Last night I went to another concert. In the past few months I’ve been on a roll, going to live shows for Television, Front 242 and Gary Numan. Last minute a friend had an extra ticket to the sold out event at Brooklyn Bazaar to see Clan of Xymox. Here’s the strange part. I had a suspicion I was going to attend that concert. This was despite the fact I didn’t get advance tickets. Lo and behold, it was meant to be, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Two years ago around this time, my mother started to decline in health. By October 2015, she had passed away. The distraction was welcome indeed.
I’ve been in and out of the Goth subculture since I was 15 years old. My discovery of Gothic was by accident. It was my original intention to explore the ’80s Punk scene, as I was checking out for example, the Hardcore matinee at CBGB’s every Sunday afternoon. There I saw bands like Corrosion Of Conformity and Government Issue. Yes, those were the days. That phase didn’t last long with me. Something about Goth lured me in. As Siouxsie and The Banshees replaced Culture Club as a favorite band, I began to get more curious about anything Deathrock related. Soon I was meeting like minded people as I was attending concerts by The Cure back in 1985. Felt more aligned with other Goth peers than the Punks. Another factor was back in those days, you had to be careful around the hardcore scene. The violence was turning me off. The original Gothic (now known as “traditional” or “old school”) aesthetic was definitely more pleasing to the eye. Propaganda Magazine was another influence. Eventually I focused all my energy towards anything Batcave.
When I was 18 or 19, eventually I got into other genres of music. Which is only natural. Yet it’s like that horribly corny line from the film The Godfather Part III. You know that line when the Michael Corleone character says : ” Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” Which was my case with Goth. I’ve been dipping in and out of the local Goth scene since the late ’90s, but nothing really serious. In 2011 I was inadvertently dragged to a local Goth club party. An American expat from Germany had just came back to the U.S. He was DJing at a local event and wanted some company, which was me. That was my real introduction back towards anything Post-Punk.
Clan of Xymox at Brooklyn Bazaar March 24 2018. Bad cell phone photo by Michele Witchipoo. .
Clan of Xymox at Brooklyn Bazaar March 24 2018. Taken with cellphone by Michele Witchipoo.
So where I am going with this? Good question. Today I’m just typing with a flow of consciousness state of mind. Probably because the Clan of Xymox concert was better than I expected, so it’s still fresh. Then I realized after all these years, I never did a Psycho Bunny sketch where he was Goth. So there you have it.
Here’s the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for Monday, March 25, 2018.
Usually I don’t like to go back into the past. The only thing I tend to get nostalgic for is music. Usually people think I’m much younger. Once someone talks to me about music, bands I’m into and concerts I’ve seen, thus my true age is revealed. Music is one of the few things that tends to date me. Outside of music and fashion, I don’t like to look back. Much rather live in the present.
Back in March 2004, I had a one day gig. The time I was an extra for a FOX network show.
Jonny Zero never really had a chance, as it was canceled just after eight episodes. Back in 2005, the show was put in the Friday night ‘death slot.’ As an action drama it really had no fighting chance against the popular reality shows.
As my recollections would have it, I remember having to get up around 6:58 am to be on time for the 11am shooting. The location was at a now defunct club located on West 14th street, known for having goth and fetish parties. As a non union extra, I was told during the audition to bring two outfits for the taping. On set, it was easily seen who were the ‘lifestyle’ Goths and the actors under the SAG banner. The SAG extras had the cliche’ touches such as black lipstick, badly applied eyeliner and layers of ultra white face makeup. The true Goths had the Frankenstein platform boots, for example, popular within that subculture during the first 2000 decade. Think New Rock boots. Used to own a few platforms myself.
Among the SAG extras, this pretty platinum blond lady with a long fake ponytail sat next to me. “What’s your name” she demanded. I replied “Michele. What’s your name?” With a swish of her fake ponytail extension, her response was “I’m bitter.” Another swish, she snorted “I’m too old for this shit.” Okay…thus set the tone. Continuing the one side convo, she began name dropping. “I’m friends with Voltaire.” The singer, not the philosopher. I was not impressed.
