew close to her without willing it, and I leaned forward, and I almost kissed her lips. I wanted to. I bent nearer. Then, I felt her lips. I wanted to make the blood come up in my mouth and pass it to her as I had that time to Gabrielle when she lay in her coffin.” I don’t know why. [laughs] I don’t know why that is. But he’s very, very drawn to her.
Courtney: And Marius sort of tells the story that he knows, which seems to be that this Akasha and Enkil came to Egypt and seemed to not start out as any kind of royalty, but were able to help bring prosperity to this area, and ended up becoming a king and queen. And that there were bodiless demons who had some sort of deep, deep anger that they did not have bodies of their own. And they could possess bodies, but apparently not very well. Like, you can go into a body, but maybe you don’t have a lot of control over it because you aren’t truly inhabiting it.
Courtney: And so a demon at some point – or multiple, I don’t know, we can’t see them – is just, like, throwing a fit in Ancient Egypt, and there are pots and pans flying and things going all over the place. And the story goes that the King and Queen went to try to reason with the demons, but when someone came in and saw what was happening – some kind of unseen magic, things flying everywhere – it was misinterpreted that this was coming from the King, and they ended up stabbing him to death, and also the Queen, because she was there as a witness.
Courtney: But with all the stab wounds and bleeding, that apparently gave the demon some way to truly get into them, and it was via the blood that they were able to meld with. And so the demons getting into the blood created a new creature, which was neither human nor demon but something new, which is what we know of as vampires.
Courtney: But then we learn that years and years ago, many vampires were completely wiped out, because the person before Marius who was keeping them – they sometimes call them the Mother and the Father – just, like, left them out in the sun to see what would happen. And that was not great, because the newer, younger vampires just, like, instantly incinerated to ash, and the older ones that were old enough to survive are just, like, blackened and shriveled all over and in pain and all manner of bad things.
Courtney: These guys, however, Akasha and Enkil – they’re like old enough that they were just darkened to a golden bronze [laughs], being in the daylight all day long. But apparently, whatever happens to them happens to everyone they descend from – or descended from them, yes. And we have a passage saying: “They cannot be hacked to pieces. They are too strong for that. A knife will barely pierce their skin. Yet cut them and you cut us. Burn them and you burn us. And whatever they make us feel, they feel only a particle of it, because their age protects them. Maybe their minds are connected to ours as well. Maybe the sorrow we feel, the misery, the horror at the fate of the world itself comes from their minds as, locked in their chambers, they dream.” So, we start to get some lore.
Courtney: And they’re kind of just horrifying things. Like, Lestat freaks out a bit when sees them, because they seem like statues, but then when he realizes they’re alive and that they just don’t really move, he’s horrified by that thought. And he realizes, also, Marius – this very old vampire who’s taking care of them – his skin’s starting to look a little bit like theirs. He’s kind of wondering, “If any of us vampires live as long as they have, is this what’s basically going to happen to all of us?”
Royce: Do you have any indication at this point of how old Marius is?
Courtney: I don’t think it specifically said, but I believe Marius was a mortal during Ancient Roman times. Otherwise… I have a vague memory of that, but otherwise, I’d have to re-reference the book to see if it said anything a little more specific.
Courtney: So, yeah, I’m going to be watching like a hawk when I reread the next book, because I’m confident that there’s actually a deeper lore that is like, “The reason why vampires don’t have genital sex.” Because in my mind, whatever this reason was applies blanketly to all vampires, and I think it might have something to do with how vampires were created and going back to the original vampires. It’s been long enough, I don’t remember it all to a T, but I’m looking for it and I’m waiting, because I’m sure of it.
Courtney: So then Marius has also indicated that he has actually drunk blood directly from Akasha, and that also just makes him a lot more powerful. They get powerful with age, but it also seems like the closer you are to the original vampires, like, the more potent the demons in your blood are. So, he’s very, very strong. But he also kind of cautions Lestat. He says, “You know, we’ll meet again. If you want to try drinking blood from the Mother and the Father, you can. They don’t let everyone drink from them.”
