10 Reads Goth Man Child Tells All
I’m a weekend goth. On Saturdays I wear black pyjamas with some spaceships from Star Wars on the front (bit Balenciaga) and listen to Fields of the Nephilim. It’s a thing for me. Then I look for anything Robert Smith-related on YouTube; I like dark things and emo-y things and I really like black.
At work I’m “really funny” and a “character” – a kind of dwarf-clown with endless stories. Every day I walk into the office with a “Hiyaaarrr!” and regale work friends with impossible tales about, me answering the door to a plumber while only wearing a shower cap and a towel over my not-unsubstantial boobs that suddenly “just fell off”. And then the plumber said, “Fine pair there, missus”, or something equally preposterous and “then everybody started laughing”, even though there was nobody there in the first place and I’d just made it all up. I’m excruciating. Sometimes I can’t sleep.
Weekend goth comes out
But that’s the “Hiyarrrrr!”, weekday me. The weekend me is a bit more of a patchouli sniffer who likes goth-y things. I like being a weekend goth. I do have a good time. I imagine it’s a bit like being one of those bad (good) trannies you see on Channel 5 who are normally called Janine or Purdey. Both are absolutely harmless but do love wearing really, really short skirts. Janine (Derek) and Purdey (Clive) have a coloured idea of what it means to be a woman. Every weekend they want to pass as women but never will. Like me being a goth: I’m pretend.
Inside my Saturday-goth-incubator-flat, nobody can ever “read” me or see me. This dressing-up is just for me. I think it’s a fetish. I have a mountain of old Yohji and it’s all black and “witchy”. I wear this and look in the mirror and then take it off again.
Black is the goth colour. Black is the colour that is not a colour and yet has the impact of red. It’s the colour of order and law and the church and death and the end. Rei Kawakubo says, “In the end black looks best.” Fluoro has fizz, camel is New York and navy is Paris. Brown is nothing without navy, and orange is sublime with grey. Dark grey is London (tartan is ridiculous). Gold is LA and Shanghai, and silver is very, very Tokyo.
Mock goth party
Craig Green has done black in cotton and made it boxy and this is making me more black-aware – “black-happy”. My friend Julian and I will be throwing a Coming Out Black Goth Party in the summer. This is going to be the flyer:
Venue: The Kings Arms, Poland Street, London’s Soho
Dress code: vintage Yohji and Gaultier (not Junior), much Craig Green blackness
Mood code: Meadham Kirchhoff-ness and major introspection vibes
Playlist: Nephilim, Sisters, Siouxsie, Cure, Bauhaus and Mary Chain to later stuff, such as Within Temptation, Krypteria, Nightwish and more
*A back room will be provided for navel-gazing moodiness and eyeliner application*
I like black. At school I liked The Cure and had conversations with other pretentious types in a black uniform and asked, “Why are we here?” That’s as painful a question as it gets, but at least I was asking questions.
Vapid frock chat
These days I just talk shops and skirts. Now I work in a business that deals in vapid frock chat. I can even speak vapid frock chat. I’m fluent in “magazine”:
“Invest in a knife pleat, kicky skirt or statement pencil.”
“A tulle ruff adds interest to any party separate.”
“Sass is pool slides worn with a rhubarb blouse.”
My friend Gemma calls shopping copy like this “fanny writing”, because you could write the word fanny 500 times and nobody would ever notice the difference.
On holiday – and I absolutely swear I’m not making this up – I sunbathe in clothes. I swim in a T-shirt. I wear shorts, but they’re black, and socks, and last year I wore shoes. But that was because I’d not packed my (black) trainers. It’s weird and I know it’s weird and it’s not because I’m a pretend goth, it’s because I’m not a thin (itals) pretend goth. If I were really thin – Saint-Laurent-thin – I would get it all out. Like, all. Because, in my limited sexual experience, thin fellas have big doodahs, so, yeah, get it out, flash it around a bit, do the helicopter, are proud. Instead I’m more a “I’ll just be under this umbrella with a Jackie Collins”, quiet type, more “Molly Ringwald in a Jesus and Mary Chain T-shirt” pensive.
Me sunbathing fully clothed, even sitting under an umbrella out of the sun, infuriates people. Lynn and Pete from Leeds on the next lounger hate it. Lynn and Pete from Leeds think everybody (Itals) at Il Mercato four-star hotel in Egypt’s dust-bowl enjoyment-vacuum Sharm el Sheik should get their dough-tits out in full sunshine. Lynn loves (Itals) getting hers out. Loves it! “Look at my downward-trending dough-tits, everybody! Go on have a good fooking (Itals) look!”
Lynn and Pete hate me. Think I’m weird. Think, “Why would you pay all that money and not go back with a tan?” But in reality Lynn and Pete hate each other. They hate themselves. Pete looks at Lynn and thinks, “What happened to that pretty young thing I married? Now all I see is a tattooed monster.” And Lynn looks at Pete and thinks: “It’s him who did this to me. Him who injected me with his filthy man-muck. This is it. This is all I’ve got – three kids, two weeks away and one fat fucking husband.” And then she jabs her thuggish gold rings into another packet of crisps and thinks some more about her erased future. Yes, Lynn, you stick to your sun lounger and I’ll stick fully clothed to mine.
Jesus, I’m like an even more goth-y Liz Jones.
By Richard Gray
Richard Gray is executive fashion director at The Sunday Times Style