Coilhouse contibutor Angeliska Polacheck hosts a monthly new wave/old school goth night called Exquisite Corpse, in Austin, Texas. She originally posted this exposition into her errant youth as inspiration for this month’s theme: TEEN GOTH. The original posts can be seen in their entirety here and here.
This is Cinamon. I remember seeing her on the very same day, though I didn’t take this photograph of her. I was probably 12 at the time, and as I passed by her on The Drag down by Sound Exchange, the trajectory of my life changed forever. I was completely mesmerized by this vision in black tatters, a gorgeous alien-wraith who seemed like an apparition drifting down a banal sidewalk in the bright Texas sun. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I stopped and told her how amazing I thought she was, and she was so sweet to me. I’ve held this photo dear for years, a treasured gift from a mutual friend. She was such a huge influence on not only my style, but also for scores of others, (maybe even yours!) – Cinamon was the original inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s Death character from the Sandman series. Her friend Mike Dringenberg drew her years before, and by an odd twist of chance (or fate), this woman unwittingly helped shape the style of scads of wee gothlings. Cheers to you, Cinamon – you continue to inspire and astound!
This was me at maybe 15 or 16? It was for a fashion show at the old Club 404, a legendary big gay bar from back in the day here in Austin. I was total monster-child jail bait, who spent most of my time scampering around in the woods on drugs wishing I wasn’t human, poring over Elfquest and Sandman comics and Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu trilogy. I made my outfit in five minutes out of electrical tape, eyeliner, wire and black tulle. Oh, and a thong. Heaven forbid that should I ever spawn a girl-child as naughty as I was! With any luck, I’ll end up with a Saffy.
(photo by Monte McCarter)
At the tender age of barely 17, I became the armed spokesmodel for FringeWare Review’s book catalogue. This involved posing in my underpants and various getups made of rubber and dollparts with books and guns. Real guns. That’s totally an actual Uzi or Tech-9 or whatever the hell, too. I was super blessed to be part of FringeWare when it was around – it was a strange and magical era.
Dressing like an undead Russian countess was my thing even back then – pretty hilarious, considering that this was in Texas. I wore that fur hat and coat everywhere, despite the relatively mild winter. Oh, and – this was taken in a Whataburger at 3am. The cereal box was because of my friend Christopher Daniello, who wrote songs about Raisin Bran, and liked to photograph people holding a box of it in random places.
I got inspired after school one gray day to take “post-apocalyptic” gloomy goth photos of my best friend Pandora in my backyard. I always really loved how this photo of her turned out – it has nice movement to it, despite (or because of) being taken with a crappy-ass disposable camera. Oh the angst! The torment! The rusty wreckage & glow-in-the dark rosaries! Oh, and she’s 11 years old here. Ummm…
Pandora, Renee and I being weird and bitchy at some boring backyard party.
This one was taken by Pandora’s papa, at their dining room table. Note my clever accessorizing with black cat and juice boxes. Teen goth after-school special all the way. Also, I love how her dad insisted on having Dali’s Last Supper hanging in there.
I love that my sweet granny took these photos. All four of my grandparents were the most accepting, tolerant and loving a grandchild could ask for. I was so blessed to have them. No matter how bizarre or dark my ensemble, they were always able to look beyond it, and just see me. I think you can see the love in these photos. I know it’s there, caught like a lizard in amber – the memory of my grandparent’s wonderful backyard in Los Angeles, the smell of lemons and oranges from their trees, spicy roses, ice cream and fir needles. I asked my grandmother what she thought of my outfit, and she said that in her opinion, I’d be more beautiful without the black lipstick. All the same, she captured me as I was, and with so much love.
I still regret destroying and then inevitably losing my mom’s beautiful antique rosaries. I’m sure she would have been less than delighted to have seen them paired with a dog collar and neon yellow rat. Ah, foolish youth! I remember coming to L.A. that summer determined to infiltrate the awesome goth underground, and hopefully, find some really gorgeous creatures who would make out with me and sneak me into clubs. That totally did not happen. Instead, I walked over to Melrose Avenue everyday, which was conveniently located a few blocks from my grandparent’s house. I would lurk around the remnants of what cool stores still remained: Lip Service, Bleeker Bob’s, Wacko, Retail Slut, Wasteland et cetera, eyeing black rubber and velvet clothing I couldn’t afford. I spent what money I had on Propaganda magazines and ice cream from Double Rainbow, and prayed to be picked up by hot vampires in a big black car like that one scene in The Reflecting Skin.
Aw, look – it’s baby’s first pair of Doc Martens! They were oxblood steel-toes and I bought them on sale. I really wanted the tall 20-hole boots, but these were all I could afford on my three dollar a week chore-slave allowance. The rest I spent on clove cigarettes and LSD. Sorry ma + pa! I turned out all right, though!
