Gothic Beauty Magazine Gothic Fashion, Music, Art & Entertainment Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:07:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gothic Beauty Magazine 32 32 Life In Sodom Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:50:45 +0000 [...]]]> Life In Sodom are a band you may not be familiar with, but they’re ready to be heard. After consistently releasing new music the track ‘Souvenirs’ was included in a compilation in the late Nineties put together by goth journalist Mick Mercer. Following that the band took a break in 1999, only to return a few years later with a flurry of releases. This culminated in 2011 with arguably their most popular track ‘The Hollow and Haunted House’ which garnered praise once again from Mercer. Being a band made up of creative minds, the group took another hiatus to work on other projects but Life In Sodom have returned once more with the best of their dark-wave post-punk to offer. After making music for nearly thirty years the group are taking their most popular tracks, giving them a polish and re-releasing them for new ears to hear. Poet, performer and driving force behind the US group Gerrie Brand, takes us through his journey in a Life In Sodom.

“Any musician, whether a recording artist or not, never loses their love or passion for music. Many lose their edge or drive to create new music, but music is within all of us, both as artists and listeners.” It is this unstoppable need to express and create that keeps Gerrie and the other members of L.I.S. from packing away their synths and resigning the band to the (goth) history books. That and Gerrie also believes it is almost a duty for those who can make music to keep making music. “It truly is humankind’s greatest gift. Imagine a world without music. It would be a world without humanity.”

Over three decades and ten releases, Life In Sodom have maintained their ethos and independence, releasing everything up until now under their own Nutrix Recordings label. The highlight of their career was being recognised by prominent gothic journalist Mick Mercer and their contribution to the subculture at the time forever recorded in print. “We were humbled back in the late nineties when we were included in two of post-punk journalist Mick Mercer’s books on the Gothic subculture. With these books there were album companions, one of which was ‘The Hex Files Volume II’. It was a double CD to accompany the book by the same name. We were in the company of some iconic goth bands of the time.” The decision to include a track from the band on the CD release would prove to introduce a whole new audience to the Florida-based band. “Our track ‘Souvenirs’ became a popular cut – it is our most downloaded song too. Before our inclusion on that compilation, we’d never done much to promote ourselves, but the release of that album in Europe brought us a barrage of fan mail and opportunities to play – both in Europe and South America. We didn’t seize the moment or opportunities, however, perhaps preoccupied by other career choices we deemed more important at the time.”

life in sodomNow in 2017, Life In Sodom have returned to make a new push with some of their best tracks. “Our hope is for a new generation of fans to discover our music. The new album will contain seven songs that we picked out from previous releases. These songs are re-recorded, brand new renditions – some have been modernized and are very different from the originals. The title of the album will be Night/Day.”

“Fans can expect a digital release sometime in the late fall or early winter, with a limited number of vinyl copies to be released afterwards. All songs can be obtained through Apple iTunes, Spotify and really any major downloading outlet. Physical copies will be available from every major worldwide distributor as always. Vinyl versions will be by mail order probably through Mannequin Records in Germany.”

Their last release, ‘The Hollow and Haunted House’, was described as ‘beautifully groomed kitsch Americana’ and had a more upbeat feel than anything previously produced by the band. The forthcoming Night/Day release however, promises a return to form with Gerrie describing the tone of the album as more “introspective and conducive to the dark dance club scene”. Album release shows are planned on both the east and west coasts of the U.S., but fans in Europe will have to keep a close eye on notifications from the band for a live date nearer to their home. “A few shows in Europe will depend on the success of the upcoming re-release of our 1990 album ‘The Stains’ on Mannequin Records, whom we have signed with to exclusively release on vinyl in Europe. It will be catalog #MNQ098 and should be released soon as an EP. The CD version will also contain the video for ‘The Stains’, as well as ‘Phantasmagoria’, our second 12 inch released originally back in 1992.”

Since Life In Sodom began, nearly thirty years ago, the scene has been through some changes with trends coming back around and old school musical styles being referenced and homaged. For Gerrie, some of integrity and genuine feeling of gothic music has been lost. “The music has (changed). It seems to be less emotional and melodic, I’m not sure why, I always thought that this was what it was all about. It seems like a lot of the bands that I have been exposed to are either very repetitious and unimaginative, or so over dramatic that they border on the pretentious.” As many members find as they progress through the subculture and reflect on what it means to be a part of it, Life In Sodom love the ethos of goth more than the outward show more and more. “(It is) the fashion, art, and music, and for the most part the thoughtful, well meaning, ‘questioning everything that’s not right on our Earth’ people involved in the scene that have become my favourite part of it.”

Keep up to date with everything Life in Sodom and find them on facebook. View their new music video ‘The Lonely March’ below.

Taking Eden: Comic Series by Jason Beckwith Mon, 06 Nov 2017 16:24:34 +0000 [...]]]> We encounter exquisite artwork and beautifully sultry scenes with themes of underlying disorder caused by human monsters and occult magic. In this world the modern and the ancient, magic and technology, innocence and corruption swirl around with an intoxicating effect.

In Jason Beckwith’s comic series Marnie, a naive girl who previously worked in her local Frosty Cream, moves to the big city to join her cousin Jasmine, a Gothic DJ. She is dragged into a whirlwind of adventure where she discovers shadowy and hidden secrets, exploring a previously unknown side of her personality. Sky a dangerous yet charming club owner supplies his venues with a drug called Eden, by distilling the virtue of innocence using an occult process. The story is a multi-layered text exploring themes of naivete, the uncanny, magic and corruption all within a night time city landscape, reminiscent of Gotham.

Taking Eden is a very different from more standard superhero comics with binary good vs. evil character arcs. It is a subtle and complicated text with deeper focus on character interaction. Beckwith tells us that: “Taking Eden is a niche book in a niche market. I knew from the start that it would not have mass appeal. I’m not expecting this to get me rich. I just want to make enough to make the next book. I believe that there is an audience out there for it, but I don’t believe it will ever be Marvel, or DC huge. For that reason, I pull no punches with the story telling. It’s quite liberating to tell the story the way that I want to, without worrying if I’m going to offend.” Taking Eden is for the more discerning reader and has an appeal beyond the standard comic. Subtle changes in mood and a rich dialogue provides a more emotional response towards the characters.

The project started as a creative exercise with Beckwith’s co-worker Malcolm Johnson when they were working at an advertising agency in Silicon Valley. They pinged emails back and forth writing the story lines, sometimes stopping mid-sentence. Realizing that they had fantastic material the comic series was born. Beckwith is now writing solo. He uses note cards to write the scenes and putting them on a large bulletin board, hand drawing layouts for each page and filling in the dialogues.

The most striking aspect of Taken Eden is the coloring, costumes and dark setting of the comic. Niño Harn Cajayon’s beautiful pencil and ink drawings capture the complex range of character emotions and action scenes, giving the comic a slightly sketchy feel reminiscent of a Victorian “Penny Dreadful”. Working from Beckwith’s hand sketches they collaborate to deliver the scenery and characters’ aesthetic. Gonzalo Duarte the colorist creates a subtle pallet of shadowy hues, giving the work a smoldering tension. He has captured the gothic pallet without overloading the pictures with black, which is always the biggest challenge in gothic artwork. Beckwith then performs further shading and shadowing which “provides more detail, and darkens the scenes to fit the mood”. Beckwith gives his artists lots of freedom and in this respect it is very much a work of collaboration.

