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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Make-up inspiration from the 1920s

A commentor on this site once pointed out that the quintessential Goth make-up look is strongly inspired by the make-up seen in black-and-white photography from the 1920s. Recently I found myself in possession of a collection of photos by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, taken in Paris in the 20s and entitled Les Femmes Aux Cigarettes.

Cigarettes aside, I was taken by the beauty of the women and the care and attention they clearly took in their appearance, so I thought I would scan some of the images to share with you.

Lydia Johnson
The Rowe Sisters
"In Paris during the twenties, music-hall performers were incarnations of that gay, giddy era. Their tart-like painted faces, odd charm, their rhinestone and real millionaires' jewelry set off by the fringes that were fashionable..." - Jacques-Henri Latigue, who could nearly have been talking about the painted faces and odd charm of Goth girls...
"I have always liked to take pictures of women, fashionable ladies, mannequins, demi-mondaines. They all have a style so unlike men. For me they are likes cakes in a bakery - delicious to look at even if one is not very hungry; smelling good even if one is not tempted." - Jacques-Henri Lartigue. 

Lipstick tips for Gothlings

What's to know about Goth lipstick? Just pick up some black lipstick from the Halloween store and slather it on, right? No, please don't, I'm being sarcastic. Contrary to popular opinion, black lipstick doesn't suit everyone, and needs to be applied with some care and attention. If you must use cheap black Halloween lipstick, use a lip brush, don't just cake the stuff on!

(c) Joji Grey
Joji of Stars in the Gutter rocks his black lipstick.
Source: Tumblr
Other than black, the most common shades of lipstick seen in Goth make-up looks are reds (ranging from deep crimson to rockabilly scarlet) and purples, usually dark violets or plum colours. But many Goths emulate their punk ancestors and experiment with a palette of vibrant colours - brands such as Stargazer, and independent cosmetic creators on sites like Etsy, provide a vivid array, everything from white, silver, blue and green to less 'obviously Goth' shades like orange and yellow.

Fire-engine reds and shades of pink were once a bit of a no-go amongst Goths, but nowadays plenty of perkygoths are rocking pink lippie and fire engine reds creates a fantastically vintage effect for burlesque aficionados and those harking back to the 40s and 50s.

Gloss, also, is not a Goth faux pas - a black gloss over red lipstick creates a beautiful deep purple. Gloss (or tinted balm) is a more lightweight product which you may prefer for daywear, but it needs reapplying more often and can feel unpleasantly sticky. Clear gloss will help flatter heavy eye make-up, but again this is an area where you can experiment with colour - red, purples and blues are especially spooky. Be aware, though, that strongly coloured glosses may 'feather' into the lines around the lips if not worn over lipstick and edged with lip liner. Black gloss especially is a pain for doing this.

The typical suggestion offered is that if you're wearing heavy lipstick, tone down the eye make-up, and vice versa, but you may have noticed from the pictures in abundance on this website and many others that Goths don't often pay attention to this 'rule'.

Always test lipsticks on your wrist or back of your hand before buying - no matter how expensive or purse-friendly the product, make sure the texture is going to be comfortable on your lips (it should be relatively creamy, not thick, dry or sludgy) and that the pigments are bright enough to show up when applied to your skin. You won't know if what's in the tube is the same colour on your skin unless you test it.

Lip balm will help keep your lips soft; you can also exfoliate and moisturise by rubbing them gently with a blob of Vaseline on an old toothbrush.

Lip liner can be used not only to line the lips and keep lippie and gloss from feathering but to create shapes (e.g. a heavily pointed Cupid's bow, a la Siouxsie Sioux). A lip liner that matches your lipstick is standard, but you might like to try a strong contrast - artist Anne Sudworth typically wears white lipstick outlined in black, and a traditional Gothy look entails red lipstick heavily outlined in black (blend together well, please!).

A lip sealant is a helpful product - it's a clear product applied over finished lip make-up with a small brush which, when dry, helps your lipstick last longer and keeps it from smudging.

Spotlight on: Johnny Hollow

I hadn't heard of Johnny Hollow until I logged into my account at Gothic.net and came across their name in the 'What are you currently listening to?' thread. The name caught my attention so I looked them up. And discovered their website (www.johnnyhollowmusic.com), where you can win free MP3s if you correctly answer riddles...

This should give you some kind of idea of what the world of Johnny Hollow is like... their music conjures up decaying fairy tales and abandoned houses; elegantly spooky, dark, beautiful, and just a little bit twisted.

So who are Johnny Hollow? Formed in 2001, the Canadian band is comprised of singer Janine White, digital artist Vincent Marcone, and cellist Kitty Thompson. Their music ranges from cello-driven rock with a stomping beat (This Hollow World, Devil's Night) to bittersweet slow songs of lust and lies (Alibi, Boogeyman).

Vincent Marcone asked Janine to design the sound effects for his infamous My Pet Skeleton website, which was how the idea for the band was born. At the same time, Kitty Thompson and Janine were beginning to experiment in their recording studio. They had sessions perfoming as gig musicians, but in the wise words of Wikipedia, 'these weren't satisfying enough for them. My Pet Skeleton quickly rose to the forefront of the web hall of fame. The trio was heavily encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response of the web audience, and decided to form an alliance. Their first material was presented on the My Pet Skeleton website.'

In March 2003 Johnny Hollow set up a small site to announce the release of their self-titled first album. A month later, they were invited to contribute their first single, Bag of Snow, D-Side's sampler disc, where it was featured alongside artists such as Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, Type O Negative, Goldfrapp and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. Many of these artists are cited as having an influence on Johnny Hollow's sound.

But I think Johnny Hollow describe themselves best: "There is a creative famine in the current state of our popular culture. We are living in a world of plastic pop songs that are lip synced by an army of synthetic faces......... We just can't help but feel pinned against a sonic wall by this new wave of starlit mannequins. And to this we say:
Fuck that.
Johnny Hollow won't have it."

