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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Prejudice: a personal story

In her eloquent and shocking response to my previous post, Kitty encouraged fellow bloggers to post their personal stories of bullying and prejudice. I am a little apprehensive about posting this - this blog isn't really supposed to be about me, but I guess I do throw in the occasional personal-based post here and there (and a heck of a lot of 'hey guys, guess what I've been up to!' introductory paragraphs or P.S.'s) so to hell with it.

I attended a small Church of England primary school, with no more than 100 pupils the whole time I was there. I was pretty quiet; I loved creative writing, reading, and art, and whilst school per se was not my favourite thing, I was happy enough to attend and, as far as I am aware, didn't cause any trouble the entire time I was there. Yes, so I was the 'weird kid' for my taste in clothes (I hadn't yet discovered Goth, but I used to wear such oddities as rainbow-striped trousers and silver platform boots - not together, I might add - on own-clothes days), and often felt as though I didn't quite belong (but doesn't every kid?) but I had my fair share of friends and was content.

Secondary school was a whole different league. Whilst I found my footing with a group of friends who also appreciated unusual fashion, I couldn't get into the music that the 'populars' listened to, wasn't interested in smoking, drugs or promiscuity, and had the apparently offensive tendency to dye my hair different colours and have it lopped into a pixie cut. Short hair meant I was a lesbian. Orange hair meant I was a freak. The rock band hoodies and blue leather jacket I wore meant I was a loser. I worked hard and got good grades so I was a boffin. My group of friends shrank in exact inverse ratio to my growing dissatisfaction with mainstream culture.

The bullying started with name-calling - weirdo, freak, lesbian, loser - and a few particularly scathing comments still ring in my ears (if that isn't too melodramatic). I was also experiencing some troubles with my dad's wife and her family, which had led to me developing some eating-disordered behaviours and self-harming tendencies (after I left school I was referred to a physiotherapist for several years, and not to be too flippant about it but I'm feeling much better now, thanks very much).

When the cuts on my forearms were noticed in the girls' changing rooms, word spread and all hell broke loose. It was like a switch had been flipped, and what had been a few kids calling me names now felt like my entire peer group turning against me. I was locked in the girls' bathrooms for two hours. Once whilst I was standing outside the school building chatting to some friends, a boy with a baseball cap pulled low over his face and his hood up used an aerosol and a lighter to launch a fireball at me. I dread to think what would have happened if I'd been standing any closer.

A close friend of mine (who also suffered from self-harm) and I were surrounded by a group of at least a dozen of our schoolmates in a corridor, all chanting (non-sensically) 'murderers, murderers'. Once I stood up for one of my younger friends who was being chased by a group of older girls, pushing one of the girls away from her, and what seemed like her entire class fenced me in so she could deliver a good slap round my face.

I became too afraid to eat in the school canteen. I began to act up in lessons so that I would be sent out, to avoid my desk mates constantly kicking me in the shin and having (of all things) egg sandwiches thrown at me. I became quieter and quieter at home and more and more disruptive at school.

Once in a geography lesson, the boy next to me stabbed me in the forearm with a compass. I can't remember precisely what happened, but I was sent out of the lesson and given a detention. Which I refused to attend. So I was given another detention. Which I did not attend. I was taken aside by the teacher and asked if I was having problems at home. I was too shell-shocked to point out that I was having chairs thrown at me and 'lesbian', 'freak' and 'bitch' chanted at me by almost the entire class right under her nose. I just walked way.

I began bunking off school, feigning illness or just spending the entire day skulking around town. My parents contacted the school, who 'had a word' with the bullies. Well, we all know what that does.

When I walked into French class at the start of my third year of secondary school, I froze in horror when I realised I was being seated next to the worst of the bullies. I asked the teacher to change the seating plan but she refused. During the entire lesson he held his nose and complained at the top of his voice that I 'smelt of meat because I was a lesbian', scrawled 'cuts' on my arms in pen, and eventually wrote 'LESBIAN' across the cover of my French book.

The teacher went ballistic. At ME. For defiling my French book. She told me to leave the room and gave me a detention.

That was the last straw. I shouted in her face that she was fucking stupid if she thought I'd done that to my own book, stormed out of the class, walked out of the school - and never went back. It was my third day of year nine. My mum found me at home in semi-hysterics, and pulled me out of the school system the very next day, after conferring with my headteacher, who thought that I would find the situation even worse at a different school.

I was home-schooled between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, during which time I discovered Goth culture, got a job, began volunteering, made some great friends, took steps to deal with my 'issues', and realised that, actually, I was never the 'freak'.

Aged 17
Not a freak, just a girl ^^

Friday, 29 April 2011

Prejudice, part 1

This series of posts was originally designed as an e-mail, which right now is hopefully whizzing around the world, creating awareness of discrimination against Goths. But as I wanted to add more and more quotes, I thought I'd begin posting it here so that I can add to it whenever. Many of these quotes are taken from shoutboxes on the old Piczo site.

Where's the crime in looking like this?
Source: We Heart It
Racism. Sexism. Ageism. Society is full of prejudice and intolerance. But after the brutal murder of Sophie Lancaster, a beautiful girl who was killed just because of the way she chose to dress, another form of discrimination came to light.

If you’re a Goth, an emo, a punk, or a member of any other alternative subculture, then chances are you’re one of the people who have to endure hate, fear or abuse every single day. If you’re not, then consider this – what if this was you? Your child? Your best friend? What if every day, you, or someone you care about, was threatened, spat on, intimidated and humiliated by people at school, at work, or in the street? What if some members of your own family treated you like some kind of freak? What if you were blamed for causing trouble because of how you look when actually, you were the victim?

The quotes here are just a few, collected from Goths of varying ages all around the world, from shoutboxes and chatrooms on various websites. As you read this, I’d like you to keep just one thing in mind – how would you feel if this was happening to you?

"My school has done nothing more than producing hell's spawn whose only delight seems to be making fun of me. I'm really not that interesting but everytime I walk down the hallway all I hear is catcalls of "hey sup emo" or "go slice goth girl". The only thing I can do is pretend I don't hear it, but this has been going on for 2 years. Hell, even before i was 'officially goth' these SAME kids (on the most part) are the ones giving me a hard time. It just keeps getting worse. They corner me after school and circle around me like vultures. One time they cornered me and pulled up my sleeves - they thought that was hilarious. So far that's as physical as it's gotten asiden from the occasional 'friendly' shove, attempt to trip me or stealing my books etc. I go home from school as fast as I can because I'm afraid of what they will do next."

"As we got older things got worse, and although I had friends I was still the most alternative person at my school. Every day I would have things thrown at me, ranging from food, to stationary, to bricks. One particular day, a group of girls in my year threw a baked potato at me, which exploded all down my front, and when my father complained, the teachers said I deserved it for looking different on purpose."

People who victimise Goths are acting on misconceptions, false facts fed by the media and the world around us. Goths are not homicidal. Many Goths are in fact pacifists who shun violence. Why do we think Goths are potential killers? Because of Columbine? Well, the Columbine killers were not Goths. Wearing a black trenchcoat and listening to Marilyn Manson does not make you Goth. Avid fans of Manson are, in fact, Mansonites, who often dress in a similar way to Goths but are generally ignorant of true Gothic music and culture. Yes, SOME Goths do listen to MM. But Goth music originated in the 80s, and Goth bands include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, The Cure, The Cruxshadows and The Sisters of Mercy. Ignorance of Goth culture is partly what has led to Goths being so internationally hated and feared.

"I'm just shunned by most people in my school. When we're wearing our uniform I get stick anyway because I wear a lot of eyeliner and I have naturally pale skin, and this usually includes having my books stolen and graffitied, having stuff thrown at me in class and basically being either ignored or made fun of. Home clothes days are even worse because firstly I get petty remarks like "devil worshipper", "vampire" and "freaky bitch" and all the rest but then I get chairs thrown at me and I get tripped up in the lunch hall when I'm carrying my tray and stuff. It's gonna be even worse when I go back after the holidays cause I've dyed my hair. I don't get it....how is it hurting anyone else?"

