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Archive-Name: alt-gothic-faq
Posting-Frquency: monthly
Last-Modified: 14 April 1998
Maintainer: (Tom Fosdick)
Version: 3.2 


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   This FAQ was created by Peter Wake (, and is 
   currently maintained by Tom Fosdick (aka Bloodstone). Please send all 
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   him at
   It is posted on the 14th of every month to the newsgroup alt.gothic.

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   Primary WWW site

   If your are new to newsgroups the news.newusers FAQs are also 
   recommended, available from and its mirror
   sites and on the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. You may also 
   want to take a look at the news.announce.newusers archives at the 
   same site.



Changes From Version 3.1.

Section: 1A Charter

Section: 1B Charter Questions and General Newsgroup Stuff.

   Subject: 1.1 What is this newsgroup really about then?
   Subject: 1.2 Are there any subjects I should avoid?
   Subject: 1.3 What type of material is appropriate for this group?
   Subject: 1.4 What are all these abbreviations?
   Subject: 1.5 What is this GothCode?
   Subject: 1.6 What is a net.goth?
   Subject: 1.7 What is this Goth Test?
   Subject: 1.8 What is a troll?
   Subject: 1.9 What is AGSF (alt.gothic Special Forces)
   Subject: 1.10 How do I identify a net.goth?
   Subject: 1.11 What's with all these "Is XXXXX gothic" questions?
   Subject: 1.12 What is the [AG] tag?
   Subject: 1.13 What do you have against Marilyn Manson?
   Subject: 1.14 I want to post a picture/sound, can I do it?
   Subject: 1.15 I'm new, what should I do now?

Section: 2 Resources

   Subject: 2.1 What Gothic music lists exist?
   Subject: 2.2 Where are the gothic FTP & WWW sites?
   Subject: 2.3 Where can I find lyrics, pictures, etc for a goth band?
   Subject: 2.4 What are some various Vampire related net resources?
   Subject: 2.5 Are there any good goth clubs in ?
   Subject: 2.6 Are there any location specific goth mailing lists?

Section: 3 The Gothic Subculture
   Subject: 3.1 What is a Goth?
   Subject: 3.2 Where did the term 'Gothic' come from?
   Subject: 3.3 What the history of the goth movement?
   Subject: 3.4 Is goth about religion?
   Subject: 3.5 What does gothic music sound like?
   Subject: 3.6 So what does the word 'goth' mean.
Section: 4 Various Trivia
   Subject: 4.1 Is the Nefilim a spelling mistake?
   Subject: 4.2 Have the Fields of the Nephilim reformed then?
   Subject: 4.3 Where does the phrase Sisters of Mercy arise from?
   Subject: 4.4 Are the Sisterhood the same as the Sisters of Mercy?
   Subject: 4.5 What's this SSV thing I've heard about Andrew Eldritch doing?
   Subject: 4.6 What has Anne Rice written?
   Subject: 4.7 Who is Storm Constantine?
   Subject: 4.8 Any other interesting goth authors?
   Subject: 4.9 Any interesting goth movies?
   Subject: 4.10 Who is Andrew Eldritch, Carl McCoy, Wayne Hussey, ...?
   Subject: 4.11 What do Pre-Raphaelites have to do with goth?
   Subject: 4.12 What is 'Snakebite'?
   Subject: 4.13 What's all this about Cloves?
   Subject: 4.14 Absinthe?



   This FAQ covers both the basics of the newsgroup and the bascics of
   the gothic subculture, it is not, however intended to be extensive 
   in either.
   For this reason it is recommended that it be read in conjunction 
   with other material. For those new to this group, but not usenet, 
   the following are suggested.
   o  Welcome to alt.gothic - a weekly posting to the group
   o  The alt.gothic Troll FAQ, available from 

   For those new to newsgroups, please read the news.newusers FAQs
   available from and its mirror sites 
   ( in the UK).


Changes from version 3.1.

   Section 1 Split into Charter and Questions about it sections - some
   subjects removed, some added, some changed.
   A lot of redundant questions removed.
   Section 3.4 (now 3.5) re-written.
   Section 3.2 added.
   A lot of less significant changes.


