Goth ‘Em City: Times Vampirizes Venerable Youth Style


The New York Times has tended to treat the goth phenomenon as a foreign sub-culture, as in its 2004 Business report on Bleeding Edge dolls (“The Goth culture, which emerged in 1980 or so around bands like Bauhaus, was in part a reaction to the sunny materialism of the Reagan era”) and Ruth La Ferla’s 2005 examination of “many Gothic images and themes that have seeped darkly into the culture,” representing “the mainstreaming of a trend that was once the exclusive domain of societal outcasts and freaks.”

In the Thursday Styles section, the Times goes a little deeper inside, with Cintra Wilson adding first-person perspective. “We lived in squalid tenements and worked until 4 a.m.,” she reminisces. “Our new monochromism was helpful to community building… We had all lost, or were in the process of losing, friends to AIDS, addictions and accidents,” etc.

In Wilson’s case community led to opportunity: “I was privileged to direct the poet/performance artist/goth icon Danielle Willis in ‘Breakfast in the Flesh District,’ her candidly hilarious, autobiographical one-woman show about working in the Tenderloin’s strip clubs as a self-styled vampire.”

The article is not entirely alienation recollected in tranquility. In the here and now, Wilson communicates via Facebook and email with young goths whose motivations (if not their writing style) are similar to her former own (“I think it is a great way to bond with others who are different… Because we are wearing black most the time we are EZ to find!”) For those having trouble detecting deeper meanings, Wilson interprets. When one correspondent enthuses that “I think vampires are freeking sweet… I too at times think I am a vampire being with my hate of garlic and how my eyes r sensitive to light,” Wilson explains that for this subject vampirism provides “a romantic narrative for sympathizing with her own perceived abnormalities.” A wheelchair goth underlines the point.

The article is accompanied by a slideshow of high-end goth-themed couture, showing that this sort of thing can be carried into adulthood and high income brackets. A single image of street goths is provided for reference. MvngSdwys reacts: “goth is the new blac…wait, whaaaaaaaaat?”


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