Pete Steele is Dead. Goth Erica? Flatlining.
I remember it so clearly. I was about 13 years old, in the backseat of my mom’s car driving down to D.C. for Thanksgiving. My friend Faith gave me a CD to listen to – Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses. I remember hearing Black No. 1 for the first time and falling absolutely in love. Maybe it was Pete Steele’s unmistakable deep voice, maybe it was the lyrics (or the fact that I could actually make out what they were saying…) but I was hooked.
Pete Steele died this week. I think for real this time (he faked his death back in 2005). He was 48 years old, battled chronic depression and was a druggie and boozehound. I’m somehow kind of shocked he’s dead. I think it’s because for the most part, most of the bands and singers I loved were already dead/disbanded (Jim Morrison, Elvis, Janis, Led Zep) and the ones that weren’t – well, I didn’t expect them to last that long. Seriously, how many times can I shell out big bucks to see Bob Dylan, because “it’s probably my last chance?”
But there was something about Pete. He was impossibly, larger than life tall (somewhere between 6’6 – 6’8), insanely built, strong, funny and I guess when you sing and laugh about death that much – it makes you seem kind of immortal.
I wasn’t a very good goth. For one, I wasn’t all that miserable. Yeah, I had my fair share of teen angst but I wasn’t depressed or miserable and certainly didn’t want to hurt myself or anyone else. And while I loved the whole “look” – it’s a big pain in the ass. Ever change in and out of fishnets and Doc Martens for gym class every day? Total pain. And all that make-up?! Also, the music was oftentimes awful. I liked some of it, but once I stopped being able to make out what they were saying, I was bored.
I cheated on the whole goth thing. For the most part, I would just wear a long black skirt, docs and a black t-shirt (or Type O) shirt. Throw on a velvet spiked dog collar (leather irritated my skin), a swipe of purple eyeliner that curled out and I stayed out of the sun. It was a goth equivalent of jeans and a t-shirt.
I mean, come on. Look at that bedroom. Lame bumper stickers on my wall, cow-print contact paper, non-black flowers? I was totally not meant to be a goth. Also, it’s kind of proof that my mom was a saint.
There aren’t a lot of pictures that exist from that time period. As a general rule, young goths don’t love cameras. Maybe we got all confused with the whole vampires don’t show up on film thing? But, every once in awhile I put on actual clothing. Which my mom maintained wasn’t really clothing, since it mainly consisted of layers of what would normally be considered undergarments. And we would go out. Where? Well, if we weren’t at Rocky Horror, we were at a local pool hall. Seriously. I think I spent 360 out of 365 days there one year. We usually hung out in the bathroom.
Or, we were wrestling and hanging out behind the Subway sandwich store near school.
And, because I love you unknown, internet people – a picture from my high school prom. Yes, I wore a corset and my best friend wore a vinyl ballgown.
So, Pete Steele is gone. And my days of dog collars, docs with fishnets and standing in sweaty mosh pits are a thing of the past as well. But, I still think part of semi-angry, morbid, “doesn’t really fit in with the goths or the trads” me is probably here to stay.
So, the love of Pete Steele and Type O set me off on a path from Gap T-shirts and jeans to something a little more sinister. It lasted from about 13 to junior year of high school. Then I went kind of hippie and then started working for a mortgage company. The rest is kind of history – but with less embarrassing photographic evidence.