My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.
The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..
Friday, 14 October 2016
Friday, 7 October 2016
|Columba hotel, named after the Saint. Dramatic skies. Photo by me.|
|Close up of Columba Hotel sign and gables and dormer.|
|Gables all in a row. Photograph by the HouseCat|
|Gothic windows. Photograph by the HouseCat|
Hopefully these pictures have been enjoyable. I think my architectural photography is certainly improving, and I really must update my Tumblr with more photography.
Saturday, 1 October 2016
|One hat-point short of a cliche. Photo by Raven|
|Hat adjustment pose! Photo by Raven|
It is made of a synthetic mesh material, and it is rather sheer - I certainly wouldn't wear it without something opaque underneath (in the photos I am wearing opaque black tights and a black tunic underneath, the black tunic reaching down to bellow my butt, and the tights being very thoroughly opaque) or over it (I am also wearing a "butt cape" or reverse apron - this is an over-skirt that's actually a modified semi-sheer skirt, split down a seam and finished with velvet ribbon for ties) to preserve my modesty. It was quite dingy for the photo-shoot, too. If I were to wear it out and about, I would probably wear it over opaque leggings or under my favourite velvet long-at-the-back, short-at-the-front skirt. Other people may be more comfortable wearing something that sheer and thus may want to wear it just as a skirt, but I am definitely happier covering up.
|More hat adjustment poses... Photo by Raven|
Outfit I am wearing in the photos:
Hat - H&M, bought new several years ago. (I'm no longer supporting H&M as a retailer).
Choker - 'Eretica' choker by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Necklace - 'Dragon Heart' pendant by Alchemy Gothic; secondhand on eBay
Cropped top - Raven; secondhand on eBay (It's got velvet, lace-up details up the front and drippy sleeves - perfect over-the-top Romantic Goth!)
Corset - Burleska; secondhand on eBay
Belt - secondhand on eBay
Overskirt - hand-made, fabric re-claimed from a skirt secondhand on eBay
Skirt: Necessary Evil; sponsorship gift from Kate's Clothing
Shoes (not visible; coffin-buckle pikes) - Fantasy Shoes; secondhand on eBay
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Firstly, I still think that the notion of Goths being failed non-conformists because while we sometimes vocally distance ourselves from mainstream culture, we still have norms within our own culture is a flawed notion - I've never felt that Goth has been about pure individualism, and that it has always been about a group of people with shared interests, primarily musically and in terms of an aesthetic and a mindset that is both cynical and Romantic in terms and which finds beauty and interest in darker and more morbid themes. I still think that just because we don't want to participate in mainstream pop culture and dislike any form of mindless consumerism, it doesn't mean that we disagree with the notions of cultures and sharing interests with others, in general. We often find that mainstream society devalues the things we like, and often devalues us for liking them, and that we also don't have much interest in many mainstream things, but this is just why we do something different from the mainstream. However, it is not that Goths can't like the odd bit of popular culture too! Also, some things many Goths like, such as The Addams Family or Tim Burton's better films, are part of popular culture as well as Goth culture, so there is no clear separation.
(I've been a geek and a nerd since I was a child, and a lot of what I like were considered fringe interests 20+ years ago, but have now become mainstream - especially in terms of science fiction and fantasy franchises; it's no longer weird and uncool to like something like Star Trek, and Game of Thrones is thoroughly mainstream! I still like these things, and I'm not going to suddenly stop liking them because they gained mainstream acceptance and popularity.)
Goth does not define itself as the antithesis to something; we don't exist in opposition to the mainstream, we exist alongside it, and to some degree independent of it, but we're not there to simply oppose whatever is currently popular in some sort of contrarian stab at rebelliousness. We like what we like, regardless of whether or not its popular.
Sometimes we lament when something we like is suddenly trendy, because of those who like it only because it's trendy without any deeper understanding or appreciation, but that is really railing against consumerist misappropriation rather than at popularity. Most of us agree that if something becomes popular, but people who now like it become genuinely interested in whatever it is, then that is fine - it's only when people are hopping onto the metaphorical bandwagon without any real care or consideration that we have a problem. This isn't something that just Goths face - it's a general issue, and is part of the problem with any form of cultural and artistic misappropriation; something becomes a trend, lots of people do something to be 'cool' and a few big corporations make a lot of money off someone else's work and culture, usually in a tacky and misrepresentative way, and often while whoever originally had the thing were previously denigrated for it, and may continue to be denigrated for it... It's the same mechanism, but at a variety of scales and level of severity depending on what is being misappropriated and who from.
