Anne Rice, the author of the novel Interview with a Vampire, was born Howard Allen Frances O'Brien on the 4th day of October 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is perhaps the best selling author of Christian literature, Erotica, and Metaphysical gothic fiction from the Southern America. Interview with a Vampire, which she wrote in 1973 and was published in 1976, was however her fists vampire book. The book is mainly centered on a vampire named Louis, who tells the story of his life that has spanned over 200 years to Daniel Molloy, only referred to as the boy in the Novel.
The novel reveals different themes that span from the plight of the vampires in their former lives to the matters of their sexuality. Of importance though is how their sexuality is compared to that of humans. Ann Rice, in the novel Interview With a Vampire, indeed picturesque the process of becoming a vampire itself as being a sexual liberation from all social and moral constraints that were established by the taboos. In deed, most works before this had demonstrated the freedom that the vampires had to violate the social norms of the societies they lived in. Theirs’ was always an eroticism that ensured they freely acted out their individual wildest sexual desires and fantasies. The sexuality of vampires has been portrayed by Bram Stoker's Dracula and John Pollidori's The Vampyre, in which case the vampires were heterosexual and preyed on women.
However, Ann Rice’s vampires in Interview With a Vampire have discovered preferences for the same sex. The interesting dynamics of sex in this novel makes sexuality a very important theme of the novel. These dynamics ensure that the vampires here are free to practice whatever had previously been considered as taboo and violation of social norms. Indeed, same sex relationships, sex with children, and sexual gratification from murder are all acceptable in the novel.
The year of publication of Interview with a Vampire was (1976) coincided with the post-Sexual Revolution in North America. As such, more youths were precipitating in sexual activities that before and wit it came the rampant use of contraceptives. More importantly though, Gays and Lesbians were fighting for their rights to be and had become more visible. Through the main characters such as Lestat, Louis, Claudia and Armand, Ann Rice is able to reflect these times in Interview with a Vampire. From the very start of the novel, there is an attraction and desire for companionship between Lestat and Louis. Like couples who are deeply in lover, they sleep in the same place (coffin) and argue a lot. When Louis gets disinterested and tries to leave the relationship, Lestat, who is the dominant male in the relationship, tries to keep him in the relationship by arranging a threesome with a young girl, Claudia (Rice 31). The experience with Claudia infatuates Louis and he drinks her blood turning her into a vampire. Lestat on the other hand suggests that they should raise this child vampire as their daughter. Soon, Claudia starts top sleep in Louis’ coffin and their relationship become 'incestuous'.
The Vampire Louis had lived the life of humans before he became a vampire, running two Indigo plantations in the southern Mississippi (Rice 30). He had therefore experienced human sex and vampire sex in the course of his extended life. When Claudia asked him how human sex was like, he stated categorically that is was a harried experience that was seldom savored…something acute that was quickly lost (Rice 209). This sentiment was meant to demonstrate the deeply satisfying experience that was the vampire sex. Indeed, Vampire sex in Interview with a Vampire is very satisfying and its narration by Louis causes the interviewer (a young boy) to desire to become a vampire “…Give it to me...Make me a vampire now!” (Rice 339)
It is to be noted that the excitement of the sexual relationship between Louis and Claudia to the readers is mainly based on its violation of moral taboos; at the same time readers are shocked to know that Claudia is actually a woman trapped inside a little girl's body. The excitement in the vampire sex is also shown in its violent climaxing, that involved cruel killings. This form of eroticism is seen across or sexual combinations, from heterosexual to homosexual, and from adults to children. This is clearly demonstrated in the controversial pedophilic scene between Lestat and the two young boys Claudia had presented to him as gifts.
“His lips moved over the neck and over the chest and over the tiny nipple of the chest and then, putting his other arm into the open shirt so that the boy lay hopelessly wound in both arms, he drew the boy up tight and sank his teeth into his throat.... and Lestat knelt, the boy pressed against him, sucking hard, his own back arched and rigid, his body rocking back and forth, carrying the boy, his long moans rising and falling in time with the slow rocking until suddenly his whole body tensed” (Rice 135).
