Teen Goth

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.

We’ll be playing teen goth cult horror favorite Mirror Mirror (Marina Sargenti, 1990) courtesy of RECSPEC!
love this review from the always great House of Self-Indulgence.

Mode Moderne – Real Goths from Salazar on Vimeo.

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.

30 Responses to “Teen Goth”

  1. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    SQUEEEEEEEEE. So much squee it should be illegal.

    Heeeeee hee hee…

    As I was sayin’ earlier over on Angel’s original posting, I was soooooo not half as fierce or wicked or feral as she when I was wee. Total late bloomer, as evryone knows. But I still think we’d have gotten on like gangbusters, no matter what point in our lives we met. I’m just glad we *did* meet. (Both of us in the midst of an Ada McGrath hairdo phase, too!)

    Below, a “Merrydeath” highlight reel to share with da ‘Haus. (Who else wants to share? C’mon, SHOW ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM, COMRADES!! International Baby Goff Pah Teeeee!)

    RENNIEGOTH, 1993. (Please note the pewter dragon pendant from Medieval Times.)

    HANGIN’ ONTO THE GOTH DREAM/LATE BLOOMERS, 2002. (Introduced to one another by Miss Angelkitten, in fact!)
    WOOO GOFFICK WEIRDOS. (Whoozat laydeh in the upper right hand corner. Whooo could it beeee?)

  2. Heather Says:

    Propaganda! YES!!! That mag was everything my confused black heart desired as a teen. well, that and Richey Edwards.

    I didn’t realise quite what a weirdo goth I was as a teen until I went home for a visit a few years after moving away and perfect strangers in town were like “hey, I remember you. you were that girl with the black and that bagpipers jacket.”

    this brings back so many happy baby warrior goth memories. More, please.

  3. Nadya Says:

    OH MY GOSH. This brings back so many amazing memories. Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sneaking out the window to watch Kentucky Fried Movie and then go to Nocturne, the local darque club. Casting spells and reading Tarot cards. Wearing way too many rings. Writing way too much poetry.

    I don’t have the REALLY old pictures, sadly, but here are a few! Will see if I can get the older ones scanned.

    Being spooky with my hubcap (or whatever that was, I found it on the road) in the background. oh, satin and lace!

    As I recall, I dressed up both my friends in this picture, too. I like how my friend Erica’s (on the right) outfit turned out best!

    Here’s a picture of all the shit that was in my hair that night. There are… pine cones, chopsticks, dried flowers, and butterflies. Woodland creature goth.

    Moving into latex, with an electrical wire wrapped around me for good measure:

  4. rickie Says:

    i think i am currently living my baby goth years. i still have [and wear] clothes i wore in high school…

  5. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    Aaahahaha. Nadya, your woodland creature goth incarnation and my faerygoth (violating Mickey Mouse from behind) incarnation totes need to get together and play Magic the Gathering:

    Ridin' Mickey

  6. MishyC Says:

    Sometimes I miss my bubble gum pink dog collar. I named her Kiki. *pours one for my rhinestone-encrusted homie* My girlfriend at the time and I would go for walkies around the outdoor track during gym class, much to the chagrin of the teacher.

    I was so obsessed with JTHM and crazy occult stuff that positively scared the bageebus out of my stepmother. And now that you mentioned MTG, this little goth nerdling apprenticed with a Magic the Gathering artist in high school. His wife made great waffles. Mmmmmmm ♫Memories ♪

  7. Jerem Morrow Says:


    And just in case my old tired ass can’t recall code correctly and the pic doesn’t show, here’s the entire folder: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2711495507799.146193.1269230316&type=3

  8. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Well, shit. Pic didn’t show. Not calling anyone an asshole but muhself.

  9. Io Says:

    Oh my God, hope this works, but this is some shot an old HS classmate posted on Facebook. I was 14 in it!!! [img]http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/312674_10150413502170953_607355952_10360000_306300760_n.jpg[/img]

  10. Io Says:

    eek, that’s better

  11. Io Says:

    Finally at age 15, one of these things is clearly not like the others: http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/305718_2368075563959_1312545920_32882336_993513264_n.jpg

  12. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    Aaaaahhh, too cute, Io!

  13. stephanie Says:

    ahh rickie! i still wear clothes from HS….I still have some from jr high too o_O

  14. Sophie HMS Says:

    For some reason, people have a hard time picturing me as a goth. There are rather casual but that’s all I have:

  15. rickie Says:

    i look forward to turning into an old dumpling with you, stephanie! :D

  16. Jack Says:

    Once, I had long, raven locks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/80679684@N00/6442178527/

    Two goth kids growing up in the gothland: http://www.flickr.com/photos/80679684@N00/6442178617/

    Eventually my hair had to go and I wound up in the UK:

  17. Heather Says:

    These are photos of photos cos I don’t have a scanner. This one cracks me up – I’m 13 or 14, more of a rocker but definitely sliding into the “all black” category. That’s my smiling parents and grandma behind me, with a thanksgiving apple pie with a heart cut into the top of it. yeah, mutherfuckers. an apple pie with a heart. raaaaarrrrr!

