Kardashianization is a mighty long word, but I think it describes perfectly what has been happening within the last few years in the goth subculture. Unreal beauty standards, that are normal in ‘mainstream’ society, have wormed their way into the goth subculture. I think that has always been on the back burner, but lately it really feels like things have ramped up since everybody wants to call themselves a ‘goth’ these days.
Before the advent of the internet taking photos of yourself wasn’t really a thing. Friends would take photos of you, clubs would take photos of you, but would you take photos of yourself? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, there would be attention seekers in goth/alternative clubs who would always get their photos taken, but they were in the minority and usually thought of as uber goobers. I only have a few photos of myself from the 80’s and 90’s because I personally avoided people with cameras and I am okay with that. My hair was a mess most of the time and nobody needs to see that.
I have nothing against taking selfies of yourself, but what I do have a problem with are the people who manipulate their selfies to such a degree that it pushes an unrealistic standard of beauty. That is why I call this phenomenon the Kardashianization of the subculture, because younglings are doing the exact same thing as the Kardashians; posting photos of themselves that depict a fantasy rather than a reality. They create a ‘goth’ image of themselves that they think others will approve of, a judgement that will make them a ‘true goth’. I wish I was kidding about this, but I’m not.
Notice how this has nothing to do with the music of the goth subculture? They are basing their whole identity off of a dark aesthetic while listening to bands that are in no way goth at all. There is nothing the matter with loving different genres of music, but if you don’t like or listen to any actual goth music you aren’t a goth. An aesthetic does not a goth make.
For whatever reason many of these younglings are calling themselves ‘trad goths’. In their selfies they will have backcombed hair, Siouxsie clone make-up and at least one article of clothing that is fishnet in nature. To be included in their ranks you have to look like one another because that is how goths looked in the 80’s/90’s of course! Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s most of us didn’t look like that. I only ever saw that look at clubs, and it wasn’t done by a large amount of people. The most onerous aspect to all of this is that they will quite frequently lighten their face and blur it so much that their skin looks unreal, not a pore or realistic shadow to be seen. Again, how is this any different than what the Kardashians do on a regular basis?
Where do these younglings get these ideas from? The mainstream reporting of certain celebrities being goth because of them wearing black lipstick certainly doesn’t help at all. Many younglings think that they are automatically goth if they dress in black, not understanding that the subculture has always been centred upon the music. Material consumption is something that is encouraged in our society in general and these people buy into it and spend a ton of money to look like something that they really are not; a goth.
Don’t like being compared to the Kardashians? Then stop basing your identity on manipulated photos and how others perceive you. What you are doing is in no way original and the only people who will take you at all seriously will be the other people who also don’t know what they are on about. It’s a huge perpetuating circle jerk. This behaviour is in no way unique, in no way different as to how ‘normal’ society behaves and yet they will endlessly bitch and moan about how society sucks and how ‘normies’ are boring. All the while exhibiting the same exact behaviour as the people they supposedly dislike. What they are doing is not any different just because they are dressed in black and are wearing black lipstick.
When I see heavily manipulated photos in online goth communities I call them out because the only way this is ever going to change is if people speak out about it and challenge this behaviour. There are younglings out there that love goth music and yet they think they can’t be goth because they don’t look like said photos; they don’t have perfect white skin and they don’t have the money to buy clothes from a dark clothing site. I find this sad as all hell because the poseurs and wannabes who perpetuate this crap are stopping actual goth music fans from joining the subculture; blocking their way into it by means of selfie blurring tools and mum and dad’s money.
Instead of spending countless hours retouching and blurring the crap out of your selfies why not sit down and listen to some actual goth music. Don’t like being compared to vacuous ‘celebrities’ who have no discernable talent? Then be yourself instead of jumping on the goth train without paying your fare.
I wrote this rant elsewhere out of frustration when it comes to younglings claiming that they are ‘grunge-goth’, because in truth grunge was never a subculture and has never had anything to do with the goth subculture. Enjoy!
The amount of people who think grunge was an actual subculture is disappointing and yet doesn’t surprise me. Just because some dark fashion retailer is trying to sell you something that they label ‘grunge’ doesn’t mean that it was a damn subculture. You know what grunge was? It was a marketing label used by mainstream record execs to sell pre-packaged ‘safe’ rebellion. Those bands that they labeled ‘grunge’ were playing punk meets garage music and their original audience was made up of mostly punks.
All of that changed when the label ‘grunge’ was pushed into the mainstream and the new audience was mostly made up of trend whores who thought they were now at the peak of being alternative. They were the same people who would give punks and goths massive amounts of shit for looking too different or for listening to music that was too strange. The lyrics for Nazi Punks Fuck Off say it perfectly:
‘You ain’t hardcore ’cause you spike your hair when a jock still lives inside your head’
THIS! Needless to say grunge had nothing to do with the goth subculture. Did some goths like grunge? Of course, but that didn’t mean that the two were connected. Punks, metalheads, and everybody generally alternative wore flannel, military surplus gear and thrift store clothing way before ‘grunge’ made its appearance. The bands labeled ‘grunge’ were just wearing what other weirdos wore, they didn’t invent a style. The mainstream took that style and marketed it to the masses.
