Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife & Other Plays

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom; Pycho Beach Party; The Lady in Question; Red Scare on Sunset; The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

by Charles Busch

“An uproarious, window-rattling comedy of midlife malaise . . . Busch demonstrates a sure gift for hearty comedy. . . . The Allergist’s Wife earns its wall-to-wall laughs.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 368
  • Publication Date January 19, 2001
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3785-2
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9641-5
  • US List Price $17.00

About The Book

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, one of the longest-running plays in Off-Broadway history, Psycho Beach Party, and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife have earned Charles Busch renown for his ability to weave popular culture, wicked camp humor, and biting social satire into unusual and uproarious theater. Busch has been acclaimed as the premiere drag star of the American theater, and his work has earned him the Outer Critics’ John Gassner Award for Playwriting and a Drama Desk Award for Best Play nomination. He has been called “a first-class satirist and farceur” (Mimi Kramer, The New Yorker).

Praise

“A comic playwright of the first rank.” —New York Daily News

“An uproarious, window-rattling comedy of midlife malaise . . . Busch demonstrates a sure gift for hearty comedy. . . . The Allergist’s Wife earns its wall-to-wall laughs.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“[A playwright of] extensive good humor, skill and wicked comic daring.” —Michael Feingold, The Village Voice

“An intelligently funny satirically relevant uptown comedy.” —John Simon, New York

Excerpt

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
PROLOGUE

Sodom in days of old. Two muscular, handsome GUARDS are standing sentry before the entrance to a forbidding cave.

ALI
Who goes there?

HUJAR
You needn’t fear, Ali. No one ventures near this spot save for madmen and fools.

ALI
Including you and me.

HUJAR
Yes, but we are clever fools. For our deed today, we shall receive a kingly sum.

ALI
If we live to spend it.

HUJAR
The creature we guard desires nothing of the likes of you. The Succubus thrives upon the blood of young virgins.

ALI
A rare delicacy, eh?

HUJAR
You must be new to these parts. Where do your people hail from?

ALI
I hail from Ishbar, in Asia Minor. You know, the fertile crescent.

HUJAR
So what brings you to Sodom?

ALI
Don’t scoff, but I’ve come to seek my fortune.

HUJAR
Then my friend, you’ve made a wise move. This city has everything. It never sleeps. Have you been to the bars?

ALI
No, I’m living out in Gomorrah.

HUJAR
Gomorrah?

ALI
Hujar, I don’t want to offend you but I’m really not into bars. I’m looking for a relationship.

HUJAR
Then my man, you shouldn’t have moved to the twin cities.

A cock crows.

HUJAR
The cock has crowed. It’s time to begin. The Succubus demands its breakfast.

ALI
Have you ever seen the Succubus?

HUJAR
No one has, except for the virgin sacrifice and obviously, they never live to tell. We had best begin. The sleeping potion will wear off; the virgin will awake and we’ll have a lot of explaining to do. You wait here, I’ll bring her in. (He exits. Hujar returns carrying in his arms the beautiful young VIRGIN.) Quite a beauty, isn’t she? A pity she is to be sacrificed.

ALI
Hujar, she stirs.

HUJAR
That cannot be. The potion should last an hour more. Damn the Gods, let’s get out of here.

The girl begins to wake in his arms.

GIRL
No, Papa, I don’t want to play. Please, don’t make me. (She awakes.) Where am I? Who are you? Please sir, release me.

He puts her on her feet. The virgin is indeed beautiful but there is something about her costume and demeanor that suggests a stripper performing a burlesque sketch about vestal virgins. It could be the G-string and spike heels.

HUJAR
We are soldiers under the command of the Governor.

GIRL
My mind is such a jumble. I had such a strange dream. I dreamt there was a lottery to choose a sacrificial victim for the dreaded Succubus and I dreamed that I chose the black stone of death. You know, they say our dreams can be interpreted. They can tell us many things about ourselves. I wonder what this dream means.

HUJAR
That was no dream, that was the truth. You are the virgin sacrifice.

GIRL (Thinks they’re joking.)
You couldn’t be . . . but surely you . . . no, I . . . I couldn’t . . . It’s imposs . . . (She realizes it’s true and screams.)

HUJAR
(Grabs her around the neck.) Another peep out of you and we’ll rip your tongue out.

ALI
Hujar, be kind to the girl. These are her last moments on earth.

