Saturday, December 24, 2011

Goth Music for the Holidays

Hello lovelies, I'm afraid due to the pre-Christmas shenanigans there will not be an actual post today. I hope you all are having a delightful holiday season, no matter what you celebrate, and you can expect a real post on the 28th. In the mean time, here are some songs appropriate for those of us who celebrate Christmas in a spookier way.

"Gothic Christmas" - Within Temptation

"Christmas Sucks" by Porn Orchard

Carol of the Bells - Trans Siberian Orchestra

Making Christmas - Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack

Comin' Out for Christmas - Voltaire

Oh Holy Night - Apocalyptica

We Wish you a Merry Xmas - Metal Xmas

Jingle Balls - KoRn

"A Winter Wassail" by Faith and the Muse

"Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy" by Abney Park

Happy holidays and stay safe and spooky!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Anna-Varney

Oh boy, Goth drama. My favorite kind! Sometimes watching the black lace and ratted hair fly is all I want in life, so long as I'm not the one fighting about something. This week, however, Goths from all over have been entering into a debate about one Ms. Anna-Varney, of Sopor Aeternus. All over the internet you can find posts about being an "Ex-Sopor" fan, both for and against the notion. I thought I'd do a post about this whole bit of drama and then ask you all what you thought.

Disclaimer: this article mentions Zoophilia and other fetishes. If this would upset you in any way, I do advise that you wait. No, there won't be explicit pictures.

Source: Last.FM

A little bit of background, first. Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows is a "neoclassical darkwave, dark folk, neo-Medieval, and Gothic rock" band (if Wikipedia is to be believed) whose lyrics are range from spooky to creepy to makes-my-skin-crawl uncomfortable, with a few songs about loss in there somewhere. The vocals are done by Anna-Varney Cantodea. Due to unfortunate circumstances, her childhood was a less than happy one, with rumors of abuse and beatings going around, which has left her with a bad taste in her mouth in regards to humans. Because she dislikes humans so much, she refuses to do live performances or even meet her fans, but lives a relatively isolated existence. So, what did she do to piss people off? Apparently, Goths are none too pleased with people who support and condone beastiality.

Try as I might, my readers, I could not find a single person who has a screen cap of the incident itself. What happened apparently was that Anna-Varney made some sort of pro-beastiality comment on her Facebook page, which made a lot of people very angry and forced Facebook to shut her page down. I'm not entirely sure if this was her saying that she participated in it or if she was just saying "whatever you wanna do, do it," but that's okay. Even on the non-official pages people, former fans mostly, were leaving nasty messages and claiming that she was abusing the animals and that they thought that her lyrics about fetishistic subject were joking.

Yes, you read that right. She's mentioned this before. My favorite, proud example of her more controversial and fetishistic songs include The Urine Song (lyrics), an amusing romp. Of course, this does not satisfy some critics, who say that a urine fetish is not the same as a beastiality one because beastiality cannot be consensual. If consent is, as I have heard it described, "nothing less than a sober, enthusiastic yes" then it hardly seems that beastiality can be consensual. None the less, people who support this sexual style say that you can tell when an animal does and does not want it. Anna-Varney is a committed vegan and empathizes with animals more than humans. If you were to say that her condoning beastiality was animal abuse, she would probably be more than a bit upset.

Source: lmidvbi

As it stands currently, beastiality is illegal in 32 states of the USA and in many countries. I'm not entirely sure about where Anna-Varney lives, but perhaps it is a legal practice there. Of course, if Facebook is banning it because it is illegal, then why do I have friends who have "liked" Facebook groups about Marijuana use? It's illegal too, here, anyway. What makes it different?

Well, lets not beat about the bush. Zoophilia in all forms has been practiced for a very long time. In the eighteenth century you can find art from Asia that depicts women having sex with octopuses, from Europe you have tales of men having sex with sheep. It is not a new phenomenon. Then again, many things that we now frown upon were ancient traditions, so that doesn't concern it really. Anna-Varney's condoning of the sexualization of animals is not that unusual in the modern day, either. I won't post any links, but a simple Google search can turn up many articles, forum discussions, and groups that support the practice of beastiality and are willing to share their experiences. And you know what the great thing is? These fetishists, like all others, are people too. They aren't scary or unusual, they're perfectly respectful, they're just like me and you. Despite popular portrayals of Zoophiles as sexually deprived, these people's beastiality is just one aspect of their lives, and a lot of them have human partners as well. Perhaps these groups will soon redefine our concept of consent. Well, not is PETA gets to them, anyway.

