“On my planet” is a series of articles intended to be about the goth/industrial/punk/science fiction/horror realm, but it may occasionally stray from that path in order to maintain a little perspective.
It was my original intention to write this first article while drunk, so I could be like my hero, Hunter S. Thompson. Unfortunately, when I tried to do this, I just stared at the screen until I passed out. So I guess I’ll never be like my idol.
But on to more important matters. The topic of this first article is going to be broad and loose, not specific and directed, because I want you as a reader to understand where I’m coming from so that you’ll have a context for the next time. With that in mind I’m going to be talking about what these upcoming articles are going to be on and what my opinion is as it relates to that.
As it states in the little italic blurb at the beginning, this series of commentaries is intended to be about the goth/industrial/punk/science fiction/horror realm. That’s a lot of ground but I think the trip will be worth it. I only hope my writing can keep you interested.
First off, goth, industrial, punk, science fiction and horror: they are related to each other, and not distantly either. Goth developed out of and alongside punk. The connection between goth and industrial is well known to anyone who’s ever enjoyed Nine Inch Nails, and countless goths attend science fiction conventions, not to mention play role-playing games.
Some folks don’t realize that a lot of goths do attend sci-fi conventions. Just last week I was over at Dragon Con ’99, the largest sci-fi convention in North America, and you couldn’t get away from all the gothic freaks. It was a beautiful sight to behold, almost like a homecoming for me. [You can see pictures at http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Park/2005/dragoncon99/ — Ed.]
You see, currently, I live in the Bay Area — San Francisco, to be exact. However, I come from Washington D.C. That is the scene I emerged in and where most of my ideas of what “goth” is come from. Thinking about it now, I don’t think I would have identified myself as goth had I grown up in another region. Certainly, many folks in the S.F. scene don’t consider me goth.
Anyway, in D.C. there is no separation between gothic and industrial. It’s all one scene. Furthermore, almost every member of that scene (at least until ’95, when I moved) attended the local science fiction conventions. Why? Well, we were all pretty literate people, we loved science fiction, and role-playing games. Also, the chance to hang out in a hotel for three days and act like maniacs was just too much to pass up. We’d converge upon some poor unsuspecting hotel, and dance, get drunk, and fuck like crazed weasels in one huge orgasmic release that was to last an entire weekend. Imagine it, an entire hotel filled with people in leather and spikes, PVC and lace. Do you know what kind of hell can be raised with that, and of what magnitude? I tell you, the locals never knew what hit them.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from throwing us out when say, a radio gets thrown through a room window, or some guy who’s tripping balls decides to attack con security with a fire extinguisher. Or better yet when a sexually experimental couple, who aren’t part of the con, break the sprinkler system and flood an entire floor.
Despite this, with only one exception, all those conventions are all still being held to this day. So as you see, I do not come from a quiet and polite little “goth” scene. My friends and I never worried about being “goth” we just were. We didn’t worry about etiquette because leading a passionate life was more important. So there’s a part of where I’m coming from.
Another part is that I’ve always held the belief that goth is an affinity, not a religion. Sort of like being “queer.” You either are or you’re not. You don’t become one. You simply are. So for all those souls who are trying to fit in to “goth” I have this to say: Don’t try to convert to goth, be yourself, and don’t do or not-do something because some other “goth” told you to.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard some goth crack on some poor kid because he was wearing Crow makeup. Or the snide comments about some poor girl who’s just discovered Dawn and is in love with her. I’m gonna state, for the record, that despite all snide comments to the contrary there is nothing wrong with wanting to emulate your heroes.
Others may not like it, but as long as you realize the difference between the costume and the real person, go for it. Personally I don’t know a single goth guy who read the comic and didn’t want to look like Eric Draven. So don’t worry, hero emulation is something that everybody goes through. Everyone just needs to grow out of it too.
However, if there’s something about a character that you like, feel free to adopt those things and make them your own. Be creative, do something unique with them. Also, don’t feel the need to stay with the all-black format. Feel free to use color. And don't just try to stay within the preset of “goth”, experiment with other things. There is a world outside of “goth”. And it is much more important.
So why am I writing this article? Good question. I’m gonna go out instead. See you next month.
Mohawk Jack is a romantigoth-turned-surly-punk who’s been a scenester on both coasts of the US.