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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Outfit post: Aesthetic Perfection gig

I'm waiting for Bronwyn to e-mail me the snaps from the gig we went to on Sunday - Surgyn, Hybrid 6, Uberbyte and Aesthetic Perfection - before I can review, so in the meantime, here are the pics I took at home before we left.

Boots: gift, Camden Market
Leggings: £7, Primark
Dress: £6, charity shop
Corset: £8 (or something like that), Primark
Necklace: £4, Claire's






Dan: "Don't post that... I look like I've just swallowed my lip."
Me: "Shut up. We're like the three musketeers, only sexier."
Bronwyn. "..."

Q&A time...

Apologies for the unexpected absence, had a bit of an Amy-vs.-Christmas showdown over the last couple of days, pretty sure I'm now bankrupt, but whatever... :-/

Anyhoo, I'm still catching up with reader requests but I found several questions lurking amongst the comments from the last few days so I thought a Q&A post might be just the ticket. Here goes!

Anon asked: "Is there such thing as skatergoth (like skateboarder)?"

As far as I'm aware there's no specific fashion style for Goths who also skate. Excuse me for generalising, but it seems the larger proportion of the Goth scene nowadays is made up of those aged 25+ who, on the whole, would look maybe a little bit ridiculous on a skateboard. Of course there are  Goths who skate; it's likely that their clothing would usually be skateboarding-suitable attire in assorted shades of black with appropriate accessories and I have no doubt whatsoever that some these Gothlings may refer to themselves and their style as 'skatergoth'.

I realise that I basically just said "No, but yes," so I do hope you understand what I'm getting at.

InfiltratorN7 asked several questions about Filthy Victorians 2012. Kitty Lovett may have some more to say about this, but it's my blog so I'll have two cents...

Origins? In brief, Filthy Victorians sprang from the brow of Kitty Lovett, who basically said, "I'm going to challenge myself to dress in historically-accurate Victorian ladies' garb for an entire year, who's with me?" So yes, it is for fun, there is no practical purpose. It's just a fun, interesting and unusual self-challenge.

"But if it's for fun, why have so many rules?" Like the Pirate's Code, they be more guidelines than rules (as far as I can fathom, anyway). Kitty's idea triggered a load of interest and a huge reaction, which led to her having to create some sort of cohesive communtiy out of the chaos. To keep us all in line and to make sure that the challenge made sense to everyone, Kitty added some handy basic guidelines.

"Do people have different reasons for taking part?" Undoubtedly. I guess the most common would be an interest for and appreciation of Victorian fashion. I wanted an excuse to shop for more corsets and I liked the idea of looking antique and more bizarre than usual in today's technology-mad world. Also I wanted to look pretty. I expect many bloggers were interested because it's a great way to post interesting and innovative outfit pictures; most of us enjoy themed posts or blog challenges and this is like a bigger version of that.

"What do they think they'll get out of the experience or learn from it?" This is probably a bit too deep for me... I can't speak for anyone else but I was expecting to end up with nothing more than a well-trained itsy-bitsy wasp waist and a new appreciation for tank tops and skinny jeans, and some really fancy hats.

"What set the ball rolling?" Kitty's post, here.

Anon asked, "What is your opinion on fake piercings? I wear fake snakebites sometimes because I like how they look and I'm too squeamish to get real ones."

Hmm. I used to wear a clip-on nose and lip ring when I was about twelve... since I was old enough to get real piercings I didn't really see the point of having fake ones any more. I know some body-modders roll their eyes at fake piercings (despite our penchant for fake falls, wigs, eyelashes etc., the word 'fake' is still used as an insult by many in the Goth scene...) but as a way of experimenting before you are old enough to decide whether or not to get real piercings I don't see anything wrong with it.

However if you are twenty-five and pretending that your fake piercing or tattoo is real, you're probably a bit try-hard and the dreaded word 'poseur' might pop up from time to time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being Goth and NOT having body mods; for most adult Goths, either being unadorned and proud or going for the real thing are generally better options than faking it.

Personally your reasoning seems fine to me; for you the real thing is not currently an option but you find it aesthetically pleasing, so why shouldn't you wear fake ones? It's not to make you seem 'MOAR GOFFICK' so I can't see why anyone might have a problem with it.

Showing off my new necklace (The Zombified)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Filthy Victorians 2012: Little Alice

Firstly, Things I Have Been Forgetting To Mention!

1) Thanks everyone for breaking the 1m pageviews barrier! Ohmigosh... o.O
2) I got interviewed! Check it out here.

Today's topic coincides with Kitty's creation of the Filthy Victorians 2012 LiveJournal community; a few woes and ramblings about the upcoming Victorian year.

Now it's almost December, I'm having some misgivings about spending a year attired in Victorian clothing. I love the clothing, it's beautiful, but I have to admit that it feels very limiting to know that I only have a month left to dress in whatever style I like.

Plus, Dan has been expressing some mild concerns at the idea of a) Victorian underwear, b) Victorian swimwear, and c) Victorian nightwear. He's a lovely chap, and I can understand his concerns about having a girlfriend who is trussed up like a turkey 24/7.

My third worry is about my job. It involves a lot of bending, carrying and lifting and I'm not sure how well I can go about doing those things in corsets, bustles and long skirts.

Now, as you may know, Kitty has introduced some very sensible rules regarding Filthy Victorians. I quote from her blag the following:
  • "Once a week is your Timetraveller Day. Constant 1800s is tiring. To help me carry this through, I am instating that once a week, you are Anything Goes Goth. Steampunk, cybergoth, industrial goth or Jeans And Tee goth - everyone needs a break! I bet most of these will be me in my 40s gear....damn you time travel!"
  • "If for any reason you can't dress Victorian, you can use an Emergency Pass. (I will literally print and laminate a card saying "To Whom It May Concern; Please Excuse Ms. Lovett's Improper Dress. Her Chameleon Circuits Aren't Working Today.")"
For the personal slacking reasons listed at the top of this post, I'd like to add my own rule to the above. (Please note, fellow Victorians, this rule applies ONLY to me unless you get Ms. Lovett's written permission. Yes, I'm quite serious, Filthy Victorians is Kitty's baby and we can't ALL go around bastardising it for our own purposes.)
  • For work, seeing the boyfriend, or other occasions as I see fit, I'm going to allow myself to downgrade from Victorian to Neo-Victorian, burlesque or Victorian-themed (my definition of Victorian-themed is quite broad, too). This means that I may be wearing full Victorian attire on average about three days a week, which, yes, downgrades me from Filthy Victorian to Little Alice.
I'm sad about this because this is a great, fun idea, but I do like to have a bit of fashion freedom and I'd really like to keep my job. Kitty also sayeth, "Not everyone can do it 24/7 - I will - but we need to set a certain amount of hours per week need to be spent Victorian in order to qualify to be a full Filthy Victorian. Remember, if you can't dress up, you can still be a part, and share things with the community," so I'm still intending to take part as much as I feel able. ^^

Necklace: The Zombified, about £10
Jumper: Miss Sixty via charity shop, £4
Tank top (underneath, jumper is see-through): charity shop, £1
Jeans: Miss Selfridge, via charity shop, £3.30

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Goth travel: Salem, Massachusetts (USA)

In an issue of Gothic Beauty, darkly elegant designer extraordinaire Kambriel describes Salem, home of the (in)famous Witch Trials, as 'a mecca for those seeking a haven - a place to enjoy yourself unencumbered by the judgement of others, and one which revels in its bewitching charm. Nowadays, Salem's year-round spirited celebration of the magic of Halloween makes it a very Goth-friendly locale.'

