Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Tag, you're it

Me and Bronners... GPOY

I've been tagged by Miss Eva Morgan Reeve.

How does it work?
  • Post the rules on your blog
  • Write 11 things about you
  • Answer it
  • Create 11 new questions for the future tagged ones
  • Put a link to the tagged blogs
  • Prevents them by leaving a message on their blogs
  • No information about us in the "tag" section
  • Tag 11 people
11 Things About Me
  1. My handwriting is appalling.
  2. I have three scars - on my right knee, left thigh and the back of my right hand.
  3. I take size 6.5 shoe (that's a US 9, I think).
  4. I have a separate wardrobe just for my coats because I have so many.
  5. I'm going to treat myself to a cashmere Alexander McQueen skull scarf for my 21st birthday.
  6. My favourite food is chocolate fudge.
  7. I procrastinate about as much as is humanly possible.
  8. I have tufts sticking up on my scalp where some of my hair snapped off from overbleaching and I have to hide them with a side-parting.
  9. This coming Sunday I will be part of a pub quiz team called The Stupids.
  10. The place I most want to visit in the whole world is California.
  11. I prefer Pepsi to Coke.

Miss Eva's Questions

1- What is your earliest memory?
Dancing with a blonde girl at a mother and toddler group near my house and being set upon by her mother who thought I was attacking her. >.< The girl's name was Tanya and we are still good friends.

2- How do you eat an Oreo Cookie?
I'm ashamed to say that I gobble. I eat the whole thing in about two bites.

3- Your favourite foreign word.
Konnichiwa... mainly because it's the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

4- Did you brush your teeth before going to bed last night?
No, I was somewhat tiddled after an evening at the pub... slightly skanky, I know...

5- Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes, because it happened to me.

6- Comfort food?
Chocolate or cookie dough ice cream.

7- Last book you read?
All I Want Is Everything: A Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily von Zeigesar.

8- Batman or Superman?

9- Blood type.
Don't know!

10- Do you remember the first lie you told?
No, I almost wish I did!

11- Worst injury you ever had?
I broke my ankle on a friend's trampoline, snapping two different bones. Everyone thought I was faking for the first half hour because I didn't cry, then when it started to puff up we called my mum, who ALSO thought I was putting it on and made me walk to the car. My friend had to prop me up! I went home and sat on the sofa with my foot up and eventually got rushed to casualty when I went into shock. It didn't set properly so I have one ankle bigger than the other!

11 Questions
  1. Who is your biggest inspiration?
  2. Describe your style in ten words or less.
  3. What was your worst ever style disaster?
  4. Where in the world would you most like to visit?
  5. Have you ever been in love?
  6. What are you currently coveting?
  7. What is your funniest childhood memory?
  8. What is your guiltiest musical pleasure?
  9. What is your favourite way to unwind?
  10. What was your most recent embarrassing moment?
  11. What is your favourite movie?
Everyone I wanted to tag has already been tagged... so I guess you get to tag yourselves. :-) Pop a link in the comments if you decide to take part!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mixing inspirations

Being 'alternative' isn't always easy. Wait, come back, this isn't a woe-is-me we're all soooo misunderstood post. (There are enough of those on this blog already...) I mean it in a more literal sense. For example, I realised recently that the one thing I missed about my 'pre-Goth' years was the ability to roll out of bed in the morning, pull on the nearest outfit and a dash of mascara and be ready for breakfast in ten. Nowadays I am far more high maintenance than I was in my early-to-mid teens - you won't catch me outdoors without a full face of make-up, even if it's a 'natural' look, and I'm addicted to high heels and hairspray. But that wee twinge of nostalgia for days past when I didn't laugh in the face of friends requesting me to be ready in half an hour got me to thinking about my more 'mainstream' years.

And as I thought, I made a few discoveries.

  • Trying too hard to live up to a Gothy image all the time can take the joy out of it. Relaxing is no bad thing.
  • Experimenting doesn't always work, and has the potential to be embarrassing depending on the occasion and on your propensity to post photos of your outfits and make-up on the internet, but by God it's fun. If your dream look is Paris-Hilton-meets-Razor-Candi, then stop worrying about what Gother-than-thou types will make of your pink lipgloss and just go for it. If Goth is about music, it shouldn't matter how you dress. If being alternative is about not conforming, why are some people so worried about following 'the rules'? You only live once.
  • Sometimes I miss my face. OK, that sounds weird. But I've been swamping my features in heavy black make-up for three or four years now and had almost forgotten what I looked like underneath it all. I've been experimenting with natural make-up recently (and even bought some bronzer *gasp*) and have been really enjoying it. A natural face adds an unexpected twist to a Gothy outfit.
I think it's perfectly normal to experience dissatisfaction from time to time. I was initially confused by my recent frustrations with my wardrobe and style; Goth style didn't appeal any less to me, I'm still utterly enamoured with the culture and dark music, I didn't feel like my five-year stint as a black-clad angsty type was 'a phase'... so what was going on? Simple. I needed a change.
Purple Balloons

Sometimes we need to re-analyse our lifestyles and revise our aesthetic. Wanting to try something new or branch out a little more doesn't mean you're going through a phase and it doesn't mean you need to feel guilty. I have been experimenting a little more lately, collecting new inspirations, and it has been like a breath of fresh air. It sounds cheesy, but I feel like I'm re-discovering who I am as I re-invent my style to suit the lifestyle that I want.

Having a mix of inspirations from mainstream fashion, high fashion, alternative fashion and of course Goth can sometimes seem a bit bewildering and overwhelming as you wonder how you can combine your love of a punk, DIY ethic with the luxury and opulence of couture (just for example). I think this is why sometimes it helps take a step back and spend a month in jeans as you try to make some sense out of the mix of influences that inspire you (I have found Tumblr invaluable for this, just FYI).

I made some notes in my personal journal about concepts that intrigued me and styles that I wanted to try. There are only a handful but it occured to me that some of you might find these equally interesting.
  • 1920s meets punk
  • Deathrock meets mori girl
  • 'Mainstream' glamour with a Gothic twist
  • Sleek, futuristic, black outfits (think Zoetica Ebb) with a bright pop of colour, e.g. pink or yellow Doc Martens
  • Casual steampunk meets nu-Goth
  • Urban faerie
  • 'Girlie'/sweet deathrock
I know some of these have much potential for disaster!

I hope this style overhaul will soon come to be reflected in my outfit posts (and hopefully less pictures in my grubby bathroom mirror, fingers crossed!). In the meantime, who are your style icons? Who or what inspires your style? What concepts are currently brewing in the back of your mind?

    Monday, 27 February 2012

    February talent spotlight

    I have received a few emails from musicians, designers and promoters who would like you guys to check out their work; I thought it was about time I shared them with you. I hope you will find something here that you enjoy.

    Lyncelia are from Paris and describe their style as ColdWave/Gothic Music principally influenced by bands like The Cure, Clan of Xymox and the Sisters of Mercy (amongst many others like Paradise Lost, Client, My Dying Bride...). Their first album, released in 2010 and entitled Lovelorn, is available for free download on Bandcamp here.

    Covered Faces is a new 'Electro-Death-Punk' project from Basque Country musician, programmer and producer, Pablo Lázaro Vidal (a.k.a "Peibol"), who describes the main influences on the project as classical horror films, road movies & video game music. The first Covered Faces release, Lobiep, a five-track EP, has been released on the Zorch Factory record label and features collaborations with  Jessica White (Violet Tremors) and Sophie Nadaud (Madame B). You can download a medium resolution version of the release for free at the Zorch Factory website here.
    Dark Arc is a black comedy film project featuring the talents of Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the glam/punk tunes "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst" and "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire", and a dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett, the film has recently been released on DVD through Vanguard Cinema and is currently debuting on Cable Video On Demand. You can see a trailer for Dark Arc on YouTube here.