HUJAR
And they shall be ours if her screams bring forth the Succubus.

Ali breaks Hujar’s arm away.

GIRL
Please sir, I beg of you. If there is any shred of pity or tenderness in your heart. Please, do not deliver me to the Succubus.

HUJAR
We only follow our orders.

GIRL (To Ali.)
You, you have the eyes of a poet. Surely you cannot see it just to send me to this most horrible of deaths.

ALI
I wish there was something I could do.

HUJAR
Soldier, control yourself. You are acting weak and womanish.

GIRL
If having a kind heart is womanish, be proud of your womanhood. I implore you, sir, save me. My father has money. Aid my escape and all of his gold shall be yours.

HUJAR
Child, you have been forsaken. Your father has publicly announced his pride in your selection as food for the Goddess.

GIRL
I refuse to believe this.

ALI
It’s true. We have his sworn testimonial of acceptance.

GIRL
Then it is true. I am truly alone. A mere child of fourteen. Friendless, parentless, damned to this most vile fate. Tell me, my good executioners, how much time do I have?

HUJAR
But a few minutes more.

GIRL
Then permit me a moment whilst I bid farewell to my girlhood. (In a reverie.) Goodbye youth. Adieu bubbling brook of joy, rosy hope of budding romance. I bid farewell to the frothy games of catching a whippoorwill and skipping to it’s tune, lightning bugs parading their brilliance before the first evening stars. I wave goodbye to the beardless boys who breathlessly snatched a forbidden kiss and the silly girls who giggled at my follies. Goodbye dear friends. Farewell round orb.

ALI
Is there nothing Ican do to ease your pain?

GIRL
Yes, there is something you could do. Break my hymen. Rape me and I’ll no longer be a virgin fit for sacrifice.

ALI
But, I . . .

The girl rips off Ali’s loincloth and chases him around screaming “Break my hymen, break my hymen!” Hujar pushes her to the ground.

HUJAR
The child is mad. Away!

The two soldiers exit.

GIRL
I beseech thee Isis, provide me with the courage to face my destruction.

The SUCCUBUS enters in the form of a beautiful and very hardboiled dame. She is by turns very grand and also a bit cheap but most importantly, she has a very big chip on her shoulder.

GIRL
Run! Save yourself! The creature is about to emerge.

SUCCUBUS (Irritated.)
Hey, hey, hey! Where are you going?

GIRL
Woman, have you lost your senses?

SUCCUBUS
Not that I’m aware of.

GIRL
Who are you?

SUCCUBUS
Give a guess.

GIRL
An actress?

SUCCUBUS
Guess again.

GIRL
Are you a trollop?

SUCCUBUS
I suppose you’ve never met a myth before.

GIRL (Innocently.)
No. What can I do for you, myth?

SUCCUBUS
Behold my magnificence, for I am the dreaded Succubus!

GIRL
How can pure evil be embodied by such beauty?

SUCCUBUS
How much easier to lure you into my arms. Come, child.

GIRL
Vile thing, what right have you to demand my death?

SUCCUBUS (Angrily.)
Do I not also have the right to life? As you need food and water so I need the pure unsullied blood of virgins.

GIRL
What proof have you of my maidenhead? What if I told you I was the village slut, a repository for every man’s seed in Sodom?

SUCCUBUS
I’d say you were a big fat liar. Now get in that cave. I’m freezing my ass off in this draft.

GIRL
I’m afraid to die.

SUCCUBUS (With great self pity.)
That’s nothing to be afraid of. Think how much crueler my fate, never to die, condemned to immortality. The perennial witness to the eternal passing parade. My cave is quite the lonely one.

GIRL
Forgive me if I don’t weep.

SUCCUBUS
A spitfire, eh. But why should you pity me? I’m a goddess. You look around and see the glamorous way I live. My slaves, my riches, my dishware. But try throwing a dinner party for two pinheads and a cyclops. True, I have caskets full of sparkling jewels but where the fuck can I wear them. My life stinks. The only enjoyment I get is a vestal virgin now and then but time goes on and I survive. And how, how you may wonder do I face the prospect of a millenium of time on my hands? What keeps me going is a sense of humor. I giggle, I chuckle, I even guffaw but inside I weep. It’s the age old story, laugh, Succubus, laugh.

GIRL (Sarcastically.)
If you’re so unhappy, why don’t you leave Sodom?