"A group of boys were throwing pencils at me, and when the teacher told them to stop they said, "Oh but look at her! Can we just throw one more?" And the teacher let them. They threw a sharp compass at me, and when I left the room out of sheer anger and indignity, and refused to attend the rest of my lessons, I was suspended for a week, whereas my bullies were never punished."

Goths do not worship the devil. Goths are not all Satanists (and by the way, Satanists don’t worship the devil either…). Actually, many Goths are Christians, although many follow peaceful alternative religions such as Druidism and Wicca, or are atheist. Goths do not always wear black. Goths are not all depressed and suicidal. Whilst there are some Goths who may suffer depression or who may self-harm, it is NOT something related to the subculture as a whole. ANYONE can be depressed, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you wear. Being depressed does not make you Goth, and being Goth does not mean you are depressed.

"I am constantly at odds with my parents. They tease me even worse than the kids at school. Then when I try to correct them and tell them that being goth hasn't made me a depressed, homicidal maniac, they just yell at me and tell me that they have obiously failed as parents since they have produced such a fucked-up offspring."

"A mother who happens to be a punk drops her child off at a primary school in Preston. She is then beaten unconscious in the entrance of the school and hospitalised by another mother who doesn't like her clothes. The deputy head, having informed the police and ambulance, then informs the staff of the school in the staff room that 'It serves her right for dressing like a freak.' The rest of the staff (except me!) nod their agreement."

Goths CAN, and DO, smile and laugh and have fun. Just like other people do.

World Goth Day

C'mon, who's watching the royal wedding today? I'm not especially a royalist, I just like to look at pretty dresses and point and make judgements about ugly hats (cough cough, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, what were you thinking?).

Dan disapproves of the whole affair and won't even come out with a drink for me to celebrate, he's round a mate's house helping to move junk *sigh*. Although, since our holiday plans got cancelled, he has decided he's going to whisk me away to a nice hotel somewhere. <3 Which, unfortunately for you guys, will mean no updates for the entire Goth Day weekend. But don't worry, I have a special treat for you to make up for it... so stay tuned, sports fans... ;-)

What is this 'Goth Day' I keep wittering on about? May 22nd, actually.


World Goth Day, to give it its full and distinguished title, is the invention of a small contingent of UK Goth DJs. One May weekend, the BBC broadcasted a radio programme celebrating different genres of music, Goth being one of them. The Goth segment of the programme took place on May 22nd, and these DJs decided that the celebration of Gothness should become an annual event.

The Goth Day website states that the event is, "exactly what it says on the wrapper - a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate it’s own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world."

From the website, you can get all kinds of downloadable goodies to spread the word, such as GIFs, posters, stickers, and even soundclips. You can also purchase Goth Day merch featuring the event's trademark Siouxsie smiley. All profits from Goth Day merch go to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

But Auntie A, I hear you asking, what actually happens on Goth Day?

Well, that's pretty much up to you. You might like to keep an eye out for events in your area - or if you're a promoter, set up your own. The website details special World Goth Day events taking place all around the world!

Head out to your local Goth Night or Goth club. Get together with your Goth mates (or make your non-Goth mates Goth up...). There are, of course, many more suggestions on the Goth Day website. I particularly like the one about bombarding your local radio station and trying to convince them to play something by a Goth band.

For solitary Goths, you could arrange an online chat or make a Goth Day cake (yes, really!); for Goths who have to 'tone down' the rest of the year, you could really get Gothed-up and enjoy your chance to shine. Play your Gothiest CDs nice and loud and have a boogie in your best boots.
Source: Tumblr
To celebrate Goth Day this year, I will be posting the Goth Guide's very first giveaway, as close to the day itself as I can make it.

Oh, and until May 8th, don't forget that you can vote on the Goth Day website to nominate your favourite bands, websites, models, clubs, poets etc for the World Goth Day 2011 awards. Click here to nominate the worthy!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The tragic life and death of Ian Curtis

Even if you are new to the Goth scene, you may already be familiar with the name Ian Curtis, as his music has inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of other musicians worldwide, both alternative and mainstream, from other post-punk bands to even (apparently) Lady GaGa.

Ian Curtis was the singer of Joy Division, one of the first four post-punk bands to be given the moniker 'Gothic'. Ian and his fellow band members (Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook) contained ‘extremes of darkness and light’ within their music – anguished lyrics combined with the bounce of punky dance music. His deep, cavernous vocals have been imitated by Goth bands all over the globe. 

Source: Google Images
In 1978, Curtis was taken to hospital two days after Christmas, following an epileptic seizure, but the band's career was on the up-and-up. By 1980 when the band were touring, his epilepsy was almost uncontrollable, leading him to have seizures during his shows, which left him horribly ashamed.

Curtis also suffered from depression, and on April 7th, 1980, he attempted suicide by overdose. Joy Division were playing a gig the next evening, and whilst he managed to make it on stage for part of the set, he eventually had to retire. Simon Topping (from the band A Certain Ratio) headed onto the stage to finish the show. The audience, who believed that Curtis's seizures and erratic behaviour were part of a stage persona, booed, and began to throw bottles. Chaos and riots ensued.

Curtis's marriage was also under a lot of strain. He and his wife, Deborah, had married in 1975, when they were both in their teens, but he had begun a relationship with a woman in Belgium whilst on tour. Deborah had filed for divorce. The night before the band was due to leave for a tour of the States, Curtis returned to his family home to ask Deborah to reconsider.

Curtis reportedly saw himself as a poete maudit, and dreamed of the perennial youth achieved by legends who died young. Which, in a sense, was what he found when in the early hours of May 18th, the morning after he had asked Deborah to take him back into her life, he hung himself in the kitchen of their family home.

Joy Division, his brainchild, died with him. Without their vocalist, it was impossible for them to go on. But, in time, they remade themselves, recruiting a new vocalist to their cause and creating the new wave band New Order, a band still popular amongst Goths today.

In 2008, a film called Control, telling Ian Curtis’s tragic story, was nominated for an Oscar, and his music is still played, loved, imitated and admired by millions of musicians and music fans. He must rest peacefully in the knowledge that the legacy he so longed for in life lives on twenty years and more after his death.

Dating a non-Goth

My boyfriend Dan and I got together when I was twelve and he was fourteen. Our families assumed it was going to be a brief first romance, and yes, we broke up after a month. But then we got back together – which has pretty much set the pattern ever since. Dan and I have now been together for the last seven years, interspersed with occasional break-ups (the longest of which lasted a month).

I discovered Goth a couple of years after Dan and I got together. I expected him to be apprehensive, but he didn’t blink an eyelid as I underwent my transformation into the Queen of Dark(ish)ness you see before you today. In fact, for a short period of time he went through a brief Goth ‘phase’ himself, partly because I didn’t want to be ‘the only Goth in the village’ and partly because we both realised how many of his interests lined up nicely with Goth culture – alternative music, body art, fantasy art, the paranormal, etc.

Dan soon realised that Goth wasn’t for him, and whilst for a few years his appearance remained within the realms of ‘alternative’, nowadays his hair is cropped short and you’ll often find him dressing in gear from Mackenzie or Henleys. I call him ‘my little chav’, which he doesn’t think is funny…

When in college, some of his friends were also interested in Goth; however, he also got involved in one or two arguments after overhearing people making unpleasant statements about Goths. Recently I found out that Dan had received some stick from some of his mates for dating a Goth girl, one of them asking, "Aren’t Goths dirty?" (Don’t ask me if that’s dirty as in kinky or dirty as in unwashed. I’m not sure.) I will admit I felt bad when I heard about this – it’s not nice to feel as though you’ve caused your loved one embarrassment by dressing in the manner that you like. However, Dan maintains that he has never been embarrassed by me or ashamed of me, which means a lot.

Dan admitted that, because he didn’t know much about the Goth subculture before I became interested in it, had I been Goth when he met me he might have been intimidated, assuming that I was some sort of scary cultist. He did say that he hoped it would not have put him off getting to know me.

