In the book "Interview with the Vampire," Louis, who has been a member of the living dead for some 200 years, tells the story of his life to the interviewer, a young radio reporter in San Francisco.
But the book as published represents only a portion of the tapes of that interview made by the reporter. Louis told the young man much that was not included, particularly with regard to the master vampire, Armand, whom he had met in Paris. One tale was Armand's account of his methods of seduction; that is, the art of the vampire at its peak in the year 1876.
As I've told you, Louis, each vampire selects his victims
in his own way. The world is a veritable wilderness of singular beauties and
each night too precious to allow for the slightest waste. Each night is a
wedding, really, and the vampire is wed to the unique and alluring charms of
that victim as surely as he is wed to that victim's life. You hold the
spirit incarnate in your arms.
For some of us, monstrous breed that we are, and such a discerning and
voracious company, it is the struggle that holds the quintessential
fulfillment, the thrashing of the waning lover seems to soothe the
preternatural soul. This is nonsense, really. These innocent and
unsuspecting victims can't really struggle against a power such as our own.
What lurks beneath these gentlemanly trappings is a strength that is
unconquerable. Yet there are vampires who crave the semblance of battle,
saying that it is the human spirit they love, its endurance, its faith.
I have no taste for violence, voluptuous as it may sometimes appear. It is
the seduction that is perfectly in tune with this monster's heart. But do
not mistake my meaning. It is not I who seduce the lovely beauties whom I
take as my brides. It is they who seduce me through their dreams.
You see, they all want the embrace. There is a kernel in all of them that is
"half in love with easeful death" and as I wander through the late-night
streets in the chill hours, I can hear their plaintive sighs, a muted chorus
rising from those beds, its rhythms penetrating the very walls. They summon
me. They long for me. Gentleman Death, that has been my epithet, and I so
treasure it. What gentleman can refuse a lady, after all?
Imagine her, my victim, caught in the maw of mortal life and so given to
dreaming. She wants an extraordinary passion, something she's only glimpsed
before and lost. The memory pricks her, a flicker in the recesses of her
soul, a searing rapture known but for an instant when mortal and mortal
It is for her summons that I listen, being myself sometimes the silent sign
of death that can evoke that plea from her even as I quietly pass by. No one
hears my steps. I do not hear them. It seems until she offers that faint
murmur, I am not even there. These winding, narrow medieval streets shroud
me, no moon cuts between the jutting roofs and I am cold, cold for her as I
wander, waiting with a lover's devotions for that perfect call.
You know that our preternatural flesh cannot dispel the icy air that settles
on our limbs. Ours is the chill of the wind blowing through eternity.
So you can well imagine the ineffable sweetness of the moment of selection,
of moving out of that damp and merciless might into the bedchamber. No two
of them are the same.
I need not see her. I know she's there. A warmth emanates from her living
flesh and, drawing near, I see the shape of the warmth--tender, helpless,
prone. There is something melancholy, sad about her nestled among the
trinkets of her mortal life, the soft bed, her loose and fragrant garments,
remnants of girlhood--she sleeps with the trusting sleep of the child. I
tell you if I were not the monster, I would be touched. But back to the
pliant treasure herself, breathing deeply in her dreams. Is it more vivid,
that dream, as I draw closer to her? It seems I see her eyelids flutter, she
shapes a name with her lips. She feels these eyes on her naked shoulders,
this hand on the pale-petal flesh of her soft thigh.
It is seduction, remember.
There is never violence. I tell you that all embraces, no matter how tender,
are surfeited with violence. Violence is the throbbing of the unsatisfied
heart. Violence is the desperate pulsing of that tender fold between the
legs, that precious cleft that shapes its own emptiness; violence is the
restless turning of her limbs. This is the heart and core of all violence
for which the rest is rude metaphor, rough deceiving, a lie born of abused
passion and broken dreams. You want the true violence? Neglect her. Then
bend your head to her breasts and rest it there, to hear that awful moan.
"Half in love with easeful death" is half in love with life still. She
awakes shivering and I feel my lips surrender to a smile. I know too well
that I might quiet her with the stroke of my hand even as its coldness shocks
her, but let her wake just a little to the crude world of lamps and torn
realities. Let her see her demon lover. Let her see these eyes adoring her.
Let her know that in serving me she will make me utterly and completely her
Have I ever failed? It's natural enough, that question. The world is rife
with passionate women, so you wonder have they drawn back from me, fought,
begged for reprieve? Has some dim alarm ever sounded in the depths of those
heaving breasts? Weren't these women just a little frightened by this
fervent gaze? Never. Forgive my laughter, you don't understand the promise
of my caress.
They have struggled too long and in vain for union, these succulent mortal
beauties, they've known the prisons of their own flesh too well. Observe the
flare of those narrow hips, the subtle curve of the buttocks; these are the
contours of a dungeon cell. See how their love acts have so often resembled
the quarrel, how they've thrashed and, alone afterwards, lain uneasy in half
Mine is the embrace that will penetrate that isolation, mine is the kiss that
will delve to the root of the soul. She knows it, my bride; she knows it
without my saying it; she knows it with an instinct that is all too human and
that we immortals too quickly forget. Imagine her splendid terror and how
easily it melts to languor in my arms. She is meek, pliant, on the verge of
some awesome awakening. She hardly feels the little tear. The breath hisses
low from between her pearl-white teeth, her eyelids show the barest gleam
beneath the dark lash. She cannot know how my pulse quickens with her pulse,
how my heart feeds upon her heart, how pulling me toward her, I draw the
heated perfumed elixir from her with my own soul, pulling the cords of her
being warm through her veins.
