Post details: So Goth it Hurts - The Lost Post...


Permalink 07:30:00 am, by Email , 1714 words   English (CA)
Categories: General Shtuff

So Goth it Hurts - The Lost Post...

This is a far gentler, less angry version of a post I ended up wiping out when I was sick... it's about my take and understanding of "goth" and how it evolved and came to be with some folks...


The Fiends

As a precursor... I spent a little over a decade with very long, dyed black hair and did frequent "the clubs"... but I never considered myself a "goth"... but I did watch, observe, listen... and yes, I mocked... You see, it really was always about angst and fashion... everything else, in my eyes, was window dressing to add to a mystique...

"I am a unique individual... just like everyone else who dresses and more or less looks like me."

When you stop and consider that, for a VERY brief moment, Andrew who ran the original "Sanctuary - The Vampire Sex Bar" in Toronto had a DRESS CODE installed... sheesh!



Anyone thinking that teenaged obsession with "death" and "dying" and the culture therein (think of it as a type of veneer thanatology) is new is off their rocker.

I personally think it made the "mainstream" (with pop-culture) with Andy Warhol and the like...

Of course, one could argue that it goes WAY beyond that... Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Chatterton, the philosophers of ancient Rome and Greece... even beyond...

...that said...

Sex Pistols

The punk rock movement of the late seventies really was a rebellion... but more a rebellion of boredom and general teen angst rather than anything else... none-the-less, it didn't take long for the teens to pin a "cause" to what it was about.

One of the more popular ideas was the anti-nuclear war movement. Being in the latter part of the cold war, the idea that wearing "shredded clothes" and whatnot with mohawks seemed like a natural fit. Indeed, it didn't hurt that popular views of an "apocalyptic future" seemed to always contain punks... perhaps there's something to this as what could be more hopeless with teen angst than surviving a nuclear holocaust?

Anyway, with that came "death punk"... think of this as if the mohawks and whatnot represented the "survivors", then the black-dressed, white faced, black (or white) haired types were the dead.

Of course, this again is a generalisation... it did "fit", but I'd say it was born of a cross between things like "beatnik-jazz-factory" teens like the Warhol gang crossed with punk mixed with a genuine appreciation of the aesthetic look of popular horror figures... not necessarily "vampires" (oh, but I'll get there!) but more Morticia Addams or Lilly Munster.

Lilly and Morticia

Now, what's weird is how the word "goth" came about... because there were "goths" before there were "goths"... if that makes sense.

Basically, in Toronto, they called themselves "freaks"... I have no idea what they called themselves in other places. I know that hard core punks at the time tended to call us "Blitz Kids".

The "story" is that a group of "Bat Cavers" (a popular death-punk/punk/dance club in London, England) started really putting on airs... really dressing the whole "Georgian/Edwardian/Victorian Look" far more than normal and got labeled as "Gothic".

The name stuck and made the rounds.

So, all of a sudden, "Gothic Rock" and "Goth" were popular terms.

Go figure.

I suppose everyone likes and needs to be pigeon-holed.

One of the things that "hurt" (HAHAHAHA!) the "punk movement" was the end of the cold war... with the threat of Ruskie missiles and Yankee missiles removed, it kind of took the wind out of a lot of sails... I mean, NOW what could they say "they" represented!?!

Enter the "causes"...

The most prevalent amongst the "young goths" initially was "animal rights"... this is thanks mostly to seminal band Skinny Puppy and their take on it... Granted, Skinny Puppy was also anti-Sadam Hussein before it was mainstream... but people ignore that... it's inconvenient.

Kevin Ogilve

Anyway, just pre-PETA, many of them wandered about proclaiming the evils of animal testing and whatnot... granted, there's some good about this... but I found most were ill-educated on the topic and incapable of understanding one main point about being "against" something...

...oh, what that is? If you want people to stop doing something, you need to have a proper alternative in place.


With Puppy came "angrier" music... the "Goth-Industrial" days...

You see, "Goth" music is AWFULLY tame. In fact, when I played some to Sue who wanted to "hear real Goth music" (I played some Sisters, Cure, Siouxsie, and Bauhaus) she proclaimed, loudly, "MY GOD! THAT'S ELEVATOR MUSIC!!!"

Bauhaus in Concert

Yup, it ain't REALLY "devil music"... it's not "violent"... in fact, it's rather... well... sedate.


Goth-Industrial is a lot more angry... a lot darker... and yeah, I liked it personally.

During this time also, the "Vampire" craze moved in. Now, with the still present "Morticia Addams/Lilly Munster" chic, people really got caught up in the whole Anne Rice thing... and suddenly, Vampires were big.