As far as I am concerned, it is not my responsibility as a fan to try to A) teach Anna-Varney a moral lesson about animal abuse, B) judge her on the things she posts on her Facebook, or C) change my opinion about her music because of something she, as a person, said. I, as a fan of her music, just like the songs, and if she happens to use the money I pay for her music to support a lifestyle that includes condoning beastiality, that's not really my concern. I'm not a vegan, nor am I vegetarian, I routinely participate in a meat industry that is less than kind to animals, so I'm hardly a moral authority on the subject of animal abuse. Would I have sex with my cats? Not at all, but nor would I presume to judge people on their sexual preferences, which can't really be helped.

Source: Listal

And you know what Anna-Varney thinks of all these opinions? Yours? Mine? She doesn't give one single fuck, and is off baking cookies like a boss. Yeah. She's that cool. I'm not that cool though, and I care about your opinions. Go ahead and share what you think of this development as well as anything you know about it down in my comments section.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Tips for Making Awesome Polyvore Sets

I love Polyvore. You know why? Because it allows me to play with pretty clothes that I could never afford. And, you know what's great? The monitored and censored internet at my school allows me to go onto Polyvore and create sets. Of course, I would never do that during class. No, never. Only while sitting on the steps outside waiting for my bus. Anyway, I've been doing those sets for about two years, so I thought I'd share some of my wisdom. Feel free to post any tips you have in the comments below!

In plain sight

1. Expand your searches -
You'd be surprised what slips under the radar when you give too specific search directions. Sometimes, shops don't name their products "pink belt" or "blue button down shirt." Sometimes, that style of skirt is called "Jezebel Skirt" or "Paris Night Ring." So, when you're searching, don't limit yourself to very specific things. You never know what you're going to miss.


2. Mind your color matching

Don't agonize over it, but some colors just don't match. Different tones of red and different materials are going to be fairly obvious since they all tend to be crammed into a small space, not spread out over your frame. You're most likely to avoid this by looking for items made by the same manufacturer since they're making from the same cloth for some clothes and are generally using the same lighting. Of course, some colors (I find this to be particularly difficult with velvets) just aren't going to match up in the item that you want, but for most items you're going to have a lot of pages to dig through so there is usually a new item hidden on the next page that can fit. If this fails, remember that you can always clip items yourself using the Polyvore clipper, and some of those will be the best items you can find.

Lye Lo

3. Join and submit to groups

There are a lot of groups out there dedicated to Goth style. A few that I am particularly fond of are Go Goth, New Age Goth N Punk, Old School Goth, Gothic Group, Into the Shadows, Gothic, Victorian, and Lolita, though I suggest you stay away from groups like EMO_GOTH_H0T_TOPIC. Or maybe a group that pitches with the tagline "IF YOUR EMO OR GOTH THAN THIS IS THE PLACE FOR U...OR IF U JUST HATE PREPPY PEOPLE...OR IF U JUST LOVE HOT TOPIC TO DEATH..." if your thing. I don't know. Point is, if you join one of these groups, others in the group will be able to locate your sets more easily and you will get more feedback on them. That, and a group will be sure to provide you with a lot more inspiration than you might otherwise have.


4. Add non-clothing items

While Polyvore is generally used for clothing sets, you can add more than just the standard clothing items. Add make up, backgrounds, furniture or other set pieces, wigs, text, and just about anything else to really finalize your vision for the outfit. One of my favorite things that I've seen (and used myself) is outfits that use the swatches of makeup at the background instead of just setting the tubes or tins off to the side, so get creative with those.

Dream Coordinate

5. Consider a model

There are a lot of models to chose from, but unfortunately many of them come with clothes on previously. You're going to be lucky to find a model with an intact head and arms, but more likely you're going to find a usable head and no arms. This is where it gets more complicated. You may have to take arms from another model, generally from a woman modeling either a tank top or some sort of gloves, and crop those behind your top. Try to match the skin tone as close as you can. If you're having trouble finding a head that you like, search for wigs and hair accessories. Most of them can be found on someone's head. Apart from that, I've seen Polyvore sets use dolls and even animals to model the fashions, so don't feel limited to a human face!

