The following first appeared in Foreign Lesion #13, published in 1992 and rediscovered in a mildewed box in the upstairs of Nowe Miasto. Its author Amy C. would go on to become a legend in New Orleans’ 1990s punk underground (back when that word still meant anything) and notorious pirate radio raconteur. Many oldtimers have one story or another about Amy, and she herself has several more. This one we offer here in the spirit of Mardi Gras’ past—sorely needed in these times—and because we have to say it: All names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely, surely coincidental.
Sunday before Mardi Gras, and we’re outside the mansion of New Orleans’ most famous resident, right off the Bacchus route. The grounds are abuzz with people coming and going, the well-to-do mingling in clusters just beyond the wrought iron gates.
“Keith, OK, listen—” I start to say. But I don’t have to finish.
“We can go in if you want.” Twenty four hours in and already I’m learning this man’s penchant for understatement is legendary.
Security is checking guests’ credentials at the door. Just what does one need to enter an Anne Rice party? Apparently only chutzpah and a pair of legs, because one minute we’re kicking rocks out on St. Charles and the next, piercing the inner sanctum of invited guest. Walking the grounds, my first thought is: Fuck all this shit. Owning a mansion (let alone two!) in a city where a quarter of the population lives in poverty is criminal. But the bitch has taste, I’ll give her that much. We make our way towards the backyard.
Meanwhile I notice a strange sensation going on below my waist. Now, dear readers, might be a good time to mention that, before this little adventure got underway, I’d taken LSD. And I’d boofed it…cuz why not? I tried this not too long ago at a Nausea matinee at ABC (shhh, don’t tell the rest of the collective!), and I swear to god it was earth shattering. My first Mardi Gras, I reasoned, deserved the same approach. Not that I was tryna reenact Easy Rider or anything. Butt for the last half hour—nothing. Now my crotch was numb. Not warm. Not tingly like the time I smeared menthol down there. Just a feelingless void. I mean to ask Keith if I’m walking funny, but instead hear myself saying something else.
“So I just realized…yesterday was a leap day.”
“So, the day we met is a day that doesn’t really exist.”
“Except every four years.”
“Maybe this means we were never s’posed to meet.” I’m rambling. “Or, maybe it means we were destined to meet or…” Grasping for cosmic significance, already celebrating our “anniversary”…Either I had it bad or the drugs were working. In any case I’ve said too much. I mumble some garbled “time is an illusion” non sequitur and waddle over to the house.
Inside, I down a glass of champagne. Then another. What gives? That’s when one of the caterers informs me: it’s non-alcoholic, as are all the party’s libations. Seriously?! I knew rich people were sick, but this…pure evil. The Vampire Queen, a teetotaler? Fucking kill me.
Talk around the h’or d’oeuvres turns to Comus, who “regrettably” refused to parade this year rather than integrate. As these society ladies prattle on, I’m growing more and more disgruntled. It’s a real shame blah blah blah but it’s their decision yadda yadda. Lips parched, nethers still showing no signs of life, my loudmouth Yankee ass can’t take it anymore. “DEATH TO COMUS! DEATH TO DAVID DUKE!” I declare, throwing back another worthless glass of bubbly, before dropping a tenner on the table and leaving the scandalized guests in my wake.
Cursed to wander in a state of eternal noninebriation, I turn to other diversions. “Where’s Anne Rice?” I ask Keith.
Clearly I aim to give the hostess a piece of my mind. But other than a dust jacket photo I vaguely recall from high school—of a woman with long black hair and a Little House on the Prairie looking ass outfit—I have no idea what Anne Rice actually looks like.
As if on cue, I turn to find a middle-aged woman coming toward us. Jet black hair, shiny gold accoutrement…I don’t even have to wonder. She’s heard my call.
“You two look like interesting people. Hi…” She zeroes in on Keith. “Oh my god, you have the most beautiful eyes. Man oh man.” Help! Anne Rice was hitting on my date!
“I tell him that all the time,” I chime in. I’m enjoying watching Keith squirm.
