The Queen of the Damned Proves that Anne Rice's Vampires are Asexual
Despite what the recent AMC series and many fans of the franchise say, Anne Rice's vampires are asexual. A young Courtney got Ace vibes right from the very first book, but book three The Queen of the Damned gives us conclusive evidence.
Courtney: Anne Rice’s vampires are Asexual. I have found conclusive evidence, and I will hear nothing to the contrary. If you’re new here, hello, welcome. We are The Ace Couple. My name’s Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. It’s a weird episode to jump into, because this has been a saga. We have covered the first Interview with the Vampire book. We have covered Interview with the Vampire, the new AMC television series. And we even recently released our lost episode discussing the second novel in The Vampire Chronicles, The Vampire Lestat, which we recorded, like, a year and a half before we ever released; we just sort of sat on it and didn’t do anything with it after recording.
Courtney: But today’s the big one. So if you have been with us here this whole time, moment of truth: I have found our evidence in Anne Rice’s The Queen of the Damned. So Royce, hello.
Courtney: You have not read this book.
Royce: Correct. I haven’t read any of the Anne Rice books.
Courtney: You have not read any of the Anne Rice books. Did you know when you married me that I was going to take you on such a journey through Anne Rice’s vampire mythology?
Royce: No, but it’s honestly not that surprising.
Courtney: [laughs] Listen, I blame the allos who insist that these books are just dripping with sex, [laughing] because they very much are not. And I know, in any bit of media where there is a fandom built up around it, people are gonna have their headcanons. There are going to be people writing fanfiction, people with their own fantasies. That’s all fine and well and good.
Courtney: But listen, the amount of Asexual erasure in media – not only in this, but just in everything – is a problem. And it’s not just, “Oh, the fandom won’t let anything be Asexual.” That can be part of it, sometimes. But it happens in real life, too. People like to brush over any Asexuality, any sexlessness. Even historical figures that were, you know, famously sexless, people are like, “Well, no, they can’t have been sexless. They’re probably just gay in a time when it wasn’t as okay to be openly gay.” That might be too. But why are people so reluctant to accept that there are sexless relationships – that can still be romantic, that can still be fulfilling, that can still be, like, a true partnership? I’m over it.
Courtney: So I’m here to tell you all that you’re wrong. There is no sex in these books. Well, at least not yet. I don’t… Hmm. This might be the end of this series. I don’t know if we need to go any further than The Queen of the Damned. But if we do, I distinctly remember one kind of oral sex scene, which – as a young Asexual, when I first read it, it was just like a mortal woman who was on her period and a vampire, like, ate that period blood, and I was like, “Of course.”
Royce: Makes sense.
Courtney: Makes sense.
Royce: Checks out.
Courtney: It’s blood. It’s a way that you can take blood from this person without severely injuring, if not killing, them. So that’s not even sexual. That’s just blood. [laughs]
Courtney: So, I will admit to being aggressively sexless, but I want to present my case here. Because it’s in the text. It’s in the text. This is not a headcanon kind of a situation. But, in The Queen of the Damned – for you, my lovely spouse, and for any listeners who maybe haven’t read this book, let’s just go through it, shall we? So when we left off in the last book, The Vampire Lestat, Lestat is a rockstar now.
Royce: Of course.
Courtney: Royce doesn’t like rockstar Lestat. [laughs]
Royce: Is it still the ’80s?
Courtney: Yeah. This book picks up basically that night, slash even a little bit before that night. They backtrack a little bit.
Royce: Yeah, I just didn’t know how much time passed during the second book. I didn’t know how long Lestat’s rockstar career was.
Courtney: Oh, well, you see, he had a big, big rock show. And Lestat is the author of this book. He’s writing The Queen of the Damned. So, some of the chapters are from his perspective, saying, “This is what I saw. This is what happened,” whereas other chapters, he’s saying, “These are from other vampires I’ve spoken to and gotten their accounts.” And it sort of flips back and forth between who’s experiencing what.
Courtney: And I went through and I just saved a couple of lines, because it’s lines like this that people will point to and be like, “This is sexual. This… Taking the blood of someone is a direct metaphor for sex.” And I just don’t think it is. But this is about as explicit as the language gets in these books. Which, as I pointed out in the past, Anne Rice has written erotic novels. She does not shy away from writing sex scenes when she wants sex. So, no sex is on the page.
Courtney: This is The Vampire Lestat on the very first page talking about the bloodthirst: “Insatiable, though physically, I have never needed the blood less. Possibly, I could exist now without it altogether. But the lust I feel for everything that walks tells me that this will never be put to the test. You know, it was never merely the need for blood anyway, though the blood is all things sensual that a creature could desire. It’s the intimacy of that moment, drinking, killing, the great heart-to-heart dance, that takes place as the victim weakens and I feel myself expanding, swallowing the death, which, for a split second, blazes as large as life.”
Courtney: So people will point to that and be like, “How is that not sex?” And the word “lust” is a little more difficult to defend, I think, because that usually has a pretty sexual undertone – except when you’re talking about bloodlust. Then people will be like, you know, “Serial killers have a bloodlust.”
Royce: Yes, that’s a very different phenomenon. Also –
Courtney: Which, you could argue, vampires are serial killers. [laughs]
Royce: Yes, that’s true.
Courtney: One could make the assertion.
Royce: We’ve also just mentioned before that Lestat, being the author of this book – or being the narrator, Lestat has a certain manner of speech, part of which is –
Courtney: He’s extra. [laughs]
Royce: He is. But part of which – you know, maybe he’s also not someone that grew up in the modern day as well.
Courtney: Also that. And I mean, the guy’s French. [laughs]
Royce: He’s a seven – wait – seventeenth-century French person? Or am I getting my TV series canon mixed up?
Courtney: That sounds about right.
Courtney: I think Interview with the Vampire, with Lestat and Louis, began in the late 1700s. And Lestat hadn’t been a vampire for all that long before then, because he still had a modern father. But I don’t remember the exact year he got turned off the top of my head.
Courtney: But people will be like, “Oh, the ‘heart-to-heart dance,’” and it’s like, “That’s sex.” It’s like, or it’s a dance. [laughs] But the word “sensual” is one that I’ve brought up before, because Anne Rice’s world of the vampires is very, very sensual. All of their senses get heightened when they change. And they talk about everything looking more vivid, everything having a stronger scent. Everything just looks, feels, smells bigger, more lush. Which, I would also say, if everything is heightened, if the vampires were interested in intercourse, why wouldn’t that be stated as like, “The sex is so much better now. I can feel things so much more powerfully now.” Like, I would think that that would be a thing, but it’s not.
Courtney: And then Lestat’s just kind of ruminating. He’s like, “Yeah, I’m a bit of a legend now.” And he is a very, very, very sensuous guy, very kind of creepy. I would say “sexually charged” if sex was happening, but it’s not, so I’m gonna say – I think I can say lustful. I think that still works, even without the act of sex itself.
Courtney: There’s a passage where he says, “In my isolation now, I dream of finding some sweet young thing in a moonlighted chamber, one of those tender teenagers, as they call them now, who read my book and listened to my songs, one of the idealistic lovelies who wrote the fan letters on scented paper during that brief period of ill-fated glory, talking of poetry and the power of illusion, saying she wished I was real. I dream of stealing her into her darkened room, where maybe my book lies on a bedside table with a pretty velvet marker in it. And I dream of touching her shoulder and smiling as our eyes meet. ‘Lestat, I always believed in you. I always knew you would come.’ I clasp her face in both hands and I bend to kiss her. ‘Yes, darling,’ I answer, ’and you don’t know how I need you, how I love you, how I always have.”
Courtney: And a lot of allos read that like that’s going to turn into sex. But he doesn’t do that. He kisses a lot of people. Lestat kisses people more than any of the other vampires. He’s a very kissy guy, [laughs] that Lestat. Lestat is many things. I think we even talked about that in the last book. Like, he kissed his mom, and we were like, a lot of people read that relationship as being pretty incestuous after they’re both vampires, but it’s not. It’s not.
Courtney: So in the last book, we met Marius, who was overseer of Those Who Must Be Kept, whom they stated were the first vampires, the mother and father, ancient, ancient beings that are basically just statues now. They don’t seem to move too much. But he walks in one day, and there aren’t two vampire statues. There’s only one. And he is basically transparent. He’s, like, see-through and a hollow husk.