Another violent sexual climax scene is seen at the Theatre Des Vampires, where the vampires had been putting up daily shows to a human audience. The audience was completely unaware that the actors were real vampires. They thought that what they were seeing were just mere acts. The vampires dressed as death and brought on stage a young human female. They undressed this human female and started hovering around her. The young woman was lying under a beauteous light that made her irresistibly alluring. She screamed and pleaded for her life against the sound of hungry vampires who wanted a bath of her blood. She looked into Louis’ eyes revealing the sensual desire in her. What followed next caught the jaded audience. The terrible pain.... the young woman stiffened and cried out as he sank his teeth into her throat, and her face became still as the dark theatre reverberated with shared passion (Rice 223-224).
Ultimately, Louis and Armand fall passionately in love, while Claudia seek solace in the heart of a human doll maker, Madeleine, who is more of a mother figure to her and constantly reminds Claudia of a fully grown woman she may never become. She had given up on Louis with a heartfelt admission that "…she knew that I was capable of loving Armand because I had been able to love even her…” (Rice 316)
Ann Rice’s work to demonstrate the dynamic sexuality of the Vampire can be compared to works by Jim Sharman, whose 1975 film Rocky Horror Picture Show was a parody to vampire novels and films and analytically looked at the subject of trans-sexuality and homosexuality. The main antagonist in the film is Dr. Frank-n-Furter, a representative of the modern vampire. He is considered transvestite since he is shocking breaks social norms. Dr.Frank-n-Furter can be best compared with Lestat in Interview With the Vampire.
Dr. Frank-n-Furter creates a man, Rocky, to be his sex slave. He gave him half the brain of his former sex slave Eddie. Eddie used to sing Rock 'n' Roll while dancing sexually with one of the Doctor's groupies, named Colombia.
The main female character, Janet, who is a much conserved and relatively asexual, releases her repressed sexuality by becoming a creature of the night (Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me Lyrics). Indeed, in a scene towards the end of the film, all the characters are dressed up as drag-queen transvestites, hurriedly preparing to make a show in front of an audience, much like the Theatre Des Vampires.
The fulfilling and deeply satisfying nature of vampire sex is brought out in this film by the verse “…I'm just seven hours old. Truly beautiful to behold and somebody should be told
my libido hasn't been controlled; now the only thing I've come to trust is an orgasmic rush of lust. Rose tints my world keeps me safe from my trouble and pain. Oh I feel released, bad times deceased, my confidence has increased. Reality is here, the game has been disbanded, and my mind has been expanded. It's a gas that Frank has landed; his lust is so sincere” (The Floor Show Lyrics).
Indeed, Dr. Frank-n-Furter, in a scene ion the film, reveals his purpose to live a life that fulfilled all the sexual desires and fantasies he may harbor in his mind, much like Lestat: he declares himself the bee with a deadly sting and urged his subjects to give themselves over to absolute pleasure (Wild Untamed Thing/Don't Dream It, Be It lyrics).
Ann Rice and Jim Sharman’s works were meant to add more fuel to the sexual liberation campaigns that were the subject of their respective years of publication. However, in the 1980s, there developed the fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, causing the sexual liberation campaigns to slow down. The slow down can be seen in Neil Jordan’s Interview With A Vampire film that was made in 1994, more than fifteen years after Ann Rice’s novel by the same name, yet depicted less of the homosexuality that was the very subject of the novel. The film censors a lot of the scenes extracted from the book so as to make it appealing to a general audience. For instance, Louis and Armand are seen as close friends as opposed to in the novel that portrays them as lovers.
Another example is the oral sex scene in the novel when Louis is with a prostitute. This scene has been removed from the film. The film also feebly depicts the homosexuality between Lestat and Louis, which is only seen towards the end when Lestat tells Louis that No one could resist him, not even Louis himself.
Louis: I tried.
Lestat: [smiling] And the more you tried, the more I wanted you.
(Interview With A Vampire Film).