Courtney: But also cautions him to, you know, when you make new vampires – he says, “Whatever will happen will happen, but choose your companions with care. Choose them because you like to look at them and you like the sound of their voices and they have profound secrets in them that you wish to know. In other words, choose them because you love them. Otherwise, you will not be able to bear their company for very long.” And Lestat’s like, “Yes! I understand. Make them in love. Yes.”
Royce: But does he, though?
Courtney: [laughs] Look, I don’t know what happened with Nikolas. That whole thing just… That really fell apart.
Royce: But Lestat’s meaning or definition of love seems to change constantly.
Courtney: Yeah, he gets really enamored with new people and situations, I think. But yeah, then he decides, “Well, maybe I will try drinking some blood from Akasha before I leave.” And he does that. And in doing so, he refers to her as “My mother, my lover, my powerful one.” I don’t know if that’s intentionally trying to parallel with Gabrielle, but very similar language. [laughs]
Courtney: But something about that – he takes blood from her, and she actually kind of animates and also bites his neck. So they’re kind of like drinking from each other at exactly the same time. And that apparently really ticks off Enkil, because he, like, animates and, like, almost crushes Lestat’s skull. Which is – I don’t know why that is, [laughs] at this point, because several people have taken blood from Akasha, but doesn’t seem like any of them have drawn the ire of Enkil like this. But yeah, that happens. It seems to be drawn from envy.
Royce: This is what happens when you try to poly without having the appropriate conversations first.
Courtney: They did not discuss. [laughs] Yeah! Yeah. And there’s also… We’re only getting weird sort of glimpses of how these two have been. Because you’re told that hundreds of years ago, they would drink from a victim, like, once a year. If we just leave humans in their chamber, eventually, they would eat, for they lightly move around, but they never move when someone was looking at them. And all of these weird little glimpses.
Courtney: And Marius, who’s been watching them a long time at this point, kind of comes to the rescue. I mean, Akasha stops him from totally obliterating Lestat, which he has the ability to do. Marius is threatening him from a closed door that’s bolted shut, just being like, “I will separate you and Akasha forever if you kill him!” [laughs]
Courtney: And Marius – we don’t get a reason why, but he who’s been watching them says about Enkil, “He does not know what he does, really. I am convinced of that. He only knows that someone stepped between him and Akasha.” So, I don’t know why he thinks that, but he seems to think there is more potential sentience in Akasha than there is in the other guy, which I thought was just a weird little extra line there.
Courtney: But yeah, after parting ways with Marius, he now has some of Akasha’s blood in him, so he’s no doubt a lot stronger than he was even before. And he’s like, “Great, onto New Orleans. Got to go find my elderly father now.”
Courtney: And then we start to get a little bit of his side of the story pertaining to meeting Louis – which, very interesting, he says, “Shortly after reaching the colony, I fell fatally in love with Louis, a young, dark-haired, bourgeois planter, graceful of speech and fastidious of manner, who seemed in his cynicism and self-destructiveness the very twin of Nicolas.” [theatrically gasps] Lestat’s got a type.
Courtney: “He had Nicki’s grim intensity, his rebelliousness, his tortured capacity to believe and not to believe, and finally, to despair. Yet Louis gained a hold over me far more powerful than Nicolas had ever had. Even in his cruelest moments, Louis touched the tenderness in me, seducing me with his staggering dependence, his infatuation with my every gesture and every spoken word. Louis was a sufferer, a thing that loved mortals even more than I did. And I wonder sometimes if I didn’t look to Louis to punish me for what had happened to Nicki. If I didn’t create Louis to be my conscience and to mete out, year in and year out, the penance I felt I deserved. But I loved him, plain and simple.”
Courtney: Guess I should mention, at this point, that in Lestat’s travels, he did get written to by another vampire from the theater with a package that had Nicolas’s violin in it, that was basically like, “Yeah, he couldn’t do this anymore and went into the fire.” So that was a whole thing. But here we have him saying, “Yes, I fell madly in love with Louis, even more than I did Nicolas,” because everything’s even more than the last one.
