_VAMPIRIC VISIT: ANNE RICE CHATS WITH ERSATZ LESTAT_By Scott AigesFrom The Times-PicayuneT

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_VAMPIRIC VISIT: ANNE RICE CHATS WITH ERSATZ LESTAT_By Scott AigesFrom The Times-PicayuneTuesday, October 29, 1991Rock 'n' rollers sometimes _look_ like the undead -- chalky skin, bleary eyes, veins protruding from emaciated frames. But only in Anne Rice novels is a rock star actually a blood-drinking immortal.There is "something vampiric about rock music," observes the title character in Rice's "The Vampire Lestat," the second in her famous trilogy of vampire books. What that "something" is was the subject of an unusual conversation that took place yesterday in Rice's elegant Garden District home."Hollywood Vampires" is the title of the latest album by the Los Angeles-based rock group L.A. Guns. The band's singer, Philip Lewis, has been inspired by Rice's work to the point that he penned a vampiric poem for the album's sleeve. While Lewis may not be as famous as the world-renowned vampire rock star Rice describes in her books, his band does tour the world and has three gold albums to its credit. His encounter with Rice was a long-awaited chance to discuss some of the themes common to both his life and Lestat's."The great thing about Anne's work is that she made it cool again, the whole vampire thing," Lewis said in his English accent.Sitting on white wicker furniture in a glassed-in patio, Lewis was dressed as a rock star: torn jeans, a faded denim shirt with the sleeves ripped off (revealing a large tattoo on one arm), long black hair held back by a wide headband.Rice was dressed more conservatively but also in character: a black blazer, black turleneck and black skirt, with her long black hair unbound."To me the vampire is really a Dionysian image," she said. "It has to do with our dark chaotic selves, our selves that strive to go to excess without any moral restraint. We need those images in our culture. And rock stars are that way."They get up and they do this complete orgiastic, Dionysian ritual at a concert. They become total outsiders. They do everything -- they sacrifice themselves totally to this. It's a way of letting off steam, it's a way of exorcising all sorts of dark and chaotic and pleasurable feelings that we have. Our culture always needs something like that happening and it's our artists, mostly, who provide that for us."Rice's description conjures an image of the scene at Jimmy's music club Saturday night. L.A. Guns was performing for a couple of hundred fist-pumping, sweat-soaked fans. Lewis strutted onstage howling like a wild animal as his band provided the thudding, ear-splitting sound that is common at many hard rock shows."And the vampire is the same way," Rice continued. "The vampire image in literature -- the vampire as mythic being, as fictional creation -- is also that Dionysian creature, the person who gives in to this lust for blood and this destructive side of himself. The whole trick of it is not to get destroyed; it's just to do it now and then. And rock stars right now, they're our paid outsiders. They're our hired Dionysian gods, and we expect them to go crazy up there and to practically go mad .... We want them to surprise us, shock us; you know, tear us to pieces."Lewis agreed without hesitation."It all starts with a nocturnal lifestyle," he said. "Before you know it you're waking up at 5 in the afternoon and your day starts at 7, and the sun's coming up as you're going to sleep. And all of a sudden you start to think, 'Maybe I am a vampire. God! I feel different. I didn't feel like this when I was a kid.'"Like the vampire Lestat, Lewis lives as what Rice calls an outsider."It's impossible to maintain any type of relationships or any real grasp of what's going on commercially in the real world, like buying a house or anything like that," Lewis said. "It's like you've either got tons of money or none at all. When you've got tons you end up buying DC players and stupid things like that, which you invariably lose in the next town. Everything becomes very flaky; nothing's really solid. So you have to become kind of solid in yourself and set your own standards for what's important to you. How much power is left in my Duracel batteries in my (portable stereo) is more important than what's going on in the world, to me. You do get a different set of values."At Jimmy's on Saturday, the concert was a ritual in which everyone knew their parts -- the band pummeling the crowd with sound, the audience floating on the music until it reached ecstasy."I used in 'The Vampire Lestat' the description of the druids gathering in the groves to make their sacrifices with fire and water and so forth," Rice said, "and I think that rock concerts are very like those primitive ceremonies. People came together, they suspended their sanity for a brief period, they wanted to be totally carried away, turned inside out, and then they leave purged and enhanced somewhat by that feeling that they've been someplace else and are coming back with a knowledge that they di

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