I found better company among my own crew, the non union real time Goths. A few club kids were roped in for Jonny Zero as well. In between camera takes, I mostly hung out with Grace. We had both worked at both the same punk clothing store on St. Mark’s Place and the Rave clothing shop on West 8th street. This was dating back in 2000, and later again in 2001. Same owner, same shady business practices. As Grace gave me the update about the owner and the wholesale manager (both who I suspect later got deported back to Israel), we overheard the script’s dialogue. It was dismal. No wonder the show got canceled after only eight episodes. We kept the snickering to a minimal before doing the dancing scenes. Which took take after take after take…after take…after take…after take. Is it any wonder the show got the ax after eight episodes.
Another sign things weren’t going well for Jonny Zero. My friend who helped me get the gig saw someone from the crew get hit by an SUV. Right outside the club where the episode was being filmed. Yikes.
Usually when you do a shoot for television or film, expect to stay at location for the entire day. As filming continued, the extras were sent to a building across the street to change into their second outfits. Afterwards we were to wait for word as to when the extras were needed. So we waited quite some time.
When you’re on set, they give you free food. If you’re there for the entire day, you get breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the case where SAG and non-Union are on the same set together, the SAG members always eat first. When SAG and the camera crew were done, the non Union was allowed to get their dinner. Of course when it came to our turn, there wasn’t much food left. If anything can be learned from this blog posting, go SAG.
After dinner, both extras and non extras continued to be holed up in the building across the street from filming. As the saying goes, the natives were getting restless. The natives being the real non – Union Goths while the SAG extras behaved themselves. Some of the Goths and Club Kids were becoming slightly rowdy. Boredom was kicking in, as the more mature SAG members sat quietly away from the non-Union crowd.
Can’t remember much afterwards. Think we pretty much hung around until dismissed. Some came back to finish the scenes a week later. The show was broadcast, in which it sunk without a trace. The funny thing was, don’t think I ever saw the completed episode. Me and a friend tried to watch it in his apartment, but we missed most of it. My friend was featured in some scenes. As for myself, I was told you couldn’t see me. Just as well.
Despite my kvetching, Jonny Zero was the most fun I had on a television set. Prior to that, I had done extra work for a NYC Lottery commercial in 1999, and other scattered stuff. It would be years before I got on television again, and that might have been for a Queens public access show during one of the New York Comic Cons, around 2008. By then I had put all my energy into my self-published comics, which eventually led me to get published by others. Things have a way of working out.
Perhaps I might be crazy, beating a dead horse when it comes to the Goth subculture.
Last week I had a conversation with a friend about the NYC Goth scene, Goth history in general, and so on. Then it dawned on me. Since I was a teenage Goth during 1980’s NYC – why not do a separate blog about it?
Let’s see where this new blog goes. Right now it’s just in the side project/hobby/experimentation phase. For all I know, this new blog might flop. Whatever. The 1980’s Death Rocker subculture was such a huge part of my growing up. Not proclaiming to be an expert on all things dark, but what I can share is my own reflections. Your own life experience is something no-one can take away from you. Might as well document it. Just hope I don’t end up regretting this.
Looks like the weekend of April 6 and 7 2013 will be a busy one. Already posted about one of these events I’m about to mention, but it bears mentioning again. There’s also another wonderful event put on by two long time promoters in the NYC Goth scene.
On both April 6th and 7th during the day, I will be at the MoCCA Art Fest 2013 sharing a table with two other talented cartoonists, E.J. Barnes and Paul Curtis.
April 6th, Saturday night I’ll be at Cleopatra’s Ball at Through The Mirror. Through The Mirror is a bi-monthly event put on by Absolution NYC. It’s run by two long time promoters in the NYC Goth scene, Xtene and Jason. Both are established DJs spinning the best in classic and current Goth along with its various sub-genres.
For more information about either MoCCA or Absolution, be sure to click on these links:
Continuing where I left off yesterday, (Yesterday’s blog post) now I’m going into music pins, buttons and badges of the 1980s.