Courtney: And yeah, the fact that it could be penance for all the guilt he had was a very interesting revelation. Because in Interview with the Vampire, Louis was convinced that Lestat picked him for his property and his money. And Lestat kind of ruminates over what is true, what isn’t true, what makes sense for Louis to believe, because he did withhold a lot of information from him. And he even says, “And though Louis did not know it when he wrote this chronicle, 65 years is a phenomenal time for any bond in our world.” So that’s the amount of time they spent together, which is apparently longer than average. Vampires, in this world, do have a tendency to just, like, get bored of one another or develop a resentment of one another and end up leaving.
Courtney: But he does explain how he never revealed half of his powers to Louis, that he tried doing that for Louis’ own sake, because he “shrank and guilt and self-loathing from using even half of his own powers. Even his unusual beauty and unfailing charm were something of a secret to him. When you read his statement that I made him a vampire because I coveted his plantation house, you can write that off as modesty more easily than stupidity, I suppose.”
Courtney: And then he’s like, “Yeah, and as for his belief that I was a peasant…” [laughs] It’s like, well, that was kind of an interesting one. Because now we learn that Lestat has all this money and all this property and just, like, never actually chipped in, and that Louis, who was also exceptionally wealthy, was just, like, paying for everything. It’s very weird, very, very weird.
Courtney: But one thing that Louis really resented Lestat for was… sort of playing with his food, I guess. And we have this passage, it says, “When he says I played with innocent strangers, befriending them and then killing them, how was he to know that I hunted almost exclusively among the gamblers, the thieves, and the killers, being more faithful to my unspoken vow to kill the evildoer than ever I had hoped I would be.” Which is weird, because why was that such a secret? If you’re really only trying to hunt, like, evil humans, why not tell your lover that, especially if he resents you so much for –
Royce: Yeah –
Courtney: – the way you kill people. [laughs]
Royce: The one that clearly has moral hangups.
Courtney: Yeah. It’s also very – like, it’s very Dexter. We did a Dexter episode where it’s like, “Yes, I’m a killer, but I only kill other killers.” [laughs] But it also mentions this scene, which, in our last episode, I pointed out because the movie didn’t do the same thing the book did, where the book was like, “Oh, these prostitutes were teasing him for his lack of desire in them,” [laughing] which I thought was such an interesting line. Lestat even says, “The whores I feasted upon in front of Louis once to spite him had drugged and robbed many a seaman who were never seen alive again.” So it’s like, oh, right, all this time, it’s still just a lack of communication. Because if you were together 65 years and you had a child vampire together, why such secret?
Courtney: But yeah, and he says, “Well, he did tell the tale as he believed it.” The way he believed it, it sounded awfully abusive, Lestat. But we do get a couple of glimpses of Lestat saying, “You know, there were good times.” He says, “Why should I bother to tell of the times he came to me in wretched anxiety, begging me never to leave him; of the times we walked together and talked together, acted Shakespeare together for Claudia’s amusement; or went arm and arm to hunt the riverfront taverns.” And like, that doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t toxic? A lot of toxic relationships have beautiful little glimpses that people really try to hold on to.
Courtney: But we also then… Because as we know from the first book, Claudia tried to kill Lestat real bad on more than one occasion, because she failed the first time. It does very much sound like what they did would have killed a less powerful vampire than Lestat. Because after the second murder attempt, with the blazing inferno in the townhouse, Lestat outright says here that “It was the blood of the old ones, Magnus and Marius and Akasha, that sustained me as I crawled away from the flames.” And even then it says it took him a long time to regain enough strength to actually travel.
Courtney: And at that point, he didn’t know where else to go, because he didn’t know how to find Gabrielle, and clearly Louis and Claudia tried to kill him, and Nicolas long ago went into the fire. So he’s like, “I guess I can pay Armand a visit.” [laughs] So he goes to see Armand at the Theater of the Vampires – which, whoa, that’s where Louis and Claudia happen to end up! So that was just a series of coincidences, I suppose.