Most people plan their trip to Salem in October, the height of the tourist season. During this time there is a grand celebration of 'Haunted Happenings' - in effect, Halloween goes on for three whole weeks. But by all accounts, the off-season is an equally good time to plan your pilgrimage. Excellent for the more anti-social types who'd like to avoid the majority of tourists (oh, and hotels will be cheaper, of course!).

Like Burley in the UK, Salem revels in its witchy heritage, and is filled with shops selling all kinds of themed goodies and paraphernalia. The town also boasts many museums and attractions, including the Witch Museum, The Museum of Myths and Monsters, haunted houses, the Witch Village and several walking tours (break in those New Rocks!) such as the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour.

Salem also hosts the annual Festival of the Dead. This event incorporates several smaller events such as the Witches' Halloween Ball, a Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, a Vampire's Masquerade Ball, a dumb supper, seances, ghost hunting, and an event called Mourning Tea. Its website describes the festival as "an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals."

Salem is, of course, a town loaded with historical interest for us darkly-inclined types, and thankfully has long since moved on from its occult-hating past. Its burial grounds are described as 'uncrowded and peaceful', and the famous ship, the Friendship of Salem, still rests upon the coastline.

You can also see the House of Seven Gables, which looks like the Addams Family's holiday home and inspired Nathanial Hawthorne's famous story of the same name. It's full of secret passages and reportedly has an incredibly creepy atmosphere.

Toxic Tears
View her blog here. Image is copyrighted, used with permission.
I hasten to add that Toxic was not in Salem when this picture was taken, I just couldn't find any uncopyrighted Salem images...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Goth problems

  1. People who think your workplace is a zoo, and that it is perfectly acceptable behaviour to comment on you, nudge their friends and point at you whilst discussing your outfit, piercings and hairstyle loud enough for half the high street to hear, or - as I have begun experiencing since I changed my hair colour - touching you. I was summoned by a coworker to answer a question as I was standing in as manager; the woman with the query broke off mid-sentence and started grabbing at my hair. I just stood still in shock whilst she put her hands FAR too close to my face for my personal comfort. Seriously, would YOU do that to a shop manager you don't know from Adam?
  2. By the time you're dressed in corset, three layers of ripped tights, two petticoats, bustle, overskirt, blouse, collar, gloves, jewellery, and top hat, the make-up you just spent two hours getting just right has run down your face.
  3. "Is that hair/tattoo/piercing real?" is not an annoying question in itself. Until you hear it five hundred times a day, every day. THEN you just want to scream, "No! I stencil it on every morning just to get attention from people like you! I am THAT starved for excitement in my life!"
  4. Getting grounded because you accidentally dyed the bathroom tiles green.
  5. Long, pointy nails tend to break way, way down the nail. Which hurts. A lot.
  6. Having old people pull their grandchildren away from you or cover their eyes. Offensive AND embarrassing.
  7. When you go to church, the sermon mentions 'sinners' or 'heathens' and old ladies start staring at you and muttering.
  8. Trying to convince that drunken redneck that despite the skirt, long hair and make-up, you are actually in possession of a set of testicles.
  9. When working in retail, you occasionally meet people who will refuse to be served by 'the devil worshipper'.
  10. The above is made worse when you ring in their purchases and discover that the total is £6.66. You will not easily forget the horror on their face. (True story.)
Source
Want more? Clicky here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Gentlemen's Hour: hairstyles

I could never do a post describing every single Goth hairstyle that is out there for either sex... there may be a few 'basic classics' such as the deathhawk, and the standard long black waterfall of hair, but the trouble with Goths is that you just can't classify or catalogue everything they do, because most of us like to take inspiration from a style, and then make it their own.

Geen titel #121


With hairstyles as with fashion, there are just as many exciting and unique styles for gentlemen as for ladies, but unless you dig around you're likely to see just a few 'standard' styles - long, straight and centre-parted; deathhawk or mohawk; cyber-tastic dreadlocks, usually with some shaven head sections.

With this thought in mind, I have been digging around the internet to try and find some images of men's hairstyles that do not fit any of the above categories. (If you are inspired by any of these hairstyles, remember that hairdresses and stylists are usually more than happy to try and recreate an image if you print it off and take it to them.) I am going to link to these images so as not to tread on anyone's copyright!

This is Thomas Vitriol *passes round hanky to the Goth ladies to mop up drool*. I don't believe any further words are necessary.

Joji looking stunning as always.

Crimping and a ponytail. Very simple, can be done on almost any hair, yet weirdly underrated.

Plenty of inspiration with this photoset. There seems to be a sad lack of backcombing/teasing amongst young Goth lads nowadays; hopefully the first, third and eighth photos could provoke a comeback. The fourth and seventh photos I love unreservedly.

Bouffants! Not just for the ladies! Requires backcombing and A LOT of hairspray, but worth it.

This guy = when eldergoth meets Visual Kei.

I'm pretty sure this is Mana? Whether it is or not, 'pretty' was definitely the key word in that sentence.

Simple can be striking.


And on that note, there's nothing wrong with this either.

When in doubt? CLIVE.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Outfit post and make-up experiment: white lipstick

Hey guys, I'm in a bit of a hurry tonight as I have dance class but I didn't want to neglect you utterly so I thought I'd spam you with my face a bit more. As you know I have been trying to experiment more with make-up, but usually in the morning before work it's easier to throw on one of a handful of very basic looks that are no-fuss and take five mins. But I am a fan of odd lipstick colours so yesterday I thought I'd experiment with a colour that has intrigued me for a while: white.

I was tempted to buy white lipstick after I saw a photo of Anne Sudworth (incidentally one of my FAVE artists) wearing white lipstick lined in black. I have tried this look and I can tell you that no, this look does NOT work for me. It makes me look like a porn star with a moustache (not even kidding).

However, I'm stubborn, so yesterday when I had a day off work I thought I'd try white lipstick again with my new hair and see what the effect was.

Voila.

Overall I'm not convinced this works for me. Obviously I wear white foundation and white powder but it makes my skin look quite sallow, as you can see in the below pic. Perhaps this would suit someone with dark or olive skin better?
The lipstick I used was by Stargazer and I have to say it's a great product; it goes on really smooth and lasts for ages, unfortunately this doesn't look so hot after you've tucked into steak and cous cous because you're left with a grim-looking white smear around the edges of your lips that just doesn't go away. But for a night at the club (rather than dinner) it'd be fantastic and would probably look awesome under blacklight.



Jumper: Kookai via charity shop, £3.50
Necklace: Claire's, gift, about nine years ago
Belt: alt shop in Southampton, £25
Jeans: Primark, £10
Boots: Sella, some random shop in Paignton, £25 (bargain!)

