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Interviews with 40 Years of Goth Style: Global Remake director and contributors

The widely shared 40 Years of Goth Style (in under 4 minutes) video debuted on Liisa Ladouceur’s YouTube channel in 2016. It sparked much debate about what was included and what was not, and it also helped broaden the reach of Liisa’s channel. There have been follow-ups since, including Director’s Commentary, 40 Years of Men’s Goth Style (in under 5 minutes), and 40 Years of Goth Shoes.

40 Years of Goth Style: Global Remake

But there was one important problem. Liisa remarks in her press release, “goth is not one color. I know the stereotype, alabaster pale face, whiter than white. But goth is huge across Latin America. Black Americans make up a growing part of the scene. Misfits from all ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds have found sanctuary in the dark aesthetics of goth. But my original video featured just one.”

Three of the models in the newest 40 Years of Goth Style video, Global Remake.

40 Years of Goth Style: Global Remake

The newest video is called 40 Years of Goth Style: Global Remake, and the purpose is to address this problem and features many styles including: deathrock, trad goth, romantic goth, vampire goth, cybergoth, Elegant Gothic Lolita, Victorian goth, corp goth, hippie goth, nu goth, and gothic grunge.

Liisa and four of the video’s models found time to trade messages with Auxiliary Magazine about the creation of this new video, some gatekeeping and obstacles encountered within subculture, and what brings them joy.

Liisa Ladouceur

What was your process for inviting people to participate in this video? What helped you decide on who would be featured? Did you go through this process alone, did anyone offer suggestions or advice if you needed it?

Liisa Ladouceur : It’s been five years since I created 40 Years of Goth Style in under 5 minutes. I’m very proud of what my team made, and thrilled that it went viral, but I’ve had many thoughts over the years about diversity and inclusion, and how my work might perpetuate stereotypes that goth is only for or about one type of person. There was a reason we used one model in the original; I was mimicking a style of YouTube video, the “100 years of (blank)” time lapse fashion videos. These are independently financed by me for art’s sake, and I wasn’t able to arrange shoots with a variety of models for one video.

One upside of the pandemic was being asked to participate in a “Pass the Brush” challenge with goths from around the world. They were so beautiful and creative that [it] gave me the idea I could have people film themselves, and edit it together.

The 40 Years of Goth Style Global Remake was an open call to my viewers or any goths anywhere who wanted to participate. Most of the models you see in the video responded to that call, and I selected them based on diversity of style, age, region, ethnicity, etc. There were some gaps, like nobody applied to be a cybergoth, for example, and I didn’t have any Black representation, so I used Instagram to go looking for additional models.

I cast people who had a strong personal style, who love clothes, dressing up, and showing off.

What logistical difficulties did you encounter/work around while creating this video? If there is one key challenge you overcame then feel free to share it. Perhaps it was having to make difficult choices between many great submissions, or something on the technical side?

LL : Technically, the praise goes to my editor, Melissa Hore, who has edited my previous videos and really worked her magic here assembling footage from all kinds of sources in an artful way.

My biggest challenge was ensuring diversity. Otherwise, what would be the point to redo this with all white goth models? It often takes more effort and time to ensure that a variety of communities are represented; that you have Latinx, Black, POC, Indigenous models. Not because they don’t exist, but because my personal circle is very white, as is my audience, so that’s who tends to see/hear about these projects, and applies. I’ve been learning how to better connect with creatives outside that circle, and I hope by making this video more inclusive more people will feel welcome connecting with me in the future as well.

Elder vampire goth Rauncie

Rauncie

Have you experienced difficulties/gatekeeping from a younger generation of goths? Have you seen any improvement over time in how people entering the subculture at different times relate to one another’s unique experiences and accept each other?