I think it is also important to acknowledge that Goths are fully aware that they're being to a greater or lesser degree, like other Goths. We are not involved in search for pure individualism, we're looking for other people whose authentic selves are similar to our own. We pride ourselves on being our true selves, and on not being dictated to by outside forces, but we are also happy to socialise with likeminded individuals. Yes, a certain amount of cattiness and peer-pressure can occur, but one refrain I hear over and again from Goths to others interested in the subculture is that it is more important to be your truest self than it is to be as 'Goth' as possible. Also, outsiders may see a monolithic group of people all dressed in black as 'the same' but really, someone into something like Cybergoth (which I think was better termed 'gravers' and is a hybrid of electronic, industrial and Goth, not a sub-style) may have common interests with someone that is an Elizabethan-esque Romantic Goth, but their modes of personal self expression are probably going to be quite different!
Another thing that is worth addressing is that many Goths (but not all), feel like mainstream society rejected them - one common thing I find when talking to other Goths is that even before they joined the subculture, they were somehow 'different' and felt alienated, even ostracised, by their peers and mainstream culture. This could be because they were considered 'overly' academic - "nerdy", interested in weird or unusual things - "geeky" or "freaky" - or maybe they were just a bit sensitive ("emo" used as a pejorative rather than as a subcultural group), or maybe there's other intersectional factors, but a lot of us feel like we've been marginalised for having a personality that isn't what mainstream society demands, and instead of bending to the will of the majority and trying to become someone more acceptable, we've met with people who like the same music as us, like the same books as us, the same aesthetics, and share a similar underlying mindset, and joined with them. Why we have become Goths rather than joining any other subculture is because our interests happened to be those of darker nature, and our personalities those with at least a hint of morbid curiosity, and a blend of Romanticism and cynicism. As I've written about before, once we're Goth we often encounter prejudice, intolerance and plenty of negative stereotypes about us, too. Some people remain angry and bitter at the world for constantly rejecting them, others find that in meeting others like them, there is enough community and solace, and others find different ways of processing past rejection, and some people find that as they get older, the world judges them less for what music they like and what books they read, and maybe more on other criteria - what sort of car you drive, how financially successful you are, where you live, etc.
Some people within the subculture, and in general, react to mainstream ostracisation defensively - "You can't sit with us" say the preppy high-school girls "I wouldn't want to, anyway" says the teenage babybat - but the purpose of the subculture isn't to oppose mainstream society or sneer down on the "conformists", it's to give us a haven away from it, a space where we can express ourselves to others who appreciate similar things - and while we don't expect to do that without challenge (after all, challenging ideas helps hone them, as does constructive criticism of creative endeavours, and it is unhealthy to live in an echo-chamber), there's a difference between challenge and hatred.
The things I would disagree with in my earlier blog post is just how negative my opinion was of mainstream society was - I think 8 years ago I was a lot less worldly and travelled, and most of my experiences with mainstream society had been profoundly negative, and I had been exposed primarily to its ugly side, and this had given me an overly negative opinion. I still criticise aspects of mainstream culture - primarily celebrity worship, mindless consumerist capitalism and the 'throw-away society', and the parts of society that still denigrate those outside of a narrow spectrum of 'acceptability' - but now I know that actually, quite a few people criticise those aspects of society, and from a variety of view-points.
I think I also still carried the dregs of defensiveness from when I was a teenager, trying to distance myself, defiantly and provocatively, from those who were trying to push me into being something I simply cannot be. I don't think criticism of society in general is mere teenage rebelliousness, but I think the way I was doing it at the time was immature, and more about my personal anger towards the alienation, bullying and abuse I had experienced than a productive criticism. Even by the time I wrote the article in 2008, when I was a then an adult, I still held on to some of that bitterness - unaware that while I may have been significantly less angry at the world than I was an angsty 14 year old, I wasn't free of bitterness. I must admit I am probably still a little bitter at the world - but I recognise this, and try not to let it contaminate my being Goth. Bitterness is something I talk to my therapist about, not lash out at the world with.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
|I am sad this is a tad blurry.|
|Sean without goggles on his face. Photograph by myself.|
|Sean, looking for air-ships or something. Photograph by myself.|
|You have to be wary of those air-ships - sometimes they have pirates!|
Photography by myself, Sean modelling. Look at that awesome jacket!
|Sean has impressive boots. Photograph by myself.|
I hope you enjoy this photographs. Please credit me and the model (Sean M.) if you decide to share these anywhere (eg. Tumblr) and link back to me. I've seen my photographs shared about on Tumblr before, and I don't mind it - to me, it shows people appreciate it - but I do want to be properly credited. This may only be a hobby for me, but it's still my work and I spend hours organising shoots, travelling, taking shoots and then processing the images, so I'd like to be credit for that!
The Steam-Goth outfit I wore that day is the same one I wore for a shoot for Carpe Nocturne magazine, so you will get to see that shortly too!