Now there are a bunch of people who are using the term grunge-goth, which makes zero sense because of the reasons I talked about up above. It is a term made up by dark fashion companies to sell nostalgia to kids, as if grunge was also a subculture equal to goth. ‘If you buy this grunge-goth top you are going to be double cool and ultra rebellious!’ No, no you are not because grunge was never a subculture and if you buy into those marketing tactics you are nothing but a fashion victim, the same as those mainstream trend whores from 30 years ago.
I originally shared this over in several goth communities on Reddit but I thought that my darklings who read this blog was also appreciate it.
I do a lot of DIY projects. I get my ideas from films, dark clothing websites, Etsy and even Vogue magazine. Don’t ever dismiss something outright as inspiration because there are techniques that you can glean just from the construction of ‘regular’ clothing. I actually taught myself how to dart clothing and I was able to make two different corsets fit my chest better by doing that technique.
Personally, I have never felt comfortable using a sewing machine so I hand sew everything. That may sound daunting but once you practice enough it can be done fairly quickly. All clothing was hand sewn before the invention of the sewing machine, so if somebody stitched a hem by candlelight you can also do it! Honest! All it takes is some practice.
With all of that being said I have two boot boxes filled with the supplies that I use in DIY projects. I have purchased most of them from Etsy. That website is a treasure trove of DIY supplies. I will not name the companies I have bought from because it costs a fortune to ship items across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans right now. Always buy from stores on Etsy that are on, or near, the same continent that you live on. Almost all of my items come from the UK or the EU.
I hope this inspires you to start some DIY projects because it is a lot of fun and you end up with an item that is uniquely yours.
STUDS/SPIKES There are a ton of stores on Etsy that sell these and most of the time they are very affordable. They even come in colors which you don’t actually see on most ready made studded and spiked items. I own a wide variety of them: green pyramids, black pyramids, silver pyramids, skulls, silver studs, black studs,etc… Some Etsy stores also sell beginner kits that include instructions and tools. I also own an awl to punch through leather and a flat headed tool for pushing the ends of them down upon the object.
FISHNET I bought multi-packs of fishnet tights in different colors and with holes of different sizes. These can be used to make fishnet shirts. Just cut out the crotch, put it over you head, put the legs on your arms and make holes for your fingers. A much cheaper option than paying £30 for a ready-made fishnet shirt. I also will be using them in other projects, such as layering a jacket collar with it, and safety-pinning it to the sleeves of a jacket.
NEEDLES AND THREAD You can get small kits that include different colors of thread, multiple sizes of needles, thread rippers, small scissors, measuring tape, etc… I personally always double my thread when I hand-sew anything because it will guarantee that the object will stay together rather than rip easily.
A GOOD PAIR OF SCISSORS Those small scissors that come in a kit are okay for cutting thread but you are going to need a good pair of scissors if you want to cut material. You can get decent ones for fairly cheap.
PATCHES Whenever I see a patch I like I buy it and add it to my collection because I know that I will use it in a project in the future. Many dark clothing sites, and other online alternative stores, will quite frequently have them on sale. However, I have bought most of mine from, you guessed it, Etsy. I have my own post-apocalyptic/dystopian goth kind of style going on and Etsy is a treasure trove filled with patches from films such as Terminator, Blade Runner and They Live. You can find band, horror and anything else you like on there. If you are more brave you can even make your own with fabric paint.
ACRYLIC PAINT, BRUSHES, AND STENCILS An acrylic type paint is what you should use on leather and pleather materials. I bought a kit by Angelus specifically for leather and pleather. You can also use just regular acrylic paint, whatever brand you like the best. I also have some stencils of things such as mushroom clouds and pandemic symbols. You can find a lot of them on Etsy, or you can make your own stencils out of cardstock.
BLEACH PENS AND FABRIC PAINT Bleach pens are seriously awesome because you can either stencil or freehand designs onto any fabric object. They were a game changer for me! Fabric paints are very cool as well. Using them is an easy way to instantly change the look of an object.
FABRIC SCRAPS I never throw away any fabric that I cut off of clothing. The reason being is that you never know what you can use it for in the future.
HALLOWEEN RIBBON I live in the UK where Halloween isn’t as popular as it is in the US. I spent my first 40 years in the US and Halloween has always been my favourite holiday. Whenever I see Halloween themed ribbon on sale online I buy it and add it to my stash, because I know that I will use it in my hair or on an item.
SAFETY PINS You can buy boxes of different sizes or packs of the sizes that you really like. I use them to attach items or as decoration on items.
SPOOKY KEYCHAINS I attach these to zipper pulls, belts, purses,etc… You can buy these in bulk for fairly cheap.
That’s all for now. You do not need a lot of money to do DIY projects. Just buy a little here and a little there and soon you will have a whole collection of things you can creatively use.
Having been a teen in the 1980’s I remember all of the ‘red scare’ propaganda that would bombard me on almost a daily basis. From the rhetoric of Reagan’s ‘The U.S.S.R. is an evil empire’ propaganda to not being taught a single thing about the Cold War in highschool. If you were a leftist in the 80’s you were seen as the enemy, not only by the US Government, but also by most of society.
