When the sun goes down and the moon arises, it’s hard not to wander the streets of the French Quarter and think about vampires. They could be lurking in every shadow. You may smile at a stranger and get a glimpse of fangs. It’s part of the subculture here. New Orleans is vampire territory.
This is due in some part to one of New Orleans’ literary icons: Anne Rice. She’s made more than one home here and has written several vampire novels while living in New Orleans. Where does she get her inspiration? Maybe from the vampire tales that abound.
We heard a few of these creepy tales on our Vampire Tour with Haunted History Tours. We met at Jackson Square and set off down dimly lit alleys where macabre stories of blood-draining occurred. One of these stories centered around the “casket girls” who came to New Orleans. They were sent from convents and orphanages in France to marry and settle the French areas of Louisiana and were called “casquette” or “casket” girls because they carried their belongings in a small casket-like chest. Not surprisingly, these girls had little ties to their homeland of France, so when they went missing in the New World, little attention was paid. Until two of the girls were found dead — drained of their blood by vampires.
Creepy! But I don’t want to give all of the vampire legends away.
I love a good story. The Vampire Tour was full of them. I also love visiting the homes of famous authors. Though Anne Rice’s houses were not on the Vampire Tour, we had a chance to see two of them on our tour of the Garden District. I looked at her houses and imagined Anne looking out her windows as she wrote; vampires prowling the abandoned nighttime streets. But it’s likely that the scarier creatures were actually inside with her. This troubled author has struggled with alcoholism, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and mourning the death of her 4-year-old daughter who many cite as the inspiration for her child vampire character, Claudia in Interview with the Vampire. Rice’s daughter died of leukemia – – a disease of the blood.
New Orleans has been home to vampire culture for centuries. The gothic architecture. The shadowy alleys. The thirst for the macabre in the humidity of the deep, Creole South makes New Orleans ripe for vampire legend. Don’t believe me? The only vampire shop in the United States is there. As is the New Orleans Vampire Association. Oh, yes. In New Orleans, vampires walk among us. And many of them do, in fact, wear fangs.
Are you familiar with New Orleans vampire culture?