Portraits of… 80’s Death Rock // Goth Culture

Growing up in the 80’s gave me the opportunity to see how one subculture could have an impact on another.In L.A., it was totally normal to see someone in the punk scene to cover their face in white pancake make up and then do something interesting with black eyeliner. This was before the terms “Death Rock” or “Gothic” were a part of our reality – this was just the way some kids expressed themselves. While this was happening in my hood, in the UK you had members of the Peace Punk scene start to express themselves in the same way, plus you had the whole Batcave movement. Nowadays, there is a rebirth happening on the Post Punk and Death Rock tip. Today we want to celebrate 80’s Death Rock and Gothic culture with this huge essay of photos from this era. All pictures were taken from the Now This Is Gothic tumblr – and make sure to check out this awesome book ‘Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace: The Worldwide Compendium of goth in the 1980s here.

1985 [photo by Brian Parkhurst]

1985 [photo by Brian Parkhurst]

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Sean Reveron

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disqus_mDx1EiahB6Matthew_BaileyJwlhyfer de WinterBishop Johnsonleftylimbo Recent comment authors
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disqus_mDx1EiahB6
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disqus_mDx1EiahB6

Ever since the extremely popular Gothic Horror Movies, gothic and goth have been used to describe such looks and aesthetic. This article poo-poos that and kowtows to the very separate reality of music journalism. It’s been horrible watching the net try to merge the real things that happened in the underground with the total BS that is the history of music journalism.

Matthew_Bailey
Guest
Matthew_Bailey

I keep meaning to do something like this for Texas and London. I did not make it to LA until ’85, the first time, and then did not get to return until ’88, when I began making trips between CA and TX every other month or so (and was in LA about three months out of the year collectively). I had meant to move there in ’89, but things fell apart (so many of my friends began dying of drug overdoses at that time). I remember hanging out with a guy named Andre, who danced for Death Ride ’69, and… Read more »

leftylimbo
Guest

Oh yeah, there was a big goth/death rock/batcave/whatever-you-wanna-call-it scene out here in the ’80s, especially ’85 onwards, so you were lucky to be out here at that time to experience it. Even if it did pass you by, it certainly left an impression, just like it did to me. If I had been in a slightly different mindset and not stricken with tunnel-vision as part of L.A.’s mod/ska scene, I think I would’ve been able to get along with the goth kids and perhaps understood their scene more. But at 15-16 yrs. old, all of that gloom and shade was… Read more »

Matthew_Bailey
Guest
Matthew_Bailey

I was Deeper into the SF Goth scene, as I had a long-term girlfriend who lived in SF who I would go see. And I was the epi-center of the Texas Goth scene (making the covers of several magazines with statewide distribution in 86 and 87). Had I been able to have a higher profile in CA I probably would have wound up doing more in LA than I did (I had an actual agent after I was picked out from a crowd in a movie I was in in 86 – Robocop, I think – but she was always… Read more »

Jwlhyfer de Winter
Guest

I forgot to mention that I think the lead photograph is of the two female singers from “Die Schlaflosen,” (a.k.a. “The Sleepless;”) Claudia and Lucretia.

Jwlhyfer de Winter
Guest

I remember this era so well, and I recognize about a third of these people! We used to call it “Doom and Gloom. ” The term “Gothic,” (not “Goth,”) was used to describe those people across the pond, where the music was quite different. The first regularly held club was called “Theatre des Vampires, ” and was at the Grandia Room. The scene didn’t really take off until Henry and Joseph, (of the Melrose store “Vinyl Fetish,”) started a club called “Fetish, ” at the Berwin Entertainment Center. Funny thing, at the time we mostly went to see bands, and… Read more »

Matthew_Bailey
Guest
Matthew_Bailey

No kidding (thanks for the trip). As I pointed out above, I was only peripheral to the LA Scene (due to having a job in the 80s that kept me moving around a lot), but I kept gravitating back to it (mostly because of an ex-girlfriend who lived there. She married a guitarist in Haunted Garage). But I wound up in the same casting agency you mentioned, in several episodes of Mancuso FBI, in the Andrew Dice Clay “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” movie (where I mostly wound up on the cutting room floor – I learned about bitchy screen-hog… Read more »

Bishop Johnson
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Bishop Johnson

why are people so proud of being desparate fo attention

Matthew_Bailey
Guest
Matthew_Bailey

Wrong question.

But obviously one that is pertinent in hindsight.