Section: 1A The Charter

   The newsgroup alt.gothic is for the purpose of discussing all aspects
   of the gothic subculture and lifestyle, including any relevent material
   from other areas.
   alt.gothic came into existance on 1 November 1991.
   alt.gothic is not for the discussion of the 'gothic' Germanic tribes, the 
   gothic architectural style, or gothic literature (except where relevent 
   to the subculture).

   Binaries (pictures, sounds etc.) are not permitted.

   In general, no advertising is permitted. Discreet and short adverts 
   relevent to the gothic subculture are acceptable provided they are 
   not posted more than once.

   7 bit ASCII, formatted to under 80 columns. Please don't post in MIME
   format or in HTML, lots of people get annoyed if you do.

  OTHER NEWSGROUPS exists for the discussion of matters of fashion.
       Its FAQ is located at
   uk.people.gothic exists for discussion of the UK gothic subbculture.
       Its FAQ is located at
   aus.culture.gothic exists for discussion of the Australian subculture.
       Its FAQ is located at
   alt.personals.gothic exists for personal adverts.
   alt.binaries.gothic is for binary posts.
       Its FAQ is located at
   alt.gothic.announce exists for announcements. It is moderated. To post
       to it send your message to
   alt.vampyres exists for those who "Vont to saaahk your blhaad" or just
       want to talk about those who do. 

   This list is not exhaustive; other groups exist.

Section: 1B Charter Questions and General Newsgroup Stuff

  Subject: 1.1 So What is This Newsgroup Really About?

   Well, to be honest the vast majority of the discussion that goes on 
   isn't 100% in line with the purpose. It deals with death and weirdness
   or anything of interest to us really.

  Subject: 1.2 Are there any subjects I should avoid?

   Glad you asked. First of all, be nice. alt.gothic has had a reputation
   for being a little bit, erm, 'heated' at times.
   De-lurking and saying "Hi I'm a goth" is not really a good idea, if you
   must introduce yourself, please try to be a little creative about it eh?
   Before posting a question, do a little digging, for starters read this 
   fine piece of work :) - if you can't find an answer, then post it.

   Religion is always a hotly debated issue, if you feel you _must_
   post religious questions or topics, please try not to preach or 

   Marilyn Manson. Sheesh - Please please please do not post anything
   like 'Why do you hate MM?' - see Subject 1.13

  Subject: 1.3 What type of material is appropriate for this group?

   Pretty much anything that is relevent to the gothic subculture is 
   admissable. It's a good idea to keep your original posts on-topic 
   (if you can figure out what "on-topic" is =). Threads nearly always 
   end up splitting into a bunch of off-topic discussion, which is 
   perfectly valid. There is no set of rules which defines exactly what 
   is on- or off-topic, especially since "gothic" is an extremely broad 
   term. Bear in mind that the common bond between all of us who 
   read/post to alt.gothic is that we have some interest in the gothic 
   scene. Because of that, we often share many other interests, ranging 
   from the esoteric (e.g. philosophy, religion, obscure Fields of the 
   Nephilim trivia) to the mundane (e.g. hair colour preferences, gothic 
   cat names). If you feel others who read this group will be interested, 
   post it. A very few people post poetry or short written works on 
   alt.gothic. If you are doing this, please let the rest of us know with 
   an indication in the subject line (e.g. Dead Roses [poem]).

  Subject: 1.4 What are all these abbreviations?

   Most of them are band names, there are very many gothic bands with 
   quite long names, these are normally abbreviated. Some common ones
   are as follows.

    SoM - The Sisters of Mercy
    FotN - Fields of the Nephilim
    SDC - Southern Death Cult
    ASF - Alien Sex Fiend
    SS - Switchblade Symphony
    SSB - Sunshine Blind

   If you're wondering what ROTFL or IIRC means, then you should be
   reading the news.newusers FAQs.

  Subject: 1.5 What is this GothCode

   The goth code is simply a method by which one can very concisely
   describe oneself. For more information see -Synic-'s homepage at

   There are encoders and decoders for various versions of the gothcode,
   most of which are available via the web, although the URLs change 
   more frequently than this document so are not included.

