A/N: This was a magazine article written for Writing Magazine Features – PWP221. Grade: Pass.


A Monday morning on the 7.03 train to Brisbane Central Station is never a pleasant experience. The train is jam packed with people and there is no such thing as personal space. It is claustrophobic, hot and sweaty, and I hate it. I scrunch up my nose as the inertia of the train pulling up at Strathpine Station sends me rocketing into a less-than-fresh armpit. Looking around the train as I push my hair out of my face, I spot a young girl dressed in black, nose deeply in a H.P Lovecraft Novel. It is the middle of summer and she is wearing skinny jeans and a leather trench coat. I cannot imagine how hot she must be in here. A heavily pregnant woman pushes past me to stand in the aisle.  I feel for her. She looks exhausted and it is only ten past seven. In a typical display of ill manners, no one moves to offer their seat. The train lurches again and I am elbowed in the back of the head. My eye begins to twitch.

The girl in black looks up absently from her book, a metal detector would have a field day with her face. I count at least twelve piercings before she hoists herself up on giant platform combat boots and smiles at the fatigued soon to be mother. I shake my head as predictably the woman’s eyes widen and she avoids the girls gaze. “Here have my seat, you look tired.” She says in a soft voice through deep plum coloured lips.  The woman shakes her head and begins to back away, as though this kind young girl is some ghastly monster from a bad 80’s B-Movie.

This girl, with an unusual dress sense and neon green hair is part of the Gothic Culture, feared among average citizens as some kind of ‘freak’. She sighs gently and shakes her head; obviously this kind of treatment is the norm for her. Watching this strange scene unfold I was fascinated. Should I be afraid of this unusually dressed yet very polite young woman? In the end it all began with a simple Google search, ‘What is Goth?’

Historically the word ‘Goth’ originally described the Germanic tribes who conquered the majority of Europe in the Middle Ages. The word ‘Gothic’ was then used as a demeaning term in the Renaissance period for people thought to be ‘unenlightened’. The sub-culture I am referring to however, originated in the early 1980s as a splinter of the Punk movement.  It continued on into the 90s as its own genre as the Punk scene began to die out. What began as a music ‘type’ became an in depth minority culture.

Drusilla unwinds her long pale fingers from around her peppermint tea and leans back in her seat.  The coffee shop is busy; people stare. She smirks a little manically, her maroon lipstick glints in the light. I swallow, feeling like a bug under a microscope. “What do I think of people stereotyping me?” She raises a delicate black eyebrow then shrugs. “I’ve got to say, I don’t really like it. It’s the blanket theory really isn’t it?” I frown unsure what she means, she gestures towards me. “Okay so you wear glasses that means you’re a nerd.” I grin and raise an eyebrow, she laughs. “Okay bad example, you are a nerd. It’s like saying ‘All Goths are Satanists! Or All Goths are depressed and suicidal! Or All Goths wear black!’ That’s like saying that all priests are kiddie fiddlers. It’s just not accurate, not to mention stupid. I mean do I look suicidal to you?” I take in her dark appearance; at first glance she looks depressing. Then you see the smile, the laughter in her eyes.

“No Dru,” I reply, “You really don’t.”

Gothic Fashion is not always about everything being black; many Goths wear other colours such as purple, grey, green, red, even deep blues. Just like everyone else each Goth has their individual style. Unlike shopping for mainstream fashion, however, it is challenging to ‘Shop Goth’ unless you know where to look. I turned to online shopping to appease my eccentric style and Drusilla tells me it is much the same for Goths, “We have to shop online mostly, and it’s difficult to find places that cater to our unique styles.” She gestures to her beautiful Hell Bunny LaVintage Dress. “I mostly shop at heavyred.com; mame.com.au; beserk.com.au and tragicbeautiful.com.au”

I trudge along Queen Street behind Drusilla, watching amusedly as people cross the street to avoid her. Suddenly she takes a sharp right down a staircase; I hurry after her and stop at the top. She turns to me and that manic grin is back, hoisting up her long skirts so I don’t rip the lace she says “Come on!” I narrow my eyes,

“Dru? Where are we going?”

“Off Ya Tree.” Her voice floats back up the staircase. I frown,

“Off Ya…” I stop on the last step. “Sweet Mother of Monkey Milk.” It is like stepping onto another planet. There is not a spot on the wall that does not have a poster on it.  Racks of Band T-Shirts, Shelves of Trinkets and Bags line one wall.  The other is covered with a simply epic display of shoes and dresses that look like they have fallen out of Pride & Prejudice and straight into a vat of black dye. Drusilla grins,

“Shut your mouth Sheridan we are not a Cod Fish.” I grin back, “So what do you think?” I turned to the guy behind the counter and pointed to the Hades Boots,

“Do you have those in a size 9?”

