What’s it like to visit Bon Temps? For a small town, this Louisiana parish has got a lot going on. For one thing, the nightlife is killer – and when the last bar closes, there will always be someone game for an after hours drink. There are certainly some odd characters,the mysterious stranger who shows up one night and suddenly finds himself a target of town suspicion – all because he’s known to favor a little red wine late at night. These unconventional people play out their schemes in dim corners of town, like local bars haunted by the lurkers of the night, and large imposing chapels to hold cult-like meetings, and opulent antebellum mansions, primed for orgies between biters and people who like being bitten. Does that sound like fun? Then head on into Bon Temps.
Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, California, is a local punk bar – it looks and sounds like a punk bar. Local bands get up on the stage and sometimes they charge cover, the walls are posted over with dia de los muertos decor, red Christmas lights and neon ads; the leather stools and couch are black and red. Outside is barren, not a single sign, and the entrance is off an alley towards the back. It’s a punk bar, or a rockabilly bar, or a metal bar depending on the act. But if it didn’t happen to be a punk bar, could it possibly resemble a vampire bar? Just laying that possibility out there. After all, in the first few seasons of True Blood, Alex’s Bar changed its name into Fangtasia, found the ownership of the mysterious Eric Northman and started becoming a hangout for vampires and those who call themselves "Fangbangers." But who knows? By day, it’s Alex’s Bar, but you know what they say: Life begins at night.
The beautiful SkyRose Chapel in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier is a huge, angular hilltop sanctuary that houses a custom Quimby Pipe Organ, a wrap-around balcony and a 11,200-square-foot mausoleum that could look natural in two settings: as the Vulcan Science Academy or as the creepy congregation where its members are united in their singular hatred of vampires. Surprise! It’s both! In True Blood, the SkyRose Chapel is re-embodied as the Fellowship of the Sun (fictionally based in Dallas). The actual chapel is perched on Rose Hills and is surrounded by the Rose Hills Memorial Park – a cemetery. Spooky in general; exponentially spookier when one imagines its grounds full of the carcasses of thousands of vampires.
For every town, there’s a sheriff, but it becomes a much more complicated situation when the people in charge of enforcing the law have a prejudice against an increasing population of vamps. The melodrama heightens exponentially if the sheriff is part of a secret order of assassins that go after shapeshifters. The point is: this is no ordinary police station. Located in Hawthorne, California, this white box-shaped jail and police station is the setting for the Bon Temps Town Hall and Jail; located close to Big Patty’s PIe House – visitors can do a double-duty on location scouting and tick off two True Blood settings off the list.
We know Bill Compton is 178 years old and has a mysterious past – something about blood-fueled orgies and killing sprees – but how did he get those sweet digs? This pre-Civil War two-storey Greek Revival plantation might not exactly be next to Tall Pines cemetery in Bon Temps, but it is a Louisiana treasure. Located in De Soto Parish, Roseneath Plantation has been owned by the same family since its completion in the mid-1800s.
The gem of Mississippi, Longwood Mansion in Natchez is actually a beautiful tragedy; an unfinished six-story Antebellum edifice with a Byzantine, onion-shaped dome with 96 ornately carved columns. After the shell was completed, the Civil War broke out and the Philadelphian artisans who were working on the mansion fled to join the war efforts. Three years later, the owner died; the furniture he had ordered from every corner of Europe, including seven large marble statues from Italy, were held by British embargos. The unfinished house is now a display, untouched from the last day of construction, and now it is viewed as a stately but empty treasure. Certainly someone like Russell Edgington, the ancient vampire king of Mississippi, has the clout to call such a palace his home, but those in the know see that his majestic home is all but an intoxicating facade.