Now, don't get me wrong... Thanks to Bauhaus' ultra-goth anthem, "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and the fact that Anne Rice novels have been around a long time, there was ALWAYS a "Vampire" element... but through the 1980's, I only knew one person that professed to be a Vampire... and everyone pretty much laughed at him.

Well, all of a sudden, Vampirism and "Goth" became synonymous... and "goths" seemingly NEEDED to be Vampires.

One of my favourite moments was at a nightclub, an "Über Goth" woman who felt she was "Queen of the Scene" was bragging(?) to people...

"I'm actually three-hundred and fifty-years-old!" she crowed...

"...and you don't look a DAY over three-hundred and twenty!" I responded with glee.

Wanna tick me off about this? Do what the woman above did... put "rules" and "guidelines" on Goth... even when you don't even know it's roots yourself.

...moving right along...

During this time, though, someone realised that OTHER "famed folks" of the past looked "Goth". The most easy to spot one was Betty Page... the kinky pin-up girl.

Hmmm... teen angst? Missing "cause"? Aggressive music? LET'S ADD SEX!

'Round about the mid-1990's, wearing fetish wear came back.


Well, you see, the London punk movement DID wear "fetish gear"... but it was more to look "dirty" as in run-down... not sexy. The concept(?) was that these clothes were inexpensive... and the fact that Malcolm McClaren and company hung out in sex shops didn't hurt either.

This time, however, the kids figured if Betty Page (kinky model) was cool and "goth", so would they be!

Betty Page

...and along the way, "fetish sex" equaled "goth"...

Wasn't it death punk? Wasn't it about anti-nuclear movement? Wasn't it about Victorian funeral/brothel chic? Wasn't it about angst over man's inhumanity to the other creatures on the Earth? Wasn't it about vampires?

Apparently not.

No, it was now about SEX!

No wonder these kids are confused, eh?

Enter pop-culture with a vengeance... enter things like Marylin Manson and The Crow.

This led to yet more people "finding" their Gothy-side... yay. Tonnes of teens looking like an androgynous mix of Bela Lugosi and Brandon Lee. Not as attractive to me as the Morticia/Lilly thing... but hey, I'm almost forty now so my opinion is... well... I'm an old guy to these kids.

Hell, I work for a mortgage company.

Anyway, it seems (although I'm FAR removed from it now,) that "goth" is in a kind of holding pattern... with all the above things playing their own part in what people are doing and thinking...

But let's kill some myths about "goths" as I understood and understand it...

Every one of the "goths" I knew through all the years considered themselves "artistic" and "creative"... the concept of violence (other than in fictional and often romantic novels) was alien... in fact, had someone shown up at ANY of the "goth parties" I went to with a crumby attitude and the want to fight, they'd be shunned... and probably asked to leave.

None of the "goth music" I've ever heard has suggested becoming violent.

Here's one... many "goths" want mainstream acceptance for their style choice! I kid you not! They want to be "professional" and be accepted for their contributions to whatever than shunned. They want to be "The Goth Lawyer" or "The Goth Accountant"... not the scary person in the gutter.

Most of the "goths" I knew had a "savant"... some area of knowledge or expertise that was impressive. Usually it was historical... occasionally an area of art... most were pseudo-intellectuals who'd rather have a good long intelligent talk than to drink themselves into a coma and part-ay.

Most of the "goths" I encountered were educated... working on or hoping to do some form of post-secondary education. This goes to the "mainstream professional acceptance".

The concept of "Devil Worship", when mentioned at all, is considered a bit of a joke to most of them... they occasionally do proclaim "Wiccan-ship"... but most of them, being young, are at best "Time-Life Wiccans"... meaning they get their concepts of their "faith" from the Time-Life library. If they do suggest they are "Satanic", they probably have read and know about Anton LeVey and the Satanic bible... and aren't sacrificing animals near train-tracks. Most of the one's I knew were usually agnostic or even simply athiestic.

They all HOPE that normal folks find them scary and frightening... it gives them "an edge", they feel... something that makes them stand out and whatnot... Considering most "goths" would qualify as the typical "High School Loser" in many ways, this is understandable... going "goth" allows them to re-invent themselves and empower themselves... but again, chances are, they're hoping the "look" will be all they need to impress.

Considering the cost of "looking goth" (*sigh* Back in the day, it was better... you wore old clothes or stuff you bought from second-hand stores... worn leather, old tux bits...) nowadays, chances are they are of "some means"... they either work full time or have a good support system at home.

Space! The Final Frontier!

So, on that note... there's my take on "Goth" as I know/knew it...

I'm sure it'll change again... and I'm equally sure that there are some that will disagree with what I've written... but it is, to the best of my ability, accurate as to how I understood how it all went down... and continues to evolve.



