[As my descent into gothdom continued, I befriended Chad, a college radio DJ who had an industrial band with his friend Rick called Clamp. He invited me to see his band play The Batcave, a club I had been curious about for a while, though I heard it was nowhere near as good as The Bank. He offered me a free ride to the club and free admission since I’d be with the band, so I couldn’t say no. (And for the record, while Chad was an utter sweetheart, I had no romantic interest in him.)]
May 5, 1996
What I wonderful time I had last night.
Let’s do a Batcave vs. The Bank (Sat. nights) thing. First of all, The Bank has much better music. The Batcave was mostly industrial, though the last half hour or so was great in that I heard Sisters, Bauhaus, The Cure, Corpus Delicti, Alien Sex Fiend. Much fun to dance to. Also water is free at the Batcave (nice to save two bucks) and the people seemed a lot more approachable (though there are many more normal ones). And the Batcave’s dance floor is really cool—big checkered tiles and amazing lights…strobe, colorful pattered lights. It’s almost dizzying. I’ve giving The
Batcave a lot more points here but I still feel more attached to The Bank because they play so much more Goth.
[Goth and industrial music are quite different, though they share similarities in that both are dark and often relay heavily on synthesizers. Goths also seemed to outnumber rivetheads, their industrial counterparts, though they were essentially part of the same club scene and there was a lot of overlap in music taste. While I enjoyed some industrial (Skinny Puppy, Ministry, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails of course), my preference was for the less aggressive and more melancholy and melodic goth bands. So all the free water in the world wouldn’t have had me favor The Batcave over The Bank considering their respective playlists. And I’m sure it’s obvious by now, but I was totally one of those snobby goths who got annoyed at seeing “normals” in clubs, which usually meant jeans and sneakers. I wasn’t expecting everyone to be decked out in fishnet and leather, but come on, you go to a club like this, at least wear your black jeans and a dark T-shirt.]
As for people—at first there was no one that outrageous-looking, a few typical industrial boys. But then while dancing I noticed this guy who was almost even too scary-looking for me! He had a red velvet cape on, decorated studded/painted jacket underneath, lots of chains, a long skirt, lightning bolts painted all over his face.
I said something about him to Anita and she started laughing because she had just told this girl we had met that in a second I would mention this guy (in fact she jokingly bet her 10 bucks that I would get his number).
[Look, I know judging people favorably for their unusual appearance is just as bad as judging them poorly for being “normal” but here’s the thing. I was in my sixth year at a magnet school wearing The Gap were the unspoken uniform. I had been mocked for my… more colorful attire in seventh and eight grade, I got sick of the ridicule and wore bland clothes in ninth and tenth grade, and in eleventh grade I stopped giving a damn and started wearing what I wanted again. By the time I was a senior and doing the goth thing, I was definitely drawn to others who had a more unusual look, even though none of my friends did.]
I waited a while, mustering up the guts, and went up to him. I said something like: “I have to say, you look incredible.” He smiled and I walked away (not rudely, though—I hope). I guess I might have been a tiny bit freaked out, but I also wanted to leave a sense of mystery, have him come to me. Which he did at about 3:30 (yeah, he took his time, I guess we were both being coy).
We chatted for about 10-15 minutes (his name is Lanique, but the way) and exchanged numbers.
[And thus, my drive-by flirtation technique was born. I had the nerve to approach guys and be bold with them, but for very, very short bursts of time before I ran away.]
There was someone else, too. This stunning… industrial boy I’ll call him, even though it seems unfair to categorize someone so lovely. Tall, kinda thin, fishnet shirt, straight bleached hair (about jaw-length, pinned back) a long blond braid on the lower half of his head, some eyeliner and lipstick. Such a breathtaking face.
I watched him dance for a while. After I met Lanique, I went out on the dance floor for a while (when they played that stretch of Goth) and saw the blond nearby. Just as Anita and I were about to leave I asked her to give me a second.
I went up to stunning boy (well he was in his 20’s probably, but I’ll still use “boy”) and said, “don’t let this go to your head, but are beautiful.”
He smiled and said, “Thank you” then “you are, too.” This second part did not register for a moment, but by the time I realized it was to late to thank him so I just smiled.