In the end, we’ve discovered that the things we have in common matter more than those we don’t. We originally bonded over shared musical tastes (rock, club and trance) and since then have shared new bands with each other – with mixed results. (I don’t mind his drum’n’bass stuff. Like I’m going to dislike a song called ‘Seven Notes In Black’. Acoustic rock, however? Blech. He also had a phase of listening to weird comedy rap stuff that went right over my head… Conversely, whilst Dan can tolerate Emilie Autumn and The Cruxshadows, he has a tendency to roll his eyes and mutter at the Banshees and the Sisters.)

On my 17th birthday
We both want to explore the world and share an especial fascination with Egypt. We both enjoy art in many of its forms, are interested in Medieval history, and when we go out to clubs are more interested in dancing than drinking. We like music of many varieties, and enjoy stories in all of their incarnations – books, movies, plays, comics etc. Dan also shares one of my major passions – shopping. Dan is happy to attend Goth clubs and festivals with me – in return, I go camping (which is great fun and I can’t wait to go again, but I often struggle to adjust to activities that require minimal make-up and sensible shoes).

In short, we may LOOK like an odd couple, but you can’t judge from outside appearances what two people might have in common. So don’t worry about whether that person you like is a Goth or not – just go for it.

P.S. In yesterday's Goth fashion style post, I mentioned that I was running out of ideas for such posts, and the response was fantastic - thanks, everyone, for their suggestions. Anyone else who wishes to weigh in on this debate (including a tangent I'm heading off on - is 'bubblegoth', as created by non-Goth (but Goth-friendly) musician Kerli, actually Goth?), pop over to this post here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Gothy Q&As, number 2

I wasn't intending to do a second Q&A post this month, but I've got so many to answer I figured I may as well get on with it! (That's not a complaint, darklings, far from it!)

Bibian Blue
Source: Tumblr
Leontina asked: "I was wondering, isn't buying a whole bunch of clothes in Camden pretty much the same as buying "off-the-rack" gothwear at Hot Topic? Why is it okay to order directly from Lip Service, but buying things from Hot Topic make you a poser?"

I can see Leontina's point here - why is buying brand name stuff at a market, an independent alt shop or online any different than buying it from a chain store like Hot Topic? Well, firstly, buying from market stalls or alt shops (websites or physical stores) means that your money stays 'within the scene' - it goes to the traders and store owners who love the dark alternative scene so much they've opened their own shop, and through them will bring more dark'n'spooky delights to the shelves. Whereas money paid to a chain store like Blue Banana or its US equivalent goes to anonymous corporation fatcats who see Goth as nothing more than a consumer market.

Secondly, Camden is not just full of brand name stuff, if you know where to look. There are independent shops like No:Wear who stock their own unique, handmade goods; and many market stalls and traders who are also selling hand-created one-offs. To avoid the off-the-rack look, avoid buying brand and look for one-of-a-kind DIY-ed stuff made by people who appreciate the scene as much as you do.

Rebecca asked: "Hi Amy, does anyone tell you what to wear? Random people come up to me and say you should have black hair and piercings. This is really annoying. I have strawberry blonde hair and no piercings or tattoos and I'm proud because that's how I feel comfortable. Sorry for ranting but does anyone tell you how you should look?"

Hm. Not really. I suppose being pale, pierced, tattooed and black-haired I am pretty much the image of a stereotypical Goth. The only comments I get are the opposite: 'women shouldn't have tattoos' or 'those piercings have ruined your looks'. If you're comfortable and confident the way you are, then seriously, don't let it get to you. There's no need for you to conform to a stereotypical image unless it's what you like and what suits you.

Eclipse asked: "Thanks for this page. This has helped me a lot come up with some new ideas for clothing and adding a more individual touch too my look. Though I was wondering if you could help me find some example pics. I can't find any good ones online other than yours here and The Gothic Asylum and the various bands I know. Thought maybe you could help with all your gothic know how."

Heheh. I have Gothic know how. ^^

I get my pics from sites like Tumblr, Photobucket and We Heart It, by searching for basic terms like 'goth', 'gothic', 'cyber', 'lolita' and 'steampunk'. You could also try Deviant Art and Flickr. Even Google Images is pretty helpful, although search terms like 'goth festival' come up with more interesting and varied pics than just 'goth'.

Amy asked: "I just wanted to know, Amy are you American?"

British, actually. ^^

Jon asked: "hey amy i wanna ask if i can do pierc in my house cuz in my country they dun make piercing in lips or eye brows so i need help is that k ?!? cuz i can do it with needle but i wanna make sure if its not harmful."

Um... some people do self-pierce but for someone who's not experienced I wouldn't recommend it. If you hit an artery you could bleed to death; hit the wrong nerve and you could paralyse your face. Also, it will REALLY hurt. Don't go there.

Rose asked: "hiya Amy see i like piercings and tattoos but i hate geting them (i only have my ears pierced) but can I still be goth without all my piercings and tattoos??"

Of course you can. Body mods are a personal choice and not a requirement for being part of the scene.

Yvonne asked: "Can you give me a good place to buy goth clothes cheap in England cuz most of my goth stuff that i bought cost a fortune."

The trouble with Goth fashion is that you either have to spend quite a bit of money on custom made or brand name pieces, or be prepared to invest some time and effort in amassing your wardrobe. Rather than looking for no-effort, expensive items from alt stores, try looking in 'mainstream' high street shops such as New Look and Peacocks for simple items such as black skirts and jeans, blazers, shirts and blouses, waistcoats, vest tops in black, red and purple etc. These can be mixed and matched for an easy, everyday Goth wardrobe.

For a more unique look, try browsing charity shops in your area. It may take a few trips to find some nice pieces, but keep checking back because you never know what will have just been donated. You can find second-hand brand name clothing at cheap prices, as well as non-brand-name pieces that will work equally well with the Goth aesthetic, such as lacy dresses, corset tops, slogan T-shirts, velvet skirts etc.

Lastly, getting to grips with some basic DIY will help no end. I get a lot of comments from people who 'suck' at DIY, but anyone can rip a hole in a pair of tights, safety-pin a patch onto a plain T-shirt, fray the hem of a denim skirt, or use a machine dye to change the colour of a flowy cotton dress. Voila, budget Goth.

Bliby182 asked: "What about my hair? My parents have a strict NO dyeing policy - not even temporary! It's just a boring brown and I absolutely can't stand it! What can I do to sneak around it?"

Fake hair is your friend! You can pick up clip-in streaks online or from high street shops like Claire's. These are no-fuss and add instant streaks of rainbow colour. Some sites stock hair falls, which you can clip or tie over a ponytail to give you a whole new head of hair in dozens of colours and styles - everything from neon green plastic tubing to raven curls to pink dreadlocks. Use a wide fabric hairband to cover your natural hair and no one will know that the falls aren't actually your hair. You can also get fake fringes, either on clips or on an elastic hairband, so you can give yourself an instant V-fringe if you want to. Wigs are a more expensive option, but fun if you have the money for it.

Would the dyeing policy cover coloured gel? You can find coloured styling gel in most drugstores. It washes out easily. In a pinch, interesting hair clips and fascinators will make your 'do look more interesting - skulls, bats, feathers and veils can all be added to a simple style to give it (I hate this expression) the 'wow factor'.


Lastly, I found a video in my charity shop today. It was called Addams Groove, and purported to be some sort of dance collaboration between the Addams Family - and MC Hammer. Yes, he of the white harem pants. After recovering from the shock, I came home and researched this terrifying creation further on YouTube. I believe this song was used for the end credits of one of the Addams Family movies - somehow the MC Hammer connection never registered in my mind. You can view this abomination of the natural order here.

Listening to: The Dope Show - Marilyn Manson

Styles of Goth fashion: High Gothic

Unfortunately, I am beginning to run out of Goth fashion styles to write about - but don't forget, these subsets can be mixed, matched and combined to create so many new and different looks, each as individual as the wearer, that I could only create a 100% definitive catalogue of Goth styles if I tracked down each and every Goth now living and interviewed them about their wardrobe and inspirations. Sadly this blog is a non-profit project and my budget doesn't quite extend to such a task!

