I used to hang out at the clubs and watch a local goth band (in retrospect, I don’t know that I would label them as such) back in the day named Morticia. They were great folks to chat with: never too haughty or above the people who paid the cover charge to see them and I think they did what they did more for fun than out of seriousness. I mean, they named themselves after a campy sitcom character and they never came off as treating it as anything more than theater (unlike quite a few goth bands in the 80s, which took themselves far more serious than many fans did). I can only say that I was always aware of the campiness while I listened to them and, well, that was as much part of the scene as were the Sisters of Mercy wannabees.
More importantly, there was only one other band, Dark Carnival, who played the club circuit, who could be labeled as “goth” in Minneapolis. There were other bands, I knew a few of them (and played in a few, sometimes as a guest musician), but they didn’t have the draw of those two bands. If I recall correctly, Dark Carnival elected to keep it to 18+/21+ shows (I grew up during the change-over from 18 to 21 as a drinking age and got screwed out of being grandfathered in by 2 years) to get a bigger cut of the liquor sales — I don’t recall seeing them doing an all-age show back in the day, so I assume that was the motivator. Don’t quote me on that.
Besides, Matt often set his drum set on fire at the end of a show.
Because Morticia was more accessible to the younger crowd and “gothic” hadn’t come into the local vernacular, many of us somber-dressed, black-haired, make-up wearing Lugosi freaks got tagged with Morticia’s song for a label: “Darksiders”. Occasionally someone used “batcave punkers”, but that was damn rare and not at all midwestern. Its use was usually relegated to those with eyes towards escaping Minnesota via LA, Boston or NYC and they were practicing being cool.
Morticia were as much about speed metal as they were about monster goth, as you’ll hear. Interesting as how that got pegged as the label for the Minneapolis goth scene instead of “Graverocker”, a song later on the album. I never quite grasped who started it or how that came about. Of course, I rejected any of the labels as silly ways to put people into comfortable little bins as if any of the people in said communities got along, let alone could agree on what they should be collectively called.
When I was younger, I kind of eclipsed both spectrums — both fully embracing my campiness and playing up the “blood-sucking wannabe suicide” when the situation called for one or the other. Most of the time, I was just a normal kid dressed in black with eyeliner. But sometimes people wanted a show. Or one was required.
My mother was recently surprised to discover that some of my antics of the time were to keep folks from, well, killing me. If I acted the dusted-up morose psychopath with a death-wish, fewer people wanted to bully or brutalize the person they otherwise perceived as a “faggot” or “sissy”. It might be catching. Or I might not realize I was suppose do be dead after they shot me (actual quote). Or, maybe I was already dead and would keep coming after them “like a mothafuckin zombie fuck” (another actual quote).
I had frequently been the target of such attacks over the years, as I wore ruffles, velvet, sashes around my waist, had multicolored hair, and generally came off as androgynous or feminine. “Why didn’t you say so?” she asked when she heard. “I did, mom. You just didn’t listen.”
I tell you — running through downtown Minneapolis with a guy chasing you with a switchblade because you look “faggy”, or another requiring a call to the cops because he was drunk, knocking over book and magazine stands because he didn’t like me shopping in the same magazine store as him because I might have AIDS and he’ll magically get it by being in the same store as a kid with pink hair — it isn’t fun. I got sucker-punched a few times for the way I looked, or the clothes I wore, or my shirt said something offensive. That changed when I went dark.
Then would-be assailants hesitated to mess with me.
I’m all over the place in this post.
Really, I was just explaining who Morticia was for a Halloween music post.
So there you go.
Originally posted on sceadugenga.com