Courtney: And then, even a mention of after everything that went down at the Theater of the Vampires in the first book, which now we know was owned by Lestat the whole time. Armand and Louis went traveling together for a very long time. And apparently, when Armand started sensing that Louis was going to leave him, Armand just went to find Lestat to cry to him and was like, “Louis’s gonna leave me,” which is very much like… [laughs] I don’t know. If you’re thinking about this in terms of relationships, like, [laughs] “I’m now in a relationship with your ex, but I’m really sad and heartbroken because I think he’s gonna leave me.” [laughs] It’s…
Royce: “You’ve experienced this before. How did you get through it?”
Courtney: [laughs] A little bit! Like, “How did you go on after Louis left you?” Because it even says Armand was, like, saying that “I don’t want to go on if Louis leaves me.” It’s like, man, Louis must be a heck of a guy. He’s a real heartbreaker, that one.
Royce: Lestat’s like, “Well, don’t worry. If it’s anything like with me, he’ll set you on fire –”
Royce: “– and you won’t have to worry about it.”
Courtney: [laughs] As funny as that is, it was mostly Claudia who is the murdery one. I don’t think Louis would have actually done that if Claudia didn’t suggest it.
Courtney: But yeah, so, then we get the last little bit of an epilogue, where we’re back in the ’80s and his book has just released and his music is playing on radios and he’s about to have his first, like, very big live concert in… I want to say San Francisco. But who comes to visit him right before his concert? None other than Louis! And they, quote, “Embraced the way we never had in the past.” And yeah, Louis’s kind of just like, “Don’t do the concert, Lestat. Why would you do that?” And Lestat’s like, “But I must! The stage, it calls!”
Courtney: And yeah, they have a couple moments. I mean, Louis’s like, “You know, all the vampires are gonna hate you.” And Lestat’s like, “Yeah, but you wrote a book, too. Like, don’t they hate you?” And he’s like, “Yeah, but it was just a book. Nobody knows what I look like. But you’re telling the entire world, ‘Hello. I am the Vampire Lestat. This is what I look like. Here’s my band.’”
Courtney: And yeah, Louis kind of has this moment where I don’t know if he genuinely feels like he wants to start anew with Lestat or if he’s just really trying to convince him not to go on stage, but he says, “Lestat, don’t go on stage tomorrow night. Let the films and the book do what you want, but protect yourself. Let us come together and let us talk together. Let us have each other in this century the way we never did in the past, and I do mean all of us.” And Lestat’s like, “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear from you! But no, I’m going on stage. I’m a rock star now.”
Courtney: And it turns out a lot of his songs are, like, just about actual, real vampires and the vampire secrets. Like, he uses “children of darkness,” which the old coven was using, and he’s even, like, name-dropping old other vampires. So, he’s kind of just outing people as vampires, even though most of these people don’t associate with humans. He’s just doing his thing, I guess.
Courtney: But while he’s on stage, he sees glimpses of vampires in the audience, and he’s like, “Aha, they’re here!” And after the concert’s over and he’s trying to leave, he gets attacked by a band of vampires. And Gabrielle comes out of the woodwork and is like, “Come with me. We must flee.” And so she’s here now. And Louis’s here. And the vampires are attacking them. But the vampires who start attacking them just spontaneously burst into flame, spontaneous combustion, just boom, fizzle.
Courtney: And at first Lestat’s like, “That’s gotta be Marius, because he’s very strong and very old, and I think he’s the only vampire I know who’s capable of doing that. So he’s here somewhere!” And they’re trying to look for him, but they have to escape and flee. But then it’s revealed, right at the end, that it’s actually Akasha who did that, who just incinerated all of those other vampires. Because, apparently, Marius had, like, [laughing] given them a television in their chamber. [laughs]
Royce: [laughing] So they tuned in to the concert?
Courtney: I think so. [laughing] I think they tuned into the concert. And, um, his music can wake the dead. What can I say? And, I don’t know, I guess Akasha’s just like, “That’s my boyfriend. Don’t hurt him.” [laughs] I… yeah, it just kind of ends there, with the revelation of, like, [ominously] “It was Akasha. She’s back.”
Royce: This series took a weird turn in book two.
Royce: How many –
Courtney: I wondered how you’d react, not really knowing this story.
Royce: How many books long is the entire Chronicle?