I heavily disliked Reagan in high school in the 80’s; even now I think he was an evil son of a bitch who made the poor more destitute and whose racist dog whistles satisfied his white racist supporters. My high school was in a conservative suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area called Fremont. Back in the 80’s I would say that it was probably around 80-90% white. As of the 2019 census it is now only 28% white, which I know makes some of the white people I went to high school with angry of course. I follow maybe only four or five people I went to high school with, including one who turned left after school. Proud of you Brent! Needless to say I have not been to a single class reunion, but I find joy in the fact that I look about 20 years younger than they do. Being a weirdo in the 80’s and staying out of sun has its perks!
Needless to say I was a leftist, and I knew about the political climate of the United States. I listened to a lot of albums by The Dead Kennedys and Jello’s music definitely helped me realise that I wasn’t alone even though I was surrounded by brainwashed Reagan worshippers. My mom took me out of my school one time to go to a Dukakis rally in San Francisco. I was 3 months too young to vote in the 88 election which really bummed me out, and when Bush Sr. won I was totally devastated and I remember crying a lot about it because it made me so angry. Bush Sr. used a huge racist dog whistle in the form of Willie Horton, and made it out like all African Americans were either welfare queens or dangerous thugs. Don’t believe me? Google Willie Horton and be prepared to be disgusted. Of course those Reagan worshippers in school gave me shit since I was very vocal about being a leftist and would constantly argue with them.
I never gave into the peer pressure to be right wing, and to this day I am very proud of that. Right now I see the same type of crap again; anybody who is a leftist is being called a communist as an insult. Sometimes they will call you a socialist but they usually will just jump onto the right wing train and start in on the anti-communist rhetoric. Hell, they even call people such as Biden, who is really not leftist at all, a communist. Anybody to the left of them is an evil commie who wants to destroy either the US, the UK, or all of Europe. In the US a commie is somebody who dares to want a fully socialised healthcare system and worker rights. These right wing morons lick the boots of their corporate masters gladly and are perfectly okay with people having to go bankrupt after being hospitalized because if they haven’t pulled themselves up enough by their bootstraps then that’s their own fault . Yep, they think people deserve shit healthcare because they are poor even when they are poor themselves. It’s a total mindfuck.
It’s not only people on the right who call leftists communists. The Democratic Party is owned by corporate oligarchs just like the GOP and if a leftist, be they a progressive or a communist, fights for free healthcare or worker rights they are told that they are taking things too far and to sit down, shut up and stop behaving like a child who has been caught stealing cookies out of a cookie jar. In the UK the press, which is predominantly far right-winged, will call any leftist politician a communist and smear them with obvious lies. The Labour Party kicks out members who they deem to be too far left and instead promotes weak middle of the road leaders who answer to, you guess it, corporate oligarchs. See a pattern?
All of this pisses me off, because once again you are being attacked for wanting a better world; one in which all people are treated equally, and have the right to free healthcare and a roof over their head. If you are a young leftist reading this rant please know that you are not, and never will be, alone. There are many others out there who feel the same as you do, who want a better future instead of one in which only the wealthy are allowed to exist comfortably while everybody else has to fight over affordable food and housing. If somebody calls you a commie or a socialist answer ‘So, what’s wrong with that?’. Stand up for yourself and don’t let others bully you into submission.
As you can tell from the title of this blog I love anything post-apcalyptic or dystopian themed. I already have my post-apocalyptic pleather jacket but I felt like I needed something for warmer weather. Hence this jacket was born!!
I first featured this jacket back in November. Due to being constantly tired from MS I didn’t touch it for a while. Thanks to a new med I am taking I have way more energy so that I can finally finish this project. Hooray!
Before I get any deeper into this I would like it to be known that I bought this jacket in the clearance section of Killstar’s website. It cost about £30 and it has grommet work and lacing on the sleeves. I’ve never done grommet work so I thought it would be better for me to purchase this rather than attempt it myself. I definitely could have done the ripping and webbing. However, I have done so much to this jacket that it doesn’t look like it’s from Killstar. I find absolutely nothing wrong with buying clearance items from ‘darkly inclined’ clothing sites and doing DIY projects with them. Not everybody lives near thrift stores or can physically get to them. The people who go on and on about how you have to get everything from thrift stores are full of shit.
Here is the list of things I have done to this jacket.
First thing I did was browse Etsy for post-apocalyptic themed patches. No matter what kind of jacket you want to do you will find associated patches on that site. Personally, I always sew patches on rather than iron them. Mainly because an iron on patch can curl up more easily than one that is sewn. Using a double thread instead of a single one is also advised. Some people use dental floss, but I have never felt the need to do it that way.
I also purchased all of my pins from Etsy. I have more nice enamel pins but they tend to come off more easily than regular pins in my experience. I have way more pins than this but I don’t want the jacket to look too busy. I think jackets look better when they aren’t cluttered.
I used tools to put on the skull studs that adorn the bottom hem of the jacket. Again, I bought the studs and tools on Etsy. Way back when I would use the point of a knife to stud a jacket, but I wouldn’t recommend that! An awl makes it so much more easy. I also have some pyramid and cone studs that I may use on the jacket. In particular some pyramid ones that are the colour of green toxic sludge.