SUCCUBUS
And go where, pray tell, get married, have a couple of kids, turn my cave into a split level? The Gods owe me an answer. Deliver me an answer! I demand an answer!

GIRL
Counseling. Seek good counsel from the High Priest and then hie thee hither, you bloodsucking old bag!

SUCCUBUS
Child, I must say I am impressed by your fortitude. If you were a fellow Succubus, I might even be afraid of you. But you are not. You will look into my eyes and all thought of defiance shall vanish. Look into my eyes. Look into my eyes. Look into my eyes!

The girl is hypnotized by the Succubus.

SUCCUBUS
You will come to me now. (Very imperiously and most unseductively.) Seek out my warmth. Suckle at my breast.

GIRL (Crosses to the Succubus.)
Yes, yes, I shall suckle thy poisonous udder.

The Succubus lunges toward the girl and drinks her blood ravenously.

BLACKOUT

SCENE 2
Hollywood, 1920. The drawing room of La Condesa’s spectacular mansion high in the Hollywood hills. KING CARLISLE, a handsome, young matinee idol is pacing back and forth.

ETIENNE, La Condesa’s extremely nervous butler enters.

ETIENNE
Young man, you will have to leave at once. Madame La Condesa is incommunicado.

KING
You have kept me waiting for over an hour. I demand to see La Condesa. Why won’t she see me?

ETIENNE
Madame is ruled by her caprices.

KING
This is intolerable. Sir, don’t you know who I am?

ETIENNE
Are you here to fix the victrola?

KING
I take it you never go to the movies.

ETIENNE
I only see Madame’s films.

KING
I am King Carlisle, the newest and biggest male star in silent pictures. She can’t treat me this way.

ETIENNE
My good man, only yesterday Madame received Winston Churchill, Monsieur Diaghilev and the King of Spain. King Carlisle? Small potatoes.

KING
Well, Monsieur Le Butler, I consider your mistress even smaller potatoes. Furthermore, I am not impressed by her phoney title, Madame La Condesa Scrofula de Hoya, indeed. Surely she knows that the studio has brought the great stage actress, Madeleine Astarté out to Hollywood and is grooming her as Magda’s rival.

ETIENNE
Magda Legerdemain is a great artist with the divine spark, Madeleine Astarté: pure hambone.

KING
You must help me. I have nothing against your mistress. I merely wish to save my fiancée Renee from her clutches. Renee is an innocent. She is new to Hollywood. She doesn’t recognize corruption when she sees it. I must save her from La Condesa.

ETIENNE
What have you to fear?

KING
There are so many rumors surrounding Magda Legerdemain. Rumors that she’s not only a vamp but . . . a vampire.

ETIENNE
Excuse me, I must go. It’s time to run Madame’s leopards in Griffith Park.

He tries to leave. King stops him.

KING
You’re hiding something from me.

ETIENNE (Screams.)
Don’t touch me! I will tell you this. You have entered a mad household. This isn’t hair on my head, these are nerve endings.

KING
Then why do you work here?

ETIENNE
Who else but Madame would employ me? You don’t recognize me, do you?

KING
No, who are you?

ETIENNE
Suffering has changed my face as completely as a surgeon’s scalpel. I will tell you this, Baby Kelly Ambrose lives!

KING
Surely you’re not Baby Kelly Ambrose, the hatchet wielding vaudeville child star.

ETIENNE (Breaks into a timestep and swings an imaginary hatchet.)
I did them all in after a milk fund benefit in Kokomo. I dismembered all six of them and scattered their body parts along the entire Keith-Orpheum circuit. Only one person would aid my escape from the lunatic asylum and that was La Condesa and for her sake, I would gladly strike again.

KING
Oh dear, I must remove Renee from this bedlam.

RENEE VAIN runs on and speaks to Etienne. Renee is a lovely ingenue in the Mary Pickford mode but with the toughness of a Ma Barker.

RENEE
Etienne, La Condesa would like . . . (Sees King.) King, what on earth are you doing here?

KING
My dearest darling, I’m here to talk some sense into you.

RENEE
Please, go away. You don’t understand.

KING
I understand all too well.

RENEE (With mad vitality.)
No, you don’t. You want me to lead a quiet, dreary life as your wife. Well, that’s not why I came to Hollywood. I want to live! I want to drive my roadster faster than anyone else on the road. I want to stay up all night, drinking whiskey and dancing on table tops. (Laughs with wild abandon.) I’m young, let me be reckless!

