Last week veteran DJ Jo Whiley interviewed comedian Dom Joly on BBC Radio 2, in which he remarked he was an ‘ex-goth’, presumably having received his jet-black P45 from the Department of Woe and Pouting.
They posted a comic tweet remarking on other celebrities with a past dabbling in the scene such as actor Simon Pegg and comedian Marcus Brigstocke, not to mention Whiley herself. All of them have since ‘moved on’, presumably to better and brighter things… if not brighter clothing.
“I didn’t know you were an ex-goth!”
Famous ex-goths include: @domjoly, @caitlinmoran, @simonpegg, @marcusbrig and our very own @JoWhiley. Do you have a photo from when you were a goth? 🔮🔥🌚🔏🔪🍷🌕🗿
Listen on @BBCSounds: https://t.co/Qju2UMdxKj pic.twitter.com/OsTK7QY61C
— BBC Radio 2 (@BBCRadio2) January 24, 2019
The tweets in reply were approximately 20% reminiscing over goth phases, and 80% comments along the lines of “What do you mean, used to be?” It was heartening, reading of people into retirement age still rocking excess eyeliner, compared to their fuzzy photos from University days in the Eighties. Talk about a ten-year challenge, try three or four decades!
It got me thinking about exactly how transitory goth can be. It’s a youth subculture, certainly, and it draws people in during the adolescent years most often – I was about fifteen when I finally started listening to trad. But what was the magic key that kept me on the terminal track, whilst these big showbiz names discard their diaphanous attire and chuckle fondly over memories of big hair and pints of snakebite?
Could it be an obstacle to a career under the bright lights of the public gaze? Not exactly the natural haunting ground for the shrinking (march) violets of the goth scene. Would your career deter from your usual sartorial selection? Has it led to you leaving the scene entirely?
The concept of the ‘goth phase’ has been reinforced by these comments, and that’s a little disappointing as all the replies indicate plenty of people don’t ‘grow out of it, mum’. In many articles previously, I’ve acknowledged the hard work by academics – who are often goths themselves – researching the phenomena of adult goths and our tendency towards respectable middle-class careers.
It seems the one career track that isn’t hospitable to a collection of Bauhaus vinyl is showbusiness!
Brilliant. Theatre of Hate. Bauhaus. Southern Death Cult. Sisters of Mercy 🖤Thanks for all the Gothic Show & Tell pics. Once a goth always.. It’s the Truth 🖤 https://t.co/q04UixPlM1
— Jo Whiley (@jowhiley) January 25, 2019
I remember hearing Sue Perkins years ago recalling her own youthful Goth phase and how frustrating it was to feel that she’d just got it right only to find all her friends had moved it on. She gave it up, if I recall rightly, because it was too high-maintenance.
Then there’s the phenomenon of Goths being able to spot each other even when they’ve allegedly moved on, or are in disguise. The curate of a church not far away eventually admitted she’d been a Goth and it was no surprise to me at all (of course we both now wear black professionally). The first time I and my former partner saw Janina Ramirez presenting a TV show about medieval monasteries she was an open book to us both, even though the BBC had obviously told her to tone it down …
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