I put large safety pins on either side of the bottom of the jacket and hung some spooky keyrings from them. They are visible in the top photo. I got the keychains off of Etsy, of course. I might put one on the front but haven’t decided yet.
I’ve had a lot of fun working on this jacket and I hope it inspires you. Remember, always work on projects that you like, not what somebody dictates to you. Think for yourself.
Where do I even begin with this? I am on their mailing list and today they sent me an email that contained the above photo along with a link to an article on their site that describes what a ‘Romantic Goth’ is all about. Get ready to be schooled by Killstar!
Do I long for extravagant clothing? Sure! Personally I have always wanted to be dressed in corsets and black velvet and lace while wandering the halls of a spooky castle holding a candelabra that lights my way. All the while suffering from consumption, my deathly coughs echoing through the empty chambers, my bloody spittle blending into by black clothes. Since it was a simpler time there were no antibiotics so I would slowly die. Neat!
Yearn for arts, music and literature from the 1800’s? By golly gee you know I do! Nothing stirs me more than the Pre-Raphaelites, Mozart and Dracula! Wait, I’m not doing this right because Mozart was from the 1700’s. Shit. Oh, but I really love the hell out of Dracula! The Christopher Lee portrayal because he was a better actor and Hammer made the best Gothic type of horror film. I know I’m supposed to say Bela Lugosi but I cannot betray my heart!
So, a Romantic Goth is a classic type of goth fashion? Way back when, through the mists of time, wearing velvet and lace was just considered goth. In the 90’s different ‘types’ of goths were thought up to poke fun at the goth community, it was an inside joke that nobody took seriously. Am I supposed to be taking this seriously, because I have some velvet and lace items! Should I stop shaving part of my head and learn how to make elaborate buns out of my hair? I don’t know what to do! Bauhaus, Type O Negative and The Cure are to blame for the surge of the Romantic Goth style? Oh dear, somebody should tell them because I think some of the musicians in those bands will be very embarrassed. Break the news to them slowly because some of them aren’t in the best of health. Romantic Goths are some of the most commonly betrayed goth types in the media? How tragic!
Velvet and lace are a match made in hell? What’s hell got to do…got to do with it?
You mean I should be wearing baphomet necklaces, belts, and rings? I was wearing all of my lace and velvet clothing the wrong way? I now feel like I haven’t lived up to the required Romantic Goth angst level. All of those Hammer films lied to me! LIED!!! Damn you Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt…damn you! *cries dramatically and flings her cross laden jewellery across the room*
My heart is only semi dark, will that do? If I start spelling words with exxxtra x’s will that make my heart grow darker? So, there are more boxes to tick besides the Romantic Goth ones? If they involve the objectification of goth women I want to be all up in that. There is nothing like being a big tiddy goth girlfriend. Nothing.
First you call it Romantic Goth, now you call it new wave romantic fashion. Funny, I spent the last thirty years daring to think that New Wavers, New Romantics and Goths were all slightly different because those music genres weren’t exactly the same. Wait a second, are you trying to tell me that Goth has nothing to do with music and is just a fashion choice? Thank you for schooling me Killstar and for leading me into the light. Wait, am I supposed to say darkness because that would be more spooky and evil, right?
Do you want to learn more about Romantic Goths? You know you do! Click the link and you will be transformed into the Romantic Goth you knew you could always be.
Within the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in anything having to do with the 80’s. Everything from endless posts about mediocre 80’s ‘post-punk’ bands to people asking questions as to how to directly copy the look of ‘trad’ goths litter the internet. Then there are the truly special individuals who constantly talk about how cool the decade was and how they wish they could have lived back then. They should never wish that. You want to know why? Because for the most part the 80’s was a hellish landscape of conservative neo-liberal politics mixed in with a highly conformist society that punished those who were in any way different.
I was a teen in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1989, so I spent pretty much the entirety of my teen years in that decade. I was very politically aware during that time and paid attention to the world events going on around me. For example, I went on a trip with some classmates to Washington DC in late 87 that was called Close Up. Teens from all over the US go every year to learn about politics. You get to meet your representatives and talk about important issues with others. We got enough free time to wander about the area exploring and one day two friends and I were walking near the Capital Building when a motorcade appeared. During that week Soviet officials were there to draw up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty along with officials from Reagan’s cabinet which included the Secretary Of State George Shultz. I hated, and still hate, Reagan with the burning heat of a thousand suns so I was obviously not a fan of anybody serving under him. The first limos going past us had Soviet flags attached to the front, rolled down windows and Soviet guys waving at us with smiles on their faces. Seriously, it was as cool as it sounds. We smiled and waved back of course. Then the limos infested with the lice off of Reagan’s head rolled by and not one of them rolled down their windows. However, it was easy to see through the tint that one of them contained Shultz. I started yelling to him that he sucked and gave him the finger with both hands. Yes, I told a high ranking US official to basically go fuck himself. My friends were panicking telling me to stop but I wouldn’t. To this day I am still proud that at the age of 16 I had the balls to do something like that.
Now that you have learned a little bit about me I will now tell you a little bit about what it was really like to live in the 80’s.