KING
My darling, I fear for you.

RENEE
Etienne, could you leave us alone for a moment?

ETIENNE
If you think that’s wise. (He exits.)

RENEE (As tough as nails.)
King, you nincompoop, you’re going to spoil everything. This dame’s my entree to the big wigs in this burgh. She knows everyone. We had breakfast with Wallace Reid, lunch with Alma Rubens, tea with Clare Kimball Young and dinner with Rod La Rocque. This place is a social gold mine and I’m reaping in the nuggets. I got me three screen tests lined up for next week.

KING
But I know people. I could help you.

RENEE (Disdainfully.)
Oh, a lot of help you are. You got me tossed off the DeMille picture. You didn’t think I knew that, did you?

KING
The role was cheap and degrading.

RENEE
Let me be cheap and degraded, I’m an actress! I’ve had enough of you butting into my career, you great big buddinsky!

He reaches for her.

RENEE
Don’t touch me. You repulse me. When I think of your feeble attempts to make love to me, I laugh. Do you hear me, I laugh. (Explodes in hysterical laughter.)

KING (Shakes her violently.)
Stop it! Stop it! This isn’t you, this isn’t my Renee.

RENEE (Suddenly lovely and vulnerable.)
King, I don’t know what came over me. That was a different girl speaking. Some strange power overtook me and made me say those cruel words. Can you forgive me?

KING
Of course darling. I must get you out of this mansion. Can’t you smell the presence of evil?

LA CONDESA [Condaysa] enters garbed in the barbaric excesses of silent screen vamps. She is of course the Succubus from Sodom looking not a day older.

LA CONDESA
Mr. Carlisle, you smell the presence of evil? Perhaps you are mistaking it for my perfume. If you are, it’s expensive evil, fifty dollars an ounce. Now state your business.

KING
I demand that you give up Renee.

LA CONDESA (With flamboyant levity.)
Give her up? I see no handcuffs, I see no chains.

KING
I believe she is under your spell. I’ve heard tales of the stream of young girls who pass through these portals. Young starlets who are never heard of again. Where are those starlets? You are an affront to everything that’s good and decent in this country.

LA CONDESA
Are you casting aspersions on my patriotism. I’ll have you know, in the last war, I was a captain in the Medical Corps, I had twenty nurses under me. Now Renee, would you inform Mister Carbunckle, I mean Mr. Carlisle, what terrible evil we’re up to.

RENEE
La Condesa is giving me acting lessons. Tonight, she’s going to teach me how to play a passionate love scene.

KING
I can’t bear this torment. Don’t you know what she is?

RENEE
A very nice lady?

KING (With self-righteous fury.)
This very nice lady drinks the blood of young virgins. Yes, I know the truth about you, Madame La Condesa. I know you had to flee Europe because of the rumors of your evil ways. And here you are corrupting every virgin in Hollywood.

LA CONDESA
Slim pickings I must say. If I were interested in virgins, why the hell would I come to Hollywood? My friend, you’ve seen too many motion pictures.

KING
I am not your friend. I spit on your friendship! (He spits on the floor.)

LA CONDESA (Mad as a hornet.)
Spit on my friendship but not on my rug!

KING
I will, I will if that will save my Renee. (Spits several times.)

LA CONDESA (With great vulgarity.)
You clam one more time and there’s gonna be hell to pay. Etienne! Clean up this mess.

Etienne runs in.

LA CONDESA
Now look here you . . .

ETIENNE
Madame, Miss Carewe from the Hearst newspapers will be here momentarily. Don’t you think you should be composing yourself?

LA CONDESA
Yes, I must compose myself before that nosy bitch arrives. Mr. Carlisle, the door is that way.

KING
I am not leaving. I shall be here when Oatsie Carewe arrives and I shall provide her with some juicy gossip for her column.

RENEE (Angrily.)
You wouldn’t!

ETIENNE
Madame, shall I call the police?

LA CONDESA
No, let him stay. And let him repeat this slander. It shall only add fuel to my legend.

Doorbell rings.

LA CONDESA
That must be Miss Carewe. Show her in, Etienne. Etienne exits.

RENEE
King, I wish you would get the point that you’re not wanted here.

ETIENNE (Enters.)
Madame Madeleine Astarté.

LA CONDESA (Aghast.)
Astarté!

RENEE
What’s she doing here?