However, I'm not quite done yet - and I'm sure that some new styles will emerge from the dark waters of Goth sooner or later, and then we can begin all over again! ^^

Now, on with the show.

At the total opposite end of the dark spectrum than the most recent addition to the Goth family tree, nu-Goth, we have the style known variously as ubergoth, fantasy Goth, and High Gothic. This style is certainly not one for daywear (except possibly a toned-down version for the very brave) and is seen most often as festival wear or for photo shoots.

Source: We Heart It
The term 'ubergoth' is often used as a derogatory term, meaning someone who is fully Gothed-up At All Times and looks down on those who aren't. 'Ubergoth' in this instance, however, is simply someone who is REALLY, REALLY Gothed-up. Yards of glimmering black fabric, corsets, huge PVC heels, veils, masks, whiteface, swirly eye make-up and a tiara... and that's just the guys.

The make-up for this look is almost always stark and monochrome; the face is usually as white as possible. You know the 'please no whiteface' rule? Well, High Gothic is the exception. However, these Goths are usually long past the mallgoth age (and have well-paid jobs - what, you think you can afford a wardrobe like that on a budget? Even if you're a seamstress, fabric costs money...) and tend to have a lot of make-up nous, blending the make-up well and applying it to all exposed skin (including, darklings, the ears and the back of the neck).

In addition to whiteface, black lipstick tends to be worn, often applied so that the cupid's bow of the top lip is shaped into exaggerated points. Eye make-up is very heavy and very dark. Pretty little swirls are often included. Basically, take every bad Goth make-up cliche and apply it with skill and elegance, and somehow you end up with a look that can be very beautiful.

Nails are often very long and pointed (easily faked with falsies) - and black, of course! Piercings and tattoos are rarely seen with this look - possibly because they are covered up with so much clothing! A delicate nose ring may be sported, often connected to the ear with a chain (FYI, this is painless - I sometimes wear a nose chain myself. It just clips to my nose ring and then I tuck it behind my ear). Accessories, other than those already mentioned may include gloves, ruffs, heavy jewellery, crowns, armour rings, feather boas, ornate headdresses and fans.

Corsets are wardrobe staples for men and women alike, although not often tight-laced - those outfits, often complete with hoop skirts, are hot and difficult to manouevre in as it is! It's easy to see where the 'fantasy Goth' moniker came from - these Goths look more like otherwordly denizens of a dark underground realm than the kind of person you'd bump into on the high street. This is an exceptionally high-maintenance look that takes a lot of time and effort to put together.
Source: Tumblr
 As this kind of outfit could be festival wear for many Goths, there are no particular musical associations that I can think of. However, if we were to be awful and judge by appearances I'd list classical composers such as Bach; some Goth rock bands such as Lilith and John Merrick's Remains, and some ethereal, dark ambient and medieval bands, e.g. Rising Shadows.

Listening to: Chinese Burn - Curve

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Goth humour

I can't believe I've had more hits on this site in six months than I had on the old Piczo site in three years... I must be doing something right over here!

What do you get if you cross a Goth and a toilet?
The Cisterns of Mercy.


Despite certain stereotypes, Goths can and do smile, laugh and have fun without worrying (too much) about cracking their make-up. In fact, Goth's particular brand of humour has created an entire consumer market, from comic books to TV series, even cute and cuddly toys designed to appeal to the Gothic sense of black humour and whimsy.

A lot of Goth humour revolves around the scene itself, whether poking affectionate fun at the often-confusing world of Goth social etiquette or satirising (gently or none-too-gently) the subculture as a whole. I think I've said this before, but I believe that in order to be part of a subculture like Goth, you really have to be able to see the funny side of it.

There's a Goth walking down the road with a rat on his shoulder. An old lady walks past, stops, stares at the two and says "Yuk! What are you doing with that revolting creature?"
"Squeak, squeak, squeak!" says the rat.


And there's plenty to laugh at. For example, the Twitter account Goth Girl Problems is ever-growing in popularity, with snarky tweets that may cut a little close to the bone for some Gothlings, including the following gems:

  • "I know Goth night is supposed to be this great equalizer where we all accept each other but I fucking hate cybergoths."
  • "I need a camera with a stronger flash. I could make out my nose in that last picture."
  • "The popular girls only talk to me when they think I can get them drugs."
  • "I really hope I get a good role at the Renaissance Fair this year. Last time I got stuck in a barn with a fat centaur."
  • "Big hair. Small car."
Goth comics such as Writhe and Shine, 7 Shades of Black, Nemi and Rebecca's Realm thrive on making fun of the subculture that spawned them. Such comics are often rife with in-jokes, usually relating to fashion dilemmas and Goth social etiquette - extra humour value for darklings, confusion for non-Goths.

Source: Bleeding Edge
How can you tell if there is a Goth driving a car?
The horn goes "ankh ankh."


The black humour that is rife in the Goth scene is found in the jokes that turn up on both Goth and anti-Goth websites all over the web. Goth haters post these jokes because they think the ickle Gothlings will be offended. Goths post them because of the cheesy black humour.

Other examples of black humour in the Goth scene are shown by comics like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (by Jhonen Vasquez); those without Goth or 'dark' inclinations may find this humour offensive or disturbing. And of course, not all Goths enjoy it either. But many do - enough so that it has become a cliche within the scene.

How do you get a Goth out of a tree?
Cut the rope.

Two Goths are having sex. Suddenly, the girl Goth comes. "Darling, darling!" says the boy Goth, "what's wrong?" "Nothing," says the girl Goth, "nothing at all. Why?" "You moved."

Probably the first name that comes to mind for Goths when comedy is mentioned is Voltaire, whose books, comics and musics are riddled with his trademark brand of snark. Voltaire maintains that he is the only 'intentionally funny' Goth musician, but other bands such as the Scary Bitches (with their classic songs You'll End Up Looking Like the Scary Bitches, Lesbian Vampire From Outer Space and This is Not My Idea of Fun - look them up!), Ministry's infamous Every Night Is Halloween, and Dr Steel's cheerful tunes about world domination have a definite brand of dark humour about them.

What do you store your heavy velvet cape in for the summer?
Goth balls.


What's black and knocks on the window?
A Goth in a microwave.


'Classic' Goth humour is ably demonstrated by old TV programmes such as The Addams Family and The Munsters. These shows have just the right blend of black humour and cheerful whimsy to make them huge hits within the Goth scene. Some of Tim Burton's movies, most notably Beetlejuice, have also plumbed the depths of ooky-spooky Goth humour.

Many 'mainstream' TV programmes have also jumped on the bandwagon in recent years and turned a main character or two temporarily Goth, so that they, too, can take advantage of the wealth of comedy material that can be mined from the subculture. From The Mighty Boosh and The Big Bang Theory to South Park, dozens of comedy shows and sitcomes have, or have had, a Goth character - at least for a little while. Even Abby from NCIS's Gothness is often used for humour.

Wayne Hussey dies and goes to heaven. At the pearly gates, he meets up with Gabriel who gives him the grand tour of heaven. While toruing he sees many familiar faces including Jimi Hendrix, Ian Curtis, Mary Shelley, and of course Nick Fiend kinda shows up once in a while... And then he sees Andrew Eldritch sitting on a HUUUGE throne.. Wayne says to Gabriel "I didn't know Andrew was dead!" Gabriel replies, "Oh, that's God. He only thinks he's Andrew."

Unfortunately, there is no denying the comedy value of the badly-dressed mallgoth. You can check out the bad, the worse, and the really quite scary over at Look at this Fucking Goth, a Tumblog which, unfortunately, has not been updated since October.

There is even a card game, referenced in The Goth Bible, where one can earn Goth points and Angst points whilst rolling one's eyes at some of the worst-dressed Gothlings featured on the cards.

How many Goths does it take to make cheesecake?
None, there are no Goths in cheesecake.


Of course, the last few years have seen the rise of the Goth comedian, beginning with would-be Goth Russell Brand and finishing at its peak with Mark White, 'the Marilyn Manson of comedy', who will "make you laugh and be depressed... at the same time!" Mr. White's website proclaims, "In a world where stand up comedians increasingly look and sound the same, here is a performer who dares to wear goth makeup and dress in all black, with fishnets and nail polish and get huge laughs with all kinds of crowds."