A belated blog round-up

Of course, all the posts on various blogs I had saved to my 'Favourites' vanished into the ether when I lost my computer, but I am seeing so much great stuff on the interwebs at the moment that I figured I could pull together a pretty decent blog round-up and a nice list of spooky reading material in no time at all.

Source
In no particular order, may I present to you the following:

BabyBatDanielle had a wonderful DIY idea; how come I never thought of making armwarmers out of my OWN tutorial? I must have some spare fabric, somewhere...

Dismantlynn of brilliant new blog Color Me Goth wrote a post on the pressure Goths put on themselves to look their best, entitled Gothic Appearance Pride.

AislingChild summed up my own babybat fears and worries with an acronym, no less, namely TBBS or Timid BabyBat Syndrome.

MissMeow gave us Siouxsie fans a make-up tutorial to die for.

This post is slightly outdated now, but I love these Gothy lifestyle tips from Ashlee at A Mortal Doth Approach.

Juliet's Lace shares with us her top tips for Autumn. This was perfect as I'm really getting into the Autumn 'mood' (is there such a thing?).

GothBarbie met Elvira. Oh my Gawth. o.O

Jayne_Jezebelle wins my Best Dressed Spooky Girl award. I love everything she has ever worn, ever.

Best Goth cooking blog *ever*. Undisputed. Sweet Nightmare Kitchen is perfection.

Sincerely, Boots has a reviews page! I WANT those tights.

My Summer As A Goth

I was so excited when I recently stumbled across a link on Twitter to the My Summer As A Goth webpage, and have been practically foaming at the mouth to post about it (no, I don't have my computer back yet...). So without further ado!

My Summer As A Goth is going to be a genius movie. Think Gypsy 83. You've probably already read the synopsis for the movie over at Gothic Charm School - yes, the all-round fabulous First Lady of PerkyGoth, Jillian Venters is supporting this movie, and not only that, she's the consultant for the production team (aka their "Go-to Goth") - but if not, here's a rehash: sixteen-year-old Joey Javitts is sent to live with her grandparents for the summer. During the course of the summer, Joey falls for the neighborhood Goth boy, Victor. She is transformed by Victor and his merry gang of fellow Goths from an average, run-of-the-mill teenager to Goth goddess–falling in love, making friends, and finding herself in the process.

Our heroine, Joey
(c) My Summer As A Goth
I want to see this movie. So. Much. But sadly, there's a catch. The My Summer As A Goth team need to raise money to be able to make the movie, otherwise they can't afford production costs, staff wages, and all those other oh-so-necessary costs.
Behind the scenes
(c) My Summer As A Goth
So. If you're thrilled, as I am, to see such a wonderful Goth-friendly project in the pipeline, how can you help? Well, you can pledge a donation via Kickstarter to get the project moving - oh, and if you do so, you'll get some scrummy rewards from the team as well, such as an I Heart Goth button or even a walk-on part in the movie or VIP tickets to the black carpet premiere, depending on how much you donate.

No cash to spare? Follow the team on Facebook, stalk their blog, or help promote the project by linking or blogging about My Summer As A Goth. You can also join the street team by e-mailing info@mysummerasagoth.com. At Kickstarter you can also keep an eye on how the funding is coming along and check out excerpts from the script, a pretty video featuring some VERY familiar music for GCS fans, and some more photos from the project such as those I have cheekily 'borrowed' to use in this post.

Please show your support in any way that you can for this fantastic project! I want to see more Joey, dammit!

Sibling rivalry

This morning I logged in to Blogger to find a heartfelt query from a fellow Gothling: "My sister is two years older than me and she claims to have "started going goth" before me, which, I'll be honest, is almost true. She did start wearing darker colours before me and claimed to be goth even though she would just be wearing a black t-shirt and jeans (that was the case back-then). Of course, she evolved over the years and became more of a goth after a while. Later on, I was inspired by this and decided to go goth. But, she kept accusing me of "copying" her. However, that was not my intention. Even to this day (about two years after I started going goth) she still accuses me of copying her whenever she gets the opportunity, and let's just say she isn't too polite about it. I would almost dare say that she's been bullying me.
Below I listed a few things that she does:
Telling me that I'm not a goth.
Telling me what I should and shouldn't wear.
Constantly telling me how ugly I am and how I don't dress like a goth at all.
(I might've left out a few things -.-)
I've been trying to ignore it for a long time now, but I just can't take it anymore, and was hoping you could help me out and maybe give me some tips." (I have shortened this comment just a little; to read the rest of Dear Anonymous's plaintive complaint, check out the comments on this post.)

Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that your sister has taken such exception to your decision to follow her into the Goth subculture. Having someone be inspired by you is very flattering and I'm sure that she is pleased that you looked up to her in such a way. However if she is a teenager - I'm assuming you both are? - she is probably also trying to 'find' her identity (as we all do) and feels frustrated that you have also chosen to identify with something she felt was 'hers'. A lot of young Goths feel possessive about their new image because it is special to them and so she may be hostile towards you because 'she was there first'.

Whilst putting yourself in her shoes might help you understand why she is reacting in such a way, she is not the One True Goth and you have just as much right to be involved with the subculture as she does. It may be best for you to try your hardest to ignore her taunts - as you both get older, she is likely to eventually realise that inspiring her younger sister to take part in Goth culture is actually a good thing, and will leave you alone. Goth is big enough for everyone, after all!

Source
As your styles change and develop, you may both find that different things interest you (for example, she may decide she likes cybergoth and you may prefer deathrock), in which case it will be harder for her to accuse you of copying. It may also help if you try not to make her feel as though you are treading on her toes - e.g. if you know she wants to dye her hair blue, don't do the same. Let her have her own look and image; focus on enjoying your own unique Goth style.

In the meantime, treat her unkind comments and remarks about your Gothness in the same way you would if they were made by someone you didn't know - either ignore them or react politely (a la Gothic Charm School). If she says "You're not a real Goth," respond with something like, "I'm happy the way I am." Eventually she will realise that she can't deter you from being a Goth and if you refuse to be drawn into an argument she should stop making spiteful remarks and leave you to your own devices.