THE COLD WAR AND THE CONSTANT FEAR OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION
I don’t think that younger people right now quite realize just how close we came to all being killed in a nuclear war. This fear was largely due to the constant posturing of Reagan. He would call the USSR the evil empire and threaten them on a very regular basis. Frankly I was way more afraid of Reagan back then than I was of the USSR. To the credit of the USSR back then they didn’t give in to Reagan and start a war. I honestly think the professional war mongerers who stood behind Reagan wanted an all out war with the USSR because they would have made billions from that. Both empires fought a proxy war in Afghanistan when the USSR invaded the country while the US backed and trained the rebels. By the way one of those rebels was Osama Bin Laden.
Nuclear war was such a possibility at the time that two powerful tv films were made about it happening. Threads in the UK and The Day After in the US. Since I was living in the US at the time I saw The Day After when it was first aired in 1983 when I was in the 7th grade. It freaked my friends and I out so much that we went to our vice principal and asked about whether the school had a nuclear fallout shelter. Think about that for a second. Imagine being a young teen and having that kind of fear hanging over your head on a constant basis. It sucked. A few years ago I finally saw Threads and it shows the reality of a nuclear war; people being burned alive and the unsanitized reality of what would happen after a nuclear conflagration. If I had seen it back in the 80’s I would have had full blown nightmares.
IF YOU WERE IN ANY WAY ‘DIFFERENT’ YOU GOT CONSTANTLY SHIT ON AND CONFORMITY WAS A WAY OF LIFE
I always see younger people in online goth communities say that they wished that they could have experienced an ‘alternative’ subculture back in the 80’s. With confidence I can say that the vast majority of them wouldn’t have been emotionally equipped to have handled all of the shit that they would have gotten from others. It wasn’t just the ‘normal’ people that you had to deal with back then, you also had to deal with intense pressure within the alternative community to fit in by liking the same bands and behaving the same way. Woe onto you if you actually acted happy or liked a band that wasn’t considered cool. People think that ‘gatekeeping’ is bad now? They have no idea.
There was a huge amount of pressure back then by society to fit in. Reagan constantly preached about how America was better in the good old days, which were actually not good for anybody who wasn’t wealthy and white. If you didn’t go along with his not so hidden racist agenda you were seen as unpatriotic and a traitor. I am not exaggerating. You had to hate the USSR, be scared of black people, and look just like everybody else. If you didn’t have a perm, didn’t dress in the trendiest clothes and didn’t listen to the latest pop bands you didn’t fit in so you were considered fair game to tease and even physically attack. Luckily I was never physically attacked but I know that lots of people were. Far more violence happened back then than now. However, I had things yelled at me on a constant basis, for doing such things as simply walking down a street. In high school I was even told by a teacher that I wouldn’t have as many problems if I just dressed like everybody else.
IT WAS DIFFICULT AS HELL FINDING OUT ABOUT BANDSAND SHOWS
There was no functioning internet back in the 80’s. There were some bulletin board type communities but computers were expensive as hell so most people did not have them. There were thee ways of finding out about bands back then. You could be one of those lucky people that lived near a radio station that actually played alternative and punk music. These were usually college radio stations, but sometimes pop stations would play less popular music in the the middle of the night. There was a pop station in my area that did this. So much so that by the very late 80’s they became an ‘alternative’ station. However, by that time they played more radio friendly bands than experimental ones. However, I did learn about some bands by listening to them. Another way to learn about bands was by getting mix tapes from your friends. In early 86 I got one from a guy, who then ghosted me. There was no track listing written down so it took me literally years to figure some of them out. However, I had another person introduce me to Joy Division by handing me a tape with Unknown Pleasures on one side and Closer on the other. The last way to find out about music was by cold buying it. You would see somebody cool wearing a mysterious band shirt and you kept a log of those band names in the back of your head. I actually cold bought November Coming Fire by Samhain using this method, and more times than not I had really good luck.
On top of all of this there was a code of silence that the uber goober type people would pull when you would ask them about what bands they liked. Seriously. There was some sort of strange code that some weirdos lived by that made it very uncool to share musical knowledge with anybody. It was as if they were going to be killed by an evil cabal if they dared to utter the sacred names of bands. These were the same types who would try to dictate how you behaved in clubs.
Wanted to see your favourite band play a show? Good luck! Most of the time the only way you would find out about shows was at club nights, but if you were under 18, and sometimes 21, you weren’t allowed in them. I actually went to one that let you in of you were 17 or older and another that was all ages so I was lucky when it came to that. However, that didn’t mean you would find out about all of the shows because venues were usually total shit at advertising shows unless they were some of the better known ones that also hosted metal shows. There were some ‘alternative’ weekly papers where I lived so I would find out about some of them that way, but there were two times that I accidentally saw bands because I thought it was going to be a regular club night. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto and The Call that way which looking back on it was pretty darn cool.
Well, that’s it for today. I realise that I have probably broken some hearts and crushed some dreams but the amount of misinformation about the 80’s really needs to be balanced out with a reality check. I don’t look back at that decade with rose coloured glasses, even though I lived through those years. It could be fun, but it was also really difficult. If I had the ability to go back in time to those years I wouldn’t.
Tramp Stamps are quite possibly one of the worst wannabe pop-punk bands I have ever heard. Considering how many bad pop-punk bands that there have been in the last thirty years that is really saying something. Many are calling them an industry plant, while they say they came up with everything themselves.