As Goth was originally a dark music movement back in the early 80s, there are a considerable amount of bands that are considered ‘Goth’. The first ever ‘Goth’ song released was “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” it was produced in 1979 by the band Bauhaus.  Originally intended to be a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ song, many fans loved its peculiar sound, and thus the Gothic subculture was born. Bands such as Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Alien Sex Fiend and The Cure emerged as the first Gothic Rock bands.  Since then we have experienced the sounds of bands such as The 69 Eyes, H.I.M., Evanescence and Nightwish.

The fascinating thing is that being Goth no longer fully defines you.  There are sub-sets within the Gothic minority. So many it truly boggles the mind. Drusilla clutches her Samsung Galaxy S4 in her hand. In the photo she is showing me, I see a group of 5 clustered on a derelict couch in the middle of a backyard. Drusilla is seated in the middle, her pet bulldog, Spike, sprawled in her lap. Each member of this click is so different it’s hard to believe they are all considered Goths. Dru glances sideways at me and smirks, “So, you still wanna meet my friends?”

I feel out of place in this elegant sitting room. It is decorated in deep maroons and blacks, it feels warm, cosy. Just heaven forbid do not touch anything! The ornaments looks Elizabethan and extremely expensive. Adelle places a cauldron shaped glass in front of me. I eye it warily, it is a deep purple, almost black and frothy on top. I look around trying desperately not to feel intimidated. A black cat leaps up onto the arm of the chair. It blinks its luminescent green eyes at me and slowly tilts its head to the side. This creepy gesture unnerves me more than I would like to admit. I swallow and turn to Adelle, “Your cat is staring at me.”

“Yes. She does that.” I lean forward and take a gulp of the drink, instantly I choke. Adelle merely smirks as I fight for air.

“What on Earth is that?” I gasp. The smirk is still in her emerald eyes as she steeples her long fingers.

“A Snakebite and Black. Equal parts of lager and hard cider with a dash of blackcurrant. Very popular where I’m from (England).” I take a much smaller sip and nod.

“It’s not that bad actually.” The smirk is back.

“It grows on you.”

Too often, Goths are mistaken for morbid and creepy. Admittedly, some styles of Goth, such as Deathrockers can be classed as aesthetically outward and dark. But there is a softer side to Goth, Adelle tells me, and that is the Romantic Goth. “Romantic Goths bring out the emotional, sensual side in the Goth culture. We don’t always dress in black or wear heavy makeup, as society seems to think of all Goths. We like to think of ourselves as creative, intelligent, serene and well, romantic.” Adelle smooths out her Aislinn Hooded Gown, the deep blue velvet contrasts well with the black couch, the cat begins to attack the floor length cuff sleeves. Often Romantic Goths are called Medieval or Victorian Goths because of the way they dress, “Lacy flowing outfits, corsets, medieval style gowns and skirts, ankle boots are a personal favourite of mine. Not always in black of course!” I smile; Adelle suddenly frowns and tilts her head, mirroring her cat’s earlier actions.

“What?”

“I have a dress in my closet that is too small for me. I think it would look amazing on you.” She quickly grabs my hand and I’m unceremoniously ripped from the cosy chair.

I gaze at the woman in the mirror, that’s not me. Is it? The gown flows around my body like silk; my hair is curled into ringlets that frame pale makeup, dark eyes and deep crimson lips. I feel beautiful and serene, I smile at Adelle,

“I feel…Romantic.”

“How positively ghoulish!” She laughs.

Howard waves a ring covered hand in my face.  He is clutching a record and grinning ear to ear.  “This,” he says, “is a choice record. Number ten of fifty, rare as bloody hell!” Howard is an Industrial Goth, or Rivethead as he prefers to be called. “I think it’s (Industrial Goth) more of a music scene than a sub-set, sure we have a certain style sure but for most of my mates it’s all about the music.” He places the record on the pile he has collected and continues to dig through the boxes.

The Industrial music scene also developed in the post-punk era, “It’s like a cross between aggressive punk-rock and electronic.” I ask Howard to describe ‘electronic’, he laughs, “It’s hard really, I suppose it could be compared with more mainstream stuff, like, dubstep or trance a little like Ministry of Sound, I guess.” I nod, and ask about his favourites. “Rob Zombie, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails; most people don’t consider it industrial but it is; some softer stuff, you’d probably like, would be Kidneythieves and Depeche Mode.” He tosses me a Kidneythieves album; I fumble, just catching it before it hits the ground. The girl behind the counter glares at us, Howard waves and I shoot her an apologetic look. “She loves me really.” He says quietly, I raise a skeptical eyebrow and go back to digging for records.