“I’m tellin’ you. You know who you look like? Alain Delon. You know, the actor? Alain Delon?”
Biographical details on my new beau are few, but two things I know: besides roadie-ing for Eyehategod, Keith is a projectionist by trade. Among other things. “Yeah, I know Alain Delon. Le Samouraï.”
“That’s right, Le Samouraï.” The y’at is more noticeable on certain words. “I love Alain Delon. I liked—what’s the one—Paper Moon? No, no, that was the Bogdanovich picture—the one with them on the boat…”
“Purple Noon, yes! Based off Patricia Highsmith’s novel…was it Talented Mr. Ripley? Anyway… Stan, my husband, and I went to see that in San Francisco—god, this was 30 years ago. Stan hated it.” She calls across the room. “Hey Stan! Stan!”
In front of the curio, her husband is busy entertaining guests. Noticing his mother, their son Christopher, no older than about 14, tugs at Stan’s turtleneck to get his attention.
My turn now. “So what do you do?”
“I’m in radio.” My fancy way of saying I DJ a weekly punk show with no job prospects whatsoever.
“Oh that’s fabulous,” she says. “I thought about being a DJ in college, but I realized pretty quickly I’m not cut out for radio. I’m much better at sitting in a room writing stories.”
“Seems to be working out for you.”
“I’ve been blessed.”
At this point, Stan arrives, the vampire Lestat incarnate, albeit aged several decades. That’s the rub—in the real world, we get old. Anne introduces us. “I was just telling them about when we went to see Purple Noon with Alain Delon. You remember?”
“Terrible movie,” he says. “Awful.”
A wink to us, following which the two proceed to argue the film’s artistic merits before moving onto whether or not Stan bought the appropriate number of king cakes from Schwegmann’s. The Rices then wish us happy Mardi Gras—“and if you need anything, let us know!” OK: how ‘bout some fucken alcohol??
In all the excitement, I scarcely notice another little development: my pelvic region has reactivated. And I feel an urgent need. “Amy wants to go upstairs now,” I whisper to Keith.
Our corner gives us a clear view to the stairs. Stairs very much guarded by a thickneck plainclothes cop. Stairs which I must climb. And when a small commotion draws the sentry’s attention away—climb we do.
At the top all’s quiet. And dark. We’ve entered a portal. One somehow more luxurious than the last. And we have it all to ourselves. Hallways upon hallways. Rooms upon rooms. We try a door. Locked. Lucky one of us never leaves home without an S rake.
An office. And not just any office. Anne Rice’s office. The desk is there. The computer is there. There’s pages and pages, no doubt for some future bestseller. But all this barely registers, as I’m suddenly aware of an entire bookcase of porcelain dolls staring back at me. I let out a shriek. Why this woman has so many and why she would choose to have their lifeless eyes watch over her while she works I’ll never know. At the moment I’m convinced they want to kill me. I must get out of here.
A door down the hall is more inviting. Four-poster bed, silk canopy, mirrors in high places, and… I don’t need to tell you creepos what comes next. OK, we fucked on the satin sheets. And the rug. And the chaise lounge. If you must know.
Something was nagging me. Anne Rice is well known as a writer of steamy, smutty, sadomasochistic erotica. So… I wonder… where is it? I know, I know, “it’s all fantasy”… True in the case of most so-called “militant” hardcore singers. But no woman fills thousands of pages with detailed scenes of S&M and doesn’t even own a pair of handcuffs. The guy at the foot of the stairs—he does. As for Anne… a search through drawers and the backs of closets (Anne Rice has a bonkers wardrobe, by the way—the headdresses alone!!) turns up nothing. I’m a bit deflated. After all, we thrill seeking females deserve more than fantasy. But sadly, it appears our author, who surreptitiously lifted a plotline straight from SCUM Manifesto, is as vanilla as a carton of Rice Dream. I leave a little LaSsD doodle in one of the coat pockets, clean up my mascara (a hopeless task!), and head back out into the hall.
