Volume 16, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 9-16, 2003
The Penny Post
Cyril interviews me
By Andrei Codrescu
Questions by Cyril
Q: You, like Anne Rice, live in New Orleans. Do you suffer from vampire infestation? For the online global community, please tell us about the city you call home, and what made you settle there.
A: I don’t know where you people get these ideas about “vampire infestation.” You can talk about “yuppie infestation,” or “hick infestation,” but leave the vampires out of it. First of all, vampires are few in numbers and they are aristocratic. You should be so lucky that one might want to bite you. Vampires are very choosy and they pick their victims by vintage and bouquet, with more discrimination than vintners or buyers for Maxim’s. Vampires stay in New Orleans because it is a discreet city of the night. The natives are well behaved, they tolerate both eccentrics and celebrities, with cosmopolitan sophistication. Vampires feel protected in this civilized environment, which is unique in North America where, with the exception of New York, there is not a single sophisticated city. There are a lot of pretenders to be sure, but vampires vomit with anxiety on these Johnny-come-latelies. Anne Rice’s vampire are, it is true, of a lower class and of lesser distinction than those of my acquaintance, but we coexist cordially since we rarely compete over the same delightfuls.
Q: In your book “The Blood Countess,” you write about the life of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a real life vampire who was dealt an unfortunate series of events early on in her life, including witnessing the murders of her two older sisters. When did Elizabeth stop being the traumatized child and when did she become a monster? Did she ever have a chance at being “normal?”
A: Elizabeth Bathory, the real historical character I write about in my novel “The Blood Countess” was not a vampire. She was, like the Marquis de Sade, a logician. She was also, like Gilles de Rais, a sadistic sexual killer. Her childhood traumas were unusual only in the sense that she experienced sexual satisfaction from witnessing torture and murder. She never had “a chance at being ‘normal’,” because she was from the start an evil genius with an extraordinary appetite for kinky sex and an intelligent analyst of her own drives and their connection to wealth, power, and sensuality. She was not a victim, which is why she never admitted any guilt. She was unique and inexplicable and would have refused indignantly the help of psychiatrists if there had been any in the 16th century.
Q: Is language the lifeblood of the human race?
A: Language, according to Dr. Julian Semilian, is a beautiful alien who was shipwrecked on earth, captured by humans, and hacked to bits into thousands of tongues and dialects. This splintered creature makes a pitiful and resonant effort to reconstitute itself through poetry. One day she will succeed. That day we will quit using money.