Anita came over and we started to go. I was going to leave anyway—that mystery thing again, I suppose. Also, I’m not sure I could “have” someone like that.
As Anita was getting her coat and putting it on he walked by (actually she was blocking his way). He told me his name and asked me mine. I said, “Damiella” and repeated his name, “Berlin?”
He said, “Berlin” (or something like that) then “see you around.”
When Anita and I got outside we walked behind him for a block and she pointed out that he seemed to just float down the sidewalk, he moved so quickly and gracefully. He sort of reminds me of Zillah, from Lost Souls. There was something very vampiric about him… his seductiveness, really. It was sort of surreal—he is what inspires me to come up with my most memorable/intriguing story characters.
[I haven’t read Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls in twenty years, but when I looked up the character—described as androgynous, slender, incredibly beautiful, but also menacing—and then found fan art depicting him, I guess I can see why I made the comparison. And it wouldn’t be for a year or two, but “Berlin” would end up being a character in a future short story.]
I have not even mentioned Clamp’s performance. Well, they had technical problems at first, and then they were ok. They definitely have potential, I’ll say that. Oh and Chad told me tonight that he and Rick decided I’m their #1 fan. How sweet.
If I remember correctly, there were maybe twenty people in the audience for their performance. They were really nice guys, though.
I was definitely coming into my own and finding a new boldness as a goth, even if my flirting style was on the childish/passive-aggressive side (hey, at least I didn’t pull guys’ hair and then run away).
There is nothing like the feeling of being somewhere you feel you truly belong, and—as corny as it may sound—I have felt than many times at goth clubs, and not many other places I can think of. Of course, those were on the good nights. There were also nights where I felt self-conscious, lonely, dejected, and anxious (because after all, drama sticks to goths like white on rice), but those feelings could be cancelled out by dancing to the right song or meeting the right guy (even if for a fleeting moment) or that greater sense of being part of the cosmic cobweb of the goth scene.
Let’s talk about “Berlin” for a moment. While it was fun chatting with Lanique (who I never called and vice versa), it was the pale-haired man I met later who I found truly mesmerizing. He was one of the most stunning men I had ever seen. In retrospect, I’m surprised I had the nerve to talk to him at all. I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I’ll reveal two things: 1. My stupid hearing picked up his name incorrectly. 2. Our paths would cross again, more than once.
As I hurled through my senior year of high school, I filled up the red spiral notebook I had since being forced to keep a journal in my life-changing creative writing class. By that point, I no longer felt coerced into chronicling my life; I did so willingly. I felt life was getting interesting and worth noting for posterity (and, unbeknownst to me then, future blog content).
I got a smaller, 6 1/2×9″ three subject spiral notebook for my next journal. Black, of course. On the front cover are three stickers: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Skin Crawl (an East Village purveyor of gothy accessories; the shop’s logo was a white skeleton). The back cover is covered entirely in Skin Crawl stickers.
March 20, 1996
So tonight is the night I choose to begin my new journal. No quotes to start it off like the last one, just my writing. I like this notebook, its narrowness appeals to me.
[My pretentious attitude toward a notebook I probably paid a couple of bucks for at a drugstore does not appeal to me.]
Ok, on to more important things. Less than 15 days until Alaska. Ugh, I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait (silly thought, I have no choice but to wait, and besides, this will probably be the best thing I ever waited for). While I’ve mostly thought about the wonderful time I will have there, I can’t help but once in a while think about how depressing it will be to leave (“depressing” even seems too mild a word, but perhaps “tragic” is a bit melodramatic).
[Yes, “perhaps.” Perhaps there’s also some foreshadowing here.]
There are things to look forward to before Alaska, however—namely The Bank this Saturday. A whole big group of us are going (Leon, Jennifer, Ellie and Cynthia—well it’s more people than I usually hang out with all at once). I am the only one with a serious interest in the Goth stuff, the others will dress up however. I will finally get to wear my new black velvet cape. Yay. And my chiffon and velvet black dress, also new—sheesh, I’m such a girl.
A GOTH girl, that is!