    Lavolta Press has just published two new books about historic fashion that may be of interest to some of you. The books are entitled Bustle Fashions 1885–1887: 41 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation and Directoire Revival Fashions 1888–1889: 57 Patterns with Fashion Plates and Suggestions for Adaptation. Each book contains practical patterns for a middle-class woman's wardrobe, from undergarments, through multi-part ensembles, to outerwear. Bustle Fashions 1885–1887 focuses on what is commonly thought of as the "big bustle" period. The Directoire Revival silhouette is narrower, and it imitates the fashions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. However, both books are similarly organized. Each pattern is accompanied by a fashion plate and instructions. Each book is a self-contained resource for everyone who reproduces period garments, whether for theater, movies, living history, Old West events, or dolls. Steampunk and goth enthusiasts will find ample material on which to base their creations. You can order the books by sending a cheque or money order to Lavolta Press at 20 Meadowbrook Drive, San Francisco, CA 94132.

    RADHA DUMRA is a new surrealism-inspired anti-trend fashion label, whose designer says, "Black takes center stage in my collection with new colors added every season. The clothes are designed exclusively for those who are nonconformist, bold, proud and in control. RADHA DUMRA is successfully being sold through independent boutiques in London as well as online stores like NOT JUST A LABEL. The brand is gaining more and more visibility, in fact some of the pieces from the current collection were picked up by Marie Claire and Harper's Bazaar and will be featured in their Editor's Pick section." You can see the collection on Facebook here and purchase from eBay here.
    CateGORY M.E. is the creation of alternative model Saphire Rainforest. Currently available on StoreEnvy and Etsy, her jewellery designs feature spiderwebs, coffins and black roses. Saphire is offering discounts to models and is happy to talk about custom designs.

    Sunday, 26 February 2012

    Grown-up Goth style resources

    I received an email quite recently from a gentleman who would like to experiment more with Goth style but is concerned about looking as though he is trying to dress 'young'. I thought I would post some helpful links filled with inspiration and advice for adult Goths and those interested in dabbling in dark culture alike.

    I am a huge fan of the Morbid Fashion blog run by the lovely Zellain. Zellain's take on Goth style is modern, elegant and a little bit futuristic for fashion-conscious adult Goths who stash their Vogues next to their Gothic Beautys. The Morbid Fashion website ( is due to relaunch in March but in the meantime you can whet your appetite with its sister Tumblr, here.

    Sinister Sartorialist is another fashion-oriented Tumblr run by a gentleman with an impeccably decadent sense of style. (This may be of help also to those of you bemoaning the lack of Goth fashion resources for gents.)

    I'm sure you are already aware of my fellow blogspot users Sophistique Noir and This is CorpGoth? VictorianKitty and Trystan use their respective blogs to document their daily adventures in Goth style, whether it be office wear with darker stylings or clubwear for the adult Goth.

    Hexotica is another grown-up Goth blogger whose style is spot-on, featuring dark cabaret and vintage stylings and stunning use of colour.

    Haute Macabre's tagline is 'because it wasn't just a phase', and they feature such luminaries of the Gothic world as Zoetica Ebb and Clint Catalyst as staff writers (whose personal websites are also worth checking out for your fix of dark style). There's also the Haute Macabre Tumblr.

    Donna Karan A/W
    Souce: Haute Macabre
    In a similar vein is Coilhouse, a magazine and blog dedicated to alternative culture, everything from art to technology and all that lies between.

    You might also enjoy Auxiliary Magazine, a personal favourite of mine with some really sumptuous editorials.

    Have fun with all the links! I hope you enjoy all these blogs as much as I do! :3

    Friday, 24 February 2012

    Outfit post: random

    Time for another outfit round-up.

    Panic! at the Disco gig

    Bow: charity shop
    T-shirt: Panic! gig
    Tights: no idea
    Shorts: Topshop
    Mesh shirt: charity shop
    Bat necklace: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
    Boots: Camden

    Bellydance class and sleepover at Jo's

    Necklace: Coven of Witches
    Choker: is actually a chain off a skirt
    T-shirt: AppleSnow
    Skirt: vintage shop (bit of a cheek as it's from Matalan!)
    Lace tights: Stinky Fish
    Boots: Tesco
    Coat: Topshop
    Gloves: Claire's

    At work

    Shirt: charity shop
    Waistcoat: charity shop
    Brooch: guessed it, charity shop
    Jeans: Tesco
    Boots: Tesco

    A cup of tea with Bronwyn

    Hairclips: George at Asda (Halloween)
    Collar: Double Discount
    T-shirt: Gothic Beauty (obvs)
    Necklace: gift
    Gloves: Claire's
    Skirt: charity shop
    Tights: Marks and Spencer

    Thursday, 23 February 2012

    Be part of Sary's art recording on the subject of subcultures

    The lovely Sary of The Walrus Room has asked for help from fellow Gothy types and other alternatives to take part in a recording for her art major work (the end-of-school final assignment that will help to earn our dear Sary a university place). Sary's project is on the subject of subcultures, namely, 'the misconceptions and isolation they face every day', and she intends to create an audio file in relation to her artwork.

    Sary says, "I want to have alternative people's (not just Goths) voices talking about themselves and what they face in everyday life because of the way they dress."

    All you need to do is record yourself answering Sary's questionnaire, which you can find here, in an audio or video file, and then you can e-mail her or put it on YouTube and send her the link. If you are uncomfortable with your voice being used for this project but would still like to help out, you can send her a written response and she will ask somebody else to read it on your behalf.

    You can contact Sary with your recordings or questions at


    Wednesday, 22 February 2012

    Gothic guest houses

    What with Goth clubs, Goth magazines, even knitted Goth boots for babies, it was probably only a matter of time before Goth hotels started springing up. Some of these hotels are run by Goths, mainly for Goths, and tricked out in the latest of dark home decor. Some are simply decorated in the finest Gothic tastes; well, they do say black goes with everything.

    The most well-known Goth hotel is probably the Bats and Broomsticks bed and breakfast in Whitby, which entirely unsurprisingly caters most often for attendees of the Whitby Gothic Weekend, although I would suspect they are booked up well in advance. Bats and Broomsticks is entirely decorated in Victorian Gothic splendour.

    Also in the UK there is the Chiroptera Gothic Guest House in Scarborough, also within sensible travel distance of Whitby. To judge from the gallery on their website, Chiroptera's decor is absolutely phenomenal, with a main colour scheme of black on black (and a hint of red).

    (c) Chiroptera Gothic Guest House
    Photo by Glen Campbell
    Is that an amazing room or what?!
    Those travelling abroad can also find themed hotels to suit the darkest of tastes. Whilst not specifically catering to a Gothic palette, the Night Hotel in New York is entirely decorated in monochrome with an 'urban Gothic' feel.

    In Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin, you can book the "Gruft" or 'coffin room' (that's room 31, by the way) in which you will find two coffins to sleep in. (Although there is also a conventional bed if you should get nervous...) This hotel may be of some interest to creative types anyway, as it is designed to be a work of art that you can live in.

    The Witchery in Edinburgh is a restaurant with rooms available, located amongst a collection of ancient buildings in historic Old Town and close to the city's castle. It has eight gorgeously Gothic suites, decadently decorated and utterly flamboyant.