The first thing that you need to know about these women is that each of them was involved in the music industry before the band was formed. Up until around mid 2020 singer Marisa Maino was a run in the mill pop singer who looked totally normal. Both her and guitarist Caroline Baker have song writing publishing deals with Dr. Luke’s company Prescription Drugs. The drummer Paige Blue is a commercial music producer. Dr. Luke was the guy accused of abusing the singer Keisha and is not exactly a guy that an actual female feminist punk band would do business with. Being involved in the music business in itself is not a bad thing, because other people in it have made really good music. The issue here is that these women were never involved with the punk subculture before this in any way shape or form.
What is this band all about and why are people so pissed off? Here is their ‘about us’ statement from their website. Yes, this is a real statement:
Whip-smart and wildly irreverent, Nashville-based band TRAMP STAMPS are introducing a fantastically unfiltered new voice into today’s pop landscape. With a lyrical style that’s equal parts social commentary, soul-baring confession, and brilliantly profane storytelling, singer Marisa Maino, guitarist Caroline Baker, and drummer Paige Blue speak the truth on societal ills like white-boy privilege and fragile masculinity—all while revealing their warped sense of humor and untamed joie de vivre. And with its high-energy collision of pop and skate-punk, TRAMP STAMPS’ sound fully reflects the raw catharsis that fuels their songwriting. “All our songs start with us going on rants about stuff that pisses us off, shit we wish were different, stories that have happened to us involving fucked-up guys,” says Maino. Adds Baker: “It’s the kind of stuff women talk about all the time with their friends, but no one’s ever put it to this kind of music before.”
This sounds so contrived. Seriously, it sounds like some old music industry promoter sat down and wrote what they thought was hip commentary about the band so that kids would totally be down with. If the women actually wrote this it really doesn’t make it any better because it would show just how out of touch they are with the punk subculture. Actually, the quote by Baker at the end pretty much sums up this whole debacle. They think that women have never made social commentary type punk music before? Oh hell no! It’s insane how out of touch Baker is and she proves that even if a person has access to the internet that they can still be a completely clueless idiot.
It’s obvious that for these women punk is nothing but a costume. Dye your hair a funny colour and put on some ‘alt’ style clothes and that makes you punk! I can understand that some teens do the same thing, but they are teens. Most teens try different things until they find something that fits them. These women are in their twenties. In fact Paige Blue is twenty-nine. No joke! That makes this whole thing even worse. It looks like Dollskill threw up all over them, and that is something nobody should ever want to achieve. I feel like a mom when I look at them because I have a huge urge to spit on a hanky and rub all of their make-up off.
In my opinion somebody that they have collectively known suggested that they start a band together. This individual told them that they could make a lot of money and get famous if they pretend to by an angry pop punk band. Could they have come up with this on their own? Sure, but everything about this really reeks of record company involvement. One of their songs is called I’d Rather Die and one line goes ‘I’d rather die than hook up with another straight white guy.’. Guess what, one of them apparently wants to die because she is married to a straight white guy.
Their whole shtick is not only highly hypocritical it reeks of fake outrage about subjects that mean a whole lot to people. People are mad about white straight male privilege, so let’s write a song about how we will never fuck any of them! That’ll teach those evil white men! It morphs an important social construct that negatively affects a lot of people into some trite crap that speaks to absolutely nobody. Political punk music has been around for over forty years, and this lame attempt to jump onto that train falls flat.
That’s the huge problem that this ‘band’ has. They came out of absolutely nowhere with professionally made social media accounts, a slick website and a backstory recounting how they met at a bar and decided to make music together. Bands do not normally come out of nowhere like this, especially when they are any shade of punk. It takes time and money to build a career. To come out of the gate as a fully formed punk organism is not normal, especially when it involves a subculture that is all about doing things yourself. Yes, bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash were formed by managers to make a buck, but in the case of the Pistols all of the members were actually involved with the newly emerging punk subculture before being in the band. They weren’t pretending to be punk because they actually were punk.
So, what is to become of this band? The audience that they are trying to reach online largely knows already that they are inauthentic so trying to cater to them is pretty much a lost cause. They could go down the trolling route and make themselves into a joke kind of band, but I don’t think whomever is behind the scenes is going to be into doing that. I could actually see them pivoting over to a more ‘goth’ sound, but they would have the same sort of issues because of switching music genres so quickly. They would have had more success if they had just done a ‘goth’ type band in the first place, since a lot of younger people don’t understand exactly what goth is. They could have sung about wanting to be a vampire and some of that target audience would have definitely bought into it.
I’m all for people making the music that they want to make but this just really rubs me the wrong way. People have literally been murdered for looking punk, goth or alternative. Pretending to be a part of any subculture just for the fame and fortune aspect is gross. Instead of pretending to be punk they should just be themselves. Adult women should know better than this, especially ones who claim to be feminist in nature. Pretending to care about social issues is never a good thing, and it is actually worse than looking like Dollskill fashion victims.
Recently the wannabe version of the Dead Kennedys questioned a woman who was wearing one of their shirts as somebody who probably didn’t listen to their music. The woman did in fact listen to the band and they lost a fan. Jello Biafra even stepped forward and said that what they posted was crap and that he would never assume something like that. This whole thing really pissed me off because for years women who enjoy listening to punk or metal bands have had to deal with this sort of thing. Now even bands are saying this crap?
