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Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them Paperback – June 23, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jillian Venters was a fairly spooky and morbid child. When she discovered the existence of the whole Gothic sub-culture, she clapped her hands with glee and fell upon it like a babybat upon a box of Count Chocula cereal. Since then, the Lady of the Manners has spent a not inconsiderable amount of time trying to gently persuade others in her chosen subculture that being a polite Goth is much, much more subversive than just wearing T-shirts with "edgy" sayings on them. She lives in Seattle.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061669164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061669163
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Reed on June 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Jillian Venters' Gothic Charm School website has for some time been offering advice, hints and tips on etiquette and lifestyle to her fellow Goths and those close to them. Always insightful, witty, and down-to-earth, she treats her correspondents with obvious respect and a healthy dose of affectionate humor.

The same respectful yet witty tone is liberally larded in this, her first volume distilling the essentials of the most common themes and topics in her advice columns. Though primarily aimed at the Dark and Spooky Crowd, most of what she presents here about dealing with a world that looks askance at those who are different will be taken to heart by anyone who is to either side of the mainstream, and her advice on manners is as applicable to snide cheerleaders as it is to gossipy Goths.

Pete Venters' droll, spot-on illustrations (in black and white, of course!) are a perfect accompaniment to the text and worth appreciating in their own right.

All in all, a very fine read, indeed.
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Format: Paperback
While it may be aimed at Goths and those that love- or just want to understand- them, this book is a true show of why good manners are a good thing for EVERYONE. As a delighted reader of the GCS columns and a "Goth Friendly" person, I appreciate the humor and wonderful common sense (not so common anymore, really) advice Jillian has to offer. This book is a humorous and informative read!
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This book is a first class guide to goth culture AND to every day etiquette. Perfect for babybats, Kindergoth, Eldergoth, and parents of well, basically any child that is strange and unusual. Jillian is humorous, thoughtful, witty, and perfect to present this essential guide. Everyone should buy this!
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Format: Paperback
"Nice costume! Halloween is over, freak!" How should a black-clad denizen respond? "The Lady of the Manners" explains Goths to the rest of us-- and "mundanes" to Goths. Once you wear black, should you ever talk back? Can Goths age gracefully, under umbrellas and sunscreen? How do you get makeup stains off the sink? What one-liners have Goths heard far too many times from the likes of gawkers like you?

Expanding her Gothic-Charm-[...] "gothy advice column," Venters in this spirited primer encourages: "Good manners for Goths, why you shouldn't dress like the Crow, or how, if you're going to wear whiteface, you should make sure you apply it on your damn ears and neck." (5) She emphasizes how "Goth is a subculture and (for some) a way of life, not an emotional template." (19)

This underlies her whole approach. She denies any "secret Goth cabal." She patiently relates the historical background, pop cultural contexts, snarkiness and cattiness, gossip, accoutrements, sartorial fripperies, sounds, and sights that Goths gravitate towards. She explores her subculture wittily.

She advises how Goths should act among themselves, online, at jobs, and in public. "You chose to dress that way, which means you don't get to complain about the attention your appearance garners." (186) Politeness rules, which appears to be a tricky point among an assemblage so devoted to gatekeeping, backstabbing, and mopes. A sub-heading is telling: "Why no one has an 'original' Goth look, so get over yourselves already." (199)

Her later chapters address her cohort, with plenty of detail on couture, cosmetics, and wardrobe-- not costume.
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I have followed The Lady of the Manners column for years. The book follows along with the humor and excellent advice that long time readers have come to expect.

The Goth subculture has sadly had it's share of unfortunate associations and misconceptions, but all of that is put to rest in this wonderful book.

Not only a great guide for Goth or would-be Goths and their friends and family but a good book of advice for someone that just wants to be a kind person without being a doormat;)

I find the book informative enough I purchased two, one from my home and one for the library I work at. Good advice and great presentation, an all around terrific book.
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I think this book should be aimed at babybats. If I was armed with this book at 11-16 I think I would have found it to be VERY useful and probably would have saved me a LOT of issues I had growing up, floundering in the scene (Tripp pants, anyone?). I found that most of the things I read were things I already knew at this point (I'm 22) from simply finding them out the hard way. I figured out in my late teens that being polite and spooky was far more shocking than being rude/aggressive and spooky. I think a lot of the concepts are beaten to death in the book as far as manners goes. Then again, maybe I am just viewing it that way because I already knew a lot that was discussed.

Side note, I think Jillian occasionally forgets that there are other style Goths than the Victorian wing and it might alienate some babybats who are growing into a different wing of Goth. A lot of the fashion advice is Victorian related. However, maybe we can't blame her for that, since it IS HER style. PERSONALLY, my experience was a 3 star experience, with MY SITUATION. However, I think for younger Goths poking around in the dark, this would be a 5 star read for both them and their parents.

If I see some floundering babybat, I'll probably give my copy away to them. Won't do much good teaching a black bookshelf how to be respectful.
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