    We all know that weird things happen in Las Vegas... and at Ron Decar's Las Vegas Hotel you can choose from a myriad of themed rooms. However I'd bet that 'Disco' and 'Gangster' would be less up your street than Gothic (featuring a bride-and-groom coffin bed, gargoyles, tombstones, and even a coffin-shaped bath tub) or Egyptian (filled with golden fabric, 'ancient' relics and heiroglyphs).

    I'm now really wishing I could afford a holiday...

    Tuesday, 21 February 2012

    Double review: The Woman in Black and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

    Warning: may contain spoilers

    Having read Susan Hill's ghost story The Woman In Black I was excited to see the recent movie remake starring Daniel Radcliffe. I was surprised to see that the movie was only rated 12a because the book was so frightening, and after watching the movie I can safely say that had I been under twelve I probably would have had to leave the cinema.

    The film is beautiful despite (or perhaps because of) its chilling tale, with lots of brooding shots of the English countryside in the rain and plenty of Goth-friendly eye candy in the form of Mr. Radcliffe's lovely sideburns and dashing suit (I firmly believe that more men should dress in Edwardian-style suits, oh yes).

    Wonderful costume...
    Source: Google
    Horror fans may be pleased to note that this film is brought to the big screen by none other than the infamous Hammer Horror, and I feel that they have mostly done justice to a classic story. At first I was a little annoyed to see that they had not kept more closely to the tale as Susan Hill wrote it, wherein the 'hero' Arthur Kipps (played by Radcliffe) is pestered for a festive fireside ghost story by his wife and children, but refuses to tell as he has been left almost scarred by his own experiences at Eel Marsh House, and writes down the story instead. But on reflection, doing away with this framing does the story good as it makes it relevant, present, rather than something that has already happened and the danger has passed (or so you think...).

    I don't want to give too much away from either book or film but I will note that the ending is also slightly different than in the original novel.

    In The Woman In Black, Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor mourning the recent death of his wife who is sent to sort the papers of the deceased Alice Drablow. Mrs. Drablow formerly resided in isolated Eel Marsh House, cut off from the mainland and nearest village by marsh and by tide. What Kipps does not know is that Eel Marsh House and the surrounding land (complete with woodland cemetery; cue many eerie shots of gravestones listing amidst the ivy) are haunted, and that every time the spectre - a woman in black - is seen, a child in the village dies. Horribly. The most spine-chilling part of the tale is, of course, the night Kipps finds himself spending in Eel Marsh House... alone.

    I will be honest and say that I found this movie absolutely terrifying. It's highly suspenseful, designed for thrills and chills and as such there are many moments intended to make you jump (all of which hit their mark, I add) but there are some genuinely horrifying moments and images that have, rather unfortunately for my sleeping patterns, emblazoned themselves in my brain. The entire film is permeated by a sense of dread, and the director understands that things glimpsed in the shadows can be far more terrifying than to reveal all. A brilliant movie, and Radcliffe does well as mournful Kipps, but one of the scariest I've seen for a while.

    (There is, by the way, another, older, movie of The Woman In Black, which I have not seen but which others have highly recommended.)

    The other movie I saw this weekend was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D. Like the first Ghost Rider movie, it's not especially intelligent, nor does it bring anything particularly new to the world of Marvel comic movies, but for an hour-and-a-half of chases, special effects and Nicholas Cage on a motorbike it's harmless fun.
    Source: Google
    Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a daredevil biker who signed a contract in blood and became the devil's bounty hunter. Blaze now shares his body with a demon, known simply as the Rider, who is unleashed in the presence of evil and reduces it - and everyone close by, usually - to ashes. In this sequel, Blaze makes a deal to protect the son of the devil from being used by his father, in return for being released from the Rider. Unfortunately, he has to use the power of the demon to keep the devil's human offspring safe.

    There are no great surprises in this movie and frankly it could have done with a considerably less cheesy script (there are one-liners that will make you wince). There are attempts at character development and we learn more about the mythology of the Rider, but it's a tad obvious and clumsy. The 3D is mostly irrelevant; all right for car chases in the mountains but otherwise adding nothing to the entertainment value of the film.

    Cage's performance? I can never quite make up my mind whether Cage's kookiness is fun or irritating, but on the basis of this film I'll just heed my mother's advice: if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all.

    The plot is all-too-obviously contrived, which would be all right if, like similar deliberately-trashy movies it was tongue-in-cheek, but sadly not. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this movie, but mainly because it provided the opportunity to switch off for a while whilst watching a flaming skeleton riding a motorbike. Fun but ultimately pointless.

    Monday, 20 February 2012

    Egads! The Steampunk World's Fair

    A festival that on its webpage describes itself as 'the greatest steampunk festival in the world' either has its tongue firmly in its cheek or some fairly (no pun intended) big ideas. It is, reportedly, the largest steampunk festival in the USA (Somerset, New Jersey, just FYI) and its makers are also held responsible for their annual Wicked Winter Renaissance Faire and Kinky Geek Event. And technically, most of the other steampunk events are technically conventions, not festivals, so they're probably right anyway.

    If you've ever fancied any of the following:
    • an absinthe tasting hosted by Voltaire
    • a band who write about pirates and metaphorical hats and use Tupperware for their percussion section
    • partying, 'not simply like it's 1899, but like it's 1899 and it's extra awesome because we've got steam-powered laser weapons'
    then this is a festival you should probably be checking out if you're stateside, or have the funds to be so at any point in the future. (Incidentally, something I find especially awesome about SPWF is that they are an outdoor festival, and instead of being worried about rain, they are more than prepared for it. They have a series of events planned to take place only if it rains. Including a Steampunk Gene Kelly sing-a-long karaoke, a Cthulhu Slide, a Torrential Tea Party, a Rainy Day Burlesque and Airship Pirate Bombing Raids. That, kids, is what I call squee-worthy.)

    Incidentally, I was forwarded the following by a very charming intern at the company responsible for such shenanigans:

    "Spreading the steampunk love

    "With the Steampunk genre’s infiltration of mainstream media, many artists of the movement are seeing their work lost in the explosion of new Steampunk art. The Lost Treasures of Steampunk, the newest program initiated by the Steampunk World’s Fair, is designed to prevent these works from being overlooked by sharing them with the greater Steampunk community. Steampunk creators are seeking to gain legitimacy as artists and the Lost Treasures will work to prove that legitimacy. Selected applicants will have their work featured at the Steampunk World’s Fair this coming May, and more will be awarded scholarships to further their artistic endeavors.

    "Event organizers are devoted to bringing this program to life by utilizing fundraising and a portion of the fair’s budget for its success. Event creator Jeff Mach explains, "We’d like to prove that Steampunk is not only a legitimate artistic genre, but an intensely creative one, as well." As head of an event that attracts the attention of Steampunks nationwide, he has witnessed innumerable creative endeavors that don’t get the attention they deserve. This inspired Mach to put together the Lost Treasures of Steampunk, for which creators of all steampunk art, from fashion to literature, are urged to apply.

    "Besides the Lost Treasures of Steampunk to look forward to, this year’s Steampunk World’s Fair will be packed with pleasures. Steampunk is a genre best described by author K.W. Jeter as "mad Victorian fantasy". Over 3,000 Steampunk enthusiasts are brought together at the World’s Fair each year along with hundreds of performers, artisans, writers, and creators from across the country. But the fair is not solely reserved for the loudest fans; anyone with the least bit of interest in Steampunk is invited to pop on a top hat and join the masses in celebration of steampunk and its artistic culture."

    Sunday, 19 February 2012

    Unexpected Goth encounters and equal ops for body modders

    Following on from the idea of yesterday's post, I was wondering how many of you guys had ever found a fellow Goth, alternative fashion or body mod enthusiast where you really didn't expect one. No, I don't mean in your back garden at three a.m., stop being ridiculous.

