Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Goth and Peter Murphy

I recently had an interview with Peter Murphy (above) of Bauhaus. One of the things he told me was that Goth was never his thing and he kind of wants to refuse the whole "Father of Goth" title, but he also takes it as a compliment.

Image from HubPages

I get that, but I also get the sleepy, sexy draw of Murphy's iconic voice. Within his own heart, Murphy may be all things light, but his music emanates a seductive darkness. Murphy's velvet purr alone carries all the drama and intrigue of an interview with Lestat himself; on stage the singer's carved cheekbones, luminous gaze and the narcotic embrace of his baritone are spellbinding.

Needless to say, I've been thinking about Peter Murphy a lot lately. And about how, even if he didn't set out to create the Goth scene, we still owe him a dept of gratitude for a haunting and achingly-lovely soundtrack.

Image from

My earliest gothic intrigue was when I was 16, still in high school but living away from home. It was a snowy winter, I had a corner in a garret apartment with mattresses on the floor a white pet rat named Valentine who chewed her way out of her cage and became feral behind the appliances. A strange time of writing poems huddles under blankets in the kitchen and strolling through the sparse browns and grays of the cemetery in a leather jacket and frayed black skirt.

Image from

Only later — in warmer and better furnished apartments — did I come to realize the artistic integrity and the elegant aesthetic of goth. It's not only a style to be adopted by girls in black nail polish, clutching Ann Rice novels to their chests. It's not only a uniform of torn fishnets and fussy chantilly lace. Nor is it the mass-produced commercial property of Hot Topic.

Image from Used & Abused Vintage

Today, even those of us too old and/or too ensconced in the establishment for full goth attire can still adapt a piece here and there. Thanks to steampunk, Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Helena Bonham Carter there's plenty of mainstream-ish inspiration. A handmade pieces from Etsy, a Victorian frock coat, a pair of button shoes, and antique broach and maybe a Bauhaus album for atmosphere...

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