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Confessions of a California Goth GirlTim King Salem-News.com
Sexy? Strange? Shocking? All of that and then some...
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Perusing definitions of the term 'goth' on Google brings just what I suspected, a lot of different meanings and uses for the word. In preparing to write the interview questions for this story many things passed through my mind, including a phase my childhood best friend went through that was definitely considered Goth in LA back in the 80's. So anyway I searched the term and found:
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe two of whose branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and ...
That wouldn't be the goth I'm thinking of. So I press on and locate the religious description.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." Isaiah 9:2 ...
Um, no not that one, here we go...
The goth subculture is a contemporary subculture found in many countries. It began in England during the early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the ...
That's the one we're looking for. It is a style that goes way back but saw a tremendous resurgence in recent years that is continuing.
It makes sense that a style that pays homage to the ghastly would hail from the United Kingdom, home of castles and ghosts and worse. In fact the Guardian in the UK proclaims, Goths make a comeback as fashion goes back to black. But what is it and who is it and why do people follow this trend? Is it about music, acting, reality, avoiding reality?
These are some of the questions I posed for a Goth Girl from California's Capitol City, who uses the Facebook name, Selki Stitches.
It wasn't too surprised to learn that California's Goth scene is raging and the rawness of this more evolved version of Goth culture continues to attract new members and keep those who have been immersed for a long time, busy.
The Sacramento scene has gone through a lot over the last year she says, but this goth gal, "believes it is on the rise".
She says there are mini battles being fought everywhere to include the 18+ crowd in the club scene, but at last there is only one 18+ liquor license for the whole city, and factor 1x claims they will have it by November.
I remember the Goth scene being a subject in the media several years ago, though perhaps not as much as the more recent 'emo' trends. News reports about these youth cultures seem to center around a darkness and this angle of these reports often casts a shadow on the culture that could be construed as unfair.
As radical as her appearance may be, Selki Stitches strikes me more like an average 20-year old than somebody particularly unusual.
The thing about young people who are not hesitant to be expressive, is that they brighten and diversify our days more often than we perhaps realize. Who doesn't like a person who has a degree of daring? It takes more courage than less to step out of the conformity mold that holds so many people fast.
I also appreciate the fact that Selki sets the record straight in the goth-slut factor. Apparently, the more traditional youths, 'yuppie' oriented types by Selki's description, tend to think goth girls are there for the score; loose and available. As she stresses in her interview, they are woefully surprised and disappointed over how wrong they are.
In her own self-description, Selki says, "I'm 20 years old, no tattoos, ears pierced (twice) belly button pierced and tongue with a horizontal piercing I'm 5'9" and roughly 138lbs give or take a few with dress size 4 and I have blue eyes and black hair."
Selki Stitches: NO, I could not do it in 30 seconds or less, because Goth is different to everyone, as there are many different types of Goths within the goth-subculture such as cyber and steam punk, and there are some who believe the only true Goths are from the 80s. But as for me I would consider someone goth if they enjoy the darker side of life, find death interesting, read vampire books, dress the part, and they themselves have adopted the goth title.
Goth to me is finding joy in the dark. So anything that’s black, mystical, or has a twisted edge to it could be goth. Its all in how it presented. Darkness is the key ingredient in my opinion.
Tim King: What age group are you in and how did you come to be part of the Goth world?
Selki Stitches: well I’m in that awkward 18-20 age group, where I’m an adult but I still can’t do anything. My first taste of the sense however came when I was 17, it was at Sac Anime, and I remember it very clearly.
There were these girls and they had this really cool looking hair stuff (I later found out that its called crin) it looked pretty cool and I wanted some. Thus began my curiosity, so I hopped on Google and found out everything I could.
While at Sac Anime my boy friend at the time and I were introduced to what I like to call the “Asylum crowd” or at least a small portion of it. A group of kids all 18+ who went to Asylum (the Goth club) every Sunday night.