    For example, you may remember when I worked in the arts office for my local council I was mildly surprised (although not that surprised, it was the ARTS department after all) to find out that I had a closet Goth, an ex-Goth and one full-blooded, clove-smoking, wearing-New-Rocks-under-my-suit Goth as fellow employees.

    Frank the Baptist
    I was surprised, recently, to discover that my regional support manager in my current job also describes herself as an ex-Goth, albeit a reluctant one - she told me that she only let the fashion and lifestyle slide because she found no one would give her a job. (After work that day I stopped by to speak to my manager and tell her that I appreciated her giving me free rein to wear whatever I choose, even though I'm in a customer-facing role. She said that she didn't think it should matter what a person wears.)

    Does your dentist, doctor or bus driver have spooky tendencies? Does your child's primary school teacher have purple hair and tattoos on her arms under her smart blouses? Do you or have you had a punk or Lolita as a boss?

    Oh! That reminds me! Whilst we're pointing out that people with unusual fashion choices, strange hair and, yes, even tattoos and piercings can hold down a job as well as the rest of us, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the following petition (yes, another one). This petition was created by Patrick Hogan and is possibly an issue dear to many of your hearts.

    I think by now most of us are resigned to the fact that covering up tattoos, dyeing our hair back to natural colours and taking out piercings is a part of life for many alternative lifestylers when they reach the job market. But unless your body mods or manner of dress pose potential dangers or hazards in your chosen field of work (bustle skirts and agriculture do not, generally, mix), they don't actually affect your ability to do your job. It's not like in school where drawing pictures on your arms could be a 'distraction' to the kid next to you - the tattoos are permanent now and the guy in the next office chair is probably not too freaked out by your half-sleeve to carry on with his own work.

    There is a common sense element involved - if you want to work with small children, huge gauges in your ears might not be the brightest idea and if you have offensive tattoos (e.g. sexual imagery) I don't recommend you take up a positon doctoring old ladies unless you're willing to cover your tatts. But astonishingly enough most of the alternative community can understand such issues and would be more than likely to take steps to avoid causing any harm or offense.

    Having pink hair, nose rings and a tattoo of Jack Skellington is not hurting anyone and I personally don't feel it should be an issue when employing someone. No, not even in a customer-facing role. Waitrose, for example, do not employ people with facial piercings, which frankly I feel is highly unneccessary and discriminatory as even the clientele of Marks and Spencers are unlikely to require the application of smelling-salts at the sight of an eyebrow ring.

    So! Please sign the petition for including body modification in equal opportunity employment, and share your tales of either a) body modification discrimination or b) unexpected encounters of the Goth kind.

    Saturday, 18 February 2012

    Positive experiences and unexpected compliments

    This week I received a lovely e-mail from Kassandra, who said, "I have seen the many entries regarding the bullying, incidents, discrimination and attacks of "normal" people to members of the Goth community.  And something happened to me yesterday; something entirely different from this kind of thing.  I was leaving a café where I had just a cup of tea, and upon saying goodbye to the waiters, one of them said to me with a smile: "I wonder what has happened in Heaven for angels to be wearing black".  I was wearing a long black lace skirt, a black wool turtleneck (it was cold!), a red and black corset, and a long black coat.  I was very surprised by the lovely and unusual compliment (I obviously thanked him profusely), and then I thought: "Certainly I cannot be the only one that gets compliments from people outside of the community". 

    "And I thought it could be nice to write about good moments that Goths may have had with non-Goths, such as this one.  Maybe you could talk about something good that happened to you, or maybe ask feedback from your readers...

    "I think that Jillian Venters is right about being polite and gracious; a smile can have a powerful effect on people.  Of all the incidents I have had regarding my attire, I have only been once shouted "Halloween is over!".  The rest have been people talking to me about my pretty outfit, an unusual hat, or where did I get that jewelry? (I am a Victorian/Romantigoth almost in my forties, by the way).""

    Kassandra, by the way, also has a blog which you can find here.

    Black Tape For A Blue Girl
    I thought this was an absolutely wonderful idea for a post; and quite timely, as today I had an experience of my own which made me smile. A regular customer at work teasingly called me 'the lady in black'. A friend and co-worker who was within earshot wasn't aware that I half-knew the chap and immediately sprang to my defense with the retort, "Black or not, she always looks gorgeous!" Perhaps it's a silly thing but I always feel a little bit touched when people who wouldn't choose this lifestyle or manner of dress for themselves stick up for and support those who do. :-)

    After reading Kassandra's e-mail I enjoyed thinking over my own positive experiences and I hope you don't mind me sharing a few with you!
    • When walking with friends, a little girl came up to me and shyly told me that she liked my shoes. The shoes in question were a pair of New Rocks decorated with flaming skulls, chains, and spikes!
    • The same boots sparked off the following comment from an old lady in the theatre, "Are those Gothic boots? Good for you! I wish I'd done all that when I was younger!"
    • Recently I was stopped by a lady in the supermarket who wanted to tell me how 'beautiful and striking' my outfit was.
    • I love it when friends and co-workers tell me that they 'look forward' to seeing what I'll be wearing when we see each other.
    • Random photo ops! I know some people find this annoying after a while but the novelty hasn't worn off for me yet - I have had people ask me to step outside at work to take a quick photo ('because you look so fashionable') and been stopped at a train station in London by a photography student who needed a picture of someone 'unusual'. I just wish I had copies of the photos! >.<
    So, what about you guys? What have been your favourite compliments, most unexpected positive remarks and other generally uplifting experiences from those outside the alternative community? Do share!

    Friday, 17 February 2012

    Blackest Black review

    I have made a resolution as part of the no-more-procrastination programme to start working through the two black sacks and one suitcase of assorted garments I've put aside with the vague notion of one day DIY-ing them. I figured that since this is the year of the Filthy Victorians, the Victorian replica bloomers I purchased from a theatre company might be a good place to start.

    The first and most important thing I needed to do with these bloomers was to dye them black. No, not to make them more ooky-spooky (surprisingly) but because the first time I put them on I discovered they were see-through.

    The dye I used was called Blackest Black, which claims to produce a deeper colour than "all-purpose" drugstore dyes and last longer without fading. Its makers also boast that 'after extensive research, we believe we've found the blackest clothing dye'. Could this be the perfect Goth DIY product? Well, being the helpful girl that I am, I've put it to the test for you.

    Blackest Black seems to be generally designed for restoring your faded black clothing to its former midnight hue, with one bottle capable of dyeing 6-9 T-shirts or 2-3 pairs of trousers or jeans. The instructions told me to double the dose for coloured or white items, but since I was only dyeing one garment I thought I'd see if I could get away with using half a bottle.

    I have to say, I found the product really easy to use - I was even sent my own stirring stick along with my little dyeing kit. The only thing I had to purchase separately was salt, which most people would probably have in the house anyway.
    I has a stick
    The dyeing process was incredibly simple, helped along by clear, friendly, jargon-free instructions (step two: RELAX) and the fact that there is really nothing difficult about stirring stuff in a bucket. Preparing the mixture and saturating the garment with dye does take half-an-hour or so, including the recommended twenty minutes of gentle stirring, so it's handy to pop on a CD or something whilst you stir away.

    The results after using half a bottle of Blackest Black looked like this:
    Blacker than the original product, certainly, but I didn't feel they were quite deserving of the 'blackest black' moniker yet, and in natural daylight the colour looked faded and a tad patchy. So I bunged them through another dye bath, using another half a bottle of dye.

