Sunday, 30 October 2011

Top ten scary movies for Halloween, and a personal freaky tale

I seem to be having a bit of a blogathon today, sorry for clogging up everybody's newsfeed!

If you aren't heading out to a big event or throwing a party this Halloween, a tried-and-tested, time-honoured Halloween activity is, of course, curling up with a horror movie and scaring yourself witless. Now, the movies I'm listing here are my PERSONAL top ten scariest; all responsible for sleepless nights and phoning my boyfriend at 3 am because 'there's something in my room'. But I am a bit of a wuss, so if you're a hardened horror fan (like my friend Mia, who seems to genuinely believe that Hostel is a comedy...) you may not turn a hair at these.

Source: The Darkest Show On Earth (Tumblr)
Model: Weeping Willow
Photo: Anathema Rose Photography

10. The Exorcist
The first and second time I watched this classic horror, it didn't scare me a bit, and I wondered what all the hype was about. The third time, I watched it with Jodie, and we had to turn it off halfway through because we were so scared. That scene where possessed Regan crawls down the stairs contorted backwards? We were clutching each other in terror and nearly screaming. Then I had to walk home alone, in the dark. o.O

9. Doomsday
I'm pretty sure that this apocalyptic freak show isn't technically a horror movie, but there's nothing much scarier than cannibals. And people getting burned alive. Not creepy in a Halloween-ish way, but scary nonetheless.

8. Silent Hill
OK, it's based on a videogame and so it doesn't pack the same thrills and chills as certain Japanese psychological horror films. It tends to divide viewers - some people think it's awful and some think it's great. Me, I just have nights when I close my eyes and see the mutilated dead guy wrapped in barbed wire dragging himself across my bedroom floor.

7. The Descent
Claustrophobic and tense, this film is set underground - which makes it perfect for all those 'scary things jumping out of the darkness' moments. Yeah, I fall for those every time. At one point I actually screamed. D'oh...

6. Mirrors
Confession: I'm scared of mirrors (and I've heard all the jokes, so save it). So this movie was guaranteed to scare me. It's a while since I saw it, but basically there is some kind of evil thing haunting a family via reflective surfaces and killing them in rather grotesque ways, by taking the form of their reflection and thereby taking control of their bodies. The woman opening her mouth so wide that it rips her own head open being the example that lingers in my nightmares.

5. 30 Days of Night
Many commentors have claimed Salem's Lot as their number one scary vampire movie. I haven't seen it, so this is mine. Proper vampires, ftw! Suitably gory.

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Between this and films like Wolf Creek, I'm developing hillbilly phobia. Stopping to help a distressed stranger on the road commits a bunch of young travellers to their particularly gruesome fates at the hands of chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. Real hide-behind-the-sofa material.

3. Outpost
Nazis are pretty scary on their own. Give them supernatural powers, make them unkillable, and then lock a bunch of poor macho morons underground with them, and you've got a cracking horror film that clearly is not going to have a happy ending. The most heart-stopping moment for me (and it's hard to pick just one) is when the mercenary main characters discover a room full of corpses in the bunker, and just at the edge of the screen you can see pale dead things writhing and twitching in the dark.

2. It
Two discs of the heebie-jeebies; I think most kids would be petrified by a yellow-eyed clown that crawls out of the drains to eat them. I'm an adult, but still scared still of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and the words 'They all float down here...' in Tim Curry's gutteral tones have me sleeping with the lights on. And yes, I check under my bed for talkative dead people most nights.

1. The Grudge
I first saw this movie circa 2006 and STILL have to turn the light on several times most nights to make sure there is no long-haired waggle-tongued creepy dead chick looming over me. No, I don't sleep much!

Admittedly, my Grudge-o-phobia was massively exacerbated during a particularly sleep-deprived period when I experienced hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Most of these were reasonably benign, such as a small person crouched under my desk and a jug hovering in midair. Unfortunately some were not, such as rolling over in the night, half-awake, and coming face to face with myself, seemingly dead. And the defining episode when I opened my eyes to see a very definitely dead, pale woman with long black hair leaning over me in bed. Not The Grudge, obviously, as I very much like to think the movie is fictional, but rather similar.

The reason why this last hallucination affected me so, apart from its obvious creepiness, was because when talking to my friend Jodie the next day, I did not mention what I assumed was a hallucination, and Jodie was in a panicked state because during the night she had seen a woman identical to my description of my 'hallucination' standing in her room. Needless to say we were both very freaked out when I mentioned the apparition I had seen.

The creep factor tripled when an acquaintance, Rosie, rang me the next day also in a state of fear because she had seen the same woman. Neither Jodie or I were especially close to Rosie and neither of us had discussed with her what we had seen.

A month or so later, Jodie saw the dark-haired woman again, this time whilst she was fully awake and sitting at her dinner table, alone in the house. This time the woman appeared lying in the doorway to the room.

No further sightings so far, but definitely the scariest set of experiences I have ever had, and so far no explanation! I don't care to suggest whether or not it was 'paranormal', possibly a mass hallucination or something, but it was certainly alarming and I'm keeping an open mind.

Anyway, back on the subject of movies. What about you guys? Which do you agree and disagree with, and what are your top-ten guaranteed terrorfest films? My horror-buff buddy Mia recommends Dead Silence, by the way.

Now that I've scared myself semi-witless, here's what I wore chilling out at home last week:

Top: birthday gift from Rowenna and Bronwyn
Jeans: £35, Criminal Damage, alt store in Southampton
Collar: £1, Double Discount pet section

Are Goth Halloween costumes offensive?

My last post about the article in Vogue Italia threw up this issue for me. I had always known that many non-Goths dabble in Goth fashion for Halloween, and to a certain extent I feel this is acceptable - there's no better place than your local alt store to source funky-coloured hair dyes, spider jewellery and fishnet tights for a Halloween-appropriate costume.

But I'm starting to think there's such a thing as a step too far. I turned my nose up last year at Poundland's Goth-branded make-up and accessories - these are bad-quality items which I feel it's unfair to brand as Goth, since most Goths would not wear poor quality make-up or rubber 'spikes', and what is the point of costume goods that don't accurately reflect that which they are meant to depict?

Pre-packaged Goth costumes are worse. Most of us are more likely to go 'awwwww!' at cute little kids in Goth or punk-styled Halloween costumes, and for young children I don't think it's a bad idea as it's a way for your teeny one to feel involved with what's going on at this time of year without running the risk of anything offensive or inappropriate (I may be on my own in this, but I just don't think that small children and fake blood are an appropriate combination).

But for adults, I'm really not sold on the whole idea. Again, there is the issue with quality - you can imagine the cringe-making moments when a Goth dressed up in their finest regalia for a night at the spooky club bumps into someone clad in a tacky polyester 'Goth' costume, smeared in ridiculous Crow wannabe make-up, who gets excited at meeting someone else in a 'Goth costume'. The embarrassment at having one's expensive velvets, elaborate make-up and overall look which took hours of time and effort compared to something in cheap panne that came out of a plastic bag in a supermarket must be quite something.

