Friday, January 27, 2012

Gothic Bollywood

Bollywood is best known for its group dance sequences -- however, its fondness for borrowing from popular American and British films means it has all kinds of wacko interpretations of dramatic cinema. Here is a moment from the ambitious 1978 horror film Darwaza.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

British Humor, In a Nifty Form You Can Carry With You

Okay, okay, I know... it's hardly goth to smile. Why, cracking a smile may also lead to cracking through the 14 pounds of white facepaint we're wearing!

Now, of course anyone over the age of about 12 knows I'm kidding here. Just 'cause your a goth doesn't mean you can't have a good time. And that is why I want to talk to you today about British humor.

The amusement to be found in British works is lost on many a person. The trouble is (usually) not even that it's too intellectual for the typical Adam Sandler fan; no, the trouble is actually that it's a bit too zany for American tastes. The British have been historically known for being a dignified, upright race of people, and as such the humor often relies on breaking of the taboos. The jokes are about people being rude to each other, or being explicit about sex, or going crazy, or silly walks, or being rich but falling in love with the butler -- all sorts of follies that to a casual American don't seem to make much sense, given that here no one cares.

You might hone up on your British humor by checking out this collection of 20 different comedy plays from English authors. I can fully recommend it because I was the editor -- and I carefully chose each of these plays for their timeless hilarity. Maybe even Americans would like it, God only knows!

Stories include Pygmalion, wherein the crazy cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle is drafted into an aristocratic lifestyle by two linguists who figure they can change her persona by changing her accent; Our American Cousin (famous for being the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when his brains were blown out) about a hillbilly American cousin coming to visit his British relatives after inheriting the estate of their common ancestor; Mother Bombie, wherein two rich old men try to marry off their kids who are "fools" (i.e. mentally disabled or impaired) without revealing the truth about their progenies' conditions; Wurzel-Flummery, in which a man is set to inherit a fortune on condition he change his surname to Wurzel-Flummery; The Recruiting Officer, a play so bawdy and obscene it didn't even take the Victorians to start changing and altering the text; plus many, many more. As the would say in the old days, give it a trial.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gothic Love: Goth Pickup Lines

  • "Excuse me, sir/madame. Could I ask you, were we tortured and then burned at the stake as Agnostic Cathar Heretics by the Spanish Inquisition during intimately linked previous lives in the early 12th century?"
  • "Hey, is that a really long black liner in your pocket or do you carry your own brand of black current all of the time?"
  • "Go out with me or I'll kill us both."
  • "You've stolen my heart away. Luckily, I've got another three or four in the freezer."
  • "You should come home with me. We match."
  • "Wow. That outfit must make a lot of noise in the dryer, huh."
  • "Nice boots, wanna meaningful relationship?"
  • "Tell me, is your heart as cold and black as your eyes?"
  • "What do you think of the principles of Sacred Geometry with respect to Gothic Architecture?"
  • "You're cute. Mind if I use you so I can impress my friends?"
  • "Pardon me, but would you mind if I looked down your pants for a sec?"
  • "Are you neurotic, too?"
  • "Excuse me, but your veil is caught in my handcuffs..."
  • "I'd kill myself for you, I'd kill you for myself."
  • "Hi, I'm a necrophiliac. How well can you play dead?"
  • "What's a nice goth like you doing in a place like this?"
  • "My body is a temple -- take me home and desecrate me!"
  • "The colour of your eyes remind me of the window cleaner I drink to cleanse my soul...[grab person]... CLEANSE ME!!"
  • "I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave."
  • "I have been dreaming of you, and writing erotic fantasies about you for the entire year since we met. Will you come and sit with me and let me tell you one of them?"
  • "Want to be my Master for the night?"
  • "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."
  • "Got a light? No? Well, then I'll just have to hold this clove cigarette up against you because you're hotter than the Inferno itself!"
  • "Your hair is the color of my soul."
  • "Hi, I seemed to have misplaced my black lipstick, can I borrow some off your mouth?"
  • "Your pants are so shiny, I can see myself in them."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How To Make a Sally Nightmare Before Christmas Costume

This is the only known image of me in my Sally costume I made when I was a teenager (I'm posed here with my friend Benji Geary, who is beside me dressed as Mothra.) I'm going to try to recount how this costume was made, since I know good-quality Sally costumes are a bit difficult for some people to find and figure out.

