Coven Party III was the Gathering to end all Gatherings and, rumor had it, was to be the last of them, so when I heard that there would be a fourth, I requested info from the Louisiana visitors' bureau (it arrived a week after my trip was over) and prepared to head south. After a 21 hour ride on the Greyhound, I arrived in New Orleans just before noon on Friday, October 23, with a large purse that was doubling as an overnight bag and the knowledege that the party was on Saturday night. I found my way down the labrynth of streets in the CBD which funnel out to Canal Street. I located Walgreen's where I purchased a 3-day RTA pass and got directions to the visitors' bureau at Jackson Square. Fortunately, the visitors' bureau was able to give me infomation and directions to 3711 St Charles (I was told that only 1000 tickets would be sold.) and after wandering about in the French Quarter for several hours I hopped on the streetcar and headed Uptown. I was amazed at the size and beauty of not only the houses, but the area shops (like McDonald's) as well. Around 10pm, I located a place to stay at a youth hostle up Canal St [10 bucks!!!]; I'd planned to nap then take in some of the night life, but I was absolutely exhausted (partially from lugging around a jean jacket that someone had referred to as a "winter coat").
The next day, I was so excited, I thought I'd never be able to kill off time until the party. Again I found myself wandering the French Quarter and somehow I ended up in several bookstores. Bookstar on Decatur had signed trade paperbacks of Prism, so I got one. Eventually time passed and I let myself go (unfashionably early) to the Gathering site. Actually, I was really early, which was good because I hadn't been able to change into my party clothes. After my Superman change in the upstairs bathroom, I came down and began to have a look around. Anne was there meeting people and signing books. Mojo was there, too (but I doubt he signed anything). Inside was decorated with pictures and paintings of Anne and there were some musicians playing chamber music in an upstairs bedroom (complete with 4 poster bed). Downstairs, we were treated to bowls of shrimp creole and outside another band played while fortunetellers gave readings. Too quickly it was over, but fortunately there was an after-party. A friend I'd met at the Gathering (Kim) and I headed to the other side of the French Quarter to Cafe Istanbul in Faubourg Marigny. I was thrilled to see Satan's Night Out on the stage. As I watched the bands play, I heard the all too familiar word "Cincinnati." It turned out that the person who'd said it (Eric) not only lived in Cincinnati, but was in a band I'd voted for in a recent battle of the bands. Kim had to start her journey back home, and she was kind enough to drop me off at the Greyhound station where instead of getting on the next bus out of town, I met LB who'd also been at the party. We kept each other awake til sunrise then decided to go out wandering the streets again and we took pictures in front of Anne's First Street house. In the afternoon, neither of us could take it anymore, so we went back to the terminal and left New Orleans.
1993 saw me again hitting the open road and leaving the driving to Greyhound. It was beautiful when I arrived and a friend (who had moved to New Orleans) remarked that it hadn't rained for days. We went to a few bars in the French Quarter where I had my first Hurricane, then we saw the female impersonators on Bourbon St. At about 3am, we headed to my friend's apartment and the rain began to fall and fall and fall. . . for 27 hours. I thought I'd wait it out, but it seemed neverending, so that night, I went out to the Dungeon to meet some friends I'd met the year before (Eric and Sally). I arrived back (Saturday morning) at my friend's place in time to get a little sleep before we went to her boyfriend's fitting (he was an extra in "Interview"). At this point, it was no longer raining, but bitterly cold, and having learned my lesson the year before, I'd brought no cold-weather clothes, so I had to buy a sweatshirt and spent many hours wearing all of my clothes at the same time. On Sunday, we went to the Halloween parade on Bourbon St. Because of the cold, I'd worn the sweatshirt over my outfit (which included light-up horns and pitchfork) so when people asked who I was supposed to be, I told them "the tourist from Hell."
The Gathering took place in the Warehouse District at New Orleans Music Hall. Anne was off on tour and unable to be there. However, that morning (Halloween) brought a shock worse than the freak cold spell: River Phoenix was dead! At the Gathering, we whispered it over and over, "Did you hear the rumor...?" We wanted to believe that's all it was. We wondered if it was yet another omen and that "Interview" would never be made into a movie.