    The result this time was much closer to what I'd been hoping for:
    Unlike dyeing your hair, it doesn't matter how much extra time you leave your garments to soak for, which was lucky because both times I wandered away, got distracted and left the bloomers for half-an-hour to an hour longer than the recommended 30-60 minutes.

    I was really pleased with how easy the product was to use and the final colour result (or lack thereof, to be more precise, with black not being actually a colour and all). I liked that Blackest Black is made by a friendly company with a sense of humour (their FAQ, in case you think I'm joking), which as you can see is a lovely even velvety black, and will be saving my other bottle to re-vamp a faded jacket or two.

    My bloomers now need a bit of stitching at the sides and a zip putting in (they are designed to be laced up but since I intend to wear them as outerwear that's not going to work) and then they will be ready to wear, without baring my bum cheeks to all and sundry. :-)

    EDIT: Blackest Black have kindly offered a discount code to readers of Stripy Tights...! They say, "If you would like to give us a try, you can use the coupon code "DARKDELIGHTS" for a 10% discount (after the current Valentine's Day special ends)."

    Thursday, 16 February 2012

    "Goth will destroy your child"

    All right, I'll put my hands up and admit it... when I was about sixteen, I wrote a four-page e-mail to God Hates Goths, hoping to make them see the error of their Goth-bashing ways. I got a short note in reply telling me that they didn't bother to read the entire e-mail, and calling me 'Ashley' (close enough). You can imagine how embarrassed I was when several months later I finally figured out that God Hates Goths is a satirical website, and as such my militant mallgoth rage was entirely redundant.

    So I am therefore approaching this post (requested by Kitty Lovett) with some trepidation, although I am (somewhat) reliably informed that the following site is nothing less than the genuine article. After spending half an hour reading about how Sabrina (the teenage witch) is 'evil', tattoos are 'marks of Satan' and Guitar Hero is 'of the devil', I'm not entirely convinced, but let's go for it anyway!

    Jesus Is Savior is a Christian (although I am using the term loosely here) website, which, if it is genuine, does not do much for promoting the tenet of 'loving thy neighbour as thyself'. I find it hard to believe that this is not satirical; the obsessive zeal and alarming ignorance remind me of other satirical sites such as Landover Baptist and the abovementioned God Hates Goths. Its slightly hysterical tone and fanatical standpoint are used against everything from Wicca to Roman Catholicism, from TV (known as 'devilvision') to, of course, Goth culture.

    Source: Jesus Is Savior
    As someone who attended a church school, lives in a predominantly-Christian parish and counts several Christians amongst her closest friends, I find the tone of this website perhaps more offensive in its projection of Christianity as bigoted and intolerant than in what it has to say about Goth culture. However, there have sadly been incidences where 'Christians' have taken it upon themselves to attack or bully Goths - notably young Goths, rather than adults more capable of defending themselves - such as the case of twelve-year-old Tempest Smith who was driven to suicide after relentless bullying from her 'Christian' classmates, and another twelve-year-old girl who was stoned by the congregation of a Baptist church as she passed by.

    In general, I don't feel that the disgusting behaviour of such bigots is representative of Christianity - I'm sure that the large majority of those who follow a religion based on peace, love and forgiveness would think that stoning a child in the street is abominable. As such, as I think I have mentioned before, I hesitate to refer to those who propagate such sickening acts as 'Christian', because I strongly feel that there's more to being a 'good' Christian than simply standing in a church once a week.

    Views like those of the writers at Jesus Is Savior are likely to be just as offensive to Christian Goths than the Wiccans and Satanists whose beliefs are attacked therein, because statements like, "Goths are all obsessed with death and despair, with terror and violence, and most Goths use drugs as a form of everyday life," undermine the values and faith of those who consider themselves both Goth and Christian.

    The above quote was taken from an article on Jesus Is Savior, entitled Goth Will Destroy Your Child, by David J. Stewart. Here, for your amusement and daily face-palming workout, may I present a few more highlights from this article:
    • "Goth is a deplorable type of heathen culture that glorifies everything that is vile and unholy. The dictionary defines "Goth" as: A crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement. This pretty much sums up the Goth culture today. Goth glorifies things that are sick, nasty, improper, freakish, and downright demonic.  Goth is NOT just the music. In fact, not all Goths listen to Goth music."
    • "The term "Goth" refers to all categories of Gothics, from Emo 'Goths' to black metal 'Goths' to vampire 'Goths; from thrasher 'Goths' to punk 'Goths' to industrial 'Goths.' "Goth" is just a word the media uses to group a certain type of people together. The Goth culture includes Emos/ punks/ Wiccan witches/ self-abusers/ thrashers/ grungers/ heavy metallers, et cetera. This includes the Marilyn Manson, AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins, Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne crowd as well." EVERYBODY IS A GOTH!!!
    • "Goth causes teenage girls to become whores, depresses kids to the point of cutting themselves, and turns otherwise normal kids into Columbine shooters. The Goth culture is obsessed with death and the darker side of life, which is clearly evidenced in Goth music. Goth is of the Devil. Goth in itself is a mental illness, a sickness of the soul, mainly affecting teenagers in the same way as schizophrenia would, although to a greater extent. Its symptoms range from isolation and negativity to aggression and hate for humanity, depression, violent outbursts, low self esteem, self-loathing, self-harming and suicide. Many Goths turn to a life of crime to feed their addiction to drugs, sadism, violence and perversion."
    • "Goth deliberately crosses all the lines of proper dress, manners, refinement, and decency. Goth picks up where Rock 'n' Roll leaves off, offering a course in advanced rebellion, sexual immorality, and Satan worship. The Goth crowd is truly living at the bottom of the barrel of life, right where Satan wants them."
    Sadly, whether this is a genuine site or not (and I am told that apparently the author of the article runs a ministry) the fact that articles like these abound on the internet does nothing to help Christian Goths to be accepted by their fellow churchgoers.

    "‘It’s just sad the modern church is keeping within it’s boundaries,’ adds Billie. ‘Jesus went specifically to the outcasts in society, in this day and age, that doesn’t seem to happen.’ While Christian gatherings specifically for alternative people are one answer, neither thinks this is a reason for the ordinary church to turn their backs. There is a universal call for the Church as a whole to be less condemnatory and more inclusive. In Ash’s view this is something that Goths often get right and Christians do not. ‘It’s about inclusiveness. A Goth will sit down and talk to you, find out where you’re coming from.’ She has had no problems with her non-Christian Goth friends accepting her faith, but lots of problems from the church accepting the way they look. Marcus thinks it is essential that people get over the issue of what people look like. ‘The big problem, and challenge, is to try not to be judgmental about the way somebody dresses. You have to see what is good in them, not try to change them, but make them realise that Jesus is alongside them. They’ll find God on their own terms.'" - from Spirituality and Goths,

    Lolita fashion is not about paedophilia!

    Apologies for my absence yesterday... the lovely boyfriend shared his sickness bug with me and I was sadly bedridden... ugh. :-/

    SmashedDoll brought to my attention the following petition regarding the poster for a documentary due out this year, entitled Are All Men Pedophiles?, which features a young girl with a 'teasing' expression, clad in Lolita fashions.

    Unfortunately the name Lolita and the associated childlike elements in Lolita fashion have often led to misunderstandings between aficionados of this Japanese street fashion and those in Western society who assume that this Rococo-inspired frilly fashion is intended to be sexual, largely due to the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. As the book pre-dates the Lolita fashion and community, the title clearly does not refer to what we generally think of as 'Lolitas' but simply to the nickname of a character in the book.