  Subject: 1.6 What is a net.goth?
   Like many things this started out as part of a joke, a score of over
   80 on the Goth Test (see 1.7) qualified one as a net.goth.
   Since then it has been used as a general handle for a goth who 
   communicates a great deal via the internet.

  Subject: 1.7 What is this "Goth Test"?

   The Goth Test is a list of questions like any test, the difference
   between the Goth Test and most others is that the Goth Test is 
   a joke. 
   Its available via anonymous FTP at in
   /pub/music/gothic/ as 'the_goth_test'. It can also be found in Take a
   Bite 1.0 - jokingly subtitled 'the net.goth handbook', which is also
   available at the same site.

   An on-line version of the goth test, similar in style to the purity 
   tests, can be found at 

  Subject: 1.8 What is a troll?

   A troll is a person who posts messages with the express intention
   of annoying the people on the newsgroup. For more information
   see the AGSF FAQ at
   If you suspect a post is of this type then please do not reply to it,
   trolls thrive on the attention of others, without replies they get
   bored and go away.

  Subject: 1.9 What is AGSF (alt.gothic Special Forces)
   You. Whenever the newsgroup is being invaded by trolls or other 
   lowlifes, we band together to bring these idiots to justice. 
   Usually this involves mass emailing of said idiots' postmaster or 
   system administrator, forwarding the offensive posts back and 
   demanding that they do something about their user(s). We are 
   periodically the object of the alt.syntax.tactical invasion 

   The official AGS-F page can be found here:
   which is mirrored here (and elsewhere):

   The AGSF FAQ is webbed at

  Subject: 1.10 How do I identify a net goth?
   The words net.goth in lower case should be written on them somewhere.
   The jacket arm just below the shoulder is recommended by Sexbat (but
   he may be teasing you - be warned :-)
   Further to this there have been many versions of 'net.goth' t-shirts
   and net.goth ID cards have been produced at various events.

  Subject: 1.11 What's with all these "Is XXXXX gothic" questions?
   There are three reasons why people post these messages.
   1) They are very sad and actually think that it matters.
   2) They think it would be interesting to debate the issue from
      a purely academic perspective.
   3) It's a joke to take the piss out of the people who post such
      questions for reason 1. Such posts are normally easily 
      distinguished by the sheer stupidity of the question, ie
      "Are Bauhaus Gothic?" or "Are the Bee-Gees Gothic?".

  Subject: 1.12 What is the [AG] tag?
   This tag is placed at the beginning (and sometimes the end) of the 
   subject line of a post intended for and posted only to alt.gothic. 
   We started using this tagging system after some lunkhead subscribed 
   alt.gothic to a bunch of mailing lists, resulting in massive amounts 
   of messages (literally hundreds) with no relevance to alt.gothic 
   whatsoever. It became difficult and frustrating to weed through all 
   these posts in hopes of finding an alt.gothic post--with the [AG] 
   tag they are easily identified. Sometimes we still use the tag 
   whenever the newsgroup is getting full of spam and crossposts.

  Subject: 1.13 What have you got against Marilyn Manson?

   The simple reason for all the disparaging remarks is that some people 
   honestly don't like Manson, and are somewhat fed up with the media's 
   having seized on MM as the definitive gothic icon, and with it's constant 
   characterization of them as Manson worshipping Spooky Kids.  This is far 
   from a majority opinion however.  The only consensus that *does* exist 
   is that most regulars are sick to death of seeing, "Why do you hate MM?" 
   questions posted.  
   If you have a real interest in this topic, we recommend that you do some 
   research on DejaNews. Most of the material is in the old databse now, the 
   search string "(Marilyn Manson) & ~g alt.gothic" should bring up pleanty of
   information as this topic has been covered quite thoroughly in 
   the past, and any mention of it at present will likely get *lots* of 
   flames, and few straight answers.

  Subject: 1.14 I want to post a picture/sound, can I do it?
   Yes, but not to alt.gothic.
   Pictures and sounds are called binary posts, and binary posts are not 
   allowed on alt.gothic.
   Probably the best way to post one is to put it on a website and post
   the URL to alt.gothic.
   The next best thing is to post it to alt.binaries.gothic and post
   ONE message to alt.gothic saying that you have done so - it's
   a good idea to include the message-id of your binary in the
   advertising post to alt.gothic.

