The Special Page

Steven P. Unger follows Dracula...

...and tells us about Anne Rice and New Orleans, the most famous Vampire City in the world


Joe R. Lansdale Part 2
Joe R. Lansdale Part 1
John Gilmore
Ryan Fleming
Mort Castle
Gabrielle Faust
Brent Monahan
Mark Crislip
John Russo
Ellen Datlow


by Steven P. Unger


Lafayette Cemetery (Photo Courtesy of Phil Orgeron)

There is no one who has done more to bring the vampire into the New Age than Anne Rice, born and bred in New Orleans, with her novel Interview with the Vampire and the films and books that followed. Those who have profited mightily from the popularity of True Blood and Twilight owe her a great debt.

The ultra-retro St. Charles Avenue Streetcar will take you close to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the gravesite of Louis de Pointe du Lac's (Lestat's companion and fellow vampire in Rice's The Vampire Chronicles) wife and child and where Louis was turned into a vampire by Lestat.

The Styrofoam tomb from the film Interview with the Vampire is gone now, but you can easily find the site where it stood, the wide empty space in the cemetery nearest the corner of Coliseum and Sixth Street.

During the filming of Interview with the Vampire, the blocks between 700 and 900 Royal Street in the French Quarter were used for exterior shots of the home of the vampires Louis, Lestat, and Claudia, trapped through time with an adult mind in the body of a six-year-old girl. In fact, the streets there and around Jackson Square were covered in mud for the movie as they had been in the 1860s when the scenes took place.

The perfectly preserved Gallier House at 1132 Royal Street was Anne Rice's inspiration for the vampires' house, and very close to that is the Lalaurie House, at 1140 Royal Street. Delphine Lalaurie, portrayed by Kathy Bates in American Horror Story: Coven, was a real person who lived in that house and was indeed said to have tortured and bathed in the blood of her slaves—even the blood of a slave girl's newborn baby—to preserve her youth. She was never seen again in New Orleans after an angry mob partially destroyed her home on April 10, 1834. There is a scene in American Horror Story where Delphine escapes from the coven's mansion and sits dejectedly on the curb in front of her old home. A private residence now, some locals still swear that the Lalaurie House is haunted, and that the clanking of chains can be heard through the night.

Built in 1789, Madame John's Legacy (632 Dumaine Street) is the oldest surviving residence in the Mississippi Valley. In Interview with the Vampire, caskets are shown being carried out of the house as Louis' (Brad Pitt) voice-over describes the handiwork of his housemates Claudia and Lestat: "An infant prodigy with a lust for killing that matched his own. Together, they finished off whole families."


1135 Decatur


As a service to this most vampire-friendly city, the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA) describes itself as a "non-profit organization comprised of self-identifying vampires representing an alliance between Houses within the Community in the Greater New Orleans Area. Founded in 2005, NOVA was established to provide support and structure for the vampire and other-kin subcultures and "to provide educational and charitable outreach to those in need."

Their Web site also points out that "every year since Hurricane Katrina, the founding members of NOVA have taken food out on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to those who are hungry and homeless."  (See HERE)

FANGTASIA, named with permission from HBO after the club featured in True Blood, is an affiliation of New Orleans-based musicians and film and TV producers who for three years have presented a multi-day vampire-centric event of the same name, the first two years at 1135 Decatur and last year at the Howlin' Wolf.  You can follow their plans and exploits via their blog HERE.

Next year FANGTASIA hopes to create "the South by Southwest of Global Vampire Culture" at an as yet undisclosed location in Greater New Orleans. 

As they describe it:

Moving beyond this third consecutive year, FANGTASIA is building a broader international draw that will bring fans to not only party at club nights, but also attend conferences, elegant fashion shows, film & TV screenings, celebrity events as well as an  international Halloween/party gear buyers’ market.

Participants will experience gourmet sensations, explore our sensuous city and haunted bayous… as well as epically celebrate the Global Vampire Culture in all its sultry, seductive, diverse and darkly divine incarnations. Additionally, FANGTASIA is strategically poised months prior to Halloween to provide corporate sponsors and vendors a perfect window to connect with their core demographic. This also allows FANGTASIA to actively support and promote existing major Halloween events in New Orleans and beyond.

On the subject of vampiric Halloween events, for 25 years, the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club has presented the annual Vampire Ball, now as part of the four-day UndeadCon at the end of October; and on the weekend nearest Halloween Night (for example, November 1, 2014) the Endless Night Festival and New Orleans Vampire Ball takes place at the House of Blues.


Boutique de Vampyre

The Boutique du Vampyre is a moveable (literally—they're known to change locations on short notice) feast of vampire and Goth-related odds and ends, many of them locally made. There are books as well—you may even find a copy of In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide if they're not sold out. Their website itself holds a surprise treat: a link to a free video cast of the first two seasons of Vampire Mob, which is just what the title implies.

About Steven P. Unger

Steven Unger

Steven P. Unger has traveled extensively in North and South America, Western Europe, Israel, and Romania.  He has been published in numerous travel and bicycling magazines.  His book, In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide, is available HERE

In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journey and Travel Guide meticulously follows Bram Stoker's depiction of Jonathan Harker's 1893 expedition from London to Count Dracula's castle on the Borgo Pass in Transylvania in text and almost 200 pictures. In the Footsteps of Dracula also includes every site connected with the historical Prince Dracula, that is, Vlad Ţepeş or Vlad the Impaler.

Unger has been a traveler and writer from the time he learned to type with two fingers on a manual typewriter in the basement of his parents' house in Ferndale, Michigan. The typewriter sat on top of a ping-pong table, and the basement, through all of the seasons, was so damp that the pages would stay curled up when he rolled them out from the platen.