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Monday, 28 February 2011

Handwriting meme! And another blog award

Many thanks to Hayley Callaway for tagging me with The Versatile Blogger award; this one's been round the block a few times (the award, that is, not Hayley) so I'm not going to pass it on for a while yet - I hope you don't mind!

Here are my seven random facts:

  1. My friend Jodie and I are off to see Die So Fluid perform this Saturday (at least, that is the plan!).
  2. The last movie I watched was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  3. This morning I was stroking the cat whilst sitting at the top of the stairs. When I stood up to go downstairs I slipped and almost fell. Starting the day with a near-death experience was not fun.
  4. Right now, I'm wearing Batman underwear. Mock me if you like, but I'm proud. ^^
  5. I change my ringtone so often that sometimes when my phone rings I don't recognise it (right now it's No Time For Fighting by Tenek)
  6. I am obsessed with shopping, and currently have wishlists on Amazon, MusicNonStop and Etsy as well as keeping clicky-links of things I want to buy in my favourites bar.
  7. I am currently customising a faux-leather jacket that I got on the bring-and-buy stall at DV8 Fest. I was hoping to have it finished to wear to Die So Fluid but I don't think that's going to happen...
Bowler hat <3
In retrospect, not keen on the make-up, but never mind.
Next of all is the handwriting meme from Stephanie at The Odd Duck. Basically, I have to answer the following questions with pen and paper, and post a snapshot for you guys to check out.

1. What's your name/your Blogger name?
2. What's your blog's name/URL?
3. Write "the quick fox jumps over the lazy dog"
4. Favorite quote?
5. Your favorite song?
6. Your favorite band/singers?
7. Anything else you want to say?
8. Tag 3-5 other people
I knowww... my handwriting is terrible. XP

Parasite Positive

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge Review #2

Warning: contains spoilers.

The second book I read for this challenge was Parasite Positive by Scott Westerfeld, which I found in a charity shop by chance. I didn't realise until I got it home that it was the same as the book 'Peeps' which I had had on my Amazon wishlist for a while... apparently Peeps is the title the book is published under in the US.

I would describe Parasite Positive as a vampire science-fiction novel, an interesting combination which I had not stumbled across before. In Westerfeld's world, vampirism is a parasitic disease, and protagonist Cal is a carrier of this disease, making him technically a vampire, although, in Cal's words, "we don't use the V-word much." Vampires are known as parasite-positives, or peeps for short.

Carriers of the disease can live for centuries; are immune to other human diseases; eat a LOT of red meat; are stronger and faster than normal humans and are equipped with night vision. So far, so vampire standard, pleasing the traditionalist in me. However, carriers are always, ahem, 'ready and willing', shall we say - the parasite inside them wants to be spread and infect other people, and carriers spread the disease via blood, saliva, and certain other bodily fluids.

Unfortunately, only one in a hundred people infected by the disease becomes a carrier - the rest turn into raving, cannibalistic maniacs, repelled by sunlight, and anything that reminds them of who they once were. After watching a few girls he's made out with go bonkers and start eating people, the unsuspecting Cal is recruited to the Night Watch - an organisation of carriers and normal humans protecting society from the illness of vampirism - and a lifetime of celibacy, because driving girls crazy in a literal fashion is apparently not much fun.

This book is heavy on the science - between chapters, the reader is given short bursts of information on real-life parasites, which at first I thought I would find a bit hard going, but these segments are still written in Cal's wry voice, with funny little asides, and so managed to hold my attention.

As if having to track down and contain one's insane vampiric ex-girlfriends was not bad enough, things take a twist for the seriously weird when Cal and his human friend Lacey (who, by the way, later becomes a carrier when she is infected by Cal's vampire cat), who is determined to unearth the truth about Cal and his exceptionally strange behaviour, discover that something far older and more destructive than vampires is living underneath Manhattan - and it's hungry.

I quite enjoyed the fact that Westerfeld's novel was actually very believeable - every symptom and myth from vampire lore was explained in relation to the parasite theory, including cruciophobia (fear of crosses), the hatred of sunlight, and vampires turning into rats and cats (rats in particular are attracted to murderous peeps; every peep has its own 'brood' of rodent minions). My favourite twist was the fact that vampirism turns out to be an evolutionary defense against this greater enemy.

There is a very obvious set-up for a sequel (The Last Days), but I may not go to the effort of tracking it down, since the vampire elements fade into the background somewhat following the discovery of the creatures lurking below ground. Whilst the discovery of this subterranean enemy was excitingly written and loaded with ominous atmospherics, I didn't quite feel that the 'bad guys' (giant worms) quite lived up to the hype. However I did really enjoy this book so I may be tempted, just to find out what happens next.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Goth vs. Twilight

Source: Google
Brooding, gorgeous vampires. Pale, moody girls. A quiet, rainy little town. Red-eyed, evil, predatory vampires (the bad guys, of course). And motorbike riding-werewolves. Sound like the stuff of Gothy dreams? Sure. Why, then, do so many Goths loathe Stephanie Meyer's Twilight?

Twilightmania has currently got a firm hold on schoolgirls almost worldwide, with teenieboppers everywhere idolising tousle-haired Robert Pattinson and over-gelled Taylor Lautner. But Goths, for the most part, seem immune to the allure of the sparkling vampires. A friend from my old site was in fact so disgusted by the books that she burned them (a waste of money and paper, if you ask me, but heigh-ho).

I think that part of the reason that a lot of Goths are anti-Twilight - despite the cameo from Bauhaus's very own Peter Murphy in the movie Eclipse, and the supernatural romance subject matter - is the sheer media hype and the fact that Twilight has, by and large, taken over the market. Almost overnight, vampires are EVERYwhere. And Goth culture, by association, is currently 'enjoying' new status as media darling, marketing tool, and pre-teen fad.

Not to mention that, for devoted readers of Goth doyennes Poppy Z. Brite, Anne Rice and Tanith Lee (to name but three Vampire Lit Queens of the Goth subculture), the whole Twilight thing seems a little, well, sad. Vegetarian vampires that double as disco balls? Honestly, Ms. Meyer, Lestat (and Louis, my one and only fictional vampire crush *swoons* - he may be almost vegetarian, but he damn sure doesn't sparkle) would be ashamed...

Basically, the Twilight Saga has taken some of the things Goths enjoy most about vampire romance and vamp fiction in general, and trodden them underfoot. Then, to add insult to injury, a series of novels that are at best cheesy fun and at worst mediocre, have gained sudden superstardom and forced Goth into the limelight.

Incidentally, the Harry Potter series is actually reasonably popular amongst Goths (witchcraft and wizardry being ever-popular themes in dark culture) and never garnered the same level of loathing as Twilight; possibly because Potter geeks, unlike Twi-hards, have never been associated with Goth culture.

However, there are some Goths who do enjoy Twilight - me being one of them. Sure, they're not the best-written series in the world and I don't think they deserve the level of obsession and attention they have received, but I wouldn't rate them any worse than my previously-reviewed paranormal romance Vamps and the City (for example). Why so much hatred (or conversely, so much adoration) for what is basically an average vampire romance?

Whilst sparkly vampires make me wince, and I'm never going to drool over Pattinson's caveman mug, I've read the books, seen two of the movies, and have an Eclipse poster in my bedroom. I'm not obsessive about the series, but I don't despise it either, and I'm sure I'm not the only Goth who remains reasonably neutral.

Goths who like (or snarkily tolerate) the Twilight series seem generally quite amused about the whole thing; I have never met, online or otherwise, a Goth affected by Twilightmania, and Twilight tends to be treated as ironic entertainment. For example, Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School (who falls distinctly into the 'snarkily tolerate' category) and some of her Gothy friends went on a sparkly-vampires road trip (to Forks, I am assuming), accompanied by a car full of cupcakes with bats and vampires iced on them.