    The book is about a less-than-appealing subject matter; paedophilia, to be precise. I did once try reading it as it is considered to be a classic, but it made my skin crawl and I didn't get halfway through. Since the publication of the novel, the word 'Lolita' has become commonplace to describe sexually precocious young girls, which strikes me as ironic since the fashion of the same name has  enormous focus on modesty and decorum.

    Holly Reynolds, organizer of Lolita fashion shows and proud Lolita herself, says, "There’s been a lot of disputes with where [the name] came from, but usually people think the Japanese just took the word as an association with being youthful and not really how it’s interpreted in Western society."

    Such misunderstandings about Lolita fashion and those who wear it are unlikely to be helped much by the Are All Men Pedophiles? poster. Isa Baca has created a petition at to ask for the removal of the misleading poster and an apology from the movie's director, Jan-Willem Breure, and the production company, JW Productions.

    The offending poster
    She says, "The community has been fighting really hard to make people understand that, no matter the personal idea of what Lolita is (a fashion, a lifestyle, an aesthetics), it is NOT about sexualising women, but completely the opposite, it is about women feeling comfortable with themselves in clothes that make them feel pretty and that do not relate with attracting men. Moreover, Lolita is not about ageplay. It does not try to make young women look like little girls, hence it's not focused on attracting pedophiles. It might make the girls look a bit childish depending on the style, but that is not the point for a lolita.

    "With the promotional poster in which a girl is shown wearing Lolita clothes, her expression being overtly provocative and teasing, the productor and director are causing a massive harm to the Lolita community, leading people who does not know the movement to think that it's about sex and ruining the hard work that thousands of girls have done during years. Due to this, we ask for the removal of the poster plus a formal apology from both of them."

    Comments on the petition include the following:

    Agnes Lopez: "Do you have any idea what harm this would do to a wonderful street fashion (and to the MEN who are married or dating women who wear lolita) if it continues to circulate? My husband is not a pedophile, when we married I didn't even wear lolita; I would like to see this apology through, because I have no idea what my friends now think of HIM. "

    Amy Brewster-Cotell: "Paedophiles are attracted to prepubescent children, not grown women in flouncy dresses! What a ridiculous and offensive idea to be propagating, this poster can only spread misunderstanding and reflects very badly on your documentary."

    Please click here to sign the petition.

    Tuesday, 14 February 2012

    Vampire's Day Soiree: Top ten vampire romances

    I am one of the many, many bloggers taking part in Holly's Horrorland Vampire's Day Soiree today! First of all I'd like to wish everyone a happy Valentine's day, and hope you have a little better luck than me (the boyfriend is sick, so it'll be takeaway tonight rather than the date we were planning XP). Anyhoo, the Vampire's Day Soiree is an alternative Valentine's Day event for us bloggers, and you don't win any prizes for guessing the theme...

    For my vamp-themed V-day post, I'm going to cover vampire romances (of course!), specifically ten vampire or vampire/human couples from the world of fiction (movies, TV and books) whose stories I could recommend sinking your fangs into... yup, cliches galore...
    1. Eve Rosser and Michael Glass (The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine). Goth girl meets ghost-turned-vampire hottie musician. I personally love the Morganville series; yes, they are a bit cheesy but I'm a self-confessed Rachel Caine addict and it's impressive when a young adult vampire series can keep going for so many volumes without losing any of its pace or sparkle.
    2. Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton (True Blood by Charlaine Harris). My friends and I are all addicted to the TV series of True Blood, but I really enjoy the books just as much, if not more. The course of love certainly does not run smooth for Sookie and Bill (and ends in disaster, in fact...) but as the telepathic-waitress/brooding vampire relationship is the catalyst that, essentially, sparks all the action that is to follow, it deserves a mention.
    3. Buffy Summers and Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Old, yes, but Buffy won the hearts of teenagers of my generation everywhere and still remains my favourite slice of comfort TV. Angel, despite not being my favourite vampire bloke from the show (Spike, your black nail varnish and sexy cheekbones clinched it for me), provided a conveniently broad-shouldered, leather-jacketed portion of angst. Who didn't shed a tear when Buffy had to send her 'one troo wuv' to the depths of hell?
    4. Selene and Michael (Underworld). Ice queen vampire Selene meets her match in the human Michael when she discovers him being tracked by her kind's sworn enemies, the lycans. Of course, Michael becomes a lycan-vampire hybrid by the end of the movie, which makes their forbidden relationship a touch complicated.
    5. Kerry and Ethan (Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde). Sixteen-year-old girl meets handsome vampire stranger at the laundromat. As you do.
    6. Count Dracula and Mina Harker (Bram Stoker's Dracula). Another film remake of the quintessential vampire tome, Gary Oldman's Dracula proves irresistable to the swooning Mina. And there was me expecting the ending to match that of the book. Silly me...
    7. Etienne Argeneau and Rachel Garnett (Love Bites: Argeneau Vampires by Lynsay Sands). Incidentally, this book was a present from the boyfriend. Cute vampire fluff, played for laughs not thrills and chills, and none the worse for it. Etienne is the hapless but hunky vampire looking for a soulmate, Rachel the confused vampire fledgling in his care.
    8. Raven and Alexander (Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber). On the subject of fluff, another Goth-girl-meets-gorgeous-vampire romance series. Not for the serious-minded but great fun for younger Goths and packed with band-name-dropping and black lipstick.
    9. Effie and Alucard (the Brenda series by Paul Magrs). A VERY unconventional relationship from the master of offbeat black comedy. Effie, an old lady living in Whitby, is besotted with the slightly sinister Kristoff Alucard, who prefers a nice warm jugular to a cup of tea.
    10. Drusilla and Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Probably the vampire couple that most appealed young Gothy fans of Buffy; the dark and deranged Drusilla had her perfect counterpart in bad boy Spike...
    Now come along to Holly's Horrorland to meet the other bloggers participating in this soiree...
    Dru and Spike <3

    Sunday, 12 February 2012

    The Schwarze Szene: Goth without limits

    A lot of you have been worried that I am changing the name of the site because I feel under pressure to not call myself a Goth. Well, I can promise that that is not at all the reason for the change. Yes, a name like the Ultimate Goth Guide received its fair share of outrage, not surprisingly, but I'm not assuming that changing the name of the site will change people's opinions on what I have to say!

    As I stated in my previous post, On Self-Identifying As A Goth, there have always been and always will be debates ranging from the intriguing to the increasingly petty on what, precisely, can be considered 'Goth'. In my younger years, around the age of sixteen or so, I spent a lot of time trying to make myself into the 'perfect Goth', and it's only over the last couple of years or so that I decided that I was going to experiment more and stop sticking so closely to 'the rules' regarding music and fashion. This led to the discovery of a whole range of 'dark alternative' fashion styles and music genres that I was interested in and felt inspired by; such a mix of influences can be accepted and appreciated by some who consider themselves Goths (i.e. you guys, most of whom I have noticed from reading your blogs and bios have an equally versatile, mix-and-match approach to music and personal aesthetic), but not all.

    Which is fair enough, because when one is devoted to such a melting pot of inspirations and influences, it does push the boundaries of 'Goth culture' if you consider the original, literal, and admittedly quite narrow, definition of 'Goth' itself.

    But what options does this leave someone who feels a strong appreciation for Goth music, its related culture and aesthetic? Stop experimenting and delighting in other areas of dark and alternative culture in order to better fit an adopted label? Continue exactly as you are and take flak from elitists on all sides? The second option sounds preferable to me as I am not in favour of adapting your personality to fit a social label, but in the end I find it leads to disillusionment with Goth culture and the community therein. You start to wonder what is the point of belonging to a supposedly non-conformist, alternative subculture when you feel attacked for having your own tastes and ideas.