My button collection started during my preteen years. It was around sometime during the early ’80’s, and I had just discovered rock music. The closest supplier of these badges was a local head shop called Yogi Lala, located in Astoria, Queens. For a small shop it was jammed packed full of juvenile delinquent merchandise. All sorts of hippie accouterments, silver biker jewelry, patches, drug paraphernalia, and hard rock band tee shirts. If you wanted the back of your jean jacket painted with a rendition of a particular Black Sabbath album cover, this was the place. For good measure, Yogi Lala mixed the sex, drugs and rock n roll wares with some 14k gold trinkets.
There was certainly a variety of genres covered within the rock music merch this place sold. Not only did they have your average classic rock groups like The Who, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, etc., but they also had the burn out Hard Rock stuff, Heavy Metal, and the newer New Wave and some Punk rock stuff. Mostly the more famous, or should I stay infamous bands like The Sex Pistols.
If you couldn’t find what you were looking for in Yogi’s, you could always walk further down Steinway Street, which to this day is one of Astoria’s main shopping areas, and check out Jolly Joint. The Jolly Joint’s store was a bit more spread out. It was a head shop as well, with a tiny more emphasis on the music. Jolly Joint was pretty successful in its day, with a second shop on Main Street, located in Flushing, Queens.
Jolly Joint is no more. Yogi Lala is still around, but they mostly sell gold jewelry now.
Anyway, I would start to buy these small music pins from these kind of stores. The pins would be proudly arranged with style and care on my jacket before heading off to my crappy junior high. The other kids would make fun of me listening to rock music, but I paid them no mind. I loved The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, Soft Cell, Human League and David Bowie.
I was very fascinated with the whole New Wave and Punk subculture, even back in junior high, although my tastes at the time were more mainstream. Guess this is when I started observing different types of counter cultures.
Then came Culture Club. I loved Boy George so much, I even tried to dress like him. If you look in the photo, you can see a button that says “Boy George For President.” As I type this, it’s election year of 2012. Perhaps I should start wearing this one again?
Anyway, my attempts of emulating the Boy just resulted in more verbal abuse from my classmates. The comments got more ignorant too. My favorite one? “Are you a fag lover?”
Since I hated my junior high so much, I swore I would never continue getting my education alongside these ignorant f-heads. So I applied for a whole bunch of the NYC ‘magnet’ schools. To both my surprise and relief, I got immediately accepted into the High School of Art and Design. From there I met more like-minded peers. One of these kids would take me to my first ‘underground’ club, despite the underage factor. It was the original Danceteria, and I loved every second of it. Another girl took me to my first excursion into Greenwich Village. It was up and down 8th street to be exact. Eighth street at the time was the main shopping strip of the village area, full of record stores, imported shoe shops, clothing stores, etc. Located towards more going 6th avenue was The Postermat. That was my new found base for my button fix.
During my freshman year, my tastes in music was leaning towards mainstream rock, top-40, new wave and imported UK pop bands. I was still big into Culture Club then. For a brief time though, I was listening to the newer metal bands like Motley Crue and Twisted Sister.
Sometimes us A&D students would trade with one another. I traded something for the U2 band shot, as seen in the middle of the pic below. I think a friend gave me the Cyndi Lauper and Prince pins. A loner guy mysteriously gave me the Billy Idol one. I forgot where the Frankie Goes To Hollywood button came from. Check out the photo below. I’m surprised I still even have these.
Needless to say this phase didn’t last long. I discovered Siouxsie and The Banshees. Right there everything changed. Went to Astor Place for a major haircut, dying my hair much to my father’s chagrin. My wardrobe completely changed. I discovered Bleecker Bob’s, purchasing a second hand pair of combat boots. Boy, did those boots piss my mom off.