So, NO to new babybats who think that Twilight is the epitome of Gothy vampire fiction. But otherwise, like it or hate it - it's just another vampire book, why all the fuss?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Gothic bellydance

Many, in fact almost all, Goths love art in many of its forms, including the art of dance. But other than swirling one's arms in a suitably spooky fashion at club nights and events, how can a darkling indulge this passion? If waltzing isn't your thing and the square dance leaves your black little heart cold, maybe Gothic bellydance is the hobby for you?

Gothic bellydancer Ariellah
Source: Google Images
Wikipedia says, "Exotic to the Western eye and mysterious in its roots, belly dance has always attracted interpretive dance artists who have woven it into many trends of Western culture. The new millennium brought a revival of popular interest in Goth subculture and Gothic art motifs in dance, and a new interpretive style, Gothic belly dance, was propelled to prominence... Gothic belly dance was born in the 1990s in US urban centers as a blend of Goth and world music, the movement vocabulary of belly dance and other dance forms, and Gothic fashion and aesthetics. Performing at Gothic-theme events and Goth clubs, dancers started to explore Goth music and adopt costuming styles incorporating Victorian, vampire, dark cabaret, silent-movie vamp, industrial, and other visual themes related to Goth subculture."

Movement-wise, Gothic bellydance (also known as "Raks Gothique") usually utilises movements from cabaret and tribal fusion bellydance styles, but with added drama and theatricality, using dark costumes and themes. The music that is used can be typical Goth and Industrial music, and music from related genres such as dark cabaret and dark ambient (for example, the Bellydance for Beautiful Freaks DVD features music from Collide, Skinny Puppy, Jill Tracy and Nox Arcana). Bands such as Dead Can Dance, Vas, and Faith and the Muse have suitably Middle-Eastern stylings in their music and are also often popular.

Bands who make music specifically for bellydance, be it traditional, Gothic, or tribal, are also often heard. Those popular amongst Goth bellydance enthusiasts (and some Goths in general, actually) include Beats Antique, Jehan and Solace.

Costuming for Gothic bellydance obviously includes typical Goth elements; usually it's black, heavy on the lace and fishnets, and rich or unusually textured fabrics such as velvet and PVC. It also involves Pagan, Middle Eastern or tribal-inspired elements like chainmaille and bindis.

Gothic bellydance, as I already mentioned, is very dramatic. In addition, the movements may be trance-like, giving a surreal quality to the performance. The movements and facial expressions are often sultry, passionate or otherwise 'intense'. Derivations such as Industrial and cyber performances often make traditional bellydance movements harder and more jagged than the fluid, smooth style in which they would usually be performed. One of the great things about this style of dance is that some of the movements, particularly the upper body and arm movements, are very Goth-club-friendly, so taking up Gothic bellydance as a hobby can certainly help make you into one of the best dancers at the spooky club.

Check out some amazing dancers shaking their thangs in this great vid:

There is a Gothic bellydance festival called Gothla, hosted by famous Gothic bellydancers Tempest and Sashi, held in Southern California; and Gothla UK began in 2007, held in Leicester, England. These three-day fests involve a multitude of teachers, workshops, performances, shopping stalls and cover ever-more-diverse themes including steampunk, vampire and even zombie bellydance.

The popularity of this style of bellydance within the Goth scene has even given rise to an offshoot of Goth fasion, generally known as 'tribal Goth', which of course I will talk more about at a later date, and 'dark dance boutiques' such as Dark Fusion Boutique on Etsy actually sell plenty of items that end up supplementing the everyday wardrobes of Goths worldwide.

I myself am a member of bellydance troupe Sadiq (although recently my archery classes have kept me from rehearsals... oops). I have been dancing for a couple of years and recently began joining the troupe in public performances for charity (always clad in suitably Gothy attire and heavy dark make-up, in stark contrast to the other women). Sadiq is a cabaret bellydance group, although some of our choreography draws on other styles such as American tribal. So far I am the only one in the group to have a strong interest in Gothic bellydance; maybe one day I will end up with a solo routine...? (Fun fact: I can dance with a sword balanced on my head. ;-) )

For those interested in Gothic bellydance, instructional DVDs such as Bellydance For Beautiful Freaks and performance DVDs such as Gothic Bellydance and Bellydance Underworld are available from sites such as Amazon. The first step in learning this style of dance is to begin with basic bellydance moves; find out if your local gym has a bellydance class, check out instructional videos on YouTube, or pick up some DVDs from Amazon. It's great fun and really keeps you fit and flexible too.

Listening to: Godessence - Jehan

Friday, 25 February 2011

The light side of the dark side

Hey, 100 followers! Check me out! Thanks to everyone who follows/comments/reads, you are all awesome and I would give you all cookies and hugs if I could... ^^

I'm in such a good mood... I wore my stripy bustle skirt to work today, and will be going to see Panic! at the Disco in April with my friends Bronwyn, Rowenna and Shirley. We also found out that some of our other friends are planning to go, so this is looking like major fun. =D

Please be prepared to see my horrible handwriting soon, as Stephanie has tagged me with another meme. o.O

On to today's topic: I recently re-read an article in one of my old issues of Bite Me magazine with the header, "Why do so many Goths collect My Little Pony?" As an avid My Little Pony collector (I have over four hundred of them, along with thousands of accessories, books, videos, cassettes, T-shirts, home decor, and basically anything and everything you can think of related to My Little Pony) I was intrigued. I haven't actually met another pony-collecting Goth and was surprised to learn that it was so common.

The article was written semi-jokingly (it finished with a confrontation between My Little Pony and Vlad Tepes), but did throw up the intriguing theory that Goths use their appearance to express and represent their own 'dark side', and so many of them also like to have something to externally represent their 'lighter side' - in this instance, My Little Pony. I thought this might explain the prevalence of so many 'spooky-cute' Goth-beloved things like sparkly bats and pink accents, as well as styles like glitter Goth and perkygoth, which could be said to effectively represent the 'light' and 'dark' at the same time.

Many Goths do seem to have a strong fondness for lighter, brighter things (although, in Goth fashion, these are sometimes used ironically), such as rave kandy jewellery (often seen layered on at festivals, channelling the Japanese 'decora' fashion), Hello Kitty, cute or kitsch accessories including wings and cat ears, and (again at festivals) even comedy 'character' backpacks or handbags are quite a common sight (I have a fluffy bat handbag, and until recently I also had a little dog).

Even musically, almost every Goth has some guilty pleasures, usually from the realms of pop, dance, or R&B.

So could there be some truth in this theory? Are Goths who make no secret of their affection for bright, cheerful things as well as all that is ooky-spooky using self-expression to symbolise the dual nature of humanity? Or do they just like pretty things?

Source: We Heart It
Listening to: Sirens and Satellites - Ego Likeness

Thursday, 24 February 2011

"You have to learn to fit in with the world."

This morning, I got dressed in a simple pair of dark-coloured jeans and a plain black polo-neck jumper. I only wore blush and mascara, which for me felt like being half-naked. The reason I was toning down my usually-extravagant daywear was because... I was going to the doctor's. Unfortunately, my ruse didn't work. I was hoping to avoid the lecture I tend to receive from my GP regarding my appearance - particularly my piercings.

The first time I received this lecture, I was looking for a job, and the Doc advised me, reasonably gently, that I might not get far with my collection of face furniture. Which was well-intentioned and honest advice, and in some cases might well be true - Waitrose, for example, will not hire people with facial piercings. But, having spent rather a lot of money and gone through a moderate amount of pain, I was not willing to remove so much as a single stud.

Unemployable?
This decision might not be right for everybody - I had savings to keep myself afloat until I found a job I was happy and comfortable with, but had my situation been more desperate I might have had to take out my piercings if it would help me find work faster. As it turns out, a few months later I ended up in a good, solid contract with the county council and worked my ass off at their offices for half a year, not once receiving a negative comment on any aspect of my appearance, despite the fact that since I was an 'arts' administrator, I decided I could dress as 'creatively' as I chose. ;-)

I also have a volunteering job working in retail, so I spend an awful lot of time face-to-face with the general public. Again, not one negative comment - although an elderly lady did ask if my piercings hurt.