There has been a trend that started within the last decade of regular chain stores selling punk and metal band shirts. This in turn means that regular people buy them to wear without knowing that they are actual bands. A good example of this is the Misfits fiend skull. It’s seen as just a symbol by some people. Is that a little sad? Sure, but do you have the right to go up to that person and grill them about what their favourite Misfits songs are? No. If they want to look like a fashion victim that is their choice and none of your damn business. If you want to be mad at anybody be mad at the bands for selling out. I’m looking at you Jerry Only!
When I started heavily getting into punk and wearing shirts from bands such as Samhain, Misfits, 7 Seconds,etc… I would occasionally get guys coming up to me and grilling me on albums and songs. Sometimes they would even ask me if I just wanted to fuck the band. No joke! As a woman I had to prove time and time again that I was really into the music. Once I listed off the songs and albums I liked that would usually shut them up and they would slink back to the sewer from which they came.
The funny thing about all of this is that I have known more about punk bands than anybody I have ever dated. Seriously. That older woman who is wearing a Samhain shirt while walking down the street may know more about the band than you do and she might be such a fan that she has been listening to them for over thirty years; longer that you have been alive.
I feel that the guys who perpetuate this are insecure when it comes to their knowledge about the bands that they like. They are scared that somebody might actually know more about their favorite bands than they do, and it would especially be harrowing for them if that same middle aged woman wearing that Samhain shirt knew facts that they didn’t know. Middle aged women aren’t supposed to be listening to punk! Instead we are supposed to be wearing mom jeans and ferrying a bunch of kids around in a minivan all day.
The best thing to do when you see a chick wearing a punk or metal band shirt is just to smile when you see them and keep walking. If they initiate a conversation because they sense that you could also like the same band then that is awesome! You’re not being an asshole in that type of situation and you could possibly make a friend. Isn’t that better than making baseless assumptions about somebody just because they are a woman wearing a punk or metal band shirt? If you think otherwise then you are indeed being an asshole.
Before I begin I would like to state for the record that the names of the people involved in the Portland Oregon and Washington DC ‘scenes’ mentioned in this post have been changed. I changed some because I honestly can’t remember them, and I changed others in the hope that they have at least evolved a little bit over the last twenty years. I have also changed the names of clubs. If you ask me who these people really are I will not answer. If people haven’t changed they will say I am lying and will pretty much be outing themselves, which will kind of prove my point. I will post their real names, if I can remember, and such responses in this blog for the whole world to see if they occur.
I thought long and hard about writing this. There are so many women out there spinning right now, and that makes me very happy. However, it makes me sad that some of these women are experiencing some of the same sexist crap that I encountered twenty years ago. After hearing really fucked up stories I feel like I should tell my own.
I moved to Portland in 2002 after a really bad relationship went south. Before that I had been in a really disastrous marriage so emotionally I felt like I had to get out of the area I was living in. My mother had moved to Oregon about ten years before so I thought that Portland would be a good choice for me. Back in the 80’s and 90’s Portland had a reputation of being infested with WAR (white aryan resistance) skinheads. When I went there in 1991 I had a run-in with one, but by 2000 they were long gone.
Before I moved to Portland I had never been a DJ, so I brought none of that baggage with me. Nobody knew who the hell I was so nobody had any preconceived notions about me. During that time I dressed up a lot when I went out, which was about the complete opposite of how I had dressed ten years before. It was partially due to being newly single and stretching my wings. There was definitely some jealousy that reared its ugly head pretty soon after I moved there. Most of it came from a chick that I’ll call Esmerelda. Esmerelda got most of her wardrobe from Hot Topic and her main goal in life was apparently becoming the ‘scene queen’. I didn’t think bad of her because of the Hot Topic fixation, rather her obsession with scene status alarmed the hell out of me. Oh, and she had the hots for a male goth DJ named Tarzan. Tarzan knew this and perpetually lead her on to make her seem like she had a chance when in reality she didn’t. At one point I hooked up with Tarzan. One of his friends actually asked me if I had indeed hooked up with him. Since I had no shame I said yes. A few days later at a club Tarzan comes up to me and tells me that I shouldn’t have talked about hooking up with him because he likes to keep his personal life private. I, in turn, told him that he ought to get new friends then because they are the ones who asked me. I’m 100% positive that he didn’t want Esmeralda to know about any of this because he enjoyed leading her on. Basically I was slut shamed, so as you can imagine I told him to fuck off. I never spoke to him after that.
There was one other person from the San Francisco Bay Area in the the scene and her name was Davina. I didn’t know her before this because I hadn’t been a fixture in the SF Bay Area scene, however we knew of some of the same people and we both hated the uber gooberness of some of the clubs there. She was a DJ, and offered to teach me since I showed an interest in it. It really wasn’t that difficult and I begun to spin at the same club every once in a while. I actually had fun doing it, and I tended to spin music that the other DJs either didn’t have or didn’t know even existed. Remember this was the era in which really shit EBM and synthpop music was taking over the clubs. I was one of the only people in that town at the time who was spinning deathrock and goth rock. I even spun some of the deathrock revival music that had started to come out during that time.
