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Vice Blog

LOS ANGELES - TEENAGE GOTH IN THE 90S

March 3, 2009, 9:10pm

I used to submit stuff to this magazine starting around age 15, while living in the burbs of Los Angeles. It was called HIP and it was perfunctorily mentioned in Mick Mercer's guide to all things goth, "Gothic Rock." For the record, as a teenager, I never referred to myself as goth. But I did refer to myself as a death rocker once or twice.

Here's a goofy little drawing I did that Vic Cervantes (HIP publisher) used as an ad and eventually a sticker... I like how it says the magazine needs "models."

Here's a playlist from the Krypt, a goth club in LA...

And here's an ad from inside the magazine for an Einstürzende Neubauten/Alien Sex Fiend show at Helter Skelter. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto there when I was 16. My memory's pretty hazy, but it might also have been the same week I won a reggae dance contest at a different club (dancing goth, ha ha) that was judged by that Dr. Drew guy from Loveline.

I found an academic paper about Helter Skelter online, written by someone named J. Beswick in 1993. The description of "goth dancing" cracks me up because I totally learned how to dance in a goth fashion at Helter Skelter. It's just as he describes:

"The evening at Helter Skelter usually begins with the ethereal-gloom music. Not many people have shown up yet, so there are only seven or eight people on the dance floor. Elizabeth Frazer of Cocteau Twins begins singing "Ivo", and almost immediately everyone stops. Those on the dance floor stand stock-still, clutching at themselves and staring down at the floor as if they were standing at a grave looking down upon a loved one. As the song begins to pick up, a few start to glide about the floor swinging their arms slowly and grandly, reaching out for something that seems to be just beyond their grasp. The others fall slowly to the floor, kneeling or crouching silently while clutching themselves even tighter. The night progresses, and the music becomes more death-punk and new wave. Several other dancers have taken to the floor. The music moves faster and harder, the lights begin to flash and swirl. Now there are a hundred or more people on the dance floor, arms swinging and moving about faster, their faces plastered with looks of utter pain. Some, dressed in spiked heels and bondage-gear grope greedily at themselves and those around them, while others collapse violently to their knees, only to spring up again a moment later, and still others bend backwards, stretching thier arms to the ceiling, invoking God's forgiveness or damnation. Gothic dance is something that can only truly be experienced first hand. It is at once a beautifully enchanting and an evilly repulsive sight."

CAMILLA HA