Courtney: More books than I’ve actually read, because some were coming out just a couple years ago. [laughs]
Royce: And you’ve read, like, eight of them, right?
Courtney: I don’t even know how many I’ve read.
Royce: You said it starts getting extra weird around book five, right?
Courtney: I think it starts getting weird in book four. Yeah, it goes in a couple of different directions. I also have read, anecdotally, that after The Queen of the Damned, which is the third book, the one coming after this one – which, [gasps] spoiler alert, the Queen of the Damned is Akasha – I think Anne Rice, just like stopped using an editor.
Royce: Oh. [laughs]
Courtney: I think she just was like, “I don’t need an editor. I’m Anne Rice.” And I think it’s noticeable. [laughs] I think it’s a little noticeable. So, yeah. Well see. I don’t know if I’m just going to do, like, the first three or four, or maybe I’ll venture into some of the newer ones that I’ve never read and see if there are any fun updates. But I think it is the next book where we actually get the Asexual vampire lore.
Courtney: Oh boy. I mean, if there’s one thing I can say about Anne Rice’s vampires, it’s that they are not at all normative. They are not cis-hetero-allonormative. They just do whatever the heck they want. Especially Lestat. And Lestat gets on a lot of people’s nerves. Like, even his mom, Gabrielle, who shows up again, at the end of this – she’s like, “Ugh, Marius is right. You are the damnedest creature.” [laughs]
Courtney: It’s also just so weird to reread these, because I don’t still own a lot of possessions from this period in my life, but I do have some books from back then that I read, and I’m finding, like, sticky notes that either I wrote or other people wrote to me in the books. I talked in a previous episode about my very temporary stint as a model and almost became a lingerie model, but I don’t know if I was going to an audition or something, but on the back of this book – it’s just a paperback book – the light started catching things, and there are, like, imprints of writing. And so I’m holding it up to the light, being like, “What does that say?” And it’s just, like, my measurements. My measurements – height, weight, cup size. [laughing] And it’s like, okay, guess I have that information for posterity.
Courtney: It’s very weird to reread a book after all that time. And yeah, I do think it got weirder the second time. I think the first time I was reading these, I was like, “Yeah, of course. This is just how vampires are. This is a totally normal book.” But you’re right. It did take a couple of weird turns, that is for sure.
Courtney: For as complicated as it makes it to talk about, you know, what does this language actually mean in this context? Aside from the fact that I do hold that the vampires are just Asexual, I think that’s something that the Asexual community in general does so much more than any other queer community, is really try to think about language and break it down and thinking about the implications and whether or not certain words should have the implication that they do.
Courtney: Because even if you take as common a word as “gay,” people who are in the gay community might just be like, “Well, I know exactly what that means,” but we Aces are like, “Does that mean romantic love? Does that mean actual sexual attraction? Does it mean it’s both? Could it be one or the other?” Where I think people who really don’t have to think in terms of split attraction or different types of attraction kind of just lump it all into one box and assume that romance and sexual orientation just always align and go together, hand in hand – which we in the Ace community very much know that that is not always the case.
Royce: Well, a couple of prominent Asexual people were members of the gay community as well, or at least associated.
Courtney: Oh, of course. I mean, we have Asexual people who have been a part of so many other different diverse and varied queer communities. And just by nature of the fact that so many of these terms are so abstract, too… Attraction itself can be very abstract. And like, what does “in love” really mean? Because our language definitely treats “in love” as being different than “love,” but not necessarily always, or it doesn’t have to be. But yeah. So I think just really meditating on language and the implications of it and what it means is something that’s very important to do. And it’s more fun when you can analyze those things through vampires. [laughs]
Courtney: But I think that is all I have to say on this book. I’ll be digging into the next one soon, because I… [sighs] There’s a line or two that I’m waiting for. [laughs] I know it’s there. Just don’t remember it perfectly. But after talking to so many allos about this series of books, when they are just reading between the lines and seeing a lot of sex when I was not seeing a lot of sex, there were some lines that I just felt vindicated. And I will keep an eye out for those next book, so make sure to stay tuned for that.
Courtney: Follow us on whatever it is that you’re listening to us on. And we will see you guys next time. Good bye!