One night I spun and barely anybody danced. I was a bit drunk and said kind of loudly in the club to some friends that a lot of people there had a shit taste in music. Not everybody could hear me and I didn’t direct that statement towards a specific person, I just meant in general. Should I have said it? Maybe not, but I was speaking the truth. What most of the people wanted to hear was repetitive boring crap. Well, apparently two scene queens from Seattle who were visiting heard me and complained to the self appointed goth scene king Urkel. Urkel was a DJ who only spun the EBM and synthpop repetitive crap. Being the passive aggressive coward that he was I didn’t hear about any of this until the next day when he sent me an email demanding that I apologize to the two women. I had no idea who these people were and since I did not direct my ire at them at all I didn’t feel like I owed them anything. Fuck that. Urkel didn’t like that one bit. Not only did he say that deathrock sucked he also threatened me with goth club banishment. Seriously, he told me that I would never DJ in Portland ever again. I think there was definitely some sexist bullshit going on because he was used to people bending their knee to him, but when a woman wouldn’t do it they deserved threats of banishment. By the way it was Urkel who screwed up when Convergence was held in Portland in 2007. He failed to book some venues and some of the bands were decidedly not goth in nature. A couple of years after I left he started to DJ deathrock music, because of course he did.
Around the same time as all of this I met somebody online who lived in Washington DC. I flew there to visit, everything went fine, but when I moved there he suddenly had the urge to tell me that he didn’t like me in ‘that way’. I was pretty heartbroken, but I stayed in DC because I had a lease and didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars to move out early. At this time I found out about a goth club called Gothik and I went one night to investigate. The music was just about the same crap that was being played in Portland which was pretty intolerable, but I did meet a few cool people so it wasn’t all bad. I talked to the promoter of the club, Edwin, who was a guy in his 50’s about wanting to guest DJ there and he said I could. Well, I spun my usual kind of music and some people would dance so I did okay. I would get people coming up to me saying that I spun really good music but that the local scene was filled people who had a bad taste in music. Their words not mine! You know things are bad when various people tell you exactly the same thing about a local scene.
During this time I was also a guest DJ at another club night that was run by a guy named Dizzy. Dizzy had a girlfriend but I and others were made to believe that it wasn’t serious, so I messed around with him a bit. Then he ghosted me. Seriously, the guy was a piece of shit and I wasn’t the only one he did this to. Since he was one of the only goth scene promoters there was almost no way of getting DJ gigs, except for the club Gothik. Around this time a resident DJ spot opened there. I interviewed with Edwin and the one resident 22 year old DJ named Sophia. Sophia only ever spun synthpop and EBM so I told them that I would be a good fit since I spun music that just about nobody spun and that fact would attract more people to the club. Some people didn’t like the club expressly because the club’s music was boring, so I made a good point. Did I get the gig? Nope, and you know why? Because I didn’t own enough synthpop music. Wahahahaha!!!!!!
What made that whole situation even more funny was the fact that Sophia never bought any of the music that she spun. She illegally downloaded 100% of the music that she played. Her excuse being that she was a poor student and couldn’t afford to buy music. She actually told me once that if I wanted to hear goth rock and deathrock music that I should make some CDs for her because she didn’t know about that kind of music. I’m not even kidding about that. Oh hell to the fucking no. It’s her job to know about the damn music and I was not going to give her a rope to climb out of her cesspool of really crap synthpop. There were quite a few special people in that scene, so here is a short list of them.
-A male DJ named Dinky who promoted himself as a professional DJ, but all he would do was load a pre-mixed CD into the player and just stand back for an hour. Like Sophia he illegally downloaded all of his music. Proven by the fact that he claimed that Cry Little Sister, from the Lost Boys soundtrack, was by the Sisters Of Mercy. He also thought that all goths got into the music through Marilyn Manson.
-A male DJ named Binky who could never get gigs and said that I only got one because I was a woman. He was so bitter that he told me this on several different occasions.
-Edwin, the promoter, was very creepy and it was well known that he would hit on the young women who went to the club. I didn’t fall for his crap because I was over thirty.
-The group of DJs who opened a goth club night the same night as Gothik, which was just down the block. An example of how promoters worked against one another instead of together.
I decided to leave when my lease was up because the scene was so damn toxic that there was no way I would ever be happy there. After all of that I was never a DJ again, because all of that drama was just way too much for me to handle on a regular basis. Both cities had very toxic goth scenes and I truly feel sorry for the young people who wanted into the subculture during that time. Please don’t think that everybody was a narcissistic jerk in both cities because they weren’t. However, a lot of the people were too afraid to ever speak up because they didn’t want to lose their scene cred. In my opinion those particular people were just as guilty.
I really hope that things have changed in both of those cities. Do I still hate all of those people and wish them a horrible death? No. The reason being is that some people do change over time and end up the exact opposite of who they used to be. I’m all for people redeeming themselves, because I have changed a lot. I am now in a happy marriage and living in the U.K.. Plus, I have opened my mind a bit when it comes to electronic music in general. Do I still think that some EBM and synthpop bands suck? I will never willingly listen to VNV Nation, and if you ever see a positive review of them on this site you know that something bad has happened to me.