Industrial fashion is very minimalistic in comparison to some other Gothic sub-sets. I glance at Howard; his short black hair is spiked up in odd tuffs that stick comically through the set of welder’s goggles on his head. His dog tags swing precariously above the crate of records he is digging through. “I dunno much about fashion I guess,” he shrugs his tattooed shoulders, “I wear combat boots and cargos a lot and I like these wife beaters.” He gestures to his white shirt. “I love goggles they’re wicked. I have a whole bunch of different ones at home. It’s a bit Steampunk but I like it.” Steampunk, often confused as Industrial Goth, is actually a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery and other ‘advanced’ technology of the 1800s.

“What about the eyeliner, Howard?” I ask; he looks up at me.

“What about it?”

“Well, eyeliner is…” I trail off unsure whether I would offend him with my choice of words. He blinks his baby blue eyes and grins.

“Is? What? Usually a ‘girl thing’?” I nod. “It was actually very popular for guys to wear eyeliner back in the punk era, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones? All wore eyeliner. I guess it continued into the Goth culture too.” He smirks. “Besides it looks damn good on me.” I laugh.

I smile at the irony of the situation.  We are standing in line for my favourite ride, The Claw, Briona bounces on the spot, a huge grin plastered on her face.  This is the last place I would suspect a Goth would want to go, but Briona isn’t just any type of Goth.  She describes herself as a Perky Goth.  “Basically we abandon the whole ‘doom and gloom’ thing!” She points a neon pink fishnet covered hand to the sky, “Look, that guy just lost all his change.” I see the coins fly through the summer air; the fluffy white clouds obscure them for a second before they fall close to our feet. Briona brushes her rainbow coloured hair out of her face before bending down to collect them.  The ride comes to an end, and the people file past us.  “Hey!” The young man turns, “You lost all this, here.” She holds out her hand.  The guy snorts.

“You keep it freak show. Go buy some normal clothes.” I feel my mouth drop.

“What an asshole!” I turn to her, but she is still grinning.

“You hear that? I’m a freak show! Maybe I could earn some money!” I laugh at her enthusiasm.

These ignorant people do not bother her.  She dresses this way because she likes it. Other people’s opinions are like water off a ducks back. “I love clothes, love colours.  I team black with crazy colours because I enjoy it. I love experimenting with different styles of clothes and makeup. We are often called Glitter Goths because of that!”

Often mistaken for Cybers or Ravers, Perky Goths are fond of bright colours, fluffy leg warmers and tutus. “The typical Perky Goth loves all the cheesiest and silliest aspects of Goth including cute things, eighties cartoons and T.V. shows and anything to do with Halloween. I freaking love Halloween” Briona’s fun and bubbly personality is infectious; you can have fun without even trying.

As we wait in the line at the Tower of Terror I ask Briona about music. She grins and reaches into her Iron Fist “Zombie Chomper” handbag and pulls out a couple of CDs. “Listen to these, they are wicked.  Strawberry Switch Blade was one of the first Perky Goth bands and Bella Morte and the AstroVamps is one of my favourites.”

We leave the park later that afternoon exhausted but smiling, a huge Dave minion (from Despicable Me) tucked under my arm. “I can’t believe you won that at the Arcade!” Briona exclaims, “He’s soooo cute!” As we walk up to her Kawasaki Ninja, she reaches into her huge handbag again. “Here.” She shoves an invitation into my hands. “Eighties Horror Movie Night. I’d love for you to come.” I grin as she envelops me a gigantic hug.

“I’d love to.”

I am seated in the darkest corner of a coffee shop, nestled in a nook between an antique book store and a lawyer’s office. I smile gently at the girl across from me.  Trista “Misery” Smith is stirring a claw-like black fingernail through her cappuccino, her long midnight hair falls around her face like a curtain.  “Would you call yourself a Mopey Goth, Trista?” I ask. She sucks on her foam covered finger, her dark chocolate eyes looking thoughtful.

“I suppose.” She takes a tentative sip of her coffee. “I don’t see thing as others do. If people define that as mopey, then I suppose that’s accurate.”

“How do you see things?” She stares at me for a minute.  It’s unnerving; she rarely shows any expression on her face. “Are you good at poker?” I suddenly blurt out. She frowns for a second, then smirks, just slightly, blink and it is gone.

“Yes actually. I’m undefeated.” I smile, I thought as much. “I like things others see as depressing, torturous even. I believe every soul is tormented by life. Life is a series of disappointments and let downs and only death is waiting at the end.” I blink. “To answer your previous question.”