    In the end, thanks once again to Darling Violetta, I believe I have found a suitable direction, both for myself and for this blog. It's called the Schwarze Szene.

    Source: Wikipedia
    Schwarze Szene translates roughly to 'black scene' or 'dark culture', which has been used as a bit of a catch-all term by Goths and other alternative types for a while to refer to something that is often enjoyed by Goths without fitting neatly into the Goth bracket itself. For example, music genres like Neofolk, Industrial, Darkwave, and dark electronic types of music would come under this umbrella term. The Schwarze Szene as a movement, I learned, has been around since the 1990s, when it developed in Germany "as a way of describing several different dark musical genres and lifestyles. It is not a genre in itself nor a club with set rules and boundaries but rather a term that defines several different styles. The underlying unifying thread within this movement was an interest in dark, alternative culture." (From Dominion Magazine.)

    Dominion Magazine, who describe themselves as a Schwarze Szene publication, have the following to say about the movement, "There are a number of other excellent reasons to look outside this narrow definition [Goth]. Many of the bands most people would associate with goth have never identified as such, most of those 'seminal goth acts' predate the existence of the term (the etymology of which is itself disputed) and some artists, for example The Sisters of Mercy, go to lengths to distance themselves from being included under the goth umbrella.

    "Goth doesn't adequately describe the music that people within the UK's Schwarze Szene are listening to, or the shows they are attending, or the music that is being played in the clubs and festivals. With Deviant UK, Devilish Presley, Faderhead, Gene Loves Jezebel, Luxury Stranger, Zombina & the Skeletones, Pro-Jekt and Zeitgeist Zero, the line-up of York's DV8 festival in 2010 contained some goth artists, yet the mixture of acts was decidedly in keeping with Schwarze Szene. The central message behind Dominion's identity as a Schwarze Szene publication is a positive message of unity."

    I cannot explain how excited and delighted I was when I read Violetta's post (I highly recommend you read it too!). The Schwarze Szene sounds like exactly what I have been looking for since I realised that my love for the dark, Gothic aesthetic and culture extends beyond the actual definition of Goth. I am thrilled that there is a dark alternative movement that, in theory, should be able to transcend elitism and genre boundaries; allowing people into any and all of these subgenres and sub-sub-genres to explore and enjoy whatever they so choose without, as Violetta puts it succinctly, "the pains and internal struggle of the "not-a-Goth" syndrome."

    I reiterate that I still feel comfortable to self-identify as a Goth, for ease of explaining my tastes and preferences to those not entirely clued-up on the ins, outs and social politics of alternative subcultures and because of my undying fondness for the label and all it covers. But I am utterly enamoured of the wider-reaching, boundary-free Schwarze Szene and look forward to exploring it further. I am glad that there are others out there who feel that their interests should take priority over the label they fall under and that the creativity and passion so many of us feel in relation to dark culture has led to the development of such a movement.

    It's a fine line between being serious about your dark aesthetic and lifestyle and taking it too seriously. A movement like the Schwarze Szene provides those of us who don't want to argue about what is and isn't 'Goth enough' room for freedom of expression without having to compromise on our 'Gothiness', give up, and become 'normal'. Sounds pretty much perfect to me - I hope this will strike a chord with some of you as it did with me.

    Saturday, 11 February 2012

    On self-identifying as a Goth (and blog title changes)

    Hey! You changed your blog name...

    I have indeed! I've changed the title from 'The Ultimate Goth Guide' to 'Stripy Tights and Dark Delights' (although this may be subject to change in the near future, I have changed it three times today already), because after giving it some thought over the last couple of weeks I've concluded that this is not, strictly speaking, a 'Goth blog'.

    Voltaire says, "Goth is what you make it." Jillian Venters says that her usual answer to the question 'is music or fashion more important when it comes to being a Goth?' is "fashion [...] it takes dedication to bring your closet over to the dark side." But assorted folks have argued that Goth is ultimately a music-driven subculture, a view that on the whole I tend to agree with.

    Unfortunately, the debate does not end there. What is Goth music? The obvious answers - The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure - have been denied over and over by the musicians themselves. 'Goth music' is often used as an umbrella term for other genres including Industrial, synthpop, darkwave, deathrock and post-punk, and people will, and do, spend hours arguing (usually on the internet) about whether or not this is accurate. Add Gothic metal into the debate and things get even worse. So even when we manage to agree that it's a music-based subculture, we can't agree precisely what that music is.

    If the term 'Goth music', when used properly, refers to trad Goth and Gothic rock alone, is knowledge and appreciation of some of this music enough? You might think so, but there are some who firmly feel that 'you must listen to THIS MUCH Bauhaus to be a 'real goth'.' Or that owning a My Chemical Romance album automatically cancels out the rest of your Goth cred, despite the fact that nowadays you can often hear the strains of My Chem, Evanescence or even, yes, Marilyn Manson in Goth clubs up and down the UK alone.

    For every group of people who look at their subculture of choice as versatile, dependent on their own tastes, preferences and opinions, and that the 'rules' of said subculture are (like the Pirate Code) more guidelines than rules, there are those who hold that being part of a subculture means fulfilling a certain criteria (dressing a certain way, listening to certain music) and then sticking more-or-less rigidly to those boundaries.

    By which criteria, this is not a Goth blog, because it covers cyber, Industrial, steampunk, some metal and Lolita, as well as a wide range of things that would come under the vague, far-reaching label of 'dark alternative'. I previously referred to this in the header of the blog, "Everything about Goth and dark culture," and have simply made it a bit more obvious that this blog covers more subjects than those which can be considered arguably, even undeniably, Goth.

    There is another, slightly more petty reason why after using the Ultimate Goth Guide moniker since the age of sixteen, I felt I wanted to change it. When people offline ask, "What's your blog called?" I have started to feel a bit of a twonk saying, "Um... the Ultimate Goth Guide." I have learned that blog titles that are thought up as a sixteen-year-old pretentious young Gothling on Piczo are perhaps not as appropriate for a supposedly-more-experienced twenty-something, no matter how tongue-in-cheek and ironic you think you are being!

    I have not changed my URL or e-mail address because frankly I think it's somewhat discourteous when people are linking to you.

    So are you a Goth or not then?

    That depends very much on your perspective! I had been thinking lately about whether or not to continue self-identifying as a Goth since by some people's criteria the label might not be strictly accurate. This dilemma was summed up very nicely by a couple of comments on my recent post, The Gothic Metal Debate.

    Cassandra said, "After much soul-searching, it is debates like this that have made me decide not to self-identify as goth. That actually won't change much of anything for me. I'll continue wearing my black-lace-coated outfits, wearing theatrical makeup any hour of the day I please, listening to whatever music I please, reading delightful goth blogs like this one [thank you!], signing my e-mails "sanguis fluit," and generally indulging my penchant for "The Dark Side."

    "I just feel like if I start calling myself goth, I'm going to get into a senseless argument with someone (probably multiple people) eventually, and it's just not worth it to me. If someone else identifies me as goth, I probably won't argue with them. If someone else tries to tell me I'm not goth, I don't feel the need to defend anything I'm doing aesthetically to anyone. Now that I think about it, this is kind of a liberating decision. I was kind of sad about it up until now."

    Darling Violetta responded, "I agree with this 100%! People want to classify something that, as far as I can tell, was very much an organic thing. From what I can tell there weren't any rules on what is and isn't goth back then. Actually (from what I read and have heard from people who where there) people back then didn't call themselves goth. Someone else (i.e. the media) did and many back then rejected the term because it was the media's attempt at confining a very much amorphic movement.