As we all love fashion the varied wardrobes of Marnie and Jasmine and ragged aristocratic look of David offers a vast plethora of inspiration for budding Cosplayers. Beckwith loves the Cosplaying community and sees much potential scope for his characters in this arena. “At this point, my comics have not been inspiration enough for Cosplayers to try my characters. I think one of the things that Cosplayers love, is to be recognized as a specific character by their peers. At this point, Cosplaying as one of my characters would involve a lot of telling others what they were dressed as. Hopefully that will change in the future, as Taking Eden gains exposure. I would LOVE to see someone cosplaying one of my characters!” Inspired by Cajayon’s beautiful illustrations there is certainly much material to get the creative juices flowing.

Flicking through the pages of Taking Eden the reader encounters nods to many different horror tropes, such as slenderman, zombies and even a tentacle monster. Beckwith tells us: “While classic horror tropes are referenced in the story, the monsters in Taking Eden are all human. I love villains that follow a course, because they think it’s the right one. No one wants to be the bad guy. Most strive to do what’s right, but get blinded by material greed or desires of the flesh. I try very hard to provide back-story and reasons for the actions of the characters. The overall theme should be one of growth, and self-discovery as Marnie comes to terms with a bigger world than the small town, sheltered life that she grew up with.” The monsters of Taking Eden are the ones we find within, and characterization is central to bringing these themes out in the comic.

Another huge theme running through Taken Eden is the occult magic used to produce the drug and how this ancient power flows through a modern club scene. Beckwith has a fascinating take upon this mixture of magic and modernity: “Well, what is magic? What differentiates magic from technology? Have you ever watched fire consume a log? Have you ever played with two magnets? Have you ever floated in a body of water? These things are magic to me, despite clear scientific explanation. We can get information beamed to our hands from satellites in space. From a practical standpoint, there is no difference between magic and technology.” Taking Eden captures this very modern dilemma of amalgamating ancient spirituality with seemingly modern magic.

Finally, we posed Beckwith the difficult question of which character was his favorite. He tells us: “I don’t have a favorite. I spend the most time on Marnie, as she’s the protagonist.” “I love spending time with all of my characters, and ensuring that they each have a compelling individual story arc.” Perhaps this is what makes Taking Eden such an appealing and unique comic series; the detailed characterization. It is a profound and shadowy comic book engaging with so many different themes in intricate and thought-provoking ways.

Tragic Books: Illustrated Dark Fantasy and Gothic Fiction from Isis Sousa Sun, 29 Oct 2017 16:15:08 +0000 [...]]]> In a tiny Norwegian valley surrounded by mountain, but very few neighbors, lives Isis Sousa, a native of Brazil. Isis has always been enamored by the dark with a fondness for the arts, history and heavy metal. She is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. When she’s not creating artwork and illustrations for clients, she writes and paints and enjoys woodworking. “As an introvert and artist, I have the need to spend a lot of time by myself. Living in this tiny valley, with only 10 neighboring houses, and a lot of mountains and beautiful fjords around, I have a closer contact with nature,” she tells us, “The landscape and how we register it changes very much from season to season. During Summer it is day all the time and during Winter, we don’t even see the sun here. There are the phantasmagoric Norther Lights. It all very poetic and definitely helps me getting insights for the stories that pop up in my head. I love specially the Fall and Winter, where there is an overall sense of serenity, calmness and melancholy in the air.”

Making a career out of her creativity was obvious for Isis, “But with all the imagination I have running lose, there came some stories… and there came some books!” And so Tragic Books was born in 2014 as her personal creative outlet, where she publishes illustrated dark stories and art books. Tragic Books places artistry above commercial value, breaking tradition with publishing rules to create a lush world of grown up dark fantasy. Isis’ works are an alternative for those who enjoy Dark Fantasy/Gothic Fiction but can’t find such books due to the market’s saturation with mainstream genres.

“I love Gothic Fiction and I try to rescue the storytelling and values of the classics in my stories as well as the physical beauty of old books through special layout and illustrations,” explains Isis. The decision to self-publish her work was not taken likely, “It is a great alternative for independent artists, like me, who don’t have a big budget to print traditionally and don’t want to be owned by a publishing contract. With traditional publishing you only publish a book if you are selected by a press, then they decide what you should remove or add to the book and that can be conflicting to the artist/author’s convictions and ideas. With self-publishing you have free tools at your disposition, you decide and control the content you want to publish. Also with traditional printing, you need to pay upfront for a large minimum amount of books, which you can’t guarantee they will be sold. Self-publishing only prints a book when it is purchased, and the artist receives a royalty. It is environmental friendly, too.”

the night of elisa preview

The Night of Elisa is Isis’ debut novel. The story follows the title character after she finds herself in the melancholic Duskland, drifting somewhere between the living and that beyond. Elisa struggles with a longing to return to a home she has no memories of, while her new companion Leonhard is tormented by his much too vivid recollections of a past he cannot escape.

The Night of Elisa is more than my debut fiction book,” Isis explains, “I consider it the beginning of my self-publishing fiction brand ‘Tragic Books’. It is an experimental work, disobeying rules of traditional publishing, where most books needs to be within certain standards (genre and genre-traits or ingredients, word count, use or no use of illustrations, etc.) to make it to the industry. The Night of Elisa is untraditionally crafted to maximize the storytelling and heighten imagination. From the way it is written to its illustrations, every single element has been put together to bring to you the essence of this unique world in which the story is set as well as the essence of its characters. Another important aspect of this work is the subtext: all the nuances, symbolism and hidden meanings in between the lines. There is precisely where the darkest aspects of the story lie and where the most attempt readers will get interesting moments of discovery (and self-discovery).”

The second book in the Elisa series will be available in Autumn 2018. Until the end of October you can download it for free, in your favorite format on Instafreebie. You can also enter to win a print copy of The Night of Elisa on GoodReads.

as cold as thorns preview

As Cold as Thorns is the tale of Henrique, a small-town tailor’s apprentice whose ambitions turn him overnight into one of the most powerful and influential personalities in early-1800s Europe. His quick ascension to the upper echelons of the leading Iberian Empire reveals a man torn between the pure heart he once was, and the grim shade of what he has now become: a spirit obsessed with expensive material possessions and the urge to acquire the unattainable. As Cold As Thorns is also available in print or as an ebook through GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and IndieBound, with the second volume planned for publication in Spring 2018.

Tragic Books Art Books include The Night of Elisa Special Edition, Valencia Noir and The Picture of Dorian Gray in Quotes and Nudes. Valencia Noir takes you through this Spanish realm where all fantasies, be they innocent, adventurous or obscure, take shape on canvas, wood, metal or stone. Isis Sousa’s black and white photography is a beautiful trip through this enchanting city of bats, dragons and gods. The Dorian Gray book is lushly illustrated with fine art nude paintings by Isis to accompany selected quotes from Oscar Wilde’s classic Gothic masterpiece.

isis sousa tragic books
Isis Sousa

The next upcoming art book will be a visual book showing the beauty of the Pere Lachaise cemetery, in Paris. Pere Lachaise The Art of The French Cemetery is a collaboration of photography from Isis and Ove Neshaug with Clare Diston as editor. Gothic Beauty’s own Steven Holiday contributes the foreword. Pere Lachaise The Art of The French Cemetery is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2018.

