Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Monster Madness 2014

Greetings darklings, and welcome to my creepy contribution to May Monster Madness 2014.

This is the first year I have been involved with this wickedly wonderful celebration of monsters - a big thank you to Annie Wells, Emma, of Little Gothic Horrors, and Ked, of Something WicKED This Way Comes, for organising and hosting this fabulous event! 

While there are many monsters I find absolutely fascinating, probably the most important of all would have to be the real-life one who inspired so many of my favourite fictional villains - the timid little farmer from Wisconsin, Ed Gein.

Ed was a Mama's boy, a shy underachiever, a disturbed loner whose strict, religious mother distorted his view of women and the world. When she died, his entire way of being was shaken. As Harold Schechter in his book Deviant explained, Ed had "lost his
only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world." Shortly after, Ed began body snatching, digging up bodies and wearing their faces while dancing in the moonlight so as not to feel alone. He started tanning the skins of recently buried women in order to create a 'woman suit' so he could pretend to be a female. He moved from grave-robbing to murder and killed two local women before being caught and imprisoned in a mental institution for the rest of his life. Upon raiding his farm house, the police found things they could not have even imagined - among other things, there were dining room chairs covered in human skin, bowls made of skulls, and this: "On the kitchen table was a cup. The cup held four noses. Human. With horror, the sheriff opened Gein's icebox and found various human organs-livers, hearts, lungs-wrapped in butcher's paper. He was, by definition, a ghoul." --Milwaukee Journal

Sound like anyone we know and love in the world of horror fiction and films?

Ed's mother obsession? My beloved Norman Bates, pictured here when he was freshly inked on my calf last year as part of my Psycho leg sleeve.

Woman-skinning murderer? Jame Gumb aka Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. If, like me, you were a big fan of the film, this video is priceless - watch it if you feel like a good laugh.
Buffalo Bill stitching his 'woman suit' together
Killer who uses his victims bones and skin for furniture? Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre's bone sofa
created by art director Bob Burns
Finally, here is Ed alongside some of the world's other most notorious killers, as drawn by my tattoo artist last year - can you name them all? 

Happy May Monster Madness everyone!

Monday, May 26, 2014

World Goth Day love for Benjamin Lacombe

Greetings fellow darklings, lovely to see you all again.

As I'm sure many of you know, this past Thursday, May 22nd, was World Goth Day, "a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world." (

Here in Melbourne, World Goth Day has been celebrated in style all across the weekend. Wherever you are, I hope you've had an equally delightful celebration over the last few days of all things magnificently macabre. 

For me, in honour of this special day, I would like to share with you some of my favourite pieces by the fabulous French artist, author and illustrator extraordinaire, Benjamin Lacombe. 

Benjamin at the Cementerio de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires,
earlier this month

This gorgeous gentleman has lent his considerable talents to a number of publications, including his own, and regularly exhibits his work in galleries all over the world. I have my feathers crossed that he will one day make it down to a gallery in Melbourne. Not only would it be a thrill to see his original pieces up close, it would also be wonderful to take along one of his books for him to sign. Check out this video, where Benjamin discusses his thoughts on the art of illustration, his process, then proceeds to sign each fan's book with an original little sketch!

Screenshot from the aforementioned video

Which book would I take? As fellow fans would know, it is incredibly difficult to choose a favourite Lacombe publication, but I think mine would have to be my Archaia copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of the Macabre, the lavish edition of some of Poe's best works, published in English in November 2012. If you don't already have this book in your possession, do all you can to remedy that - it is another brilliant Poe collection (reason enough right there), it is sumptuously illustrated (of course, all of Benjamin's work is Gothy gorgeous), it is beautifully bound, the pages are red-edged, and its cover is embossed with tiny skulls and Poe heads. Love.

Photos really don't do the
embossed cover justice

And now, for your viewing pleasure, some of my favourite Lacombe creations - Happy World Goth Day to you all :)

'Ligeia', Tales of the Macabre
'Berenice', Tales of the Macabre
'Ligeia', Tales of the Macabre
'The Black Cat', Tales of the Macabre
'Edward Portrait'
'Alice Meets The Cheshire Cat'
From the book 'L'enfant Silence'
From the book 'Blanche Neige'
From the book 'Blanche Neige'
From the book 'Notre Dame de Paris'
'The Evil Queen'
From the book 'L'herbier des fées'

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fabulous Local Businesses, Part 1: Clothes, Shoes & Jewellery

Greetings fellow darklings.