A Goth costume
Source: Google Images

An actual Goth, namely the stunning alt model ToxicTears (her blog over here)
Image used with permission.
If you compare the two images above you can see that the fabric of Toxic's dress is considerably higher quality than the thin, cheap fabric of the costume dress. A dress like Toxic's is usually chosen with time and care and therefore flatters the shape of the wearer, unlike the costume dress which is badly tailored and makes the poor model look thick-waisted. The accessories for the costume look like cheap scratchy lace and are highly unoriginal. And don't even get me started on that hemline!

OK, there are worse examples I could have chosen, but I think this one illustrates nicely the inferior fabrics, not to mention the lack of effort, that goes into 'Goth' costumes. The only useful thing about these costumes is that some have interestingly patterned mesh or lace fabrics that can be removed and used for other projects.

The second problem I have with this is that the idea of 'Goth costumes' draws that somewhat uncomfortable parallel between Goth and fancy dress. (A pet peeve of mine is that when I donate clothes to charity shops or sell them on eBay, people buy my expensive (but sadly too small) dresses and other items for fancy dress or Halloween.) It's bad enough that Whitby Gothic Weekend is frequently described in the UK press as a 'fancy dress event', but I don't particularly like the implication that the clothes I am devoted to and enjoy wearing every day are 'fancy dress'.

Sure, if you take the very literal meaning of the words 'fancy' and 'dress' - I own loads of fancy dresses! But for me they are not costumes, I am not dressing 'as' anything. The idea of putting on a costume is to make yourself look like something other than yourself, whereas Goths in all their finery are creating an ideal version of themselves. Goth clothing is an (admittedly fantastical) expression of self; everything from personality to aesthetic preferences to music taste and interests in the paranormal, a particular form of beauty (e.g. elegance or fetishistic), or a period of history can be depicted via Goth clothing. It's expressing oneself, not disguising oneself. Goth costumes also tend to play up the stereotypes we'd rather avoid - those of dark, sullen, mopey, tarty or even angry creatures who smear themselves with black lipstick and lurk about in corners.

Am I being too uptight about the rash of 'Goth costumes' on supermarket shelves? What do you guys think?

Vogue's (appallingly bad) Guide to Goth

Ah, bless the bizarrities of the Halloween season... Goth just can't seem to stay out of the media all of a sudden. In fact, even Italian Vogue has gotten in on the act, presenting its very own 'Guide to Goth Chic' (dear Vogue ed: stop trying to do me out of a job...).

Don't get me wrong, I love Vogue. I love the pretty pictures and make-up. And the perfume ads. But oh, dear, when an article about Halloween begins with the inutterably ridiculous statement that 'Halloween was invented in the USA' (?! - give me a moment to stop my eyeballs rolling after that one), I feel it's practically my duty to investigate further.

The premise of the article? Not a bad one, but... sayeth Vogue, "Likely, you will be wearing something short and revealing and flashy and culturally insensitive. Now, what kind of fashion magazine would we be if we didn't try to provide you with a few style pointers to make your Halloween less about showing skin and more about looking ghoulish, albeit in a chic way?"

I like the idea of treating Halloween with a little, well, class, but as much as I hate to say it, what could be more SUBculturally insensitive than presenting the Gothy fashion that we all adore and that many of us adhere to from day to day, and put money and hard work into, as a costume to throw on for a single evening?

Image presumably from one of the larger Goth festivals.
Source: Vogue Italia
Vogue then attempts to break down the vagiaries of Goth style, but gets it wrong from the beginning, describing teased hair as a staple of Victorian Goth. (Sure, teased hair and a Victorian dress is a beautiful look, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a staple as many Victorian Goths prefer their style to be historically accurate.)

The description of Gothic Lolita couldn't be more facepalm-worthy if it tried. See for yourselves: "One woman's fancy dress is another woman's everyday dress: Gothic Lolitas spend a considerable amount of money on custom-made clothes and accessories that make them look like Victorian child prostitutes. Whatever floats their boat." Prostitutes?! With the exception of ero-loli, Lolita fashions are about class and elegance!

Vogue then drop the Marilyn Manson card with their seemingly self-invented sub-genre, 'rock'n'roll Goth': "Marilyn Manson did it best in recent years, of course, but going as Marilyn Manson requires a lot more effort than it's worth, and in a recession who has the wherewithal to splurge on glaucoma contact lenses? A much cheaper and ultimately kind of lovable version of the Rock'n'roll Goth would be Robert Smith (black hair, teased and sprayed stiff; red lipstick, clumsily applied; panda eyes)."

Ahem. Manson's style is a sort of amalgation of Goth and glam rock, so I suppose the rock'n'roll tag could just about be applied here, but don't drag dear Mad Bob into this mess, please. As one of the people who helped inspire trad Goth style and thereby the fashion that we know today in the first place, he hardly deserves to be referred to as a 'cheaper version' of Marilyn Manson. >.<

And also, this: "Cartoon Goth – Morticia Addams; any given Cullen character in Twilight, or failing that, your average vampire bride; Samara in The Ring; Chloe Grace Moretz in Let Me in; take your pick." These examples are not 'Goths', they are CHARACTERS. Goodness gracious me!

The article rounds off on an equally sour note by describing emos as 'baby Goths' and throwing out the usual insults about 'staying in their room and wallowing'.

All things considered, I think I'd rather put up with the 'culturally insensitive' costumes this article supposedly seeks to prevent (whilst actually seeming to give women a chance to titter behind their hands at the weirdos who want to 'look like child prostitutes').

The real problem I have with this article, though, is that at the top of the page there is a slideshow of images of Goths in their most glamorously deadly festival gear. THESE ARE NOT HALLOWEEN COSTUMES OR FANCY DRESS. These are people wearing what they find beautiful, and I for one don't like to see it compared to Morticia costumes or as an example of what people should wear for Halloween. I think it's rude. Sorry, Vogue.

Goth gossip: H&M are putting out a Goth-friendly fashion line inspired by Goth character Lisbeth Salander (of the Millenium trilogy), created by the fashion designer who created Rooney Mara's look as Lisbeth in the English-language remake of the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Violent criminals are not Goth: a defence of Goth culture

In Snohomish, USA, a fifteen-year-old girl, described by witnesses as 'Goth', has been arrested for attempted murder after viciously attacking two schoolmates in the bathroom of their high school, stabbing them repeatedly with a kichen knife in a display of unprovoked violence.

The story is shocking. And sadly, it is not the first time that violent, even horrific, crimes have been connected - I believe in the overwhelming majority of cases wrongly - with the Goth subculture.

Whilst I am as alarmed by this attack as anyone else and have no wish to offend anyone, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families (both girls are severely injured but alive, although one is in critical condition), I would like to have an opportunity to defend the Goth community against its unwilling connection with such crimes.

I do not wish to give the impression that all Goths are candidates for sainthood. The fact is that Goths are people, and as such are as prone to mistakes, bad judgement, unkindness, unpleasantness and, yes, criminal behaviour as any other human being. I don't deny that there are a very small minority of Goths who have and do commit crimes; yes, there are letters in Gothic Beauty Magazine that were written in a prison cell.

However, the bloody and violent crimes most commonly attributed to Goths are not only the most unlikely of crimes to be committed by members of a group whom, by and large, could be described as intelligent, well-educated, creative and thoughtful but have rarely, if ever, been proved to have been committed by actual Goths, as opposed to those who listen to loud, aggressive music or display a penchant for black clothing, which doesn't automatically make a person 'Goth'. 