Release the Bats

Bonus tip: Don't fall into the lazy trap and keep the backgrounds for pictures! Your sets will look their best if you take a few moments to clip the background out.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's all this fuss about Nu-Goths?

I feel like this is a default topic for Goth bloggers these days. Maybe because we are the "first line of defense" of what defines Goth, maybe because we like talking about clothes quite a bit. Whatever the reason, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Here is my (sort of) objective take on Goth and Hipster's bastard child.

Source: Tumblr

What is Nu Goth? Nu Goth is a fashion style that takes some of the tropes of casual Goth fashion and mixes it up with Hipster fashion staples like high-waisted shorts, crop tops, and oversized sunglasses. These Nu Goths do not listen to Goth music, they simply wear the clothing that they like. Goths often get up in arms about this "misappropriation" of the word Goth (Like it hasn't been misappropriated before? But I digress.) This inevitably sparks a lot of controversy between the Goths about if you can be a Goth without listening to Goth music and generally makes a lot of people upset.
Hipster + Goth = Nu Goth?

My issue? Why are we acting like this "Nu Goth" is a new trend? Mainstream fashion deems goth style "in" every few seasons anyway, and their takes on our subculture often involve the same tropes as the Nu Goths do: black skinny jeans, oversized crosses, cheap lace gloves/armwarmers, poorly fitted cropped "corset tops", and shoddily applied black lipstick. I think especially of Forever 21's take on Goth for the past couple of years.

Source: Piccsy

Of course, the general difference is that Nu Goths use the term "Goth" to describe their fashion while mainstream fashion avoids our label like the plague. I remember distinctly the Lady of the Manners discussing someone who was asking how to wear black lipstick (or was it nail polish?) without looking Goth. Of course, that is the general rule, there are some mass producers who would use the term Goth as a marketing ploy, but not to the extent that the Nu Goths do. For some reason, their usage upsets us while the mainstream fashion culture's non-use upsets us as well.

Source: SiouxsieLaw

Of course, that's not true for all Goths. There are some Goths that like the trend on its own. After all, parts of it aren't too different from a casual Goth outfit. The creepers? The jumpers? The torn tights? If these come into mainstream stores for reasonable prices (No, $20 for torn tights is not reasonable,) I can see why some Goths would welcome the trend for a while. Of course, there will be others that hate it just like they hate when Goth is adopted by the mainstream fashion culture without the guise of Nu Goth. It's a personal issue, I suppose.

Nu Goth v. Babybats

Maybe it's the Hipster element that we dislike, the rude attitude about shunning what came before you in an attempt to be special. As Goths know, we aren't that special. How many Goths are there in the world? Thousands? We don't pretend to be special unique snowflakes. If you do, you're more likely to get shunned and dismissed by Goths than celebrated by them. It's a baby bat trait to want to be Goth to be special. Maybe the Nu Goths are the new Baby bats? The attitudes toward them remain the same.

Source: DIY or Die

Honestly, though, if a rude enough Goth from the 1980s saw my closet, they might not like what they find. Gothic Lolita influences? No Aqua net? Very few DIY pieces? My god! How dare she! Oh, she listens to Christian Death and Bauhaus? I guess she's okay. I guess. But that opinion isn't as highly held any more. Not many Goths complain about Gothic Lolita anymore. Maybe it's because popular icons such as the previously mentioned Lady of the Manners have endorsed Lolita, maybe because most Gothic Lolitas that aren't Goths do not claim to be Goth. Whatever the reason, our fashions change over time. What we deem acceptable as Goth changes over time.

Maybe it's time to put the fighting words away. What do you think?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

5 Common Myths About the Victorians

The Victorian Era, under Queen Victoria of England, has a special place in the heart of Goths. For my intents and purposes, I will be extending the Victorian era to other countries beside England, because many of them took influences from the Victorians. See, children, this is what we call globalization. In any case, here are some myths that I've seen thrown around about the Victorians and some cases against them.