However, every time I have gone back to the doctor's since this first lecture, I have received the same again. The first time - and the second - I could take it as it's meant; sensible advice, whether or not I choose to take it. (I still do not choose to take it. There is not a single aspect of my appearance or lifestyle that affects my ability to do a job, work hard, and be good at it. I will tone down as much as I need to if I really want a particular job, but I am not giving up the modifications I love and that I spent good money on. If an employer can't come to terms with this, well, there are other jobs.) By now, this lecture is beginning to feel like haranguing, hence my attempts to avoid it.

Today I found myself becoming frustrated, and remarked, "Well, I can take out the piercings, but the tattoo could be a problem." The Doc was not amused, and responded with, "You have to learn to fit in with the world."

As much as I hate to argue with the good advice of my doctor... no, you don't. You have to learn when it's OK to be extravagant and when you have to exercise moderation. You need to wear correct attire for funerals, weddings, religious services and job interviews. You have to learn how different types of people will respond to you based on your appearance and decide when to adjust your look accordingly.

But it IS possible to get and keep a decent job if you are obviously and visibly Goth or alternative. You can find a relationship; get married; have children; get promoted; buy a house... these things and more are not denied to you if you decide to have body modifications, dye your hair a colour not found in nature or dress in an eccentric and flamboyant manner.

Obviously you need to use a modicum of common sense - you can't turn up to interviews half-naked, for example - but there is no reason why someone who looks visibly different should be denied the same opportunities as anybody else. You don't need to give up Goth once you leave college and have to find work, reach a certain age, or realise you are ready for a serious relationship.

Yes, in some professions, visible body mods and such will hold you back - the military and the police force being obvious examples - but that still doesn't mean that once you hold such a job you have to 'grow up and stop being a Goth'. Is this job important enough to you to be worth taking out your piercings and growing out your undershave? If it is, you might need to remove your eyebrow bars and dye your hair black instead of lime green, but you don't have to 'fit in' and give up the subculture that you love. You just need to learn the art of compromise.

I am not being defiant or rebellious by choosing to keep my appearance this way - I love my mods and my unusual fashion choices, I do not have them to piss people off but because I LIKE them. Furthermore, I have met people online and know people personally who have far more tattoo coverage, more piercings, and more extravagant daywear than me, and they still manage to hold down good jobs which they enjoy. I am setting my standards at that level because I can see no reason why I should not be able to do the same.

Don't change to suit 'the world' - do what you have to do to get where you want to be, but other than that let the damn world take you as you are.

Listening to: East - The Cruxshadows

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: post-punk Goth

'Post-punk Goth', if I'm being entirely honest, is a term that I pretty much made up. I have never seen it used anywhere, but it seems to me to be a fitting term for Goths like these, as the pared down, stark fashions suit the bleak soundscapes of the post-punk, noise pop and early Goth rock that is generally the music of choice for these Goths (who are also referred to as 'nu-Goths').

Source: Tumblr
Clothing is almost uniformly black, possibly with hints of white or red for contrast. Pointy shoes or winklepickers are de rigeur; often paired with skinny jeans or leggings. Body mods are surprisingly uncommon, although a single ear piercing is often seen. Common items of clothing include loose black cardigans, blazers, leather jackets or skirts, fishnets or plain black tights or stockings, plain black shirts or jumpers, and band T-shirts. Sweaters, T-shirts and leggings are often seen ripped.

In fact, this aesthetic is summed up perfectly by Fuck Yeah Goths on Tumblr - minimalist monochrome with a hint of high fashion. These are the Goths whom you would stereotypically find in a backstreet coffee house drinking their java black, clutching a skinny clove cigarette and looking bored.

Accessories often include black Ray-Ban sunglasses, Amish-style hats (especially for the guys), belts worn around the waist, and braces.

Hair and make-up for the ladies is generally simple but stark - heavy eyeliner, sleek, blunt or backcombed haircuts and possibly a dash of scarlet or black lipstick. This look is androgynous, and as such the gentlemen may also sport eyeliner. For the guys, hair is usually kept shorter than the flowing locks suited to other Goth fashion styles, either lightly tousled or neatly groomed like the members of Joy Division in their heyday. It's almost difficult to believe that this look is related to flamboyant, in-your-face styles like cybergoth and romantigoth.
Source: Tumblr
These Goths are likely to enjoy bands such as Joy Division, Fever Ray, She Wants Revenge, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cold Cave, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Birthday Party, R O M A N C E and Tuxedomoon.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Absinthe, and other Gothy beverages



Source: Tumblr
What is absinthe, and why is it so frequently associated with the Goth subculture? Absinthe is a narcotic drink first made in the 17th century, originally used as a medicinal. It was said to have been enjoyed by many famous artists and writers, including Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde and Baudelaire. Absinthe is also called ‘the green fairy’.

Absinthe is green in colour, smells of liquorice (and has a slightly liquorice-y taste) and has an extremely high alcohol content. The ingredient that made it narcotic was wormwood, which contains the neurotoxin thujone. Modern absinthes do not contain thujone. Other ingredients include the herbs juniper, hyssop, anjelica, anise and fennel, to name but a few.

Drinking absinthe requires more effort than simply unscrewing the bottle cap. A small amount is poured into a glass, then a special perforated absinthe spoon is set over the mouth of the glass. A sugar cube is placed in the 'bowl' of the spoon and water drizzled over it. The water dissolves the sugar into the glass, diluting and sweetening the bitter drink at the same time. Absinthe must be diluted as it can be anything from 75% alcohol upwards.

Absinthe was blamed for acts of violent or criminal behaviour, as well as many deaths. In fact its psychoactive properties have been greatly exaggerated, as it only ever contained thujone in very small quantities and is no more dangerous than any other spirits. However, it was banned in many countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and the United States. It has never been illegal in the UK but only began to be imported from the Czech Republic in the 1990s.

Today the main difficulty with obtaining absinthe is its price - in the UK, a bottle of Hapsburg Absinthe can be ordered from the internet for a mere £37. However since the drink must be greatly diluted, a single bottle would probably last quite a while. I am also informed that you can buy a lesser-quality bottle of absinthe for £16 in Asda, which I shall investigate immediately.

Random note: there is an absinthe bar called Sixtina at the Wave Gotik Treffen, and apparently 'absinthe breakfasts' are very popular amongst the visiting Goths.

The ultimate eldergoth tipple
Snakebite and black, also referred to as jungle juice or diesel, is a mix of lager, cider and blackcurrant squash. Some pubs will not serve snakebite and black as the combination of alcohol and sugar is apparently too much for some people to handle. Snakebite and black is a highly popular drink amongst Goths and even lends its name to a Goth night in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England.

Chartreuse
Chartreuse is a lesser-known Goth drink, whose popularity in the scene came about due to a mention in a Poppy Z. Brite novel, Lost Souls, where it is the favoured drink of the vampire protagonists. It is a French herbal liqueur which has been made by the Carthusian Monks since the 1740s. There are two types of chartreuse - green and yellow. Yellow has a milder, sweeter flavour than the 'assertive' flavour of the green.

Common Goth drinks
Despite everything one reads about the wonders of absinthe and snakebite, the most popular Goth drinks are (apparently) beer and wine. Red wine is usually favoured, although personally I am very partial to white (ssh!). Cider (flavoured or otherwise) is also very popular amongst the Goth community.

'Goth' beers:
  • Raven Beer
  • Dead Guy Ale
  • Rasputin
  • Gargoyle
  • Fin Du Monde (End of the World)
  • Ephemere (Ephemeral)
  • Maudit (Dammit! - what a seriously great name)
  • Rigor Mortis
  • l'Alchimist
  • Judas
  • La Mort Subite (Sudden Death)
  • La Biere du Demon (The Devil's Beer)
  • Trompe La Mort (Cheat Death)
The 'Real Gothic FAQ' mentions, "Goths always drink lots of vodka and cranberry juice. Also, drink red wine, or beer, or cider. Or you can get fizzy girl drinks, because if you're a real Goth you're probably a pussy anyway. We recommend anything with lots of umbrellas in it."