Take the well-documented example of the Columbine Massacre, when two trenchcoat-wearing industrial metal fans committed an atrocity that shocked millions. Goths worldwide suffered abuse as fallout from this act, but Harris and Klebold did not consider themselves members of the Goth subculture. The sole connections, hyped by a hysterical media, was their fandom of Rammstein (reasonably popular amongst Goths, but not a Goth band, and also enjoyed by members of several other alternative subcultures), and the wearing of black coats. Pretty much everyone owns a black coat. These examples absolutely do not make the Columbine killers Goth. They were not Goths. But it was Goths who were treated with spite and suspicion following the horrendous act of two stupid boys.

There are other examples. The tragic deaths of Jens Martin Dietz, Jodi Jones, and Karina Barduchian all have equally tenuous links with the Goth scene. I firmly believe that anyone with decent working knowledge of Goth culture would be able to see that the perpetrators of these crimes are 'goth' only by way of stereotypes and misconceptions.

The Jodi Jones case
Fourteen-year-old Jodi was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend Luke Mitchell in 2003 (Mitchell has never confessed but was convicted by jury in 2005. He has since appealed against his conviction.). Both dressed in Goth-style clothing and described themselves as Goth; however a closer look shows that Mitchell was in fact a fan of rock and metal music such as Marilyn Manson and Nirvana and had no knowledge of 'proper' Goth culture. Mitchell was a heavy cannabis user; yet many tabloids covering the case ignored this fact in relation to the murder and instead preferred to focus on his 'involvement' with a 'spooky Goth cult'.

The Jens Dietz case
Jens Martin Dietz, also 14, died in 1997 after falling into a diabetic coma at a house party hosted by a teenager described as 'Goth'. Allegedly the 'Goth' teenagers at the party ignored the signs of trouble after Dietz ran out of insulin, and when he fell unconscious did not call an ambulance or the police but dragged him into the garage and put him in the back seat of the family car, where they left him.

Dietz died. The partyers gathered in the garage 'to look at the body' where they apparently placed some sort of medallion on his chest and held 'a howling ritual'. (?!) Dietz's death only came to light when an older relative of one of the kids discovered the body.

Goth culture came under some scrutiny following this case due to the bizarre-ness of the teens' behaviour, and because Dietz's mother, Brenda Patterson, insisted that her son's friends 'let him die, because they were Gothic'.

However, further investigation revealed that there had in fact been a non-'Goth' adult present the entire time, who surely would be at least equally to blame for the child's death as a bunch of obviously stupid kids? Drug use (again, cannabis) had also been going on at the party, which possibly had an influence on the teens' extraordinarily weird behaviour. There is absolutely no proof that these teens were actually Goth, and frankly I highly doubt it, although they may have styled themselves as such in ignorance of genuine Goth culture. If someone were to fall unconscious at a Goth club or party, there would be no 'ritual' nonsense and an ambulance would very swiftly be called.

The Karina Barduchian case
Sixteen-year-old Goth Karina Barduchian was murdered and, horrifically, eaten, by two men who also styled themselves as Goth. Images of the murderers in this case show them smeared with badly-applied heavy corpse-paint-style make-up, generally regarded as a faux pas amongst Goths. One of them is wearing a Cradle of Filth neckband - again, not a band associated with the Goth subculture. However, one of them stands in front of a poster of The Cure's Robert Smith.

But, whilst one of the murderers in this case may have had some knowledge of Goth culture, so too did the victim, who clearly was not in any way disturbed or deranged, indicating that this sick crime was carried out by sick men, who would have been a threat to people around them whether they were 'Goth' or not, no matter what music they listened to or what clothes they wore.

This case has echoes of another disgusting crime taking place in Russia, wherein a gang of devil worshippers (again, not 'real' Goths) murdered and ate four young Goths.

The perpetrators of these crimes are categorically NOT Goth. They are described as such on basis of appearance by people who have little knowledge of Goth culture and therefore don't know any better. The Russian killers, whilst they may have had some knowledge of 'real' Goth, were likely to have been rejected by their local Goth communities due to their satanic posturing and giving themselves names like 'Hitler', which would not be accepted by other, real, Goths.

As an example, on Goth forums all over the internet, idiots occasionally pretend to be Goths so that they can 'fit in' on the forum long enough to taunt the other forum members and play 'weirdo-baiting'. These people often come unstuck because they assume that bragging about violence or death will make them accepted by Goths, but they are given short shrift by forum members and admin. Goths have no tolerance at all for unprovoked violence and even less for disgusting crimes such as those outlined above. Goth communities, online or in the physical world, do not open their arms to people who are violent or psychotically unstable.

It's sad that the Goth community is judged by the public over crimes such as these. Violence is in no way a part of Goth culture. I wish that the media and public understood the difference between severely disturbed people who wear black, and actual Goths, 99.9% of whom are well-balanced, well-adjusted, 'normal' people.

Witnesses describe the perpetrator of this latest attack as 'Goth'. I'm willing to bet that, though she may describe herself as such, though she may wear black clothes and make-up, we'll discover she's either ignorant of genuine Goth culture or unaccepted by the friendly, polite, harmless group of local Goths because of bizarre posturing or behaviour.

I ask that readers judge the actions of one obviously disturbed girl as those of an individual, and not allow them to reflect on our entire community.

Friday, 28 October 2011

A sociological explanation of Goths who don't 'grow out of it'

As an antidote to the Mail's recent carping about we gloom-shrouded folks, reader Ash reminded me of a recent article in fellow UK newspaper The Guardian, entitled Growing Up For Goths; "Punks grow out of it [note: not necessarily true] and ravers stop raving. Why do Goths just carry on? Sociologists can explain."

I was pleased to discover that the sociologist behind this study was none other than Dr Paul Hodkinson, whose book Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture sits proudly on my own bookshelf. Dr Hodkinson is perhaps the perfect example of Gothdom for younglings to show to their parents; published writer, long-time Goth, and deputy head of Surrey University's sociology department, proof that being Goth does not prevent one from getting ahead in life.

For his book, Dr Hodkinson took a step back from his involvement with Goth and attempted to approach his review of the subculture as a detached observer, interviewing a cross-section of the Gothic community in the late 90s for his research. The Guardian reports that Dr Hodkinson has returned to his research by re-interviewing his original subjects, who at the time were in their teens and early 20s.

Source: Tumblr
Via: Goth-Style
Model: unknown
The article explains that it is easier to continue involvement with Goth into adulthood, including further education and beginning a career, as unlike other youth subcultures, Goth does not promote 'disengagement with school'. In fact, Goths tend to be proud of academic achievement and creative endeavours. Goths are often stereotyped as being highly intelligent; this is probably helped by the fact that many Goths (again stereotypically) tend to be quiet, studious types who genuinely want to learn rather than any secret links between black clothing and IQ.

Interestingly, Hodkinson's research noted that Goths were more willing than you might expect to tone down their appearance if it would aid their career (or, presumably, education), a tidbit of information that might ease the minds of many parents concerned for their Gothy child's future. However, most of those interviewed were still recognised as Goths at work, indicating that they could achieve success without giving up their dark aesthetic altogether.