Step 1: Consider the color scheme. I was absolutely obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas when it first came out (God, that makes me feel old!) so I know Sally's "true colors" a bit better than most. Your typical Nightmare Before Christmas trinkets portray Sally with baby-blue skin and fire-engine red hair, and her dress in bright pastel hues. If you actually look at the puppet from the movie in the two scenes where she's not under night-time lighting, though, her skin is actually more white than blue, and her hair is rather a brown or burnt sienna tone. Her dress too is in dull, muted tones, like fabric that's very old and starting to rot. This is your color scheme if you want authenticity.

Step 2: I'll call the hair step 2. So, you need to get the hair down in some way. If you happen to have waist length red or brown hair you can probably use your own and bypass this, but for the rest of us, here's a way to make a proper Sally wig. You will take a stocking cap/snow hat, and try to get one in a similar color to how you want the hair. Then you will buy a bunch of yarn in the closest color you can to Sally's own hair color. Buy more than you think you need because it'll be a pain if you run out and can't match the color exactly later on, when you have your wig only partway finished. Why are we using yarn? Because Sally is a RAG DOLL, and ragdolls usually have yarn for hair. I think this was intended in the film as well -- early drafts of the script had Sally using her hair to sew herself back together after her jump from the window during the Jack and Sally montage.
Use a yarn needle, and thread pieces of your yarn through the stocking cap. Tie the knots off on the inside where they won't be seen. measure out your yard and cut off the ends to the desired length. Do this over most of the cap, till you have it covered well enough. You can use some of the thread to loop through the cap and discreetly tie down other pieces of the yarn to keep it flat and so it won't become too poofy. Test out the cap from time to time, and just keep adding yarn strands till you get the amount of coverage you need.

Step 3: Buy up your fabric for the dress. How much of each piece you'll need depends a bit on how large you are, but if memory serves me right, I bought some cheap cotton in: orange, teal, pink, gray, tan, light leaf green, black, magenta and another brown/yellow color. Cloths colored with natural dye might be a better match to the genuine color scheme described above; you might also consider soaking the fabric in some strong tea or coffee if you can only find very brightly colored material.

Step 4: Once I had the needed colors, I used black fabric paint and a red Sharpie marker to then apply the needed patterns onto the cloth. The pink cloth that goes over the left side of her torso has a swirly pattern; the left sleeve is orange with thin red and black stripes, so and and so forth. Most of the patterned fabric are on the front of her dress but I believe there was one patterned piece on her back as well. Shots during Jack's Lament show the back of her outfit most clearly of any point in the film. The book Nightmare Before Christmas: The Film, The Art, The Vision provided me most of my reference pictures at the time.

Step 5: Once you have the cloth painted and dried, you need to actually make the dress. I think I really just did this, with no pattern, by laying pieces of cloth on my body and cutting them into about the shape I needed (probably a little larger so i'd have room to spare) and then using loose basting stitches to temporarily hold the fabric together in the proper layout; after I had most of it in place I went back and used more basting stitches to hone the design, and just kept doing this till I had a reasonable dress in mockup. At this point I sewed it properly, by hand, using embroidery thread in large, wacko stitches as are the hallmark of Sally's look. I think the green cloth on the left hip had to be cut in an odd way with a wedge in order to make it lay right, but everything else I was able to get dead-on. I'll add, I did not hem the skirt or finish any of the edges, this being again a trait seen on the original. Don't forget the pocket on the front of the skirt!

Step 6: We're assuming you have the dress finished at this point. If not, do whatever else you need that I didn't go over to make your dress be finished.