Cyber Gothic Factory Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:06:55 +0000 [...]]]> In the run up to the 20th anniversary of the creation of Cyber Gothic Factory, Gothic Beauty thought it was about time to speak to Jean, founder and creative mind behind the Canadian brand, famous for personalised bullet belts, outrageous cyber goggles and neon gas masks. Recently CGF has expanded their range into laser cut leather jewelry – ideal for goths and steampunk fans worldwide. If you love the style of Mad Max, yearn to go to the Burning Man festival or see the future as one big Tron-inspired rave, the Cyber Gothic Factory have got your outfit covered. Their range of quality, hand-finished accessories can turn even the most ordinary outfit into something amazing and unique.

Founded in 1998, Cyber Gothic Factory was brought into being by Jean’s passion for creating fashion, realising it could no longer be just a hobby. “It was driven by the need to make a living doing what I had always loved to do – create and design fashion trend jewelry and accessories”. Luckily for us Jean followed an alternative slant and CGF was born. “When I started in Montreal, we had a very strong trend focussed around ethnic inspired fashion. I designed the best elastic cord necklaces with beautiful wooden beads for hippies at the time, as well as other jewelry made of natural materials, like bone, shells and coconut shell beads.” After riding the crest of the ethnic grunge surfer style trend, Cyber Gothic Factory exhibited at wholesale trade shows in Montreal and things began to take off. After that CGF spotted another trend and followed the popular leader of it, coincidentally a fellow Canadian. “Avril Lavigne became popular, and so did her somewhat gothic appearance. Suddenly spikes and leather jewelry spread through fashion like wildfire all over Canada and into the US and Europe. I started creating studded leather jewelry and accessories and the result was orders from all over the world! Gothic and Punk fashion became very popular and it was around this time, around 2004, that I started making heavy duty bullet belts. Now I am one of the main suppliers of this item and similar bullet-themed accessories.” Cyber Gothic Factory even offer a personalising service, so you can literally have a bullet with your name on it. Or that of your enemy.

cyber gothic factoryKeeping a close eye on trends and the direction of the alternative fashion world, Jean took another new direction a few years later. “In 2010 I started the cyber gothic trend. Cyber Gothic Factory made incredible masks, goggles and respirators which sold worldwide, as far as South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.” The current gas mask range from CGF varies from smaller respirators worn over the mouth and nose, to larger full-face masks that fasten behind the head. There are some with huge spiked studs down the centre of the face, or with colour changing lights (complete with remote control!). The ‘EL Wire gas masks’ start life as a standard issue Israeli mask, but after a few hours in the hands of the Cyber Gothic Factory they become light-up cyber accessories, the ‘eyes’ and ‘mouth’ glowing in neon colours like a Praying Mantis sent from the future! The latest edition to the CGF family is laser cut leather jewelry and etched acrylic cyber accessories, featuring cog designs or circuit board patterns – precision items at affordable prices for goths, cyber fans or steampunk devotees alike. Jean’s ‘sister’ business specialises in laser cutting for any kind of business who might make use of a precision pattern and CGF also sell wholesale for any stores that want to expand their range!

cyber gothic factoryWhen asked what sets Cyber Gothic Factory apart from other alternative stores, Jean’s focus is on quality and authenticity of design. “I create and design everything on the website and that makes us very unique. We also make everything in our factory in Montreal and that enables us to control and ensure quality. It can take a few hours or a few days to make a new item, depending on the availability of parts. The process includes breakfast because I dream of new designs at night while sleeping! I have too many styles I want to make and sometimes it’s very hard to find the parts I need, or it takes a long time to receive them which can delay a new style.”

“I’ve been creating fashion accessories for 25 years, so it just comes to my soul and mind. I really enjoy creating and making something available for people in a certain fashion trend like goths, punks, ravers and steampunk style followers.” Speaking of fashion scenes, what is the scene like in Canada at the moment? “I am based in Montreal, Canada, and the cyber/goth/rave and also Punk scene is very strong here, but it is stronger in Europe, the UK and Germany especially, and also in the USA.” Jean’s answer to our last question is sure to make the readers of Gothic Beauty very happy indeed! Is there someone famous you would like to design an item for? “Nobody in my mind, but I love gothic women. I think they are the sexiest women alive.” We couldn’t agree more!

The Extreme Nature of Bats: A Passmore Studios Documentary Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:56:23 +0000 [...]]]> The Extreme Nature of Bats takes us on a fascinating journey around the globe exploring the nature of bats as it disproves popular legends which have threatened their existence. Filmmaker Greg Passmore has been exploring caves since he was a kid. He was fascinated by what he found there: transparent and blind creatures, archeological remains, underground rivers, naturally bats. He grew accustomed to these creatures, “I spent so much time exploring caves that bats became my often present companions. They are fascinating creatures, with complex social structures, massive underground cities and the freedom of flight to cruise at remarkable speeds in winding cave passages.” When the opportunity came up to produce a documentary about bats, Greg didn’t have to think twice, “Bats are also surrounded by myth, mystery and conflicting tales. Everything needed to make a fascinating story.”

Actual production of The Extreme Nature of Bats was no easy task. Greg tells us, “Filming bats can be difficult. We need to protect them and us. Most of our trips had mammalian biologists present specialized in bats. In Mexico, the government assisted us in the filming of the reclusive vampires. We wear protective clothing to avoid cross-contaminating caves with fungus or other pathogens. We also use air filtration systems to avoid histoplasmosis and cryptic bat rabies. We did some of the filming in Frio Bat Cave, a location know to contain rabies in the air. As such, our crew received the full rabies vaccine in advance, along with about a dozen other vaccines. We entered the caves about the time of flight to minimize sleep interruption and we kept low and quiet. Despite this, we were in their space.”

Western civilization has generally regarded bats with superstition, fear and uncertainty. To understand the basis for these misconceptions The Extreme Nature of Bats opens with a look into the historical fictional background of these fascinating creatures. Bats have been tied to the legend of vampires since the 1897 debut of Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula, in which the nefarious Count morphs into a bat during his nocturnal doings. Bats have been seen ever after as evil and devilish creature, bent on sucking their victims dry of blood, but the truth is much, much more complicated.

Filming bats can be difficult. We need to protect them and us. Most of our trips had mammalian biologists present specialized in bats. In Mexico, the government assisted us in the filming of the reclusive vampires.

These creatures do indeed share some traits with Stoker’s fictional Count Dracula. The Extreme Nature of Bats takes us to the Latin American habitat of the vampire bat, the only mammal which subsists solely on the blood of other animals. We see these bats using all four limbs to crawl stealthily along cave walls, eerily reminiscent of the scenes of Dracula scaling his own castle walls in Francis Ford Copola’s 1992 cinematic take on the novel. We learn that vampire bats also return night after night to the same animal, much like Stoker’s Dracula slowly drains Lucy. However, the main dangers to the prey of vampire bats come from their transmission of bacteria and blood borne viruses rather than blood loss. The intimidating Latin American vampire bats are reclusive and very hard to film. To get a single shot of a vampire bat feeding on a chicken, both the crew and the bat waited for hours for the chicken to fall asleep before the bat finally fed on it’s blood. As beautiful and fascinating as these three species of vampire bats are, within their limited tropical range they are seen as a destructive force. Although they rarely prey on humans, their eating habits kill thousands of cattle and chickens each year in Mexico between the transmission of rabies and repetitive blood letting. This puts other local insect and fruit eating species in danger as humans attempt to control the numbers of vampire bats.