In the spirit of getting to know each other better, I have decided that it is time to take you on a little journey around my hometown - Melbourne, Australia.

There are many things to love about this city - the cobbled laneways, the hidden bars, the arts and music culture - but to begin our journey, allow me to introduce you to some of my favourite local businesses, starting with those in the clothing and jewellery trade.

Victorian Gothic - Situated at the top end of Brunswick Street in fabulous Fitzroy, Victorian Gothic has been around since 1999 and is my favourite Goth store in all of Melbourne. Owners Louise and Alan are two of the loveliest people you could ever hope to meet. I always feel very welcome when I visit, as though popping in to see old friends. Not only do they stock all the darkly beautiful clothes, jewellery, shoes and bags my black little heart adores, their service is second to none. I once found myself with nothing to wear to an event that same night, angry at myself for not having tried things on sooner and becoming more and more worried as the afternoon went on that I wouldn't find anything in time. I needn't have worried. I popped in to Victorian Gothic, and with Louise's wonderful (and very patient!) help, walked out with the perfect dress (pictured below), petticoat, belt, hooded lace bolero and shoes, just in the nick of time. Thank you Louise! Pop in for a visit if you are ever in Melbourne, or check out their online store.

Hell Bunny Eva dress, covered
in tiny crosses
Re-Style bat cameo kisslock bag - my
current everyday handbag
TUK Monster Stitch Mary Janes - love
them, Burton-esque and comfy  
Pleaser USA Taboo heels - you can see why
 I just had to have them
Devil Kitty - Only two doors up on Brunswick Street lives Victorian Gothic's sister store, Devil Kitty, opened in 2008. Devil Kitty is this little flamingo's go-to store for all things gothabilly, particularly jewellery, bags and shoes. It was actually my shoe fetish that lead me to discover that Louise and Alan own both stores. While out shopping one day, I spotted an amazing pair of heels (the 7 1/2 inchers pictured above) in the window of Victorian Gothic, but it was Sunday and they were closed. I popped next door and got chatting with the lovely Alan while trying on cardigans and creepers. In passing, I mentioned the heels next door, and bemoaned the fact that they would not be mine for another week. To my surprise and delight, Alan replied, "Oh yes, I know the ones, they're great. I could open the store for you now if you wanted to take a closer look at them?" Bless your cotton socks Alan! See what I mean about their service? Do yourself a favour and check out their store, either in person or online.

Demonia Wingtip Two-Tone creepers - 
versatile, comfortable, and oh so fabulous
TUK Monster Bride Mary Janes -
the perfect little all-rounders
Lucky 13 Swing Shift bandana skirt - 
skulls, booby playing cards, snakes 
- what's not to love?
Kreepsville 666 cleaver earrings - 
cheap and cheerful current favourites

Vintage Pip - While technically not a local Melbourne business, Vintage Pip is based in Australia (Queensland) and stocks items made by two fabulous Melburnian artists / designers, Jubly-Umph and Erstwilder. The lady behind the online store, Pip, is a sweetheart and her service is brilliant. All of my orders have been posted out the same day payment has been received and have been presented beautifully. While recently browsing in her store - on Anzac Day long weekend - my hubby spotted something perfect for his mum for her birthday, and sent Pip an email asking whether she could ship internationally. Imagine our happy faces when Pip replied within the hour, and advised that this would be no problem. Another order I placed was held up by our blessed postal service. This meant poor Pip had to deal with silliness from Australia Post, for something that was neither her fault nor her problem, but for which she apologised profusely and sorted out for me within the hour of receiving my email. Thank you so much Pip! A lovely lady with a great store - have a browse, you'll see cuties like these:
Erstwilder Flamboyant Flamingo Funk 
brooch - my favourite (obviously ;)) 
and pinned to my lapel right now
Erstwilder Terrence Toucan brooch - there
appears to be a theme here 
Jubly-Umph Frida Kahlo pendant -
Frida AND a parrot? LOVE
Jubly-Umph librarian pendant - my favourite
Jubly-Umph piece, and the perfect accessory
for the Betty Le Bonbon book skirt
Betty Le Bonbon - I first discovered Betty Le Bonbon's delightful creations about a year ago, when the classic book skirt (pictured right) appeared in my Facebook newsfeed - I have been a fan ever since. The lovely lady behind it all is Jasmine, who, in starting the business, sought to "bring a nerdy, playful and bookish bent to more classic modes of pinup and vintage styling." She sources a fantastic range of fabrics, the focus of which changes from week to week - this week it was superheroes. Jas offers payment plans while the skirt is being custom made (by her mum) to your measurements, and has recently expanded her offering to include custom winter swing skirts in varying lengths, available with pockets and optional lining, in a gorgeous array of tweeds and woollens. A feathered high-five to you Jas, Betty Le Bonbon is fabulous! Peruse the latest fabric offerings at the Betty Le Bonbon Facebook page - here are some of my favourites:

The famous Betty Le Bonbon book skirt, paired with 
the Jubly-Umph librarian pendant - for foxy 
bibliophiles everywhere
A selection of the tropical fabrics on offer
recently - not hard to see why I love these :)
This fabric is called Ravens - Gothic perfection  
This one is Peacock Plumes - I can never resist 
a good peacock print
Hellpixie - Hellpixie is responsible for one of the best ideas now hanging in my wardrobe - reversible wrap circle skirts. Beautifully custom made in Melbourne by the lovely Miss Hellpixie herself, Skye, these skirts have become firm favourites of women all over this fair city for their gorgeous style and versatility. Being a wrap design, each Hellpixie skirt can fit waists from sizes 6 to 20 (mine handled after-Christmas-lunch-loosening in style), and can be made larger if required. Being reversible means there is an excellent chance that I am the sole owner of this particular fabric combo, and I love that. The fabric choices are excellent, frequently updated, and can now be made into single-sided circle and 1 1/2 circle skirts with zipper closures as well. My Hellpixie skirt (pictured below) receives compliments each and every time I wear it, with or without a petticoat.  Thank you for your beautiful creations Skye! Hellpixie is exclusively on Facebook - if you pop over and have a browse, you'll see fab combos like these:  

My custom made Hellpixie skirt, 
with actual gothic flamingo fabric!
One of Hellpixie's new single-sided circle skirts
with zipper closure in globe fabric
Pirates and polka-dots

Classic black / leopard print combo 

And there you have it darklings, some of my favourite local businesses. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know them and the lovely folk behind them. In our next stroll through marvellous Melbourne, I shall introduce you to my favourite restaurants, bars, and other late night haunts. I had best make sure I visit them all to ensure they are still my favourites - all in the name of research for you, of course ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jillian Venters and her Gothic Charm School

I have spent this afternoon happily wandering around the Gothic corner of the internet (as I am wont to do on a Sunday afternoon) and have discovered the lovely Jillian Venters, or the Lady of the Manners.

For those who may be unfamiliar with said Lady (as I was until a few hours ago), she is the pre-eminent expert on Goth etiquette, having launched her fabulous advice and etiquette website for Goths and alternative culture people, Gothic Charm School, in November 1998. Addressing such topics as Being a gothy parentGoth and ageing gracefully, and How to survive the summer as a Goth, the Lady of the Manners' site is filled with great tips for 'babybats' and 'ElderGoths' alike. 

What prompted Jillian to begin writing on the subject of Goth etiquette? She explains in her typically frank and funny manner: "The majority of people out there expect Goths to be over-the-top, drug-crazed Satanic barbarians, with no concept of etiquette. Since the Lady of the Manners is particularly fond of the moral high ground when dealing with that sort of person, she has made it her goal to behave properly, which tends to unnerve them even more." 

When it comes to Corporate Goth, the Lady of the Manners is an expert in that field as well - Jillian is a Technical Editor, and spent 2004 to 2011 working for Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft! Here is an interview she gave while working there on what it's like to be the Goth in the office.

While I enjoy the etiquette tips, reviews and fashion advice, my favourite part of Jillian's message is that it emphasises what Goth is really all about: "Don't worry about your style being 'dark enough' … the notion of 'real' Goths is ridiculous … people who try to say that "this thing is Goth, this thing isn't, and here is the list of rules you have to adhere to in order to be Goth" are doing nothing but betraying their own insecurities … Goth is about finding beauty in the darker corners of life, of having an appreciation for the macabre, the unsettling, the decadent and the monstrous. Goth enfolds much, much more than fashion." 

In 2009, Jillian published a book that has now been added to this little flamingo's list of must-purchase items, entitled 'Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them'. 

Published by HarperCollins, this paperback also features over 50 black-and-white illustrations by Jillian's award-winning husband, Pete Venters

If you are interested in meeting the lady behind the blog and book, Jillian has four videos on YouTube, each one discussing oft-asked questions about the Gothic subculture: What is Goth?, The Gothic Lifestyle, Dark Decorum, and Dark Arts and Crafts. I really enjoyed watching them - the Lady of the Manners is as informative as she is warmly sarcastic, just as she is throughout her blog :)