Thanks to the commentor who pulled me up for forgetting mead. Mead, aka honey wine, is a beverage created by fermenting a mix of honey and water. It may also be flavoured with spices, fruit or hops (which gives it a beer-like flavour). Mead is often the drink of choice at Ren Faires and medieval- or Viking-themed events, all of which are popular amongst a certain Goth crowd. Loupie said, "I don't know many Goths who would turn it down, a Gothy couple I know even used it instead of wine to toast their wedding."

"I don't drink alcohol, will I find it difficult to fit in with other Goths at the club?"
In her Goth Bible, Nancy Kilpatrick states, "A common wail from club owners is, 'Goths don't drink!' This is a subculture not afraid to order a Shirley Temple, or cranberry juice and Perrier."

So, in a word, no. In a subculture where nobody gives a crap about what anyone else thinks of them, there is not exactly going to be anything along the lines of peer pressure, and therefore no pressure to indulge in alcohol should you be teetotal. In short, the other Goths don't really care what you're drinking.

My coffee is black, like my soul...
Remember the Goth kids from South Park? "You can't be Goth if you don't drink coffee," or words to that effect, anyway. I wouldn't say that's true, but drinking coffee whilst reading Faust and looking moody is a highly cliche (read: 'popular') Gothy pasttime. Extra points for threadbare fingerless gloves and a clove cigarette.

As Emilie Autumn says, "I self-medicate with tea"
Tea, by far the most civilised of Gothy drinks, has always been exceptionally popular amongst those who are into Victoriana, neo-Victoriana, Lolita, and who generally like to appear elegant whilst sipping the wonderful brew from a china teacup. How can you host a tea party without tea?

Emilie Autumn, possibly the Queen of Goth Tea Parties, has recently begun selling her very own Asylum Tea, which for now is available on the merch stand at her concerts but will hopefully be available from her website soon.

I never drink... vine
For those who like their beverages with a side of vampire, True Blood currently has the market cornered with their TruBlood drink, mimicking the synthetic blood that well-behaved vampires drink in the Southern Vampire series of novels and the almost-pornographic True Blood TV series. Apparently it is very sweet and tastes of orange, according to a) my friend Rowenna and b) a review I read online. Angela of Lariats and Lavender says that it tastes good with vodka. I will be ordering a crateload for my vampire-themed birthday party (oi! stop laughing!).

Human Blood Caffeinated Energy Potion 'looks and feels like human blood' and comes in a resealable bag, which looks just like a transfusion bag you just pinched from the hospital (you deviant, you). It claims to taste of fruit punch and contains 80mg of caffeine. There is also a Zombie Blood potion available, which also comes in a transfusion bag and has a cheerful biohazard symbol slapped on it. Oh, and it's green and tastes of lime. (I need to find somewhere that ships these to the UK...)
Source: ThinkGeek
If you do drink... vine, Vampire Wine is made by the same people that market the energy drink VAMP at Hot Topic. The bottle comes packed in a rather gorgeous coffin box, and the manufacturer says, "I like to think we offer the beverages of choice for the Goth community."

NOTE: I have updated my Castle Party post because, like a plonker, I had already previously posted the video I used. So, new video! Also, I really must stop posting so many vids... a gothumentary that I posted (Goth Vampire Nation) inconveniently died and I had to delete the post... grrr.
Listening to: Greensward Grey - Cinema Strange

Monday, 21 February 2011

Shop review: ...mooch, Andover, Hampshire

Source: Mooch's website
When I was but a wee babybat, ...mooch was a Goth shop called Sunflower, and I loved it. I used to go in there on the weekends and after school and peruse the racks of Raven dresses. Actually, I bought my first ever BeGoth doll from their window display... it wasn't the one I wanted, but it was the one that the shop assistant picked up and I was too scared to ask for the right one... >.< (I love that doll now, anyway.) I can remember the mannequins hanging from the ceiling sporting spiked collars, plaid skirts, and T-shirts saying things like, 'Made In Hell'.

But these days, ...mooch is aimed more at the hippie, ethnic, eco crowd - not to mention, the prices are sky-high. Their ranges can be pretty hit-and-miss - for a good couple of years the only thing I found in there that I would actually wear was a Nomads corset top, but recently they have started stocking some beautiful brand name clothing from Hell Bunny and Spin Doctor amongst all the hippie-wear, focusing mostly on prom dresses and poofy skirts.

They do still have a nice range of body jewellery and incense, and have recently undergone a re-fit so the shop appears much more spacious. They also have a lot of interesting and unique jewellery; a lot of it may be a bit too... eclectic for the average Goth (if there is such a thing as the average Goth...) but a lot of it is very pretty, and I believe I saw one or two fairies and ankhs on my last visit. Goths who enjoy a touch of retro glamour may like their ruffled leopard-print or polka dot umbrellas and pretty silk scarves.

...mooch also specialise in unusual and alternative giftwear, most of which is probably not of interest to those with a darker palate, however a browse through their range of birthday and greetings cards often uncovers several gorgeous Gothy gems and is usually where I pick up birthday cards for, well, everyone.

Certainly worth a look should you happen to be in the area, even if Hell Bunny prom dresses aren't your thing (or if, like me, you already have poofy dresses up the wazoo) as you might always come across something yummy in burgundy velvet (or that tartan bustle skirt that I have been drooling over for weeks but can't justify splashing out on), and I'm pretty sure that in the latter half of the year they still stock those gorgeous (but pricey) jewel-toned velvet Nomads winter coats.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Amphi Festival

You guys in Germany have all the fun when it comes to festivals... the line-up of two-day extravaganza Amphi Festival is described as wide-ranging, but caters mostly to fans of dark, electronic and alternative music. It has been running since 2005 and boasts over 10,000 visitors each year on average.

Source: Google Images
Amphi Festival takes place annually on the third weekend of July, and is named after the location of the first fest, the Amphitheater in Gelsenkirchen, despite the fact that it has actually been held in the Tanzbrunnen in Cologne since 2006. There is an open-air stage and an indoor stage - previously, the theatre was used as the indoor stage, but since 2009 it has played host to club nights and viewings of movies and band DVDs. However, in recent years Laibach ended up staging their performance in the theatre as the ceiling of the Rheinparkhalle (the other indoor stage) caved in during a set from Feindflug (there were no injuries!).

As well as live bands, club nights and movies, the event programme incorporates readings and theatre productions. The event is sponsored by German Goth/alternative magazine Orkus (I have read an issue of
Orkus English and can tell you that it's fantastic, one of the best dark music magazines out there if you can get your hands on it. Oh, if only I could read German...), who release a DVD of the event in the last issue of each year.

Amphi is a family-friendly festival, although under-18s must be accompanied by a guardian. As you can tell from this video, the location is absolutely stunning:
The line-up has featured stars of the dark music scene such as Blutengel, Samsas Traum, Apoptygma Berserk, Katzenjammer Kabarett, Cinema Strange, Mediaeval Baebes, The Lovecrave, Nachtmahr, Skinny Puppy and Mesh.
Source: Google Images
Listening to: Sexyback - Faderhead

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Are tattooed women unattractive?

As a proudly tattooed woman, I promise not to take your answer (too) personally.

Apologies for my almost-radio-silence today, and what will probably be the same again tomorrow, as I'm having a bit of a busy weekend and I'm all over the place - from dabbling in steampunk for the first time (I wore a casual steampunk outfit to work, which, I might add, was very well received by customers and co-workers ^^) to shopping in Swanage for some 'rainbow Goth' clothing (yes, I'm still hung up on that idea), lunch with the family, arranging a sort-of-date, and being beaten on the dance machine in the arcade by a thirteen-year-old Polish boy whilst wearing New Rocks and full-on punk-rock Marie Antoinette attire. Just, y'know, the average weekend.

Anyhoo. What was I saying before I interrupted myself? Ah, yes, the Daily Fail (thanks, Amy of Juliet's Lace, for that expression, I am now overusing it in real life...) has done it again with a recent vox pop on what their middle-aged, terminally boring readers (excluding myself and family, obviously...) find a definite turn-off when it comes to the opposite sex.