Courtney: And Akasha is just gone. And he’s like, “Oh, that can’t be good.” And she ends up dropping in on him and was like, “Oh, hey. You’ve served me pretty well, but I’m’a head out now. I got shit to do.” And she kind of – she doesn’t kill him, but she does kind of entrap him in just, like, ice and earth, and in a way that he couldn’t get out on his own, despite also being a pretty old vampire – not nearly as old as she is.
Courtney: So he knows that whatever’s about to happen isn’t great. So he starts sending out telepathic signals to just other vampires and is like, “Oh no. [laughs] Beware. The mother is on the move.” And then all of the vampires start experiencing these shared dreams where they’re dreaming of two ancient redheaded twins. And at first, they don’t know exactly what’s happening or what the dreams mean, but they see these two twins basically sitting over a dead body and about to consume the brain and the heart from it, very funerary, cannibalism kind of a thing. Which reminds me: you showed me Attack on Titan. I hadn’t watched it –
Courtney: – until a few years ago. We read the Manga together and started watching the anime…
Royce: Out of order.
Courtney: Out of order.
Royce: You started watching the anime after the second season was complete.
Royce: And there was a point in time, I believe, when the first part of the fourth season was over – because the fourth season got split into, like, three – four different distributions.
Royce: We’re still waiting on the last half of final season part three.
Royce: But it was at that point where you were like, “Okay, I can’t take it anymore. Let’s go for the manga.”
Courtney: Oh yeah. We ended up finishing the manga and… that ending. We’re not going to talk about that. But… [laughs] there were some things in the anime where, like, the end credit scene, the song at the end, they’d have these illustrations in a very different sort of art style, and I would occasionally pick things up from it that were, to me, very obvious foreshadowing. And I would say something, and you’d just be like, “What? How did you know that?”
Royce: I think it was at a point where, by the time that season aired, I already knew what the lore reason for a lot of things were.
Royce: So when I saw it – like, I didn’t see those animations and get to reason with them, because I already knew the answer.
Royce: So it kind of surprised me when you just put a few pieces together.
Courtney: I was like, “Oh, look, they’re doing funerary cannibalism!” And you were like, “What?” [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, actually that is what they’re doing.
Courtney: [laughs] “How did you know?” Well, you see, I read The Queen of the Damned when I was a teenager. [laughs]
Courtney: And then we have a weird little chapter which is almost meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But I call it out mostly now because when we were going through the new AMC’s Interview with the Vampire TV series, there was an easter egg of an American vampire who came to Claudia, in a departure from the original book, and she called him “Killer,” and he wrote a motorcycle. And Killer ends up actually creating, like, a motorcycle gang of vampires. And he isn’t even really a big character. It’s more someone in his gang named Baby Jenks, who was like 14 when she became a vampire. And she’s a character. [laughs] She’s only alive for a chapter, but she… even as a 14-year-old, like, as immortal, definitely was into drugs, definitely was having sex. I believe she died in, like, a back alley abortion kind of a situation, so she had been pregnant at one point.
Courtney: But I just thought this line was interesting, because she’s talking about, like, “The blood was good. Yum, it was so good.” And here’s how she describes what blood is. She says, “It was hamburgers and french fries and strawberry shakes. It was beer and chocolate sundaes. It was mainline and coke and hash. It was better than screwing. It was all of it.”
Courtney: So, there you have it. Blood is better than sex: confirmed. That’s what I’ve been saying this whole time! [laughs]
Royce: It’s explicitly stated.
Courtney: It is stated! And then, yeah, she was even talking about, like, oh, how she got her victim. She’d, like, pick someone up hitchhiking, or she’d, you know, go into the woods with someone, and she’d, like, feign seducing them. Like, this is literally the line: “Then Baby Jenks laid down with him real gentle-like. And slurp. That was it for Parker.” So, like, I know there are some vampire stories where vampires will actually, like, have sex with mortals before eating them. This isn’t happening here. She’s just wooing them, just seducing them, to trick them, to immediately eat them.
Courtney: So Baby Jenks is going… seems like her gang is all kind of on their way to the vampire Lestat, but she’s like, “I got other business to attend to. Gotta go kill my parents real quick. [laughs] Like, want to kill my mom.” But she meets up with some other – she calls them Dead guys, capital D, the Dead guys. And then they just, like, spontaneously combust. They just burst into flame. And she sees them burst into flame. She sees herself burst into flame.
Courtney: Then her, like, soul, departs her body, and she can see her own body burning. And she sees the pure black outline of her own skull and her bones. “It was the white figure that amazed her. It looked like a statue, like the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church. She stared at the sparkling silver threads that seemed to move out from the figure in all directions, threads made out of some kind of dancing light. And as she moved higher, she saw that the silver threads stretched out, tangling with other threads to make a giant net all over the whole world. All through the net were Dead guys, caught like helpless flies in a web, tiny pinpoints of light, pulsing and connected to the white figure. And almost beautiful, the sight of it, except it was so sad. Oh, poor souls of all the Dead guys locked in indestructible matter, unable to grow old or die, but she was free.”
Courtney: And so she’s, like, rising up into the sky. She sees this happening. And as she’s rising up, she also, like, sees her mother’s spirit – like, her freshly killed mother, I guess – and their spirits embrace. And she’s like, “‘Ah, that poor Baby Jenks,’ she thought as she looked down to earth just one last time. But she wasn’t Baby Jenks now. No, not at all.” So, that’s kind of foreshadowing a bit of how all the vampires are connected to the original, I suppose. But also, it’s just kind of showing that she’s just going on a murder spree. She’s just burning alive, with her mind, almost all of the vampires – on her way to go and retrieve Lestat at his rock show.
Royce: So I was wondering about that. I didn’t have this thought the last time you described something of this nature to me, but I think it was in our last episode that you mentioned one of the older handlers for the original two vampires just did experiments, just, like, put them in the sun for a little bit, and found out that if they did that, it basically set all of the vampires alive on fire.
Courtney: Except the very old ones, yeah.
Courtney: Yeah. Basically, he put them out in the sunlight, and they were too old and strong to die, so they got, like, bronzed. They got, like, a good beach tan. And some of the older ones also got bronzed, but most of the vampires just, like, burned to a crisp.
Royce: That’s what I was wondering. Like, right here, is this intentional? Is this a vampire power to just set random vampires on fire? Or did Akasha just go for, like, a mid-afternoon stroll?
Courtney: [laughs] No, this is very intentional. She’s like, “I am killing all of the vampires, save for a precious few.” Because she kind of also knows that most of the vampires listening to Lestat’s music, reading Lestat’s book, seeing how openly and brazenly he’s like, “I’m a vampire” –
Courtney: – they’re like, “Well, that guy’s gotta die.” So a lot of the vampires are going to the show because they know that’s where he will be and they’re planning to attack him and try to kill him. And Akasha’s like, “No, I like rock music. I’m gonna burn you alive with my mind.” [laughs]
Courtney: So then we have a chapter on Pandora, who is a vampire that Marius made. We don’t get to know a lot about her in this book. There’s a future book in the series that focuses more on her. But I think the main reason of this chapter is just that she’s going to visit a vampire named Azim, who has found a corner of the world where the locals see him as a god and have a temple for him and will offer themselves up to him. So, he’s got like, a whole temple of followers.
Royce: Yeah, the book Pandora is in the New Tales of the Vampires series, which has two books.
Courtney: And I will be real: I haven’t read that one yet. However, I did try to do a little bit of research, because every time I have made the assertion that these vampires are Asexual, someone has come out and been like, “Pandora has sex with –” I don’t know if it’s Marius or another vampire, but they’re like, “They have sex.” And I was like, “That doesn’t sound correct, but I haven’t read that book.” So I actually was able to find this passage by googling it on just, like, a fandom forum.
Courtney: But this is what’s so annoying, is that there are so many people who have read all of these books, who love these vampires, who love these stories. If there is a lore reason why they can’t or don’t have sex, I feel like I should be able to just google and say, like, “Why can’t Anne Rice’s vampires have sex?” And I should hope that a fandom Wiki or something will tell me the lore reason. But for years, I have tried this, because I didn’t want to go back and read every single book [laughing] again, but I haven’t been able to find it. And in fact, I’ve been seeing people say that they do have sex. And that’s what’s made me feel crazy, because I’m saying, “I remember reading this. I remember this.”