Oh, and look what came in the post today!
My order from The Zombified - isn't it gorgeous?!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Styles of Goth fashion: carnival Goth

This was a reader request from a while back, and since Lilly Peppermint professed her own affection for this style in my recent interview, I figured that now was the time. :-)

Carnival Goth's closest relations are dark cabaret, burlesque and neo-Victorian; but obviously this style takes its inspiration from a variety of ideas and images including sinister circuses (it's also known as Circus Goth), the dramatic make-up of sideshow performers and trapeze artists, and creepy, abandoned funfairs.

Goths plus carnival/circus themes might bring up clown images for some. Whilst there are some carnival and circus Goths who do in fact use clown-esque make-up and imagery, for example make-up inspired by pierrots and harlequins, we're not talking sloppy or badly-applied, and the look is not generally played for humour. Usually the make-up could be described as charming, cute, but a little bit sinister, dark or macabre. (Here's an example of a Victorian Gothic Circus make-up tutorial on YouTube.)

Carnival Goth fashion tends to involve ruffles, stripes, chequered patterns (usually in black and white or black and red), lots of red, white, cream and off-white accents and can look very Tim Burton-inspired. The clothing styles can often be reminiscent of Neo-Victorian or casual steampunk fashion (the look I have linked to here could easily work for a carnival Goth look with a few extra touches such as make-up and ripped fishnets.

For the ladies, wardrobe staples are likely to include bloomers, a bustle skirt (not necessarily full length), vertically striped or chequered tights or stockings, top hats or mini top hats, Victorian-esque blouses and waistcoats and Victorian-style boots.

The gentlemen are likely to be clad in Victorian-styled shirts and waistcoats, a top hat or bowler hat, jabots, trousers of some description (tight trousers with chains or straps could actually work well with this look; with a frock coat, big boots and top hat for a surreal ringmaster look), big chunky boots and possibly a cane.

The look is often designed to be very surreal; there may also be some more macabre touches such as ripped, tattered or decayed clothing or even some fake blood here and there.

The musicians who are associated with this style have a visual or musical aesthetic that matches closely the themes and images tied in with carnival Goth, such as Voltaire, Stolen Babies, Vermilion Lies and Emilie Autumn.

Dominique of the band Stolen Babies
Image by Pixie Vision Productions
Image source: Steampunk Girls
As an interesting note, many Goth events and entertainments do involve a lot of circus and carnival based mayhem, from the L.A. Goth night Circus Disco to the performances of Cirque Berzerk and Circus of Horrors (who I've seen, by the way, and they are amazing).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

New hair!

Here's me after the first round of dye:




And just now, after the second round, in my PJs:







Is it blue or purple?! Not even sure myself...

For those who have been asking, the first round was Manic Panic's Ultra Violet, in the second round I added Atomic Turquoise. ^^
Enough pics for you...? Haha, sorry!

Interview: Drew Edwards, creator of Halloween Man

You may have seen or heard of Halloween Man; a dark, funny, occasionally heartwarming slice of webcomic delivered to the interwebs by writer Drew Edwards and his crack creative team. The title refers to protagonist and unconventional (to say the least) superhero, Solomon Hitch - horrifically scarred and inconveniently undead. (OK, the undead part comes in handy. The craving for warm, juicy flesh? Um... not so much.)

Solomon keeps his bloodlust in check and uses his invulnerability to protect the weak, aided by a group of equally odd friends and companions, including and especially his girlfriend Doctor Lucy Chaplin, scientific genius and pin-up siren extraordinaire.

Images in this article used with pemission
All rights reserved
I recently had the opportunity to ask Drew a few questions about his work (thanks very much Drew!), beginning with the obvious questions...

Where did the idea for Halloween Man come from?

Basically from a lifetime spent watching monster movies. I noticed that in a good number of them, the monster only wanted the girl, but never got her. So I started searching for a way to invert that story where the monster would end up with the girl. My other passion is classic comic books, which have a long history of outsider protagonists. By combining the two, I'm allowed to make the monster the hero.

Now, the name "Halloween Man" came to me while listening to the Misfits song "Halloween" while writing. It was perfect and lent itsself to a whole slew of imagery.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Initially, most of it came from different forms of pop culture; horror movies, comic books from the 1960's, dungeons and dragons, punk rock, and the like. As I've grown older, I've started to look more and more towards the real world for inspiration. I still take a lot from popular culture. But I filter that through whatever is going on in my own life or past experiences, both painful and positive.

The webcomic is a collaborative effort with artists; how do you choose which artists to work with?

I try to work with the best artists I can find. Typically, I see how well they can draw certain characters and how they react to the material. If an artist isn't having a good time, I don't want to work with them. I've been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented people.

How does the collaboration work?

The process is an interesting one. All members of the creative team come together to result in a singular vision. That's why I've always maintained that creating a comic is comparable to being in a band. It takes several different pieces coming together to create one work. Typically, I plot out the story concept, followed by several stages of scripting. It is then passed on to a penciller, who takes the script and gives it visual form. From there the inker gives the pencils depth and shadow. And the colorist and letterer do just what their titles might make you think. As you can see, a lot of different hands go into creating a single comic.

What sort of responses does the comic receive?

The character and the world he inhabits is fairly offbeat. So it attracts an offbeat type of fan. The people who love this comic are really passionate about it. Having said that, in recent years, we've gone a hedge darker and certain, very vocal segments of the fanbase have not enjoyed it. Although I tend to think of such things as growing pains.

I've seen ads for Halloween Man in Gothic Beauty Magazine... are you personally associated with the Goth subculture, or does the comic simply attract a strong Goth fanbase?

I've always leaned more towards psychobilly and horrorpunk, but it's simply a "short walk" from those subcultures to goth. For about 8 years I was very involved in the Dallas, Texas goth scene; hanging out at a local gothic haunt known as the Lizard Lounge. There wasn't much of a subculture in Dallas at the time, so pretty much every one hung out there, from rockabillies to punks to metal heads. I do like a lot of music that could be considered "goth." I'm a fairly big fan of Alien Sex Fiend. I also love The Damned. Of course this leads to the million dollar question of what is goth and what isn't goth.

In regards to the latter part of your question. Having a comic with this subject matter,makes it easier to attract fans who already love the bizzare and the macabre. I think the same people would be reading it, even if I wasn't involved with this subculture at all. I love the fact that goths enjoy the comic. They're typically more intelligent and more open minded than your usual comic fans.   

In your hometown, Austin, there has been a series of Halloween Man shows! How did this come about?

I did a ten year anniversary show here at a club called Headhunters. It was basically a big Halloween party with tons of bands of varying genres, plus circus freaks, a costume contest, and the like. It went over so well that people asked me to keep doing them. Intially I resisted the idea, as I do not think of myself as a show promoter. But once I gave in, I threw myself into it. I can't ever half do anything, so it's become a second job for me.

How much involvement did you have with the show and how did you feel about it?

At least with the intial show, it was my baby from start to finish. The club basically just lent me their space and staff for the night. I was really proud of that show. Although, I've learned a lot since then and I feel like the ones I've done since then have been more professional.