I thought you guys might be interested in the results.

Biggest turn-off for women? Beards. Now, in both the Goth and metal scenes, big bushy (and sometimes braided, beaded or dyed) beards are a common sight - in fact, the best looking Goth guy I ever met (no, I'm not name-dropping, my semi-boyfriend has homicidal tendencies) has a beard. Although, it's neither big nor bushy, more of a 'the devil is a charming gentleman' neat little point. One step up from a goatee, really.

Whilst I can't stand a moustache (what is the point of hairs tickling your nostrils during a kiss without the buffer of said facial hair actually being aesthetically pleasing?), I have nothing against beards - and I'm guessing that more than a few Goth (and metal) loving ladies agree with me, because I'm sure that not ALL of those hairy guys at the WGT can be single.

And what do guys apparently hate to see on their women? Tattoos, facial piercings, or too much make-up (OK, and harem pants, but I for one am going to let them have that one).

So, that's an awful lot of Goth and alternative ladies out of the running then. And as a multi-pierced, tattooed, make-up-crazy woman, I take that a little personally...

Really? Seriously, people, what is NOT hot about tattooed beauties, such as (just for example) Megan Massacre?

Source: Torture Couture
Yeah. That's what I thought.

Being serious for a moment, I guess attraction is different for every person, but I fail to see how body art or elaborate make-up (or a beard) can make a genuinely stunning person unattractive. Unless it's badly done, of course.

For the Mail's full article (which I chose to take issue with, by the way, as it described the above as 'GUARANTEED passion killers', which is blatantly untrue), click here.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dark and Goth-friendly music, part 4: Pop is for Goths, too!

To be honest, I wasn't really sure where to go with this music guide next - I have a huge list of genres and styles on my GothGuide spreadsheet (yes, there really is a spreadsheet) but I couldn't make up my mind what links with what. So if this seems a little schizoid, that's probably because, well, it is.

Source: We Heart It
'Dark romantic pop'
In the Gothic Charm School book, which I can now actually quote without even bothering to go upstairs and get it off my bookshelf (help, GCS addiction, I'm seeing pink sparkly bats before my eyes), the Lady of the Manners proposes a theory that Gothy ladies of A Certain Age (i.e. more than thirty) came to the Goth scene either via the metal scene, or via the path of dark romantic pop, e.g. "I wanna dress just like Stevie Nicks."

Stevie Nicks aside, alternative femme-pop art rock songstresses (label them any genre you will, friends) such as Kate Bush and Tori Amos have had a long-standing popularity in the Goth scene since Madame Bush shrieked the opening notes of Wuthering Heights (seriously, gotta love that song). And probably before then, too.

Other than the above, these dramatic, wavy-haired, flowing-dress-wearing divas include: Regina Specktor, Christine Zufferey, Alanis Morissette, Bjork, Imogen Heap and Enya.

Synthpop
Synthpop is a genre of music which, obviously, uses the synthesizer as the dominant instrument. It originated as part of the New Wave movement in the 70s (notice how almost all subcultures and music genres are linked up together like some big ol' spiderweb? Cool, huh?) and has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, a bit like post-punk. Synthpop is different than many other electronic musical genres in that the synthesizers deliberately sound artificial; they don't strive to imitate the sounds of acoustic instruments.

Like New Romantic, not all synthpop or synthpop-inspired bands can be considered hugely Goth-friendly. There's almost a scale of Gothiness when it comes to synthpop, going from 0-5 (with 5 being, of course, Depeche Mode meets Bauhaus). Allow me to illustrate:

Synthpop Gothiness scale:
0 - Heaven 17, Erasure, Bananarama.
No Goth rating whatsoever.
1 - Pet Shop Boys.
Not what is usually classed as anything like Goth, but hell, they warranted a mention in Nancy Kilpatrick's The Goth Bible.
2 - Owl City, La Roux, The Killers, Little Boots.
Possibly secretly spinning on Goth-owned CD players around the world, but let's face it, you probably won't hear them at the spooky club.
3 - Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp.
Considering we're talking POP music, surprisingly popular in the Goth scene.
4 - Tears For Fears, Beborn Beton, Gary Numan, Soft Cell.
Getting there - likely to hear them at events or club nights.
5 - Ashbury Heights, Elegant Machinery, Depeche Mode, New Order, Wolfsheim.
Badass electro synth-Goth.

Dream pop
Described by Wikipedia as a subgenre of alternative rock originating in the UK in the mid-80s, combining post-punk and ethereal influences with bittersweet pop melodies, resulting in dreamy soundscapes (hence the name). The music focuses on texture and mood rather than riffs, with vocals usually breathy or even whispered. Lyrics - guess what, they're usually introspective. Anyone surprised?

Dream pop bands include: This Mortal Coil, Cranes, Curve, Strange Boutique, Love Spirals Downwards, The Chameleons, Miranda Sex Garden, Darling Violetta, Claire Voyant, Bel Canto.

Shoegazing
Shoegazing, aka shoegaze, is a 'more aggressive' subgenre of dream pop, and gained its name because musicians playing in this style would generally stand still on the stage gazing introspectively in the direction of their toesies. Apparently. Musically the style involves distortion, droning riffs, and an amorphous quality created by playing two distorted rhythm guitars together. Vocals are usually treated as an additional instrument rather than the focus of the music.

Goth-friendly shoegazing bands include: My Bloody Valentine, Autumn's Grey Solace, Weep.

Noise pop
Noise pop also developed in the mid-80s, and mixes atonal noise and feedback with the melodic instrumentation usually found in pop music. Some modern noise pop/lo-fi artists have been hailed by the adoring media as 'the second coming of Goth', these artists being Zola Jesus and Fever Ray.

Goth-friendly noise pop bands include: Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Raveonettes.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Goth beauty: beautiful skin

Whilst there are no stereotypes when it comes to the Gothic beauty ideal, there are a few things that possibly hold true for all - smooth, clear skin; glossy hair; and a smile to die for. I hope to provide tips and recipes to aid in all the above (especially as I am now studying cosmetology and beauty therapy ^^), as well as recommendations and reviews for Goth-friendly products to make you even more alluring...

Source: We Heart It
For beautiful skin
  • Don't wash your face with soap. Soap dries out the skin, which may not sound so terrible if your skin is oily, but it will actually end up making you look old before your time. Soap is far too harsh for delicate facial skin. Instead use a cleaner that's specially made for the face (it doesn't have to be expensive!).
  • Every morning and evening, wash your face with lukewarm water (this is kindest to your skin). If you suffer from spots, it may help to add two teaspoonfuls of apple cider vinegar to your wash water. Cider vinegar is a natural astringent and when diluted, should eliminate excess oil without being overly drying. Obviously, test it on your skin first to make sure your skin is not too sensitive and that you are not allergic. Use a foaming cleanser that is suitable for your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, combination or 'normal') and rinse carefully. Pat skin dry with a towel.
  • Follow with moisturiser. If you like to keep your skin pasty-white, use a moisturiser that has an SPF of at least 15. A moisturiser with SPF is lighter and less greasy than using suncream on your face (which, frankly, feels horrible). Of course, if you're about to go to bed, you won't need a sunscreen, so you may like to purchase different moisturisers for day and night (again, they don't have to be expensive to do the job).
  • Exfoliate your face and body twice weekly. Use a gentle scrub with fine particles for your face, and something a bit tougher for your body. You can also use a dry body brush each morning - move it briskly over your skin with firm strokes, starting from the soles of your feet and always brushing in the direction of your heart. Keep brushing until the skin is lightly tingling. This helps your body shed dead skin cells and keeps your skin soft and smooth. After exfoliation, be sure to apply sunscreen as your skin will be more sensitive to the sun.
  • Don't use body lotion every day. This can actually dry out your skin in the long run, especially in conjunction with suncream.
  • Remember, even the palest of Gothlings need some sunlight occasionally to prevent nasties such as vitamin D deficiency and even rickets. Around 20 minutes of sunlight on bare skin a day will give you all the goodness you need without risking a tan, and if you catch this light on spot-prone areas, will help dry out excess oil and could go some way towards preventing breakouts.
  • I've said it before, but always remove your make-up before bed.
Goths who enjoy sporting a ghostly pallor may find the following recipes helpful:

DIY skin bleach
(Don't be afraid - this recipe contains all-natural ingredients and is actually very good for your skin, as well as serving to enhance one's pallor.)