How many Goths does it take to change a lightbulb?
What's a lightbulb?


How many Goths does it take to change a lightbulb?
None, but one has to light the candle.


How many Goths does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two, one to do it, the other to bitch about how Andrew Eldritch could have done it better.


How does Andrew Eldritch change a lightbulb?
He holds it into the socket and waits for the world to revolve round him.

Unified Underground and other Christian Goth festivals

Woe! Woe is me! My new pink boots are taking WEEKS to ship from Hong Kong, my seaside holiday plans are undergoing SEVERE rearrangement since the caravan we were going to stay in got sold off, and my back is sporting a distinctly healthy glow after I fell asleep in the sun at the weekend... *staples back of hand to forehead*

Anyhoo. As much as I could fill an entire post with wailing and gnashing of teeth... I'm still attempting to make posts on as many Goth-themed and Goth-friendly festivals as I possibly can, so here's another one for you - the various conferences that have been set up for Christian Goths throughout the years.

I first became aware of the Christian Goth Gathering when I saw an advertisement for the event in Gothic Beauty Magazine. As far as I can tell, the Christian Goth Gathering was the first large Christian Goth event. It took place in Maryland (USA) in 2004 and 2005, each a three-day event. Goths attending the Gathering were treated to fashion shows, live bands, games, chocolate parties (!) and worship services as well as the main conference. There have even been baptisms taking place during the event. Attendees also received goodie bags containing such yummies as black roses, CD samplers and handcrafted bookmarks from The Gothic Window.

Following the cancellation of the third Gathering in 2006, Psycho X Productions came to the rescue with a North Carolina event for Christian Goths in October that same year, which went by the name of Haven X Obscurum.

Since 2007, the main event for Christian Goths and other dark alternatives has been Unified Underground (Maryland), which is presented by Hope for the Rejected, the subculture ministry arm of Youth For Christ (subculture ministry? Why yes, there is such a thing). Unified Underground seeks to unite punk, Goth and hardcore Christians, hence the name.

At Unified Underground, attendees can expect the conference to be addressed by members of alternative Christian bands, founders of websites such as GothicChristianity.com, and Goth pastors. There are also smaller break-out seminars designed to allow smaller groups to discuss topics on a more personal level. Bands from each of the three subcultures represented by the event perform. There is also a fashion show, and at the 2007 event there were several games of dodgeball...

My favourite aspect of the fun and games at this event is the prize-giving ceremony - prizes are awarded to those who have travelled the farthest, have the most piercings, longest hair, biggest tattoo, smallest tattoo.

Unified Underground has since grown into a larger event encompassing a wider spectrum of underground subcultures - "Punk, Metal, Hardcore, Hippie, Goth, Skater and Hip Hop," according to the website. It is still taking place annually.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Summer: a survival guide for the intrepid Gothling

Well, there's a Gothtastic swimwear post over at Sincerely, Boots, which means that summer must be approaching fast. Judging from the fact that I can't actually remember the last time it rained, it's obviously time to dig out the parasol collection, slap suncream on my tatt, and go brave the Yellow Hurty Thing for yet another summer.

Source: We Heart It
Ah, summer. Traditionally the time for sunbathing, wearing flip-flops, and collecting sand in one's shoes a la Dido. Unless, of course, you're one of the black-clad masses for whom Sun-In spray and pink bikinis are about as appealing as lancing a boil - in which case, you're certainly not alone.

Here are just a few of the common ailments afflicting we Gothy types during the hot season: sunscream smears on black clothing. Fishnet- or lace-patterned sunburn. Melting make-up (resulting in the Alice Cooper effect, and not in a good way. I've had to resort to going bare-faced for the last three days. Shocking, isn't it?). Boiling hot feet (New Rocks may look good, but they roast your tootsies like a couple of black-polished jacket potatoes). Black hair dye turning an (un)attractive shade of browny-red (a problem which I've previously solved by dying my locks a shade called Midnight Red, in attempt to make the red tint look a) nice and b) vaguely deliberate. But surely there must be another solution - after all, we can't ALL dye our hair Midnight Red...).

So all in all, it's no wonder many of us fall into the habit of lurking sullenly indoors as soon as the sun creeps into the sky. But cheer up, Gothlings, it's not all bad. There are many ways to keep your cool in all but the firiest of heatwaves...

Firstly, I hate to say this, but you're going to have to start with a little compromise. Unless you have a deathwish (which is very Goth of you... but even then, do you really want to depart this mortal coil with sweaty armpits?) you probably won't enjoy braving the sunshine in a leather trenchcoat and poloneck jumper.

So my first tip is to lose the layers. Elaborate Goth fashions are based upon layers and layers of texture and fabric, and in the middle of summer you'll need to strip this down to the bare essentials. Vest tops, light T-shirts, floaty skirts and dresses, even lightweight shorts and bloomers, are your friends. You're going to have to show at least a little bit of skin if you don't want to end up with a tomato-coloured face. Mesh, lace and fishnet are good for covering skin whilst keeping you reasonably cool.

Whatever you do, darklings, don't forget the suncream! Even if porcelain-pale skin isn't your thing, hopefully red'n'flaky isn't either. Do yourself a favour - don't burn! AND DON'T FORGET TO PUT HIGH-SPF SUNCREAM ON YOUR TATTOOS. Or just keep them covered.

Oh, and insect repellent is a wonderful invention. Spiders are cool (but kinda creepy). Mosquitos? Not even going there.

Replace your woolly tights and opaque stripey tights with something a bit more aerating. Fishnets, lace tights and sheer stockings look just as pretty but will allow more airflow to your skin. Just be sure to apply suncream underneath - yes, I know it's a pain trying to work tights up suncream-sticky legs (or arms; this is the Goth scene, after all), but you can still tan or burn through sheer or loosely-woven fabrics, and I for one wish to avoid the horror of a fishnet-patterned tan.

If it's REALLY, REALLY hot where you live, it may be necessary to re-think your look until the worst of the heatwave is over. No, I don't mean that you should start dressing like a cheerleader (unless you ARE a cheerleader - oh, yes, Goth cheerleaders exist...). Cream, white, ivory, sepia and pale grey (or even lavender - it's one of the Victorian colours of mourning) are all cooler options than basic black and will create a stunningly ethereal look.

Also, now is not the time to wear your flamingo-pink Cleopatra wig from Manic Panic. Yes, wigs (good quality ones, that is - babybats, please do not run down to your local fancy dress shop and buy crappy plastic wigs. I made this mistake, and regret it to this day...) are an exciting and easy way to give yourself a whole new look in an instant. But in a heatwave, they become hot, itchy, and horribly uncomfortable. If you feel half-naked without some form of hair adornment, opt for lightweight falls or clip-in extensions.

Speaking of hair - those of you with long, flowing manes may find it helpful to tie it back or twist it into an up-do to keep it off your neck. Shaven-headed and short-haired Gothlings have a slight advantage when it comes to beating the summer heat - just do try not to get a sunburned scalp!

Many staple Goth accessories come into their own at this time of year. Fans and parasols, obviously, are practically lifesavers - cheap, pretty fans can be picked up at fancy dress shops or (whisper it) sex shops (for the 18-plus darklings, obviously). Sunglasses are a must, whether you plump for aviator shades like Mr. Eldritch, simple black shades, or something kitsch like heart-shaped sunnies. Those of you with a cyber or steampunk bent should search online for UV-protective goggles - there are loads out there.

Of course, a sunhat is a marvellous thing to own - I have spent literally years looking for a perfect, Edward Gorey-esque broad-brimmed sunhat, and finally found one in a charity shop, complete with raven feather, earlier this month. Ethergoths, Victorian Goths and possibly romantigoths are probably already smirking with pride over their hat collections and are likely to have something on hand to suit the summer weather.

If a broad-brimmed sunhat doesn't fit with your style, you could try a western-style hat (very Fields of the Nephilim), a smart trilby, or even a baseball cap if your look is right for it. Just stay away from beanies and anything woolly.