The Extreme Nature of Bats also takes us to Seychelles off the coast of Africa where giant fruit bats make their home. Fruit eating bats have specially evolved mouths allowing them to break through tough fruit rind and feast on the nectar and fruit flesh. They play an essential role here in the forest, helping to seed and distribute fruit trees which provide shelter and nutrition for a variety of other species. Unfortunately the bats of Seychelles face several threats to their existence: deforestation and loss of habitat as well as hunting because the locals eat them. Because of their vital role in their environment, fewer fruit trees to feed on leads to an even smaller population of bats to propagate the trees. Greg Passmore describes the mega-bats as super cute, curious and intense with squirrel-like behavior.

The film moves back to Texas to show the famous Bracken Cave mega-colony of where over twenty million Mexican Free-Tailed bats make their home. The nightly exit from the cave is awe-inspiring even for a seasoned cave explorer like Greg: “Although I have been around bats my entire life, having millions of them overhead taking flight for the evening is deafening and intimidating.” These bats are extremely beneficial insect-eaters, consuming up an average of 200 tons of bugs every evening.

Bats are complicated creatures, with each species evolved to perform tasks essential to their environments. The Extreme Nature of Bats provides a fascinating look at bat biology and behavior, dispelling misconceptions, encouraging acceptance of these creatures as a natural part of the environment and appreciation for the important role they play in contributing to a well balanced ecosystem.

View a 22 minute screener of never-before-seen footage of some of the largest bat caves in the world from Transylvania to an island off the coast of Africa and the deep jungles of Mexico; capturing megabats, the infamous vampire bat, and the beneficial insectivores in underground Texas.

Gothic Fantasy Florals by Kay Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:30:38 +0000 [...]]]> Every season the world outside changes colour and our oldest festivals celebrate and revolve around them. Spring, Imbolc, heralds the beginning of new life, as we bring the bright yellows and greens of new flowers and shoots into our homes and onto our tables. Summer brings long hazy days and of course the solstice, so we celebrate with fire, while leaving honey and fruit offerings for the fae folk. When the season turns to autumn, the leaves turn red and burnt orange and some of our favourite festivals approach! Halloween especially, with its bright orange pumpkins and grinning skulls against a backdrop of gothic lace and cobwebs, is a particularly visual holiday. It is also usually the first season that we begin to put extra attention and effort into decorating our houses – inside and out! Thanksgiving continues the celebration of autumn and harvest colours, as our tables and doors are decorated with cornucopias and wreaths. Christmas often surpases All Hallows in the decoration stakes, as we bring green branches and lights into our homes to rail against the winter darkness. Bringing a little of each season inside our homes, is something all of us do in one way or another, but not all of us have the time to create something as beautiful as we would like to decorate our tables and hearths. Kay, owner and creative mind behind Fantasy Florals, has the perfect, and long lasting, solution.

Fantasy Florals is a small, independent company, run by blue-haired gothic chick Kay, and she specialises in seasonal table pieces and custom wreaths. “I decided to start my own company on June 2nd, 2015. I had found myself in a situation where I could not work outside of my home. I needed to find something that I would enjoy doing, and would be able to work into my daily schedule. In the past I had worked as a professional floral designer, and I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do this!” So, I decided to combine my loves – flowers and my Goth background/lifestyle. Lucky for me, they’ve turned into something beautiful!”

Fantasy Florals combines its founders many creative talents, and she calls on all her experiences when putting together a decorative piece. “I am also an artist. I work in chalks, oil pastels, oil/watercolor/acrylic paints, graphite pencil and charcoals. One of my first loves is dance and I had planned a career in that discipline, but unfortunately I found it did not suit my life at the time. I am also a gourmet chef! My mother was an artist, as are my brothers; so it’s in my blood so to speak!”

gothic fantasy florals by kay

When starting a brand new design, Kay let’s the vibrant colours of her materials inspire her. “The flowers speak to me, they set the mood of my design. You would not believe some of the gorgeous colors you can find in silks and dried flowers that you are unable to find in fresh flowers! Like some people hear music, and it evokes in them certain emotions; my flower colors do the same. I never quite know what is going to come out of my designs – they just seem to happen, they just fit together! Every piece is an original and completely individual in style.” It is this intuitive way of putting an arrangement together that sets Fantasy Florals apart. “I truly put my heart and soul into my work. I love designing, it is my Zen. So I take extra care over my designs and only release quality work that will not fall apart after one season! It is my pride and joy.”

It helps that Kay’s designs have well chosen foundations. The materials Fantasy Florals are have one thing in common. “Quality! I look for materials that are of high-quality and seem almost, if not, real. I have no love for generic designs! The colors must pop and the customer must always know that my work is unparalleled! I do some wholesale and some retail, depending on my needs. Flowers and other elements that I require to be purchased in bulk, I order from Darice Wholesales. For smaller lots or bespoke commissions, I prefer Michaels’ Retail craft store for quality and selection. Sometimes my husband comes across wholesalers who specialize in florals; if that is the case, he orders items for me!”

gothic fantasy florals by kaySo, how can someone order something special from Fantasy Florals? “Anyone interested in working with me on designs, color schemes, etc. are free to email me their thoughts! The designs on my site are my own creations and can serve as examples of what I am capable of creating. Truth be told, I can design everything and anything. The only thing I will not do, by any means, is copy another’s designs. I could create something similar, or in a certain color idea – but never complete copies.”

“I have a plethora of customers from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. Since I design both year-round and Holiday arrangements, they draw a mixed customer base, but my Gothic friends and family here in the Orlando, FL area love my darker designs!”

Speaking of ‘darker designs’, Fantasy Florals must have something special in mind for our favourite holiday Halloween! “Yes, this year is going to be exciting! I have found the most amazingly vivid violets, along with more “antique-style” flowers and greenery. There are greys and blacks in my new designs. I am thinking of maybe incorporating a more vintage, Victorian-style feel to my designs, mixed with accents from the grave. I don’t want to give too much away but, suffice to say I can’t WAIT to get started! I think it will be beautifully macabre, so everyone keep an eye out for my new designs, they will be irresistible!”

What about personal plans? “Halloween is my New Year’s Eve, so to speak, so we do it up right with decorations, feasting and, even though my son is too old for Tricks & Treats, I still adore walking around the little ghoulies and goblins as they take candy, skip about and dance in the dark! After all – it is our favorite time of year!”

Check out Fantasy Florals on Facebook
And Etsy

Issue 51 now available Thu, 14 Sep 2017 13:21:48 +0000 [...]]]> We’re excited to announce the release of Issue 51!  Here are a few features in this issue you won’t want to miss…

Necessary Evil
The only colourful thing about UK designer Kate is her hair, which is usually a signature bright red. Her label, Necessary Evil, is predominantly all black too and specialises in accessible and affordable gothic staples for both men and women. Her latest collection however, is more bold, with sheer skirts, batwing capes and THAT daring mesh dress with only a velvet cross to hide one’s modesty.

