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[May, 1996] A Night at The Batcave

December 9, 2015 8 comments

[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.)]

KMFDM's Sascha Konietzo and self-proclaimed father of industrial rock.

KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzo and self-proclaimed father of industrial rock.

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.]

Not the guy from the club, but reminscent of goth pin-up boy John Koviak.

Not the guy from the club, but reminscent of goth pin-up boy John Koviak.

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.”

Art by Fya Shellik

Art by Fya Shellik

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.

[September, 1994] Boxing Helena and Nine Inch Nails

September 14, 1994

“I send a heart to all my dearies and when your life is oh so dreary DREAM” — Smashing Pumpkins

Filling in the ellipsis in that second blurb: "...piece of crap. If you like terrible movies then this is..."

I think I saw the worst movie ever made last night.  It was “Boxing Helena” and awful isn’t severe enough to convey how truly bad it was.  I don’t even know why I’m writing about movies so much.  I’m more into music anyway.  I listened to the Nine Inch Nails bootleg Claudia taped for me.  It was a great concert.  I still want to know where the song “Keep Calling Me” is from.  My short story is progressing.  I hope I’ll be able to continue writing on demand.

I’m afraid this long may be boring because at the moment I am refusing to put down anything personal.  I’m not going to pour out my emotions here, the closest I will come to that is with my choice of quotes.

My trip to Ireland is less than one year and 10 months away.  I hope they don’t paint over the grafitti at Windmill Lane Studios by the time I get there.

“Nothing much to say I guess
Just the same as all the rest…” – U2
 

We were encouraged to be prolific in creative writing, and had to write half a page a day in our journals. I was still resistant to keeping a proper diary wherein I’d pour my heart out, so I filled the red notebook with song lyrics and pop culture minutiae.

I wasn’t going to say much about Boxing Helena, focusing more on my burgeoning nine inch nails obsession, but in a way the two compliment each other. Jennifer Lynch’s dreadful film is a good example of how the macabre can be turned into something trite and poorly executed, whereas Trent Reznor took the macabre and turned into something compelling and beautiful.

It’s funny how much controversy surrounded Boxing Helena and how forgotten the movie has now become. There was so much buzz about the movie leading up to its release. It was the first feature from David Lynch’s daughter, so of course everyone wondered if she’d follow in his genius weirdo footsteps. Then there was the plot of the film, in which a crazy-possessive (emphasis on the crazy) amputates the arms and legs of a woman he’s obsessed with. And then there was all the buzz about the female lead: Madonna dropped out of the title role, and then Kim Basinger  dropped out and got sued for breach of contract (and initially lost, filing for bankruptcy). This made for some juicy Entertainment Weekly fodder, let me tell you.  Finally Sherilyn Fenn got cast as the lead, which was unfortunate because she went from being a bombshell on Twin Peaks to flat out bombing in Boxing Helena. All the drama surrounding the movie was way better than what was actually shot on film, which was a mess of bad writing and boring storytelling. It’s it’s gotta take a lot of work to make a movie full of sex about amputation boring and yet… Considering Basinger went on to win an Oscar and Fenn went on to star in The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, it was probably worth the bankruptcy to opt out of such a disastrous career move.

stills from "closer"

And then we have creepy done right. Here’s the thing about me and Nine Inch Nails: I hated the music. I never went in for that scream-y type of singing, except maybe when Bono’s voice cracked once in a while. I used to turn off or cringe through “Head Like a Hole” and “Wish” when played on the alternative radio station (WDRE, oh how I miss you). Then “Closer,” the first single off  The Downward Spiral, was released. And I didn’t like it. And I found the video disturbing. And I mysteriously found myself going out and getting the album anyway (on cassette no less).

I remember hearing the first sharp thuds of the opening track, “Mr. Self-Destruct,” and getting a feeling of being on a roller coaster, climbing up, up, up, and then being plunged into a noisy abyss. I never experienced music like that before, a sound that shook something inside me.

My fascination with Trent Reznor and his music quickly snowballed. I bought all the albums and every magazine he was featured in. Whenever the “Closer” video came on MTV (which was often), I stopped what I was doing, utterly mesmerized by the gruesome imagery, the impassioned lyrics, and the torment Trent exuded. There was so much anger, melancholia, and sex wrapped up in Nine Inch Nails. This was an intoxicating and revelatory combination for my 16-year-old self.

It wouldn’t be long before I figured out “Keep Calling Me” on that bootleg was actually “Dead Souls,” a Joy Division cover from the soundtrack for The Crow. By that point, I was mainlining every Nine Inch Nails album, b-side, interview, video, and random tidbit I could get my hands on. By the end of the year, my bedroom door was  plastered with pictures of Trent Reznor. My father grew concerned that I was listening to music that “sounds like a factory” and wondered if I was becoming a Satanist. Hardly. But I was exploring a new channel for my inner turmoil and obsessive tendencies.