Propaganda Magazine

One of the first magazines catering to the Gothic subculture on US shores was Propaganda Magazine.

Cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 15.
Cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 15.

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.

Another classic front cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 13.
Another classic front cover of Propaganda Magazine, issue 13.

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.

CrossDressingShadowBoxing ShadesOfGenet SiouxsieAt13

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.

A later edition of Propaganda Magazine, issue 25.
A later edition of Propaganda Magazine, issue 25.

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:


*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.



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