To develop the somewhat homophobic approach by the film, the director included the scene that Lestat shows Lestat sexually torturing and murdering prostitutes while Louis watched. This scene would be considered equally disturbing to the general audience but because of its heterosexual fulfillment, and not homosexual nature, it is included in the film.
Lestat: It's your coffin, my love. Enjoy it. Most of us never get to know what it feels like. Louis: Why do you do this?
Lestat: I like to do it. I enjoy it. Take your aesthete's; taste purer things; kill them swiftly, if you will, but do it. For do not doubt: you are a killer, Louis. (Interview With A Vampire Film).
Another scene that portrays heterosexuality I the film is where Yonett, Louis’ female slave asks him why he hadn’t been at the slaves’ quarters of ate, implying a past affair with her. She tries to get Louis to open up by touching his hand. Louis softens up and starts biting her wrist. She screams aloud but this only triggers him to wrestle her to the ground and he kills her. This scene shows that Louis’ first victim is a female and is meant to assure the audience that he is heterosexual, as opposed to the novel where his first victim is a male.
When Louis meets Armand and the rest of the Theatre troop, Armand offers him a young boy. In the novel, Louis describes the sensations as euphoric “…Sank my teeth into his skin, my body rigid, that hard sex driving against me, and I lifted him in passion off the floor. Wave after wave of his beating heart passed into me as, weightless, I rocked with him, devouring him, his ecstasy, his conscious pleasure” (Rice 231). However, the scene in the film shows Louis disgusted by the bite marks, and bites the boy in another place instead. This is also meant to portray heterosexuality as opposed to homosexuality that was rampant in the novel.
The film is in agreement with the novel in portraying both Lestat and Armand as wanting Louis for companionship. However, in the scene in the film, Louis rejects both of them, telling the interviewer “…All my passion went with the golden hair” (Interview With the Vampire Film).
In the novel also, Louis had been walking with Madame St. Clair, and unwilling to drink her blood, drinks her poodles. This scene is missing in the film as it would portray the preference that Louis had that did not favor the opposite sex.
Louis’ involvement with Claudia is depicted as romance in the film rather than the erotic scene that is painted in the novel. The two dance at the Paris Opera house and Claudia gently kisses Louis goodbye just before she is apprehended by vampires who goes ahead to kill her. In this film, Louis describes the scene to a reporter as being euphoric ad that at the moment, he could deny Claudia nothing.
To conclude, the woks of Ann Rice and other authors and artists to bring out the myth of the vampires have come a long way in the nineteenth century, especially since Bram Stoker's Dracula. Ann Rice's novel Interview With A Vampire, looks in to the world of eroticism and sexuality, that renders gender and taboos meaningless in setting the social order. The novel has an intimate affair with the readers, whose imaginations puts into picture the sexual scenes and the social violations that are described by the author. This is in contrast to the films that have censorship imposed by an outside force, thereby denying the audience the raw appreciation of the sexuality of the vampires.
Human beings are very sexual animals and can therefore be easily aroused. It is therefore important to maintain sanity when dealing with matters of sexuality as there is no way of knowing what effects they might have on the audience. This has been the stance taken by the film directors as they have edited and censored scenes of sexuality, because sexuality without boundaries is the root perverted desires such as pedophilia that is threatening to destroy the social order in the modern day society. However, Ann Rice's novel is explicit with its social content. It depicts a world where physical pleasures of the body controlled everything. The trick here however is the use of the vampires in her descriptions. Vampires are usually considered hypersexual creatures and are therefore used here to demonstrate what it would be like if the society’s fear of overt sexuality and free-for-all sex was to come to pass. The novel therefore instills the need to regulate sexual desires and behaviors in the society, so as to maintain sanity in its members.
- Jordan,Neil, dir. Interview With A Vampire. Geffen Pictures, 1994
- Sharman, Jim, dir. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation,1975
- Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack Lyrics
- http://www.stlyrics.com/t/therockyhorrorpictureshow. htm (December 7th. 2008)
- Rice,Anne. Interview With A Vampire. New York: Ballentine Books,1976.