For months, I'd saved and in 1994, I arrived in New Orleans courtesy of TWA. I hung out with my friend in Manhattan (West Bank) for a while and bought a few dozen packages of Cafe du Monde coffee at Wal-Mart. On Friday, I went to the Pre-Coven Party at and met up with some old (Eric and Sally) and new (Jeff) friends. One of the fan club officers informed us that extra tickets had been printed, but that we should try to hurry and buy ours. So, on Saturday afternoon, I found the Look for Hair and secured a ticket for the Gathering that night. At this point I should mention my dress; I had grand ideas of wearing something authentic-looking, so I had attempted to make a circa 1775 French-style gown. Actually, "attempted" is kind of harsh; I did make the dress, I just never quite finished it. Anyway, on the way to the Gathering, I was still sewing in a sleeve, so I managed to miss Hole as I was changing in a park up the street from Tipitina's and walked in during Anne's speech. My night was filled with chatting with people, collecting souveniers (rats, posters, buttons, t-shirts) and looking over the goodies the venders had brought. Many people had talked to me because of my dress -- several I'd met when they'd stepped on the back of it. (Not having gotten it to a presentable state until moments before the Coven Party, I had no idea how revealing my dress was until the pictures came back.) Before I knew it, the party had ended. Not ready to call it a night, my friends and I went to the French Quarter and sampled way too many frozen daiquiris. The next afternoon we took our hangovers on a tour of St Louis #1 and had another (calmer) night out, then I flew back home.
In Spring of 1995, I found a posting on an AOL bulletin board about a tour group that would go to locations mentioned in Anne's books as well as to sites used in the filming of Interview the movie. The deadline had passed to sign up for the tour, but I took a chance anyway, and in October I (and the other Talismanic Tourists) was running around the French Quarter and Garden District hanging on Katherine Ramsland's every word. The tour also included trips to Oak Alley and Destrahan and fine dining at a haunted restaurant.
Meanwhile, I was in a panic because I still had not received my tickets. On the afternoon before the Gathering was to take place, I received a message; my tickets were waiting for me at the Garden District Book Shop. Finally, the time came to go to the Gathering. Anne played host at St Elizabeth's, and more than 6000 of us scarfed down brie, wedding cake, ice-cold Victims, and other assorted treats (oddly, though, there was no Tab). Music was everywhere and there were exhibits featuring ballroom dancers, cabaret entertainers, fortune tellers, a haunted house, and Anne's treasured dolls. Again I wore the French gown [still unfinished]. When the end of the party came, I was exhausted and sore [although most of this was due to wearing boots on the walking tours for the previous three days, did I mention that I'd also worn fishnets with them?] so I didn't make it to the after-party at Tipitina's :-( I spent a few more fun-filled days in New Orleans, then took the 23 hour plane trip, on TWA, back to Cincinnati.
USAir flew me to New Orleans in 1996, and on Thursday, October 25, I was hanging out with my fellow Talis-maniacs once again; this time we got to stay the night at Oak Alley where we had a tastey dinner and played a Vampire who-done-it? It was pouring as we headed off to the swamp on Friday and the cute parasole I'd brought offered no protection. We went on a memorable voodoo tour and then a haunted tour of the French Quarter. Our jam-packed tour schedule was fun, but bordering on overwhelming. A shot of iced Cafe du Monde resurrected me on Saturday morning then, we went off to tour several area cemeteries; we had lunch at Cannon's and after picking up a few goodies at the Garden District Book Shop, nearly orphaned one of our crew. Later that day after I recovered from near cardiac arrest (the hotel clock was nearly 2 hours fast), I had one of the best meals in my life and then walked over to the Fairmont for Annual Gathering VIII Part 1. (Part 2 took place at House of Blues.). Around the time that some of my fellow Talis-maniacs were headed out to brunch at the Court of the Two Sisters, I arrived back at the hotel and crashed for a few hours. Then I dragged myself down to the pool area to be interviewed for In the Shadow of the Vampire, a book by Jana Marcus about Anne Rice fans. For the last night of the tour, we had dinner at the Ormond plantation, then I met up with my friends at Cafe for the Electric Hellfire Club [who cancelled by the way]. My friends and I clubbed and barhopped our way around the French Quarter. I returned to Cincinnati on Monday evening.
Click here for the story of my 1997 trip to New Orleans. And visit the photo gallery.
My 1998 adventures will appear soon.
I'd love to hear them. Email the address and I'll add a link below or send me the story and I'll post if here. ..... email@example.com
New Orleans & the Memnoch Ball
A Guide to Anne Rice Pilgrimages
The Parrish Room
The Bourbon Street Moon
The Savage Garden
Previous 5 Sites||The Anne Rice Webring Homepage||Next 5 Sites
Want to Join the Anne Rice Webring? Click Here