Lupe Flores
Lupes Flores creates the kind of images that stay with you. While dark and melancholy, there is an absolute fierceness to her work. The figures she depicts either stare at you with wide, knowing eyes, or they hypnotize you with sinister hollowed sockets where eyes once were. While her artistic style features simple clean lines, the ideas they convey are layered and complex.

Sophie Lancaster
Ten years ago a young woman and her boyfriend were walking home after spending the evening at a friend’s house. They stopped in a local park to talk to some people they met. They were accosted by five local teenagers who kicked and punched them. They were so badly beaten that, when it came, the ambulance staff couldn’t tell if they were male or female. After being taken to hospital in a coma, the young woman died less than two weeks later. Her boyfriend survived, although he never fully recovered. What instigated the horrific assault? Dreadlocks, dyed black hair and eyeliner. The young woman, Sophie, and her partner Rob, were goths.

Goths Around the World Middle East
At first glance, you would think A and Quasar were just your average goth couple. As we talked on Skype, the two were clad in black—A wore a band tee and a spiked leather bracelet while Quasar sported dark makeup that complemented her jet-black hair. During our conversation, the two spoke about their love of metal music and their appreciation for gothic art and architecture. While they have interests and attire similar to that of any US goth, the lengths they must go to in order to pursue these interests is something few of us can relate to. To say they both put their lives on the line to live a goth lifestyle is in no way an overstatement.

The Birthday Massacre
There are few bands in the alternative scene that have become as emblematic as The Birthday Massacre, the Canadian darkwave band responsible for acclaimed albums such as Walking with Strangers, Hide and Seek and Pins and Needles. After a full year working on it, their seventh album, Under Your Spell, was released. We had the chance to interview guitarist Michael Falcore and discover some of his thoughts about this record.

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Hoodoo Online: Talia Felix makes magick work for you Wed, 30 Aug 2017 13:54:40 +0000 [...]]]> Although she has written countless books on her craft, has a closet full of dried toads and wears a lot of black, Talia Felix is not your average witch. She does not deal in magic crystals or hang out with a coven (and she definitely cannot turn you into Vanessa Hudgens). What she does do is promise no gimmicks and her integrity as a practitioner of hoodoo is her only guarantee. Talia is a spellcaster for hire, who uses her knowledge and experience to help people with love, wealth, joy and curses, even death spells. For a modest fee and a consultation she can work her magic for you too.

“Not everyone believes in magic, and I don’t really consider it part of my duty to convince anyone that doesn’t already believe. There’s no convincing people like that, especially if they cling to a definition of Magic that even I don’t think is possible. There was once a man in a pub criticizing me for believing in magic, and he said something like ‘You really believe you can just cast a spell for a million dollars and that’s all it takes?’ And my answer was No, much to his surprise.”

Even after realising that she had the knowhow for spellcasting, and that there was a demand for it, Talia was still reluctant to put her powers to work for others. “Back around 2009 or 2010, I still bought into the hype that a lot of other spellcasters had – “Never fails, 110% guarantee” – so I thought I wasn’t very good as I didn’t get these kinds of results! But over time I began talking to folks who’d used the professional spellcasters, and heard what kind of results they had, and I began to realize that a lot of these people looking for spells had either ended up going to flat-out scammers who promised big results but never delivered anything; or else that even when they had found well-known legitimate casters, the workers had been using a lot of hyperbole and image control to sound like they were more awesome than they really were – that’s fair; that’s advertising – but it became apparent after a while that I was just as good as “the best spellcaster in the world” and so that was when I decided it was fair for me to make the switch to casting spells for others.”

The most common spell Talia is asked to perform is to bring back a lost lover, but she can also bring a potential lover closer. Talia has also had success with spells to move on from bad relationships, as well as to remove unnatural illness or curses.

Mystic objects: spellcasts can require a variety of tools including candles, incense, bottles, stones and imagery

Talia’s books and her blog ‘The Spellcaster’s Source’ are her outlet for her passion and years of research and study into magic. “There’s a lot of different types of magic – American hoodoo is my specialty, and while it has some overlap with West African magic, European magic and American Indian magic, and from the 20th century on a lot of Asian influence, it is kind of its own thing.” She utilizes oils, herbs, candles and incense as well as more unusual (and sometimes unsavory) ingredients in her spells. “I’ve got a closet full of dried toads and lightning struck wood and things like that. I’ve had to go out deliberately trying to find dog shit to bring back home for spells. I had to buy a lion skin from a taxidermy supply one time. I have to ask customers to send me dirty underwear and semen samples by mail. Nothing seems weird anymore after you do this.” As well as the prospect of dealing with stranger’s dirty laundry, Talia has also had to come to accept that not everyone will appreciate her skills. “Some people are convinced I’m a fake, or trying to scam them, because I don’t fit the illusion in their mind about what magic is. You have to be cozy with the idea of everyone hating you. It’s not like Harry Potter where you’re the most popular boy in school. You’re not in this work for the love you get. You’re in it because what you are doing is more important than you are.”

The most common spell Talia is asked to perform is to bring back a lost lover, but she can also bring a potential lover closer. Talia has also had success with spells to move on from bad relationships, as well as to remove unnatural illness or curses. A friend of hers had been suffering very bad health, diagnosed as diverticulitis, but her illness had become so extreme that she could no longer work, let alone have any kind of social life. Talia performed an ‘uncrossing ritual’, which would help remove any part of the illness caused by a curse. A month after the ritual her friend’s health began to improve, to the point that she could go back to work and enjoy everyday life two to three months later. While success stories like these are encouraging, Talia gives no guarantee that spells will work and she does not make promises she cannot keep. An important part of her process is the consultation, where she decides if the spell requested is worth performing, and if the clients expectations are realistic. She won’t take money for a spell she already knows has no chance of working – this could be because the circumstances make success unlikely. “People come to me with a lot of requests to bring back lost lovers, but I usually turn them down if it’s revealed that the breakup happened over a year ago.

Author and online spell caster Talia Felix

“That’s way too long and a spell is unlikely to help when they’ve been separated without contact (or only negative contact) for such a length of time.” On other occasions it is simply because the request is physically impossible! “One girl wanted a spell that would hack into her school’s computer, change her grades, then mind wipe everyone who knew her so that nobody would remember what her original grades had been. Another girl wanted a spell that would physically transform her to look and to sing exactly like Vanessa Hudgens. I obviously did not accept either request.”

Could there be something to this hoodoo magic? 200 years of history suggest that people have put their faith in it with many happy results.

Spellcastings start at $179 and include the ingredients required, daily email updates, photos of your spell as it is being performed, the reassurance that your spell is being performed by a professional practitioner of hoodoo and, like all modern business, Talia accepts paypal, making everything secure and above board. While you decide what you would like Talia to work her magic on, she offers this simple spell that can be performed at home. “To improve gambling luck, take some chamomile tea and steep it like you would any tea, but let it rest in the water till the water becomes cold. Then use this tea to wash your hands before you go gambling, and that is said to bring money luck.”