   Please read the alt.binaries.gothic FAQ before posting anything there.
   Its URL is

  Subject: 1.15 I'm new, What should I do now?
   First of all, familiarise yourself with this document and those 
   referenced from it. There's nothing like striding into a newsgroup
   and asking _really_ silly questions to get you flamed (attacked).

   Next, although it may be tempting to reply to _every_ article, please 
   don't. Its our experience (and we were all newbies once) that it takes
   people a while to get into the rythumn of the group. Make sure that when
   you do post, you actually have something to say, and you know how you're
   going to say it. If you post lots meaningless fluff, you are quickly going 
   to get a reputation for it an no-one will ever read your posts.

   In fact, one of the best ways to make your first post is to answer a poll,
   since they ask for a little bit of information about everyone who is 
   reading alt.gothic.

   Lastly, when you do post, make sure that your articles are fomatted 
   correctly. That is that you have quoted no more than you need to, you
   have correctly attributed the quotes, that you put line breaks in at 80
   columns, lines between paragraphs and that you haven't done anything
   silly like posted it in HTML.

   And, well, welcome to alt.gothic!

Section: 2 Internet Resources
  Subject: 2.1 What Gothic music lists exist?
   The Sisters of Mercy Electronic mailing list run by Pete French
   (-bat). Send mail to to ask to be
   added to the list. Send postings to
   There is also a Fields of the Nephilim Electronic mailing list. Mail
   to to ask be added to the mailing list. The
   address to post to the list is

   All About Eve also have a mailing list although at the time of writing
   its details are not known (would someone mail them to please).

  Subject: 2.2 Where are the gothic FTP & WWW sites?
   A mirror site at ( has
   been set up to contain all the info at, as
   well as a number of other goth resources, including various gothic
   lyrics, discographies, faqs, images, and Corey's Goth List, etc can be
   found. Get the README and INDEX files from the pub/music directory for
   the full contents of the music area, which included guitar tabs, and
   other music resources. When you FTP use 'anonymous' as the username
   and your email address as the password. If you don't have FTP access
   mail to
   There is also another gothic archive site in the United States by
   Peter Stone ( at It contains much of
   the original gothic archive site as of 12/93, as well as other new

  Subject: 2.3 Where can I find lyrics, pictures, etc for a goth band?
   There is a huge music archive available via anonymous FTP at If a band isn't at the goth archive, it might
   very well be at the main music archive.
   There are also a number of goth World Wide Web servers out there, and
   the following should get you started, and most have links to other
   The Dark Side by VampLestat ( is at

   Rob's Gothic Section is at

   The Sisters of Mercy Home Page by Ian Grimstead is at

   Doktor Joy's Website (including HELIX) is at

   The Dark Side of the Net is at


  Subject: 2.4 What are some various Vampire related net resources?
   Vampires? What are they :)
   You'd do best to start looking in alt.vampyres and their FAQ file,
   which should be archived at

  Subject: 2.5 Are there any good goth clubs in ?
   Digitar ( maintains a list of Goth clubs worldwide.
   Email him for a copy, or FTP 'GothClubs' from the
   goth archive at There is also a
   hypertext version at Please
   email in any additions you might have to digitar's list.

   It is an onerous task to maintain such a list, and through no fault
   of his own Digitar's list can be inaccurate. It is better to look for
   a local list, which often be done by visiting WWW seach engines such

   For those in the UK, refer to HELIX, maintained by Doktor Joy at

   For those in Australia, the aus.culture.gothic FAQ contains relevant
   information. Its URL is

   If you know of another country (or state) specific list, would you 
   please mail details of how to get hold of it to the maintainer,

  Subject 2.6: Are there any location specific goth mailing lists?

   Yep. Go to - there's a whacking
   huge list of them.