Most importantly, my music tastes had changed. I embraced the classic 80s Goth and Post-Punk bands. I liked much of the seminal ’77 Punk stuff, like The Ramones, for example. Although I never got into the Hardcore or crossover genres that much. As you can guess, my button collection reflected this. Instead of Culture Club and U2, I had bands such as The Damned, Bauhaus, and Sisters of Mercy. Most of the classic 80s Goth bands found a spot on my schoolbag. Only I wasn’t going to school as much. I had also discovered playing hooky. That particular discovery is something I still regret to this very day. I’m making up for lost time now, but there’s still a ping of regret somewhere.
Unfortunately, most of my button collection from that particular time is gone. Don’t know where they went. Perhaps they’re in a draw somewhere at my parents’ house, but at this point I’m not going to bother looking. It’s the past after all.
I did find this, however. An X-Ray Specs pin, which I think I might’ve gotten from the original Manic Panic shop in St. Mark’s Place. Was it that, or was it the pin that said “Oh bondage up yours!” I think it was the latter. That particular pin was stolen by none other than this kid Mike Waste. He stole from almost everyone. Not only did he steal that pin, he also stole my Cure shirt and something else. A total creep who told tall tales. He had ratty hair extensions that clung for dear life from the brim of his cap. Yet I heard about the early Industrial bands through him. I always knew he lifted from me. I suppose twenty years later I’m kinda sorta getting my revenge by calling him out on a public blog.
Here’s the X-Ray Specs pin that escaped Mike Waste’s grimey paws:
Now that I’ve blogged about these pins, perhaps its time to finally get rid of them. After all, they served their purpose. Maybe sell them on eBay or something. Besides, I’ve got my memories. You can never take that away.
However, if all else fails, you can tell people this:
Mercury in retrograde’s about to hit this month, starting from July 14th and ends Aug. 8th,2012. For those who believe in astrology, it works a bit like this; it’s both a time of reflection, and ‘Murphy’s Law’ in full effect. In other words, communication lines get crossed, so what can go wrong will.
Sometimes, right before merc in retrograde hits, you just might get a preview. Plans interrupted arguments and fights relating to misunderstandings, sometimes outright catastrophe. Yet it’s not all negative. As I’ve said before, during this time it could be used to reflect. Don’t be surprised that out of the blue, you’ll come into contact with someone from the past who you haven’t spoken to in years. Also, some of those unsolved conflicts that have knocked on your door have a chance to be resolved.
Enough of this mini-lesson. What this crash course about mercury in retrograde leads to is a chance to you show some of my relics. Not only does it bring back my personal teenage memories, they’re also pop culture artifacts. These buttons exhibits a part of NYC that is now long gone.
Back when I was growing up during the 80s, many teenagers flocked to the NYC area of Greenwich Village. West side, east side, 8th Street, Broadway, it really didn’t matter. It’s still the case now, but the popular shopping sites are significantly different. Back in the 80s, the trendier retail places gave away free buttons with every purchase. Hell, sometimes you didn’t even need to buy anything. Just go to the counter, stick your hand in the small hard plastic transparent box, and grab a handful of these badges. Afterwards, you would display your coolness by pinning these items onto your over-sized vintage overcoat, or on your army schoolbag. You would arrange these pins right along with your pop and post new wave band buttons. This was exactly what I did back in my freshman year of high school. This didn’t last long, as I progressed the next year into a full-fledged Siouxsie clone. My badges went from store promotion to the bands like The Cure, Specimen, etc.
Before I bore you with details, here’s a photo.
The stores listed before are no longer around. I’ll give you a brief breakdown about some of these places.
Flip was a clothing store located on west. 8th street. They specialized in selling new wave, punk, goth and glam rock threads. In fact, one of my first ever punk tees was purchased right here at this location.
Postermat was more of a novelty place. They sold all types of buttons, posters, tees, gag items. A bit like that Spencer’s chain store you see in the local mall nowadays. The buttons and pins were sold in the front of the store. They were stored behind glass counters as if they were precious goods. Two tiny black round controls when pressed, slowly spunk around the shelves inside. An army and navy store has taken its place.