Enquire about a spellcasting at or browse Talia’s free spells on her blog

Sweet Midnight: Halloween is a lifestyle, not just a holiday! Mon, 21 Aug 2017 14:46:33 +0000 [...]]]> With a flash of pink hair framing her face, and bejeweled cat-eye glasses perched on her nose, our leading lady secrets herself away in her studio. The ends of her creative fingers are finished with magic, glittery nails adorned with tiny pink bats and Hobo Murder House, her faithful Shih Tzu, is at her side. She spends her days designing and creating spooky-cute gothic attire and her nights giving ghost tours to spirit-loving tourists. Her spare time is spent hanging out with circus performers, or travelling in her gypsy caravan, showing curious folks her ‘Mini Museum of the Bizarre’. On quiet days she can be found just relaxing with her albino hedgehog (ironically named Midnight). No, this is not the introduction to a gothic children’s book, this is the real life of Bisbee resident Renee (also known as Queen Nay Nay), the living embodiment of a Tim Burton character and owner of independent gothic shop Sweet Midnight. Welcome to her little world where fashion is both dark and cute and every day is Halloween.

“I started Sweet Midnight in 2011, because at the time I noticed that there was something missing from the ‘goth’ market. It was one extreme or the other. Nothing was cute and dark. I wanted to marry the cute factor of Kawaii and Lolita styles with goth. Hence our name, Sweet Midnight and our tag line ‘the dark side of cute’.” It’s clear from her clothing ranges that Queen Nay draws inspiration from old horror movies and Halloween (obviously), but her passion for carnivals and travelling shows plays a big part too. “I believe in a past life I was a circus performer or perhaps a bearded lady! Who knows? I am drawn to the circus and sideshows. I love and collect anything and everything from vintage circus and sideshows. I have friends who are sword swallowers, clowns, trapeze artists and even lion tamers. I believe the circus and these kinds of acts are a dying art form.” Such is her passion for the travelling carnival that she is planning to play a part in its revival. “I designed and built an old fashion gypsy wagon! I hope to someday travel in it with my own personal dime museum, the Bisbee Mini Museum of the Bizarre.”

When it comes to the sartorial side of Queen Nay, her dedication to design matches her passion for sweet, spooky style. Every fabric design, from ‘Bat Filigree’ and ‘Monster Mask’, to ‘Trick or Treat Graveyard’ and ‘Webs We Weave’, are all exclusively drawn by Queen Nay. “I have a BFA in Toy Design from OTIS College of Art and Design. I was a professional graphic and packaging designer before taking the plunge and going out on my own. All the images on our skirts and shoes and bags were designed by myself.” Her designs include simple but striking silhouettes, of gravestones or pumpkins for example, against purple or green fabric, or black fabric with pops of bright roses among cobwebs. The script of E. A. Poe covers one skirt while a fortune teller features on another.

Sweet Midnight’s coffin bags

Another simple but striking design from Sweet Midnight are their gorgeous coffin bags. You might think once you’ve seen one coffin bag, you’ve seen them all, but these purses have something special in their design making them coordinate with any outfit, as well as a considered construction that’s built to last. “The Sweet Midnight coffin bags are designed to be functional and used everyday. A lot of the bags on the market are made of vinyl which will fall apart quickly whereas all of our Coffin Bags are made with high quality canvas that holds up to everyday wear and tear. They each have two removable straps so the wearer can wear them as a backpack or a shoulder bag, simply by removing a strap. Our new Mini Coffin Bag also has belt loops on the back so you can wear them on your belt too.” How does the bag match every outfit though? “The new version of our Original Coffin Bag now has interchangeable bat colors. So if one day you are wearing red, you can snap on your red bat. If you are wearing green the next day, snap off the red bat and put the green one on! Our Coffin Bag with Removable Bat Wings is a feature no other bag has too. It has wings that you can snap on and off. If you choose not to wear your bat wings they fit right in the bag so you don’t lose them.” Not that anyone would ever not want to wear their bat wings!

Sweet Midnight have also worked their magic on another popular Halloween image – the black cat. “After vending at a lot of Halloween themed conventions, I kept getting asked about black cat products, so I first drew inspiration from vintage Halloween decorations to design our Black Cat Skirt. Then I sculpted our Black Cat and turned it into bracelets, necklaces and brooches, but my customers wanted more! When my customers speak I try to listen!! They said there were not any black cat bags out there, so I designed one using our Black Cat.” Again, thinking about those who wear more than just black, Queen Nay added variations to the range. “I decided that if it came in different colors it would appeal to more people, so we offer them with Silver, Red, Orange, Green and Purple details. They also have a pocket on the inside and two removable straps so you can wear it as a backpack or shoulder bag.” The result was a versatile bag with the most adorable face too.

Speaking of Halloween, our Queen Nay must have some big plans for this coming October? “First off, Halloween is a lifestyle, not just a holiday! In my little world we celebrate it everyday! I own the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour in Bisbee, Arizona, and Halloween is the busiest time of the year for us, so I will be celebrating by giving tourists a spooktacular tour of our haunted city.” Sounds perfect!

While we’re on the subject of pasty apparitions, Queen Nay has an unusual pale pet who is the stores mascot. “Midnight was a rescue hedgehog. I named her Midnight because it was ironic since she is albino. Then I started calling her my Sweet Midnight! I also have a rescue Shih Tzu named HoBo Murder House (no lie, remind me never to let my husband name my pets) and when I had a physical store in Bisbee, he would come with me to work everyday, sit out on the porch and welcome customers. Since closing my physical store, he now helps me behind the scenes by keeping my stress level down.” Who could want more than an albino hedgehog and a pup named after infamous serial killings? “Well, my dream would be a Sweet Midnight Ark – two of every animal!! I especially want a rescue sloth and to open my own bat rescue.” Just when it couldn’t get any spookier!

As Sweet Midnight’s star attraction Queen Nay says “sweet and spooky speaks to all genres” and with her clear passion for all things eerie (as well as a talent for tailoring) Halloween can be a lifestyle for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to own a gypsy caravan and a ghostly hedgehog.

Sweet Midnight / The Dark Side of Cute

The Spiritual Center of Lily Dale Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:02:44 +0000 [...]]]> The town of Lily Dale, an hour south of Buffalo in southwest New York state, has a reputation for spiritualism. In fact it was founded for this exact purpose. Not to be confused with a haunted town, this centre for enlightenment and healing prides itself on helping people and providing answers to life’s big questions. Every year an extensive programme of events is held over the summer, attracting thousands of open-minded individuals and the spiritually curious.

This, their 138th year, boasts an impressive roster of registered mediums throughout the season as well as daily meditation and healing sessions, yoga and astrology courses, lectures on the science of spirituality and even ghost walks. The beginning of the summer schedule is marked by Tibetan Monks consecrating and creating a painstaking Mandala in grains of colored sand. Visitors to Lily Dale often return year after year and some even buy property there, to make the spiritual centre their home. Lisa Williams tells us more about this special place and what it has to offer.

Lily Dale was founded in 1879 so it could be a village of spiritualists and free thinkers where spiritual meetings were held every year. It has now become home for many mediums around the world and we have a summer camp open from the last weekend in June to Labour Day every year, although Lily Dale is open all year round for many church services, workshops and readings.

One of the many hidden fairy houses in Lily Dale’s Fairy village

How many visitors do you get a year and what do most visitors come for?
We get on average 25-30 thousand visitors a year, and they come for many reasons. We hold workshops on various spiritual topics and in the summer we have mediumship outdoor services daily which people are welcome to come and be part of the audience.