Dancing for New Bohemia’s first fashion show. I think I’m maybe 14 or 15 here? Jeez.
Me and Renee watching Nick Cave and falling deeply in love just before swooning from sunstroke. Baby vampires + outdoor summer music festivals are a bad combo. Lollapalooza 1994 was my first and last! I fainted on the ground and everyone just thought I was on drugs and stepped over me. It was pretty rad. At least I made it into the paper, I guess.
Moving into some club kid-isms. Electrical tape bra + kiddie barrettes. Hey there 1990s. How you doin’?
My sweetheart Colin, pre-beard. Who would have guessed that 18 years later, I’ve ended up with my perfect sulky goth-boy dreamboat? He’s a lot less sulky (with way more facial hair!) these days, but he still insists that we have Skinny Puppy marathons on long road trips and is still prone to fits of pensiveness. Is he not the prettiest goth-boy, ever? Yes, yes he is. Major swoon.
My best friend and first (gay, middle-school) boyfriend, Milé Boban and I in the high-school cafeteria, being spooky.
(Photo by Milé Boban)
Baby vamps reign supreme. This is maybe my favorite picture of Pandora and I, ever. Wild goth children! Moments before this photo was taken, I had snatched that martini glass off the table of a fancy sidewalk cafe, and ran shrieking down the street with it. I was obsessed with the idea of martinis, though I had never had one. Yet.
Dressing up before our second ever excursion to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. She was 11, and I was 13. It’s a marvel our parents ever let us out of our rooms at all. I remember wailing and telling my stepmom that I’d DIE if I wasn’t allowed to go out to the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at the crappy mall movie theater.
Sassing it up in the junior high parking lot. Brash and invincible as only baby goth warrior girls can be.
My shaved sides and purple dye growing out, brown eyeliner for lipstick, a pore-squeezer for an earring. With my old friend Blake at our alternative high-school that was a haven for goths, gays, teen moms, druggies and other outcasts and wastrels. I went there because I was desperately bored at my regular high school, and also was getting death threats for being one of the only weirdos. Somebody wrote “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” on my locker. As revenge, I left a really gross tuna fish sandwich lunch in it when I switched schools. The downstairs hallway smelled monstrous for months.
The Alternative Learning Center was also where feral children raised by wolves ended up. We were allowed to smoke cigarettes and go barefoot. I wrote elaborately researched papers about my interests: alien abduction, Freemasons, Ecstasy, and Absinthe. So glad I got a well rounded education.
(Photo by Milé Boban)
Pulling a Marilyn at 15. One thing about being a goth in Texas – no one ever could take themselves or each other too seriously down here. Something about the heat, or the hicks (Beers, Steers, and Queers, anyone?), but I really do think that Southern goths seem to be less afraid of cracking their porcelain pancaked faces when busting into a big ole’ grin.
That’s the whole idea behind this month’s theme for Exquisite Corpse, really – to have a loving laugh at our teenage selves, our woes and desperate desires, and to remember that magic feeling you had when you happened upon another kindred spirit all in black – someone that might possibly understand you, or at least like listening to Siouxsie Sioux and The Cure as much as you. Remember what that was like? So, if you happen to be in Austin, Texas tonight, come as the goth you were, or the goth you wish you had been! Get your mope on. Bring your own safety-pin for the DIY piercing booth and have custom black sharpie tattoos and spooky shit drawn on your backpack/converses/face etc. Black nailpolish, eyeliner and lipstick will be on hand.
Get inspired with this excellent underage dance club mix from Anna of doorsixteen.com. It’s pretty much exactly what was on heavy rotation on my walkman at the time. Also? This shit holds up to the test of time! I still love it all so much. Thrill Kill Kult brings me right back to seventh grade art glass, headphones on, trying to do portraits of John Koviak and Peter Murphy in black ink.
Music Mix #3: Teen Goth Nite.
Plus another mix from the ever-wonderful Xander Harris. This is the soundtrack for putting your eyeliner on.
Here’s some clips from Mirror Mirror, with music by Nika+Rory – I’m Not Going Anywhere
Love this sweet video from Mode Moderne – Real Goths
“A short film about the love too miserable to speak its name. Goths Make Better Lovers asks why do Goths always have boyfriends? Goths, so often the victims of wry asides, mild pity or open scorn have much to teach their more colourful brethren when it comes to affairs of the heart. Because Goths always appear to be in a relationship – and obtusely, these relationships appear to be happier than the non-Goth kind.”
Got photos of yourself as a baby goth? We wanna see ’em! Post links up here, and (if you’re on Facebook) share them on the Exquisite Corpse Wall.