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Fair Grounds, all day
Final day of weekend one
Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM
The most important meal of the year
Prytania Theatre, 10AM
1933 sci-fi horror classic
Saenger Theatre, 3PM
YouTube superstar comes to town
Marigny Opera House, 5PM
Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler
Eiffel Society, 7PM
Lord of the Rings burlesque
Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM
Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA-based Balkan band
Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM
Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films
NOLA Lore: Count St. Germain, Le Vampire
Each week, J.A. Lloyd will take readers through the secret and sometimes unwritten legends, myths, and folklore of New Orleans past. For the second installment, Lloyd continues to explore the existence of the vampire with the story of Count St. Germain.
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It’s a warm, humid summer night. A dinner party has been underway for the better part of the evening. Guests line the long dining table and the room whirs with conversation and spilled drink. The clinking of crystal, china, and silverware is faint beneath the weight of heavy air.
Near the head of the table, sitting to the left of the host, is the man the rest of the party subconsciously crane their necks to hear speak. Entranced, women politely fan their faces. Just as spellbound are the men reaching into the breast pockets of their coats to retrieve a cloth, gingerly patting away the sweat peppering their foreheads. The man they vie to hear is a raconteur unlike anyone who has held court at such staid dinner parties before.
Though his background is mysterious, he is the richest nobleman seated amongst them. He is a man gifted with a tongue that speaks multiple languages and fingers that have mastered several instruments. He is charming and charismatic. Timelessly dashing and full of zeal. He smiles and his hands wave gracefully as he sips his wine and tells his audience of faraway lands and potions that will not stop death, but will, indeed, keep a person young. And he would know something about stoppering death; he’s appeared to be in his mid-40s for decades now.
The women at the table adore him and blush at his gaze. The men do, too. While under the spell, only one guest notices the contents of the enigmatic man’s plate. The food has been pushed around and prodded with utensils, but it remains otherwise untouched. Not a single bite has been taken. As the guest studies the man, another curious oddity comes to light. The extraordinary nobleman hasn’t broken a sweat.
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Such is the scene of a common elite dinner gathering of the early 1700s in France, or New Orleans, depending on who you ask about to this tale. The guests and the location of the story change but the mysterious character at the center stays the same, right down to his age and appearance. This is the legend of suspected vampire Count St. Germain. In France, he was known as the Count whereas here in New Orleans, he went by Jacques Saint Germain some two centuries after charming the nobles of France and other innumerable countries.
It is difficult to say when and where the Count’s story begins. He is a man cloaked in the unidentifiable with an origin so ambiguous that no one can pinpoint his beginnings. The Count, of course, did little to clear the air by either leading his inquisitors astray with elaborate stories that spoke little of his past or simply not giving the raised queries a response at all.
Some claim that he was born during the mid to late 1600s. The Count himself would not deny this statement. He was open in sharing that he was, indeed, old though he would never give his exact age. Other tales claim his existence spans back as far as the time of Christ. However, most historians and reputable sources tend to attempt placing the Count’s birth sometime between 1710 and 1712 but even this timeline is tenuous and struggles to find unshakable ground rooted in truth. A record of his birth cannot be traced.
While St. Germain’s early years remain obscure, one of the most popular theories about the Count’s background is that he was born the son of the Transylvanian prince Francis II Rákóczi. Francis II Rákóczi had many sons, one of whom reportedly died at a young age. It is believed that St. Germain was this child and his death was faked in order to protect him due to political reasons as Francis II Rákóczi would later lead a Hungarian uprising.
The first official documentation of the Count appears in 1745. It is during this time that the Count had been residing in London while putting his musical talents to use. It is in London that he employed himself as a composer after being arrested because he was a suspected Jacobite spy. He was released of the charges when the suspicion failed to produce any convicting evidence. After his time in London, the Count vanished from historical record until he reappeared in France during 1748 after reportedly arriving from the Court of Shah of Persia where he’d been studying precious stones.
St. Germain was unknown to France upon his arrival but it wasn’t long before his beguiling persona, whimsical tales, handsome face, jeweled fingers, and undeniable wealth caught the attention of the country’s prominent figures. Of these figures was Madame de Pompadour, mistress and advisor to King Louis XV. Madame de Pompadour is said to have invited the Count to one of her parties in an attempt to get to know the mysterious man and, as always, he was delightful, spellbinding, and didn’t touch any of the food. It was during this party that Madame de Pompadour introduced St. Germain to an older woman by the name of Countess von Georgy. The Countess recalled meeting a man of the same name and appearance in Venice, Italy approximately 40 years prior. She assumed the man to be the Count's father. St. Germain, however, claimed this man to be himself and was able to describe in detail their prior meeting. The Countess astonished and Madame de Pompadour impressed, the Count quickly won over the courts of France and eventually found himself both befriended and employed by Louis XV as a diplomatic liaison.
True to his adventurous nature, Count St. Germain did not stay in Paris for an extended period. Over the next 40 years he continued to travel throughout Europe rubbing elbows with the elite until his supposed death in Germany in the year 1784. Like his origin, many pieces of St. Germain’s death remain obscure and don’t appear to fit the puzzle of his reported life. With the Count’s “passing” he left behind no money or bank accounts in which to speak. Left behind were none of the jewels that he was so fond. There were no musical instruments that a man of his talent would be thought to own. And for a man so knowledgeable, not a single book graced his library. All that remained of the Count were a few basic items of clothing. Vexingly, if one chooses to place St. Germain’s birth in the 1700s, a death in 1784 is well past the life expectancy of the era. The above, with all of its mismatched pieces, assumes that the Count did eventually meet death. Another theory, however, is that St. Germain moved on and continued his immortal travels. In support of this are reports that many have meet and known the man well into the 1900s.
One such report involves a man who arrived in New Orleans during 1903 taking up residency in the French Quarter. His name was Jacques St. Germain. It is said that Jacques claimed to be the descendent of a once famous aristocrat who was a very popular among the French high society during the 1700s. Jacques was described as being well dressed and well spoken. Those that met him say he was exceeding charming and artful with conversational tongue. He enjoyed entertaining guests and parties were the regular occurrence. His intelligence was unmatched. His ability to speak foreign languages was remarkable. His talent with a piano and violin was awe inspiring. He was a handsome gentleman of about 45 years of age and not a single individual that attended his many parties could recall him partaking in the food.
One evening, after a long night of entertainment, St. Germain invited a young woman back to his home located on 1041 Royal Street. St. Germain advanced on the woman, working his usual charm, that is, until he tried to bite her on the neck. Startled, the woman fled and went straight to the police. When the investigators arrived at St. Germain’s place, he was nowhere to be found. What they did find, nevertheless, was a bloodstained tablecloth and copious amounts of wine. Baffled and intrigued, the police investigated further. As they examined the bottles more thoroughly they found that the wine had been mixed with blood. This discovery sent the New Orleans police department on a hunt for what they believed to be a murderer. Eventually they found their efforts to be exhausted.
Our dear Count was never found.
Renard Boissiere, Linzi Falk, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz