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 parent, Goth 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 :)