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Still gothic after all these years

Part 3

by Ellen Barry, photos by Dana Smith

Among the ideological splits that have arisen within goth in recent years are disagreements on such issues as the coolness of the Internet, the appeal of vampires, and -- notably -- the centrality of pain, as typified by the debate between "mopeygoths" and "perkygoths." These days, the modern goth has a well-developed sense of irony about the prototypical suffering goth: dancing alone with a rose, considering his mortality. In Boston, at least, overt suffering is out of fashion. Sara Arnold, who at 17 is one of the youngest full-fledged members of the community, says "more than anything, it's lighthearted." Rachel Pollock, who is known professionally as DJ Lady Bathory and will soon be appearing at Ceremony and Hell, doesn't have one good thing to say about the pain crowd.

For the gloomy kind of goth, she writes in an e-mail interview, "moving within the subculture was symptomatic of their angst, and once they [weren't] feeling gloomy anymore, they didn't want to subscribe to a dark aesthetic anymore either. Unfortunately, I think it is all too often these woebegone wrist-to-forehead types that pimp themselves to the press and proclaim nonsense like `Goth is about my inner tragedy.' "

Moreover, adds Shannon Davis, long-term angst takes a lot out of you: "If you're into it for a long time, you just can't maintain that level of unhappiness."

But there are others who still feel that anguish is essential to the goth experience. "I don't advocate that goths be depressed every day of the week, but I do find the lack of angst a bit . . . um . . . odd," groused one in a posting on alt.gothic. "I mean, this is the gothic newsgroup, no? Ian Curtis DID kill himself, no?" Another defender of pain is "Scary" Gary Franklin, 34, a Portland, Oregon, man who founded the National Goth Singles Network in an effort to build a community for small-town goths. Call a 1-900 number, and you can hook up with lonesome goths like Amadeo, from central Texas, who describes himself as "6 foot, 180 pounds, very dark eyes and long, black curled locks like beautiful spirals of shadow, with light-colored flesh . . . and a devilish black goatee."

When Scary Gary thinks of a goth, he thinks of pain: "Pain seems to go hand-in-hand with what constitutes goth. If you want to make a very broad generalization, your average punk is very angry inside, whereas your average goth is very sad."

Scary Gary thinks of himself as a humanitarian, but mention his name and many Boston goths will respond with a flood of vitriolic accusations: that he's cashing in on the scene; that to him, anguish is no more than a market; that he's a poseur. On top of a natural goth aversion to promoters is a sense that he's misrepresenting the community. "Everybody, everybody hates that guy," says Cusraque. For his part, Scary Gary has become the tiniest bit defensive.

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