Canal Jeans Co. survived for years, but eventually they shut their doors as well. This business was so successful at one point, they had two locations. The location on Canal Street is now one of the cheapest art supply stores known as Pearl Paint. The bigger store, located in the Soho area of Broadway sold both new, vintage, upscale and bargain merchandise. They shut down, very briefly re-opened for a hot minute on Broadway and Astor, and then closed for good in the early 2000s.
Canal Jeans Co. buttons had their iconic checkerboard background, in a variety of colors. Check the photo below:
Zoot was a vintage clothing store. Zoot wasn’t around that long, but it’s competition, Andy’s Chee-Pees, hung around for a while. Zoot was located on Broadway, Andy’s on West 8th street.
Unique hawked its wares all throughout the ‘80s, going out of business in the early ‘90s. Also known as Unique Boutique, the large space had a variety of different departments. You had graffiti artists spray painting on clothing, vintage duds, and when it was extremely fashionable, a huge selection of bright neon attire.
As for some other shops that’s been around for a while. Enz have opened and closed, and opened again. They’ve moved around to different locations so Enz doesn’t count. Ditto for Andy’s Chee-Pees. Even Patricia Fields moved from its prototype home on 8th street to the now trendy Bowery area. Probably the only store left from that era is Trash and Vaudeville. Still at the same location since the 1970s, and still going strong today.
Keep in mind, I didn’t even touch upon all the numerous record stores open around this time. I’ll touch upon that in another post.
Other types of businesses got into the badge marketing act. Check out this photo here. There’s MTV when they were known as a video music channel. WLIR was a Long Island based radio station that specialized (at the time) in New Wave, a tiny bit of Post-Punk, and imported UK Pop music. Then there’s the original Hard Rock Cafe. The first location in NYC was on West 57th, before they moved to the current location at Times Square. All three are still around today.
It’s a different time now. There’s the revitalized Brooklyn to contend with now. Trends have changed. Yet the ‘80s memories still stand.
Received my copy of Gothic Beauty magazine, issue # 33 two weeks ago. Reason being why I was looking forward to this particular copy of this publication was due to a certain article. Gothic Beauty was reviewing an L.A. exhibit, “Necessary Discomforts” based on the life of Christian Death vocalist Rozz Williams. To tell you the truth, I was only hoping for a small name mention alongside the other artists showing their work.
Imagine my surprise when I opened up the issue to discover this:
As it turns out, a black and white photo had been taken of my Rozz portrait, but Gothic Beauty forgot to give me credit. I’m sure it was an accident, but just in case, I sent an email to the editor. Here’s a photo of the original piece, mediums watercolor and ink:
Still, it felt odd. Here was a subculture I’d been involved with on and off since I was a teenager. At age 15 I was (barely) attending high school as a Siouxsie Sioux clone. Back in the ’80s, I used to purchase Propaganda magazine with my allowance. This subculture has been an influence, along with others when it came to my artwork. So in a way, it felt as if I had come full circle having a piece I’d created in Gothic Beauty. Validation in a way I suppose.
So earlier this week I went to visit a long-time friend. I had originally met him sometime during the late 80s through a mutual friend, but hung out with him more during the mid-late 90s. Sometimes we used to go to Coney Island High together. Other times, we would just go bar hopping along the Lower East Side. This was way before NYC got bleached with gentrification. Back then, I did not give a toss about the next day; nevermind what would happen in the near future.
Of course, the good times don’t last forever. Nothing in life lasts forever. All you can do is to move on into the present. Anyway…I hopped onto a bus at NYC’s Port Authority to Reading, PA. Not that it was an exotic vacation by any means. In fact, downtown Reading is pretty much a dump. It wasn’t until I checked on my iPhone to discover Reading’s ranking as the 5th crime-ridden small town in America. Yeck.
Still, I had a good time. Went down a much needed walk down a nature trail. Along the way, me and the friend started talking about various music we grew up listening to. I’d be the first to admit, I much prefer to listen to music made 10-50 years ago as opposed to what’s being made now. Still, these conversations kinda sorta had me re-discovering stuff from long ago days. Like The Smiths for example. I was a big Smiths fan during my teen years. By the time 1993 rolled around however, I was so, so, so sick of them, and other such groups like The Cure. I’m still tired of The Cure. Unless its the very early stuff or Robert Smith’s side project The Glove, I never want to hear songs by The Cure ever again.