Step 7: To get the stitching on the legs, I used a pair of opaque white tights and put little drops of clear nail polish down on every spot where I intended to go in with a needle. I used blue embroidery thread and just sewed down lines of stitching in the correct places on the legs. If I had the costume to do again, I would also make some arm-stockings in the same way (the costume originally had been planned that I would glue down some false stitches on my arms, but it didn't quite work when I tried it.)

Step 8: I assume you have your leg and maybe arm stockings done and stitched. Makeup time! Start by painting your fingernails a burgundy color.

Step 9: Any exposed skin that's left after your tights and arm-pieces are on, needs to be painted white with clown makeup, and then have blue 'stitches' painted on. (Again, I found out too late and the hard way that I couldn't really glue down thread onto myself as had been my original plan. There was no skin-safe glue I could find that both allowed full mobility and still held the threads in place on my skin.) I had to use plain old cornstarch as my setting powder over this, but if you can get good stage makeup a truly transparent shade of setting powder may be available. (Do NOT use regular "translucent" powder, as it has pigments added that will ruin the white makeup you've already used.)

Step 10: Using the blue makeup, smear some large circles around your eyes.

Step 11: Add some burgundy lipstick and some false black eyelashes, and you're done. Pull yourself together and you're now ready to party as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

You Might Be a Goth If...

■You pay 6 bucks for cigarettes that match your outfit
■You like to play dead in public
■You wake up still drunk at 3 in the afternoon with anonymous black
lipstick on your face
■The shade of powder you wear is called "Sheet Of Paper"
■The Count was your favorite Sesame Street character as a child
■You wear long, velvet coats in the middle of summer
■You go to Denny's at 5 in the morning and think, "These are my people"
■You think dead flowers are prettier than live ones
■You refer to your age in mortal years
■You buy $15 fishnets and rip them on purpose
■Your combat boots cost more than it takes to feed a third world child
for two years
■You've willingly undergone cosmetic dental surgery
■You own 16 or more Cleopatra c.d.'s
■You own even 1 Projekt c.d.
■You can't decide whether Morticia Addams or Lily Munster is prettier,
then decide Wednesday blows them both away
■You were disappointed to find out that "American Gothic" is a portrait
of two farmers
■You think of the hearse as a "family car"
■You own a glow-in-the-dark rosary that alternates between your neck and
the rearview mirror in your car
■You fashion your eyeliner after a culture that's been dead over 2000
■You have seen "Nightmare before Christmas" more than seven times
■Your purse is large, square and metal
■You argue on whether Poppy Z. Brite or Anne Rice has the more realistic
view on vampires
■You and your friends take lengthy drives to visit non-local graveyards
■You spell Vampire either Vampyre or Vamphyre
■Your boyfriend complains that his ribs just don't stick out the way
they used to
■Your girlfriend complains that you look better in her black, velvet
skirt than she does
■You refer to others as "The Normals"
■You are happy when no one has ever heard of your favorite band
■Christians accost you with pamphlets on the street frequently
■You accost Christians with pamphlets on the street
■You and your boyfriend fight over who gets to wear the fangs
■This list made you depressed

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Glasgow Grin

Who needs a smile more than a goth? But smiling isn't goth! How on earth can one come to terms with this?

Well, there is always the old Glasgow Grin...

A Glasgow grin (also known as a Glasgow smile, Anna grin, Chelsea grin or Chelsea smile) refers to the wound that results from slashing a person's face from the edges of the mouth to the ears. The cut, which is usually made with a utility knife or a piece of broken glass, leaves a scar that makes the victim appear to be smiling broadly. Sometimes the attacker will stab or kick the victim after cutting them to make them scream, so that the wound is opened further. The practice is said to have originated in Glasgow, Scotland, but also became popular with English street gangs as an intimidation tactic (especially in Chelsea, London, where it is known as a "Chelsea grin").

In the original story of The Man Who Laughs, the lead character was supposed to have undergone this treatment. The film version adapted this look to just a general maniacal grin:

Interestingly, things came full circle when Bob Kane was inspired by the film to create his famous Batman villain, The Joker. Of course, in the 2008 film The Dark Knight, the Joker was portrayed with a classical Glasgow grin back in place.

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