SIDEBAR: Interview with a Vampire

The room was empty. And I was restless. It was Sunday, and
I was sitting in the Citizens Television studio, waiting. I was
there to interview Justice, the producer of "Rave TV."
I had seen the show once. It was charming, if a bit disturbing.
And so here I was, motionless, contemplative, just waiting for
Justice.
He was 30 minutes late. I had a feeling he wouldn’t show, but
I continued to sit, thumbing through Time. I had been looking
forward to this interview for months. And I was lonely. Forty
minutes late now. A man entered the room and sat behind the front
desk. "Justice is late." Yeah, I could see that. My
patience was thinning.
I could have left, but I wanted to learn something, anything.
So I approached the guy at the desk. "Can I get a tour of
this place?" He was silent. I shifted, uncomfortable. His
left eye was lazy, his right wandered. "Sure." His
voice was deep, slurred, just garbled enough to be unintelligible.
The man’s name was Jim, a six-year veteran of Citizens Television.
He described himself as an "all-purpose man" and the
"front-desk guy." He was hulking, crooked, and friendly,
like a big parrot. He talked like Lenny, rambling on and on about
anything, everything. And he began the tour by showing me some
offices. "Here’s an office, there’s an office, and there’s
another one." Silence. We moved on.
The kitchen was next. "Anyone can use this…."
He opened an equipment closet, inviting me to step inside.
"There are a lot of things in here. We’ve got gels, cookie-
cutters…." I must have looked confused, because he
clarified. "You know, cookie-cutters … to make shapes
with the lights … we have a New York cutter, a tree one,
a snowflake one … millions of them." My life was surreal,
a nightmare.
I tried to cut the tour short by calling a taxi. But the taxi
service was running behind. I had another hour to wait, another
hour of Jim. The tour resumed. He showed me a bathroom. It was
nice enough. And I got to see the prop room. "If you film
a show in our studio you can use any of these props." There
was a pumpkin, a Tecca bike, some foam columns, and an old rug.
It was the dollar-store version of Hollywood.
The tour was odd, but nothing I saw, nothing Jim said, could
compare to Jim’s next attraction. I had asked to see a producer.
Jim was nice, sure, but I wanted to get behind the scenes. So
Jim took me to see Bob, another veteran of cTV. He used to be
a film critic; now he was dressed in denim.
I didn’t want to make small talk. I had come to discuss "Rave
TV," and I wasn’t leaving without some information. "I
do know Justice." I was moving forward for the first time
all afternoon. I begged for more, everything. I was desperate.
Bob was eager to help: "I worked with Justice when I first
came to Citizens Television. He was my instructor. He taught
me, all of us, the importance of content in television. He’s
not just a technician-he has a philosophy."
I had never seen Justice. But his image grew in my head as Bob
continued to talk. I imagined Justice in white, eating grapes,
a man among little men. "I worked with Justice on a pantomime
project of mine. I played Dracula; he was my victim. I approached
him like this." Bob was staring at my neck. "But Justice
raised his hand in a gesture of peace." Justice and peace
were one. "I kept pursuing him, despite his attempts to
start a dialogue with me. He had no choice…." Silence.
"He had to slay me."
I feigned interest. Inside, I was choking with suppressed laughter.
Bob continued. "I use pantomime to convey feminist messages."
This was too much. My amusement gave way to horror. Jim stood
on my right, Bob to my left. I thought it was over. I was the
meat in the strangest sandwich ever.
Bob invited me to watch one of his vampire skits with him. I
readily agreed, anything to move. He took me to a viewing room.
The tape began and Bob grew dramatic. "The woman I am biting
in this scene represents the retired career woman … see
how I envelop her body in my cape?" I wanted my parents.
"Ah ha!" Bob was getting violent. "I turned her
into a super vamp." The career woman has indeed changed;
the librarian was now a whore. "Look … the super vamp
takes that other woman’s hand … it’s a gesture of sisterhood."
Bob was calm, almost philosophical in the way he explained the
closing of his skit. "Now the women attack me, the patriarchal
figure … I think I can make them what they want to be. But
they are the powerful ones …." Bob stopped talking;
I could have sworn he was trembling.
The taxi had arrived. I hopped in, waved, said "thank you,"
and tried to avoid any conversation with my driver.

 

Clint Carroll, a freshman in Branford College,
is circulation and subscriptions manager for
TNJ.

More Stories
Put It to the Test