Courtney: So here’s the passage that I was able to find on a forum. Because I was like, “When does Pandora have sex as a vampire and with whom?” And it is Pandora and Marius. “He covered me and kissed my cheek. ‘Drink from me,’ he said, ‘drink until the pain goes away. It’s only the body dying. Drink, Pandora. You are immortal.’ ‘Fill me, take me,’ I said. I reached down between his legs. ‘It doesn’t matter now.’” Seems to be something he said that’s in quotes: “It doesn’t matter now.”
Courtney: “But it was hard, this organ I sought, the organ forever lost to the god Osiris.” We’re gonna put a pin in that Osiris thing. “I guided it, hard and cold as it was, into my body. Then I drank and drank, and when I felt his teeth again on my neck, when he began to draw from me the new mixture that filled my veins, it was sweet suckling, and I knew him and loved him, and I knew all his secrets in one flash which meant nothing. He was right. The lower organs meant nothing. He fed on me. I fed on him. This was our marriage.” Tell me that’s not Asexual as hell. Like – [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, that doesn’t sound like an argument.
Courtney: [laughs] I have had, I think, at least half a dozen people in this last year – like, different individual people – be like, “But Pandora and Marius had sex.” Like – [laughs]
Royce: But this was a human being interested in sex and then turning into a vampire and being like, “Oh, that was not important.”
Courtney: Yes! [laughs] Exactly. [laughs] Yes! And it’s like, you see the interest immediately vanish. She’s like, “I want to have sex right now.” And he’s like, “Eh, that doesn’t really matter.” And she’s like, “Yes, penis inside vagina, please.” And he’s like, “Let me just drink your blood and you can have some of mine instead.” And she’s like, “You’re right. [laughs] Blood is the thing. Genitals don’t matter.” You see that happen in that instant. [laughing] And it’s like…
Royce: Yeah, the transition is explicitly explained.
Courtney: Yes! Yes. [laughs]
Royce: So the New Tales of the Vampire series is two books, is what I’ve just looked up, which is separate from the main series, which is currently 13 books.
Courtney: 13, oh my goodness.
Royce: But it is Pandora and Vittorio the Vampire. And those two books do not feature Lestat.
Royce: Lestat is mentioned but is not present, from what I understand.
Courtney: I mean, I’m sure I have both of those books. I mean, I don’t know if I mentioned this during our first go-around, but my very first online purchase I ever made was a box of Anne Rice novels from eBay, [laughing] and I still have most of them.
Royce: Also, the New Tales of the Vampire series has angels? Because – was this Anne Rice in her religious phase?
Courtney: She had a lot of religious phases. [laughs] Anne Rice. What a religious character. Like, her books are steeping with, like, just… This entire series is just, like, one long crisis of faith. [laughs] So I don’t think I will actually be reading that intently that long into the series. And if I do, we probably won’t have enough to discuss on camera. So I did want to break out that passage, because it’s like, that’s everyone’s “gotcha” for me. They’re like, “Ha! Gotcha! Marius had sex with Pandora.” It’s like –
Royce: It’s like –
Royce: It’s like, that’s a passage that you should add to your own notes for, like, “See? Vampires, not interested.”
Courtney: I am. I’m going to keep notes. I’m going to have all these passages that I’m reading, and I’ll be like, “Explain this!” [laughs] Like, no, absolutely not. So I think it’s funny that everyone’s “gotcha” – because I’ve been like, “Oh no. Have I been talking too soon, when I haven’t read every single book in the series? Did something change?” Like, no. Everyone else’s “gotcha” is reinforcing my beliefs! [laughs]
Courtney: So then, here’s where I also want to know where they’re going with the TV series. Because we covered it, we liked a lot of the things. I didn’t like that they made the vampires very sexual, because they are not. And I know they thought they were doing something. I know they thought they were making it more queer. They thought they were making it more intimate. I disagree. I don’t think sex inherently means those things.
Courtney: And that should be evident by these books. The fact that people think about these books the way they are and see this, like, deep, rich, lush connection, these, you know, whirlwind romances without any sex actually being present, should tell you that sex does not matter in the way you think it does.
Courtney: But Daniel, the original interviewer of Interview with the Vampire, is now in a bit of a romance with Armand, the vampire Armand. He was going on, like, some paths of self-destruction. Armand did, like, a tiny little blood exchange with him – like, not enough to turn him, but just a little amuse-bouche, if you will. And now they have some minor ability to, like, communicate with each other telepathically, like, a little bit.
Courtney: And so Armand will occasionally disappear. He’ll pop back up. He’ll whisk Daniel away. I am halfway tempted to go back to The Vampire Armand, though, because the more I’ve been reading other people’s opinions on these books, the more I’ve seen people headcanoning Armand as autistic. And the first time I read these, I didn’t know much about autism. I wouldn’t have been able to peg that. But now, after reading all of these people say, like, “Yeah, Armand, definitely autistic,” now, I’m reading about him and I’m like, “Well, I’ll be damned, maybe he is!” [laughs]
Courtney: But before becoming a vampire, he was also young. He was, like, 17. But he was definitely, like, sexually active before that, and I believe with very older men. But there is this line where it’s like, “The point was, Armand didn’t know what men felt. He never had. Oh, of course, he’d known the pleasures of the flesh. That was par for the course. Nobody then thought children were innocent of sensuous pleasures. But of true aggression, he knew little. He killed because it was his nature as a vampire, and the blood was irresistible.” And I think it’s very interesting for someone who has become a vampire, who’s known to be quite an aggressive creature, to be like, “I didn’t even know what aggression was like while I was alive. Like, I just didn’t feel that.” [laughs]
Courtney: But now Daniel, his new, like, mortal companion, is like, “Dude, you are old as hell. You have seen some shit. Tell me the shit you’ve seen!” [laughing] He’s like, “What was that like?”
Courtney: And this passage is pretty good. “Daniel began to question Armand. ‘What had it really been like in those days in Venice? Look at this film set in the 18th century; tell me what is wrong.’ But Armand was remarkably unresponsive. ‘I cannot tell you those things because I have no experience of them. You see, I have so little ability to synthesize knowledge. I deal in the immediate with a cool intensity.’ ‘What was it like in Paris?’ ‘Ask me if it rained on the night of Saturday, June 5th, 1793. Perhaps I could tell you that.’ Yet at other moments, he spoke in rapid bursts of things around him, of an eerie garish cleanliness of the era of the horrid acceleration of change.” And then he just goes on a tremendous tangent about all the things around him that are fascinating him. [laughing] And I was like, “He’s autistic, right?” [laughs] I see where that headcanon came from. I really do.
Courtney: And I don’t even think I mentioned this down, but I feel like I remember reading that he just, like, became obsessed with microwaves at one point. And I’m like, “Yes, I love this.” [laughs] I love this old vampire being like, “Ahh, eighteenth-century Venice, I don’t even remember what that was like. [passionately] But this microwave!”
Courtney: But now, here’s a weird thing that happens. So this passage: “Men and women fell in love with Armand, of course, ‘so innocent, so passionate, so brilliant!’ You don’t say. In fact, Armand’s power to seduce was almost beyond his control. And it was Daniel who must bed these unfortunates, if Armand could possibly arrange it, while he watched from a chair nearby, a dark-eyed Cupid with a tender approving smile. Hot, nerve-searing, this witnessed passion, Daniel working the other body with ever greater abandon, aroused by the dual purpose of every intimate gesture. Yet he lay empty afterwards, staring at Armand, resentful, cold.” And like, I think that’s the only depiction of sex in this book, [laughs] was that passage.
Royce: Which was between humans.
Royce: With the vampire just watching.
Courtney: Yes! [laughs] But eventually, Armand does change Daniel. Daniel Molloy is now a vampire. And I want to know how in the heck they intend to incorporate or otherwise change that in the TV series, because he’s a much older man now. He also is just now in the TV series meeting Armand, who is currently Louis’s partner. So I don’t know what they’re gonna do with that.
Royce: Doesn’t he also have a terminal illness.
Courtney: Correct. Yes, I believe he does.
Royce: There was just already a precedent for some of the people in New Orleans approaching the vampires, seeking a cure.
Courtney: Mmm, mhm. So in this montage of everyone who is starting to experience these dreams which Armand had – and I believe Daniel also had started getting the dreams even before being changed, because he had had, like, that little bit of blood, but not enough to change. So, everyone’s like, “What does this mean?” And so many people are making a pilgrimage to try to find Lestat.
Courtney: So we also start just meeting all these other vampires that we haven’t found before, such as Khayman, who is very, very ancient. And in his traveling, he finds some fledgling vampires, and these are just some of his thoughts on that. “They were nothing as hard and white, to begin with. In fact they were made up of so much soft human tissue that they were animated corpses still. Beguilingly pink and weak. And how they needed the blood of their victims. Why, they were suffering agonies of thirst right now. And surely this was their fate nightly. Because the blood had to work endlessly on all the soft human tissue. It worked not merely to animate the tissue, but to convert it slowly into something else. As for him, he was already made up of something else. He had no soft human tissue left. Though he lusted for blood, it was not needed for his conversion. Rather he realized suddenly that the blood merely refreshed him, increased his telepathic powers, his ability to fly, or to travel out of his body, or his prodigious strength. Ah, he understood it! For the nameless power that worked in all of them, he was now a nearly perfected host. Yes, that was it exactly. And they were younger, that’s all. They had merely begun their journey towards true vampiric immortality.”
Courtney: And I just think that’s interesting to illustrate what function the blood actually serves for the vampires. Because they talk about, when they’re younger, being thirsty. Even if they’re older, more powerful, they talk about still liking it, it’s still refreshing, but they don’t necessarily need it, but it’s still, as Lestat said in the first chapter, “irresistible.”
Royce: And that’s something that I think wasn’t clear to me. Because we don’t really get an idea from the earlier people in the books, like Louis, how long that process takes, because they’re not really aware of it. They don’t have the contrast.
Courtney: Well, a lot of them never get that far. Because, as you recall, before Lestat became a rockstar, he just, like, went into the ground. He was just like, “I’m done,” and just buried himself for decades. And that’s something a lot of vampires do. I think, somewhere in this book, they even talk about being, like, around the 200-year mark is normally where vampires will either start to lose their minds and go into the earth or they’ll be destroyed by an older, stronger vampire.
Courtney: And Khayman is starting to see these visions of the twins, the red-haired twins. But we also sort of see from his memories that he has firsthand experience with them. He has seen them. And we don’t get the whole story, which I think is kind of interesting, because you start getting these, like, really alarming details without any context – about how, in, like, ancient Egypt, he was ordered by the king to rape these girls. [laughing] And it’s like, “Oh. Okay. What’s going on with that?”
Courtney: And then we meet Jesse, young mortal woman, who is a part of a very mysterious family, a very large, well-documented family. And she was actually orphaned; her mother died when she was a baby. But she seems to have powers of some sort, little, like, telepathic powers – the ability to see spirits, mostly, is the one that becomes pretty prominent for her, and quite alarming.
Courtney: And she talks about being a part of this great family, where wherever she travels in the world, there’s someone who is distantly related to her that knows that they’re distantly related. So it’s like, “I’ve never been to Italy before, but I’m just going to go to Italy, and if I, you know, ring up my cousin and be like, ‘Who do we know in Italy?’ They’ll be like, ‘Great, your cousins will pick you up.’” And she also has red hair – red hair and green eyes.
Courtney: And they talk about this family member, Maharet. And their family’s lore is that every generation has a Maharet who is sort of the keeper of the family knowledge, who keeps track of the family trees. So, like, if you need to know who we’re related to in India, like, ring up Maharet and she knows that branch of the family.
Courtney: And Jesse goes to visit Maharet. And she doesn’t know that, but we very clearly know, like, Maharet’s absolutely a vampire. [laughs] It is very clear that not every generation has a Maharet that takes on the power, but, like, this is just a vampire who has been tracking her family for centuries. And she’s got some other very old vampires who are friends with her, visiting her, living with her, etcetera. And so they kind of take Jesse in and sort of let her stay with them for a while. And they don’t reveal all their secrets, but they start to reveal, like, a little bit too much. And then they’re like, “Maybe, for your safety, maybe you should not be here anymore.”
Courtney: And Jesse is, like, an archaeologist by trade. So she is studying history. She is fascinated by the fact that this family has so much vivid history that she wants to, like, help Maharet. She’s like, “I want to take this on. I want to be the one keeping the family records.” And she gets kind of shooed away.
Courtney: And then she gets courted by an organization called the Talamasca, which becomes prominent in other books, and I believe also the Mayfair Witches series, because the Talamasca is basically an underground organization that studies all things paranormal. So they’re, like, studying witches. They have files on people that they think are witches. Which – Jesse is told, basically, by Maharet, like, “Yeah, you are a witch. You have these abilities. Many people in our family do, especially those with red hair. Like, that seems to be the gene.”
Courtney: Which I think is interesting, that Anne Rice chose to do that, because there are so many just, like, mythologies around red hair, especially throughout history. And sometimes it is, you know, “red-haired people are witches.” Sometimes it’s “red-haired people are vampires.” In this case, sometimes, both. And I think that’s really interesting. I’ve done a lot of reading on the history of mythologies like this around red hair. And some of it does actually lead to, like, legitimate bigotry. Like, how often in modern-day do we hear, like, “Oh, the redheaded stepchild” as, like, a derogatory – like, the child no one cares about. Like, how awful is that? And there’s precedents for that.
Courtney: Because as cool as it is in a genre fiction book like this, like, “Ah, you have powers. You know, you’re a very sensuous vampire living this very lush life,” throughout history, if there were times and places where people thought you were a witch, you were going to get executed. So, not cool. Was South Park the one who started the, like, “ginger kids don’t have souls” thing, or did they just popularize it? Because that was also very much a thing.
Royce: Either is a distinct possibility.
Courtney: But this Talamasca sort of gives Jesse a job offer. They’re like, “Hey, come work for us. We actually have a file on you. We’ve sort of suspected for a while that you’re a witch. If you want to see that file, you can, but, like, why don’t you come research for us?” And she gladly takes this job. She sort of writes to Maharet, and Maharet’s basically like, “I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but maybe not the best idea to be in the Talamasca.” [laughs] But Jesse’s like, “No, this sounds great.”
Courtney: And they have, like, a house in London, where you can optionally live if you work for them, and, you know, live amongst all these people doing this research and doing this work, and… to the point where there are some people who, like, are lifelong residents of this house and end up, like, living and dying in the house.
Courtney: But then the Talamasca – sort of the head honcho, David Talbot, sort of calls her in one day and hands her the book Interview with the Vampire and was like, “I want you to read this book.” And she’s like, “Oh, I have read it, actually. Like, I picked it up at the airport on a flight a few years back, and it was wonderful and horrible. But I didn’t keep the book, because it kind of haunted me.” And he was like, “Well, you see, it’s real. [laughs] We want to know how much of it is real, but we’re pretty sure these vampires do exist.”
Courtney: And she’s like, “What?! Vampires are real?” And he’s like, “Definitely they are. We know that these two vampires in particular exist because we found, you know, properties in their names and things, but we want to know how much of this book is actually real or if any of it was fake or embellished, and we want to know about, you know, Claudia. Was Claudia real?” And all these things.
Courtney: And so they send her to New Orleans, and it’s like, “Read the book again, and then go to New Orleans and do some research for us.” But they were very much like, “This is more dangerous than the average thing. Like, spirits can’t hurt you if we’re researching spirits, but vampires absolutely can, and they can read minds. So we’re going to need you to stay in a hotel that’s, like, several hours outside of New Orleans. You need to leave before it gets dark. And do not under any circumstances try to make contact with any of these things.” And she’s like, “Right. Got it.”
Royce: Just vampire hunting 101.
Courtney: Yeah, you know! They didn’t exactly arm her with a stake and a cross, but I suspect they know that wouldn’t have worked anyway. So she ends up finding the home that Louis, Lestat, and Claudia lived in for, like, what, 60 years or something like that. And she gets so excited that – the Talamasca’s very well funded. I want to know where their funding is coming from. Because she’s like, “Hey, this is kind of a townhouse. Let’s buy it out from under the people who currently live there, and offer them enough money that they’ll gladly just, like, move tomorrow.” And the Talamasca’s like, “Done. Wiring you the money.” [laughs]
Royce: Anne Rice didn’t try the secret organization founded by Van Helsing or something?