    I’m the gawth in the black faux fur, aged 16 or 17. i still have that jacket but i never wear it cos the lining’s fucked.

    …aaaaand when I was 18.

  18. Heather Says:

    These are photos of photos cos I don’t have a scanner. This one cracks me up – I’m 13 or 14, more of a rocker but definitely sliding into the “all black” category. That’s my smiling parents and grandma behind me, with a thanksgiving apple pie with a heart cut into the top of it. yeah, mutherfuckers. an apple pie with a heart. raaaaarrrrr: http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/393256_10150492637683829_559773828_10511266_293426722_n.jpg

    I’m the gawth in the black faux fur, aged 16 or 17. i still have that jacket but i never wear it cos the lining’s fucked: http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/384055_10150492621938829_559773828_10511184_1010441050_n.jpg

    …aaaaand when I was 18: http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/6600_140558683828_559773828_3344264_814506_n.jpg

  19. Bella Blithely » Blog Archive » Threads from the Web | 2 December 2011 Says:

    […] at Coilhouse, Angeliska shares her teenage goth memories and more than a few photos. So good. Were you a teenage […]

  20. Nadya Says:

    I love this thread. Keep ’em coming, guys!

    MishyC, which artist did you apprentice with? I remember a lot of them… Mark Poole, Anson Maddocks, Phil Foglio, Quinton Hoover. Really curious!

  21. Nadia Says:

    me and my best friend back in high school, first pic is at Bagly gay youth prom in Boston second pic was at actual boring highschool prom (me on right with the blue hair) at some country club.


  22. Gretta Says:

    Thanks so much for this sweet memoir! I also loved Propaganda.

    “No matter how bizarre or dark my ensemble, they were always able to look beyond it, and just see me.” Best line.

  23. owlet Says:

    OMG, this is one awesome post! I kinda regret having no photos of my baby goth years but I still remember my oufits of doom…

  24. Angela Says:

    I was late to the goth game, too, but made the best show of it in university and the two years following. Some friends and I tried to singlehandedly revive (or begin?) the goth scene in Reno, Nevada between 2002 and 2004. We succeeded for maybe six months consecutively. Anyway, here’s MY favorite getups!

    Straight from the vinyl labyrinth—so proud of that mask, I hope the new owner is enjoying it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23149871@N07/6450779515/

    Back when I had more to fill the top of a corset, heeey: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23149871@N07/6450779877/

    Gothabilly is serious bizness…: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23149871@N07/6450780129/

    …until you get tied to your stripper gal-pal later that night! http://www.flickr.com/photos/23149871@N07/6450780687/

    And finally, head makeup guru backstage at Rocky Horror! I still have that rainbow obsidian pendant and wear it with pride: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23149871@N07/6450782145/

    This is so much fun! :)

  25. MM Says:

    This is super awesome!! One of my greatest regrets from my teen goth years was being super camera shy and having almost no photos. The only relic I have is my high school graduation photo, where I am considerably cleaned up but insisted on wearing my velvet choker with my cap & gown. (:

  26. Madelyn Says:

    Awesome photos. I love that this entry links to my article about Cinamon in SLUG magazine.

    This is me at 17, living in a small town in North Louisiana, in December of 1987. I’d cut myself (accidentally) while getting ready and smeared the blood on my face. We went down for our town’s Christmas celebration, and I sat near – and terrorized – a group of Pentecostals.

    This is maybe a year later:

  27. Madelyn Says:

    Awesome photos. I love that this entry links to my article about Cinamon in SLUG magazine.

    This is me at 17, living in a small town in North Louisiana, in December of 1987. I’d cut myself (accidentally) while getting ready and smeared the blood on my face. We went down for our town’s Christmas celebration, and I sat near – and terrorized – a group of Pentecostals.

    This is maybe a year later, rocking a zebra punk shirt I’d stolen from my brother.

  28. Patricia Says:

    There are a few old shots of me in this old thread at the Melbourne Goth Forum. I was 23 when I first started doing the goth thing and about 28/29 when I joined it. I don’t usually look very goth/at all only a daily basis though frequently do a black wash. People are usaully surprised when I tell them about going to goth clubs.

  29. Patricia Says:

    Addin the link might help! http://www.gothic.org.au/forum/viewthread.php?tid=7230&page=3

  30. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    This post and ensuing comment thread warms my (coal black) heart.