I'm a raging inferno of ambivalence toward gothicness. I love the music and a lot of the scene but, at my age, if I'm still in the scene I should be running a record store or have been in a band for 15 years. Well, at least I got to hear the music the first time around and can appreciate the newer stuff when I go drinking with a dead friend or two. And I've got an intense vinyl fetish, for flat 18 or 31cm discs with holes in the middle of them.

Oh, right. Influences. Well, the raw material is listed elsewhere, so here's the sequence. I think a lot depends on equal parts good and bad horror, sci-fi and comedy.

To 1976 - Hastur Ate My Balls

For literature I started with the school library, in the corner where they kept Greek, African, and Celtic (they were unstoppable until Larry Bird retired) mythology, UFOs/psychic phenomena and, of course, science-fiction. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, the library carried a little monthly publication called "Read" that always had a sci-fi short story. I remember "The Examination," by Felix Gotschalk and "Born of Man and Woman," by Richard Matheson. When I was in 7th or 8th grade, someone left "Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Vol II" in my classroom. Careless of them... For weeks I was afraid to go to the toilet at night. Nothing scared me so badly until Thomas Ligotti's short stories that I read recently. Naturally, I snagged all the weirder books available via Scholastic Book Services. 45 cents for C. B. Colby's "Strangely Enough!" Also a story collection that included the Scottish stories "The Buggane Ghost" and "Wild Ride in a Tilt Cart," Poe's "The Devil in the Belfry" (I didn't get the satire then) and Ambrose Bierce's one about a guy who shoots off his big toe one night because he mistakes it for a monster. There's a proto goth girl in "Huckleberry Finn." "Stephen Dowling Botts" is the gold standard of adolescent goth poetry. Yowsa!

Around this time I found and then lost "Those About to Die," the inimitable Daniel P. Mannix's retelling of the lurid bits of Tacitus and Suetonius. I got another copy two decades later. He also did a history of the Hell-Fire Club (England, 1740s-1770s), compiled mostly from contemporary libels. In '74, my parents got me for Christmas an English version of the Whole Earth Catalog, called "An Index of Possibilities: Energy & Power." It had stuff about alternative energy, yoga, psi phenomena and Aleister Crowley, and finished with "The Entropy Circuit," a Jerry Cornelius story by Michael Moorcock. We're getting away from proto-gothness here, but Jerry definitely had the look: a black tailored car coat and long raven-black hair. Also, he shot people in the name of Chaos.

In the early days, I didn't get much in the way of music, unless you count scary storytelling records and the plastic-coated cardboard singles on the backs of cereal boxes (like The Monkees' "Stepping Stone" on the back of Post Alpha Bits). One had the horror classic about the woman with the yellow ribbon. I was a little young for Blue Cheer or the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Roky Erickson's wilder stuff was years away. There was a '60s band called Lovecraft, but they didn't count.

Movies & TV: Twilight Zone, Night Gallery (except the lame "Sixth Sense" episodes), Night Stalker, Circle of Fear (esp the one with the woman lost in a casino), Thriller (hosted by Boris Karloff), Saturday afternoon and Friday night Hammer films on UHF (Channel 39, then 26). "The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake," "The Dunwich Horror" (with Dean Stockwell! Bonus hippy orgy scene!), "Tales From the Crypt" (the early '70s movie). Roger Corman movies, etc., The Addams Family and sometimes the Munsters. I watched Dark Shadows occasionally. Its producer, Dan Curtis, went on to do "Night Stalker."

1976-1980 - I Get Screwed Again in the Temple of the Evil High Priest (actually Greg Henkel's line)

Big detour into Star Trek conventions, followed by J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons and Traveller, background training for the infrastructure of the New Economy. Woo hoo! ESPECIALLY "Dark Star!" When I rented the movie a few months ago, I noticed the crew look like '70s Stanford hackers! Also "Outer Limits" (esp "Demon With A Glass Hand"-The 70 billion people of Earth...where are they hiding?). Do Harlan Ellison's moral horror stories count? "The Chocolate Alphabet?"

Movies: Alien, Dawn of the Dead (9 times) & Clockwork Orange (6 times). Phantasm ("BOOOYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!" >NAB!<)

Music: Rush & ponderous art rock (sorry), Goblin's soundtracks to "Suspiria" and "Dawn of the Dead," Keith Emerson's "Inferno" soundtrack, Hawkwind, Eno, Fripp, Bowie. Late night weirdness on Houston's KPFT. Talk shows by Col. Huey's Rock & Roll Salvation Army, Mr. Kamikaze & Mr. DNA, Doc Benway (who gave me a KDIL Phoenix pirate radio tape), Blaze Brown, later of WTUL in New Orleans. This was years before the yuppie Stalinists on the Pacifica Central Committee forced their stations to pander to the nascent BoBo market.

Books: Loads. Stephen King, when he was consistently good (especially Salem's Lot and The Shining). Lots more sci-fi, mostly right-wing like Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert Heinlein. Heinlein at least I still respect. Too much damned Ayn Rand, but it inoculated me against most ideologies later and introduced me to the genre of "Capitalist Realism."