Comment from: administration [Member] Email ·
When I think of "Goths" I refer to Jordanes Getica and 3rd century German barbarians ... but hey...I'm an ancient history nut .. ;)

Nice post .. sure to ruffle some feathers though.
PermalinkPermalink 10/23/06 @ 12:24
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
A friend of mine named Jamie and myself were often threatening to show up at Sanctuary in Tronna after it moved to the location further West of Bathurst in furs and leather armour... and say, "But we're dressed more like goths than anyone here!"
PermalinkPermalink 10/23/06 @ 12:29
Comment from: administration [Member] Email ·
Not only truthful ... but would have been very funny!!! I'm certain some would see the humour in that ... :)
PermalinkPermalink 10/23/06 @ 12:34
Comment from: CyberCelt [Visitor] ·
Wow! I am glad I spent the 90s raising my kid.

Your next post should explain how middle-class children adopted prison garb. You know, the pants showing the underwear. It all started from them taking the belts from prisoners so they could not harm themselves.
PermalinkPermalink 10/23/06 @ 21:11
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey CyberCelt! So, I had an elongated mispent youth through the 80's and 90's...

As for the pants thing, the one that gets me are the pants where the crotch is down around the knees! Dear heavens! Funnier still, this was "big" with wanna-be "Gangstas" here... and all I could think was, "You wanna be bad... and a gangsta... but you're wearing pants that would trip you if you had to run from anything... okay."

These whacky teens and their weird clothes! :)
PermalinkPermalink 10/23/06 @ 21:36
Comment from: Candy Minx [Visitor] ·
This was fantastic, and I'm sorry I'm so late to the party. Really good post! And its very true that in the old days if you had an attitude you would be shunnned, for the most part it was a passivist kind of revolt. Let's see if I can remember the dress code at Sanctuary

No (sillY) ravers
No nice sweaters
No running shoes

well, I can't remember them all I think there were about six dress code rules. Remember the lovely bartender Larry...he was such a sweetheart, I hung out with him occasionally outside the club. Sanctuary started to lose it's popularity around the time Larry was found murdered in a dumpster. What a sick world that could hurt such a kind soul.

As for the baggy pants, yes, the oversized clothing did relate to no belts...but also to "one size fits all" of prison gear.
PermalinkPermalink 10/25/06 @ 14:08
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey Candy Minx! I heard about the "dress code" when Andrew was still doing courier work... he was near my old office and bumped into myself and an old friend named James... he mentioned the dress code and I immediately threatened to show up dressed in Bermuda shorts, a LOUD Hawaian shirt, flip-flops, and a baseball cap... preferably one of the ones that you can strap two cans of beer to and drink through the built-in straw... and then I would DARE him to keep me out.

He said he wouldn't... and I laughed!

Dress codes... ugh...

Perhaps one day I'll write about another "gothy" moment I had... where I was told that a social club was starting the only the "right people" would be allowed to join... I immediately said that I wasn't the "right people" and thus began an interesting little issue... :)
PermalinkPermalink 10/25/06 @ 15:56
Comment from: Stu [Visitor]
Good entry, Matt.

On the music side of things, I find it stupid when people try to mirco-manage music into various absurd genres considered to be "offshoots" of so-called genres like punk or goth when infact there is no relevance to the original genre in the first place. Besides, labels like punk and goth were stupid to begin with, often cooked up by people who have little to nothing to do with the actual music. Yet the media machine will use such terms to sell there products (Have you seen the ad for the Avril Lavinge special on the CBC? I forget the exact term they used but it was akin to punk idol Avril Lavigne. I mean... WHAAAAAAT?)and the sheeple eat it up.

In conclusion labels = dumb
PermalinkPermalink 04/01/07 @ 16:23
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey Stu... Well, like I said...

So, all of a sudden, "Gothic Rock" and "Goth" were popular terms.

Go figure.

I suppose everyone likes and needs to be pigeon-holed.

It's all about marketing in the end, ain't it?
PermalinkPermalink 04/01/07 @ 17:16
Comment from: Andy [Visitor] Email ·
I am SO going to tell Khlari about this post. I want to see her take on what you have to say! :-)
PermalinkPermalink 06/13/07 @ 15:27
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey Andy... I'd be interested in her thoughts. One hopes things might be different there than here!
PermalinkPermalink 06/13/07 @ 19:17
Comment from: khlari [Visitor] Email ·
I do identify myself as a Goth, as they have been so slated over the years I almost wear it as a badge of pride!

There are many similarities here and in Canada...I sniggered mightily at those.It is a lot about angst and fashion, but I do think that it does go deeper. Whilst I can't say I have never nmet a stupid goth, most goths do tend to be above average mentally, and very much into the humanities, be it history, art, music, etc, and yes, most of them have areas of expertise (me included!)..