Royce: That appears in so many – something like that appears in so many vampire mythos.
Courtney: It is funny how so many names from Bram Stoker’s Dracula just become names that are used for distinctly different characters related to vampires. There are so many Van Helsings. There are so many… like, it’s wild.
Royce: It’s almost to the point where, oftentimes, if someone does something that is vampire or vampire-adjacent, either explicit or adjacent, it’s like they treat Dracula as the vampire IP –
Royce: – instead of it just being a type of genre fiction.
Courtney: Yeah, that does happen, often enough. So she buys this townhouse and just, like, immediately gives the residents enough money that they’re perfectly happy to leave quickly, I guess. And then she goes in and starts, you know, “Let’s tear back this wallpaper a little bit. Let’s dig into this house some.” And she gets so engrossed in her work. Like, she does actually end up finding a secret passage. She ends up finding Claudia’s diary. And she’s like, “Oh my gosh. It’s real.”
Courtney: So she starts reading the diary and gets so engrossed in her work that she realizes it is now past nightfall and she did not get out of the city. And then she starts actually seeing things. She sees, like, a ghost of Claudia, and she hears the phone ringing – even though the landline is disconnected, the phone should not be ringing. And so she’s just… she’s having a heck of a time. She’s getting darn startled. And she ends up deciding, “Maybe I go to Lestat’s rock concert.” Ill-advised, but she’s like, “I just gotta see him for myself. We gotta take this a step further.”
Courtney: So the night of the concert happens. All hell breaks loose. She ends up getting attacked. There’s even someone who’s like, “Talamasca!” Like, the vampires know – at least several of them know of the Talamasca. So most of them aren’t too keen to be discovered or to be known by humans. So there’s that. There are vampires spontaneously combusting. There’s an uproar in the crowd. People, like, desperately trying to get out with all this fire. Just, like, pandemonium.
Courtney: And she ends up having her neck broken and doesn’t immediately die, but does get taken away by paramedics, does get hospitalized, seems to be paralyzed in a coma, really, perhaps, unable to really wake up. And Lestat gets snapped up by Akasha.
Royce: Lestat just gets snatched up?
Courtney: You just get snatched up, yeah. She’s just like, “I’m taking this.” [laughs] And he says, “I remember knowing that she and I had been together for a long time, that I’d been feasting on her blood with an animal abandon, that Enkil was destroyed and she alone held the primeval power; and that she was causing me to see things and understand things that made me cry like a child. Yet I was in her arms in the chilling darkness, in the familiar scent of winter, and her blood was mine again, and it was enslaving me. When she drew away, I felt agony.”
Courtney: So, she starts taking him on a little romp through the world and through… time in the form of memories. I don’t think – they’re not literally time-traveling, but with her blood, she’s sort of showing him things. So he sees the twins. He sees these visions. He sort of is able to now understand what has all transpired leading up to this point.
Courtney: And then she’s like, “You have my blood now, so you can do a lot more things.” She’s like, “Let’s have a flying lesson. Let’s have a borderline teleporting ability,” where they’re just able to move so quickly from one point to another that it’s basically in an instant. And she’s like, “Who needs to sleep when you can just follow the night around the world?” [laughs] So they’re just going around.
Courtney: And then when he does finally, like, see a vision of the twins from her blood, she’s like, “Mmm, not that one. More blood.” [laughs] Almost like she couldn’t control it – the vision just came up and she’s like, “Nothing to see here.” [laughs]
Courtney: But she takes him to France, to his father’s old house. And he kisses her – very, very kissy dude, as I said – and he’s like, “The blasphemy of it struck me. It was like the time I’d kissed her in the shrine. I wanted to say something in apology, but I was staring at her throat again, hungry for the blood. It tantalized me that I could drink it and yet she was who she was; she could have destroyed me in a second with no more than the wish to see me die.”
Courtney: And she’s like, “Hey, Lestat. Remember that time you killed those wolves when you were a mortal?” And he’s like, “Oh God, this thing again.” It’s like, “That’s why the vampire who made me did. He kept calling me ‘wolf-killer.’ Like, why did this start the whole thing?” And she’s like, “Well, you’re gonna kill again, but this time, you’re gonna kill for me.” And he’s like, “Whom will I kill?” And she’s like, “Uhh, I would have you obey me without question.” But she’s like, “That’s not really your style, is it?” And he’s like, “No. [laughs] I have never been able to obey anyone for long.” And she’s like, “Wow. So fearless. That’s why I like you.”
Courtney: He’s like, “Why didn’t you kill me? You killed so many people. Why me?” And she’s like, “I would have you love me. In a way, it was like Armand’s voice; a voice that could caress you when it spoke to you. Draw you into itself. ‘And so I take time with you,’ she continued. She put her hands on my arms, and looked into my eyes. ‘I want you to understand. You are my instrument! And so the others shall be if they are wise. Don’t you see? There has been a design to all of it – your coming, my waking. For now the hopes of the millennia can be realized at last.’
Courtney: And she’s like, “You see, you are all just instruments.” She’s like, “Even my king, my husband Enkil – he was but an instrument in the end. He died a god’s death, because it only made me stronger.” And she’s like, “If you aren’t my instrument, I’ll just destroy you. I do love you, and I want you to love me. But in the end, I got shit to do and you’re gonna help me.”
Courtney: And then Akasha, Queen of the Damned, the original vampire, feminist icon, is like, “We’re gonna kill all the men.” [laughs] So they go to the place, first, where the vampire has a shrine and he has these followers, and he has people offering themselves up to him as sacrifice, and she’s like, “Kill them all. Kill that vampire guy and all the men in the room.” And Lestat’s like, “No, I don’t want to kill everybody!” And she’s like, “But of course you want to kill everybody. You’ve always wanted to just be violent with reckless abandon, even when you were mortal.” And he’s like, “You do have a point.” And then he killed everyone. But then he was like, “Noooo! I killed everyone! What have I done?” [laughs]
Courtney: But all the women who were spared… Because she was like, “You know, you women, just let us kill the men and you can stay alive. We don’t want to kill you. We’ll kill you if you try to save the men, but the men gotta die.” And most of the women were like, “Awesome. I’m on board.”
Courtney: And she starts calling herself the Queen of Heaven. She’s like, “Ooh baby, do you know what that’s worth? We’ll make heaven a place on earth. And that can only happen if all the men are dead. I guess we can save one in every one hundred, because we do need to procreate. But hear me out: people can have abortions now. There are even scientific advances where you can choose the sex of your baby. We’ll just keep most of the population women, and then there won’t be any war. There won’t be any rape. There won’t be any violence. It’ll be great. Hear me out.” [laughs]
Courtney: And Lestat’s like, “Noooo, that’s terrible. We just slaughtered, like, a lot of people, just because.” She was like, “But you want to be violent.” He’s like, “Yeah, I do.” [laughs] Like, he’s a complicated character, that Lestat. [laughs]
Courtney: So it turns out, she is so powerful at reading minds that she can basically hear the thoughts of, like, everyone in the world, all the time, and has for centuries now. So she fancies herself a legitimate goddess. She’s like, “They are praying to me, and now I’m here to answer their prayers. And I will answer their prayers by killing all the men.” [laughs] And it’s quite a thing. Because after he kills all the men in the shrine, she’s like, “Good start. Now, we’re going to go to other countries, and we’re just gonna go one by one and kill all the men, except for one in one hundred.”
Courtney: These women who are leftover at one of these slaughters is now like, “Yes, our new goddess and god, Akasha and Lestat. Absolutely, let us worship you. Let us bathe you.” So, these women are just like, “Let’s bathe Lestat.” And he’s just like, “Okay,” and just goes with it. So they take him, like, into a bathhouse and are washing him. And this – the line. [laughs] I’m pretty sure you heard me scream when I read this, because I was like, “I knew it!”
Royce: Yeah, you had to stop what you were doing.
Courtney: I was like, “I knew it!” “Through the steam I looked into the mirror – a wall of mirrors actually, and I saw myself for the first time since this sinister odyssey had begun. The shock was more for a moment than I could handle. This can’t be me. I was much paler than I’d imagined. I studied my reflection – my chest was like a marble torso in a museum.”