Families are also touched on in the article; some of the interviewees now have children, and it was mentioned that organisers of Goth festivals are now thinking of providing facilities and policies regarding the offspring of Goth attendees. The Guardian comments, "For what Hodkinson calls "a fairly hedonistic youth subculture" to consider offering kids' clubs and on-site childminding means that demand from more mature goths is definitely on the increase."

You can check out the full article here; what a nice, positive read!

Lastly, here's an outfit I wore to the garden centre last weekend:

Scarf: Thriller, £8
Jeans: Criminal Damage, £35
Belt: random alt store, £25
T-shirt: AppleSnow, £17 ('allergic to bullshit')
Gloves: music shop in Torquay, £2
Jacket: Poizen Industries via Attitude Clothing, £35 (plus hand-painted patches)
Boots (not seen): New Rock, Camden, £135

Vampire Fiction Timeline

Waterstones have produced something rather interesting for the spooky season. Our beloved book retailer (you can usually find me wedged between 'Graphic Novels', 'Horror' and 'Dark Fantasy') has compiled a vampire timeline to captivate the boys and ghouls (yes, it's time to pull all the cheesiest Halloween puns out from under the bed) over the Halloween weekend.

This is a fun way to present a helpful guide to vampire fiction down the years, beginning with Coleridge's poem Christabel, thought to be the first depiction of our favourite bloodsucking fiends in English literature right up until the new Morganville Vampires tome (Rachel Caine, highly recommended), due out this November 1st.

I challenge fellow vampire fans not to be tempted by something, anything, on this handy-dandy overview of the best of classic and modern vamp lit. You can also amuse yourself, as I am currently doing, by playing 'how many books on this list do I actually own?'. (Eight out of fifteen, not bad...)

Now, darklings, I have to go work on my Halloween costume a little more. Here it is, for you to play with (click on the image link):
Waterstone's Vampire Fiction Timeline

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Goth in the office: Romantic and Victorian

A reader recently queried if I had any posts planned on how to tone down more dramatic Goth looks (for example Victorian Goth and romantigoth) for school or work, or everyday life in general. I'm sure we all know by now which examples of going-out Gothwear are not generally suitable for day-to-day wear at the office (for most of us, anyway), but to begin this post, let's recap:

  • corsets (over the clothes, anyway)
  • excessively ripped jeans or tights
  • really tall shoes
  • PVC, rubber, or leather, with the exception of leather boots and/or jacket
  • really small skirts
Obviously there are other items such as fake-blood-splattered-anything, fangs, angel wings, see-through skirts, things with very long dangling trains, etc, but I'm pretty sure most of us don't wear those on an everyday basis anyway.

So far so good, but what about more subgenre-specific rules of thumb?

Victorian Goth
Victorian Goths may find it difficult to tone down their style, as often the Victorian Goth's idea of casual is a band T-shirt and bloomers, which is not generally appropriate for work either. But the basic items in a Victorian-themed wardrobe, taken individually, are very suitable for office and school: blouses with lots of frills and lace, long skirts, smart boots, waistcoats and jackets.

The trick is to go minimalist, and leave aside the acres of bustle, jabot, veiling and petticoats that may constitute your daily wardrobe. Depending on your work environment, it's also probably best to leave the top hats at home and substitute a neat up-do instead.

At first glance it would seem that Victorian gentlemen have it slightly easier; they can just leave their hats, canes, and monocles at home and sweep into the office clad in smart trousers, a fancy shirt and dandy-esque waistcoat. Sadly, this may not quite work. Whilst some workplaces may be open-minded towards a man in a frilly shirt, some won't, unfair though this is. I'd recommend several plain, lace-free shirts in dark colours, but bring out your spooky side with a luxurious fabric like satin or silk (velvet might be a step too far?). Under a waistcoat, it will still have that darkly debonair flair for the office but shouldn't inspire as many unpleasant comments from coworkers.

Please note: none of the above applies if you are the Lady of the Manners, who dresses in full neo-Victorian regalia, complete with parasol and fancy hat, to work every day.

Romantic Goth

The romantic office wardrobe can, in many ways, be very similar to the Victorian daily wardrobe outlined above, although blouse sleeves may be more flowing than fitted for the ladies and the gentlemen may prefer to sally forth waistcoat-less.

Long skirts in the office, whilst possibly considered a touch eccentric, are generally not frowned upon. For both men and women, a blazer or jacket in an opulent fabric like brocade adds a dramatic and dark touch without being excessive. Ladies can get away with more lace trim and flounces than the gentlemen on the whole.
'Lust' tie from CyberOptix Tie Lab (link)
Photographer: Bethany Shorb
Romantic Goth gentlemen who are missing that little something extra may like to turn their eye to ties from Alchemy Gothic, featuring designs like skulls and scarlet roses or skeletal fairies. For something more subtle, CyberOptix TieLab boast designs like the wormwood plant (one of the primary ingredients in absinthe) and ravens. (Victorian Goths may also like to check out CyberOptix Tie Lab's penny farthing design.)

Silver jewellery is perfectly acceptable; an ankh or spider pendant adds that quintessential Goth touch without being as potentially alarming to coworkers as a coffin or skull.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Boo-hoo, my child is her own person...

So I was not having the best day. And then I came online. Not only do I know the sweetest and most amazing Gothy types in the world ever but I won a free download of the Decade EP by All My Faith Lost!! <3333

Ahem. Anyhoo.

Today I'd like to direct a disgruntled rant in the direction of the Daily Fail, AGAIN, and in particular the article they ran entitled 'Where did my little girl go?' with the absurd sub-heading: "Horse-riding. Private school. Diana Appleyard's daughter wanted for nothing. So why at 18 has Charlotte become a Goth with ten ear piercings?" It's almost cute how they try to make ten ear piercings sound oh-so-shocking.

And I'm not sure why so many middle-class parents seem to assume that equestrianism will somehow deter their child from Gothdom. I state for the record that I was a horse-obsessed child. I own over 400 My Little Ponies, will buy anything with a unicorn on it, and rode horses from the age of seven, which was when my repeated pleading convinced my parents that riding lessons might be more important than paying the rent every now and again. Riding horses and being a Goth are not actually incompatible, y'know...

In the article, both Diana and Charlotte give their sides of the story. Charlotte puts forth her 'defence' for being a heavy metal fan with pink hair (not technically a Goth but more of a metalhead in my opinion, but I'm not splitting hairs right this minute), saying, "My image epitomises both fun and also a sense of passion - it's an antidote to a drab world."

Charlotte Appleyard: "I am who I am."
Source: The Daily Mail
Charlotte doesn't seem to party hard, do drugs, or hang out with an unsuitable crowd, but rather than counting her blessings that her daughter has avoided the pitfalls laid out for so many of today's teenage girls, Diana somewhat melodramatically laments, "I hesitate to use the word 'defile', but... every time I look at her multiple piercings I wince. I can't help but think of them as skin mutilations... I wonder if she'll ever look normal again."

Frankly, this attitude makes my blood boil. This woman seems incapable of accepting her daughter's right to be her own person, including her own style and image. My own mother, upon reading the article, proclaimed, "Selfish woman - she can't understand it's not all about her." Perhaps it's unfair for me to say, as I'm not a parent myself, but I am at a loss with parents who aim such vitriolic comments at their children simply because those children have elected not to become miniature clones of Mummy and Daddy. (I swear before you all, I promise never to berate my future children should they choose to wear tracksuits from Adidas.)