Section: 3 The Gothic Subculture

  Subject: 3.1 What is a Goth?
   The Oxford English Dictionary gives the definition as
    "goth n. 1) A style of rock music with an intense or droning blend of 
     guitars, bass, and drums, often with apocalyptic or mystical lyrics.
     2) a performer or devotee of this music, often dressing in black 
     clothing and wearing black make-up."
   Ask any goth through and you'll get a different definition. In fact you'll
   get just about as many definitions as goths that you ask.

   There are a few points that we do tend to agree on; it was originally a
   youth movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and was an offshoot
   of punk. From originally being little more than a fashion and a type
   of music though, it developed its own philosophies and became a
   subculture; even a way of life for some.

  Subject: 3.2 Where did the term 'gothic' come from?
   It was used three significant times by people in the music industry to
   refer to music.

   The term 'Goth' was used by Ian Astbury who described Andi Sex Gang as
   a 'gothic pixie'.

   Siouxsie Sioux (of the Banshees) used 'Gothic' to describe the new 
   direction for her band.

   Probably the earliest usage, as applied to music though was by 
   Anthony H. Wilson (Joy Division manager) who was overcome by a rare 
   moment of lucidity on a 1978 BBC TV program when he described Joy 
   Division as Gothic compared with the pop mainstream.

   How 'Goth' and 'Gothic' came to be used to describe the movement though 
   is a little less clear. What is certain is that NME and Sounds used it, 
   and there seem to be two suggestions as to where they got it from.

   The first is that they took it directly from Siousxie Sioux and they
   themselves then used it to describe what we know as goths today.

   The second (and more probable) is that they took it from Abbo, singer of
   UK Decay, who said to a journalist "We're into the whole Gothic thing",
   which naturally got printed.

  Subject: 3.3 What the history of the goth movement?
   The pop journalists were quick to latch onto the term and they applied
   it in a nasty sort of pigeonholing way to a number of bands that were
   around in the early 80s - most of which did not sound much like the
   Banshees (or anyone else for that matter), the journalists were more
   concerned with looks. The (Southern Death) Cult was foremost amongst
   these bands, like the Banshees they wore lots of black and silver and
   had extreme black hair. The Sisters of Mercy were also so labelled and
   when they split and Wayne Hussey founded the Mission they carried
   their label with them, despite being different musically. Finally The
   Fields of the Nephilim appeared and they (perhaps) consciously and
   deliberately got themselves labelled as Gothic despite looking and
   sounding quite different to what had previously been labelled Goth.
   The fans of bands like the Sisters, Bauhaus and Siouxsie liked to
   dress up in lots of black. The music they liked was something of a
   backlash against the colourful disco music of the seventies. The
   Banshees were a punk band before they mellowed and punk was brathing
   its last as Gothdom gathered speed, and so one could claim Gothdom
   grew out of punk. The music of Joy Division, the Sisters and Bauhaus
   was angst ridden but all the hatred was turned inwards and the music
   was typified by introspective lyrics. Many of the new Goth followers
   were introspective too. Some were a bit confused by the label and
   started to think that the label Goth was in some way connected with
   the Victorian Gothic revival and Gothic horror and because enough of
   them thought that eventually it became true.
   NME and Sounds were not oblivious to this and produced many hilarious
   articles poking fun at the Goths amongst their readers. They said that
   being Goth was about sitting around in circles on the floor of pubs
   (bars) smoking a lot and talking about being a bat. Some readers of
   this list get angry at this. Luckily most Goths have a good enough
   sense of humour to laugh at themselves once in a while. The first
   generation Goths complain that second and third generation Goths often
   seem to think that Gothdom is about wearing the blackest black, with a
   lot of silver jewellery and looking as thin and pale as possible. In
   common with their older bretheren they avoid the crass comercialism of
   mainstream rock and gather together to share their woes :-) They read
   Bram Stoker and Anne Rice and talk about being vampires. They read
   H.P. Lovecraft and talk about the end of the world.
   The sounds that were described as Gothic were appearing in other
   countries besides the UK in the late seventies, but I have yet to see
   any evidence that they were using the word. (If you have any...)
   Currently Germany is the bastion of Goth, where they are called
   Grufties. If German people are doing a write up on the Goth scene
   there, please send me a copy. So that's how we got where we are today.
   Today Goth is about music, literature, art and clothes.