LA CONDESA
Tell her to go away. Tell her I’m not receiving.

MADELEINE ASTARTÉ [Astartay] enters in the grand manner. She is none other than the virgin from Sodom, now the dazzling grande dame of the New York stage.

MADELEINE
Balderdash, La Condesa. I’ve traveled all the way from New York just to see you.

LA CONDESA
You must not flatter me. All Hollywood knows of your million dollar contract.

MADELEINE (With gaiety.)
Million point five. The point five darlings is to keep me in mascara. (Laughs and looks at Etienne next to her. She does a big burlesque double take at his deadpan expression.)

LA CONDESA
Madame Astarté, I would love to offer you tea but unfortunately I’m expecting Oatsie Carewe any minute for an in-depth profile.

MADELEINE
Oh, I must stay for that. I do so want to get to know you better. Besides this will dispel all those awful rumors that we’re rivals. How absurd, you and I rivals, we’re entirely different. I’m sort of an elegant grande dame, perhaps a tad too aristocratic for my own good. But you have this marvelous, extraordinary vulgarity. An exhilarating streak of the gutter.

LA CONDESA (Lightly bitchy.)
Thank you Madeleine and if I can be of any help to you because you know, acting for the screen is a special art. You can’t be as hammy and grotesque as you’ve been on the stage.

MADELEINE
I so appreciate your offer, Contessa.

LA CONDESA (Cordially correcting her.)
Condesa [Condaysa] Dear, have they chosen your first vehicle?

MADELEINE
Yes, I am to do the life of Madame DuBarry.

LA CONDESA
You must be mistaken. I am to play DuBarry. My costumes are all made.

MADELEINE
We had to take in the waist a little. Lay off the paté, Cunt-tessa.

LA CONDESA (Angrily.)
Condesa! [Condaysa]

MADELEINE
After the DuBarry picture, for a change of pace, I shall do the title role of Peter Pan.”Fly with me Wendy to the stars.”

LA CONDESA
But I was supposed to play that role. I am Peter Pan!!

MADELEINE
Darling, you’ve been replaced. Studio wags have been saying your box office is sinking faster than your bustline.

LA CONDESA
You conniving, manipulative . . .

MADELEINE
The studio’s been so kind. They gave me dressing room A.

LA CONDESA
My dressing room?

MADELEINE
And that divine dresser, Mamacita. She’s such a . . .

LA CONDESA
Not Mamacita.

MADELEINE
And I found this adorable little pooch wandering lost on the back lot.

LA CONDESA (Wildly.)
She stole my dog! The bitch stole my schnauzer! You won’t get away with this treachery!

KING
Madame Astarté, she has the devil on her side.

LA CONDESA
I’ll fix you, I’ll fix you by all the powers that be!

RENEE
What will you do?

LA CONDESA (With intense frustration.)
I’m calling my agent! (She exits.)

ETIENNE
Oh dear! (Follows her out.)

KING
Madeleine, I fear for your life. You may think me mad but I have reason to believe La Condesa is one of the undead.

MADELEINE
No darling, she just looks like death. (To Renee.) But you, my dear, you look much livelier. I don’t believe we’ve met.

RENEE
My name is Renee Vain. I’m a new contract player at the studio.

MADELEINE
How perfectly divine. You have such a lovely face. Profile. Ah, yes.

KING
We’re engaged to be married.

MADELEINE
Pish posh. An actress must be married to her art. Men, ugh. (Shudders.) Thespis shall be your lover.

RENEE
That’s what La Condesa says.

MADELEINE
Does she? I suppose you and La Condesa are quite intimate.

RENEE
I love her so much.

MADELEINE
Yes, an older woman can be such a comfort to a young girl. I can tell you are a superb actress and we must play together. I know the perfect vehicle. I’ve just optioned a new book on an old subject. The story of Sappho. I play Sappho, a noble Greek woman, passionate, vibrant, a sexual revolutionary and you, my fair one, you shall play her lesbian lover . . . (Searches for a name.) Rusty.

RENEE
Rusty?

MADELEINE
I can see the scene. The cameraman lining up the shot. The director calls “Action,” the off-screen violinist commences to play. Sappho sees Rusty coming out of the Parthenon, the wind tossing her hair away from her face. Sappho slips her arm around Rusty’s waist and silently they . . .

RENEE
But I don’t . . .