My boyfriend already knew some of them since he was 2 years older than I, he was able to go to club already (we were on the rocks at this point and no one knew we we‘re dating and had been for 3 years) we broke up shortly afterwards, in which time he found comfort in the club scene and I had to make do with the internet, my books, and dread making.
I lost track of him for a while and all I knew was that he went to clubs, so I held out on going until I was 19 and we were both a couple relationships removed.
The moment I entered the club i was home. I had no idea it would be like this. I had found my people and they where dressed in black, with vampire fangs, and trench coats. But my love for this dark subculture steams back even father as a kid. I would always want to play vampire or demon, I would make up stories in my head about being a dark beautiful woman with glowing eyes that could only come out at night.
One of my earliest memories is of my babysitter's kids, they where goth with the platform shoes to match, and all I could think was; I can’t wait to grow up and be able to wear stuff like that. In Jr high and high school I was constantly teased for being Emo and hated that title. I would tell people “im not emo I just like black” ( I hated all labels at this point) so it wasn’t until I started going to club that I finally allowed myself to adopt the Goth label.
My attempt to blog describes my first time at club *I use all fake names* http://www.tumblr.com/blog/selki-satin
Tim King: Does stepping out of the pattern of a societal norm bring negative repercussions?
Selki Stitches: Yes and no, I personally feel that embracing my gothic nature has freed me and made me and I'm a more happy person therefore making me more confident. It helps me stand out.
I get a lot of compliments on my outfits when I go out in public because I like to think I wear goth tastefully and less for the shock factor as others will often do. I did at one point have blond hair in my desperate attempts to fit into society. It was mostly because I needed a job and was tired of my family harassing me.
But the funny thing is that I didn’t get a job until I dyed my hair black and started wearing eyeliner. I get hit on a lot more now also. I think I pull off the look rather well. So for me on an average day being goth is not a big deal.
But I have been told by “normal” friends that guys think goth girls are easy and by dressing goth was just another way of saying “I'm a slut.” and its true, I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve been at club and some yuppie thinks he can swoop on in and have his way (good luck).
Also when I go shopping by myself or with a group of Goths we are always eye balled be security.
There have even been times where the security guard will openly fallow us from store to store. Our group was even asked to move our coffee meets to another location, under the idea that we where scaring away other customers.
I have been asked to explain my religion to people (like being Goth is a religion) they’re always shocked to find out I’m Christian. My mother being the worst offender- would go off on tangents on how she didn’t raise me to be like this. That why I was a “closet goth” for so many years I just didn’t want to hear the static and I had yet to find a community to fall back on.
Tim King: You talked about the problems that exist between the age groups and venues; are members of the Goth community getting political to make a point about things like, in this case, limited liquor licenses?
*Selki Stitches: I talked to my friend Emory about this; he is the owner of Elysium. He is also co-owner of the Sacramento Goths FB group. With any sub culture there is always politics.
However I do not feel that people who attend these clubs will feel any sense of loyalty to one club versus the other because everything is still new. All it means is now there’s options if you’re over 21. You could potentially club hop on Sunday nights.
As for changing the city regulation on 18+ liquor license, its something I would like to figure out and so would everyone else in my boat but we don’t even know where to start. We just know that they don’t give them out anymore. (so no one is getting political ..yet)
Then there is the business stand point of the door fee with the money the bar makes and if 18+ is really worth it or should the younger kids be charged more at the door (which is how it was at Asylum).
Not enough people seem to care enough to actually make a campaign out of it and to get the city to change its laws. (Emory’s face book facebook.com/deathsbeloved)
Tim King: Would you describe Goth as your lifestyle?
Selki Stitches: a family I never knew I had- that is the first thought that comes to mind. I don’t know, I feel it is pretty normal.
But then again I lost site of normal a while ago. Once clubs are back for my age range (this November) I will be going every week like I was when Asylum was still at Barcode.
Emory and Kyle (the guys I live with) are both over 21 so I get to sometime see what happens after clubs close, when everyone comes home. There are the meet ups almost every week, which is just a bunch of us hanging out. I go through my little phases as well.