  Subject: 3.4 Is goth about religion?
   Gothdom embraces all religions, all denominations and all races. Many
   Goths are atheists and a sizable minority are new age spiritualists,
   Wiccans and members of other alternative religious groups. There are
   Christian Goths. Basically Goth is not about religion, but with the
   imagery of religion. May goths wear crosses or ankhs, and there are
   many religious references in goth songs, but it is not a religious
   Goth uses religous imagery in some songs. Christian Death are big on
   this. Bauhaus did a couple of tracks with religious imagery. The
   Sisters have a quasi-religious name but this is ironic, their music
   shows that religion is not Andrew Eldritch's main concern - he says
   he prefers politics. The Mission (UK) were fairly 'new age'. Carl McCoy 
   favoured shamanistic traditions and gnostic revelation. Religious 
   jewellery is often worn, particularly crucifixes and ankhs. These are 
   strong symbols with powerful subconscious effects. Sometimes they are 
   worn as an satirical statement, sometimes not. For some it is just 

  Subject: 3.5 What does gothic music sound like?

   You have to ask the difficult ones, don't you :)
   Gothic music is very difficult to classify or categorise. Most people 
   agree though that there are three general 'waves' of gothic music.

   - Old School (gothic punk). Late 1970s - Early 1980s.
   - Middle thingy. Early-1980s to somehwere in the lateish 1980s.
   - Modern. End of Middle thingy to now.

   The old school was a direct descendant of punk. It had a distinctly
   punk sound, but with very dark overtones. This can be heard in the 
   early work of Siousxie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, 
   Southern Death Cult, some early Cure and Danse Society.

   The middle era ushered in bands such as the Sisters of Mercy, who had
   a distinctive power-pop flavour, it also saw the original punk sound
   mutate and become more experimental, Sex Gang Children typified this;
   Xmal-Deutschland are also worth considering. 
   Alien Sex Fiend also fall into the same musical category, although their
   music is much more light hearted and an 'acquired taste'. They also 
   qualify as 'old school' by virtue of a stint at the Batcave - well, their
   music always has been, err, 'progressive'.
   The March Violets are a hybrid of the old scool and power-pop and are
   well worth a listen.

   To complicate matters further, there also sprand up a movement of 
   ethereal, experimental goth that didn't have much of a punk background
   at all. Xymox, Dead Can Dance and the Cocteau Twins are noteable here.

   From here on it gets even more complicated. The Fields of the Nephilim
   were considered a gothic band despite elements of heavy metal not seen
   before in gothic music. From then until the early 1990s the scene went 
   a bit quiet, with the only bands really making an impression being
   Fields of the Nephilim, The Mission (a splinter group of the Sisters of
   Mercy) and All About Eve. The last two bands started off being 
   considered gothic and then drifted into other things.

   The early 1990s saw a revival, lead by Rosetta Stone, whose music at the
   time was similar in nature to that of the Sisters of Mercy in 1985.
   Rosetta changed though and soon shed the label of a Sisters of Mercy
   soundalike. The 1990s has seen a wealth of new bands spring up, ranging
   in sound from old school through to styles previously unheard.

   Rosetta Stone have become distinctly more industrial in later years, and
   joined the ranks of James Rays Gangwar in the goth industrial section.
   Midnight Configuration have made a mark for themselves in the fetish
   Inkkubus Sukkubus are probably the first goth band with a distinctive
   religious flavour (Wiccan) to make any impression.

   The influence of heavy metal has become stronger, with bands like
   Creaming Jesus, the Dream Disciples and the Marionettes. Some people
   consider Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative and even Cradle of Filth to
   be gothic although this is hotly debated (see section 1.13).

   The 1990s have also moved the geographic base of gothic music. The late
   70s and 80s bands were pretty much UK based, but with noteable input
   from Australia (Nick Cave, Birthday Party), the USA (Christian Death) 
   and Germany (Xmal Deutschland).
   It is true that the largest proportion of gothic bands are still UK based,
   but the scene as a whole has a much more international flavour.

   So, what is gothic music? No one seems entirely sure. There are key 

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