    Where I live people aren't concerned about what is or isn't goth. You do what you like and happen to find others who share your interests. It just happens that what we all have in common is a common draw to a particular aesthetic that shows up in many of our interests (i.e. fashion, literature, music, movies). Sure, we may like similar bands. But, the only thing connecting these bands would be the aesthetic not the genre classification. Honestly, as much as we argue online about what is or isn't goth it doesn't change anything in real life. People will still dress in their black clad finery, listen to bands like Mandragora Scream, Blutengel, and Deathstars regardless if someone thinks they're goth or not, and hang out with others who do the same. To all of you out there who don't fit the traditional more narrow defintion of Goth there's a whole group of wonderfully dark and whimsical people who couldn't care less. Where do you think the Schwarze Szene came from? ;)

    Cassandra, you're not alone in your decision. Really, most people I know don't consider themselves Goths. Yet, are the delightful ookie spooky people I know them to be. I feel that's the point of it all, really. Defining Goth isn't as important as it is to define yourself. :)"

    Unlike Cassandra, I have decided to continue referring to myself as a Goth, as a useful way of describing a large proportion of my interests and the like-minded community that I am a part of both on and offline. Ultimately my interests and passions are more important to me than what label people choose to put on them. At the end of the day, the fashion and music that I love, Goth and otherwise, give me pleasure and I have no intention to put limits on what I will and won't enjoy in order to fit someone else's Goth policies. If that makes me 'not a Goth' in some people's eyes then so be it.

    Very special thanks to Darling Violetta for summing this up so beautifully.

    What does this mean for the future of this blog?

    Um... not very much, really. These small changes are simply so that I can continue writing what I enjoy without having to quibble over whether it's 'Goth' or not. The content will stay pretty much the same; I can't think of any radical changes that will be occuring, although I intend to edit my 'What is Goth?' and 'Site Policies' pages to avoid causing any confusion.

    I'm really very excited about the new title, because I now feel I can continue to cover a broad range of topics without making anyone uncomfortable. :-)

    Same stuff, more accurate title, really. Worry not. ;-)

    Friday, 10 February 2012

    February linksplosion: a dark Valentine

    Scarlet's Remains
    Themed linksplosion! But firstly, before we get onto the V-day gifts I'd be drooling over (hint hint ;-)), I've got a massive backlog of amazing posts in my favourites at the moment. Everyone on Blogger has been outdoing themselves lately! So here goes... my seven favourite blog posts this month!
    1. Sabarae has a great series on her blog The Fairly Odd Maiden, entitled Stereotypically Gawth!. One of her recent posts in this series covered the topic of Dressing Down, and I'm sure it will strike a chord with many of you as it did with me.
    2. akumaxkami does not pull her punches, and I had a bit of a guilty laugh at her compilation of the web's Worst Goth Make-Up Tutorials. Ever. Although I will never stop having a soft spot for green lipstick and am still hunting for the perfect emerald shade. >.<
    3. Dani DeathBiscuit's brand new blog Confessions of an Australian Goth boasts this most excellent post about Tips for Babybats. I laughed and cringed in turn as I spotted a few oopses I've been guilty of myself... oh, and a wild ME appears in there somewhere too. ;-)
    4. Cody kicks ass. You may remember that in a recent post I was flailing about wondering what to do with the purple harem pants I bought on a whim. Well, Cody has the answers, in her latest post, aptly entitled, Make it Work - Harem Pants.
    5. Boots raises a snarky eyebrow at the sudden obsession, both alternative and mainstream, with the Alice in Wonderland trend, in her post Alice in Wonderland vs. The Alternatives.
    6. I have been reading through the archives of The Everyday Goth, my latest blog addiction, and was thoroughly delighted by this lovely post: Must Have: 25 Things A Goth Needs. Warm, very accurate, and packed to the brim with helpful advice!
    7. The Official Blog of Illamasqua has a fabulous make-up tutorial showing readers and make-up addicts how to create a striking dark look using their Sophie-I collection, proceeds from which help support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
    Now, here are my ten Etsy picks for the month, on the theme of A Dark Valentine. I hear that my Valentine's gift has already been picked out, so I may treat myself to some of these little beauties. ;-)
    1. Necrosarium brings us this beautiful Gothic Rosarium ring. Utterly stunning! In fact, anything from the Necrosarium shop would make a lovely Valentine's gift for the Gothically-inclined girl - you're welcome for the heads-up, Gothy guys. ;-)
    2. Ironically, considering Boots's above-linked post, I'm fond of this Queen of Hearts Drink Me necklace by EsaNany.
    3. Nothing says romance like a bangle hand-stamped with lyrics from The Cure, especially when the lyric happens to be, "However far away, I will always love you," from, you guessed it, Lovesong. Such a gift is available from Lolasjewels.
    4. This gorgeous Til Death Cameo Necklace from VonErickson is sure to melt even the coldest of black hearts.
    5. Creepy girls or morbid gents could be equally charmed by this darkly witty 'I Dig You The Most' shovel necklace from SKAIOR.
    6. Treat your zombie Valentine to this cute alternative card from Agorables. Who says romance is dead?
    7. Long-distance relationship? Send your loved one this charming 'Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder' locket for a Victoriana Valentine from LunarraStar.
    8. Zen and Coffee's designs are always the prettiest! For Valentine's Day I'd wear these elegant Carmilla's Masque glovelets.
    9. What about a lovely Skulls and Kisses Valentine's set from Dem Bones? Skull-shaped sugar cubes and chocolate kisses, perfect if your loved one likes nothing more than a cup of tea and a chocolatey snack (heaven...).
    10. No Valentine? No problem. Treat yourself to a little TLC and buy yourself an astonishing headpiece from Bubbles and Frown. (The word you're looking for is 'whoa!')

    Lastly, twelve inspiring outfits! Slightly easier to source this month, as I now have a Tumblr account, which gives me a great online scrapbook where I can reblog pretty and wonderful things and come back to them at a later date...
    1. I love most outfits incorporating white, a very big tip of the top hat to this beautiful lady for adding stripes and a deathhawk as well. (Reblogged from Goth Underground.)
    2. On the topic of stripes, Joji Grey of Stars In the Gutter looks amazing as usual in this outfit. (Reblogged from Stars in the Gutter, of course.)
    3. The perfect use of pink! Becky Zombified has many lovely outfits but I like this one the best for the pink lipstick and the adorable ribcage necklace. (Reblogged from Becky Zombified.)
    4. SpookyBat looks incredible in a casual outfit. I am especially loving the hair. (Reblogged from Journey of a BabyBat.) 
    5. Chun-Zi is one of my latest style crushes. As well as being intolerably gorgeous and having fantastic hair, the woman knows how to dress. (Reblogged from Journey of a BabyBat.)
    6. I would happily buy and wear this entire outfit, right down to the ripped stockings. (Reblogged from Style Vomit.)
    7. At the other end of the scale, I love the design on this extremely elegant Moitie dress. (Reblogged from A Mortuary of Melancholy.)
    8. This is a very simple but elegant outfit; I love the corset (I believe it's from Louise Black?) and her hair is beautiful too. (Reblogged from Dead Girls Have More Fun.)
    9. This skirt from Rose Mortem? So. Much. Want. (Reblogged from Adventures in a Clockwork World.)
    10. Some unbelieveably epic hair and make-up going on in this photo. (Reblogged from Becky Zombified.)
    11. Melora Creager of Rasputina pulls off a grungy look. (Reblogged from Lace Wrapped Wounds.)
    12. I love the blue-haired girl's tight-wrapped boots and the gentleman rocking his shiny pants (and stripes, again) in this photo. (Reblogged from Goth Underground.)

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