Seemingly overlooking the fact that Charlotte is apparently capable of making independent decisions about her appearance on the basis of nothing more than PLEASING HERSELF, Diana wails, "Is this image some kind of rebellion against her middle-class childhood? Is she figuratively putting two fingers up at our values and lifestyle? Charlotte looks the antithesis of her upbringing. I can't help seeing her image as some kind of rejection."

Personally, I would be shocked and upset if one of my parents were to say such a thing about me; if they felt that my way of expressing myself and enjoying fashion was nothing more than a spiteful act towards them. And that 'antithesis of her upbringing' remark I find offensive: is Diana implying that Goths, metalheads and punks can't possibly come from comfortable, happy homes with loving families and a good education, because I think MY family, just for starters, would like to tell her differently.

In response, Charlotte says, "I am not doing this to upset my parents. They've done everything for me and I respect their opinions very much. My image is simply for me and no one else and I ought to be given the freedom to do what I like to it."

Diana also mentions casually that her daughter's dress sense has become "a family joke". Well, I'm sure my family weren't expecting me to end up with orange hair and a nose ring, but at least they manage not to describe me as a 'joke' in a national newspaper.

To finish, she says, "I just wish she looked more on the outside as she is on the inside. I worry... that her aggressive image might damage her in some way."

Sometimes there just aren't words...

Now, I don't know the Appleyards personally at all, I know nothing about their family dynamic, but I feel that Diana's ill-judged misconceptions and ignorant remarks are the perfect example of what a lot of young Goths have to put up with from their own families when they're doing nothing more than experimenting with a new aesthetic. I find it frustrating that Diana seems to insist on seeing Charlotte's image as 'rejection' and 'rebellion'  - Charlotte says, "Nothing could be further from the truth! Why do parents think everything is about them?"

You can read the entire article here. (Most of the comments are great!)

I'll finish with a quote from Charlotte: "I am who I am, and love my image. I don't think any person has the right to tell anyone how they should look. We only get one life and should be allowed to live it as we see fit."

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

News and updates: from blog to 'blogazine', and eBay

I just wanted to let you guys know what was going on with a couple of things that I have been talking about lately in case you thought I was losing the plot a little.

Firstly, I mentioned a while back that I was working on launching a magazine. This has hit a few snags, the main one being that I'm uncomfortable taking my focus away from the blog whilst it's going so well and that I'm uncertain about the idea of charging money for what, when it boils down to it, could very well be extremely similar content to what you are currently getting from this blog for free. I think for now I'd rather really focus on this blog and creating decent content without needing for either you or me to cough up cash. Also, there are already dozens and dozens of great Goth and alt magazines out there that are well worth the asking price.

Anyway, if Doe Deere can call her blog a 'blogazine', then so can I. So the magazine plan is going on the back burner for a while, sorry to disappoint anyone. Please bear in mind that I am always looking for guest posts and guest bloggers and am happy to consider relevant content from anyone, which since I never delete posts might be something to pop in your portfolio.

I'm also always looking for images to use, so if you are a model, photographer or artist (or just someone fabulously dressed with some good quality pictures) who would like your work to be featured on the blog with full credit, links and a short bio, please do get in touch.

Secondly, my oft-promised wardrobe clearance is finally going ahead, and a few bits and pieces are beginning to pop up on my eBay. (Only three items thus far, but I'm hoping to put more up every few days, so do please keep checking back.) For the most part these are quite basic items but they might be of interest to those of you who are starting to build a Goth wardrobe. Really I'm just mentioning them here in the hope that someone might buy my stuff for reasons other than fancy dress (it's a pet peeve of mine that whenever I put stuff on eBay or donate it to my shop, people buy it for 'Goth costumes').

You can find my eBay account over yonder.

Apologies for this not-very-interesting post, I just figured it was probably better to let you know what's going on!

The Gothic Wiccan

I had a couple of readers ask for a post on Goths and Wicca; but before we begin, the usual disclaimer. Goth is not a religion, you do not have to follow any particular religion to be a Goth, Goth is not anti-religion, it is not about black magic or devil worship.

Source: Silver-Pistols (Tumblr)
Model: Ewelina Walecka, wearing a shirt from Restyle
By this point I'm hoping everyone's clear on what Goth is and isn't, so what's Wicca?

Wicca is also known as Pagan Witchcraft, and is a peaceful religion involving the ritual practice of magick (with a 'k' to distinguish it from stage magic and pulling rabbits out of hats). Many of its followers, known as Wiccans, Witches or Crafters depending on their personal preferred term, adhere to a morality code called the Wiccan Rede, which is often phrased in different ways but summed up thusly: "And ye harm none do what ye will," which is a far cry from stereotypical assumptions about curses and such. If you think that witchcraft is about warty-nosed hags and flying about on broomsticks, you're very wrong. (For a more detailed description of what Wicca is and what its followers believe, please read this article on Wikipedia.)

Many Goths are attracted to Wicca because of its peaceful nature and because many aspects of Wiccan ceremony and culture are also important or interesting to Goths, such as the cycles of the moon, the celebration of Samhain (aka Halloween, known as the Witches' New Year, one of the main 'Sabbats' (seasonal festivals) in the Wiccan calendar), and its associations with nature. Many of the Sabbats and deities associated with Wicca have folkloric and historical roots that are often intriguing to Goths (for example, Celtic folklore is as interesting to some Goths as Egyptology is to others).

Stereotypically, it's often assumed that Goths who are Wiccan became interested in it because they thought that practicing witchcraft would make them seem more SPOOKY. Whilst there are probably a few misguided younglings who want to feel oh-so-wicked whilst waving about a Book of Shadows and a pack of Tarot cards, on the whole a Wiccan Goth has chosen such a path because it speaks to them on a spiritual level, just as someone might choose to become a Christian, Jew, Buddhist or Muslim. Not because you HAVE to do magick or practise witchcraft to be a Goth, or to enhance their Gothy image in any way.

Interestingly, some of the bands appreciated and loved by Goths are also popular amongst Wiccans, such as the Pagan rock band Inkubus Sukkubus, and the bands Dead Can Dance and Mediaeval Baebes. And the magazine Witchcraft & Wicca frequently features articles on alternative fashion (perhaps because those who are open to alternative fashion are also open to alternative religion, hence the crossover between the two).

If you are a Goth who's interested in Wicca, here are some resources you might find useful.

Witchcraft & Wicca Magazine
Available from the website or from your local occult bookshop (probably).

Konstantinos is a Goth musician and occult author, whose books Nocturnal Witchcraft and Gothic Grimoire focus on a darker, Gothier take on Pagan magick (which he calls Dark Neo-Paganism).

Raven Digitalis
A radio and club DJ of Goth and Industrial music, who also penned the books Goth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark Culture, and Shadow Magick Compendium. (Goth Craft, somewhat intriguingly, contains a section on how to express spirituality through clothing, hair, make-up and body modification).

Goth Magick: An Enchanted Grimoire
This book by Brenda Knight is 'packed full of DIY ideas, spells and rituals', and 'a fair look at darker and indulgent [Craft] ideas', according to Amazon reviewer L. Martin.