MADELEINE
I said silently, they walk down a dark winding street. It’s the street where Sappho lives with her grandmother, um uh. . . Lillian. The street is empty. Everyone being at the Olympic games. They look into each other’s eyes. Rusty finds herself yielding to the older woman’s incandescent beauty. Cameras pan in for a tight shot. They kiss.

They kiss and then Astarté bites Renee’s neck until the girl faints.

MADELEINE
Kill the lights, call it a wrap.

KING (In shock.)
You . . . you . . . you’re a vampire!

MADELEINE
I don’t suppose you have a handkerchief.

KING
She devil! Fiend! You’ve killed my Renee.

MADELEINE
Nah, she’ll come to, but let’s say I’ve taken the bloom off the peach.

KING
I’ll expose you, I’ll expose you as the monster you are.

MADELEINE (Coolly.)
I wouldn’t talk about exposing anyone if I were you.

KING
What do you mean?

MADELEINE
I happen to know King Carlisle’s not your real name.

KING
So, many stars change their names.

MADELEINE
I happen to know your real name is Trixie Monahan and five years ago the coppers tossed you in the sex tank for impersonating a woman.

KING
Drag is a perfectly legitimate theatrical tradition.

MADELEINE
That may well be true but not on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

KING
I’d be ruined if anyone knew of my past. I’ll be forced to kill myself.

MADELEINE
There are other alternatives.

KING
Such as?

MADELEINE
You can be my personal slave.

KING
What would you expect of me?

MADELEINE
Lots of things. Escort me to premieres, wash my car, rinse out my dirty panties, but don’t you dare let me catch you wearing them. I get plenty mad.

He collapses into despair. La Condesa enters.

LA CONDESA
What is this? What have you done to her? Now you’ve really gone too far. You imagine yourself quite the cunning vixen. You have delusions that you can conquer me. Though I have always found you vulgar, I have never taken you for a fool, until now. Hollywood is my town. For centuries, you have been an albatross around my neck. First in Rome, I claimed as my bride, the most beautiful of Caligula’s courtesans. She was mine until you stole her away to China. Then there was the nun in the dark ages who became my personal slave, stolen once again. We all know what treachery you conspired against me during the Spanish Inquisition but I triumphed. And did I plot revenge? No. Then in the sixteenth century, I had as my mistress, the most desired of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting. You, the ever present vulture snatched her off to the colonies. Even then, did I choose revenge? No. And why? Because I am a great lady. I conduct myself with dignity and grandeur whilst you roll in the gutter, parading your twat onstage and calling it acting. You’ve got as much glamour as a common street whore and now madame, you have gone too far. I am the queen of vampires and I shall never, never relinquish my hold on Hollywood!

MADELEINE
Are you through? As you desire to relive the past, shall we travel even further back in time. Many centuries ago, back in the days of the Bible, there was a young girl, a mere child of fourteen, a lovely girl, full of high spirits. A lottery was held to choose a sacrificial victim for the dreaded Succubus. As fate would have it, she chose the black stone of death. She was dragged by soldiers to the cave of the creature and there left to her desecration. The monster emerged and there under a Godless sky, the creature dug its teeth into the girl’s fair flesh. Having gorged itself, the monster retired to its cave, leaving the girl’s body to be pecked and devoured as carrion. But the girl did not die. The monster in its fury did not even notice that all the while it was sucking the girl’s blood, the child herself had lodged her teeth into a vein of the monster. In her terror she drank. More and more she filled herself with the creature’s fluid. And there on that bleached rocky point, left to rot like a piece of old meat, the girl did not die but was transformed, transformed into one of the undead, never to find eternal rest but to stalk the earth forever in search of a victim, forever alone, forever damned. Look at me, I am that girl! And I demand the death of the Succubus!

ETIENNE (Enters.)
Miss Oatsie Carewe of the Hearst Newspapers.

OATSIE (Enters–a middle-aged gossip columnist garbed in the matronly but bohemian manner of Madame Elinor Glyn.)
Darling! And Madeleine Astarté too. What a marvelous surprise. Who’d have thought you two gals would be chums. And they say Hollywood is a heartless town. Magda, I adore the dress. It does wonders for your figure, so concealing. And Madeleine, I just know that must be a Paris creation. I must have a description of it for my column.

LA CONDESA
Oatsie darling, may I get you some tea?