When she tells you what you should and shouldn't wear, is she being unkind or simply trying to offer advice that she feels might be helpful? If the former, respond as above - e.g., "Thanks for the suggestion but I like what I'm wearing," and wait for her to get bored of being bossy. If the latter, consider the advice as if it was being offered by another Goth (e.g. not your sister) and decide whether or not you agree. Then you can respond - again, calmly and politely - with either, "Thanks for the suggestion... etc," or "That was helpful, thanks."

Comments such as 'you're ugly', etc, though, are typical sibling nastiness, from what I understand, and if she persists on making these kind of comments perhaps you could speak to your parents about it.

Readers with siblings, is there any further advice you can offer to Anonymous?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Eye make-up for Goths

We've covered the very basics of Goth make-up, and even how to Goth up your eyebrows, but I don't think I've really taken the subject of make-up any further. Which, as someone who intends to one day launch their own make-up line, is rather remiss of me...

So, without further ado, here's a more in-depth look at an area of Goth make-up - more specifically, eye make-up.

In Goth make-up, as in more 'traditional' make-up looks, the eyes are generally the focal point of the make-up and therefore are the most dramatic (there are, of course, exceptions to this - TV Goth Abby Sciuto has dark lips and very neutral eyes).

When most people think of Goth eye make-up, chances are they think of black eyeshadow and an excess of eyeliner, which in many cases isn't too far wrong. For a basic day-to-day look, I suspect that many of us like to stick to basic black. Whilst heavy, dark shadow and liner is, therefore, a tried-and-true Goth look, and can look great if applied carefully and with a modicum of skill (blend nicely, Gothlings, and practise with that liquid liner before you leave the house), it isn't the be-all and end-all of Goth eye make-up.

Source
In fact, many Goth girls and guys enjoy experimenting with colour, glitter, and fun accessories like stick-on crystals (and I think most of us have glued little sparkly bats to our faces with eyelash glue at one point or another) and crazy false lashes. Bright colour often works well in Goth eye make-up because it provides an exciting, vivid contrast with black clothing and dark lips.

I have mentioned before that swirls, curliques and other such ornamentations are rather stereotypical embellishments for Goth eyes, but that doesn't mean that we don't all play with such decoration from time to time. Liquid liner is the best tool for this, although felt tip liner isn't too bad either. Of course you can never go wrong with black, but don't be afraid to try red, purple, blue, pink, green, silver, or even glitter eyeliners (or a combination) to create more daring, playful looks for clubbing and other events.

For a simple, smoky line, dip a soft pencil liner in a matching shade of eyeshadow. Or you can draw on a line and smudge over it with a little bit of eyeshadow on a small brush (I do this underneath my eyes). Smoky black eyeliner is a good place to start for young gentlemen who would like to dabble in the world of cosmetics but don't want attempt anything too daring just yet.

Applying heavy make-up around the eye is likely to make your eyes look smaller. We've all heard the oft-repeated tip to use white eyeliner on the inner rims - also, you don't have to line the entire eye; leave the lines unjoined at the inner corner to make your eyes look more open. If black eyeshadow across the entire lid is too heavy for you, use a lighter shade such as white, light brown or a pastel colour such as pink on the inner third of your eyelid and blend outwards into the darker colour.

Another staple Goth look is the retro-style cats-eye flick at the outer corner of the eye. This looks simple but it can be surprisingly difficult to make your wings even. I found it easier, when I first began to experiment with dark make-up, to draw a swirl extending upwards; bigger details are easier to make symmetrical, at least for me. You can always draw your design in pencil first, correct any mistakes with a damp cotton bud, and then go over the design with liquid or felt tip liner.

I can't think of a single eyeshadow colour that you can't use in some way to create a Goth look, so don't feel you have to chuck out all the pinks and neutrals you collected in your early teens. Silvers, greys, and browns can create sultry, smoky looks; bright colours (including those pinks) will make perkygoth or cyber designs really pop. You can look around at people's make-up on this site (or search 'goth' on Tumblr) for a whole wealth of ideas in a myriad of colours and styles. YouTube also has some fantastically outlandish tutorials.

Mascara, too, doesn't have to be black - red or white mascara are also popular, but don't forget glitter, or highlighting the tips of your lashes with something in a bright shade.

Be careful when applying glitter near your eyes - make sure the product you are using is eye safe. Larger particles of glitter can get into your eyes and irritate; you need to use only glitter that is very finely milled. Use a larger brush to add a shimmer of iridescence over your entire lid; this is a nice way to liven up a simple black make-up look, or use a cotton bud, small brush or finger tip to dab glitter onto certain areas.

In summary: be brave, be bold, don't be afraid to experiment, and don't forget to have fun with your look - that's mostly the point, after all!

A Goth's tour of Burley

For the second part of my birthday weekend, on Sunday I headed to Burley in the New Forest with Dan and my family. Burley has always been one of my favourite places to visit - it's a quirky little village in a beautiful area. Simply driving there is a nice trip as there is a fantastic vista over much of the New Forest countryside. It isn't at all unusual to see wild New Forest ponies making their way up the main road, oblivious to the traffic and people around them.

Burley itself is a picturesque, quintessential English village with thatched cottages and plenty of places to buy a cream tea and a toasted scone, but it will be of interest to many Goths due to its unusual history, which it capitalises on today through its many themed gift shops, making it a popular tourist destination - especially for those who love all that's ooky-spooky.
Huddling in my coat! In the car park with Nan.
In the late 1950s, white witch Sybil Leek made her home in Burley. A striking figure in a swirling black cloak with her pet jackdaw upon her shoulder, she made the fellow locals somewhat anxious and her presence drew much attention to the sleepy little village. Eventually she decamped to America, but her legacy remains strong in Burley.

The village's main gift shop, Coven of Witches, was named by Sybil. On the outside walls, metal decals of witches in flight glint in the sunshine, and inside, you'd better duck, because hanging from the ceiling are dozens upon dozens of little witch figures on broomsticks.
Coven of Witches sells everything the visiting Gothling could dream of, from beautifully detailed witch's cottage lamps that light up from inside to the artwork of Anne Stokes, faerie and witch ornaments of every size and description, clothing from brands such as Dark Star and Iron Fist, books on every aspect of Paganism, Wicca and the occult, stunning jewellery, and all kinds of wonderful gifts such as the bat plushie that sits on my bed, and soft toy ravens that caw when you squeeze them.