Mopeys are known to take the ‘doom and gloom’ aspect of Gothic culture to the extreme.  They are seen as your typical ‘stereotype’. “Yes of course people see us as a stereotype.  Most think we should seek therapy, others think we should be institutionalized. However contrary to popular belief we aren’t all ‘suicidal maniacs’. Just because I have a distinctly Eeyore outlook on life doesn’t mean I want to die. It is in fact quite the opposite, I quite like my life. I just don’t see much point to it.” Trista leans back in her seat and crosses her long legs. “I suppose that’s why Briona nicknamed me Misery.”

“Do you prefer to be called that?” The smile in her eyes never reaches her face.

“I think it’s quite fitting don’t you?” I grin. Mopey Goths have a distinct style, black is the only colour they wear, often teamed with pale foundation, smoky eyes and crimson lips. “I don’t own any clothing that isn’t black. I like the colour, it suits my complexion.” Preferring to be alone most of her time, Misery loves to read and write poetry. “I have friends, as you know, and I do socialize. I prefer to spend most of my time alone, with my poetry.  It is the window to my tortured soul.”  When asked about music Misery pulls out her iPad and plays a few tracks for me.  They are slow and sad with agonizing lyrics. “I enjoy the baring of other’s souls. It’s the one time I feel close to humanity.”

“Are you ever happy?” I ask as the waitress takes our cups. Misery smiles for real this time.

“I suppose you see me as depressed?” I nod. “It’s not like that at all. I’m happy, I’m almost always happy. I enjoy being who I am; I love the freedom I have to express my innermost feelings. I may not look or sound happy to an average person, but then again.” She leans forward and squeezes my hand lightly. “What’s normal anyway?”

The Monday morning on the 7.03 train to Brisbane Central Station is never a pleasant experience. The train is jam packed with people and there is no such thing as personal space. It is even more unpleasant to be pregnant on this train. My daughter kicks me painfully in the ribs, I wince. As usual no one moves to offer me their seat. A woman seated close to me moves her bag and calls, “Come and sit down.” I move forward and gratefully fall into the seat.

“Thanks.” I smile at her, she returns the gesture.

“You’re Welcome. I’m surprised you want to sit next to the freak.” She jokes. I look her up and down. The word Goth immediately comes to my mind.

“You aren’t a ‘freak’. You’re a Goth and you’re just different. People are afraid of different.” She looks astonished.

“You know that is the most profound thing I’ve ever heard someone say when it comes to my appearance. You are most wise, pregnant woman.” I laugh.

“I wouldn’t say, I’m wise, I just never judge a book by its cover, so to speak. I’m Sheridan.” I hold out my hand, she takes in her gloved one.

“Drusilla.”

So next time someone a little different, smiles at you, or offers you their seat on the train. Take a chance, you may have more in common than you think, it will surprise you.


Works Cited

Van Every, Elisabeth. “A Brief History of Goth”. Academia Gothica. Elisabeth Van Every, 1997-2006.
Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ice-princess.net/AcademiaGothica/gothhistory.html&gt;

Vice, Dan. “A Brief History”. The Little Book of Goths. Surrey: Crombie Jardine Publishing Limited, 2005. Print.

Porter Smith, Alicia. “History of the Gothic Subculture”. Origins of Goth. Alicia Porter Smith, 2009. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://www.gothicsubculture.com/origin.php&gt;

Thompson, Dave & Greene, Jo-Ann. “Undead Undead Undead”. Alternative Press. Nov. 1994. Print.

Lee, Allison & School, Emanuel. “Popular Music (Goth Rock) as a popular culture”. The Journal of
the Society and Culture Association Inc. 95. July (2011): 18-23. Print.

Valentin, Maribel. “Perky Goth”. Gothling Academy. Blogger, 2011. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://gothling-academy.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/perky-goth.html&gt;

Asphodel, Amy. “Goth’s Closest Relative? Rivetheads and the Industrial Culture”. Stripy Tights and
Dark Delights. Blogger, 2011. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://ultimategothguide.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/goths-closest-relative-rivetheads-and.html&gt;

Asphodel, Amy. “Goth’s Closest Relative? Rivetheads and the Industrial Culture”. Stripy Tights and
Dark Delights. Blogger, 2011. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. <http://ultimategothguide.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/goths-closest-relative-rivetheadsand.html&gt;

“What is Steampunk?” Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. WordPress, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/what-is-steampunk/>

Additional Resources
Adamantium, Drusilla. Personal Interview (Face to Face). 7 Jan. 2014.

Cunningham, Howard. Personal Interview (Face to Face). 9 Jan. 2014.

Grey, Adhelle. Personal Interview (Face to Face). 8 Jan. 2014.

Smith, Trista ‘Misery’. Personal Interview (Face to Face). 12 Jan. 2014.

Spring, Briona. Personal Interview (Face to Face). 11 Jan. 2014.

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