There’s a reason why I’m posting this sketch. Mind you, it’s not one of my best. Then again as of this posting, I’m sick at home with serious flu. A few days, a local DJ from the Goth/Post Punk scene passed away. The news has come to a shock among many. He had been battling […]
So if 2016 wasn’t wretched enough, we now learn about the passing of artist and musician Alan Vega (1938 – 2016).
Alan Vega was best known as a member of the experimental band Suicide. Their self-titled album is now considered groundbreaking. Suicide was influential figure to many New Wave, Punk, Post-Punk, early Goth and Industrial acts. The list goes on like a roll call: Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Devo, Joy Division/New Order, Sonic Youth, Big Black, D.A.F., Nick Cave, Ministry…the list goes on. They even left an impression on Bruce Springsteen. Today, Suicide’s impact can still be felt with the post-Electronica set, and bands like Radiohead.
Suicide‘s songs such as Frankie Teardrops has been covered numerous times. Here’s a cover of ‘Ghostrider’ done by Marc Almond of Soft Cell (Marc mentions Suicide being an influence in his autobiography) and Clint Ruin, otherwise known as Jim Thrilwell, Wiseblood, or Foetus.
It was one of his influences Henry Rollins, that broke the news of Vega’s passing.
When I was a teen just getting into underground music culture, I saw Alan Vega do a solo gig. He was opening up for a band, in which the name escapes me at the moment. It was at The Ritz, which is now known as Webster Hall, in NYC. This was sometime during the mid-1980s. When he was performing, I had no clue who he was. Now I consider myself lucky to have seen him live.
As of this blog posting of July 17th, 2016, if ones does a quick internet search, you can find out more about Vega and Suicide. Right now I’m going to focus on when Vega worked with members of the Goth band Sisters of Mercy.
In 1986, Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch decided to create a new side project. Entangled with a lot of red tape and personality conflicts between the other members Sister of Mercy, The Sisterhood was created.
Long story short, somehow Alan Vega along with Patrica Morrison (later to join the second version of Sisters of Mercy) got involved with Eldritch’s version of The Sisterhood. The single “Giving Ground” was released in 1986.
According to Wikipedia: “Alan Vega gets a credit on the album cover but it remains unknown whether he made any contributions to the recording. He was possibly part of the “Chorus of Vengeance” on the track “Rain from Heaven”.
Regardless of whether Vega did or did not contribute to The Sisterhood. It was still an acknowledgment of Vega’s impact on the Goth sound. In Goth clubs you can still hear this song being played.
The beautiful thing about Vega was he lived life on his own terms. Especially now since that philosophy is becoming more of a luxury in today’s corporate era.
“I like performers who I know are for real. You can tell, man, there’s an intensity about their stuff. You can tell right away they’re real people, ya know?” – Alan Vega.
Here’s some Post-Punk and Traditional Goth photo galleries online that you should check out.
Pinterest is another good site for uncovering ’80’s Goth photos.
Finishing this post is an old clip found on YouTube. Footage of ’80s Goth dancing at some unnamed club.
Just wanted to wish the one and only, legendary Siouxsie Sioux a happy birthday. Much more than an original Goth prototype, Siouxsie unleashed her own unique brand of style, sound and charisma. This iconic Gemini forged the blueprint that can never be truly duplicated.
Just wanted to post this. It sums up how classic Goth had that understated, yet dark sensuality. This is the Goth I remember. Found it on the We The Strangers Facebook page. Bauhaus live back in 1980.
Photo credit: William Roettger.
During my teens, I kept a scrapbook of my musical heroes. The first scrapbook was dedicated to Culture Club, particularly Boy George. There would be articles, drawings, stickers, etc. By the time my Culture Club phase was over, the scrapbook was jammed packed. Therefore it made sense to start a scrapbook of my newest flavor, Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Since I was now well into my mid-teens, my focus was more collecting on Siouxise vinyl, rather than articles. By 1984 or ’85, I had discovered Greenwich Village in NYC. During this era, the Village on both the West and East sides, had plenty of collectible record stores.
Occasionally I would purchase back issues with Siouxsie interviews. To come across articles featuring her and The Banshees was a bit harder. Siouxsie and The Banshees wasn’t exactly as ‘mainstream’ as Culture Club. Most of the printed press was found through imports such as New Musical Express, better known as the NME.
Thanks to my collectible hunting, I discovered an old back issue of Trouser Press magazine. Trouser Press was an American rock music publication which covered the early Punk and New Wave movement. The magazine ceased print back in 1984, but its founder Ira Robbins later put out a book titled The Trouser Press Guide To New Wave Records.
The 1982 issue of Trouser Press had a two page article on Siouxsie and The Banshees. Which I’ve re-posted here from my Siouxsie scrapbook.
Exactly one month ago, legendary rock singer David Bowie passed away. After fighting a private battle with cancer, Bowie passed away two days after the release of his 25th album, ‘Blackstar.’ He was 69 years old.
After five decades of creating music, no one can ever deny his massive influence. Along the way, Bowie experimented with various genres. As a musical artist, he was never afraid to think outside the box. One can say he taught his audience that it was okay to explore, to evolve, to be the ever changing chameleon.
Who would’ve thought with the arrival of his Ziggy Stardust creation, that his impact would be felt for generations to come. From Ziggy, to the Thin White Duke, his experimental ‘Berlin Trilogy’, to his Scary Monsters era, even with the Pop inclined ‘Let’s Dance’ album, and beyond, Bowie’s creations spawned children in the form of other creatives.
Although Bowie never truly labeled himself, he had a definite impact among early Gothic subculture. You can hear traces of Bowie’s influence in such seminal Goth, Industrial and Post-Punk bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Bauhaus, The Cure, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. If it wasn’t apparent within the image, you could hear traces within the music. No, David Bowie didn’t create Goth – but he was significant. In turn, these fore mentioned bands passed the torch down to other creatives, thus creating a lineage.