And Coven is far from the only Goth-worthy gift shop in this tiny village. Be sure to check out Witchcraft and The Sorcerer's Apprentice for more Wiccan and witchcraft paraphernalia and themed gifts, WizzyDora's for all kinds of eccentric and unique gifware, The Old Shed for T-shirts and tops from the likes of The Mountain, and many of the other gift shops sell items such as incense with scents like Poison and Midnight, or collectible, Goth-friendly ranges such as BEGoths, Living Dead Dolls and Scary Fairies.
Enjoying an ice cream in the Burley Stores Cafe
Those who enjoy activities with an air of quaintness might like to visit in summer, so that they can pop up their parasols and pick strawberries in the pick-your-own fields or indulge in a wagonette ride around the village.

Halloween is, of course, the perfect time to visit - Burley 'does' Halloween the traditional way, with fancy dress competitions, apple bobbing, Tarot readings and a parade through the village.
My Burley purchases

Vampire dinner party!

As you probably already know - heaven knows I've mentioned it enough! - Monday 19th was my 20th birthday. ^^ I spent the whole weekend doing wonderful things, perhaps most importantly my 'official' birthday party on Saturday 17th. I invited my nearest and dearest over for a vampire-themed dinner party and movie night (the movie being Vampires Suck) - here are the pics!

Firstly, here's what I wore. I spent so long obsessing about the decor and the menu for the party that I totally forgot that I would need some sort of clothing, so I threw together the following outfit at nearly the last possible moment.

Top: this is actually a size-24 batwing shirt that previously belonged to my friend Liz.
Corset: Primark, £7
Skirt: charity shop, £3
Socks: Poundland
Necklace: Claire's, £4
Hair extensions: Claire's, £10
Bracelet: gift
Shoes: Emandsprout on Etsy.com, £15

I had been intending to order all the party decor from assorted Halloween sotres online, but of course my computer has been - somewhat irritatingly - out of commission for the past month or so. Cue Mum and I scurrying around all the local homeware stores to grab cutlery, placemats, glasses, plates, bowls etc that would fit in with the red and black colour scheme.

Luckily I still had some stuff left over in the attic from my 17th birthday party, including the balloons, streamers, napkins and banner. The bat garlands around the curtains were a present from my friend Claire.
The centrepiece gets its own picture as it was my first attempt at flower arranging! Everything in the vase (including the vase itself) is from The Range. The black roses especially are gorgeous, they're made of velveteen. <3

Oh, and don't worry... that's just syrup of rose in that jug there...
My best girl Jo came over a little early to help me in the kitchen. I took my menu from The Vampyre Cookbook by Leah Barrows (available from Amazon, review coming soon), and added a few details such as the salad you can see here (strawberries, watercress and cucumber strips) and bloody cross cookies, which I made with a ready-mix cookie kit, added red food colouring and nutmeg (I love nutmeg) and cut with a cross-shaped cookie cutter.

I also made these vampire blood bank mugs with the wine bottle stickers that I designed, which you can buy from my dad on eBay. (OK, I didn't DESIGN them, but I had the IDEA. There's a whole box of them in his dining room so if you want them and they're not listed, just send him a message.)


Here's me with the birthday cake! I didn't have time to decorate my own cake this year.
Bronwyn advises on the cutting of the cake.
 Assorted dinner party weirdness:

That's Rowenna on the end...

Lucy and me. Not sure why I look so alarmed.

Jo looks ladylike...

After everyone else had gone home, Dan gave me a card with a riddle. The riddle led to a present, which had another riddle, and so on... I don't know when he managed to slip off and hide them around the house but it was the sweetest birthday surprise ever. <33333

What was IN that cake?!
Enjoying some after-dinner TruBlood

Kally joins the party...

Here we are watching the movie...
My adorable friends got me some lovely gifts:


Spotlight on: Diva Destruction

Diva Destruction is a darkwave band, formed in the late nineties by Debra Fogarty, a classically trained pianist and singer/songwriter who had experimented with instruments since her childhood. The band's sound combines haunting, almost aggressive Goth and darkwave music with anguished lyrics about loss, love, despair and deceit.

Following the release of the (excellent) debut album Passion's Price, the line-up expanded to include Sharon (live keyboards, backing vocals), Benn Ra on guitar and Jimmy Cleveland on drums. They are signed to two labels, both infamous within the Goth scene - Metropolis Records and the German label Alice In...

The Metropolis Records website says, 'Painful and beautiful, Debra's dramatic keyboard melodies create an epic soundscape, while her urgent Beethoven styled strings pierce through heavy industrial dance rhythms. The resulting wall of sound merges the best of industrial dance beats, gothic melodies, and synthpop elements. With her passionate female vocals venting lyrics as bitter as a betrayed lover, the strong emotions of her songs range from fast and angry dance songs to seductively dark ballads.' 

Diva Destruction boast several accolades - they were declared the winner of Best LA Goth Band two years running by Rock City News, and were voted Newcomers of the Year by Orkus German. Robert Smith (of The Cure, as if you didn't know...) chose them in his top ten on mp3.com. They have featured on many compilations, such as Unquiet Grave I and II, and have appeared on tribute albums to Radiohead and Cocteau Twins.

Debra has appeared on the cover of many magazines, and the band has headlined several large festivals throughout Europe and the US.

Their second album was entitled Exposing the Sickness and was released in 2003. Personally I don't think it was as good as Passion's Price, nor as good as their 2006 album Run Cold. But that's just me... In the years between Exposing the Sickness and Run Cold, Debra trained to become a complex Logic Pro Recording Engineer. According to Metropolis, 'Now she not only writes and performs her own songs, but she is also able to elevate her sound style to its purest potency. Debra has always co-produced her own albums, but for the first time ever she actually recorded, edited, mixed, produced, wrote, and performed the entire album by herself. This rare feat establishes her as one of the few female recording engineers and programmers.'