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Professionally, probably the Halloween Man crossover with Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash. It was published by Image Comics and having a comic published by Image was a childhood dream of mine. Personally, moving to Austin and finding the love of my life.

Where do you see your creative endeavours taking you next?

It's hard to say. My career has mutated so much over the last few years. I never thought I would be as involved with the music industry as I currently am.

So, I'm sure that will continue to take me to some exciting new places. I would like to pitch some stuff to DC and Marvel. In recent years, mainstream comics have really embraced the sort of imagery that has been in "Halloween Man" from the start. So I think it's time for me to take that gamble. My fiance' keeps pushing for me to write a children's book, so I might try my hand at that as well.

What are you working on at the moment?

Aside from Halloween Man, I am regular contributor to Rockabilly Online. I also take part in a bi-weekly horror movie review podcast called "Castle Dracula." The show was founded by vampire novelist, Jason Henderson. My other co-critics are Deserts of Mars guitarist, Tony Salvaggio and travel writer Julia Guzman. The show is a lot of fun. We review a good mixture of classics, cult films, and more mainstream stuff. If you're even just a casual horror fan, I'd suggest checking it out.

On December 9th, here in Austin, I will be putting on the 2nd annual Winter Shock Hop at Ruta Maya. There's going to be a slew of amazing bands, vendors, a pin-up contest, and a costume contest. So if any of you readers are in Texas, please come on down.

What are your long-term plans for Halloween Man?

Having made it over the decade mark, I really want to just expand the fan base. When I first started out, web comics were on the cutting edge. But technology has changed so much. You can reach your fans in so many new ways. So, it's time for me to think beyond print and beyond the web. I'd really love to see "Halloween Man" as an animated series and a toy line. That would be a dream come true.

Your wife-to-be is part of psychobilly/swing fusion all-girl rock&roll orchestra Danger*Cakes! I don't suppose that having a rockabilly pin-up as your amour had any influence on the comic... for example, scientist siren character Lucy Chaplin?

Well, I created Lucy years before meeting Jamie, but it certainly doesn't hurt having such a glamourous and creative woman around at all times. It should be noted that Jamie is in fact, extremely brillant. A trait she shares with Lucy for sure.
I know it's cheesy, but I have to ask: if Hollywood made a Halloween Man movie, who would you most like to see cast as Solly and Lucy?

Lucy is pretty easy, as for a few years now fans have been suggesting Christina Hendricks. And I'd be hard pressed to think of a Hollywood actress that is a better fit. Solomon is a bit tougher, because you have to find the right balance of animalistic fury and humanistic sensitivity. I don't know that I can think of too many leading men who I feel could pull it off. If Michael Fassbender hadn't already been Magneto (in X-Men: First Class) I think he could have probably pulled it off. He's got that right balance. He has similar screen prescence to Christopher Lee, but is classically handsome at the same time. At the rate Hollywood is making comic movies, we'll probably see a terrible adaptation starring Megan Fox and Justin Bieber in a few years.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tyra Banks tricks a Goth...

This is a very old video now but I wanted to bring it to your attention and see what you guys think of it. I don't really watch the Tyra Banks show, but I found this on YouTube when browsing the term 'Goth'. Yes, yes, I have too much free time.

So this Goth girl is on the Tyra show hoping to meet some eligible Goth guys. But Tyra has taken three non-Goth chaps and decked them out in black clothing (and some seriously sloppy make-up, which makes me wonder how the girl (Liz?) didn't realise this was a set-up) seemingly to try and prove that you can have something in common with someone outside your subculture.

Now, personally I'm in two minds about this. No, I don't feel you should judge potential romantic partners solely on clothing and taste in music, in which case you could possibly say that she might have learned a valuable lesson. But on the other hand, this is a bit underhanded really, as how is she supposed to figure out if she has anything in common with any of these guys if they are, basically, lying (e.g. describing their Goth style as 'stompy' or 'drapey' when outside of this ten-minute skit they have no interest in Goth at all; name-dropping Goth bands to get her interested when they don't really like those bands?).

I think it would perhaps have been fairer to set her up with these nice non-Goth gentlemen without any costuming or pretense and letting her find out for herself that she might have more in common with them than was obvious from first appearances.

But what do you guys think?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Savage tram attack on pair of Goths

This month, with chilling echoes of the fatal attack on Sophie Lancaster, a pair of Goths were assaulted on a tram in Bury by a gang of thugs because of their style of clothing. The two have not been named, and police say that the attack was entirely unprovoked.

The friends, a woman and man, aged 22 and 29 respectively, were boarding a tram at the Metrolink station on their way home from a bar, when three men began to shout abuse at them.

The attackers followed them onto the tram and headbutted the woman. One of the men stamped on her face five times (excuse me while I rein in the swear words coming to mind here), fracturing her eye socket.

Her companion was punched to the ground then kicked in the face and body as he lay on the floor of the tram.

CCTV images of two of the suspects, believed to be in their early 40s, have been released; anyone who recognises these men should call police on 0161 856 8163 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



I'm just stuck on the fact that a man in his 40s stamped on a woman's face. Because of how she was dressed.

I don't know about you guys, but that makes me feel physically sick. And I really hope that it's true what they say: what goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Gentlemen's Hour: Advice for small gentlemen

Firstly, a reader question: snapexforever asked, "What if you're small and have a hard time finding men's fashion that fits you appropriately? And I mean...small. I'm a 5'2" petite female who prefers men's garb, especially along the lines of both deathrock and victorian. The victorian stuff I've found has always been super expensive and looks like it'd need a lot of altering, so I usually stick to a casual look more remniscent of trad goth. BUT ANY DIRECTIONAL ADVICE WOULD BE GREAT :')"

Another commentor, akumaxkami, responded with, " I recommend buying from overseas like China or Japan. Their sizes tend to run a lot smaller, since most Asian people are naturally shorter and thinner than us Westerners. ^_~", which I think is good advice. Along these same lines, for Victorian-inspired clothing try looking for Lolita Ouji/Kodona/boystyle clothing - you can get frock coats, ruffled shirts and that sort of thing in smaller sizes.

It might also be worthwhile contacting some independent designers in person, for example through Etsy, to ask if they are happy to make designs in a smaller size. No, it won't be cheap, but for special occasions or That One Item that will make your wardrobe/life complete, it could be worth considering.

Source: Amber Jaded
Model unknown
Deathrock is slightly easier, as it doesn't matter especially whether you are buying mens, womens or even childrens (if you're REALLY tiny) clothing if you're going to rip it to pieces and put it back together with safety pins. Small men could very easily get away with buying women's or teens skinny jeans, vests and T-shirts from mainstream stores like Primark and then customising them until they are unrecogniseable.

Hope this helps!

On another note, a frequent complaint I hear from the gentlemen of the species is that they have difficulty finding images, sites and resources for men's Goth fashion (hence this entire series of posts). I have been bustling about the internet to compile some helpful links, and here's a few of the best I've discovered so far.