You need:
a couple of lemon slices
a cup of milk
yoghurt (preferably natural and unflavoured)
flower water (optional. Rose water and orange blossom water are available from most supermarkets and health stores)

Soak the lemon slices in the milk for a couple of hours. Strain out the lemon and add the yoghurt to thicken. Test the mixture on an area of skin (NOT your face) first, as the astringent action of lemon in particular can be too harsh for sensitive skin. If you feel excess burning or itching, rinse the mixture off at once.

If you suffer no ill effects, apply this cream to your face and body for a few hours so that the bleaching action has time to take effect. For a less fussy version of this recipe, pop some lemon juice in a glass of milk overnight and rinse your face with it in the morning, or add a cup of milk and a squirt of lemon juice to your bath. This is useful to help fend off the effects of the summer sun.

Tan remover
You need:
1/2 pint new milk
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. white brandy

Mix the ingredients together and bring to the boil, then skim. The resulting concoction should be applied to the desired areas each morning until the desired result is achieved. (Again, do not forget to test this mixture - and all mixtures on this page! - on a patch of skin to make sure you are not allergic.)

Freckle remover
Personally I think freckles are cute, but if you are unhappy with yours, try budging them with this brew.

You need:
1 dram citric acid
1 oz. glycerine

Simply mix together and apply to freckles three or four times a day. Lemon juice is also said to be an effective freckle remover.

Listening to: Fix - Aesthetic Perfection

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Dirigibles, cogs and goggles - the crazy world of steampunk

So far I've posted on industrial culture, Lolita culture, vampyre culture and (briefly) the faerie subculture, New Romanticism and Neo-Victorianism. As you know, the rather ambiguous 'dark culture' tag can be applied to these and many more of Goth's 'relatives' - and Lolita is not the only subculture to have recently begun heavily inspiring a lot of Goths to revamp their wardrobes.

Like its futuristic cousin cyberpunk, steampunk originally descended from a style of literature. Steampunk novels became popular in the 80s and 90s, and could be described as a subset of sci-fi fiction set in a world or era when steam power is still used and incorporating elements of science fiction and/or fantasy. Think steam-powered time machines and clockwork ray guns.

Popular works of 'classic' steampunk fiction include The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Homunculus by James Blaylock, Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, to name but a very few. Nowadays, with the growing popularity of steampunk subculture, more and more authors are putting out steampunk or steampunk-inspired fiction, such as Soulless by Gail Carriger, and even the graphic novel series Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

There are even many films with a nod towards steampunk, such as Wild Wild West, and the Disney animation Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Steampunk art is also coming into its own, and usually features modern objects, such as computers, clocks, or even electric guitars transformed by artists and steampunk enthusiasts into wonders of pseudo-Victorian technology.

Steampunk fashion often has a strong emphasis on DIY; objects such as iPods and mobile phones are often modified to remain in keeping with the look as a whole. Accessories tend to be an eclectic combination of technological and period-inspired accessories, such as brass goggles, a top hat, a parasol and a pocketwatch. Rather than Goth black, the usual colours are brown, gold, white and cream.

For events or more 'dressy' styles, outfits tend to be heavily Victorian-inspired, featuring petticoats, corsets, spats, waistcoats and bustles, hence steampunk's close relations with the Neo-Victorian subculture. Although there is an emerging subset of 'casual steampunk', which allows the wearer, should they wish, to incorporate steampunk aesthetics into their everyday wardrobe (much like those who choose to wear Goth fashion everyday. Previously, as far as I can tell, steampunk was similar to Lolita, in that it was worn for special occasions and meet-ups rather than everyday wear. The development of 'casual steampunk' could see steampunk being worn as streetwear, as Goth often is).

I have often read that, in order to wear steampunk fashions and become part of steampunk subculture, one must create an alternative identity and back story in keeping with their outlandish wardrobe; for example, I might become the Contessa Von Hawkmoth, lace-gloved, tea-drinking, eye-patch-wearing time-travelling aristocrat from London, England. However, it seems to me that this is more along the lines of Goths choosing to adopt a 'scene name' which they go by online and at clubs and events (notable examples would be Siouxsie Sioux, Rogue, Adora BatBrat, Lady Amaranth, Voltaire and many more) or vampyres calling themselves Empress Nightwing or some such - it's a personal choice rather than a requirement.

As you can see in the video above, some enthusiasts have chosen to adopt an alternative persona whereas some simply enjoy taking part in the culture 'as themselves'.

Abney Park show off their steampunk fashion cred.
Source: Last.fm
Steampunk music, like Goth music, covers a wide spectrum of artists and styles. Goth band Abney Park were quite recently reborn as a steampunk band (and, I might add, lost none of their popularity within the subculture when doing so. Click band name in bold for a free steampunky download!). Other steampunk-associated bands, beloved by steampunk enthusiasts and Goths alike, include Vernian Process, Dr. Steel, the Unextraordinary Gentlemen, the Clockwork Dolls, Deadly Nightshade Botanical Society, The Texas Chainsaw Orchestra, The Extraordinary Contraptions, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and The Aeronauts.

Some Goth musicians, such as Ego Likeness, Emilie Autumn and Voltaire are also popular amongst steampunk fans.

Of course, we were recently treated to Panic! at the Disco's visual steampunk treat - the rock band are not especially beloved by Goths or steampunks as a whole (although personally I like them!), but their newest music video for the song The Ballad of Mona Lisa was a steampunk-inspired delight.

There are also several subsets of steampunk, such as Western steampunk (think Wild Wild West), gaslight romance/gaslamp fantasy (this tends to be a literary subgenre rather than a visual one, typically set in a romanticised 19th-century London, featuring historical characters such as Jekyll and Hyde, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula and Jack the Ripper), steamgoth or steampunk Goth (obviously, a darker take on steampunk aesthetics, or a Goth who is a frequent dabbler in steampunk culture and fashion), and even dieselpunk and clockpunk.

So what is the relationship between Goth and steampunk? Well, when Goth/Industrial events once tended to sweep the board, more and more Goth/steampunk club nights are popping up all over the globe, as enthusiasts of either subculture tend to enjoy some music from both. Many Goths are becoming prone to dressing in steampunk fashion on occasion, with a growing proportion of members of the subculture having at least one steampunk-friendly outfit lurking in their wardrobe.
Casual steampunk. I want this outfit desperately!
Source: Photobucket
Steampunk events also boast a high Goth turn-out (just as Goth events feature dozens of people clad in steampunk fashion). Events marketed to a steampunk audience include SalonCon, a Neo-Victorian/steampunk convention; a two-day masquerade ball in Hollywood called the Labyrinth of Jareth; and of course the World Steampunk Fair and SteamCon.

Listening to: Storming the Burning Fields - Dragonforce

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: Oriental Goth

Oriental Goth fashion draws on the traditional dress of the cultures of the Orient and combines it with Goth stylings. Although, of course, if someone refers to themselves as an 'Oriental' or 'Asian' Goth, they may simply be a Goth person of Asian origin...

The most commonly seen Oriental Goth clothes come in silky brocade fabrics with Oriental-inspired embroidery; usually in rich colours such as pink, turquoise, aqua, red, green and gold, which provide a strong contrast with the usual black. Styles may include high-collared dresses; or outfits inspired by geisha clothing, such as Poizen Industries's Dark Kimono (which, incidentally, I happen to be wearing at the moment), a black kimono-styled minidress, complete with underskirt, obi belt, safety-pins and spiderweb lace.

Whilst Goth brands such as Dark Star have produced distinctly Oriental-inspired pieces, clothes are often bought from mainstream shops selling Far Eastern gifts, products and apparel (such as Affinity East in the Festival Place mall, Basingstoke). These clothes have a more authentic Oriental look than the brand-name pieces mentioned above, and often look striking paired with torn fishnets, stompy boots and pretty gloves.