I love this band because even by Goth standards, Debra's music is pretty damn dark. The vocals veer between a melancholy croon, a despairing wail and a semi-shriek on standout tracks such as my personal favourite, The Broken Ones.

The band is perhaps equally popular for their look as their sound. Elegant, opulent eye make-up, long swathes of hair adorned with glittering tiaras and lace, corsets, chokers and a seductive swathe of dark lipstick characterise Debra's look. Got to love her.

Essential Diva Destruction...
Album: Passion's Price
Track: Cruelty Games
Other purchase: definitely some scrummy merch!
Random fact: Debra recorded vocals for a Das Ich song in 2006.
If you like Diva Destrucion, you might like: Emilie Autumn, Two Witches, Switchblade Symphony, Corpus Delicti, Mephisto Walz.
Get more Diva Destruction: http://www.divadestruction.com/

More Goth myths: angsty journals

Lately I have been hearing more misconceptions about the Goth subculture; some funny, some worrying, some just plain daft. My next few 'Goth myths' posts will all be based on comments I have recently heard... wince, laugh, and shake your head sadly, my fellow Gothlings. Non-Goths, my message to you is basically this: Goths are normal. Yes, really.

MYTH: Goths want negative attention so that they can write bad poetry and complain about it in their diaries and on LiveJournal.
Perhaps this misconception came from Goths in their younger and possibly less self-aware days when angsty poetry about being 'outcast', 'tormented' and 'victimised' found it way onto the internet. And certainly, many of us may keep a personal journal or diary in which we express the occasional feelings of annoyance or irritation at how we are sometimes treated by non-Goths. But the vast majority of Goths are aware that a certain amount of attention and occasionally boorish behaviour from 'outsiders' comes with the territory - whilst we might roll our eyes and mutter to our dining companion when someone chooses to stare at us eating lunch in MacDonalds, on the whole Goths don't make a big deal about being stared at or pointed at because, duh, we look different. The staring isn't necessarily relished, but it is expected.

Source
What we may feel the need to complain about on Twitter, LiveJournal, Blogger, etc., is larger incidents - the wholly unneccessary and sometimes cruel kind that sadly do happen more often than we in the Goth community would like, such as being pushed, spat at, tripped, having items thrown at us, and in more serious cases being hit, kicked, or beaten. When these things happen it is shocking and hurtful; if the same thing happened to a non-Goth, for example if they were hit by a bully, they would also be upset and might choose to tell friends online. Goths do the same; except we may go off on tangents about what is more often than not the reason for the action - prejudice against Goths or others who choose to dress differently. Which I feel is more than understandable.

We don't WANT to have things thrown at us, etc., so that we can feel all martyred and write poetry aboout it. You wouldn't want to have something thrown at you either. Goths don't feel like special little snowflakes when they receive this kind of attention - they feel exactly how anyone else would, namely hurt, upset and angry.

Linked to this is, as I have alluded to somewhere above, the notion that all Goths keep moody diaries, online or otherwise, written in blood and dripping in angst and bad poetry. And probably some of us do. I like to have a good whine in my journal from time to time. But having the occasional gloomy moan is by no means a 'Goth thing' - anyone who has a bad day and keeps a diary will probably feel justified in having a good cathartic rant. And I'm sure it goes without saying that keeping a gloom-and-doom-filled journal is not actually a requirement of membership of the Goth subculture.

Bad Goth poetry? This is a cliche that we're all aware of; those of us who do write poetry may well refer to it as 'bad Goth poetry', even if it happens to be pretty good, because it's become a bit of an in-joke. Some of us have a good time writing deliberately cheesy, overwrought poems to send up this stereotype and have a giggle, although we usually refrain from posting such online. And yes, when we were babybats, at one time or another most of us took ourselves too seriously and comprised odes of doom to be recited to our spooky friends in melancholy tones with hands stapled to our foreheads. Thankfully most Goths do grow up and develop a sense of humour about the 'whole Goth thing' and stop glowering at listeners who muffle giggles at the recitation of 'The Darkest Dark of the Dark Darkness'.

In short, if you happen to stumble across a Goth's blog or diary, unless said Goth is still in the overly-serious babybat phase, don't expect the blog to be all 'I wish I was a vampire, nobody understands me' woe and ramblings about blood and death and how everyone hates us because we're SO unique and different.

The downsides of Goth #1 - Elitism

Never let it be said that I don't give all the facts - or opinions, be they mine or other people's - at my disposal. I have always erred on the side of caution when talking about Goth subculture (which, as you may have noticed, is a subject that comes up quite a lot...) to avoid offending anyone, or frightening babybats and the parents of babybats. But, as many commentors have pointed out, this counterculture is not one hundred per cent sweetness and light - there are bad apples in EVERY social group or community, and Goth culture has its flaws and downsides just like any other. I thought I'd bite the bullet and try and highlight some of these, whilst providing my own, hopefully-not-too-inaccurate opinions on why I think these behaviours might occur (and of course, comments are open for you to add your own two cents).

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A few of Goth's flaws are obvious - how often do you hear an upset Goth newbie or an exasperated, more established Goth complaining about the elitism of others in the subculture? From personal experience thus far, these debates are more likely to take place online, probably because it is more difficult to tell a fellow black-clad type to their face, surrounded by their friends, exactly how and why you think they are not a Real Goth. But it happens, both on and offline - not all Goths, sadly, are polite and friendly to others in the subculture, and some like to prove how hardcore and superior they think they are by casting aspersions on the 'Gothness' of others.

Maybe the person, band or behaviour they are referring to is NOT Really Goth, in which case other Goths are likely to agree (for example, most Goths will agree that the band Slipknot - whether or not any given Goth LIKES their music, I happen to - are not Goth) and they will not be thought of as being elitist for making such a statement. But if they are calling someone or something who is generally accepted as Goth, not a real Goth (are you with me?) they will be referred to as 'Gother than thou' or 'elitist'.