People can buy property in lily Dale, but not in the usual way. Why restrict real estate in this way?
We don’t restrict our real estate as such, but are continuing with the history of Lily Dale to be a Religious Spiritualist Community and therefore we do require someone to be within our religion and a member of the Lily Dale Assembly and so it’s a place where visitors can continue to come and learn.

How many people live there and how long do people generally stay a resident?
We have over 100 people who live here, all year round but in the summer that number grows in size as many of our residents live in warmer climates. We have many residents who have lived here all of their lives. We like to say that once you come to Lily Dale, you take a piece of it with you and you never truly leave, it will always be with you.

Articles on the internet refer to Lily Dale as a haunted town, but Lily Dale’s own website prefers ‘spiritual’. Why is it important to make the distinction?
It’s important to us that we promote our religion and we as the residents do not see it as ‘haunted’ as we feel that is derogatory and negative terminology. Although many people may have sightings of spirit, these sightings are not negative, and we truly feel that the pioneers of spiritualism are still walking among us.

Inspiration stump, an energy vortex where the original Lily Dale Assembly meetings were held, is still used as a site of services today

Why do you think Lily Dale is such a hub for spiritual activity?
Everyone who comes here has an ‘energy’ and part of that energy stays here, from thousands upon thousands of visitors. That energy has become a catalyst for the building blocks for our spirit and spirits that come through.

How did the Pet Cemetery begin and why is it important for Lily Dale to have a cemetery dedicated to animals?
It has become a tradition and we see it as the walk home for our animal kingdom.

Can people be buried in Lily Dale?
No because of NY state law.

Your summer season of programs not only includes talks by spiritualists, but also scientists and academics. Why include both sides of the coin?
We include both sides of the coin because it’s important that we can give a scientific point of view and cover all aspects of Spirituality. We have many people searching and when we have a scientific side it helps people process the spiritual side. We find it offers balance.

A statue in Melrose park, outside of one of Lily Dale’s guest houses

Among the numerous registered mediums, lectures and workshops taking place in the summer season, Lily Dale also offers ghost walks but you make it clear they are not ghost hunts. Have you had people come to ghost hunt?
We have people from all walks of life and of course there are some that come to hunt for ‘ghosts’ but that is why we consider our walks more spiritual than hunting for ghosts.

Is there a particularly special highlight for the 2017 season?
We have season highlights throughout the summer. The Tibetan Monks open the season and then we have various speakers from world renown mediums and psychic, authors, lectures. We are hosting the Science of all things Spiritual and a Ukulele Jamboree. These are definitely events not to be missed!

This is Lily Dales 138th season, what keeps people coming back to Lily Dale?
People are searching for answers, hope and healing and this is what brings people through our gates. Everyone wants to have something to believe in, and we can help them with that. As these gifts are becoming more and more common people are intrigued and need help developing and our summer program has a variety of workshops for everyone. Plus we are a lot of fun!

The Helsinki Vampire Speaks: Jyrki 69 to release solo album Fri, 02 Jun 2017 16:18:26 +0000 [...]]]> Grandiose, sonorous, rocking and macabre, Finland’s The 69 Eyes owe no small part of their success to the glorious baritone vocals of front-man Jyrki 69. Having recorded eleven studio albums with the band over the course of eighteen years, Jyrki is also participating in a few side-projects, including ‘The 69 Cats’ and some guest vocal work with Liv Sin. June sees the release of a solo album Helsinki Vampire and we were very keen to speak to Jyrki in order to discover a little more about his recent activities and passions…

Hi Jyrki, how’s it going?
Thank you for asking, it’s going great – I feel very creative and powerful.

What have you been up to today? Give our readers a glimpse into your daily life as a goth legend!
I just arrived last night from LA. Flew back home from the other side of the world. I went there to hang out with my friends at The Blackest Of The Black festival, you know, Glenn Danzig’s own outdoor festival. It was fantastic of course, great bands, cool people. I got very inspired. But it’s good to leave Hollywood as well. I’ve been just heavily jet lagging all this day, nodding around my home, seeing weird movie-kind of dreams. Now I’m getting back to the reality and release that I promised to answer this yesterday – I couldn’t because I was in the plane basically the whole day. Now as I’m typing this I have this new Nick Cave movie rolling on my TV, I bought it as a DVD before I went to LA.

Are you all packed and ready for WGT?
Just washed my laundry from the Blackest festival actually as well today. I will pack tomorrow eve. I will not only perform but also DJ there as well. I’m a kind of a guy who has always a couple of suitcases open in my living room, like packing and unpacking all the time.

Will you have much of an opportunity to see any many of the other acts while you are there, and are there any in particular that you’re looking forward to hearing?
On our stage there’s Gene Loves Jezebel before us, so hopefully a bit of them and after us The Mission and Skinny Puppy, so both if possible which means our van waits for me or somebody will drive me to my hotel afterward. I noticed Amanda Palmer is there as well. I wonder if Neil Gaiman’s with her…

It’s always a great line-up. How many WGTs is this for you now?
Could be the 5th.

You rack up a lot of air miles, it seems?
I’m Helsinki-based but I’m traveling A LOT because I feel like need to. I feel so alive and curious, so it drives me around this planet… My friends are around the world; that’s one of the reasons I’m always everywhere else than Finland.

You have been back in the studio recently, working on a solo project, with the album – entitled Helsinki Vampire – released on June 23rd. Can you tell our readers a little more about it?
YES! I recorded a whole album with the long time 69 Eyes producer Johnny Lee Michaels last fall. We’ve been recording something together annually for a while. He recorded my vocals for The 69 Cats album, then The 69 Eyes and now this. It’s all about his music and nearly mini movie scores that he has done over decades. He wrote and played every instrument; I was just a singer. We had good times making [it], though the music is SO DARK at some times that we had to take some deep breaths and break for some days. It was so strong emotionally.

Can fans expect any particularly wide departures from your trademark sound? Any surprise tracks?
It is very melodic and keyboard-driven. Also the darkest music I’ve ever done. It is more like mindful music actually. Put your headphones on, have some tea, and listen.

Are there any other projects lined up at present, aside from your live dates, of course?
I just released my first book earlier this year, called “Vagabond’s Waltz”, it’s about my rock’n’roll adventures in the late 80’s NYC and around the world. I’m planning a new one to the next year. I have some new music coming up as well. Also The 69 Eyes will release a new single in the fall; I need to record my vocals for it. I’m also planning to play some dates for my solo album in the US at some point. And The 69 Cats, my dark rockabilly band, have been asked to reactivate as well…

I note that several tracks have been snapped up for use in film. Is this coincidence or intention? Are you looking to do more work with the film industry?
That’s a dream come true. I always wanted to make music for the movies. Now it’s finally happening!

If you could have written the soundtrack for a film, which one would you choose?
They must call me if they are ever doing the new version of The Crow

I think you’ll be a shoe-in for that one. The original soundtrack is certainly a classic. What’s the most embarrassing movie that you own? Any guilty pleasures? We won’t judge!
I don’t own anything embarrassing! Whatever I dig, it’s the boss! But I have seen narrow minded people writing negatively about “Showgirls” and “Harley Davidson and Marlborough Man”! Those are amazing classics, I’m sad for the people who don’t get them.

Our readers may not be aware, but for over a decade now, you have been working as a UNICEF good will ambassador. Is your UNICEF work ongoing?
Yes it is. The world needs us. Through UNICEF we can really help: Visit – to face the world of children.