A little bit about the way I operate: When I find something I really love, firstly I become deeply obsessive and immersed. I learn everything I can about said thing, collect what I can, etc. Once I have absorbed everything that I can within reason, I become an evangelist and try to get everyone I can to drink my Kool Aid. My U2 obsession was a perfect example of this. First I became hooked on their albums, then I started buying the singles, books, t-shirts, and other memorabilia, and once I felt enough of a U2 expert, I began preaching the gospel. I talked about them non-stop and made numerous U2 mix tapes for people, trying to “convert” them (yes, I used that exact phrasing).
My goth phase was pretty similar, though considerably more intensive and far-reaching. There was the music (which was first and foremost to me) but also literature, fashion, general aesthetics. And the nightlife. I did try to get friends and acquaintances into the music, but it was easier to convince them to go to the club with me. Because, unlike me, most of them weren’t music snobs.
I don’t remember this particular outing, but I do still have photos of us prior to going out, posing in Jennifer’s room, our whiteface make-up blotchy in the flash’s glare. We took exaggerated poses of gloom and despair (hand-to-forehead, that sort of thing). But the best shot was of the group of us posed on the bed, with the rope from her overhead light hanging in front of us looking remarkably like a noose. Good times.
To my surprise/relief/whatever I think I might just be over Nathan. Was in the Village yesterday shopping/job hunting (might end up working in a store about 50 feet away from Record Runner actually). I didn’t stop in. I think I was afraid if something did happen I wouldn’t care anymore. Do I still? Now that there’s Bradley… not that much. It’s better if I stay away.
Damn, I am so tired. I bought the most wonderful book, Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. I’m only about 30 pages into it and already it’s one of the best books I ever read.
I can hear my parents arguing in the other room, about money. This college financial aid stuff is such a headache. I hate even thinking about it, I just want to be there already, in college, in Boston.
I don’t have the energy to write any more.
Blah blah blah boys blah blah now that I was smitten with a boy in Alaska I was over my crush on the record store manager blah blah.
Moving on to books. I’ve never been a big fan of vampires in general, but Poppy Z. Brite’s modern goth vampire novel really got under my skin. I don’t think I could have found anything more perfect to read as a still-newly-minted-but-quickly-becoming-thoroughly-immersed goth. It made New Orleans sound like a deliciously dark, romantic, magical place and the young vampires she described sounded just gorgeous and swoon-worthy. Plus, they listened to Bauhaus, how could I not love that? (Get it? The vampires, an icon of gothdom, were goths themselves. 18-year-old spooky mind=blown.)
As for financing college, that’s the real horror story. Things got pretty scary for a while. Dad was adamant that I apply to Ivy League schools and be pre-law or pre-med. I was interested in schools with solid liberal arts programs and wanted to focus on writing, preferably in a big city. The only Ivy I even briefly considered was Brown, but decided Providence would be too small a city for me, so I didn’t even apply there. Of the four schools I applied to, two were in Boston, which seemed like the perfect location: large enough to be bustling and diverse, but small enough that I’d find my way around easily; far enough that I’d get away from home, but not too far in case I got homesick. Getting there would be another story, though, because Dad didn’t want to pay for an education he thought would be useless instead of one that would set me up in a high-paying career as a doctor or lawyer (it just goes to show how old school he was that those were the only two professions that epitomized a lucrative career for him). Mom also worked, but her salary was low enough to just cover basic household expenses but high enough to prevent me from getting significant financial aid. It was a stressful time at home, with a lot of arguing. Apart from getting a crappy summer job and earning some pocket money, I didn’t see how I could really improve our financial situation. I just had to hope everything would work somehow work out and I’d be able to get the education I truly desired.
[A little set-up for this one. A couple of months prior, I decided to tell Nathan, a record store employee, that I had a crush on him… on national television. It never happened, but I continued to toy with the idea of telling him, anyway (as well as confessing I was the one who nearly brought him in front of a studio audience to reveal my feelings). Eventually, common sense lost out and I went to Record Rabbit to tell Nathan the truth. Here’s what happened.]
Bought the new Tori album yesterday (kind of aimless but it will grow on me). The lovely goth boy at Tower sold it to me (still wore that same Bauhaus shirt, even though it was a month later). Seems a bit dead at heart but I’d be thrilled to see him at The Bank.
Ok, main story. Under the circumstances, it went as best as it could have gone. Luckily the store was nearly empty and he was the only one in the front. He said hi, how are you, the usual. Then I started looking around the store. Again it was really awkward.