WitchFest is the largest Wicca and Witchcraft festival in the world, and has featured such performers as Inkubus Sukkubus and Eleanore and the Lost. It also boasts the Witching Hour club, playing 'the best in Goth rock and alternative music'.

Goth gossip: You may already know that The Cruxshadows are suing their former label Dancing Ferret over the small matter of unpaid loyalties; Siouxsie Law keeps us updated on how the lawsuit is progressing (and you can also check out their new single Valkyrie).

Goth challenge, days 27 and 28

Day 27 - The worst thing you did to a newbie.

Um... I do try not to be mean or rude to newbies, there's no need for it! Mallgoths grow up into perfectly nice members of the Goth community and there's no reason to put them off by being spiteful or unkind because we were all daft, eyeliner-besmeared little creatures once. Babybats? (Apparently I have actually been misusing the term babybat, Gothic Charm School informs us that it refers to someone's age NOT their knowledge about the subculture; I do apologise.) I AM still a babybat in either sense of the term, being under-21 and not being a well-socialised Gothling (hard to do in a small town), so what would be the point in being unkind to people in exactly the same boat as me?

BUT. These things said, please remember that I created the guide as a sixteen-year-old overeager babybat (as I am so fond of saying) to harangue the kind of people who post on the Cure's YouTube videos with comments such as 'THIS ISN'T GOTH ITS EMO GO CRY EMO KIDS' (not a direct quote, but you get what I mean), so my intentions in the beginning were not entirely pure, and I did once recruit a posse of fellow Gothy Piczo users whilst in a fit of righteous rage to back me up in an argument with another Piczo-er about whether or not one band or another were Goth. *facepalm*

Now we shall not speak of this, ever again.

Day 28 - Do you consider yourself an eldergoth?

No! For starters, I'm too young to be an eldergoth at 20, and I've been involved in the Goth scene for five years, which compared to acquaintances of mine who are in their late 40s and discovered Goth right at its beginnings in the 70s and 80s, is little more than the blink of an eye. Ask me again in ten years!

Plus, as mentioned above, in many ways I am still quite a babybat, as living in a suburban area with no Goth scene whatsoever my contact with others in the subculture is predominantly online, which as a commentor on this site previously pointed out is not the best way to experience and learn about Goth culture and its community. Whilst I can (and do) strike up a conversation with another darkling in a shop or on the street, put me in a club situation where everyone is dressed up to the nines and I suddenly become horrendously shy!

By chance I recently met a charming eldergoth couple outside of the internet, who have been encouraging me to put a slice of my paycheque towards travelling to London to visit the clubs there. By chatting with these Goths, I have learned that whilst my online research has given me up-to-scratch musical knowledge, my lack of socialisation with other spooky types means I have been missing little things - simple stuff, like which music magazines occasionally feature a Goth-themed pullout.

I am looking forward to becoming more involved with the subculture offline by getting out and about to more clubs and events, but I am also terribly nervous, perhaps because I've read so much and heard so many horror stories with regards to cattiness, elitism and cliqueishness amongst Goths. At events I have been to in the past I have met some very nice people, so I know that some reports of snarking are somewhat exaggerated, but I hope that if you see this anxious babybat at a club near you, you will come and say hello!

Wow these pics are even worse quality than usual! Sorry!
Top: Omen, some shop in Camden, £20
Skirt: vintage shop, £5
Tights: gift
New Rocks: skip
Bracelet: Superdrug Halloween, £3.99
Necklace: Coven of Witches, about £10

Listening to: Intimate - Godyva

The Gothic Blog Award

I received the Gothic Blog Award from DyingRose69, thanks so much! <3 Apparently this is the first blog award created specifically for Goth bloggers, so this is quite an honour!

~ For Beautiful and Creative Gothic Blogs ~

Select three Goth blogs that you enjoy reading and let them know in a comment that you have given them this award.

I read literally hundreds of blogs so it was really difficult choosing just three! But here goes...

(Ali's blog is my current addiction, she's amazing!)

Now, my comments still aren't working properly (dammit), so if you guys could please go create a lot of traffic via these links to hopefully drag the blog owners over to this post so they know I have nominated them, that would be most helpful!

Dear bloggers: you don't actually have to post about this award if you don't want to, I'm just showing some love. :-)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Some Gothy observations

The following are some observations about our much-adored subculture that popped into my head this week. Many of these are fuelled by exasperation and I apologise for the slightly scattergun approach of this post.

Source: Tumblr

  • Being happy doesn't make you 'less Goth'. I was told today that I'm not a 'real Goth' because I'm too happy. Goth is not a mood or an emotion, it's a subculture.
  • Being depressed doesn't mean you're a poseur. Some people in the scene actually have depression. They're not doing it for attention or because they think it makes them more Goth. Yes, there are people who pretend to have depression because they THINK it's a requirement of being Goth, by all means roll your eyes at these people (but not to their faces please, we all fell for one stereotype or another didn't we?), but don't assume that people who genuinely have a mental illness are putting it on to enhance their Goth cred.
  • Goths of the opposite gender aren't doing what they do to impress you. If a girl wears a chain in her nose or has a septum piercing, it's because she, personally, likes how it looks and it makes her happy. So comments like, "You would have been so much more attractive if you didn't dye your hair blue/shave your head/wear so much make-up/wear black all the time," are irrelevant because she's pleasing herself not anybody else.
  • The above does not mean that Goths cannot be attractive or enjoy making themselves look nice for their significant others. It just means that what THEY think looks nice and what YOU think looks nice might not always match up, and they don't care.
  • "You would have been so much more attractive..." comments are even more annoying when they come from other Goths, whom you'd expect would understand that you are not looking for the approval or attention of Joe Public. Sadly it happens.
  • Some Goth girls (and guys) like to go out to the club wearing very little. This is because they like it and not because they want to have sex with you.
  • Some Goth girls (and guys) like to go out to the club dressed very modestly and cover themselves from neck to toe. This is because they like it and not because they are frigid, shy or unconfident.
  • You can be Goth if you don't like any of the original four Goth bands; Halloween; the works of Tim Burton; horror movies; the dark; bats; spiders; skulls; sci-fi; fantasy; cemeteries; maudlin poetry; wearing make-up, or nightclubbing.
  • Not all Goths are beautiful. Even models look pretty normal under the make-up. There are no physical requirements for entry to this subculture.
Goth gossip: This year marks the 35th anniversary of legendary rockers The Damned (whether they are Goth or punk is STILL a matter of debate, but really at this point who the hell cares?). I guess it wasn't just a phase, then... ;-)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

How to spot a 'real' Goth v.2, part 2

Continuing with my mission to clarify and explain the points I made in my early post 'How to spot a Real Goth', here's part two. (You can catch part one, complete with an explanation of why I am dissecting the old post, over here.)

A 'real' Goth listens to a variety of music, including original, traditional or 'proper' Goth music.

[And before we begin, Kitty Lovett, even you have admitted that, to be precise, you don't like 'MOST' Goth music, which therefore implies that you do like SOME. So don't argue. :-P]

There is much debate, as we all know, about whether the Goth subculture as we know it today stemmed primarily from music, fashion, art and culture, or what is vaguely referred to as the Goth worldview, or, less accurately, 'mindset'. My personal view is that Goth wouldn't be the same delightfully creepy beast that we all adore were it to be missing any of these factors.

