This article accompanies the fable
Beauty & the Beast
Anne Rice and Vampires
AIDS, and other blood diseases like leukemia, provide the sub-text for Anne Rice’s novels about the Vampire Lestat and the popularity of films and TV programs like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. AIDS and STDs lurk behind every teenage sexual encounter, so it seems. This may have become old news by the time Twilight rolled around, for as Stephen Marche has pointed out, now vampirism is all about how young straight women want to have sex with gay men. I think he's right.
But in Rice's case, it is all the more interesting that she chose to adapt a classic fairytale, in The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, just as AIDS was stealing on the scene. This wildly erotic fairytale trilogy was published in 1983-85, originally under the pseudonym
A. N. Roquelaure . It opens with
Beauty being awakened from her 100-year sleep by the Prince, not with a kiss, but with a deflowering or a rape, depending on your point of view (this ambiguity is in the original tale of 1634 by Giambattista Basile). From there it's BDSM all the way and the kind of risky sexual behavior that would later be blamed for the rapid spread of the disease.
Nowadays some anti-AIDS campaign posters have tried to be more horrific than the movies and TV shows. This is from a French campaign and no question it got everyone's attention...