A lesbian is a woman with big boobs who drinks another woman's blood. That's what I knew for sure when I was twelve years old.
More often than not, both women are naked, both women are pretty, and one woman ends up with blood on her boobs.
I didn't know much at the age of twelve, but I did know what a lesbian was.
I knew more than my mother at that age because I knew what a lesbian was and she didn't.
"What's a lesbian?" I asked her one night while I was drying dishes and she was washing.
She stopped scrubbing a pan and turned to me. "Where did you hear that word?"
"I don't know -- somewhere," I replied. "What is it?"
"What's a lesbian?"
I wanted to hear her say it. I wanted to hear the words 'A woman with big boobs who drinks another woman's blood' coming from my mother's mouth.
My mother turned back to her dirty dishwater. "I don't know," she said. "And we don't need to know."
WE DON'T NEED TO KNOW?
Hey, mum, I already know, OK? It's just too bad that you don't know. Now I know more than you.
And that was that.
I never asked the question again.
Thanks to books like Rose London's Zombie - The Living Dead, David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema (from which these scans were taken) and Alan Frank's Horror Movies, my education in the culture that mattered was a little ahead of my peers, and my parents.
To be fair, I think my dad had some idea about lesbians because I did find an old porn mag under the seat of his car one Sunday morning before church. It was a homegrown, Aussie effort called Bawdy, and there were pictures of girls kissing girls inside it. No blood, though. Clearly, my dad's lesbians weren't as cool as my lesbians, although they still had that big boob thing going on.
Many years later, I would learn that lesbians come in different shapes and sizes. Many of those shapes and sizes were not to my liking. I don't know what happened to the real lesbians of my pre-teen years. Did they move to a lesbian island where they could drink blood and romp naked all night long? Did they all have stakes driven through their hearts.
Something else I knew for sure when I was ten was that lesbians only had one thing to fear -- that thing was a stake. For reasons I couldn't fathom, there were men out there who didn't like lesbians. These men didn't have normal jobs, or wives, or kids, and they didn't play sports. Nope, these men chased lesbians with stakes. When they cornered these poor girls, they hammered those stakes into their hearts -- often through their naked boobs. They needed to see boobs while hammering.
I knew this because I had pictures of it. Disturbing pictures. Bloody pictures. Pictures that, for some strange reason, made me want to see more pictures.
The new lesbians of my teen years, of the late 70's, sometimes appeared on the six o' clock news. They looked like my dad's friends, had short hair, wore wife-beater singlets, and lifted their arms to show something my lesbians wouldn't be caught undead with. They didn't appear to drink blood, they didn't have big boobs, and they enjoyed walking down the street in defiant groups carrying "GIrl Power" placards. I'm not sure what Jean Rollin, a man I associated with lesbians, thought of these new lesbians, but he must have been sad that OUR lesbians had been replaced.
I was exposed to Jean Rollin years before I saw a single, solitary frame of his films. Rollin was a name I associated with vampires and lesbians from the get-go. I didn't understand the titles of his films, but I sure understood the images.
The posters of Rollin's films were like relics from another world. It was world called France, and it was world where lesbians roamed the countryside in pursuit of blood, boobs, and necks.
I knew about France because I'd shown my mother some Rollin posters and asked her what they said. She never knew, even though she spoke some French, but she did tell me that the posters were from France.
"Can we go to France?" I asked her many times.
"Why do want to go there?!" she'd retort. A question was always answered with a question in my house.
"I want to meet Jean Rollin." (I pronounced his name 'Gene')
"Who's Jean Rollin?"
"Can we go?"
"I asked you what for?"
Did I dare reveal my plan?
Aaahhh, why not, perhaps she'd be sympathetic.
"I want to meet the lesbians."
My mother didn't disguise her awkwardness with my use of the unspeakable "L" word.
"What are you talking about? You don't know any lesbians in France."
I smiled. "That's why I want to go. I need to meet them."
A shake of the head ended my plans. "You won't be meeting anybody anywhere, son."
I was devastated.
She yelled: "I thought you had homework to do?!"
Although my trip to France to meet lesbians was canceled before it even began, my pursuit of Mr. Jean Rollin didn't end. Decades later, I would become the proud owner of special DVD editions of his glorious films, and I'd finally get to see those real lesbians in action.
What Jean Rollin taught me about cinema is that anything is possible. That's why we like cinema so much. It's the way we dream awake.
Thanks, Mr. Rollin, and thanks to all you real lesbians, wherever you are these days.