Royce: Question: why is this the first time he’s seen himself?
Courtney: I don’t think it’s since he’s become a vampire, period. I think it’s since he’s taken Akasha’s blood and they’ve gone on their little…
Royce: Oh, okay.
Courtney: – little spree.
Royce: And so that blood has changed him.
Royce: It seems kind of like it was the equivalent of him aging for a long period naturally, just greatly accelerated.
Royce: From how the powers have been described, and now that you’re saying that there’s also a physical change.
Courtney: So yeah, he has definitely – and it was sort of demonstrated in his ability to fly now, and he definitely had, like, a little of her blood back in the day, and that made him stronger. But he’s had, like, a lot of her blood over the last period of time. I don’t think they specify how long this blood binge was.
Courtney: So: “I studied my reflection – my chest was like a marble torso in a museum, that white. And the organ, the organ we don’t need, poised as if ready for what it would never again know how to do or want to do, marble, a Priapus at a gate.” What gives? Why is everyone like, “Lestat is having sex with everyone all the time. Men, women, doesn’t matter. All the sex. Even his mother.” Like, no! “What would never again know how to do or want to do.” Right? [laughs] That’s pretty explicit, right?
Royce: Yeah, it is.
Courtney: I feel so weird, because I have not been able to, like, successfully google that passage, but I swore I remembered it. I was like, “I’m pretty sure they said their penises don’t work and they don’t want them to.” But that also paired with the Pandora passage that I found? Come on! Come on.
Courtney: So then we learn the full story of the twins. And this is Maharet, who has now gathered basically all of the remaining living vampires, which are: Louis; Lestat’s mom, Gabrielle; Khayman, whom we’ve just met in this; Marius; Pandora, who we also just met; and a couple of other older ones that just aren’t too relevant to this story. And she takes them all in and is like, “Right. Let me tell you a story.”
Courtney: And Gabrielle, Lestat’s mom, is so funny. Because she hardly ever talks, and she doesn’t like to be with people, but she’s like, “Okay, so this thing took my son.” She’s like, “So what’s the deal? If I waste this bitch, do I waste all of us?” [laughs] And she, like, literally says that. I’m like, “Oh, a woman of the times, I see.”
Courtney: And so Maharet’s like, “I’m sure you’ve all seen these visions of me and my sister.” And she tells the story of how they were from a very, very old village of people. She traced their family lineage back to the time before the moon. They were very spiritual. And in her family, all women born with red hair had – they were witches. They had these powers to speak to spirits and the spirits were not, to anyone’s knowledge, spirits of people who had died. They had told the witches that they were on the earth before humans came to be and that they had just always been here and that they were capricious. Many of them were very childlike. They didn’t get to talk to many humans, because not many humans could talk to them, so they would like to, you know, play tricks on humans or play games with them or talk to them for a little bit.
Courtney: And they basically said that they weren’t gods and they weren’t devils and they weren’t deceased people, they’re just spirits. But they like to engage with people when they can, so if there were ever people who were offering sacrifices to gods, sometimes they would pretend to be those gods. Like, the humans made the gods up, but the spirits’ like, “Well, I’ll play along, okay.”
Courtney: And in their tribe, they practiced funerary cannibalism. They thought it was the only proper way to dispose of a body so that it wouldn’t be rotting, buried in the earth, or eaten by animals, and that the job of consuming was mostly the next of kin, especially the siblings, and that their mother was also a very powerful witch, also had red hair, so she was sort of showing them the ropes. And they were sort of just spiritual guides for their people. They made hallucinogenic substances and would administer them to people and ask what dreams they had and try to interpret dreams and things of that nature.
Courtney: And they lived quite far away from what is now known as Egypt. It was not known as Egypt at the time. But Enkil was the heir to the throne, and he married Akasha from a different country, and the spirits started telling them that they were condemning cannibalism in Egypt and that they were saying the only proper way to handle a dead body is to embalm and preserve it. And there were some other groups of people at the time who were cannibals, in the sense of, like, eating your enemies after battle, but they were like, “Oh, our tribe did not think that was proper. Why would you eat the sacred body of your enemies? Like, that’s only for your family and your tribe.”
Courtney: And apparently word had somehow gotten back to Akasha and Enkil of these very powerful witches. And so they sort of sent them a tablet with a messenger asking them to come and see them and advise them spiritually. But the spirits were like, “This feels like bad news. Maybe don’t.” So they turned down the invitation and did not go to see them.
Courtney: And they met a spirit who claimed to like the taste of blood and to be able to bite humans like mosquitoes. And they were like, “I’ve never heard of such a thing. Spirits can’t actually physically interact with humans.” And he’s like, “Oh yeah?” and basically did, like, pinpricks all over their bodies, like, drawing blood, and was like, “I really love the taste of it. And anytime someone does a blood sacrifice to a god, I’m right there to eat it up, because I love the taste of blood.” They’re like, “How can this be?” So this is a spirit unlike anything they have ever seen before. And this spirit’s name is Amel.
Courtney: And shortly after this sort of attack by him, their mother ended up falling ill. And when she died, they had to decide: “Okay? She only has two daughters. She was a powerful witch, so it’s important that, you know, we are the only ones to consume her flesh.” So they’re working out, like, “Oh, you get the brain, I’ll get the heart.” And that was the scene that a lot of people were seeing in their dreams.
Courtney: But Enkil had sent people to basically intercept this funerary feast, and ended up killing a lot of their people, ended up taking the twins, kidnapping them. They did not get to eat their mother’s remains, and that was a very traumatic thing for them. And he brings them into Egypt and basically says, “Cannibalism is not allowed. It is outlawed. The only reason why we have spared you is because you’re very powerful witches, and we want your guidance and we want your power and your help.” And they’re not about to give them the time of day. That was a very horrible situation they were just in.
Courtney: So Khayman is actually, like, the King and Queen’s right-hand guy. He’s, like, their main guard who, you know, does things for them. And Khayman is mostly very kind to them. He’s, like, bringing them extra scraps of food, trying to make them as, you know, comfortable as possible, given his orders. And that’s when the King actually orders Khayman to rape them, like, publicly. And so, that was another, like, flashback that we saw to Khayman, so we get more context for that.
Courtney: And the spirits get really ticked off and start, you know, kind of causing an uproar. Not every spirit can really manipulate things, but sometimes they can manipulate wind, rain, to various extents. And so they just sort of caused a little bit of chaos.
Courtney: The twins are eventually able to leave, and one of them has become pregnant. And so they’re just trying to get back home. She delivers her baby. And then Khayman comes back to find them again and takes them and is like, “Something happened to the King and Queen, and you need to help fix this, because it is not right.”
Courtney: And it turns out, after he had raped them, this spirit Amel was just kind of tormenting him, and possibly other Spirits as well, like, mustering all their energy to really, really screw with this guy. So it kind of all culminated with the spirits actually being able to resurrect his dead father, because the body was embalmed and entombed. And so they, like, animated the corpse to show up at his house and be like, “Hey, here I am,” and just horrible things. And he went to the King and Queen, told them what was happening, and the King and Queen are like, “Well, those spirits should obey us. I don’t know why they obey those witches and not us. We’re the King and Queen, for goodness sakes.” So they go to the spirits and try to, like, yell at them and are like, “Spirits! Do what I’m telling you. I’m the King and Queen.”
Courtney: And people who were living in this area who were of the tribe that did practice cannibalism were very not in favor of the King and Queen because of this decree. And so they were like, “Now’s our chance. Let’s kill them. They are clearly distracted.” So people come in and stabbed them. And that is when the spirit Amel is able to basically find a way to enter Akasha’s body, as her body is dying, through the wounds, and get into her blood.
Courtney: And so she gets this spirit into her blood. She becomes a vampire. She’s immediately like, “Oh, my husband’s bleeding out right next to me. Gotta eat that real quick,” and then realizes that some of her own blood falling from her wounds that are now healing are starting to heal his wounds, so she’s like, “Oh. Interesting. Let me just smear some of my blood all over you, real fast,” like, all over his chest and his face. And the wounds start healing. And so some of it does get into him, and then he also turns into a vampire.