For example: I spent 3 days watching Invader Zim and making dreads (so stereo typical) X). I do oftentimes find myself in a cemetery, I think its peaceful and a good place to reflect.
I have my own “beauty’ routine, to keep my skin pale, my hair black, and my body in shape. Clothes shopping can always be a hassle if you want something nice and new you’re gonna have to pay big bucks… or you can get lucky at Goodwill. I enjoy things just like everyone else, its just that the things I enjoy tend to have that dark flare to them.
I do go to school, I want to double major in Art and Mechanical Engineering. I also have a part time job at Blimpies were I make sandwiches. I’m a typical 20-year old that just so happens to wear black and go to clubs.
Tim King: In the photos of you I see an art form; something that goes between real beauty that would be judged as such on any scale, and sometimes scary, forlorn and sad images, can you talk about this range of expressions?
Selki Stitches: the range of expression comes from real life. We are not all happy all the time, we are people. Every outfit and every photo shoot I try to become someone or something new.
And this new creation has its owns feelings and its own story. This is me bringing my visions to life. Remember how I said when I was younger I liked to play vampire or demon, well I’m still doing that, just now I’m taking pictures. Yes, I’m 20 years old and I still play dress -up only now its called modeling or art.
Tim King: What are the reactions you draw from the public when you dress full Goth and have the full approach, is it shocking to people or are they more accepting?
Selki Stitches: I always get curious looks whenever I dress full Goth, people aren’t really that rude to me any more. It was worse in Junior high and high school. And people tend to keep any negative thoughts they have to themselves.
If someone is being outright mean they are usually younger; like 15, and they are just rude to everyone so I don’t take it personally.
I don’t ever wear anything that would offend any religion. That is why I think haven’t been openly damned to hell yet. (although some of my friends say this has happened to them).
Sometimes I have people who ask to take my picture or don’t ask and I catch them taking my picture. Little kids are the funniest because they just say what ever they want
“Mommy what is that?”
“Mommy look at her ! Look! Look!”
I’ve had little kids just stop and stare wide eyed, so I wave and smile (this sometimes breaks the spell).
But I always love it whenever a little kid gets the courage to come up all shy just to tell me I look really pretty.
Tim King: OK, well it is obvious that being sexy and looking good is a big part of it, so where does being attractive rate on a scale of importance with Goth? Just answer for yourself.
Selki Stitches: it very important for me personally, I enjoy turning heads and being completely covered. That is my goal; to have a modest amount of skin showing and still get hit on more than Barbie with her butt hanging out. As for a mate and life partner I am somewhat shallow, I like them to be attractive, but being goth is not a requirement for me. He or she just has to willing to accept that fact that I enjoy going to clubs and dressing in black. So a partner must first catch my eye with looks and then have the right personality to match, I think this is true with almost anyone.
Tim King: Again, the shock factor; what kind of feeling does that bring when you present yourself in a way that average people might find shocking, scandalous; is it exciting?
Selki Stitches: I love it. Yes I admit when I do this it is an attention thing. But it my way of having fun. It not hurting anyone or anything so no foul. It makes me happy and excited especially when people ask to take my pictures. That was the point. And hey maybe I made someone's day a little more interesting.
Tim King: I know like anything this trend and culture has its own range of people and interests, but at the end of the day, is it largely theatrics?
Selki Stitches: I believe clothes have the ability to make us feel a certain way, sexy, smart, professional and they change how we act for that day but as far as overlapping personalities people are the same day to day. We all know each other well enough to know when someone’s acting or not. It is however always fun to greet a newcomer in seductive vampire like ways, Or to lead them on as if you’re crazy. Sometimes I’ll become a different person to ward off unwanted yuppies at a club. Its fun, but it not like I have to stay in character for such events. Some people make up there own gothic like character when they go to conventions like sac anime (so there they have the option of staying character) also another thing I have always been interested in is “vampire of the masquerade” but I do not know of any group that meets, so I don’t know what its like in that circle.
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format was launched in December, 2005.
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