Monday, 15 August 2016
My getting fatter has been the result of unhealthy lifestyle changes; spending all day sitting in front of a computer working on CAD projects, presentation projects and essays, pulling too many all-nighters, going from doing martial arts 3 nights a week to virtually no exercise, taking the bus instead of walking places, eating less healthily because I'm too busy studying to cook for myself, eating the unhealthy options from the college cafeteria so I can be in and out as quickly as possible, drinking lots of sugared drinks (tea, coffee), etc. etc. All of these things are unhealthy in ways beyond weight gain. I know that when I'm on holiday, as I am now, I'm more active, have lost some of the weight, am eating a lot more healthily, etc. and that this is a temporary state of being, something I can change, and hopefully next academic year I will have more time (and money) for exercise and sport, and make changes like bringing a healthy packed lunch to college, cycling to college instead of taking the bus, trying to be better organised and less stressed (stress is not healthy in and of itself, ignoring its contribution to my weight gain).
As most people who have followed this blog for a while will know, my natural build is tall and stocky - the female version of the body-type prevalent on my father's side. I have hormonal issues that result in a few masculine traits (including receding hair-line and facial hair, unfortunately), and which possibly contribute to my being more muscular than a lot of women (in combination with having been sporty). I'm nearly 5'10" and have broad shoulders and hips, too. I used to be a bit self-conscious about this because I will never be the thin sort of figure that is seen by mainstream society as feminine, elegant and beautiful, but over time I came to embrace it because I was fast, powerful and strong - things that are more important to me than what I look like. I might not have thin limbs and a graceful figure, but I do have a side-kick like a mule and used to do manual labour alongside men and keep up.
Firstly, I'm sad that with not exercising properly and gaining weight I'm not as fit as I was. I can't chase down and over-take the bus to catch it at the next stop if I miss it at mine (it's not a side-by side race, I have the advantage of taking the diagonal and not having to deal with the same junctions as the traffic...) and I can't do as many push-ups as I used to, and I get tired walking up to the top of the hill. That athleticism I used to be proud of isn't what it was, I have taken a loss in that sense of pride. It is also impractical to be slower, to get tired quicker, to be less fit; things that were once easy have got harder.
Secondly, I don't look the way I used to. I know that this is shallow of me, and I shouldn't be annoyed with myself over something as meaningless as appearance, and that I shouldn't think I've got ugly just because I've got larger... However, I do. I guess it's partly because the person I see in the mirror doesn't look like the sporty person I was - fat has softened defined muscles, my face looks puffy, and all the softness is a reminder of martial arts classes missed, of eating instant noodles instead of home made vegetable dishes, of not going to archery practice, of not spending time training my body because I've been training my mind. It's a reminder that I've sacrificed one version of myself to pursue another, and that I need to find a way to balance the two.
I've actually been in Gothic Beauty magazine, and will be in the fall issue of Carpe Nocturne - tall and thick-limbed as I am. The photos for Carpe Nocturne are fairly recent, taken this summer so after I'd lost some of the weight, but not back to the size I was before. I still compare myself negatively to the other women who appear in these glossy magazines - on both occasions I'm only depicted to put a face to an interview, not because I've been picked out as a beautiful model, and I look at the models and think I cannot compare. I can be well-dressed, polish my make-up skills and pose artfully, but even when I'm at my thinnest, I think I just don't have the figure to be beautiful like that.
I look up to women like Gwendoline Christie portraying a strong and tall Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones and still being beautiful, or to female MMA fighters, more muscular and powerful than I am, an inspiration to me - Gabriella Garcia, for example is powerfully built and 6'2". I don't have anyone to look up to in Goth fashion that is tall and powerful. There's also a dearth of larger women, curvier women, women who aren't very pale, and of men and masculine people in general - I would estimate that 90% of Gothic fashion photos and images I come across are femme women.
Progress is being made, it just needs to keep being made.
In the meanwhile, I will try my best to balance being a student with looking after my health, sleeping properly, exercising more and eating nutritiously. And I will try to remember that whether or not I am beautiful is not based on how closely I measure up to the thin-framed women with sharp cheek-bones in Gothic photoshoots. Being mindful of when I'm falling prey to external pressures is the first step to not letting them get to me.
The 'It's Only Forever' event will be held at the Stud Bar at 399 9th Street, San Francisco, California (US of A), 9410. It is for those over 21 only, and the door admission is $10 and it runs from 21:00 on 21st August to 02:00 the next morning. Kitty Von Quim will be doing a burlesque performance, and there will also be belly-dancing by Ariella. I think there's also going to be a prize give-away. The Facebook page for the event is ::here::.
Thursday, 4 August 2016
It's NOT Just A Phase
Still being Goth now, all those years laters, has proven that this time, it wasn't a phase; this actually is who I really am. Some of my family are now more accepting because of this, and others are less accepting. I think there were some who tolerated it because they thought it was something I would have abandoned soon enough anyway, and now that I've demonstrated that this is who I am, they have more of an issue with it. I feel that there is a sentiment that if it had been a feigned interest done for temporary rebelliousness, then that was something tolerable because it wouldn't have been a reflection of me, just an affected pose, and therefore while pretentious and annoying, not an indication of my truly embracing values and interests that they are opposed to.