And whilst most of us tend to complain about this behaviour and attempt to invalidate it, as I am doing now, in many ways the majority of us are guilty of elitism in some small way. If you've ever rolled your eyes at someone in a Marilyn Manson T-shirt, muttered about the person wearing blue jeans at the spooky club, or looked at someone's preferred list of bands online and decided they're not a 'real Goth', you've done it too.

I personally like to think that this admittedly silly behaviour stems from wanting to defend the subculture that most of us feel very strongly about. If, for example, you see the bully from high school clad in black and sporting a pentacle necklace, your likely first reaction may be to assert that they are 'probably not a REAL Goth, anyway', because you don't want this person associated with the culture that you so love.

I suspect that many of us hold strong ideals about the subculture, and we tend to start rolling our eyes and mumbling 'not really Goth' when we are confronted with something or someone that doesn't fit well with our own idea of 'how Goth should be'. To use another example, many of us are nervous about hipster Goth, because we are worried that some who are interested in this style are exploiting our dear subculture as just another trend. So a lot of people slam all hipster Goths and the entire associated fashion as 'not REAL Goth', which isn't really fair on hipster Goths who genuinely love the subculture, the music and the aesthetic and are simply celebrating it in a manner that THEY prefer.

Or, when confronted with a mallgoth type in badly-applied make-up and baggy clothes, we are uncomfortably reminded of our own early years, and try to prove to ourselves that we've moved beyond such by deriding (usually mentally, thankfully, since most Goths are not actually bad sorts!) the poor misguided creature as 'not a real Goth'.

What I'm trying to say is that this tendency towards elitism does not actually always mean that a Goth, whether they have made a single comment or are well-known for having a 'Considerably more Goth than thou' reputation, is unkind or unfriendly. They may simply be feeling defensive or threatened about the subculture and/or their place in it, and their defensive behaviour and comments translate as elitism to the bemused witnesses and irritated innocent on the receiving end. So if you are ever 'treated' to this behaviour, just ignore it, because it probably means that in some way or another the person is intimidated by you.

How to spot a 'real' Goth, v.2: part 1

One of my first posts on this site was entitled 'How to Spot a Real Goth'. Unfortunately, it's a bit short and abrupt and doesn't really explain itself very well, and as such has received a lot of confusion. I thought that instead of deleting the post, since it has a good few comments on it, I'd re-vamp the list and try to explain the points I was attempting to make a bit more clearly.

To begin with, I'd like to clarify once again that being a 'real Goth' isn't complicated (appreciation for dark music including some of what is classified as 'Goth' music; possibly an appreciation for Gothic literature, art or Goth fashion - voila, you're a 'real Goth'), and in all honesty it's pretty much impossible to get it 'wrong'. But some who are new to Goth or who are attempting to become involved in the scene for what many of us would consider the 'wrong reasons', e.g. to shock their parents or fit in with a group of friends, are likely to fall prey to some of the pitfalls I outlined in the original post. These behaviours tend to flag someone up as perhaps not particularly knowledgeable about the subculture that they are trying to become involved with; people who call themselves Goths whilst demonstrating a certain level of cluelessness regarding Goth culture often earn themselves the label 'poseurs' or 'mallgoths'.

So the point of the original article was to highlight the differences between what 'poseurs' consider appropriately 'Goth' behaviours, which are usually very stereotypical or cliche (and not in a good way) and how more knowledgeable or experienced Goths are likely to actually behave. It was NOT a way of saying 'if you do this you are not a proper Goth', because many of us indulge in stereotypical behaviour or cliches from time to time, but a way of de-bunking some of those good old-fashioned Goth 'rules' which are actually incorrect, such as the oft-quoted 'to be a Goth you HAVE to wear all black all the time'. With me so far? Apologies to anyone who was confused or offended by the original post.

Since my explanations are likely to be typically long and rambling, I won't try to cram them all into one post! So here's the first:

Real Goths don't make a big deal about whether or not they are Goth. They pretty much just get on with it.This does not mean that you shouldn't celebrate your Gothiness! Goths are proud of their dark and unusual tendencies and enjoy being a part of the subculture (otherwise what would be the point?). This is why I feel that such behaviours as denying that you're Goth because you think it makes you MORE Goth (it happens) are, frankly, ridiculous. And no, I don't feel that the word 'Goth' should be banned from clothing; some have noted that wearing T-shirts saying 'Goth', 'Gothic', or other Goth-related slogans (my current favourite being 'Considerably more Goth than thou') could be regarded as poseur-ish, but I disagree, I think it's a little bit of tongue-in-cheek fun. Goth cliches, too, can be fun to indulge in - getting overexcited about Halloween, collecting vampire novels or even wearing fangs are harmless treats for the happy Gothling.

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So by all means, embrace and indulge in all things Goth, spooky and macabre. Heaven knows I do! But if you want to do un-Goth things like listening to Britney, playing sports, reading gossip magazines or watching romantic comedies, that's perfectly OK too. Each of us enjoys and likes to experience far more things than are covered by the Goth 'label', and it doesn't make you 'less of a Goth'.

At the other end of the spectrum, being proud of your Gothiness doesn't mean waving it in people's faces all of the time. You don't need to introduce yourself as 'Gothic Sarah', or with the words, "Hello, I'm Alex, I'm a Goth." I had a friend who, on a shopping spree, told the checkout girl at an alt shop we visited that she was a Goth, on her first Goth shopping trip with her Goth friend. *facepalm* This is the kind of behaviour I was intending to advise against.

I think in our early babybat days most of us are desperate for the people around us to recognise our spookiness, hence the above sort of behaviour. We're so excited about being part of the subculture that we want everyone to notice it; plus in some cases we may be unsure of our 'Goth status' and want it to be verified by others referring to us as 'Goth'. But if you're wearing a Bauhaus T-shirt and stompy boots, people are probably already aware that you're a Goth. And of course if someone asks if you're a Goth, obviously you would tell them yes. You don't need to announce it to everyone you meet; it's a bit OTT.