One example of the crossover between David Bowie and the early Goth bands could be seen in the 1983 vampire film The Hunger. Here Bowie, one of the main leads along with actresses Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon engage in a twisted love triangle. The first scene, John (Bowie) and Miriam (Deneuve) enter a New York City nightclub. As they pick fresh victims to seduce and eventually kill, Bauhaus is performing on stage.
Speaking of Bauhaus, one of their best known songs was a cover of Ziggy Stardust.
It becomes apparent that Bauhaus and other musicians within that similar vein were Bowie’s dark children. In fact, as Bowie broke boundaries with music, art, gender, sexuality, fashion, etc., it shows how we were all his children.
Oops. Had forgotten about this blog. As they say, life got in the way, and that was certainly the case during 2015.
In case you’re curious, my main blog, basically set-up to promote my comics, artwork and illustration can be found here: https://witchesbrewpress.wordpress.com/
However, back to this one.
For the sake of posting content, today’s entry will basically be an old club flyer.
Can’t believe I kept this particular one for so long. Probably because it was an post concert party for my favorite band at the time, Siouxsie and The Banshees.
The World wasn’t a Goth club per say. If anything, the crowd catered to ’80s Club Kids with a NYC downtown attitude. I believe another time, Devo performed at that venue. The World wasn’t the easiest place to enter either. If you weren’t part of the ‘cool’ clique, you were denied entry. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, a lot of downtown edgy clubs had this criteria. New York City is a totally different place compared to 30 years ago, but back then, to have a doorman block access because you weren’t freaky enough was a fact of life.
The date on this flyer is from Thursday, May 15th, 1986. Exactly 30 years ago. It’s been that long. It’s a miracle that this artifact is still in my possession.
Anyway, it’s time to stop dating myself and wrap up this post. Till next time, and hopefully it won’t take so long to update.
Now for a light hearted fashion moment. As opposed to having a heart as black as your soul. (Ooff! Bad cringing joke there.)
Back in the 1980’s, no self-respecting Goth went without at least big hair, pale makeup, black clothing, and at least one pair of Winklerpicker shoes or boots in their wardrobe.
What are Winklerpickers you ask? Besides being originated sometime around the 15th century, Winklerpickers were first worn by 1950’s and 1960’s subcultures such as the Teddy boys and girls. The pointy boots The Beatles used to wear was part of their early iconic look. The Mods added this style of shoe to their wardrobe. The Winklerpickers became a trad Goth staple during the 80’s after the Punk/New Wave movement brought the appearance back in stride.
Even Rik, the obnoxious pseudo-anarchist character from the UK television show ‘The Young Ones’ wore red Winklepickers.
Growing up in NYC during the 1980’s, I remember West 8th street (in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan) having show stores which specialized in the pointy toe shoe variety. Further down the street heading to the East Village was Trash and Vaudeville. The store sold all kinds of rock n’ roll footwear, including the infamous Winklepickers. Trash, as it’s affectionately known, is still in business at the exact same location to this day. Maybe they might even have a few pointy pairs in stock.
I had totally forgotten about Winklepickers, until I went to an Absolution club night in either 2011 or 2012. One of the DJs and promoters, Jason Ledyard, was sporting a pair going halfway up the calf. After not seeing someone wear a pair in years, the sighting made me do a double-take. As a side note, Absolution was a long running Goth event created both DJs Jason until late 2013.
Eighteen hole Winklepicker boots. From The Gothic Shoe Company.
You can still purchase a pair of Winklepickers online from various sites. If going vintage, there’s always eBay and Etsy. Otherwise you can buy new ones from sites such as Pennangalan or The Gothic Shoe Company. Below is a list of some sites, both for reference and maybe shopping if you desire a pair.
Till next time…
One of the first magazines catering to the Gothic subculture on US shores was Propaganda Magazine.
Established by New York City photographer Fred H. Berger, this publication set the bar for the US Goth faction between the years of1982 to 2002. While the articles were usually short, the photography itself captured the essence of the (then) Goth underground.
Before the internet, people found out about bands through word of mouth, and magazines such as Propaganda. For example, it was through this magazine that I discovered the influential NeoFolk band Death In June.
The photography mostly done by Fred H. Berger, carried a lot of androgynous imagery. Far from being one dimensional however, the photographs also hinted at sexuality, particularly homo-eroticism, bdsm, role playing, and fetishism. It also covered body modification way before the mainstreaming of tattoos and piercings. Other subjects included religious imagery, paganism, vampirism, literature, and history.
Unfortunately Propaganda Magazine folded in 2002. The official website ceased three years after the publication stopped. Not Besides a Wikipedia entry and a Facebook page, not much information regarding Propaganda Magazine seems to be found. Fred H. Berger himself seems to remain a mystery. Personally I wish that Berger would take the photos during the Propaganda era, and put the collection into book form. (According to the Propaganda Magazine Facebook page, a book proposal is in the works.) It would be fitting, since Propaganda Magazine was not only influential to me during my teen years, but to the overall Goth-Industrial-Post Punk subculture.
Postnote: If 1980s Goth photography interest you, there’s a book titled ‘Some Wear Leather Some Wear Lace.’ (Andi Harriman & Marloes Bontie, Intellect, Bristol, 2014) You can check out the book on this site: http://www.postpunkproject.com/
*The photos you see in this blog post were not my scans. They were taken from various sources on the internet, since I had long lost my own copies of Propaganda Magazine aeons ago. Apologizes and thanks towards those who had posted images from this publication. You may also order back issues of Propaganda Magazine by contacting Fred H. Berger through the magazine’s Facebook page.