Source: Trellia on DeviantART

1. They all wore bustles.
The Victorian era extended from the years 1837 to 1901 and, luckily, fashions changed all through those times. The traditional bustle (or what we think of as a bustle) came into fashion in the late 1860s and lasted until the early 1890s. Even then, however, the average woman usually wouldn't wear one. Why? The emerging middle and working classes could not afford it, in two ways. Firstly, a bustle would interfere with their ability to work. Factories were not at all fit for bustle wearers and they would have just gotten in the way. Secondly, I want you to think of how much rich, decadent fabric today costs. I don't mean the bargain bin at Jo-Ann's, but I mean the good kind. Now increase that because the Victorians were just getting into more advanced textile mills and try to think of how much it would cost to make a bustle skirt with yards and yards of this decadent fabric. Yeah, it wasn't cheap, so not all women wore them.

Source: Lady-of-Crow on DeviantART
(click the link to see the dates associated with each silhouette)

2. The Victorian era was completely stagnant until the gilded age rescued us.
The Victorian era was actually the era of the movers and the shakers, the ones who would form our modern world by disregarding traditions and carving a new way of life out for citizens. Asylum reform, corsetry reform, the suffragettes, and even everyone's favorite tradition of the white wedding dress were all prevalent in the Victorian era. Type "Victorian reform" into any search engine and you'll find many types of reforms that, even today, we are feeling the effects from. At least Steampunkers know that the Victorian era was a time of invention and discovery, though their approach is fictional.

Source: Cliff Cramp

3. The Victorians were all horrible prudes.
Happily, no. The Victorians had hormones and desires just like you and I do. However, unlike you and I, the Victorians were extraordinarily conscious of their reputation and how they appeared to those around them. Since travel was expensive, most of the Victorian society was restricted to the town in which they grew up, and if you didn't want to be mocked everywhere you went for the rest of your life, it would probably be a better thing for you to mind your manners and continue to be proper. However, what happens behind closed doors was not necessarily still prudish. The Victorian woman did not "lie back and think of England" as a rule while she and her husband were having sex. Of course, the expression of sexuality was not as celebrated as it would be in the later 20th century, but it was not as hushed up as it could have been. Besides, reading the literature of the day (particularly the feminine romance novels and the works of Oscar Wilde) should give you an idea of how sexual and romantic the Victorians could be.

Our dearest daring Oscar Wilde
Source: Top Tenz

4. The husband controlled every aspect of his wife's life. Like many cultures before them, women were rarely in a seat of power in Victorian England. Men ran the parliament and women did not gain the right to vote until 1928, but that does not mean that they had no power. The high society Victorian woman would and could join political and social causes, throwing her money behind certain reforms until they were to her liking. The Victorian era woman would have known that to control something as a woman was to do it subtly, manipulating the efforts of men into doing as she wanted. But, honestly, a woman's relationship with her husband was very personal to them and not all husbands were tyrannical in their rein over the household. Besides, if the woman was the one raising the children (or if she picked out the nursemaid in charge of raising the children) then she had a lot more sway in her family life than one might expect at first glance.

5. Everyone wore corsets.

Like bustles, corsets were worn only by those who could afford them. Think of the materials used in making the corset: fabric, steel, ribbon, thread and either someone to put it all together or a machine to put it all together. All of these materials costed money, money that most people did not have. The average salary of Americans in the manufacturing force in 1870 was $129 (according to the National Bureau of Economic Research) a year₁. A year. On that kind of budget, most women could not afford a corset period. They were, more than likely, more focused on their families and any jobs that they had than on their figure. During the later 19th century when doctors were realizing that tight lacing was leading to severe medical problems, the call for the end of corsetry was head loud and clear. The Rational Dress Society, formed in 1881, protested "against the wearing of tightly-fitting corsets; of high-heeled shoes; of heavily-weighted skirts, as rendering healthy exercise almost impossible; and of all tie down cloaks or other garments impeding on the movements of the arms. It protests against crinolines or crinolettes of any kind as ugly and deforming….[It] requires all to be dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully, to seek what conduces to health, comfort and beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other" according to their Gazette.
A reform corset from 1892
Source: Wikipedia.

If you have any other queries about these myths, type them in the comments. Another valuable resource that I just love to promote is This Is Not Victorian over on Tumblr, dedicated to the posts tagged "Victorian" that just...aren't. Let's end an era of ignorance about the Victorians once and for all, shall we?