Courtney: And then they’re like, “Well, interesting.” They were kind of going through a crisis. Part of them kind of liked – like, “Hey, we’re kind of like gods now.” But then another part is like, “Is this a demon inside of us? Why can’t we be in the sunlight now?”
Courtney: So Khayman brings the twins back, and they’re like, “Explain this.” And they’re like, “Never heard about that in my life.” And they’re like, “You did this to us.” It’s like, “Nah, if the spirits did something to you, that was all on their own, we didn’t do that.” But then Maharet’s twin, Mekare, is like, [whispering] “Actually I did kinda do that. I did kinda curse them. [laughs] I did wish for the spirits to torment them, and they did listen to me.”
Courtney: So they end up… They’re ordered – one of them is to have their tongue cut out, and the other is to have her eyes cut out. They do that. And when they cut the first one’s tongue out, she, like, very quickly grabbed it and ate it. And then the other one had her eyes cut out. And then Khayman, even though she couldn’t see, was like, “I know that this is important to you.” So he, like, shoved her eyes in her mouth for her when she couldn’t see, so she could eat her eyes real quick.
Courtney: Grapes! The Grapes! Ah, Elden Ring is such a good game. [laughs]
Courtney: But the interesting thing was, when it was just those two, their thirst was insatiable. Like, they could not bear it. And they were drinking the blood of many people a day and still were not satisfied. And so the twins kind of tell them that, like, “Yeah you have all the bloodlust of a spirit inside of only two of your bodies. Like, he wants more blood than that, and he’s not going to get it unless you make more of you.” And so they turn Khayman into a vampire. And that does help a little bit.
Courtney: And so Khayman ends up turning Maharet and Mekare into vampires, because they are sentenced to death now – sans eyes and tongue. Maharet’s the one who doesn’t have eyes, but now we learn that she learned that she can just take human eyes from her victim and put those in, just pop those in real quick, like contact lenses, and they’ll eventually decay out of her head, but it works for, like, a little bit.
Royce: Oh, okay.
Courtney: So they get vampirized, but they’re put in, like, crates and coffins and shipped to two totally opposite sides of the world. Like, they put Mekare on a boat, just, like, to South America. And they’re completely separated, and to this day have still never met each other again.
Courtney: But Maharet’s been looking for Mekare and has found evidence that she did live and she did land in the Americas, because there was an ancient cave painting that was basically depicting the story of the twins. And Maharet had made a similar one on the other side of the world. So, like, one researcher found these two things on two different sides of the world and was like, “What’s up with that?” And she’s like, “I’m gonna fund that guy’s research, because I need to find my sister.”
Courtney: But she ended up basically keeping track of her daughter and what her daughter did and all the family members thereafter, so she’s just been keeping this family record for this entire time, and that’s probably what’s kept her mind as sound as it is for as old as she is. So that’s how that all happened.
Courtney: And I thought this was interesting, because then she says, “Only much later, did I learn that the King and Queen made a great religion of their transformation; that they took upon themselves the identity of Osiris and Isis, and darkened those old myths to suit themselves. ‘God of the underworld’ Osiris became – that is, the King who could appear only in darkness. And the Queen became Isis, the Mother, who gathers up her husband’s battered and dismembered body and heals it and brings it back to life.”
Courtney: So this wasn’t in this book, but this is one of the memories that I also had. Because I thought I remembered a distinct – like, Lestat’s looking in the mirror and he’s like, “Ah, penis, that old thing. Don’t need that anymore.” But then I also was like, “There’s something about Osiris. [laughs] There is something in the lore about Osiris, and that has something to do with the penis not working.” [laughs] I was like – and I couldn’t quite picture it, but yeah, it was Akasha and Enkil who then started posing as Osiris and Isis.
Courtney: And the thing about the stories of, like, gods and goddesses this old: you can find a lot of different stories about them, some of them conflicting. I don’t know how many were earnestly believed, how many have been changed over time. I am not an expert on these things. But I do know there is at least one version of the story of Osiris and Isis where Osiris did get dismembered – like, pulled apart – and Isis went and searched for all of his body parts to put him back together again. And she found all of the parts except his penis. So, when she put him back together, he didn’t have a penis. And I was like, “I’m pretty sure there’s, like, a statue of Osiris without a penis that makes another appearance in a future book in this series, and that they’re ruminating about how, you know, the story of Osiris is the story of the vampires, and that’s why their genitals don’t work.”
Courtney: Like, there’s something to that there. I don’t remember all the details because it’s not in this book, but the fact that I found the line I did and that they kept bringing it back to Osiris – and then the Pandora passage I found also mentioned Osiris. “The organ forever lost to the god Osiris.” That is in that passage! That is the lore reason! [laughs] I don’t know what to tell you.
Courtney: So, like, all that, too, if they even carry on this Interview with the Vampire series – I’ve heard from the producers that they do want to take it past the first book. I don’t know if they’re just going to try to milk it as long as they have viewers, for as long as they can, or if they’re only planning to do, like, two or three books or what. But we haven’t had a good adaptation of The Queen of the Damned yet. It would be cool to see this in a TV show that is well-produced and done by people who actually loved the original stories but also want to modernize it.
Courtney: Because for the most part – there are certainly progressive elements to the book, especially considering the years they were written in. Like having Louis and Lestat being a couple, raising a daughter, even if it’s not sexual – that was still, you know, that was boundary-pushing at the time the book was written. But there are also the things that they are modernizing. Like, Louis in the books was a plantation owner. He enslaved Black people, and they flipped that script for a modern adaptation of it. They made Louis himself a Black man. And I think that was a brilliant change. I think this is perfect material to adapt but also modernize, because there are so many good things. There are so many good things. And so many creative ways to improve upon the things that are outdated, you know?
Courtney: But are they just gonna ignore this actual, like, integral part of the vampires’ creation myth? Like, this is not just Louis. This is not just Lestat. This is all vampires. This is how they were created. It has to do with the god Osiris. And they’re just like, “No, we want to see Louis and Lestat fuck.” Why? [laughs]
Courtney: So yeah, I think they’ve dropped nuggets of The Vampire Lestat already on screen. So if they continue into the second book, I think they’re keeping a lot of that very, very similar, just a slightly different timeline. But Queen of the Damned, it’s like, you’re messing with some of the lore story. You’re messing with Daniel Molloy and his timeline and his relationship to different vampires. I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s interesting.
Courtney: But it’s just so disappointing, because we could have all of these beautiful, lush, tragic relationships that are non-sexual, but could be sensual, could be romantic, and we just don’t. We just don’t. And that happened with, like, Jughead in the Archie comics was Asexual, and when they did, what was the adaptation, Riverdale?
Royce: That sounds right.
Courtney: Like, they did not make Archie Asexual. And I was seeing headlines of, like, “Oh, actor who plays Archie fighting to keep his character Asexual. Producers say no.” And it’s like, why? What is it? And I need allosexual people to interrogate that in themselves. What is it in your mind that sees a sexless person or a sexless relationship and every single time says, “You know what this needs? Sex.” Every single time.
Courtney: So that was the lore of the vampires. Eventually, Akasha brings Lestat to where all of the other vampires who are still alive. And she also basically admitted, like, “The only reason why I kept them alive is because you like them. But, like, if you guys are all going to disobey me and you aren’t on my… Like, you aren’t with me on my ‘kill all men’ spree, then I’m just gonna kill you all, because I got shit to do. What can I say? I’m a busy woman. I’m a strong, independent vampire who don’t need no man.”
Royce: So when Akasha killed vast quantities of vampires, did all of the other living vampires suddenly get thirstier? Like, did their bloodlust increase?
Courtney: It did not say that in the page.
Royce: It would make sense, though.
Courtney: It would make sense, though, based on the lore, yes. But basically, Akasha killed everybody who didn’t know Lestat, and she could, ’cause some of the older vampires – like Maharet, for example, she couldn’t just kill her with her brain, because she was so close to the source, but all the younger ones she’s like, “Oh, yeah, I could just combust them easy.” So that’s why you have people like Khayman and Pandora that Lestat had not had a direct personal relationship yet with, because they’re just too old and too powerful at this point. But everyone else – like, Louis, Gabrielle – she’s just like, “You like them.” Like Armand, like Daniel Molloy. Like, “We’ll keep them because you want them around.”
Royce: Is Marius still alive?
Courtney: Marius is still alive, yes.