Source: Tumblr
Popular motifs include flowers, particularly cherry blossoms, and elegant Chinese dragons. Hair is usually sleek, whether pulled into a geisha updo, or straightened to frame the face.

Accessories may include hair sticks (Alchemy Gothic previously sold hair sticks with spiders, bats or pentagrams dangling from the ends) and charming traditional paper and wood parasols or fans.

Oriental Gothic may also be a popular choice for home decor design - the rich colours, silky fabrics, and dragon motifs partner perfectly with dark wood and interesting accessories for a beautiful interior. Many Goths burn incense in their personal space, which would provide just the right finishing touch for such decor.
Music of interest to Oriental Goths may include Goth and dark bands who use Eastern inspiration in some or all of their songs, such as Rhea's Obsession, Dead Can Dance, Rajna, The Changelings, Shiva In Exile, and Love Is Colder Than Death and even the songs Temple of Love by The Sisters of Mercy and Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Parents and Goth, part 2

I think it's important to note that when it comes to parents and their attitudes towards their Goth-inclined offspring, not everyone is as intolerant as this guy:

(P.S. Maybe his grades are crap because he's being picked on in school and beaten up, and maybe instead of taking the piss out of him on national TV you should be trying to encourage and support him to be his own person? Just a thought.)

I would also like to point out that the stereotyping can often run both ways. For example, my mum, whilst not a Goth, is certainly Goth-friendly - she has some pieces in her wardrobe that I'm highly jealous of, she sometimes comes to concerts and other events with me because she enjoys both the music and the atmosphere, and not once has she ever expressed concern or disapproval over my tastes, my appearance, or who I choose to be friends with (whether they're Goth or not).

Even my body mods have barely raised an eyebrow, except when I was thinking about getting my tongue pierced - she felt that a piercing inside the mouth was 'inappropriate', but she didn't forbid me and now that I've got it she's used to it. She even helped me shave my head when I wanted an undershave.

However, at a Goth festival we attended last summer, during one of the club nights, one of the lovely people I met at the fest took Mum aside whilst I was fixing my face in the ladies' room. She told Mum that she shouldn't worry about me being a Goth, that Goths aren't scary or dangerous, and implied that, at 18 (as I was then) I didn't really need a parental chaperone at Goth events as I would be safe.

Mum was a little bit bemused. As she told me later, she hadn't once considered that I would be unsafe or that Goths were 'scary' - "They're just people!" Frankly, I think she was slightly upset that the very nice lady had thought she was being an overbearing parent, when she had come along to dance, see some live bands, sightsee and shop, just like everyone else at the event. But because she was my parent, people automatically assumed that she was trying to guard me rather than keeping me company and having a good time together.

Mum and me in York for DV8 Fest
Conversely, my mother is by no means a lax parent. I am not a frequent drinker; I have never touched drugs and have no intention of doing so. I am not promiscuous, I do not steal, I am not dishonest, antisocial, violent, or poorly educated and I have no more 'issues' than most people. Mum's open-mindedness, acceptance and encouragement has, if anything, made me a better person by setting a good example.

Not all parents find it easy to be tolerant of a child's choices, particularly if they believe negative stereotypes and think that Goth relates to drugs, sex, devil-worship or all those other connotations. But it may be worth remembering that not all parents disapprove of their child's lifestyle, either.

Happy Valentine's Day

Hello readers, I'm glad Claire's guest post received such a great response - I actually received the finished review with perfect timing, as I wasn't feeling quite the thing yesterday so goodness knows what hogwash I might have posted had I been left to my own devices. >.<

Happy Valentine's Day to all my lovely readers, followers, and commentors, I hope the postman (or possibly Cupid, or another arrow-wielding fat flying baby) brings you everything you are dreaming of, and that all your Valentine/anti-Valentine parties and events are completely and totally epic.

As for me, I am waiting to find out if my Valentine will be having to work late or not (there should be a law against that. It's sadistic) before I go about dolling myself up in red velvet.

Source: Gothic Charm School at Tumblr
I am not very good at being romantic or buying romantic gifts, although I do try my hardest (which often ends in comic disaster - a rubber duck with 'I Love You' on it, and a box of milk chocolate nipples, just for example). Dan, on the other hand, is a natural romantic, so as you can probably imagine, Valentine's is always a fantastic day for me. <3

Normal service will be resumed following a brief period of twitterpation. ^^

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Guest post: The Asylum Tour - Magic Erection

Hello Amy's readers, I’m Claire and this is my review of the first concert of the Emilie Autumn North American tour. The concert was in Cleveland on February 9 2011 at a bar called Peabody’s Downunder, and just a heads up: I don’t remember which instrumental songs were played so I’ve excluded them from my review.

I arrived donning a corset and bloomers at about 6 o’clock (an hour before doors were to open). Emilie was giving a private violin concert/tea party with the people with VIP passes at the time so everyone who didn’t want to freeze was forced to wait in a small breezeway. It got very cramped in there. Once we got inside at about 7:20, we waited for an hour and a half until the show started. The stage included a candle lit harpsichord, a tea set, and a large clock used for making interesting silhouettes.

Currently the Bloody Crumpets are Captain Maggots, Veronica Varlow, and the Blessed Contessa. They all came out one at a time making festive silhouettes from behind the clock. Emilie’s first outfit was definitely my favorite. As you can see in the pics, she had a delightful beaky mask on and a rat tail that she kept playing with. The first song they played was 4 O’Clock, and of course it was splendid. I was a bit confused as to why I was the only one singing along though.
Veronica Varlow
Rat-Emilie with her Crumpets.
I believe the Blessed Contessa is attempting to take flight.
Opheliac was next, and there still weren’t a whole lot of people singing along oddly enough. I’m not sure if the harpsichord incident happened next or not, but at one point it attacked Emilie and some stage dudes had to set it back up for her (while Emilie checked out their asses). She told Veronica that since the harpsichord had been magically erected she could play it for the next song. That’s when Emilie decided that the tour name was going to be The Asylum Tour: Magic Erection. I hope she meant it. Veronica was also told that if she played well she would be allowed to play the Rat Game. Basically the Rat Game is when she pulls a girl up on stage (18 yrs or older) and kisses her. She picked a girl who had a sign that said “Kiss me Veronica”, so if you want to kiss her it helps to make a sign.

[Amy's note: I will begin work on my sign immediately.]

God Help Me was either after or before the harpsichord incident and it was intense! It has never been one of my favorite songs but it might be now. The singing and harpsichording (I invented that word) was quite passionate. The Art of Suicide might have been next, I have a horrible memory. Also played was Liar, I Want My Innocence Back, Mad Girl, Bohemian Rhapsody (everyone sang along), and Dead is the New Alive. Mad Girl was by far my favorite song, as far as performance goes. She used an echo technique which was very powerful. When she sang “how did the prince say he loved you?” she sang it with bitter sarcasm and screamed “Liar!” after it. So cool and highly effective.
EA, with rather frightening eyes, does something to a beam...
Other antics included spitting tea at the audience, filling tea cups with Captain Morgan, Maggots walking on stilts, Maggots crowd-surfing, Contessa spitting cookies, etc. At the merch stand there was tea, chokers, headbands, posters, and T-shirts. Only two of the shirts came in women sizes, my pirate shirt being one of them. There were also Contessology and Thunder Rats shirts. Good stuff, so bring your money.
If you plan on attending a concert during this tour, please feel free to randomly yell “magic erection”. Perhaps the name will stick.

And a quick store review: The Mission Boutique located just outside Cleveland.

The Mission Boutique is a very large alt shop with a helpful staff. There are lots of tights, corsets, Lucky 13 brand clothing, and kinky PVC and fishnet stuff. Several corsets were half off so I got a steel boned one for $50 and a pair of black fingerless gloves that have spider webs on them. I highly recommend this store. Here is their website.
My corset - very lovely and very affordable.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Chocolate spiderweb muffins

This is the patented Amy Post-Shopping Perky Mood. New Gothy band vinyl records! Skull and crossbones earrings! Black wool for learning to crochet (in theory)! Many books! Other things that I shamefully don't actually remember!