Now - parasols are all-round fabulous and lovely things to own, but sometimes they can be just downright impractical to carry (and make your arms ache). I left mine at home on a recent date with The Boyfriend, and as we ate takeaway Chinese on the riverbank, I couldn't help but worry slightly about getting home and peeling off my tights only to discover that I had ACCIDENTALLY TANNED, losing my hard-earned lily-white pallor and turning a ghastly shade of... orange.

[Tangent: Yes, yes, not all Goths are concerned with maintaining an ethereal hue. Goths come in all colours and shades, from pale white to ebony black and every shade of pink, brown, gold and hell, even green, in between. But having a tan of any description really doesn't suit me, and I know I'm not alone in this...]
Should you slip up and gain an accidental suntan, don't panic - head over to my post on creating a ghostly pallor for a handy-dandy tan remover recipe.

Lastly, what about those broiling feet? Well, boots aren't the only available kind of Gothy footwear out there, y'know. Mary-Janes or even sandals (try your local Peacocks, UK readers) will keep your spooky tootsies a hell of a lot cooler whilst leaving your Goth cred intact.

But if you've given up trying to escape the Daystar and are hermiting indoors, you may like to check out Goths In Hot Weather... a v. funny blog chock full of sweltering darklings - send me a link if you decide to send them your own picture. And a song for you too... Goths of Summer, by Mark Aaron James.

Dark and Goth-friendly music part 10: sepia and steam

Kicking off today's posts with yet another music guide, today I'm covering steampunk and various steampunk-friendly genres, many of which have their origins and fanbase firmly rooted within the Goth subculture.

Cienwen Noor
Source: We Heart It
Steampunk
Steampunk music is hard to define, as many of the bands whose music is associated with this genre seem at first glance to have very little in common with each other, e.g. Dr Steel's hip-hop and Industrial-tinged sci-fi audio domination vs. the darkwave synthpunk fusion of Vernian Process. These bands are largely linked by visual aesthetic and steampunk themes in lyrical content.

Steampunk bands include: The Clockwork Dolls, Abney Park (who were a Goth band before they re-defined themselves as steampunk, FYI), The Clockwork Cabaret, Unextraordinary Gentlemen, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, Sunday Driver, Professor Elemental, Deadly Nightshade Botanical Society, Ghostfire, China Steamengine.

Sepiachord
Sepiachord is a relatively new term in the Goth scene, made increasingly popular by Projekt's compilation release The Sepiachord Passport (which "presents twenty(!) songs that meld dark cabaret, gypsy punk, neo-folk, twisted waltzes and circus blues with pop, rock, hip-hop, world music and the avant-garde").

The website Sepia Chord describes the genre thusly: "It is to music what 'steampunk' is to literature and cinema: something that looks back to the past to comment on the present while looking sideways at the future... As goth & glam are the bastards of David Bowie, Sepiachord is made from the genetic material sown by Tom Waits. Sepiachord is assembled like a clockwork orchestra, from such elements of music as Sinister Circus, Cabaret Macabre, Chamber Pop, Organic Goth, Celtic/Gypsy Punk, Mutant Americana, Ghost Town Country."

Musicians whose music could be termed 'sepiachord' include: Toy-Box Trio, Blackbird Orchestra, Bat Country, Tiger Lillies, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, Circus Contraption, Veronique Chevalier, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band, Sxip Shirey, Rhubarb Whiskey.

Gloom pop
Gloom pop is the lovechild of shoegaze and sepiachord, as ably demonstrated by the following musicians.

Gloom pop bands include: Glass, Fantome, Tearwave.

Chamber pop
Chamber pop, or Baroque pop, originated way back in the 1960s, but modern bands and musicians are breathing new life into the genre, described by Wikipedia thusly: "Modern Baroque pop, characterized by an infusion of orchestral arrangements or classical style composition generally within an indie or indie pop setting, is also often referred to as chamber pop or chamber rock. Sometimes traditional pop instrumentation is discarded entirely. Many artists often highlight songs with unique instruments not found in most modern popular music such as the accordion or harpsichord. The writing style of the genre often has a distinct narrative quality to it and often makes references to history, literature, philosophy, and folklore."

Chamber pop musicians include: Belle and Sebastian, The Divine Comedy, Evelyn Evelyn, Parenthetical Girls, Brasstronaut, Spell, The Tiny, The Decemberists, Pale Young Gentlemen, Dark Dark Dark.

Cello rock
Cello rock is a subgenre of rock music characterised by the use of the cello, and possibly other stringed instruments such as the violin. Rasputina are considered pioneers of this genre, and arguably the most popular band of this subgenre within the Goth scene, wherein they have acquired an enormous following.

Other cello rock musicians include: Hyperion, Von Cello, Apocalyptica, Unwoman, Disemballerina, Black Oak, Silenzium.

Some bands include a cellist in their line-up, but the cello is not the primary instrument.

These bands include: Tarja, Darling Violetta, Poe.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

It's not just a phase

Firstly, I'd like to apologise for not posting yesterday, I ended up heading to my boyfriend's house straight after work and unexpectedly staying there very late. I told you April was not a good month - but I'm planning to try for at least two or three posts a day over the coming week to make up for my laxness. Secondly, I'd like to wish you all a happy Easter. ^^

I often like to wait a while before approaching reader requests, so that I can get my thoughts in order and do a little research. But when Daisy Fiend asked "I was wondering if you could PLEASE make a post about how to deal with people saying "It's just a phase" and arguments to help them understand that for some Goths it's NOT just a phase?", I couldn't quite resist formulating some sort of response straight away. I may also post more on this topic when I think of some more to say on the matter.

Abby from NCIS (played by Pauley Perette)
The perfect fictional example of 'not a phase' - adult, forensic scientist, and Goth party girl.
I am so fired up about this post because, when I first became very interested in Goth and started trying out Goth fashion, my dad took me round to visit various far-flung relatives post-Christmas. Needless to say, many of them were not hugely impressed by my new appearance, complete with fresh lip piercing.

But the two comments which struck me the most were meant in vastly different ways. My ex-policeman, highly conservative uncle remarked, "Let me take a photo so that in five years time you can laugh at how stupid you look." My cousin Deb, who had briefly been a Goth in her younger years, mentioned her own 'Goth phase' and then joked, "Oops, mustn't say it's a 'phase'."

Five years later, my passion for Goth is showing no signs of fading. The increasingly bemused expressions on the faces of relatives who was sure this was another short-lived teen fad (I had a hippie phase, a punk phase, a wearing-only-rainbow-stripes phase...) are somewhat satisfactory.

The trouble is, the people who are telling you that your current lifestyle choices are nothing more than a 'stage you're going through', are not just being a pain in the ass. With the benefit of age and wisdom, they can tell that your fondness for black and heavy boots is OBVIOUSLY a form of teenage rebellion, and sooner or later you'll 'grow up' and get on with life. Without having a reasonable knowledge of subculture, and how it can manifest itself, for lack of a better term, in all areas of your life, at any age, Goth presents itself as a rebellious fad that can't possibly extend beyond the teenage years, because clearly (this is sarcasm) you can't get a job, start a family, etc, if you're still green-haired and black-clad.

Even those who previously were Goth will make such comments - in fact, these are probably the worst, because they are speaking from honest experience, usually with an amused air of 'been there, done that, grew out of it'.

The truth is that some people never grow out of Goth. But some people do. These people felt just as strongly about Goth then as you do now. In five, ten or twenty years time, you (and I) may also decide that the Goth subculture is no longer going to be a big part of your life. We can't predict how we will feel about it in future. Which doesn't make it any less annoying when people patronisingly insist that what you currently love is something you will 'grow out of'.