Listening to: Mix This Song Into Assemblage 23's Maps of Reality (Assemblage 23 Remix) - The Gothsicles

Goth challenge, days 24 & 25

Day 24 - Name the best websites for Goths

Well, I have more than a few favourites so it will be difficult for me to give a fully-comprehensive list! I note that I am asked to give a list of blogs later on in this challenge so I'll leave those aside for now.
Firstly and foremostly, you all know how much I love http://www.gothic-charm-school.com/, so it would be remiss for me not to begin with it. I also love http://www.morbidoutlook.com/, http://www.gothicbeauty.com/, auxiliarymagazine.com and http://www.mookychick.co.uk/.

For hunting down the brilliantly bizarre, everything from stripy hats to steampunk deodorant, I always recommend http://www.etsy.com/; however Goths looking for a bargain can often benefit from a trip to good old http://www.ebay.co.uk/. For music, try http://www.resurrectionmusic.com/, http://www.musicnonstop.co.uk/, http://www.last.fm/ and http://www.yousoundlikearobot.com/.

Day 25 - Did you ever consider leaving the subculture?

Once, when I was about fifteen - or maybe younger. I felt restricted by the all-black-all-the-time wardrobe that my well-meaning babybat self thought would make me a Real Goth, and rebelled against my own silly 'rules' by putting on blue jeans and rainbow gloves and confiding to my best friend that I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a Goth any more. Of course I soon learned that my narrow view of Goth fashion was not the be all and end all, and wanting to wear something pink every now and again didn't mean that I couldn't still be a Goth.

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Home decor tips for babybats

If you're a young Goth living at home and you think your parents would go spare if you started splashing black paint up the walls, never fear - here are a few tips for ways to Goth up your room without inciting parental wrath.

  • Candles look good, no matter what colour. Scented candles add a nice touch; stores like Tesco and The Range sell black candles with scents like 'Midnight Rose'.
  • Black bedsheets add a little darkness without being overwhelming. Or you could try a dark-coloured throw.
  • Posters are great for covering that icky wallpaper you chose when you were eight. You could try band posters, art posters (Victoria Frances posters are available on Amazon for about £3), or pictures and collages cut from magazines such as Orkus, Dominion, Gothic Beauty and Unscene.
  • Details make all the difference. Try a black rug, a vase of black faux roses, a coffin trinket box, or a (fake) skull or two.
  • Instead of re-painting, work with the colour scheme you've already got. If you have purple walls, then black and silver or deep crimson accessories would work well. If you have pink from your pre-teen Barbie-loving years you may have to be a bit more inventive, but luckily black goes with everything. Pink with black accents IS a staple for some Goths, after all.
  • If you have plain-coloured walls, then you can buy or make a stencil and add details in a different colour. For example, I used silver paint and a barbed-wire stencil to frame some posters on my wall. A tribal freize around the top of the room would look awesome, or you could try randomly-placed skulls'n'crossbones, stars, spiders, or whatever.
  • Make the most of Halloween! I have plastic bats (named Larry, Barry, Harry, Mo, Jo and Fred) hanging from my ceiling, and a (fake) tombstone under my window. All for bargain prices!
  • Jack O'Lanterns are a perfectly reasonable decorating choice all year round. Stock up now on pumpkin tea light holders, lamps, fairy lights or lampshades.
  • Decoration is all about atmosphere. Heavy curtains (they don't have to be black - mine are dark blue velvet), appropriate incense (my faves are Night Queen, Pagan Magic, Dragon's Blood and Moon), and a few flickering candles create ambience.
  • Get a cheap kids' sticker machine from somewhere like Argos, and make your own stickers to plaster over your drawers, CD rack etc. Mine are all made from MSN icons.
  • Look out at auctions, bootsales and charity shops for 80s and 90s memorabilia such as vinyl records and posters.
It's an old picture, but that's my room.

Halloween, a survival guide - part 2

As Halloween draws closer, here are a few more of the perks and pitfalls of this holiday for the eager Gothling.

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Some of you may have friends ask to raid your wardrobe for their costume. This is strangely flattering, and you may be willing to help them assemble an ooky-spooky creature of the night ensemble from your wardrobe of gloom. More to the point, you may be able to trust them to bring it back unstained, untorn and otherwise in the same condition it was when you released it into their care. If, however, you don't feel comfortable with friends using your beloved wardrobe for fancy dress, this is completely understandable and you absolutely do not have to say yes, no matter how much they attempt to cajole you.

A better option might be that you lend your eye for all that is dark and spooky to them when shopping for costumes, whether in supermarkets or thrift stores, and help them create something unusual, unique and aesthetically pleasing without having to hand over your own velvet cloak.

What about your own costume? Goths, particularly older Goths, who have the money, skills and other resources to do so, tend to pull out all the stops for Halloween, especially if they are attending a Goth-specific event, club or party (including Whitby Goth Weekend, of course). This is the best time to indulge in all those overdone make-up cliches such as spiderwebs, stitches and fake blood, and many do so with great aplomb. Goth costumes may also tend towards the obscure, for example Edward Gorey or Neil Gaiman characters or little-known characters from legend or history. And of course there are some who simply prefer to revel in wearing their most extraordinary and opulent Gothy finery rather than dressing as anything specific.

When choosing your costume, please bear in mind your plans for the day. If you're going to find yourself helping out with a children's party, this is not the time to wear that one costume from Artifice Clothing. Or anything TOO scary! If you're likely to be playing any kind of energetic games, a four foot train, fluttering veil and corset may not be practical. And if trick-or-treating, remember what wind or even rain will do to elaborate hair-dos and make-up (finding an umbrella that suits your costume may not be easy but could be worth it).

There are some rather obvious and cliche Goth costumes, including The Crow, Lestat de Lioncourt, Dracula, Catwoman, any members of The Munsters or The Addams Family, most Tim Burton characters and Cleopatra (or Nefertiti). If one of these costumes would be a dream come true for you (heaven knows I've got Morticia Addams and Cleopatra on my must-try list, and most people will probably dress as a Tim Burton character at least once) go right ahead, but make sure you do it to the absolute best of your ability so that you knock the fishnet socks off the four other Cleopatras on the Goth club dancefloor.