I was one of the original goths, sad to say- I seem to remember we were just known as punks (which offended us) or weirdos...I used to go to the BatCave, and other London Goth Clubs, Full Tilt at the Electric Ballroom, etc....then moved on to the Banshee in Manchester.

I like the dress code at the Slimelight. There aren't any door rules, but the staff ask the person if they would feel comfortable in the club, honestly. Hence you can go in Hawaiian shirt if you don't mind mixing with a bunch of goths!Handy if you're the only non-goth in a room. I was told they brought in door codes to stop chavs going in clubs goth bashing, sadly. It was for protection not protectionism.

I was into the vampire before the goth, cheesy 50s B Movies and the like, and goit into Betty Page through comic-books. I have always sort of been a pastiche of myself, one of the key things about being a lasting goth is not to take yourself seriously!

I have a thing about 'packet-mix goths' (add absinthe for action. My goth look was all home-made and thrift shopped. Anyone can go to Camden and spend £500, it's not what you wear it's how you wear it......
PermalinkPermalink 06/14/07 @ 10:43
Comment from: khlari [Visitor] Email ·
As you said, violence is anathema to goths, and they do tend to be educated in some way, whether uni or self-taught.

I like to be the class weirdo (and yes, I was the high-school loser).....I don't want it to be too mainstream, and I don't care if people don't like it. I just wish they'd react in a less violent and more original way to it though.

I love the way goth has mutated with the times as well. It has taken on new influences, but in England any of the above styles will pass for goth. There are still trad velvet and lace types alongside the cyber and fetish.

Here it is be who you want to be really, something which doesn't seem to exist out of the UK, there are still many groups here under the umbrella term of goth, all very different.

We do still have the time-life goths though.....

I think of goth as a way of thinking which unifies the darker things in life, and gives them a fashion sense. Goth is an attitude, and I'm glad I still have that in life, as do many of my goth and non-traditionally goth friends.

I'm happy to still be a goth, albeit a perky-goth!
PermalinkPermalink 06/14/07 @ 10:51
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey khlari Thanks for the insight... I was at Slimelight once in the mid-1990's, and although my girlfriend who was with me really disliked it (for playing Rolling Stones anthems and the lack of "all black"...) I found it a lot more interesting than the staid and BORING clubs in Toronto... Save the wiener who seemed was only capable of saying, "Canada! Great, great!" with a drunken smile and followed us about a lot.

As for the "way of life", I won't deny that some people truly saw it that way in Toronto (in my experience)... most others seemed to see it as a "uniformed way of life" that they tailored themselves to... which is depressing on many levels and lacked imagination.

I enjoyed the "look and feel" and completely agree on the attitude of others...

Of note, I recently took a test (AS SEEN ON OPRAH!) to determine if I was predisposed to assuming "White-People = Good, Black-People = Bad" and scored much better than the norm... and the reason is, I'm sure, that although the hatred and genuine bigotry I experienced was self-imposed, I experienced it all the same... and that has always made me ignore the appearance of people vs. their intelligence and character... in that way, I enjoyed it...

I still remember in the early 1980's in Toronto there was a GENUINE complaint from the "freaks" that they were never left alone and always felt "set-upon"... to which I always commented that they could cut their hair, grab a pair of Levi's and a polo shirt and no one would EVER notice them! Oddly enough, none took my advice.

...including myself...

I guess, as I have one foot firmly planted in "the darker side of things" still, and one planted in the "Must Make Money - Must Have Career"... I can still claim the "old ways" still run through my veins...

...but it's time to admit something...

I spent eighty quid in Camden in 1995 on three REALLY nice shirts... but I don't sew and my friends, to produce such a thing, would have taken months.
PermalinkPermalink 06/14/07 @ 20:02
Comment from: Crafty green Poet [Visitor] Email
I visited because of the buses and get caught up with goths! I've been clubbing in goth clubs for the past few years, i wish our clubs would bring in dress codes, it might keep out drunken students just looking for a drink and some pretty girls to eye up. There's always a good mix of goth styles and it isn't necessarily expensive to dress goth, I buy all my clothes second hand. Interesting post, I'll need to let me partner see it.
PermalinkPermalink 06/19/07 @ 08:22
Comment from: admin [Member] Email ·
Hey Crafty green Poet... Never let it be said the ol' blog here is only a one trick pony!

I like what they were doing at Slimelight, according to khlari above... they would simply stop people and "ensure", regardless of their dress, that they would be "comfortable". That way, you could weed out "troublesome" folks but allow those who like the music and whatnot but don't look the part to come in.

Makes sense to me...

I hope your partner comments! I appreciate all and any input!
PermalinkPermalink 06/19/07 @ 13:26



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