Again, many people have little understanding of what Goth is - its rich and vibrant club scene, festivals and events; online communities; a vast array of fashion and music subgenres - it's just a bunch of kids in fishnets and whiteface. Even people who were briefly 'Goth' may not have discovered the Goth scene proper - maybe if they had they would have stuck around a bit longer. This lack of understanding fuels the misconception that, sooner or later, we ALL grow out of it.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to insist that it's really not a phase, these people are highly unlikely to believe you. They're more likely to smirk, pat you on the head and go, "Of course not. We'll see in a few months' time, won't we?" If you know the person well, e.g. a family member, there isn't any harm in attempting to explain to them that actually, there are hundreds of grown-up Goths who have jobs and families, and for some people it's a lifelong interest. But be warned; they think they know better than you, and are unlikely to accept it.

You can also show them creations such as Goth magazines (Gothic Beauty, Unscene and Spider's Web being my personal favourites) and books such as The Goth Bible and Gothic Charm School - written by adults, run by adults, created, written and devised by people who never 'grew out of it' and probably never will. Bands such as The Cruxshadows are not rebellious teens. Goth models like Adora BatBrat are not trying to shock their parents. But, again, be mindful of the fact that these people are convinced that they are right and you are wrong, and they may not pay attention because nobody likes being proven wrong.

When these remarks come from people you don't know well, there isn't really anything you can do. You could say something along the lines of, "Maybe it's a phase, but I'm happy like this right now," or simply, "Perhaps." A stranger's opinion shouldn't matter that much anyway - they're just ably demonstrating their lack of knowledge about alternative culture, which doesn't need to bother you.

Close relatives may be swayed by displays of non-rebellious behaviour - a teen who does all her chores, is polite, and works hard in school is clearly not rebelling. If their behaviour and remarks are bothering you, explain to them calmly and politely that whilst you MAY grow out of this 'phase' in time, at the moment it is important to you and you would appreciate them respecting that and not making comments.

Remember that they may feel threatened or concerned by your 'Gothness' and could be making these remarks to a) reassure themselves or b) put you off. If you suspect this may be the case, it's best to sit them down and have The Talk about what Goth is and why they don't need to be worried about you becoming a junkie cult member.

Unfortunately, the only definitive argument you have in this case is time. In ten years time, they might have stopped telling you it's a phase. In thirty years time, they will DEFINITELY have stopped saying so.

For me, as they say, the proof was in the pudding. Childish though this is, at the grand old age of nearly-fifteen, I kept a mental tally of every single 'just a phase' comment, and decided that I would spend a month dressed as a Goth for every single one of those comments. I did so. And then carried on, long after my mental tally was left far behind. I don't suggest that you force yourself into a mould to spite other people - but I can tell you with honesty that, at the time, my mild-mannered revenge made me feel a hell of a lot better about such remarks.

I hope this has at least been a little bit helpful, I may come back to this subject for future posts!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Noisescape TV

I'm in a bit of a rush today, but I knew immediately what I could manage a quick post about!

Have you ever wished that you could flick on the TV, and instead of The Simpsons re-runs, pointless soaps and documentaries about bacteria you could watch interviews with your favourite Goth, Industrial and electro musicians, dark and beautiful music videos and discover some amazing bands?

Well, actually, you sort-of can. Except you need to flick on your computer, not the TV, and pop on over to Noisescape TV for your weekly fix of dark alternative musical goodness, festival specials, live performances, band interviews and much more cobweb-draped spooky goodness (even a beach party episode...). Unless, of course, you're in a location where you can pick up San Francisco cable channels, when you can simply pop over to channel 29 on a Wednesday night.

You can check out the episode archives, as well as EXCLUSIVE interviews and music videos at the Noisescape TV homepage.

Or you can do what I do and check out past episodes and interview clips on YouTube. <3

If you didn't already know about the Epic Awesome that is NSTV, you may consider this a gift from me to you. You're welcome.

Please enjoy my two favourite episodes of NSTV:




P.S. 201 followers?! (OK, so one of them is me...) Whoa, you guys are so amazing! <3

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I'm still versatile!

The Versatile Blogger Award is making the rounds again - this time I was lucky enough to receive it from Lucidia LeFang, vampire blogmistress of The Coffin Chronicles. Thank you very much!

Rules:
1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award onto fifteen of your favourite bloggers (do I have fifteen favourite bloggers that I haven't already tagged with this? We shall see, I suppose.)
4. Contact your nominees to let them know about the award.
1. In May, I'm going on a mini-break at the seaside with my wonderful boyfriend. Unfortunately, I will be away for World Goth Day. I am unreasonably upset about this. Clearly I need to reshuffle my priorities a little.
2. My Tarot reading last night was frighteningly accurate and told me a few things I hadn't known I needed to hear. I got very emotional and almost cried. Having a stranger look into your eyes and tell you everything that's in your heart, and untangle some of your fears, is a very unsettling experience.
3. This week I was introduced to a friend's mum as her girlfriend to stop her mum from constantly trying to set her up with highly unsuitable suitors. I am not sure how my boyfriend is going to feel about this. o.O
4. I have tasted and fallen in love with a new cocktail - Disaronno Amaretto, Southern Comfort and cranberry juice. It's called a Marzipan, and that's exactly what it tastes like. I am a BIG fan of cocktails, alcopops and sickly-sweet drinks in general.
5. I have already chosen my Halloween costume. It comes from Artifice Clothing and costs $200, but I saw it in Gothic Beauty when I was about sixteen and never thought I would have an excuse to wear it. At 19, a pink PVC military nurse outfit seems like a perfectly sensible investment.
6. I eat chocolate spread out of the jar with a spoon. For breakfast.
7. Right now, I am craving sushi.

Nominees (I've managed eleven, which will have to do!):

Deathrock, vampires, Bettie Page, hair advice, emo and rock bands - everything your black little heart desires, you'll find here.

Possibly the coolest outfits ever; festival goodness; and the horrific tale of a Goth girl having to wear... FAKE TAN.

Shopping, corsets, rantings, and rather excellent hair. And a sprinkling of science, in case I'm melting your mind with all this fashion stuff...

Fantastic crafty goodness!

A newborn but charming blog of the gorgeous Serenity, who is also a very talented singer (as you will see).

Beautiful, spookycute creations (and random acts of silliness) - a must-visit blog for fellow Halloween lovers!

Tutorials, vids, and other exciting stuff from a multilingual spooky type.

I love this blog and you will too! Fashion, reviews, funeral customs and other Gothy goodness, with a healthy dose of Boots's dry wit.

My current favourite fashion blog; club, casual, work and weekend outfits from a beautifully elegant 'mature' Goth.

Does what it says on the label, with added charm and some great music.

Victoriana, vampires, taxidermy, steampunkery, voodoo and other good stuff going on at Ms. Lou's fabulous blog.

Styles of Goth fashion: ethergoth

Ethergoth was a term I first came across in Voltaire's What Is Goth?. The name itself is an abbreviation of 'ethereal' Goth, relating to the preferred genre of music for these Goths, ethereal wave or ethereal darkwave. Voltaire describes this subset as, "Serene, thoughtful and creative, ethergoths are defined by their affinity for ambient music, darkwave and classically inspired Gothic music. Ethergoths are more likely to be found sipping tea, writing poetry and listening to the Cocteau Twins than jumping up and down at a club."

Source: Photobucket
The look is soft and elegant with inspiration from romantic, Medieval and possibly Victorian styles. At festivals and other events, ethergoths can often be identified by their dreamy, otherworldly appearance, created by simple, loose hairstyles, light make-up, elegant silver jewellery and flowing clothes. Broad-brimmed hats such as Lydia's in Beetlejuice, veils, and the ubiquitous lace gloves are common accessories. Intricate beaded chokers and cameo jewellery are also likely suspects.

However from day to day, ethergoth clothing is often more simple than that associated with other styles, perhaps incorporating a black T-shirt, black skirt or trousers (velvet trousers would look great), and black shoes or boots. Whilst researching this subset, I found a website that mentioned ethergoth fashion combining black clothing with light, airy colours such as lilac, although I am not sure how accurate this may be.

Make-up-wise, lighter colours are certainly often seen; lilac, white, powder blue etc are often paired with black liner (possibly with some swirly designs). Lips are often left bare or a simple red, brown or plum lipstick is used (depending, of course, on eyeshadow colour - I am not implying that ethergoths wear clashing make-up!).