Rauncie : I have seen some gatekeeping from younger goths, but honestly, I have experienced it many more times with older goths  like myself who have been around a long time. Using the word tourists when speaking of those who visit our clubs or come to our virtual spaces is very common, and I admit at one time in my life I used to say it myself. I have learned over the years that our bars and virtual spaces are not going to survive if we put up gates to those who are interested in our subculture. I am one who would rather share my experience in addition to mentoring and encouraging them to do some research. I have seen some improvement in acceptance. I am actually a good example of that. I was a gatekeeper at one time and over the years I have changed my mind. I am a reformed gatekeeper! [smiles] There is no way to put up a list of “this is goth” and expect there to be any real consensus on it. It has been argued about since day one and will be till the end of time. What else can we expect from a group of intelligent, independent people? There will always be a debate on what defines us. Having good open dialogue and learning from each other is the way to go. Putting up gates to keep people out is not the answer. I have seen a meme that says, “If you were not bullied in high school”, which shows someone dressed goth and I have to say I do not agree. Not everyone was able to dress in high school because they may have had parental issues or they may not have had the option of picking out their own clothes or may have lived in a place that it just would not have been safe. In addition, not everyone comes to this subculture as a teenager.

What current goth thing brings you some kind of joy, or what are you looking forward to?

R : Currently I feel a lot of joy in seeing the younger generation showing a real interest in the music of the late 70s and the 80s, and more young people researching fashion. I am on TikTok as granny_goth and the young people are asking me about music and style all the time. The biggest joy for me has been to see two of my granddaughters take a serious interest in the subculture. I have babybat granddaughters! I look forward to the day they turn 18 and I can walk into my local home club with them. I see the young people being more open minded about what goth means. I find that refreshing though I know that is a controversial statement in some circles.

Cori

Cori

What has been one thing that people in your goth community did to help you feel more welcome that other communities might learn from?

Cori : My community has definitely given me assurance that there’s a place for me and that I can express myself freely. That’s not something I always felt. It has given me a sense of liberation. When I think of my younger self, I think she would be proud of the person I am today because it took a long time to really get out of my shell. Seeing the many types of goth and how they evolve together, that is something we can all learn from because the world doesn’t always seem like an open place for different forms of expression. The goth scene has that place for me.

What current goth thing brings you some kind of joy, or what are you looking forward to?

C : Definitely making art. I like to incorporate goth aesthetics into the art I make, especially painting. It’s something I’m immensely passionate about and I look forward to sharing more of my creativity with other artist in the community as well.

Kuro

Kuro

What is the goth community like where you live in Scotland? Is it smaller and more tightly-knit, or is it larger and loosely-connected? None of the above?

Kuro : The goth scene in Scotland is a vibrant place and although mostly situated in the larger cities, originating from a small town myself means that the subculture does have its influence and appeal from afar. [I confess that] I originated from the emo/e-goth subculture and whilst many will groan at this, I count that as part of and a gateway to the subculture just as much with a huge scene of that here in Glasgow especially. From there on we have many trad, industrial, and cybergoth divisions and more, however, these sub communities are all closely knit with little exclusivity and thanks to the internet have all united together to form a strong community that welcomes anyone with open arms. I’ve met so many like minded weirdos here in Glasgow from band mates to best friends to spiritual siblings.

Although, I’d like to think of myself as part of a UK/European/even worldwide community, I travel around a lot and am part of so many communities up and down the UK and Europe that I dip in and out of. I think that’s the beauty of this subculture, we’re all in it together regardless of place. Social media has helped to unite us across the globe!

What current goth thing brings you some kind of joy, or what are you looking forward to?

K : My biggest joy of the subculture was most definitely the events, festivals and concerts. The most therapeutic place for me is up on stage performing with my band KURO, and being able to play venues, clubs (and even stadiums) amongst crowds of wonderful weirdos. Music has helped me to travel further than I would’ve ever imagined, meet and work with many of my idols and encounter some of my closest friends. This is what I’m most looking forward to again in a post-Covid world. Until then, one thing that’s bringing me joy is the ability to dive head first into creation with little other obligations (due to lockdown here in the UK). Working away to be able to hit the ground running when the world starts turning again.