  • Antimony and Lace has a helpful page full of links to stores selling men's clothing online.
  • Steff Metal ran a great post on male Goth fashion with a bit more class.
  • The wonderful Gothic Charm School has also taken the time to address the issue of where one can find men's clothing.
  • Joji's blog provides plenty of inspiration and advice.
Now, what topics would you guys like to see covered for Gentlemen's Hour? I have a few up my sleeve but I want to know what you would find interesting. Photo posts of inspirational chaps? More resources and links? Specific fashion questions that should be answered? Delving into the weird and wonderful world of gentlemen's style such as dandyism and Kodona? You tell me.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Guest post: Gothic Interior Design

Like the Gothic subculture, Gothic design is an often misunderstood area of interior design. Often associated with being scary and dark, Gothic design is actually much more than that. In fact, this type of design is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, means of decoration.

Originally just an architectural style, “Gothic” is actually a term used to describe the European churches, castles and palaces of the 12th through 16th centuries. Characterized by tall, arched windows, stained glass, flying buttresses and gargoyles, Gothic architecture is dark, yes, but it is emotional, ornate and timelessly remarkable.

In the 1800’s, Gothic design reemerged as an interior decoration. Romantic and passionate, this style of interior design continues to grab the attention of many today.

So, what is Gothic interior design, and how can you achieve it in your home? Here are five features of this awesome interior style:

1. Lighting is very important: To keep with the romantic, emotional element, use light dimmers, dark lamp shades or candles to light the room.

2. Any color goes: Gothic design is all about color, but it must be a rich, dark hue. For example, instead of plain red, you would use a deep, ruby red. Instead of purple, you would use a rich violet. Gothic interior design is all about opulent, sultry colors.

3. Use accessories that are adorned with Gothic features, like gargoyles, stone statues or stain glass.

4. Flooring is key: It would be hard to achieve the Gothic look if your room has light, fluffy carpet. Pull up that carpet, and lay down some deep-toned hardwood. Better yet, use stone or concrete as your flooring. To bring warmth into the room, accent the floors with rugs that have ornate designs and have been dyed with deep hues that match your walls and linens.

5. Balance the deep hues with warm fabrics: Interior design is all about balance, and the balance in Gothic design is brought in by using thick, warm fabrics. Use them everywhere; the beds, the windows, purchase an upholstered chair, etc.

Source
Image (c) The Drawing Room of John & Rico
For pictures and ideas, visit Google and search “Gothic interior design” images and good luck decorating!

Sharon Harlan is an Interior Decorator and also owns the site Interior Design Degree. She likes to write articles about everything fashion and design.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Spotlight: Sebastian Columbine

It is probably quite lazy of me to do a spotlight post about one of my favourite YouTubers, but I assure you it won't be the only time I will do this. I'm kind of a YouTube addict. Plus I think it's kind of a nice way to highlight people in the subculture who I think are doing awesome things. I don't feel you should have to be a model, artist or musician to get recognition within a community-based scene like Goth - perhaps as a blogger I am a tad biased, though...

Anyhoo. Today I'm turning the spotlight on Sebastian Columbine, aka YouTube's SebastianTheGirl. Sebastian is a young American Goth who happens to make great videos - the topic on which she most often holds forth is, of course, our dear subculture. Sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking, always honest, you may agree or disagree with some of Sebastian's viewpoints but she always has something interesting to offer.

Image (c) Sebastian Columbine
Source

Of course, the best part of watching someone on YouTube is ogling their outfits, hair and make-up, and I have to admit that I DO love Sebastian's style.

I also highly recommend that you check out her Tumblog The Darkest Show On Earth, which is where I source quite a number of the images I use on this blog.

[A small note: some of Sebastian's thoughts and opinions have provoked a little controversy, which has resulted in her receiving some unpleasant messages and comments. I'm sure that most of us are capable of considering the viewpoints of others and deciding whether to accept or reject them without needing to be rude and unkind about it; this is a big subculture, not everyone within it is going to see eye to eye, and that's perfectly OK and not a good reason to send someone hatemail.]

OK, I'm done enthusing about random people on the internets (for now, anyways). Hope you enjoy. :-)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Dragon*Con

Just for the anonymous who was worried I wasn't going to post free downloads any more (not intentional, I'm just scatterbrained, sorry!) here's a 36-track compilation I recently downloaded totally free from Vampire Freaks (no account required), featuring lots of electronic and Industrial goodness including personal faves Aesthetic Perfection, Angelspit, Heresy Theory and lots more: Cry For Death: Industrial/Electro Edition

Speaking of scatterbrained, I realised this morning I haven't done any event posts in a while, so I thought that for today's post I'd touch on an event that isn't specifically Goth but decidedly Goth-friendly, with a high turn-out from those of us who live life on the spooky side.

Dragon*Con in North America (Atlanta to be precise) is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US. The 30,000-plus-member convention takes over a six-square block area of downtown Atlanta adjacent to the 1996 Summer Olympics Village on the Labor Day weekend every year, and is hosted by an 850-member volunteer staff.

Dragon*Con has hosted the 1990 Origins Game Fair and the 1995 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). Like many World Fantasy Conventions, it is operated by a private corporation. It raises thousands of dollars each year for local and national charities and draws over 40,000 attendees in recent years.

Unsurprisingly it's pretty popular amongst Goths.

The 4-day event comprises approximately 850 hours of panels, seminars, demonstrations, and workshops, with over 30 specialized programming tracks that include but are not limited to (deep breath) writing, art, gaming, alternate history, anime, apocalyptic themes, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, comic books, NASA space science, robotics, film, costuming, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly/Serenity, Dr. Who, Ghost Hunters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anne McCaffrey's Pern, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, British and American SF television, New Zealand's The Tribe, the Dark Fantasy track, the Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival, and various others.

Derek Tatum describes his programming track at the con thusly, "The Dark Fantasy programming track features panels spotlighting Gothic horror and popular culture. The programming spans from classic monster tales such as “Frankenstein” and “Dark Shadows” to contemporary fare like “True Blood” and the works of Tim Burton. The track has traditionally scheduled interviews with musicians, frequently from the gothic/darkwave/industrial field. Past speakers have included members of Bella Morte, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, The Crüxshadows, Ego Likeness, Faith and the Muse, The Ghosts Project, The Last Dance, Voltaire, and many others."

Dragon*Con featured a track called "Gothic Journeys" in 2004, which was an outgrowth of Storm Constantine's Grissecon. In 2005, the chairman of Dragon*Con asked Derek Tatum if he would like to take over the track; Tatum agreed, but out of respect to Constantine's programming, strived to create a separate identity for the slightly new direction of the track. In 2008, the track was renamed Dark Fantasy, as the programming had grown far beyond its reputation as "just" a subculture and music-oriented track. The Dark Fantasy track now acts as Dragon*Con's outlet for Gothic horror-themed
entertainment.
Since its birth in 1987, Dragon*Con has featured performances by dozens of artists such as Bella Morte, Voltaire, The Crüxshadows, Abney Park, Celldweller, Black tape for a blue girl, Ego Likeness, I:Scintilla and the Misfits, to name some of the most Goth-friendly attendees.

Guests of Honour have included some names you may also recognise, such as Storm Constantine, Holly Black, Lilith Saintcrow, Ted Naifeh and Michelle Belanger. Perkygoth favourites Kynt and Vyxsin are also frequent attendees.