Royce: Okay. So the cutoff point seems to be somewhere around a couple thousand years ago, and then Lestat’s crew.
Courtney: [laughs] Something like that. Something like that. So –
Royce: I guess she may have had reason to spare Marius.
Courtney: She has a weird, like, loving resentment for him. Like, she both appreciates that he cared for her and also resents that he kept her. Like, there’s a weird on-again off-again thing with her.
Courtney: But yeah, so she shows up and she’s like, “Get in bitches, we’re killing all men.” [laughs] And all the vampires are like, “No, let’s not.” And she’s like, “But the violence, the war, the rape, it would all go away if we kill all the men!” And then they have this big philosophical argument about how “Oh, we vampires over time are becoming more perfected, so too is the human race. Is the human race not already less violent than it once was? Are they not making magnificent strides? You have to let them do this for themselves. They’re already working towards the peace, you see.” And she’s like, “Not good enough. Gotta kill the men.” And so, they’re just, like, debating with her for a while. And she’s like, “Look, I’m a goddess now. I’m the Queen of Heaven. And y’all are gonna be my angels. And if you’re not going to be my angels, I’m gonna kill you.” And they reason with her for a while.
Courtney: And at one point, Maharet had mentioned that she knows that her sister, Mekare, is still alive because she thinks that she’s the one who’s been sending these visions to everyone. And so while they’re trying to reason with Akasha and, like, “No, don’t kill all the men, actually,” [laughs] Mekare busts into the room, just, like, caked with dirt. Like, she has clearly been in the earth for a very long time. And is like, “Oh, the mother’s on the move? Time to waste that bitch,” [laughs] to use Gabrielle’s vernacular.
Courtney: And so she just busts in the room and just, like, tears Akasha’s head off, and she’s like, “Here’s how we kill the Queen of the Damned without killing all of us.” And then everyone has the realization at the same time, as the twins bend down over the mother to consume her brain and her body, the prophecy has foretold the funeral feast. They eat her, especially Mekare, who just busts into the room and was like, “I cursed this bitch millennia ago, and now, now the curse will come to fruition. Eat the mother.” She ended up eating the brain and the heart, which they suspected were the ones that had the most power. And then, like, Maharet I guess just helped her with the leftover bits.
Courtney: So now Mekare is the Queen of the Damned. She has the source, she has the power, and the twins are reunited once again, and the funeral feast has come to fruition. Not all of the men were killed, but a good few were.
Courtney: And then all the vampires are like, “Well, so, now, with her out of the way, let’s all move to Miami together.” [laughs] I need you to explain what that look was, because our listeners cannot see the beautiful look you just shot me. [laughs]
Royce: In the book series that has a 1700s-era French vampire suddenly wake up due to his androgynous alarm clock and start a rock band, a group of ancient beings from all over the world, particularly Egypt, are like, “Let’s go to Miami.”
Courtney: Yeah. [laughs] It’s a perfect city for vampires, they say.
Royce: Did they just do the retiree, “I’m going to Florida” thing?
Courtney: [laughs] Kind of! They also kind of did the Dexter thing. Like, people aren’t gonna notice dead bodies as much in Miami. So they get, like, a house together. They have conversations. They play games. Some of them come and go as they please. And they, like, set some ground rules. They’re like, “Okay, guys. So for reals, we only have a few vampires now. Let’s not make any more. Let’s always cover our tracks. For those of you who still need to kill and drink blood, let’s not let the mortals know who we are.”
Royce: When you said they got a house together, I was like, “Is this the start of a Golden Girls spinoff?”
Courtney: Oh my gosh! Yes. I would watch The Golden Girls Queen of the Damned crossover episode. [laughs] So Lestat just walks into the house one day, and one of the other vampires is like, “So Louis just left.” And they’re like, “Oh, where’s he going?” It’s like, “Oh, he’s going to New Orleans.” And Lestat’s like, “He’s doing what now?” [laughs] And they’re like, “Yeah.” [laughs] He wants to go to that house where Jesse saw Claudia in – which, I don’t think I mentioned, but Maharet totally turned Jesse into a vampire too, because she was about to die from the broken neck. So she’s also there, and she’s, like, the youngest vampire now, but she also had blood from Maharet, who hadn’t been making other vampires – which also seems to just amplify how strong her first offspring is going to be. So she’s, like, instantly more powerful than some, upon being changed. And then David Talbot at the Talamasca, like, gets a letter from her family being like, “Oh, unfortunately, she died.”
Courtney: So Lestat hurries over to New Orleans and is like, “Oh no, I have to go find Louis.” And, yeah, Louis was just like, “You know, this is just a pilgrimage I had to make. I heard Jesse saw Claudia here. I haven’t been back in a while.” And so they do this old sad, nostalgic grief walkthrough of the place again.
Courtney: This doesn’t have much to do with the plot, but hey, I like hair. So, I saved this passage: “Claudia. A face for a locket; or a small oval portrait done on porcelain and kept with a curl of her golden hair in a drawer.” I do love portrait miniatures, and that’s actually pretty accurate to how old Lestat is supposed to be – from France and then coming over to New Orleans. Portrait miniatures in particular would have been the hair jewelry of choice, where one side of a locket would be a small painting of the person, and on the other side, there would be some hair work on it. So I just liked that because I was like, “That’s the era he would have been most familiar with.” Of course he lived through the Victorian era, so he would have seen the more hair-focused things, but I’m sure people have a special affinity to the time they were alive / first a vampire.
Courtney: But they have their little moment. They kiss. Lestat’s like, “Do you love me?” And Louis’s like, “Yes.” And then he’s like, “Great. Then do you want to break some rules? Do you want to be naughty tonight?” And Louis’s like, “What do you mean?” And he’s like, “Come on! Let’s go on an adventure.” And he’s like, “But the sun’s about to rise!” He’s like, “Ah, the sun’s about to rise here, but I learned a little trick,” and just, like, snaps Louis up and is like, “Onward to London.” [laughs] And they just, like, chase the night around the globe and then end up in London.
Courtney: And he goes to the Talamasca house, and he’s like, “I want to talk to David Talbot,” and busts into his office. And this guy clearly knows who the vampires are; he knows who he is. And so he’s just like, “Oh, hello.” [laughs] He’s like, “Uh, Jesse isn’t dead, is she?” And Lestat, just being an absolute brat, is like, “If I offered to turn you into a vampire right now, would you say yes?” And he’s like, “No. No, I would not.” And he’s like, “If I slept here tonight under the ground of your house, would you kill me in my sleep? And he’s like, “No, I wouldn’t do that either.” And he’s like, “You wouldn’t kill me but you wouldn’t become me? What’s up with that, dude?”
Courtney: And then he writes down a phone number to his lawyer, who is still overseeing all of his various properties that he lives and places, and he’s like, “If you ever want to become a vampire, I’m not saying I’ll turn you into a vampire, but I want to hear you ask me,” and i’s like, “Here’s my phone number. Just give me a call.” And David Talbot’s like, “I am not going to do that.” And he’s like, “We’ll see.” [laughs]
Courtney: And then Louis is livid. Louis’s like, “Lestat! What are you doing? You are the damnedest thing. You are a brat. You are breaking the rules. You are tormenting that poor guy. You are such a jerk. You’re horrible. You’re evil.” And Lestat’s like, “Yes, give me the verbal abuse. I love to hear it. I love to hear it. Tell me again how awful I am.” [laughs] And that’s basically how the book ends.
Courtney: [laughs] Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Royce: Not really. Makes sense.
Courtney: Yeah, makes sense.
Royce: It’s good that you found the passage you were looking for in this book.
Courtney: It is.
Royce: And supplementary notes.
Courtney: I don’t know what to tell you, but Anne Rice’s vampires are Asexual. They have no interest in intercourse. If they even try, it doesn’t matter. Not into it. The god Osiris has something to do with it. [laughs] So I’m gonna say that since this is such an entrenched lore reason, anybody who takes The Vampire Chronicles IP and intentionally inserts overt intercourse into it is doing an Asexual erasure. I feel it. I feel it in my bones. I feel it in my blood.
Courtney: So on that note, thank you everyone for being here, especially if you’ve been here for every single one of our episodes on The Vampire Chronicles, you are our hero and we are glad that you are with us. Until next time, goodbye!