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LA Weekly Sept 9-11, 2004 - Like Goths to the Flame

If you had happened to stumble onto the heat-baked plain of Disneyland as thousands of Iowans and I did Sunday, you would have found yourself smack in the middle of the Sixth Annual Bats Day at the Fun Park — Goth Day! — which is to say a convocation of Ursulas and Evil Queens and Wicked Stepsisters and Cruella De Vils the magnitude of which the Magic Kingdom sees but once a year. Goths overran the Small World ride, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and the Haunted Mansion; visited the petting zoo (black goats!); and sneered at the Hot Topic–style punk miniskirts and pseudo bondage tops for sale in the Tower of Terror gift shop. Young teenage goths hung in groups chaperoned by their distinctly ungoth moms and dads. Baby goths lolled in the cradle of their parents’ goth-tattooed arms. Goths lapped up caramel corn and pink cotton candy, faux juleps and bad cappuccinos.

Even in the cornier pastures of California Adventure, out by the Ferris wheel, there were fat goths and thin goths, goths strapped into plaid bondage pants and goths squeezed into grommeted leather, torn fishnets and torn tights, blue hair and green hair, hair lifted from Lost Boys, Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and The Bride of Frankenstein, all tied together by stiflingly hot black clothing, a certain air of summery surliness and colors of lipstick that were almost certainly not manufactured by Maybelline. Lace-encrusted black parasols of every shape and size shielded pale goth skin from the brutal Orange County sun.

I like to think of myself as not unsympathetic to the gothic cause. A band I used to play with opened up for Christian Death a few times, and I stood in line for hours to see the Cure’s first Los Angeles show at the Whisky a million years ago. I have been to more Peter Murphy concerts than I would tell even my best friends about. I practically lived at a Hollywood club called the Scream.

And although I ran across Bats Day quite by accident, I had, of course, heard about the non-Disney-sponsored fiesta, from zines, blogs and Chuck Klosterman’s diary of the event in Spin a couple of years ago. Who could resist the fun — the gloomiest people in the universe in The Happiest Place on Earth?

But as cheerful as Bats Day was, I couldn’t have felt more out of place. The goths were goths and I was just another stroller-pushing suburban dad in a pink button-down shirt. Bela Lugosi wasn’t the only guy who felt dead.—Jonathan Gold

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