Vampire of the Avalon
There really was one of those vampires in San Francisco in those days. In those
days there was one of everything. I would have verified it except I got distracted.
My best friend was the one who told me about this vampire. My friend was now a
hippie society lady. Lauren was very beautiful and her blond hair was long enough
at the right time and her aura, fairy child, enveloped everyone for all those
Lauren had heard the tale of this vampire fellow and seeming him one day on the
streets made her shudder and whisper it to me. He was a vampire, a devil person,
and he had driven his old lady mad and she was in an institution. But he just
walked around normally because not many people knew about it. He certainly looked
normal to me, short, pale-skinned, ponytail, beard, nothing strange, but of course
I didn't get a chance to see his eyes from across the street. Did he see us talking
and staring? He acted not. He was the mailman for our neighborhood, very cool
Lauren said he worked on the light show at the Avalon Ballroom and we decided
to try and see him in a mirror there. Big Brother was going to be there that night
and we could go and expose him to ourselves and know for sure, him touching people's
mail. It was very exciting. We didn't even have time to get dressed up, we rushed
to the bus. I took my lipstick which had a little mirror on it to watch what you
It was a good night and things were humming along. Big Brother's set would be
next and I wandered around very nervous about what we were doing there. I watched
the puppet show upstairs for a while, I was the only one watching, it was a very
complicated dialogue. I didn't get it. So weird to think it was Dimitrius in there
making puppets jump around and his ex-wife one of my good friends and I stood
there knowing why they broke up. There were egg rolls and fruit and tables and
chairs to lounge on the balcony all around to watch the show if you didn't want
to dance or were dealing. There was the ladies' room which was always jammed and
feeling like the Forties debutante ball, everyone shimmering and beautiful to
themselves in the bathroom mirror.
Lauren and I felt sort of strange, not with men, we just wanted to find out. Down
on the dance floor we mingled around. The light show was on now to the music,
playing on the ballroom walls, antique movie clips, pictures of flowers and sea
creatures and mountains with bubbles and swirls over the top all moving around,
pulling you around. It came from the balcony where the light show guys were working
their equipment, their eyes always on the walls. The vampire was there right in
front, short, gentle-looking. I felt foolish to peek at him in my mirror now.
We were far away to the opposite wall. I turned my back and held up my lipstick
and tried to find him. But I couldn't. Between us and him was a strobe light hanging
down flashing. And the music and color and walls moving around and I couldn't
get him in view over my shoulder. I decided to go closer but Lauren was afraid.
When I got almost right under the balcony where he was, it put me under the influence
of the strobe. I turned up the mirror and caught my own reflection it it. I blew
myself right away.
My face looked very ghastly, I was a lizard woman, my freckles were luminous splotches,
my eyes were laser beams, painful. It was a blow, a second ago on the other side
of the room I was in control, looking fine, now I was a variegated creature. People
dancing nearby would flash on me and say nicely, wow, you sure look freaky, isn't
it weird? But I was learning to be pretty rational and strong in those days and
so it didn't destroy my head. I began to dig it, to see me in the glass a stranger,
a friend, a reptile. I smiled and laughed, dancing around to the light and the
lipstick and Lauren came over and said did you see him, and I said no, I forgot.
We looked up and he was gone.
Mt. Charleston, Nevada
from: The Rolling Stone magazine write-in on the Sixties,1976
a second ago on the other side of town