Source: Tumblr
Yes, I do believe that had post-punk and Goth rock never come into existence, the Goth scene would still exist in some form or another. Commentors here often point out that versions of what we now call 'Goth' have actually existed for centuries, giving as examples the Romantic Period, the Lost Generation of the 1920s, and the penny dreadfuls, seances, and other darker pasttimes that were popular in the Victorian era, to name but a few.

But the music of today's Goth scene is what gives members of the subculture as we know it today tangible common ground. Not all Goths dress in black, not all Goths love Tim Burton or have an interest in the paranormal, not all Goths want to picnic in cemeteries - but I'll go out on a limb here and say that all Goths do enjoy and seek out 'dark' music in one form or another.

And I'm not just talking about Goth rock either. As readers have pointed out and as my ongoing comprehensive guide to Goth-friendly music aims to illustrate, there is more to Goth music nowadays than a single genre. There are purists who insist that post-punk is the One True Form of Goth music, but that would be like saying that this current incarnation of 'Goth' is the only outlet there has ever been for those who love and appreciate darker things, which as the examples above hopefully show is not quite true.

The fact is that Goth music has expanded from its roots in punk rock to fill hundreds of different definitions and incapsulate hundreds of different styles, and I'd bet my favourite boots that, whether consciously or unconsciously, all Goths like or would like at least one song from at least one band from one of these hundreds of different genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres (yes, Kitty, including classical music and opera).

I am beginning to formulate the theory that the difference, music-wise, between a 'real Goth' and a poseur (I hate using that term o.O) is that the 'real Goth' seeks out and listens to music that they genuinely, truly enjoy, including some Goth or 'dark' music but probably also including loads of other genres and styles.

Whereas the 'poseur' deliberately seeks out bands that the media has labelled 'Goth' (whether rightly or wrongly) or whose aesthetics have a Goth-inspired bent (e.g. Evanescence, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson), because they think it makes them Goth or because it makes them more 'dark'. Additionally, the poseur rejects other kinds of music (for example, would refuse to listen to a pop band, even if secretly they really liked their music) because it's NOT GOTH.

Or, to put it more simply, a poseur listens to Marilyn Manson because he's SO GOTH, whereas a 'real' Goth might listen to Marilyn Manson because they like his music. Doing something because you like it as opposed to doing it to fit an 'image'. The 'real' Goth knows that they are still Goth if they like and listen to anything that isn't 100% dark and creepy, yes, even Britney Spears. And they like what they like because they like it, not because society or the media says 'you MUST listen to this if you're a spooky kid'.

Also, there is no pre-approved list of Goth bands that you HAVE to listen to to be considered part of the scene. It's OK to not like Bauhaus or Siouxsie or The Cure or any other band! Out of hundreds and hundreds of sub-genres there's no reason for every single Goth to have exactly the same bands on their playlist; that would kind of eradicate the whole focus on individuality and self-expression that pervades the scene. Which is why, when I or anyone else says 'proper' Goth music, it's not 'to be a non-conformist you must listen to exactly the same music we do', it's just differentiating between dark music that is 'underground' and the kind of music that is labelled 'Goth' by the media.

Most poseurs would probably enjoy at least one example of 'proper' Goth music, which is proven by the amount of mallgoths who grow up and grow into the 'real' Goth scene. But as yet they are not looking beyond media typecasting of what is and isn't Goth, and are also more focused on trying to be ultra-spooky than on being themselves.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Dreams Divide, Deviant UK and Modulate, Southampton, 27/7/11

This is quite a belated concert review as the pics had to be recovered from the wreckage of my old computer! We attended the Robots Tour 2011 way back in July.

Here's Dan and I pre-gig:

Dreams Divide
I wasn't expecting to see three bands so this was a pleasant surprise; even more so when the warm-up act turned out to be my most-adored local band Dreams Divide. As you may recall I caught these guys at their first ever gig and I thought they were fantastic so it was really great to see them again. Their slightly synthpop-py electro sound is the perfect thing to get a perkygoth stomping her boots on the floor at the beginning of the night.
Just like last time, a polished and energetic performance, no complaints from me whatsoever. Some of their songs are so catchy that they can drag you straight up onto the dance floor like old favourites. I am pleased to see that this band have been supporting the likes of Covenant and KMFDM; they are a fantastic act who deserve a bit of recognition within the alternative electro scenes and I think they are going to get it.

John is my current favourite track from Dreams Divide, if you want to know what I'm raving about so much you can check it out here, although it sounds SO much better live.

Deviant UK
Every time I see Deviant UK they have a different line-up! Unfortunately they had some difficulties with this show - they were very late (I think they got stuck in traffic?) and as such ended up on stage moments after arrival, without their stage outfits or make-up. It was really odd to see the usually impeccably-dressed Jay clad in a baseball cap!
The set was by far the worst I have ever seen from Deviant UK, I wouldn't go quite so far as to say 'shoddy' but certainly not up to their usual standards. Jay's usual manic-overlord performance style was lacking a bit, which was fairly understandable giving the trouble they had getting here!

I guess everyone has their off days, and having seen two or three brilliant performances from Deviant UK I definitely haven't been put off from going to see them and I still think they are one of the best Industrial/darkwave acts that the UK scene has to offer. Jay's voice is incredible!

I was excited to go and see Modulate as I didn't catch their set at DV8 Fest. Described as 'the hard Industrial project of DJ Geoff Lee' with such subtle song titles as 'Skullfuck', I was certainly not disappointed.

Modulate were Dan's favourite band of the night; he likes anything bleepy you can bounce around to, which was delivered in spades by the lads on the stage. This is hard electro dance music at its most raw, it threatens to blast you right out of the club with sheer force and pretty much guarantees to turn any crowd into a bunch of sweating, writhing maniacs by the end of track two.

For me the highlight of this full-on electro frenzy was Modulate's cover of Faderhead's Dirtygrrrls/Dirtybois, it's a huge club hit in its own right and Modulate have managed to turn their re-work into something downright spectacular.
Overall this was great; Deviant UK were slightly disappointing but through no fault of their own. The other two acts were beyond brilliant; most of Modulate's songs are either already club hits or soon will be, and Dreams Divide are talented enough that they have no trouble holding their own amongst such well-established underground acts.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Contacting spirits... via the Internets

I had a very interesting e-mail recently that I thought might intrigue those of you who are interested in the paranormal, especially if you don't yet have plans for Halloween.

Personally I have never been brave enough to dabble too much in what is rather vaguely termed 'the occult'. Ouija boards, whilst they make a great theme for some jewellery pieces I have my eye on, have always made me slightly nervous ever since The Exorcist, a situation not helped by Dan's massive paranoia about all things Oujia.

But I can't deny a certain amount of interest, despite my wimp-ness, and as such I thought that The Ouija Experiment was worth posting about.

Source: Google Images
[Wimpy disclaimer: Gothlings, please do not try and interact with the paranormal without parental permission! Also, I cannot be held responsible for any demon possessions, spirit visitations, or ectoplasm on the carpet.