1981-85 - To You We'll E'er Be True, Miskatonic U!

The music I followed off and on since my freshman year of college (1981). A friend was into Bauhaus. The college radio station, KTRU, played "Spellbound," "Transmission" and Japan's "Ghosts" and "The Night Porter." Japan were too pretty and upbeat (most times) to be gothic, but they served up the requisite melancholy. Anyway, after a steady diet of Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, with accidental exposure to Ultravox and Goblin (see above), "Ghosts" was a revelation.

Fast forward a couple of years hoovering up the basics, it was on to more Bauhaus and then Sisters of Mercy ("Body and Soul" and "First and Last and Always") and the Cure. 1982/3, the one and only Numbers. Eternally on Westheimer, one block east of Taft. Bruce Godwin, the owner, spun records while Robot TV Joke did videos. Fad Gadget's "Collapsing New People" and Cabaret Voltaire's "Sensoria" were my faves. RTVJ's best work was the nuke montage he compiled from "The Day After" to accompany OMD's "Enola Gay." #'s is still around, and Thursday night is Underworld, gothic night. No more 10 cent well drinks, though. Tuesday night is Swing Night, so don't get them mixed up (but maybe the DJ will play The Creatures' "Right Now"). Somebody might as well remember the shortlived club Nightcage, on Hwy 59 South around Hillcroft I think. It lasted just long enough for me to hear the DJ spin "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Somebody (Kim M.?) might still have beefcake photos of me posing in the graveyard at Montrose & West Dallas.

1985-1995 - Birth of Tragicomedy: Fear, Power, "Bob"

Tangential gothicity, if any. I was more into industrial literature, music, etc., and LOTS of industrial/cyberculture, especially 1989-93 (props to Mondo2000, Fringeware Review, bOING bOING and early Wired. And some art. I hung around the last 2 years of KTRU's S&M Show (1980-1990). Scott & Marilyn, with help from Ramona, Hope, Gary Yokie, Amey M. & me, played punk and postpunk and did agitprop radio comedy, this being the (first) Bush hangover of the Reagan cocaine high. The late Bob Ferguson, upon whose name be peace, played industrial stuff the second hour, criminally underappreciated by me. Staalplaat and Soleilmoon catalogs were his starting points. He will be missed. ReSearch, William Burroughs, Philip K. Dick & Robert Anton Wilson figured hugely at this time. More industrial tunes on the KPFT's Funhouse Show by Chuck Roast & Austin Caustic, cyberculture on Jay Lee's Radiodrome, lounge in Dallas (HotWeird) and Subgenius bafflegab with Pope Charles.

Until the early 90s there wasn't really a goth scene in Houston, but all the pieces were there. The two most goth people I knew of were Kathy Kowgirl and Bobby Jo Rose and maybe Nick, who did nightmarish airbrush paintings, one of which graces the cover of an album by local punk band Blind Ignorents. Kathy had the greatest house, a small version of the Addams Family house packed to the rafters of every cool toy from the 60s on, plus a stuffed two-headed heifer. A fire gutted the place in '93 or '94, and then the house was bulldozed a few years later to make way for a post-post-yuppie townhouse complex (this is par for the course in Houston). Bobby Jo used to hang out at Catal Huyuk around '90. I think he promoted shows. He had his eyebrows done up like Mr. Spock's.

There was a great industrial scene in Houston up to the early 90s and I'm sure there still is, pprobably thanks to lots of yard space, large machine parts, and warehouses. The Pain Teens, Turmoil In The Toybox, Voice Of Eye, Cruor/Esoterica Landscape 7, Grindin Teeth/Rusted Shut, Sad Pygmy/Rotten Piece, are a few of the bands that played regularly. We were lucky for a few years to get European bands like Zoviet France, Left Hand Right Hand, Legendary Pink Dots and the Haters. Dan Plunkitt of Austin, who published ND magazine, steered the bands through Houston and Dallas. Sound Exchange, Vinal Edge and Soundwaves on Montrose are your best source.

Heather Rose Busby rounded off the sounds, playing industrial dirges on KTRU 1995-96. She had a great gothic web page but she and it disappeared. I hope she survived the Great Dotcom Millennial Massacre. From her show I heard a lot of great stuff.


Away from the Charybdis of industrial, and slowly back to the Scylla of gothicness, via goth/fetish events like Bound, in a gay bar near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. Girlfriend's media and postmodern theory books. The good stores there were DCCD and Flying Saucer Discs, both on the 2400 block of 18th St NW, and Tower Music, somewhere downtown (K street?).


Ongoing, but probably moving toward obscure '80s pop like the Factory Benelux stuff. It's probably the beginning of the end when one starts debating philosophy on Slashgoth or cruising sites like Suffering Is Hip or Cattygoths. I found the best boots at a gay leather shop on Westheimer at Taft, in Houston. I think it's Leather Forever. Mostly I guzzle absinthe like a fool and hang out at Legendz and Inrichting.

I still haven't read "Dracula."


Updated 25 June 2001