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 :)

12 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful post, I will pay The Lady of Manners a little visit next.

    I love this.....

    "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"

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    1. Thank you Winter Moon, and do visit The Lady - her site is as delightful as she is :)

      I love that quote too, beautifully put isn't it?

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  2. I love Gothic Charm School! Jillian is such a cool person and her advice is so reassuring. Every goth should reaf her stuff!

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  3. I have a friend who know will love this so I'm passing the post along to her!

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    1. Thanks Ali, I hope she likes it and enjoys visiting The Lady's delightful Charm School!

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  4. Finding the Gothic Charm School was a good discovery indeed. Your post reminds me that I haven't been there in awhile. I guess I'll go and see just what advice Ms. Venters is offering up this month.

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    1. I'm so pleased I have finally found her delightful Charm School! Do pop over Nightwind, her recent posts are just as entertaining as her older stuff :)

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  5. I was aware of Gothic Charm School, but I really must check it out properly and watch the videos. This is so interesting because I've been thinking a LOT about the whole concept of "Goth" recently and what it means to different people. Jillian's perspective on the Gothic is just what I need to hear right now. Thanks for the timely post, fab flamingo! ;)

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    1. Do watch the videos Emma, it's lovely to meet the lady behind the blog - she comes across as the kind of gal I would like to be friends with in person :) I'm so glad this post was in some way helpful to you. Gothic does mean different things to different people, but I love the way Jillian defines it - it seems to sum up the way a lot of us here in the Gothy part of Bloggerland feel :)

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  6. What a great post! "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." I love that line! Thanks for introducing us to Jillian ;o) Hugs ;o)

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    1. Aww thanks Magic Love Crow, I'm happy to have been able to introduce you to such a fab lady! I love that line too, as I was saying to Emma I think it sums up what a lot of us are into here in the Gothy part of Bloggerland :) Hugs back!

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