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xmag.com : October 2003: Interview with a Vampire

Andrei Codrescu is as known for his devastatingly insightful, humorous and irascible commentary on NPR as he is for his incredible poetry. Born and raised in Transylvania, he professes his great love for his adopted home, America, in the thickest, sexiest accent I have ever heard.
Our paths crossed a year ago. Andrei had been escorted to Magic Gardens by his friends when a book tour brought him to Portland. He is a fan of all things sensual, naughty and late-nite and so fit right in at Old Town's finest strip club. But even this professionally libidinous intellectual was knocked off his chair when a stripper recited one of his poems from the stage. Later he asked one of the gals to go to an after hours club with him. She declined, saying she had to go home and edit her documentary. Andrei was convinced that Magic Gardens was the best strip club in the world.
We met shortly thereafter. He was in town on another book tour with his movable feast of friends. Andrei collects bizarre geniuses like I at one time collected Strawberry Shortcake dolls. He lives for it. When he took me out to dinner, he told me about his recent affairs with dwarves, amputees, and the librarian-lady-from-last-night. When I admitted that I'd never been to an S & M recommittal ceremony, he was shocked. When he asked me where we could find speedballs I was shocked. Now I thank my lucky stars for the friendship of this hedonistic lover who inspires me to ever more passionate episodes of soulsucking every time I meet him.
VIVA: You are something of a vampire yourself, in that you are an incredibly sexy Transylvanian who sucks the lifeblood of humanity wherever you go.
ANDREI: Yes, but I give back. I suck some of it, but then I give it back enriched. Once it goes through my nervous and intellectual systems, the next person I bite actually gets enriched with a bit of immortality.
VIVA: You're a wordsmith. Where does the word VAMPIRE come from?
ANDREI: Vampire is I think a Celtic word for the undead. But the vampire has different names in different countries. In Transylvania where I am from they have something called virkolak--the spirit of the undead that is restless and bothers the living. But the vampire legend itself was born there because we had a particularly cruel prince named Vlad Dracula who liked impaling people.
VIVA: Is he a national hero now? He brings in a lot of money.
ANDREI: Yeah. He was in my classroom when I was growing up. We had three pictures on the wall; we had Stalin, the local dictator, and we had Vlad the Imperious. He impaled people because he was sadistic. The German burghers in my hometown in Transylvania got tired of him sacking the town and impaling the best citizens, so they commissioned Guttenberg--the first printer--to put out a pamphlet detailing the atrocities of Dracula with woodcuts. They are really horrific. Pictures and text.
VIVA: Who could read?
ANDREI: This is interesting. The first printed book was Guttenberg's Bible. The second was The Atrocities of Dracula. It was a bestseller... the world's first bestseller and the first appearance in legend of the vampire.
VIVA: What is the goal of a vampire? Is it to satiate hunger?
ANDREI: It is to make humans happy. We live in such sad flesh that the attention of an immortal suffuses people with wicked black light and pleasure.
VIVA: It's almost like a Jesus figure.
ANDREI: Well, yeah. A vampire is a pagan Jesus.
VIVA: What is sexy about vampires?
ANDREI: What was sexy about vampires is that they were seducers, and they seduced their victims slowly. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, he takes a long time with Lucy before she dies and he tends to her and comes to her at night and that is very sexy. Then came Anne Rice's vampires who were one-bite vampires, you know, quickies. Instead of one-night stands you have one-bite stands. I think it was very much a product of the disco age and the gay revolution. The metaphor of the vampire is spreading blood, and the terror of it in Anne Rice has to do with A.I.D.S.
VIVA: Do you...uh...like those books?
ANDREI: No. I hate her.
VIVA: You hate her but do you like the Chronicles?
ANDREI: Well, I'll tell you the truth now for the first time ever. I like Interview with a Vampire. I like that one because it comes from a real person tragedy. Her daughter died at nine years old of leukemia and Anne was trying to work out some kind of understanding of leukemia through the metaphor of blood. And she was very successful because that book is emotionally packed. But her dirty books are terrible. I could never come or jerk off reading Anne Rampling. I'm always amazed. I think that women have a different sexual mechanism if they actually get off reading those things.
VIVA: What is sexy about fear and why has All Hallow's Eve become a celebration of fear?
ANDREI: People think sex is dirty and it's best done at night and furtively and its eroticism is increased by the amount of danger that is around.
VIVA: Humans are attracted to danger.
ANDREI: The first reaction to a catastrophe or to tragedy is to want to make love, it's instinct. Eros and Thanathos, the God of death, are really linked at some deep primitive level. I always get an erection at funerals. Funerals are orgies for the survivors, you know. Not just Irish wakes, every funeral and wake. They turn into lovefests and fuckfests at some point.
VIVA: What is scary to you, my dahling?
ANDREI: You. You are very scary. Beauty is scary. Rilke has this wonderful poem that says "beauty is the beginning of terror." "All angels are terrifying. Beauty is but the beginning of terror."
VIVA: What is delicious to you? Do you have a favorite vintage of human lifeblood?
ANDREI: I love a person who is filled by their self-understanding and their spirit. I like people who are filled by their minds, by knowing...every inch of their skin is filled by their consciousness. I don't like vacancy.
VIVA: What is the scariest word of all time?
ANDREI: Luftgruppen SS. That really sends a chill through this old Jew.
VIVA: What about the sexiest word of all time?
VIVA [after squirming and squealing, abruptly changing the subject]: Love scares me, but my desire for fidelity scares me more. Why fidelity?
ANDREI: Fidelity is just an old peasant characteristic of ownership. Peasants needed all the hands around the house, so they couldn't stand them running around. So we got passed genetically this defense-of-property gene that manifests in possessiveness and jealousy and it's translated "noblely" as fidelity. But it's also, I think, a defense against the old men getting all the young women. I think it was invented for that purpose.
VIVA: What is the sexiest song of all time?
ANDREI: "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes."
VIVA: Sexiest experience of all time?
ANDREI: I hate to choose, but I'll tell you a strange one. I went to a demonstration against the war in Vietnam and the cops attacked the crowds and I found myself running with this woman, hand in hand, and we were getting incredibly turned on as we were being chased and about to be killed. So we found the first place we could to make out, and we didn't know each others' names. There were some steps going up and soon we were fucking at the top of these steps in the city of New York with this pure raw animal passion. And then we came off the stairs and put ourselves back together and then looked up to see that it was the Planned Parenthood building.
Many more sexy stories followed-- sex in the brambles by the Coit Tower in San Francisco ("a stranger and I conceived an instant passion"), in doorways near the Strand in New York ("I would steal my own poetry after its first publication and wait outside to give it to beautiful women"), and on and on and on. Andrei is the sexiest. And inspires me to drink more human blood. I can never thank
him enough.






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