All right, all right, I'm hamming it up now. Forgive the bad jokes, please. In all seriousness, there are things in this world and the next that none of us can explain or understand, and meddling with these things without appropriate caution (and sometimes even with) should not be taken lightly, and I implore you to please consider any such action carefully, however fascinating the paranormal may be.

The Oujia Experiment website also states, "This is a real experiment using previously unexplored technology and as such we can give no guarantees regarding consequent results and aftermath. We have taken all neccessary safety precautions but are legally obliged to make users aware that participation is purely at own risk."]

This aside, what IS the Ouija Experiment? Well, at 10pm on Halloween this year, an attempt is being made to contact the dead... via Facebook. Yes, you read that right. Via the internet, The Ouija Experiment aims to create the world's largest ever Ouiji board, with 100,000 participants focusing their collective energy to contact 'the other side'.

This is going to be a live experiment; and my e-mail contact Christine suggests that it could very well work. She says, "We’ve looked at a new theory where electromagnetic fields generated by electrical devices resonate with EMF created by the presence of spirits."

Whether you're an unconvinced sceptic or a curious believer, you can always pop over to the Ouija Experiment site and find out some more about what's going to happen and how it should work. Personally I'm looking forward to the results of this experiment and may muster up the courage to take part myself. But what do you guys think?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

More daily outfits than you'll know what to do with...

While I was computer-less, I ended up with a massive backlog of daily outfits. I figured the best way to deal with these was to squeeze them all into one post. At least after this I will be up to date! So here goes:

Casual outfit for bellydance rehearsal.
T-shirt: charity shop, £1.50
Skirt: XS Punk, I've had it for about five years so I can't remember how much it was!
Leggings: Tesco, £10
Boots: New Look sale about seven years ago, £10
Coffin earrings: Thriller, £6.99
Hair clips: Claire's Halloween, £4

Then we had the first two rounds of hair dye remover.
Number one:

Crown earrings: bootsale, 20p
Boots: New Rock, £150
Skirt: secondhand, free
Belt: random alt store, £25
T-shirt: MusicNonStop, £20
Necklace: market stall, £2.50

And number two (this outfit was for a date):

Tank top: Tesco, £2
Net top: gift
Skirt: Camden Market, about £20
Books: Pleaser via Dark Kitten, £60

Then I made the mistake of using Schwarzekopf's Mystic Violet. I was hoping for a really vibrant purple but it just looked as though I'd dyed my hair back to black. :-/
Gloves: market stall, £6.99
Tank top: bootsale, 50p
Shrug: Peacocks, about £15
Necklace: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, £5
Skirt: bootsale, £1

Gloves: secondhand, free
Necklace: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, £5
Hair stickers (they're little butterflies): Claire's sale, £2

Jeans: Primark, £12
T-shirt: charity shop, £2.50
Braces: Claire's sale, £2
Ring: fancy dress shop, £4
Ray-Bans: charity shop, £2 (get in!!!)

A random shot of my new belly bar:

Black top: Next, £7
Waistcoat: charity shop, £4
Necklace: Claire's, £4
(I've got pink tights on with this, by the way...)
Hairclip: feathered hairclip, £3.99 from British Heart Foundation. I glued a plastic skull onto it.
Fluffy jumper: New Look, £19.99
Belt: charity shop, £3.50
Necklace: gift

Dress: charity shop, £5
Gloves: lingerie shop, £7
Hat: charity shop, £2

This was my tea last night:

And this is me today:

Hoodie: Camden, £8
Skirt: vintage shop (bit of a cheek, it's from bloody Matalan) £5 in sale
Socks: Poundland

A little October Q&A

I had a couple of comments this month with questions I wasn't sure I could answer clearly, so I figured I'd put them up here so that anyone who feels they can offer some insight can easily add their two cents. The first is from Celeste, who asks:

"What exactly makes music "goth"? Since the goth subculture is based on a type of music, I'm trying to figure out just what that music is. I can understand 80s bands such as the Cure and others who basically kicked off the goth scene are considered such, but what makes music today such as The Birthday Massacre goth, and My Chemical Romance for instance, not?"

I think this is a very sensible question - after all, why is it that a band with very little Goth styling and imagery such as The Decemberists (for example), who are not specifically Goth as far as I'm aware, are welcomed into the scene with open arms, when bands with arguably very 'Goth' imagery like Evanescence are decidedly Not Goth?

The best answer that I can give (please let me know if you think I'm right or wrong, I'm only human after all...) is twofold: firstly, I think it stems from a band's musical roots. Whilst My Chemical Romance openly admit to being inspired by Goth music, their roots stand firmly in alternative rock and pop-punk, whereas The Birthday Massacre includes influences from Industrial and synthpop, which makes them 'Goth' rather than 'Goth-friendly' like MCR.

The second part of my theory comes down to mainstream popularity. Yes, back in the day bands like the Banshees and The Cure were on Top of the Pops and in the charts all the time, but nowadays a large factor in defining Goth music is its underground, as opposed to mainstream, appeal. A band that frequently gets airplay on MTV is unlikely to receive much widespread acceptance from the Goth scene as a whole, probably because then any Goth imagery is perceived as being 'Goth for effect'. Which, of course, comes back to that whole thing about Goth being exploited as a trend or for shock value.

But I'd say that the best way to judge whether a band is 'Goth' or not is to take a look at its roots and influences. What about you guys?

The second question came from Sami, who says, "What do I say if someone calls me a Satanist/offers me a sacrifice? I know, it's a weird question. Someone came up to me at school and offered a "sacrifice" (it wasn't dead, it was his live human friend. I could tell they were half-joking. He called me a Satanist because of my appearance. My friend made him apologize, and he did with a stutter of fear in his voice (my friend isn't dangerous, neither am I). I didn't say anything,being dumbfounded. this was the first time I've been called a Satanist. I know my peers who don't personally know me are scared of me, but I've never been judged to my face. What do I say in these situations? I have a feeling this will happen again. I'm sorry this comment was so long, but I have no idea what to do. Help?"

For starters, I would just like to point out that Satanism is much-maligned; it's become a catch-all term for black magic and devil worship when actually it's a very peaceful religion that has nothing to do with either of those things. A Satanist is no more likely to hurt you or 'sacrifice' you than your average Goth.

Secondly, being a Goth does not automatically make you a Satanist, and if you are a Satanist you do not have to be a Goth or dress like one. Just wanted to make that clear.

So when someone calls you a Satanist for dressing Goth, they are actually showing how ignorant they are of both minority religions and alternative subculture. Which is handy for feeling like the bigger person afterwards, but not very helpful during the actual situation.

I can understand Sami's dilemma - usually when stupid people have an attempt at Goth-baiting, they don't stick around and wait for a reply. It's good that your friend asked the idiot to apologise, but frankly I think you did the right thing by not responding. If it happens again, just walk away. You don't have to defend your appearance or lifestyle choices to morons like these. If you give them the satisfaction of a response it's likely they will find it amusing and keep bothering you. If you walk away you are showing them that you're too mature to play their silly games.

Alternatively, if you're feeling confident enough to make a joke ("sorry, my overlord only accepts virgins") then go for it, but be warned, they may use it as an excuse to carry on teasing you.

Again, does anyone else have any advice to offer Sami?

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