Dragon*Con is a haven for geeks, Goths and cosplayers of all varieties - the good thing about events where many people will be in costume as their favourite characters is that you can either follow suit, or simply pile on your best finery, and either way you won't turn many eyebrows or recieve any unpleasant comments (unless your costume is lazy or sloppy...).

With thanks to Derek Tatum.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Darkside International: Lilly Peppermint, Australia

It's back to Australia for the third round of Darkside International with very special guest Lilly Peppermint. Lilly's minimalist Goth style complements a busy lifestyle; this teen Goth juggles school and exams with her passion for classical music, gaming, blogging and creating make-up tutorials over at Clockwork Mice and Toy Spiders.

Image (c) Lilly Peppermint
How would you describe your everyday style? How has it 'evolved' over the years and how do you see it changing in the future?

Currently I would describe my style as Simplified Deathrock with elements of Romantic, Perky and Carnival. That is rather a mouthful!

For day to day wear I'm often wearing plain tights with a skirt and a T shirt and a thigh-length trench coat. My style has evolved dramatically from what was Bohemian Gypsy to what it is now. I would like to explore more of a Carnival element to my style, but these things take time, and I am comfortable for the moment. My interest in Carnival Goth would stem from my interest in spooky carnival music and my childhood dream to be in the circus...

As a make-up tutorialist, what are your top tips and tricks?

As cliche as it is, the most important thing would be to stay inspired and be willing to learn. Without either there is no way that one is able to improve at all. Inspiration is everywhere, from the internet to in the streets, so there is no excuse. On a more practical side, start small and then build intensity. With all aspects of makeup, it is easy to gradualy add layers to create the desired depth, but it is far more difficult to remove layers of makeup, and there is the risk of making a mess and looking like your little sister who got stuck in the crayons...

What make-up brands do you recommend and what products couldn't you live without?

Rimmel is fantastic for really black blacks in mascaras and eyeliners, Manic Panic has fantastic hair dyes and I do like their Dreamtone foundation and I am a big fan of The Body Shop Born Lippy in Raspberry. I think the product I couldn't live without is the EcoTools Eye makeup brush set. High quality brushes dramatically improved my overally application of shadow colours, or a really really powerful, soothing lipbalm, like Blistex Lip conditioner. Smooth, unchapped lips are pretty...

What fashion advice would you offer to younger Goths? What is the most important 'lesson' you've learned with regards to style?

Don't feel that you must buy Goth "Staples" in order to fit in. I don't own  a corset, and I don't feel that I will in the near future, but I'm still confortable with my style even amongst lovely corsetted ladies. It is more important to be happy and comfortable in the clothes that you own and wear rather than constantly wishing you had what others had or have. Secondly, enjoy Goth fashion! It is a fun past time that needs to be enjoyed with a sense of humour, or you will most certainly be regarded as someone who cannot laugh at themselves, which is not a good thing.

Also, I believe that buying key pieces that will last for years is a good investment rather than spending lots of money on cheap clothing that will fall apart or look tacky.

The most important lesson I've learnt is that black can look good with any colour. While black on black is a classic Goth look and can look fantastic, there are no limits as to other colour combinations that go well with black. My personal exception is brown. Brown and black just look odd on me. It's OK to have exceptions.

Who or what inspires you (in fashion or otherwise)?

Voltaire would be my biggest inspiration at the moment, specifically as a song writer, but as a general person and artist. Other inspirational people would be Emilie Autumn, Amanda Palmer, Audfaced, Hex, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Jillian Venters, Natalie Portman and Neil Gaiman. Fashion wise, inspirational beings would include Emilie Autumn, Keith Lee Castle, Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Zeta Jones, Razor Candi, Adora BatBrat and Jillian Venters. I tend to find lots of inspiration in advertising in magazines such as Fiend and Gothic Beauty as well as photo shoots, although I never end up buying their clothes.

A serious aficionado of classical music, you play flute, violin and piano and sing in choir. You also recently conducted the string section of an orchestra! What drives your passion for classical music and what does it mean to you?

I'm not sure when I became passionate about classical music. I've always had an appreciation for it, but my genuine passion was probably sparked when I started having music lessons when I was 7. I'm enchanted by the potential for storytelling, and to be able to powerfully and personally affect people's emotions on a subconscious level. Music is so incredibly manipulative. For example, this of the Jaws theme by John Williams. Nowadays, it's a bit of a cliche in cinema which really is a shame. I can remember being in music class a few years ago and listened to the recording without the film. It was nice and loud, and scary in an exciting way. The volume is important with music. So many times I've heard people say that classical music is boring, but it really isn't. It just needs to be louder, but the essence of music in regards to dynamics (the levels of louds and softs) is in the contrasts rather than the overall level.

I've always had a desire to tell stories in some medium or another, and music is ideal because of it's definite fatality- Once the sound has finished, it cannot be recaptured, so it is purely about individual, passing moments. I naturally have a good ear musically and than has allowed me to advance quickly in music. After a few years it really seemed foolish to give it up because I'd made a lot of progress so I kept at it. I also noticed that I was considerably more happy and content while I was playing music, so it became something of an asylum from my everyday world.

As a musician, what is it about Goth that you are most drawn to; what do you appreciate most about it?

As I mentioned earlier, has love to tell stories and to have the potential for a juicy mystery or hidden story behind everything even if it is as mundane and everyday as a washing machine. I believe that this resonates in almost all aspects of Goth, most importantly in fashion, music and the visual aesthetics. Everything is often given an 'air of mystery' and wild, romantic stories are often invented to give everything a more involving, dramatic and... different experience that resonates with the audience. Most of the music that I listen to is story-telling.
Image (c) Lilly Peppermint
What does 'Goth' mean to you?

That's a difficult question to answer. It's a combination of things. On a simple level, Goth is Goth music, fashion and the spooky visual aesthetics combined together within a being (i.e Me) in varying quantities depending on the day. On a more philosophical level, Goth is about embracing all elements of the human condition especially things that the mainstream chooses to avoid, such as the dark, Gothic or macabre.

Many school-age Goths have to suffer for their differences (sounding a bit pretentious here but you get what I mean). What sort of reactions do you receive from your peers? Do you have any advice for other Goths who are at school?

I've had a pretty awful school experience to say the least, but in the past two years I have been well treated and pretty much haven't had a hiccup. I think that's because I now like in Melbourne where people are generally more accepting, and because the others my age have grown up! Older teenagers seems to be more accepting of people's differences and that really makes a difference.

What advice would you like to give to your babybat self?

Be yourself no matter what anyone else says or thinks, because those people will not be in your life for much longer... The people who you don't like, or don't want to waste energy with will, after awhile, will not bother you and you can then focus on your friends, family and life properly. =)

What is the Goth scene like in your area? What are the best and worst things about it and are there any events you recommend?

So far, I haven't really spent heaps of time in the Goth scene here in Melbourne, clubbing wise. I generally don't like clubs so I cannot comment. In terms of the other scene related things such as events and general socializing I have had a positive experience. Most people have been friendly and accepting. The worst thing would be the general hostility. Most Goths will only ever talk to their friends.