I was incredibly nervous but knew I had to do it. So I went up to the counter with a couple of postcards and said “you probably suspected it, but I was the one who called the show.” He looked puzzled for a second. “The talk show.”
Then he said “that was you? That was you? Aw.” (like the way one would say “aw, how sweet”). “That was really you?”
I replied “how else would I know about it?” and he realized it was me.
He said “I thought it was a joke.”
“No, it wasn’t.”
“That is just the biggest compliment…”
I told him I knew about the girlfriend and he said “you caught me at a bad time” (I think he may have said that a couple of times). Those words made this whole ordeal worth it. It means there’s hope (damn the girlfriend). It also means there is no closure. But after I confessed, we started talking about the Cure and things were back to “normal.”
He was just so sweet about the whole thing. It’s not over, either. I still have a chance. Eight months, it will never end (ah, melodrama).
I think I what I love most about this entry is how I refer to it as an “ordeal” as if it was something that I was being put through instead of orchestrating it myself from start to finish. All that melodrama was my sole doing, the “torment” self-inflicted.
For all my wackiness and emotional grandiosity, and for all my foolishness thinking I still had a chance with Nathan, I was right about one thing. It wasn’t over. Our paths would cross again, more than once in the coming years, in a couple of unexpected ways.
In the meantime, I’d have other boys to occupy my obsessive soul, some more “dead at heart” than others.
Speaking of obsessive (when aren’t I?) after Tori Amos’s third album, Boys for Pele, my passion for her music was beginning to wane a bit. Part of it had to do with the fact I was developing a taste for darker bands, which were predominantly fronted by broody men (Bauhaus, Christian Death, Rosetta Stone, Nosferatu, etc.). Another part of it was that her music was becoming gradually less personal to me. The first two albums shot a bullseye into my heart, with numerous songs that spoke directly to me, but this one veered to the outer edges of the target. And it was so long I could rarely make it through the entire thing, especially because I owned it on cassette and it wasn’t as easy to skip the songs I didn’t like. It did grow on me, though, and “Putting the Damage On” was my anthem for at least one major heartache.
Unfortunately, my freshman year at college would do further damage to my Tori love. But we’re not there yet.
So I finally saw the Joel-Peter Witkin exhibit at the Guggenheim (this was Saturday, with Anita). It blew my mind. Very twisted, very dark. Brilliant. How these could be photos is baffling. There’s some collage work but the rest is just sick, fabulous imagination.
Also finally bought a Rosetta Stone CD, The Tyranny of Inaction. Great album.
Went online for the first time at Anita’s. The Industrial/Goth chat room was a bit dull at first, but got better. Was Instant Messaged by this cool guy in AZ, OrpheusBlack. There sure are a lot of people into Marilyn Manson and NIN. Not nearly enough Bauhaus fans, at least from when I was on. It was fun, but something I could definitely live without. I prefer letters.
I’m listening to Christian Death at the moment. They have grown on me a lot. I told Anita to tell me if I ever start to annoy her w/this whole Gothic thing, the way Claudia did with Punk. I depend on her to keep me grounded, like when I told Anita to make fun of me for wanting fangs (which I do).
Today I went to Didi’s. Played Monopoly with her, Leon and James. They said they’d go to The Bank with me the next time they come back from college (Leon in March, James in May). I must go back soon. Maybe I can beg Anita (doubt it). I’ll find a way. I always do.
Entered my portfolio in the Scholastic Writing contest (the same one I won last year for Short Story). This is the big one, $5,000. I’m hopeful.
Had a dream the other night about asking Nathan back on Sally Jessy (as if I would learn). In the dream he had a girlfriend. I’m basically over it, but not completely, not until that absolutely final time I go there.
So, to summarize my18-year-old self: getting fangs = good idea/The Internet = bad idea.
Man oh man oh man. So much to mock, I don’t even know where to begin. I remember how much I loved that Joel-Peter Witkin show, which to date is one of the best museum outings I ever had. I also remember there was a little girl there, which I found troubling. Five years old is too young to be looking at photos of cadavers, amputees and hermaphrodites (call me old fashioned, but six should be the minimum age for that sort of thing).
Rosetta Stone = Sisters of Mercy rip-off band with some catchy songs that you probably don’t know about unless you were a goth in the ‘90s-‘00s.
