Art & Identity in New Orleans

HNRS 109 Spring '18

The Vampires of New Orleans

The idea of vampires has been around for centuries. The topic has been explored on numerous occasions in books such as Dracula and The Twilight Saga and in the teen sitcom Vampire Diaries. However, these mythical creatures aren’t just limited to the confines of Forks, Washington, or Transylvania, Romania, as there has been talk of a vampire by the name of the Jacques Saint Germain throughout New Orleans.

The myth of Germain dates back to France in the early 1700’s. However in this account, Germain goes under the alias Conte. Many of his attributes were related to his exceptional skills in various practices, as well as his extreme wealth. Many found his qualities questionable as no one was aware of how Germain acquired such wealth. The most astonishing characteristic of Germain was the fact that he did not appear to age.

This French myth continues, discussing Germain’s interactions with the wealthy, always hosting elaborate parties with large bounties of food which he was never seen to touch. The only thing Germain was seen consuming was wine.

The myth continues, the setting shifting to many years later in New Orleans. A man by the name of Jacques Saint Germain was identified to fit a very similar description. One of the most important similarities being that Jacques was never seen eating, only sipping on wine. As the legend continued, Germain was said to have tried to bite a women on the neck; she escaped and relayed the incident to the police. This led to an investigation where bottles of wine were discovered to be filled with blood.

The validity of these legends and the possibility of vampires’ presence in New Orleans is left up to the eye of the beholder. However, there are numerous other accounts similar to that of the legend of Germain.

This is a topic I wish to potentially pursue for my project. I believe this is an intriguing topic as there are numerous vampire legends that take place in New Orleans. The presence of countless graves, witch craft and voodoo, can play a role in validating some of these stories as well. Culturally, these legends exemplify some of the traditions in New Orleans as well as touching on the geography of the city.

The ultimate question I would answer in regards to this question is what is the cultural significance behind these legends, and how does the culture of New Orleans as a setting aid in the belief of these legends?

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