Rediscovering The Smiths proved worthy. Just listening to a few of Morrissey and Johnny Marr’s handiwork…they kinda like a Lennon/McCarthy of the 1980s. While everyone else was listening to garbage like Micheal Jackson, The Smiths hit a raw nerve to the disfranchised, the lonely, the confused, the heartbroken, the loners, the daydreamers.
When night came, we switched to early David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Young Americans, and a bit of the Heroes era.
There’s music made for for temporary mass consumption, and then there’s music for the long-term influential. Musical acts like The Smiths and early David Bowie fall into the long-term influential. The long-term influential isn’t just for other musicians. The tunes of the long-term influential also affects artists, writers, actors, directors, designers, travelers, mystics, and so on. Music and art go hand in hand, for imagination is the magician’s most crucial asset.
I remember buying that particular Rolling Stone issue, either in 1989 or 1990. While it did mention Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Human League, I was disappointed with some of the other choices. Okay, The Clash was an important band way back when, but their album “London Calling” is in no way the best album of the 80s. No way.
This is all subject to personal opinion. I say tomateoo, you say tomatoe. Personally, I like some of the albums that Flavorwire listed. Totally remembered purchasing “Psychocandy” by The Jesus and Mary Chain. I played that vinyl until all the grooves were scratched up.
Here’s the complete list of omissions as determined by Flavorwire. I had many of these selections, either on vinyl, cassette or CD:
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Dinosaur Jr – You’re Living All Over Me / Bug
Nirvana – Bleach
Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff
INXS – Kick
Throwing Muses – Throwing Muses
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
Big Black – Songs About Fucking
David Byrne and Brian Eno – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
The Cure – Disintegration / Pornography
Devo – Freedom of Choice
Black Flag – Damaged
Sonic Youth – Sister
Minor Threat – Out of Step
Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
Galaxie 500 – On Fire
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Spacemen 3 – The Perfect Prescription
Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Sessions
Killing Joke – Brighter than 1000 Suns
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain / Crocodiles
The Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional
David Bowie – Scary Monsters and Super Creeps
Mötörhead – Ace of Spades
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising
Metallica – Master of Puppets
NWA – Straight Outta Compton
Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Soft Cell – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
The Gun Club – Fire of Love
Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing
Cocteau Twins – Treasure
EPMD – Strictly Business
This Mortal Coil – This Mortal Coil
I would also add these… Psychic TV – Allegory and Self/Towards Thee Infinite Beat (This definitely subject to personal opinion. While some people still love PTV, others loathe Genesis P-Orridge. Depends who you speak with.)
Siouxsie and The Banshees – Juju/Kaleidoscope/Kiss In The Dreamhouse/Tinderbox
Skinny Puppy – Remission/Bites
I would also replace the Killing Joke album “Brighter than 1000 Suns” with “Nighttime.” Ditto for Sonic Youth. Replace “Sister” with “Evol.”
Enough of this opinionated musical memory lane. Time to head back to the present.
Usually I do not sell my originals. Prior to this show in L.A., I held on to all my originals. The only exception was with Tales of Woe, because three of the six illustrations I had done for the book were large in size. I’ll do commissions, but as for for illustration originals, those I keep.
For the Necessary Discomforts show in Los Angeles, there will be a one of a kind piece I’ve created just for this exhibit. Starting tomorrow you can see my illustration on display, along with other great artists over at the Hyena Gallery. Oh, and it’s also for sale. So if you’re looking for “rare” Witchipoo art, this would be the perfect opportunity. Since I can’t be there in person (school), this would be the next best thing. Actually, even better.
The Necessary Discomforts exhibit will be on display from November 12 – November 14 2010. Opening reception: Saturday, November 13th, 2010. Time: 8pm-midnight. Address: 1928 W. Olive Blvd., Burbank, California. There will be an official after-show party at Bar Sinister.