OATSIE
No, no, never touch the stuff. Okay girls, straight from the hip. My readers just gobble up movie star romance. Madeleine, love blooming anywhere?

MADELEINE
As my dear friend Gertrude Stein says, “My mystery is a mystery is a mystery.”

OATSIE
Hmmm. I wonder if any man has ever pierced your enigma.

MADELEINE (Tough.)
Let him try.

OATSIE
And you Magda, a man in your life?

LA CONDESA
I still mourn my late husband, the Count Scrofula de Hoya. (With a heavy castilian lisp.) How I long for our life in Barthelona. A thity thaturated with thenuality.

OATSIE (Sees King and Renee.)
What’s this, King Carlisle, Renee Vain, two stars of tomorrow?

LA CONDESA
Oatsie, we were having cocktails and these two lapped up the hootch like hogs at a trough. Look at them, out cold, stinko. I guess I’ve seen it all.

MADELEINE
You certainly have. The poor dear’s been around the block so many times, she’s been mistaken for a taxi.

OATSIE
Madeleine, I want to give you a real Hollywood welcome. I just insist you come to my house for dinner. I’m a demon in the kitchen and you come too, Magda, I insist. What shall I make? A goulash, a nice thick goulash, a native dish of Transylvania. Ever been there Magda?

LA CONDESA
Can’t say I have. No doubt, Madeleine has on one of her theatrical tours.

MADELEINE
Not Transylvania. Pennsylvania. Played the Schubert in Altoona.

OATSIE
I adore a good goulash, spiced with plenty of garlic. Either of you have an aversion to garlic?

LA CONDESA
I must confess. I have a dreadful allergic reaction to garlic. Strictly entre nous, I get terrible chafing.

MADELEINE
Indeed, when she lived in Spain, she couldn’t keep her legs together for years.

OATSIE
Ah Spain. The bullfights, the flamenco dancers, the magnificent cathedrals. One of my great passions is collecting models of the crucifixion. (She takes out a cross.) This, Condesa, is a Florentine cross, blessed by the brothers of Santa Giovanna.

The two vampires recoil and twitch with frenzy. Renee awakes.

KING
Ah Renee, my precious.

RENEE
I must have been dreaming. I dreamt I was being devoured by a horrid black bat. (Sees Madeleine and screams.) It was you, it was you!

MADELEINE
Can’t you shut her up?

OATSIE
You can’t shut out the truth.

MADELEINE
What the . . .

She turns to Oatsie. Oatsie flashes the cross at her causing Madeleine’s hips to bump like a burlesque stripper.

OATSIE
I’ve studied your evil legends all my life, I know you both very well but you don’t know me. Let me introduce myself. (She flings her coat open and throws it to the floor, revealing a man’s military jacket covered with medals and polkadotted boxer shorts. She throws off her hat and wig uncovering a shining bald pate. In a thick German dialect.) I am Gregory Salazar, vampire hunter! God in all of his mercy has cast me in the role of avenging angel to rid the world of your filth.

LA CONDESA
You silly little man, you have no power over us. You shall long be dust while we are forever young.

He shows her the cross and she too begins to twitch wildly.

SALAZAR
At this very moment, the Los Angeles police are surrounding this mansion. The fire department is spraying the walls with holy water. We’ve got you cornered. Daughters of Lucifer, your reign of death is over. We shall hold you both in this room until the sun rises, the sun which will transform you both into ancient hags and then decaying skeletons and then dust. I will sweep the dust into the gutter with the rest of the swill. From there your remains will float down the pipes into the public sewer where no one will know the difference between your ashes and the rest of the waste products of the Greater Los Angeles Area.

MADELEINE
La Condesa, have you the power to evoke the cry of the banshee?

LA CONDESA I know the ritual but I’ve never achieved it.

SALAZAR
You do not frighten us with your primitive black magic.

LA CONDESA/MADELEINE
Flee from Hades, spirits rare.
We free you from your devils lair,
Paint our victims a deep blood red,
Banshees, phantoms, vampires dead.

SALAZAR
Breathe your last, Brides of Beelzebub!

LA CONDESA/MADELEINE
Far, far into the night
Remove this enemy from our sight
Burn his flesh till it’s black with char,
The vampire killer, Salazar!

Salazar’s face grows grotesque as he writhes in agony.

KING
Look at his face!

MADELEINE
Flee, sister, flee!

The two Vampiresses exit as Renee unleashes a bloodcurdling scream.