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What is Goth? Music, Makeup, Attitude, Apparel, Dance, and General Skullduggery Hardcover – August 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Weiser Books (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578633222
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578633227
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Simply put, a Goth is "a fan of gothic music" (a rock-and-roll subgenre that emerged out of the late-1970s punk scene). In general, Goths wear lots of black clothing, favor pale skin and sport black lipstick. They’re drawn to the darker aspects of human existence: death, romance, feelings of loneliness and isolation. Sounds like a fun bunch, huh? Voltaire, author of the comic book series Oh My Goth!, actually makes it seem so with this handy guide to Goth culture. Similar in layout to The Preppy Handbook and last year’s The Hipster Handbook, the book matter-of-factly dissects a subculture, with copious photos and descriptions of various types. There’s the Sad-Sack Drac, a combination of 19th-century nobleman and vampire; the "Oh Crap, I Forgot to Wear Clothing" look, which entails looking like a cheap French hooker; and many others. Voltaire’s humorous approach will lift the lid on Goth mystique for many. As he puts it, "They’re basically just melancholy.... The truth is that very few Goths actually kill themselves—they’d much rather contemplate suicide and then just write a really bad poem about it."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Voltaire is a prominent and prolific author and artist of alternative culture. He is the author and artist of the Chi-Chian and Oh My Goth! comic book series. He lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Very funny and always entertaining!
Ayla
So there you go, this book is an outline of things goth and hopefully it ignites your curiosity to read more books on the gothic subculture.
An honest review
This book states a step by step instruction on the Goth world.
J. DeMartini

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Cristophine on May 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
which I deem:

1) "What is Goth?" by Voltaire

For spelling out the basics to looky-loos, kinderbats, or insiders who aren't afraid to laugh at themselves (for fear of exposing the adhesive-stripes along the gumline of their fake fangs)...

2) "Cottonmouth Kisses" by Clint Catalyst

For its sinister and gorgeous first-person account of life within the nightclub netherworlds. I've known many a Goth girl over the years who's had her share of Clint "pin-ups" and "shrines," and the fact that he's lived a life so far beyond the margins of Hot Topic and mainstream acceptability (and SURVIVED it) is more "Goth" (i.e., barbaric -- i.e., AUTHENTIC) than any paint-by-numbers impostors out there...

3) "21st Century Goth" by Mick Mercer

For its role as an informative compendium of the international scene in all its varied shades of shadow. There is no easy answer, no singular attempt in this book to pigeonhole Goths -- in fact, it does the opposite. Plus, I mean, it's MICK MERCER, who's been reporting on the scene longer than most batpackers these days have been alive. Pay your respects to the grandaddy of Goth!

And ALL HAIL THE TRIUMVIRATE!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. waits on May 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is Hi-Larious! Okay...I know that labels are for soup cans, not people...but I think a part of the charm of this book is that it makes fun of the fact that this subculture does have to label itself, and how silly it really is. It shows that all "Goths" aren't just sad little Prozac poppers. It shows that they are also capable of incredible humor.

The book is wonderfully written. I was not a fan of this man until my boyfriend got me hooked. Voltaire is a rather clever fellow.

There are good articles and pictures. How to do make up. Hair, the different categories of Goth, and what their advantages and disadvantages are. How to travel as a Goth. How to have a Goth conversation (this one is rather funny.) How to dance Goth. the pictures are total eye candy too. I liked the fact that instead of a white page with black letters it is the other way around. This book has style.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mike Hunter on June 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This little hardcover (and its compnion, Paint is Black) is beautifully produced, as appropriate for its aesthetic-minded target audience. It includes black pages and black-and-white-and-red innards, elegantly designed and loaded with quality photography.

A brief history of the word "gothic" covers the evolution of the term through history, from the Germanic tribal Goths and Gothic architecture, to the "Romantic Movement of the 19th century [which began]abandoning reason and searching the dank crevices of all things mysterious, supernatural, and emotional in the name of exploring the darkness of the human soul." (Sounds like a good idea to me!) And on to early horror movies, the fracturing of the Punk Rock movement -- which spawned black-clad legions -- and early bands of the nascent Goth genre such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

"The Many Faces of Goth" chapter describes permutations such as Romantigoths, Death Rockers, Cyber-goths, Vampyres, and more, alongside photos. Voltaire's wit peppers this chapter and enlivens the whole volume.

In "Goth Looks for Boys and Girls (Gone Horribly Wrong)," Voltaire hilariously diagnoses fashion disasters such as "The Gay Pirate" and "The 'Maybe If I Get Enough Extensions and Stick a Bunch Of Crap On My Face No One Will Notice What a Big Dork I Am' Look."

Voltaire writes on choosing an appropriate name for one's "persona," with brief chapters devoted to a "Gothic Name Generator" (a "Gothic Poem Generator" is included later on), "Gothic Philosophy," and "Vampires (and those who act like they are)." Photo spreads show various appropriate dance moves, a Gothic Makeover, and the wardrobe items which comprise the various Goth looks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Isaksson on November 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What is Goth? can easily be described as a how-to-be-as-Goth-as-you-can-possibly-be manual that is both informative and funny.

Voltaire; musician, author, and designer, has successfully put together a text telling you how to dress, how NOT to dress, where the term "goth" originates from, how you in the blink of an eye can write your own gothic poem, how to get a more gothic-sounding name, what differs the multitude of different goths that have appeared over the last few years, how to behave on a gothic dancefloor, and much, much more.

And not only that, it's funny, too. Yeah, you read right, it's funny. Voltaire makes a very big deal about the "rule" that goths aren't able to, or even allowed, to smile, and throughout the little book (which, of course, is black), he writes various clever little sections (or shows pictures), that not only makes you smile, but at times even laugh out loud, no matter how goth you happen to be.

Perhaps it sounds contradictory to write humorously about a dark subculture, and I guess that in theory that's true. But, rules are made to be broken, and even though you happen to sit in your dark apartment at night, slowly drinking your red wine, listening to Cure's Pornography, while reading his words in the pale light of a black candle while the rain beats down on the windows and the autumn wind sings, you'll still be smiling while reading his little black book.

That's just how it is. I'm sorry all you hardcore-goths; but if you've lost the ability to smile, then don't bother reading this book.

But it's not only humorous, even though most of his writings tend to be that way.
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