Alongside this, many of the things that have brought me joy about the subculture is the pure expression and release in the forms it takes such as within the fashion. There’s a category for anyone and I’ve continuously enjoyed watching the fashion evolve and new scenes develop with people finding ways to project their heart, soul, and personality into their appearances, mannerisms, and styles. Despite a sea of black. Everyone is unique and diverse but united under one shade.

Aeri

Aeri

How long have you been collecting vintage goth clothes? Is there a find that you’re particularly proud of?

Aeri
: Most of what I collect didn’t truly start out as collecting. It was just… not culling my wardrobe and finding ways to re-wear things I have always loved. (Or even buying multiples if I truly loved a thing! I have sameclothes in the way that I have samefoods, so I’d panic and sometimes anticipate something might go away.) I’ve kept a decent portion of my (80s) high school clothes, and so many things from college and beyond. My favorite pieces are probably my knee high leather skull boots from the UK that my mother bought me the summer of 1994 after college graduation; this was shortly before she died. I remember finding the company in the back of a magazine, maybe Propaganda, maybe Carpe Noctem, and going on and on about them. Some items that I picked up in boutiques are really nostalgic to me, as the places are gone as well as a lot of the people. There’s a little satin pleated skirt with leather buckles by Throb that I picked up in maybe ’95 in what was to me then a local shop (Eccentricities in Tampa I think?), an early set (top and skirt) by Begotten, a Cookie Puss dress from Monique’s, and a lovely dress from not-a-gothy shop (Cache) that I bought in ’95 and later wore to my 2016 wedding! Sadly one of my favorite sets from one of my favorite 1996 shoots: a vinyl bustier, skirt, and jacket, have given up the ghost and disintegrated. I contacted the company (Versatile Corsets) that made the skirt and bustier to see if they could make me reproductions since they fit really well and it’s hard for me to find things that truly fit, but so far no dice. Fun(?) fact: the shoes I was wearing in that shoot were from 1988, one of my high school favorite pair, and fell apart shortly after. The patenty pleathery stuff never lasts and I am so sad about it! All my favorite shoes from high school were made of it and I wore them right into dust. I can’t not mention it because it’s such a staple: I have this Ms. Antoinette black satin waist cincher with “hooks for looks” and a zipper for “panic attack quickfast eject mode” that I still wear and I am loathe to give up. I can’t find anything like it, it goes with everything and really accommodates my panic and sensory issues, so it’s become a core piece of so many outfits.

I don’t wear them, but I still have my first black liner/lip crayon from high school as well as the red I wore then, my first proper black lipstick, several shadows that I don’t use and nail polishes that I do! I’ve got quite a stash of nostalgia makeup that makes me smile.

What current goth thing brings you some kind of joy, or what are you looking forward to?

A : I’m loving accessory pieces from Vide Noir, as well as some accent pieces from Widow. There’s an artist, inherbones, that I found via TikTok whose necklaces are so, so lovely. I’d be super lucky to get my hands on one someday! I am so happy that the whole 90s style came back around (I remember seeing the 60s-70s do this when I was in college in the 90s and thinking, “oh, wow someday this stuff in fashion right now is going to do the same thing, and I wonder what it will be like and how much I will have kept!”) Well… here we are. I’m coming out of a years long autistic burnout, and hoping so much to get back to dressing up and posting ootd/fotd looks in my Facebook albums, but it’s been a hard hill to climb. I’m looking forward to being back to that, to having the spoons to climb that hill.

Check out the 40 Years of Goth Style: Global Remake video which went live on February 7, 2021 and read our interview with Liisa Ladouceur in our Summer 2020 Issue.

Dylan Madeley
Dylan Madeley is the Copy Editor of Auxiliary, a frequent contributor, and the author of The Gift-Knight’s Quest.
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