Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 2022
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): French
(Notes-The informant will be referred to as JW and the interviewer as K)
Background info: JW is a father and grandfather who was born and raised in New Orleans, moving to Los Angeles to follow his son, whom he now resides with. I was told this story in the evening in a room that JM made “purposefully spooky”
K: So whats the name of the folklore, where did you hear it, and when is it like told?
JW: *laughter* Well miss, it’s a true story about a voodoo queen named Marie Laveau. Everyone just knows it, some say that’s part of her magic still at work, that no one can forget her. *laughter*
K: *laughter* Ok so, whenever you’re ready! Go into as much or as little detail as you want
JW: You sure miss? It gets gruesome
K: Part of the charm of folklore
JW: *laughter* you right you right. Miss Marie Laveau was a voodoo queen *stretches out the word queen for emphasis*. She could do anythin under our God-given sun, even make herself live twice as long *smiles*. She was-she was said to curse those who had wronged her in the most brutal ways. I remember when I was a boy an uh…one of my friends told me that his great somethin grandma was cursed by Miss Laveau. She had stolen something from her shop, so Miss Laveau stole somethin from her…*long pause* her right hand! The one that did the snatchin! *laughter*. That’s the kinda stuff she did, so everyone with half a mind was smart enough not to cross her. It’s said that to this day if you visit her grave, you can get a wish granted if you leave her somethin nice.
It was really interesting to hear a more well-known bit of folklore be told from an original point of view. What I mean by that is JM is from New Orleans, and although Marie Laveau is known from more popular culture like American Horror Story, this telling was drastically different than the one in the aforementioned television show. I also thought it was important to note the joy in which this story was told to me. JM was laughing regularly as he told me the story, even the more grisly parts of it. He set up the room I was speaking to him in a traditionally scary way, but when it came to the story it was as if he couldn’t contain his joy. The story obviously had lost its scare factor as people get older. He notes being scared by the version his friend told him when he was younger but laughed telling me it.