Going online! Oh my. It figures my sole purpose would be to find gloomy kids around the world to chat about Peter Murphy, Siouxsie Sioux and the other main players in my counter-culture obsession. But then again, there were no other goths at my high school, my best friend was going the Brit-Pop/Indie route, and I was dying (no goth pun intended) to share this interest with others. Because somewhere out there were people who also wanted to get fangs and could recommend more broody music to listen to.
I was a luddite for the longest time. I was one of the people who believed the Internet was a fad or just for uber-tech geeks and wouldn’t really take off. Just call me Little Miss Lack-of-Foresight. I was also adamant that I would not forgo letter-writing for emails and yet in the last decade, I have hand-written and mailed exactly one letter that was longer than a greeting card. Maybe two. And living without the Internet today? Yeah, I think I could go longer without food.
Now let me explain the fangs thing. It wasn’t about vampires so much. I appreciated their aesthetic but I didn’t actually want to be one, nor did I have any kind of bloodlust. Plainly put, I just thought fangs looked really neat. And I thought it would be cool to have some bonded to my teeth. Of course, it was above and beyond ridiculous (I mean, I can only imagine showing up to a job interview with FANGS. Oy.). Let’s just file that in the Thank-GOD-I-Didn’t-Indulge-THAT-Dumb-Teenage-Whim folder.
Also, I have no doubt that annoyed Anita with my goth fixation as much as Claudia annoyed me with her punk phase. Probably more. But it would be a long time before I outgrew that phase (and by “a long time” I mean “never completely”).
I have a lot to tell you about my weekend.
Well first of all I forgot to tell you a dream I had a few weeks ago. It was about this book that I found.
You see, you write a question on it, and the answer magically appears…
So in my dream I wrote asking when I would see Jonas again. (Jonas is this boy I like that graduated from my school.)
Well, anyway, in my dream the book answered: “Nov. 11, 88.” And that was the day of Jessica’s birthday party. By the way, Jessica’s brother knows him. So I thought that I would see Jonas again, but I was wrong, because Jessica told me her birthday party was going to be postponed.
So I thought I would never see him again.
But since Friday I did not go to school I spent the day with my parents. Then we went to the movies and my parents were outside waiting for someone (I was inside) and who should I see by Jonas. So my dream came true.
Plus I got two tapes, Stacy Q and Kylie Minogue so I had a really good weekend.
Of all the things I could ask an all-knowing book, I didn’t for the meaning of life or how to cure global hunger or for upcoming lottery numbers or even for Corey Haim’s phone number (not for me now; for me then). Oh no, instead I aimed much lower than that. I asked when I would randomly run into the red-haired hall monitor I had I crush onback when I could barely spell. And I was thrilled when my dream became prophetic. Never mind the fact that I saw Jonas from fifteen feet away and did not even make eye contact. It was important to me to be psychic and this was burgeoning proof that I very well might be.
As for my music selections, what can I say, I was ten. It would be years until I discovered the “cool” 80’s music like The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Duran Duran, Bauhaus, New Order, Alphaville, and of course, Depeche Mode. Before I was into male-fronted new wave and post-punk, I was into colorful female-fronted unapologetic pop. Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper, The Bangles, and the two women added to my burgeoning music collection that day: Stacey Q and Kylie Minogue.
Stacey had style I coveted and a guest appearance on my favorite t.v. show back then (okay, and maybe of all time), The Facts of Life. She also had what I thought was one of the coolest names in the world, second only to Vanna White.
Kylie had an infectious smile and perky spirit I could not resist. When her hit cover of “Locomotion” came on the radio, I was filled with delight and an urge to dance (badly; rhythm and coordination were not my friends–the way my parents tell it, my childhood dance recitals were “hilarious”).
Truth be told, the use of Stacey Q’s song “Two of Hearts” in Party Monster was my favorite thing about the movie and I still get a kick out of the tune to this day. As for Kylie, I was happy to see her have a major U.S. comeback in the early 00’s and still maintain a strong presence in the pop world.
I still wonder where Stacey is today, but I don’t want to Google her out of concern that it might make me sad. I want to remember her as the crimp-haired, wide-eyed, helium-voiced pixie that wowed me back in 1988.