Smells Like Black Lipstick

by Drew

What is Goth?

Goth is the name given to a subculture that's arisen within the past twenty years. It's recently gained a lot of popularity, but it's been here for a while.

So how did it start?

Out of punk. In the wake of the 60s, suddenly everyone's embraced counterculture and rock music so much so that it's mainstream. Rock musicians had also overdone themselves - starting with the Beatles, through the Stones, and bloodily crashing with Van Halen and the like, rock musicians cultivated a demigod status for themselves. Punk tried to destroy all that. Groups like the Clash, the Pistols, the Ramones, couldn't play their instruments and couldn't sing at all. That was the point.

Goth? What about goth?

Right. Bauhaus in the late 1970s got on what would be recognizable as "goth" fashion, but it didn't have a name yet. It was kind of a joke to the band, and kind of a joke to the audience, a spit at high fashion by dressing up like Halloween. The song that clinched the Goth scene? "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus. And wham, here comes Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Sisters of Mercy, the Cure, et cetera. We start seeing tousled black hair, eyeliner on men, and black attire. Here's a style where people dress the opposite of what mainstream culture might dictate. Men wear eyeliner. Women wear black lipstick. They both show entirely too much flesh. Goth style is a way for people to dress up and go out and have fun, and still buck the rules of fashion.

So it's fashion thing? Where does Anne Rice fit in?

Goth is a show of solidarity with odd people and a show of distance to mainstream norms. It's not reducible to fashion (it's entirely possible to not wear a bit of black and be quite "gothed out"), it's not reducible to reading materials, it's not reducible to musical tastes.

I still don't get the connection between Goth and punk.

Most of either group deny it, but it's there. They're both resistances, even if punk is more political and confrontational, and Goth is more artistic and internal. Political punk rockers talk about solidarity, Goths talk about isolation.

But they're talking about isolation packed into a dark smoky club?


And muttering about angst with ten other Goths over a large pitcher of beer?

Now you're getting it.

Are you Goth, Drew?


Can you make some sad statement about how it was oh so much cooler back in the 1980s before people like Marilyn Manson had to come along and get all the junior-high kids to call themselves "Goth" and ruin it for everyone?


Were you Goth in the 1980s?


What were you?

A junior-high kid.

Is Damion Goth?

Yep. He's one of the Marilyn Manson types.

What do you think of the new Cure?

I'd like to like it, but for some reason I can't get into it. I've really been digging on British synthpop recently for some reason.