As ethergoth is more practical and toned-down than other versions of Goth fashion, it may be one of the best looks for young Gothlings at home with their parents, or something to bear in mind for corporate Goths who are becoming tired of their pinstriped suits.

Likely ethergoth interests include tea (I wonder how many ethergoths own a fortune-telling tea cup?), poetry, folklore, curling up with a good book, and/or intellectual pursuits such as fine art or history. They may also be interested in more 'spiritual' things like angelology.
Source: Photobucket
Bands popular amongst ethergoths include Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Love is Colder than Death, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Lycia, Mors Syphilitica, Rhea's Obsession, Scarlet Leaves, Autumn's Grey Solace, Delerium, Ataraxia and This Mortal Coil.

Unfortunately, like ice Goth, ethergoth seems to be under-represented online, which means there is precious little information available on this somewhat genteel subset.

Goth gossip/free download: Fans of Creature Feature will be pleased to know that you can grab the first single from Curtis Rx's side project Rufus Rex at his Bandcamp page for free (or pay what you think the track is worth). It's called Rise Lazarus Rise, and you should totally check it out.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Shadow of the Vampire

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge, Review #7 - Shadow of the Vampire by Meagan Hatfield

Warning: may contain spoilers

I stepped a little out of my comfort zone with my latest read for this challenge. Shadow of the Vampire is from a selection of new books from none other than famous slushy romance and cheesy erotica publisher Mills & Boon, under their recently-created Nocturne imprint. Nocturne books have all the steamy bedroom scenes, twitterpation and really obvious happy endings of traditional Mills & Boons, but featuring werewolves, vampires, immortals, shapeshifting dragons and various other creatures of the night.

Personally, I'm highly amused by this, and am picking up as many Nocturne books as I can from charity shops and supermarkets, but I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes and retreating to your crypts at the thought of Twilight's sparkly tentacles infiltrating even this corner of the mainstream market.

I would have posted about the Nocturne imprint sooner or later anyway, so I figured what better way to approach the subject than to hit you with a read'n'review?

Shadow of the Vampire's loosely-crafted fantasy-esque plot is set in a world where an ancient coven of vampires and an equally ancient horde of shapeshifting dragons are at war. Dragon Lord Declan Black is captured by the vampires and held at the mercy of vampire princess Alexia, a curvaceous blonde with a fetish for corsets and black leather.

Do I need to point out here that this book is not suitable for younger readers?

Anyhoo. I was quite disappointed that, for all her whip-wielding, ass-kicking badassness, and despite being about to inherit the throne and take control of the coven, Alexia is actually little more than a slave to the will of the Queen's advisor Lotharus. Lotharus is a pretty nasty bad guy; he wants to kill all the dragons, then kill Alexia's family and take the throne for himself. In the meantime, he's keeping Alexia subdued with sexual violence and keeping her mother, the Queen, sedated by spiking her drinks of blood.

Unfortunately, since we are told of Alexia's skill with torture and prowess in battle, I found myself wondering why she hadn't simply taken Lotharus out of the picture long ago. I found it hard to believe that a strong, courageous, immortal princess would allow herself to be cowed by such a weedy specimen.

Our hero in this tale is of course Declan, who can shapeshift between human and dragon form at will (otherwise it wouldn't be much of a love story, would it?). The romance is slightly unbelieveable - Alexia is apparently so desperate for love and kindness that she falls for him almost immediately. She's, like, five hundred years old, drinks blood, and carries a Glock. But she comes across a bit like a little lost puppy.

Obviously, this IS a Mills & Boon novel, so believability and characterisation are less important than love and sex. Mils & Boon fans will be pleased to know that there is plenty of both, to the point that I thought, "How the hell am I going to review THIS?"

I felt that the author was not entirely suited to the slushy format of mainstream romance; her world-building, warring species and fantasy quests revolving around a powerful magic crystal seemed as though they had been squished, squashed and brutally pruned to fit into this format, which didn't really do it justice. I couldn't decide if the author needed to spread her wings a bit more or stop trying to cram so much in (uh, no pun intended >.<), as there were a few chapters that were slightly tedious - too much exposition here and there.

Shadow of the Vampire is probably not the most exciting read for hardcore vamp fans, but there are plenty of perkygoths who might find the Nocturne selection amusing.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Punk Goth/deathrock jacket

Hey hey hey... guess who won some lovely earrings in a giveaway at Gothically Yours? Woohoo! ^^ I am also attending a 'psychic night' at a local pub tomorrow night with Jo and some of her friends, so perhaps that will be worth reviewing later this week. =)

I finally finished customising the PVC jacket I picked up at the bring and buy stall at last year's DV8 Fest; however this isn't going to be a straightforward tutorial as, obviously, we don't all want to be running around with basically the same jacket on. What I will do is share with you a few tips and ideas I picked up whilst bashing this baby together.
Oh, and if I might point you in the direction of Sincerely, Boots; where the rather marvellous Boots has previously written a great post about customised deathrock jackets (with a link to Fuck Yeah Punk Jackets which I perused regularly whilst working on my own jacket), which gives a brief overview of where you can pick up a decent jacket and what kind of stuff to slap on it. (Boots, I hope you don't mind!)

I tried to spend as little money as possible on this project; the studs I used are all from my boyfriend's old studded belt. I tried various techniques to attach them to the PVC; the plastic itself was no problem as you cn just push the points through it, but getting the points through the internal lining was a bit of a battle. I ended up using a spectacles screwdriver (there's probably a fancy name for it - the tiny screwdriver you use to adjust the screws on your glasses) to make little holes in the lining. 

You can buy studs and spikes online, or if you want to spend less money (and don't mind spending a bit more time) you can trawl your local second-hand shops for old studded belts.
The badges came from various places; alt shops, festivals and markets mostly. However I wanted to have badges with some slightly obscure bands and images on them, so I made them myself with pictures and logos printed off the computer. All you need is a Badge It! machine; I have two that I picked up in charity shops for £3 each. Honestly, being able to make your own badges is a must for those of you into bands that nobody's ever heard of - you can cover anything in badges.

Because my jacket is PVC (those of you using proper leather have probably got a tougher job ahead of you than I did), I had to find glue and paint that would work on plastic. I used 3D paint out of a squeezy tube for the wording on the back (Pacem In Obscuritate Invenio - it's Latin for 'in darkness I find peace'. Or I bloody well hope it is, anyway...) and the Christian Death logo at the bottom. The skull was painted onto a black satin pillowcase with fabric paint and then glued on with Copydex, which works on fabric and plastic.

If you don't want to glue things on, you can use safety pins to attach band patches and so forth.
When I got the jacket, the inside of the collar was disentegrating; I used the area to test different paints and glues and then covered the area with a section cut out of the pillowcase. This covered my test patches and re-vamped the collar - two birds with one stone. ^^

For the left arm, I found a pair of white tights in a charity shop, chopped off one of the legs, shredded it thoroughly, and attached it to the sleeve. Gluing it around the shoulder was quite difficult. I used a safety pin to make sure it was firmly fixed, and then pinned it into place section by section and smothered it in Copydex. It took several days to properly dry!

The bottom of the sleeve was easier, I just turned the cuff inside out, covered it in glue, turned it right-way out again, folded the tights into it and held it in place with clothes pegs whilst the glue dried. The only problem is that the tights often catch on the studs and zips - I don't mind as it just ends up a little more ripped, but if you think you would find this irritating you might like to bear it in mind whilst constructing your own jacket.
Of course, you shouldn't feel confined to leather or PVC. Denim jackets - or better yet, vests - or black blazers can be customised just as easily and are possibly easier to paint, add badges to and sew things onto. And chop bits off of, of course. Because they are fabric, you can also use iron-on patches. Lace trim on a customised blazer would add a hint of elegance to the look, lending a Visual Kei-esque style.

If you use loops of fabric to attach D-rings, you could use ribbons to make corset lacings on the sides or back of your jacket. I was originally intending to add corset lacings with white ribbon, but decided that less is more!
Source: Photobucket
Customised jackets are a handy staple of Goth fashion

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