About nine years ago I wrote a paper about that, and several of my professors at school (I returned to college when I was in my late-40s at UCLA) have suggested that I explore the question further, as they too are very intrigued by the Goth Subculture. It is a very unique phenomenon as subcultures go, only rivaled by the 1960’s hippy culture in terms of the fear it engendered in the mainstream culture.

leftylimbo
Guest

Ah yes, I remember those days well…the mid- to late ’80s at least, in L.A. …it was one thing for me as a mod to bust out with my parka in 90-degree weather, but I had to hand it to the death rockers (glad you mentioned that term, btw) for their passion and commitment to make every L.A. day fade to grey in their leather and lace get-ups. Heh, how they managed to remain as pallid and pale on L.A.’s sun-kissed Westside is beyond me, but that was the beauty of L.A.’s youth subcultures in the ’80s…we made it work,… Read more »

Katya Elizabeth Woods
Guest

I used to shop at Retail Slut!

Amanda DiBlasi Avramidis
Guest

Nicky Olivio this so reminded me of you!

Nicky Olivio
Guest

omg yes <3 this post kind of made my whole day

Jerome Alexandre
Guest

Spotted a young Al Jourgensen

Mitch Ashpaugh
Guest

Benjamin Carlson

Criado
Guest
Criado

Al Jourgensen of Ministry is sprinkled in there haha

Mackenzie Guillory
Guest

Kia Alice Groom all day

Kayla Blackey
Guest

Yesssss

David Leeson
Guest

Hair like the Hindenburg. Good times.

Viny Rodrigues
Guest

Luiza Cravo

Scott Evans
Guest

I recognize some of those faces…

TractorTom ShaunWhite Desjardins
Guest

Esther Duguay

Esther Duguay
Guest

Nice 🙂

Nay Josephine
Guest

<3

Ariadna Poupee Bla
Guest

Fabián Salazar

Emerson Penerari
Guest
Emerson Penerari

About the author of the post: “He terrorized the streets of the West Side as a young Suicidal Boy”.. well, if he was a Suicidal Boy and stay alive today, maybe somethig go wrong… suicidal boys are dead now. or it’s just to claim their parent’s atention. Loser.

Raven Sparks
Guest

So much awesome style back then…I love looking at these!

Sean M Void
Guest

One of the pics is actually a Ministry promo pic of Al Jourgensen.

Shawn Růžek
Guest

Ari Ferrari

Shawn Růžek
Guest

Alejandra Reuhel

Benjamin Oliver Gleason
Guest

Kevin LoBiondo

Spencer Robert Snitil
Guest

Kelly Walsh

Kelly Walsh
Guest

❤️

Diego Carvalho
Guest

Fabiola mazoia

Fabiola Franco
Guest

To me sentindo perseguida rs

Damian Saiz
Guest

i miss the creativity that went into these looks back then. and the big hair. some real hotties in these pics.:)

Alfredo Garcia Rizo
Guest

Vana Vaninha

Vana Vaninha
Guest

♡ gothz

Jerry Wayne Woolbright
Guest

These are the kids who used to hang out at Knotts after dark.

Michael Baffico
Guest

Pre Hot Topic!

Matthew_Bailey
Guest
Matthew_Bailey

The hair dye or the store? Definitely pre-store.

Tenika Campbell
Guest

Marcin Cycoń

Justin Moore
Guest

Soha Sioux

Alixx Grace
Guest

Michael A. Simms

Thiago Getto Sharks Loredo
Guest

Dayvison Possessor

Colleen Isawesome
Guest

I love this! The hair is over the top!

Matra Muschietti
Guest

Giovanna Agrimi

Zoi Simone Cameron
Guest

Jack Strang

Aleksandar Jurgec
Guest
Aleksandar Jurgec
Guest

He is in one of the pictures Septic (Subotica) & Nenad

Francisco Larubia
Guest

Alicia Sanchez

Sage Battle
Guest

Ricky Washuk!

Gnolius Nungesser
Guest

When it was cool, before the word.

Stan Lee
Guest

comment image

Kevin Jackson
Guest

Young dudes with high tops and the toung sticking out….

Derek Jelsma
Guest

Stephanie Parks

Jim Frederick
Guest

Lhûg Dae

Madeleine Spencer
Guest

Nick Benson 🙂

Vilma Larissa Herrera Julian
Guest

Ixchel Selvas Dorian Culebro

Dorian Culebro
Guest

the march violets y red lorry yellow lorry <3 , Cuando la nación era fuerte

Ixchel Selvas
Guest
Dorian Culebro
Guest

Deberíamos hacer algo así (Y)

Vilma Larissa Herrera Julian
Guest

Ix toma buenas fotos, hagan algo así,

John Bultena
Guest

J.c. Robinson get in here.

Tracy Wilson
Guest

:3

Daniel Novet
Guest

<3

Tracy Wilson
Guest

Miss you guys! 🙂

Daniel Novet
Guest

We miss you too!

Leo Polanco
Guest
Robin Tizya
Guest

an other? ugh.

Leo Polanco
Guest

It was stolen from another site, take it easy, lady!

Robin Tizya
Guest

Maybe an other time!