Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vampire-hunting in New Orleans

From Guardian UK

New Orleans' steamy streets, Gothic buildings and voodoo myths have made it the setting of scary tales for decades

On Chestnut and First, in the Garden District of New Orleans, stands a handsome Greek revival mansion with Ionic and Corinthian columns and arches of ornate, lacy ironwork. Until a few years ago, it was the home of Anne Rice, high priestess of popular vampiric fiction and author of Interview with the Vampire, who, more than anyone, is responsible for making the Crescent City a tourist mecca for willingly gullible devotees of spookiness and the supernatural.

Rice assumed the role of Queen of the Night with brio: she would turn up to book signings in a quilted coffin, and once staged her own mock funeral at Lafayette Cemetery No 1, complete with horse-drawn hearse and a brass band playing dirges. She opened her elegant home to the public every Monday, and adoring fans clad in black would queue around the block to see the macabre artefacts it was stuffed with, including a lemur skeleton and a collection of evil-looking antique dolls, set out in rooms painted mauve and fuschia.

Guides offering tours to "Haunted New Orleans", who built their itineraries around a visit to Rice's mansion, were decidedly glum when the writer left the city five years ago, just before Katrina hit. She is, after all, one of the world's bestselling authors, and her feverish page-turners brought in hordes of visitors eager to experience the city's gothic atmospherics, along with its celebrated Creole food and jazz. This year, First Street offered rather more pedestrian fare in the run-up to Halloween: when I walked around the Garden District – it's an unmissable part of the city – a fortnight ago, I saw only pumpkins, plastic skulls hanging from porches, and the odd Frankenstein's monster tied to a tree.

read on


Rita said...

Well it has been 38 yrs since i have
to NOLA,and it really was some thing
back then,i don't know if the bar
is still there it was called Papa
Joes was a small place.