The road to hell

A Fort Worth crime-prevention group is warning parents about Goth-rock, but is that such a good idea?

Talk like that turns thoughtful parents into raving lunatics, especially when Jacquez has nothing to prove him right, simply the words of a few police officers who think anyone who listens to Marilyn Manson or any heavy rock is a Satanist.

"Parents should want to understand it, because if they put pressure on these Goth kids, then extreme things will happen, like suicide," says Forrest Jackson, who also has co-written a book called Cosmic Suicide: The Tragedy and Transcendence of Heaven's Gate. "But letting these kids ride it out--and most will grow out of it--would be best. Cops will fan the flames, parents will fan them, and then we'll have witch burnings."

Jacquez's little seminars have begun to attract the attention of some music-rights activists around the country. One, Nina Crowley of the Massachusetts Music Industry Coalition (the most outspoken activist, and the one writers go looking to for good quotes), likens his comments to slander and says, "If I was a Goth kid in Texas, I'd be really offended." She also offers up the same response often given when people try to link rock to youth violence: Musicians are just scapegoats when parents aren't doing their jobs.

Yet there are a few old-school Goths who say that a number of teens have indeed come in and misappropriated their culture without understanding it. Goth was never about suicide and self-mutilation--though there have been a couple of Goth and mope-rock stars who've offed themselves, among them Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Goth-king Rozz Williams of Christian Death, the latter of whom hung himself in his West Hollywood apartment in April. If nothing else, Goth-rock was supposed to be about looking good and feeling bad.

The Goth vets talk about the kids who wear their black drag 24 hours a day, boys who wears dresses to the mall and girls who smear on white makeup with trowels. The old-school Goths used to revere bands such as Bauhaus, Sex Gang Children, Rosetta Stone, even Joy Division; the new-school Goths embrace near-metal bands, such as Korn and Tool and, yes, Manson, who's more glam than Goth--not that Jacquez can be expected to keep up with such distinctions. (But perhaps Goth is near its end: A Web site maintained by members of the beloved Rosetta Stone contains only this message: "Abandon All Goth Now. Major Rethink in Progress.")

"I think these kids today are into Goth because--oh, man, this is gonna make me sound like a parent, but I have a pretty negative outlook on the kids into Goth today, because they have no idea what it's about," says Joe Gonzales, a founding member of The International Assembly of Media Pirates, a local collective of Goth and industrial bands that has just released its first compilation CD, titled Tactics of Infiltration. Gonzales knows what he is talking about: For years, he has been a DJ on the Goth club scene, spinning records and booking shows at such venues as the Impala in Fort Worth and, now, The Church at the Lizard Lounge. He is also writing a book he plans to self-publish titled Glamour Goths in Plasticaland, which he describes as a "self-help guide for Goths." Chapter 666, he says, will provide dating tips--and, of course, there will be 13 chapters.

Gonzales no longer considers himself Goth; playing in bands such as Vampire Cathedral and Solemn Assembly (both of which are featured on the disc), he's more into industrial rock now, more into metal-machine music than mope-rock. (Only one true Goth band, the Carrollton-based Gropius, is on Tactics of Infiltration.) Gonzales speaks with disdain of the new blood that has infiltrated his once-beloved scene, and has even given the various Goth subgroups pet names: The Glamour Goths ("the royalty of Goth, old-school people who were into the old scene who would go to Ritual at the Baja Beach Club and Industry and DV8 and Club Chaos"), The Patio People (high school kids who go to the Lizard Lounge and play a role-playing vampire game out on the patio), The Mansonites (who wear bad makeup and Marilyn Manson T-shirts), The Traditional Goth ("dresses in black, stands in the corner"), and The DJ and/or Band.

"When I was in the scene, I thought it was to be as pretty as possible," says Gonzales, who today wears a black leather jacket with a gas mask hanging from one lapel. "It was a beauty thing. Now, I see kids with torn-up clothes and face makeup too big for their face, and it never used to be about that. Even the music had meaning. It was a political statement, not a shock-value statement. We used to get beat up for dressing like that. But the same jocks who, four years ago, were into MC Hammer are kicking it to Nine Inch Nails in their cars now. That upsets me the most. I think those people think it's cool now because Beverly Hills 90210 had a Gothic character."

"I suppose it's all a matter of perspective," says Jackson, a man who proves that Goths do have a sense of humor. "Or crazed paranoia, which is always fun. They should just send their terrified pale-faced women to me for counseling." Right now, Ramon Jacquez is probably starting a seminar on the dangers of Forrest Jackson.

Ex-Christian Death vocalist Gitane Demone will perform November 25 at the Galaxy Club as part of the Sin Factory. Also on the bill are Nocturne and Gropius.

Send Street Beat your pale-faced women to rwilonsky@dallasobserver.com. We will forward them along.

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