You have mentioned on your blog that at times you have felt awkward being a younger Goth and have had some bad experiences with older Goths. Can you elaborate on this? How do you feel that relations between older and younger Goths could or should be improved (i.e. do you feel that older Goths are generally accepting of the 'new generation' or not)?

It is true that I have had a few negative experiences with Goths of the previous generation. Many of them have been unfortunate and due to circumstances or my over-evaluation of what was mild hostility, but until yesterday I generally felt alienated by the elder Goths in the scene. Yesterday I attended the Annual Goth/Victorian picnic in Melbourne that was organised by an older Goth as an attempt to bring more of a community element to the scene, and every single person I spoke to was charming and friendly despite the age differences, in some cases, of almost 20 years. It certainly has put my faith back into the scene and the people here in general. I believe more community based, open events such as this picnic would help to improve relationships all round.

What bands are you into at the moment? Any new discoveries or little-known acts that you recommend?

Voltaire, Emilie Autumn, Creature Feature, The Cruxshadows, Circus Contraption and Angelspit have been my favourites for years. I don't think that's going to change any time soon. I recently saw a new Melbourne band called the Harlequin Chapter who describe themselves as Theatrical Piano Metal. They were rather enjoyable even for someone like me who doesn't like Metal...

Aside from that, Rufus Rx is Curtis Rex's (from Creature Feature) side project, and that is pretty fantastic with a different style to and tone to Creature Feature but with a similar sense of humour.
I've also been getting more into Deathrock and Post Punk... Corpus Delicti and London After Midnight- that sort of thing.

You often attend folk festivals! What is this experience like for a Goth? What is it that appeals to you about these events?

The experience overall is positive for me, because I have been around 'folkies' for many years and am used to all their quirks. Things can be somewhat uncomfortable when rainbow tie-dyed folks are staring at my clothes and making less than subtle remarks to their friends. I find that I have more fun at festivals spending time with friends and family rather than meeting new people. I also have found some of the music, art and jewelery at festivals to be cheaper and rather excellent. Some of my favourite items are bought at festivals. While lots of the music would be considered 'Folk', I have heard swing, classical, jazz, gypsy, circus, cabaret, fusion, techno, punk, rock, blues, roots, bluegrass and many others but the list is long enough as it is. I'm sure that some of these styles would appeal to Goths.

As an avid gamer, what games would you recommend to your fellow Goths?

It really does depend on your preferred 'type' of games (RPG, RTS, FPS...excetera). I know that there are plenty of RPG games that would appeal to Goths but considering I don't like RPG games as a whole, I cannot give examples. If you enjoy mindlessly blasting things then almost any shooter would provide entertainment. Castle Wolfenstein and Doom are my personal favourites. It's really impossible to suggest games overall that would appeal to Goths, but I can assure you there are thousands...

I really enjoy Adventure Games, so ones that I feel would be suitable would be the Kings Quest series, Laura Bow series, Veil of Darkness and games by American McGee. For more arcade/ platforming games then I would recommend Plants vs Zombies, Castlevania games, Alice: Madness Returns, Beetlejuice: Skeletons in the Closet and The Sims 2. Other personal favourites that, in my opinion, have Goth appeal are Arcane: the Stone Circle, Warlords: Battlecry II, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Caeser III and the Age of Empires series. Many of these games have a historical settings which I find fascinating. Oh, and vampires.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Goth and the LGBT community

Long, long ago, Tenebris in Lux requested a post on the links between Goth and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We all know by now that there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding Goth and sexuality - no, not all Goths are gay. Not every man (Goth or otherwise) wearing make-up and a skirt is gay. Because often the Goth look, particularly for men, is androgynous or feminised, it is often assumed that all Goth males are gay or bisexual. This is not true.

Source: Gothlings
Model/photographer unknown
It is also a stereotype that Goths pretend to be bisexual because they think it makes them seem more open-minded or alternative - or in the case of girls, because 'everyone knows' that girls who kiss girls are sexy. :-/ Thankfully I have not come across this stereotype in real life; only online. And whilst I'm sure there are a few teenage drama queens who want to make out with their same-sex friends to get attention, by the time most of us are old enough to go clubbing and socialise with other Goths we've grown out of such behaviour.

Stereotypes aside, of course there are Goths who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, genderqueer, etc, etc. In fact, many in the Goth scene have found themselves more able to be open about their sexuality as on the whole the community is tolerant and non-judgemental.

Am I saying that LGBT Goths never recieve any aggro or unkindness from their Gothy peers? No. Sadly there are still some in the scene who are unable to practise what they preach and who are rude and unpleasant towards others, whilst expecting others to treat them with open-mindedness and respect. No subculture or community is full of perfect people.

An article from The Skinny entitled, 'Queer and Goth', says, "Goth or alternative clubs like Ascension, Neon, and Bedlam, to name just a few, have become a safe haven not only for people exploring their sexual orientation but also exploring their gender identity. Among 'traditional goths' women tend to look very femme - long hair and corsets. But their male partners also have long hair and occasionally wear corsets themselves. Nearly everyone wears make-up regardless of sex and more than one brave man wears a skirt.

"Bisexuality is almost the norm among the crowds that frequent Scotland's goth clubs. It's encouraged and even expected that many people will have an encounter with someone of the same sex. This shows a fantastic amount of acceptance and tolerance for bisexuals who often get flack from both sides of the 'fence' for being greedy or indecisive. In goth clubs, bisexuals are so common, they're practically passé." Click here to read full article.

The article suggests that those who are LGBT may feel less safe in 'straight' clubs than in Goth clubs, whether or not they are actually Goth. I think this shows that, whilst Goths may raise their skinny eyebrows at club tourists, they are on the whole a calmer, politer, and less intimidating crowd than those found at a traditional nightclub, and of course less prejudiced against others as a general rule.

I also found a discussion on Goth.net which may be of interest; members have mentioned how Goths are more open-minded and do not shun others on behalf of sexuality.

Opinions on Goths attending gay clubs seem to differ internet-wide. On some forums I found people telling those searching for local Goth clubs simply to head for the gay clubs, as that was where most of the local Goths tended to frequent. Conversely I also found a personal account from one gay Goth who was made to feel uncomfortable at a gay club due to his mode of dress.

This is not something I have much personal experience of as I have been in a hetero relationship for the past seven years - other than stereotype-busting, I don't want to stick my neck out too far on a topic I know little about, so the floor is open to you guys: opinions, experiences, etc?

13 Bullets

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge Review #16 - 13 Bullets by David Wellington

I'm continuing with the Vampire Challenge despite the fact I can no longer find it on Parajunkee's site since it moved...

13 Bullets: A Vampire Tale was a chilling read, although if I am entirely honest I didn't find any of the characters especially likeable or easy to empathise with. Wellington's vampires are brutal and bloodthirsty, but his protagonists are little better.

Source: Google
Our heroine is State Trooper Laura Caxton, who finds herself a pawn in a grudge match between a coven of predatory bloodsuckers and an equally-soulless federal agent named Arkeley. Now, I don't expect all my heroines to read like Laurell K. Hamilton's feisty warrior-women, but Caxton seemed to spend most of her own story getting pushed around by either Arkeley, the vampires, or her girlfriend. I also felt that her lesbianism was mainly to add a little sex appeal via some girl-on-girl action, which didn't impress me.