She is so warm.
Do I have to tell you how that smooth tight flesh of her arching back burns
my fingers, how those taut nipples brand my chest? She is listless, fading.
One arm drops to her side, hands close weakly on the lost coverlet and,
turning from me even as she is given over to me, her eyes are veiled with her
And yet my monster's eye charts her swoon. This is the union she has longed
for, and with the cunning of the beast, I have let her go too soon. I
measure her, I hold her, I tingle with the life she'd given me and see her
moist limbs as the vessel of my mounting passion, alive as I am with her life
and soothed and tormented as she is with mine.
Nothing divides us now. Her fingers prod, I savor the groans, those piquant
and spirited utterances. She's mine.
Ah, but you know the price of this modulation, this rhythm. She cannot
imagine my thirst for her. If she placed her hand on the marble stone in the
churchyard at midnight, she might begin to understand this harrowing
loneliness and, with it, she would come to know my art. I draw back from
her, aching for her. I hold her, this struggling sparrow in my easy grip.
How long will that taste of her content me? It is sweet to touch her bent
neck, her tousled hair. But she's given me her life's blood; what am I to
give in return?
Yes, I said the word, return. Perhaps all along, you've thought me some hard
and simple monster who would trick her in her sublime pleasure and give her
only darkness finally as her reward? You underestimate me, you fail to
understand the fire and the fiber of my own dreams.
And she's too tender to me, little bride. You misunderstand the whole
Rather, I become the fount of secrets. I let her part the open shirt with
her own hands. I can feel her lips, quivering, virginal, that touching
eagerness, I let her taste, I let her drink, and she is wild. Now I can see
the incandescence of a vampire in her eyes, a shimmer to that beguiling form.
The clock ticks, the wind whispers in the passage. There is much for her to
learn. But she is spent now with the first undulating wave and I am in no
great haste to bring this to its close.
Rather, I lie like the bridegroom with her, as if accustomed to these mortal
beds and their trappings, and I have time for mortal dreams.
You know that we never forget it. Vampire, Nosferatu, Virdilak. What have
we all in common? What separates our cloaked and smiling figures from the
other unholy inhabitants of the monster realm? Simply this: that we all were
and still are men.
So let me dream for a while. Let me be young. Let me become some anxious,
urgent creature riding as I did in the days of brief life through the open
country fields. I feel the horse under me, his striding power. The wheat
blows in the wind. And through the shifting trees, I see the sun again, warm
as my bride's blood; it falls on my face, on my hands. It is her blood that
makes this real as I lie there, be even as the sky is shot with those swift
gold-edged clouds, it's fading, fading. I must wake. I would lead my
fledgling further on.
And she? She dreams as a vampire now. She stirs. And limp and somnolent,
she falls into my waiting arms.
What would you have now? That is, it you were I?
Should I usher her into the timeless life on my own? I think not. Look at
that superb young form; what does it cry for, if not for another woman
equally as beautiful; if not for the craft of another lady-love, supple,
scented and schooled by me? And waiting on these dreary winter nights as she
always waits for the fledglings that I bring her, for what is always best
when shared. This is a dance for three.
Imagine the patience of such a lady-love, dark-haired, succulent; is she
petulant when she sees my new bride? What of the postulant herself in such
encounters; does she spurn the skilled and nurtured woman to whom I present
her? What do you think? Must I instruct my ladylove to flaunt her
treasures? Oh, no. She bends with an unconcealed abandon and I see my new
bride, afflicted, helplessly drawn. I wonder, would it give the master a
little more pleasure if they did not go so willingly into each other's
perfumed arms? A cold agony comes over me in watching the soft crush of
breast to breast. I see their lips drinking one from the other with a mortal
urgency I'd forgotten; they moan with some submissive sentiment no longer
I cannot bear it any longer. I cannot be content with a feast only for my
eyes. This is what I've waited for too long, slaves shaped to the will of
the master, they may command me. I feel the prick of the hot skin again,
that searing luxuriant gush, one and then the other of them, and back again,
first my dark and sultry lady love, then my shimmering bride. When will it
ever end, when will I be permitted to rest? It seems these hearts so
perfectly turned now to my own will not release me, they will now permit me
to withdraw. My mistresses are merciless. I was a kinder master. "Do you
love me?" comes the plaintive question as I lead them. "Do you love me?" as
I gaze into those glittering eyes. Their lips are blood red, fledgling teeth
tease the tender flesh. "Do you love me?" comes the desperate entreaty as I
gather them against my monstrous and lonely breast, lonely, lonely beyond
their dazzling preternatural dreams. "Do you love me?" comes the whisper
again, even as the sun dissolves the shadows. But their mute and smiling
faces are pitiless. And, my anguishes complete, "Do you love me?" I implore
Originally published in Playboy Magazine 1979