Thankfully the suggestion that sets the most eyes rolling is one that I have not yet received, but I'm sure many of you have - the good ol' 'dress like a normal person for Halloween' cliche. I did try this once, but it didn't feel 'Halloween-ish' at all so I took it all off and went to hunt out a corset and top hat. If you have read Ellen Schreiber's Vampire Kisses, in which Goth girl Raven tries this, you may think it sounds fun and original, but the fact is that almost every Goth has it suggested to them by a well-meaning non-Goth at some point, and frankly it isn't really fun because after the novelty (and the joke) wears off, it can be rather glum watching everyone else saunter past in wonderful costumes and decadent black clothes whilst you're stuck in jeans and a pastel-coloured T-shirt.

Plus, when Halloween is the one day of the year that you can turn the spooky dial on your attire up to thirteen without raising a single eyebrow, why would you want to waste it wearing khakis?

Listening to: Butterfly - Tapping the Vein

Lost Souls

Parajunkee's View Vampire Challenge, Review #13 - Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

If you thought that Anne Rice - or Stephenie Meyer - was the reigning queen of vampire novels, think again. This book blew my mind. Dripping in spooky cliche, knuckle-deep in gore, even the most horrific scenes written in lush, melancholy, almost lyrical prose, Lost Souls is, for me, THE ultimate vampire novel.

Source: Google Images
Lost Souls tells the story of six strange individuals - some human, some definitely not - whose lives collide. Nothing is a lonely young man wrapped up in a world of drugs, meaningless sex, black clothes and gloomy music who is unaware of his vampire parentage but knows that he is somehow different from his schoolfriends and finds peace in the taste of his own blood. Christian is a centuries-old vampire who runs a bar in New Orleans; he witnessed the terrifying circumstances of Nothing's birth and feels a deep loyalty and love towards his bloodsucking kin. Steve and Ghost are musicians and bandmates in Lost Souls? - closer than brothers yet very different. Steve is angry and volatile but fiercely protective towards Ghost; gentle Ghost has second sight, talks to spirits, and can't shield his mind from the thoughts of those around him. Ann is Steve's ex-girlfriend, doomed and bitter. Molochai, Twig and Zillah are black-clad, eyeliner-besmeared vampires dedicated to a life of revelry and debauchery and uncaring of the consequences.

From the very first page with its breathtakingly evocative rendering of New Orleans in the midst of Mardi Gras, I was captured and drawn into the passionate and horrific world of Lost Souls. Brite's magic causes the reader to love her characters, steeped in sin and devoid of true emotion as some of them may be and despite the desperate choices and sickening mistakes some of them make. We watch Nothing come undone as he is pulled inexorably into Zillah's 'family', and whilst we half-wish for him to turn back before he succumbs to his vampire heritage, something about Zillah's philosophy of blood and pleasure is captivating and causes us almost to urge him on.

The blood, guts, and slightly cringey Goth stereotypes such as self-harm and promiscuity may not be to everyone's tastes, and I would like to add the brief caveat to any concerned parents (or babybats) who have been flicking through the pages of Brite's work that this is not, in general, how Goths behave. However, the book itself is 'so Goth' that it may as well turn up swathed in cobwebs and gift-wrapped in a Bauhaus poster. If your ideal vampire story combines Anne Rice's decadent prose and the setting of the early Goth scene when everyone was big-haired and clad in leather with splatterings of gore offset by mournful whimsy, you'll love Lost Souls.

Listening to: Scilence - Unter Null

Books that go bump in the night

Autumn is coming. The scent of bonfires hangs in the chill air after sunset. The skies are clear and blue and the trees are turning a fierce gold. The wind has turned cold and the dark is drawing in. Autumn is the season of trick or treat and heavy velvet; of billowing cloaks and ghost stories around the fire. It's almost Halloween...

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Now that the nights are getting chilly, what should a Gothling be reading in bed with their black sheets pulled up high and a hot water bottle against their stripy-socked toes? Here are my very best book recommendations for the Halloween season, and beyond - book recommendations as requested by Amy of Juliet's Lace.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
A classic ghost story - you may already have seen the film or theatre adaptations, but there's nothing like a real spine-tingling vintage ghost story to read by the fire whilst the wind howls outside... is there?

Hallowhaus by The Zombified
The perfect comic book treat to serve up for Halloween - as classic as a slice of pumpkin pie and as warm as hot chocolate. A light-heartedly spooky treat for darklings of all ages.

Never the Bride by Paul Magrs
A black comedy romp, set in Whitby and featuring cameos from all your favourite B-movie creatures. It certainly won't scare you but it will make you smile.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Dark, whimsical and occasionally downright disturbing short stories covering graverobbing, ghosts, wizards and monsters. Sometimes amusing and sometimes very strange.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman can do no wrong, and this masterpiece is business as usually for the writer extraordinaire. You'll enter a world of ghosts, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night, and you'll want to stay.

Tithe by Holly Black
What's Halloween without a scary fairy story? Myths whisper and legends walk in Holly Black's thoroughly modern faerie tale. Phenomenal.

13 Bullets by David Wellington
If you fancy a change of pace, how about classic vampires a la Nosferatu and 30 Days of Night (i.e the kind that eat you rather than seduce you) combined with a thriller's pacing and plot.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
A creepy tale for readers of all ages, in Coraline the familiar becomes frightening and dreams turn into nightmares. Be careful what you wish for!

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakeley-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson
The book of the recent film (which I haven't seen, by the way), pouring medieval superstition and sinister supernatural forces into a typical childhood tale.

Goth-Icky: A Macabre Menagerie of Morbid Monstrosities by Pop Ink
Hilariously enjoyable, a fully illustrated celebration of Goth culture and the creepy creatures so beloved by its followers. Wedge your tongue firmly into your cheek and enjoy.

What will you be reading this October?

Listening to: Girls That Glitter Love the Dark - Hannah Fury

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