Arkeley himself is a bit of an anti-hero - he might know what he's doing with regards to the enemy, but his unpleasant demeanour and willingness to use everyone around him in his power play against  the head vamp make him a practically unlikeable character despite the few admirable attributes he does possess.

However. Wimps and wack-jobs aside, Wellington's thoroughly modern take on classic vampires is overall a hit, with some genuinely blood-curdling moments, a realistic amount of gore, and enough fast-paced action and thrilling plot twists to keep the reader hooked. The story reads as though it was written for the screen, in the finest tradition of gory vampire horrors like 30 Days of Night.

There is some humour, often very dry or a little grim, but humour nonetheless. The ending is unexpected and leaves room for a sequel without being an overly-obvious cliffhanger.

This is a gritty, no-holds-barred approach to modern vampires, and whether or not you find Caxton a likeable character it's hard not to emphasise with her as she is dragged unwillingly into a nightmare orchestrated by an ancient vampire, alive yet rotting in an old insanitorium. Caxton's flaws, probably deliberately, make her more 'real' than many urban fantasy and horror heroines of today.

The Devil in the Details: Goth pyjamas

Hello again darklings; apologies for my total lack of posting yesterday, I was extremely Not Well.

I was reminded of my promise to post about the small ways you can add a bit of spookiness to your life when the new Attitude Clothing catalogue popped into my postbox, featuring an all-in-one skeleton fleece sleep suit and a pair of fake-blood-splattered 'zombie killing' PJs.

Skeleton PJs by Too Fast
Source: Attitude Clothing
Now, don't laugh, but back in my day (yes, all of five years ago...) Goth PJs were, in my neck of the woods at least, somewhat difficult to come by, unless you spent £69 (yes, £69!) on Drac In A Box for some ghost-buttoned PJs. I was delighted to find my very own 'Every Night is Halloween' Strangeways pyjamas in a local alt shop, and have never seen them online before or since.

Those of you who live in the USA and have a Hot Topic in your vicinity may have had it slightly easier - from what I've seen online, Emily the Strange's nightwear range is quite fetching, although as far as I am aware it's only for the ladies. At least with all-in-one skelly suits appearing on the market, the gentlemen are getting a bit of a look-in as well.

Even mainstream stores have been known to get in on the act - my hot pink PJs with black bats are from none other than Topshop. And there's nothing wrong with picking up a plain black set (perhaps in satin?) or a nice black nightie, is there?

Ladies, if you're feeling a little, erm, saucy, Anne Summers do occasionally produce nightwear that might appeal, such as their 'Bondage Babe' printed cami sets (I somehow found myself in possession of the top half of such a set and am prone to wearing it as a T-shirt). Red, black, satin and lace obviously abound at Anne Summers and other such *adult* shops, so if you want something sexier, it could be worth a look.

Of course, not everybody wants a lace-trimmed scarlet nightie, or even a set of bat print PJs. Some may prefer a reproduction Victorian nightdress, and I'm sure there are plenty of you who just crash in an oversized band tee. You can also find vintage-inspired sleepwear at Fairy Goth Mother (just don't look at those prices...).

What about slippers? Well, you can get novelty slippers anywhere, with kitties, claws, skulls, or cameos on (I have owned all of the above) or just black'n'fluffy! Even Emily the Strange does slippers for the darkly inclined, or get your very own Jack Skellies at Attitude Clothing.

In short, you can now proudly display your Gothy tendencies 24/7 with very little difficulty... you lucky thing, you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hello Kitty Fashion: introducing alt culture to pre-teens

Don't laugh, but I am a big big lover of Hello Kitty and as such was delighted to get my hands on the launch issue of Hello Kitty Fashion magazine. As I expected it was mainly tailored towards young girls, but I was delighted to see several spreads and features on alternative fashion!

When I was much younger, ElleGirl magazine used to be the go-to mag for those of us who wanted something different, but by the time I was about fifteen, it, too, had become boring, bland, and filled with celebrity bubbleheads instead of the exciting, dramatic make-up tutorials and bizarre fashion it had previously featured. But even ElleGirl was aimed at a slightly older, teenage audience, so as far as I am aware HK has provided the first magazine introducing young girls to fashions other than what is, well, fashionable.

It begins on page eight with a mention of the Anime Expo in LA and the Japanese Arts Festival in London; anime, cosplay and general Japanese geekery will always have a place in the collective hearts of the Goth scene, especially we nerdy types.


We also have, on page 22, an interview with Yuko Yamaguchi, the head designer at HK HQ, who is pictured wearing Japanese alt fashion. In the 'Crazy About Kitty' section where we meet HK collectors, it's not at all surprising to see a young Gothic Lolita (Kari Rose from Scotland) with dark make-up and facial piercings.

Then, much to my extreme glee, there is an entire feature entitled Do You... Harajuku?, which gives a brief, simplified lowdown of what this Japanese style central is and why it means so much to the alt fashion world, "Fashion culture in Japan is mostly centred around the Harajuku district of Tokyo... Harajuku doesn't just describe one style though - it's also the general term for the many different sub-styles the area has spawned. Walk down the street in Tokyo and you'll see Punks, Goths, super-sweet girly types and even the odd Manga character - they take style very seriously in Harajuku."

The feature goes on to explain how to get a Harajuku look: "There are no labels, no status accessories... second hand clothing is key, as is do-it-yourself... Harajuku style is about creating a totally individual look, wearing what you like, what suits you, and making a statement!"

It then breaks down several sub-styles of Harajuku fashion, namely Kawaii, Visual Kei, and Cosplay. There are some really great pics, and I can't help but wish that this magazine had been available when I was in my pre-teens, desperate to be different but not really sure how. I know I would have loved the pictures and the descriptions of the different outlandish styles.

There is then a couple of pages on how to create Harajuku looks for yourself - it's very toned-down and simplified but for very young girls I feel this is probably more appropriate. There's even a headband tutorial!

In short, I'm really pleased that there's a magazine introducing youngsters to the crazy, fun, beautiful world of alternative fashion; even popstars nowadays aren't identikit Britney Spears cookie-cutter bimbos like they were back in my day - Gaga's bizarre outfits, Katy Perry's pink hair, Jessie J's decidedly Gothy personal aesthetic and Rihanna's often dark subject matter are hopefully showing young girls that there's more to fashion - and to life - than looking the same as everyone else, and I'm sure that a magazine like this can only be a positive thing, even if large parts of it are basically an ad for Hello Kitty.

Keeping with the Hello Kitty theme, I wore the following outfit to a fashion show that my friend Bronwyn was modelling in last week:

Not sure why these pics are even crapper than usual! I was trying to show off my dangly ear star thing from Topshop - it sits behind your ear and all these pretty chains with stars on dangle down. I love it!

Ear thingy: £8.50, Freedom at Topshop
Necklace: Rock Love
T-shirt: gift from Dan
Jeans: Criminal Damage, £35
Boots: New Rock, £150 from Attitude Clothing
Bracelet: gift from Dan

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