I’m just about to tell Keith how the walls up ahead look more convex than square, when we hear footsteps heading our way. “Ohfuck ohshit ohfuckohfuck,” I’m saying, as Keith pulls us into a room. My ears are ringing. I look up, stricken, to find Keith cupping a little dinnerbell above the door. We wait. One second. Two. Footsteps getting louder. Three, four. As they pass, I take in my surroundings: a small windowless room, possibly presided over by demons wishing me ill, which is to say, not unlike my living situation in New York. Exactly what purpose this room serves is unclear, perhaps some quirk in the 19th century blueprints, or perversity of the nouveau riche to leave rooms devoted entirely to one piece of furniture—in this case an old oak wardrobe. And what’s with the bell? All of a sudden there’s a knock. My eyes dart over to Keith, who I realize is pounding the wall. Why the fuck is he doing this? “Why the fuck are you doing that?” I ask.
“Something’s weird,” he says, holding his ear to the wall as BANG! BANG! he clobbers it.
I thought I was the only one tripping, but apparently my companion is on one as well. I sigh, savoring these final moments before being thrown out alongside my Mardi Gras boyfriend, overcome by a fascination with the room’s acoustics. Just as I’m craning an ear to listen for that thickneck cop—a loud creak, like a tree being sawed through. I whip my head around to find Keith’s entire upper half inside the wardrobe. He’s thrashing violently, as if trying to pull the whole thing from the wall and smash it to bits. Ah, yes, the proverbial “bad trip.” I tug at his shirt, trying to calm him, when… the shirt disappears. Now I’m freaked. Weird shit has happened to me on ass-id before, but nothing like this. Suddenly I’m alone. “Keith…?”
“I fucking knew it,” echoes a voice from inside the wall.
“Keith?” I say again. I’m really freaking. What the fuck is happening?
“You gotta see this.” His hand reaches out. I grab hold of it. “Careful, there’s a step…”
A second later, I enter…not a wardrobe…but a much narrower hallway, some kind of secret passage. But to what? I smell incense. And then…up ahead…I see…███████████
We emerge back into the dark hallway, ears still ringing from the bell we’ve rung and can’t unring. We round a corner—running smack dab into a teenage boy. It’s Christopher Rice. He seems strangely unperturbed to find us here.
“You guys have a good time?”
Why do I get the impression this kid knows exactly what’s up? “Fuck yeah,” I say.
“Nice, nice. How’d you guys like Bacchus?” We continue towards the stairs.
“It was cool, yeah.” My lack of conviction readily apparent.
“Yeah, I thought it was OK. I only wanted one of the cups, really.”
“Did you catch one?” Keith pipes up from the shadows.
“I did. Yeah, I did.”
Down the stairs, out into the light of the foyer. Only a few stragglers remaining, the catering crew packing up. “By the way, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Christopher,” he says, extending a hand. Gregarious, a bit flamboyant, even. I remember being his age, tryna hold my own in a world of adults. I don’t envy his youth, but I’m certainly charmed by it.
“Keith B██████.” I’m shocked. It’s the most Keith’s volunteered about himself since I’ve known him.
Young Christopher gives him a long, searching look, trying to place him amongst the Rice family clan…perhaps a moneygrubbing cousin? some distant blood relation eager to bask in the glow of celebrity?…when a group of girls hoot from the front porch. He waves, saying he’ll be there in a moment. He turns back, looking momentarily lost, before remembering he’s talking to us. “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a bit…” he gesticulates, fluttering his lips on the exhale.
I want to shake him by the shoulders and say: GO FORTH! DO DRUGS! HAVE FUN! FUCK UP! USE YOUR PARENTS’ MONEY TO FUND COMMUNES AND WILDCAT STRIKES AND CRIMINAL MAYHEM! YOU HAVE YOUR WHOLE YOUTH AHEAD OF YOU! DO IT ALL! NOW! NOW!!! But I, too, am a bit…discombobulated, as it were. My usual eloquence failing me.
“It’s all the Chardonnay,” he murmurs. “Truth be told, I’m a little tipsy…” Then he leans in and with a cheeky grin whispers:
“—don’t tell Mom!”