And what have you been up to in your personal life at present? What have you been enjoying?
I kissed a girl at the Blackest festival under the Californian night in the desert. That was pure magic! And Danzig playing a show as the background music.

Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
Please have some spare time to spend with me though my solo album. Take it as a date with me. Let me light a candle in your heart.

Thank-you for your time.
Blessed be.

Jyrki’s solo album Helsinki Vampire will be released by Cleopatra Records on June 23.
Jyrki 69 – Helsinki Vampire

Askasu – Delicate Gothic Fashion from Eastern Europe Tue, 16 May 2017 14:41:30 +0000 [...]]]> Not too long ago, underground fashion meant wearing whatever you could find or create with your own two hands. Though that’s still the case in many ways, things have come a long way, with gothic fashion expanding past the edges of second hand stores, shopping malls, and even the cities and countries that contain them. Access to the Internet means access to retailers around the world. Although the Internet changes the face of fashion by fine tuning it, it also leaves plenty of room for true individuals to remain underground.

Popularization also inspires creativity in online retailers, such as Askasu, a post-apocalyptic, bondage-inspired company based out of Warsaw, Poland which sells fashions to individuals not only in its home country, but also throughout Europe and the United States. “I sell and ship to many countries around the world, but I almost never had the chance to travel abroad” designer, Joanna Nowak, explained. “It’s also a lot easier for me, as an individual artist, to do fashion shows here (in Poland) and focus on creating. After all, I’m still shocked by the speed of things happening around my brand since November last year. I have several collaborations planned, with amazing artists from all around Europe.”

Born and raised in Lubin, a city in Lower Silesia, Poland, Nowak spent much of her childhood at the library or wandering through the forest. At 16, she moved to Kraków to study at the High School of Fine Art. Nowak did not receive any formal training in fashion, instead describing her humble beginnings in design as a desire to fulfill her own tastes. “It began with my need to sew for myself in the early teen age. The urge to create came from my taste that didn’t fit what mainstream shops had to offer. Although it wasn’t long ago, online fashion shopping almost didn’t exist back then.” Nowak explained that her excellent skill in sewing took many years to master. “I’ve learned from my mistakes when sewing simple things since I was a teen. I’ve gained professional practice while working in men’s suits. I’ve always been interested in the process of producing garments, so I’ve dismantled them into pieces.” Despite all her dedicated training, she explains that the barrier for entry is rather low. “It’s not hard to obtain theoretical knowledge of how to sew.” She explains. “Just looking at how huge is the fashion industry, you can conclude that the access to learning resources is easy and a degree isn’t necessary for a determined person. Self-education allowed me to save a lot of time. Thanks to that I have already started my own brand.”

Photo: Aneta Pawska – Enchanted Stories

Without the overhead of a conventional store to slow her down, the designer behind Askasu manages the workload associated with handmade, quality items. Her decision to also not sell her merchandise wholesale simultaneously assures that her garments will always be reasonably priced as well as exclusive to her site. Despite avoiding the pain of an overbearing rental store space, the financing and obtaining of equipment to start her business wasn’t any easier. Nowak said, “It was all my hard work after hours. I had a responsible, demanding, daily job, so it wasn’t easy. I saved whatever I could for an industry-grade sewing machine, then I risked everything by making the leap and quitting the job.”

Askasu Designs
Photo: Aneta Pawska – Enchanted Stories

Nowak delves into the trajectory of Askasu. “For a year and a half before I started the company, I ran my page on Facebook and, later, on Instagram. I posted every result of a collaboration with Polish photographers and alternative models. I started the fan page by the suggestion of my friend and by my loved one.” Nowak didn’t initially think to start a business. She was simply passionate about turning out the designs in her heart. “For all these years I created from a passion, not thinking too much about the future business.” Her ultimate goal? “I’ve dreamt of being an acclaimed designer.” Wanting to continue the handmade aspect of her company and promote herself as an established designer, Nowak hasn’t yet searched for a business partner or co-designer. “I’d like to hire people to help me with tailoring,” she explains, “so that I can keep on offering handmade.” This, however, isn’t a pressing decision she will be making soon, but an option that is in the back of her head.

Askasu sells mostly harness-type bodies behind long, chiffon gowns and skirts. The piece that made the biggest breakthrough in her popularity was the Lace Strips Lingerie, while the one that is most often asked about was the Dark Elf Dress. The two main materials – cotton and chiffon – are very common and comfortable. Customers do not complain about how seamlessly the fabrics integrate with their lifestyles and are uncomplicated to put on, take off, and clean. Gothic designers often use lace in their designs, especially lace in combination with chiffon. Nowak felt otherwise. “I was afraid to introduce lace into my designs, as one can easily fall into clichés or kitsch by using it. The keys to my unique design are frequent juxtapositions and choice of lace shapes.” She describes her style as a “delicate effect of laces and translucent fabrics contrasted with sharp lines provided by strips. It’s my personal, ongoing endeavor. It borders on goth, though not to fit the subculture, but to bring something new, a bit extravagant, to women.”

Askasu Designs
Photo: Anna Sychowicz

Her items are not popular with just ordinary women. Since she has been doing many collaborations in Poland for some years, her network of people to wear her designs has increased. “Musicians often contact me first!” she remarked. “I happened to work with a vocalist from a young band As Night Falls. I’d like to undertake such collaborations in the future, though I think I need someone to help me with sewing first. Another great form of cooperation was music that accompanied my fashion shows, mixed live by DJs from Thecompressjah. The dark, intense electronic music was something refreshing, as it might seem that such sound doesn’t fit fashion shows.”

Askasu Designs
Photo: Anna Sychowicz

Since it has been creatives such as musicians, costume designers, and other artists that have popularized gothic clothing, inspiration knocks from many unexpected corners. “I’m equally inspired by the work of great fashion designers and by what happens in the alternative scene. These are earlier collections of Givenchy, Iris Van Herpen, the unforgettable Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Yiqing Yin. There are at least twenty designers I follow on Instagram. Every kind of art that moves my aesthetic sense can be a valuable impulse to create. An inexhaustible source of inspiration is collaboration with models and photographers, every one of which has their own sense of beauty. Seeing the effort they put into their work, I feel admiration and I know they constantly work on themselves.”

Askasu also joins the growing group of online retailers that are focused on promoting longevity and sustainability in fashion. “My approach to longevity is based on several elements” Nowak explains “The most important one is the quality of my garments. I also don’t aim for seasonal fashion nor hitting a transitory trend. I’m sure that my clients will be able to wear these clothes several years from now. I strive for sustainability by having handmade as the foundation of my business. The fabrics are also chosen by me in person, from trusted shops.” Despite the hardships of running a small company, Nowak is still determined to keep prices reasonable. “I don’t want to transfer the costs of quality to customers. I try to keep the prices on such level that my designs are affordable for a lot of people.”

Nowak still remains humble. She plans on staying strong in, what can be perceived to be, an often overly saturated, apocalyptic market. “I’m not going to stop where I am now. I will continue on developing. The harness theme is just a supplement to the style that is in the core of all I do. I don’t treat it like a closed item, but like one of the forms that this style can be expressed by. That’s why I won’t be worried if the fashion for any particular element fades.”

Even as a motivated businesswoman, she continues to be sweet and gracious: “I would like to thank every fan and friend who supports me in what I do. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today!”

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