This brings me on to the next topic..
One thing I worry about is if employers and potential employers would deem my subcultural affiliation as a sign that I might be a bad employee - there are reasons I keep this blog under the pseudonym of 'HouseCat', and where I do use my real name, only use part of it, and one of those is that if potential employers search me on the internet under my full name, they won't immediately find my work in the subculture. I'm not ashamed of being Goth, but I am worried about the prevalence misconceptions and misinformation; a lot of people think we're deviants and delinquents, when we're really nothing like that. When I do things with a subcultural leaning that can be relevant work experience, I get very conflicted, and think very carefully about how I word things, often leaving out the word 'Goth'.
Each employer and each job will have different dress-codes, some have uniforms and some are very strict about a homogenous appearance. Some are also more likely to look down on anything relating to subcultural identity - I worked in one place that had a policy of "pale" nail-varnish colours only, and where I got reprimanded for silver nail-polish (definitely pale!) while another girl with a more mainstream aesthetic was allowed to wear neon yellow and I got told that there wasn't going to be a colour I would be allowed to wear that would fit in with my style, and that they'd prefer pink... In general, however, I've found that my aesthetic quirks are usually accepted as long as I am smart and well-groomed and wear whatever attire is required for the job in hand.
I know that architecture, the field I will be going into, requires a more conservatively professional aesthetic than some, but it is also a creative field, so there is some leniency for eccentricity. I expect that it will be beneficial to me in the search for employment to dye my hair a natural colour, for example. One of my friends, a purple-haired Goth lady, has recently got an internship with a firm in the US, and she is dyeing her purple hair a more natural colour for that. When the time comes for me to sacrifice my emerald green hair, I will either seek out either a PPD free black dye (SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!) or go for a redhead look. I have been ginger before, and I liked it, however I do sometimes miss my jet-black hair, hence the collection of black wigs. In the meantime, I will continue to revel in the freedom being at university gives me.
While, in an ideal world, aesthetic preference wouldn't be taken as a measure of competency, and whether you prefer dyed green hair to dyed blonde, or have piercings and tattoos would be irrelevant as long as you maintained a smart and well-groomed appearance, we're not living in an ideal world, and I accept that compromises have to be made. All my tattoos are planned for parts of my body that won't show under usual office attire, and I took most of my piercings out years ago. I have a real passion for architecture and especially for historic buildings, and if modifying my appearance makes it easier for me to do what I love, then I'm willing to make compromises, especially as Goth is so much more than just fashion, so even if I'm making compromises with my appearance, it doesn't stop me from having an '80s 'Trad. Goth' playlist for my bus commutes or going out to a Goth event on a Friday night instead of a regular bar, or whatnot.
Benefits Of Being An Adult Goth
I think the best thing about being an adult and a Goth is that I can travel around more independently. Personally, I am unable to drive due to health reasons, but there's still a lot of benefits to being able to travel independently rather than having to ask my Dad for a lift, or always having to travel with friends, in terms of flexibility of participation. I only have to fit travel around public transport and my own schedule, not everyone else's. While I am limited by my schedule and by the reach of my disabled person's travel pass (Scotland only), it's nice to be able to go beyond the town I live in to access Goth gigs and events, and meet up with friends in the subculture. As I live somewhere a bit more rural, this is definitely useful, as even nearby towns don't have much in the way of Goth events and gigs, and it usually means a trip to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Having my own space, free of parental rules, or the rules of dorms and student housing (eg. no posters on the walls was frequently a rule, as this was seen as a fire-hazard, and also all electrical items must be safety-checked, including string-lights, and this had to be paid for so a £1 set of Hallowe'en scary-lights suddenly would also have to cost an electrician's safety-check fee, and seemed a less attractive proposition, and again another fire-safety rule was absolutely no candles or incense) meant the ability to have a space I could make more homely, and more in keeping with aesthetic and musical tastes. Rental properties often didn't let me make any major changes to the decor, but I was free to put my own pictures up, to have string lights and candles, to put in my own furniture, etc. Now I've got a mortgage on my 'own' house (well, it doesn't feel like it's completely mine all the time the mortgage is fairly new and the amount we've paid off is tiny compared to the size of the loan) I can completely re-decorate - a process I am thoroughly throwing myself into.
This is mostly my own experience as an adult Goth, and I would love to hear about the experiences of other adult Goths. Also, as someone who feels like they missed out on the first 25-ish years of Goth, I also love hearing about Goth before I started being one in the early/mid '00s (although that is somewhat tangental from this blog entry).