But frankly, I couldn't think of anything to post today, so if this post ends up slightly lame I am completely deserving of any slings and arrows that end up in the comments (which, FYI, doesn't mean I won't delete them ^^). I have an actual spreadsheet of upcoming posts, but a lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and an overload of retail therapy have caused a definite session of No Can Brain. Which means I'm falling back on my default position of "Hey, let's copy, paste and tweak something from the crappy old site!"

I usually only post one tutorial a month, but this is very different from my other tutorials due to being edible. Yikes. (Ignore that sound of distant laughter. It's just my friends, splitting their sides at the thought of yours truly penning a bakery tutorial.)

This is a reasonably simple three-step recipe for ooky-spooky chocolate cobweb muffins, excellent for impressing your equally-spooky friends with your culinary talents. As long as your muffin-decorating skills are better than mine, that is.

This is what these muffins are SUPPOSED to look like.
Source: BBC
You will need:
100g white chocolate
100g dark chocolate
Six muffins, preferably chocolate (what, you didn't think I actually BAKED MUFFINS, did you? Oh no, no, no, I bought them from Tesco's like a normal person. If you want to be a real show-off and bake something, you can find a recipe for chocolate muffins here. Good luck with that.)

1. Break the dark and white chocolate into separate heatproof bowls and melt in the microwave on Medium for 2 minutes (or set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water). Do not do what I did and use a fondue kit, because after about five minutes my white chocolate started smelling funky and then it went all lumpy and disgusting. Not really sure what happened there...

2. Spread your muffins with dark chocolate from the bowl, letting it run down the sides a bit, then dribble four concentric circles of white chocolate on top. Or, of course, you could spread over the white chocolate and decorate with the dark.

3. Using a small skewer, toothpick, or teaspoon handle, drag through the circles at regular intervals, from the centre to the edge, to create a cobweb effect.
This, unfortunately, is what MY muffins looked like.
Not half yummy, though.
Best eaten the day they're made - even better while the chocolate's soft

P.S. First guest post coming up sometime soon-ish; so I will be adding some relevant info to the site policies page if anyone is interested. Our guest blogger will be the lovely Claire, formerly of The Gothic Asylum, and here is a pretty teaser photo for you:
Image belongs to Claire.
Used with permission.
Yup, that's right - bloomers, corsets and stripy goodness coming to you courtesy of my very first guest blogger...

Friday, 11 February 2011

Goth - it's sexy...

Quick question: how would readers feel about guest posts written by other excellent bloggers? Does anyone have an idea for a guest post they would like to throw my way?

I am a little short on time tonight and my computer keeps trying to re-start itself, so here's a very brief Valentine's-themed post!

One of the many stereotypical images of 'a Goth' involves lots of heavy, baggy clothing and badly-applied corpse paint, which isn't particularly sexy. However, much of the beautiful Goth clothing available can create a very sexy look; not surprising if you consider the sensual nature and characters (not to mention symbolism and metaphor) in a lot of Gothic fiction. Dracula, anyone?

PVC and leather clothing are obviously very in-your-face sexual, but for those for whom the fetish look is a little bit too much of a 'statement', and for those who don't consider chains and lacy underwear to constitute an outfit, decadent, rich fabrics such as silk, brocade, velvet and satin are also very sensual. If you do not wish to bare large areas of flesh, sheer fabrics such as mesh, fishnet or lace provide a slightly more demure alternative.

Black and red, the staple colours of many a Goth wardrobe, are often traditionally regarded as 'sexy'. Other items padding out your wardrobe are often seen as sexy; items such as corsets, garters, stiletto boots and fishnets may be used as day-to-day wear by daring (or not so daring) Goths, but for many members of the mainstream these are generally seen only in the bedroom or in the window of Ann Summers.

When it comes to sex appeal, sometimes less is more. A figure-hugging velvet or satin dress may be more attractive than spilling out of a rubber basque and PVC thong; in some circumstances, what is left to the imagination can be as enticing as what is on display.

Source: Photobucket

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Vamps and the City

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge, review #1 - Vamps and the City by Kerrelyn Sparks

Warning: contains spoilers.

For this challenge (click for a re-cap), I'm hoping to read a variety of styles of vamp books, ranging from gritty urban fantasy, spine-tingling horror, fluffy YA novels and, well, paranormal romance. Personally, I look at paranormal romance as 'chick lit for Goths'. And just as not every woman likes chick lit, not every Goth, even the vampire-loving ones, enjoys the innuendo-filled, intellectually fluffy world of paranormal romance.

I happened across Vamps and the City by chance in a box of books my dad was intending to sell - spotting the bats on the cover, I picked it up immediately. Apparently it's the second book in the Love at Stake series, but I didn't have any problems reading it as a stand-alone.

Our heroine is reluctant vampire Darcy Newhart, struggling to make it as an independent-minded modern woman in the sexist society of Vamps, where vampire females live in harems and must obey the wishes of their Master. Her ex-master is marrying a mortal *gasp, shock, horror*, leaving Darcy and the rest of his harem to fend for themselves. As the only member of the mismatched group able to think for herself, Darcy is now saddled with looking after the snooty, self-obsessed ladies of the harem.

A successful reporter during her mortal life, Darcy knows she can make it big in her new life if only she can get a job with DVN, the vampire TV channel. However, the male boss at DVN is a chauvinist arse who is not exactly willing to let a woman call the shots. Darcy must come up with a new, exciting idea for a show to prove herself.

The Sexiest Man on Earth is the resulting stroke of genius - a reality show where mortals compete against vampires to win the multi-million-dollar prize money and become the new master of the vampire harem. But not everyone is happy with the possibility of a mortal taking charge of the coven; oh, and some of said 'mortals' on the show are undercover CIA agents and trained vampire slayers, which, let's face it, is a recipe for disaster.

Especially when - yep, you guessed it - one of the CIA's undercover operatives steals Darcy's heart...

OK, so any book entitled 'Vamps and the City' is not going to give good ol' Will Shakespeare a run for his money, but it is a good fun, light-hearted, entertaining read, perfect for reading in bed without running the slightest risk of scaring oneself silly.

The vampire society is interesting; divided into two factions, the community-minded, non-people-eating Vamps, like Darcy and her crew, and the Malcontents, who are basically a rapacious, vicious bunch of bastards. The vampire-staking division of the CIA, unfortunately, is unaware of this distinction. I also enjoyed the notion of the vamp harems, although I found it hard to believe that vampires would be able to live unnoticed amongst humans whilst running their own TV channel, and with the female vampires insisting on dressing and behaving according to the fashions and customs of the century in which they were born.

I also struggled to get to grips with the members of the vamp harem as characters - they are undoubtedly entertaining, but considering they are centuries old they struck me as childish, and some of them, such as sex-obsessed, purple-haired Vanda, were not very well-developed and painfully two-dimensional.

The love story between Darcy and undercover agent Austin is sweet, and I certainly found myself rooting for them to get together, but it's pretty standard romance fare, without any huge surprises and the obvious guarantee of a happy ending (which, I might add, is not necessarily a complaint). Although, Darcy's reverse transformation into a live human was quite unlikely and had a definite air of deus ex machina about it.

Altogether, I would give this book a rating of 3/5 - I did stay up until one in the morning reading it, it definitely made me smile and kept me interested; but the plot is a little obvious and some of the characters were only a step or two up from cardboard cut-outs.
Source: Google Images
In other news, I spent this morning working hard(ish) on my make-up studies (BTEC Level 2 Make-Up, if that means anything to anyone) at Bronwyn's house (we're doing the same course). Here is a slightly odd picture of me with Bron's family's adopted small ginger elephant. Otherwise known as Charlie the Incredibly Large Cat.
Yes, my contact lens is squiffy. That one always moves around - I don't know why.
Also, Charlie is not amused.
Listening to: Once in a Lifetime - Wolfsheim

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