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Darren’s Ruminations on “Goth Dressing”

Truelove Tours founder Darren Gooding headed North in the Spring of 2010 to the Whitby Gothic Weekend, where he hosted the inaugural Fetish Prom on Saturday the 24th of April at the Spa Pavilion Theatre in the guise of liar, libertine and all-round celebrity booze-hound Manly Truelove.

The Fetish Prom was produced for the Goth Festival by Colchester-based Green Light Red Promotions and featured a heady mix of Classic and Gothic Burlesque, Dance, Music and Comedy. The event included brilliant burlesque acts from Miss Elyssia, Snappy O’Shea, Raqs Macabre and Miss Tobi James, in addition to two brand new ‘Dracula’ themed ‘Manly’ sets written especially for the evening.

The Prom was enthusiastically received by a highly appreciative and diverse audience, which featured a dynamic cross-section of Festival attendees. The audience were sumptuously attired in styles from Club and Fetish, to Goth and Steam-Punk, but all were united in their enjoyment of the event..

But now Darren has another plan up his capacious sleeves...

      “In 2010 I became active on the “Gothic” scene: initially on a professional level, (providing comedy and fulfilling compere duties at Whitby and other gigs), but also socially, and it has to be said I was warmly welcomed into the Gothic fold with outstretched lacy cuffs... I have subsequently become intrigued by the possibilities of devising some work which explores the challenges, taboos and opportunities of ‘going Goth’. The idea is not initially to create a formal ‘play’ as such; rather to start devising a series of short, thematically linked spoken word pieces; encompassing both heightened prose and verse which would be suitable for impromptu performance at festivals, gigs, comedy nights, etcetera, and which may ultimately be combined to form a unified show. My recent engagement with the Goth scene has resulted in me spending more time at gigs, club nights and festivals and I consequently feel it is timely to embark upon a body of work which not only addresses this particular social scene, but is also suitable for practical performance within this milieu.

“Those belonging to the Goth community are perhaps more immediately noticeable than people in our other cultural tribes due to the dramatic nature of their fashions: however, the Goth culture crosses over with many other looks and lifestyles: Punk, Fetish, Steampunk, Emo, Retro and Burlesque all butt up against the morbidly ornate border posts of ‘Gothland’ and within that monochrome hinterland I have encountered some of the most energetic, enthusiastic and (ironically) ‘colourful’ of characters.

“As I write this I am  now 40, so naturally I’m keen to examine both the pitfalls and opportunities of immersing oneself in a world of clubbing, corsets, music, make-up and highly challenging shoes at an age when society expects us to be thinking about dinner parties, pension plans and sensible leisurewear. Midlife crisis or liberating voyage of self-exploration: ‘What am I doing?’ and ‘Should I be doing it?’ are the personal questions I want to pose in this project, whilst simultaneously examining how tolerant we are of those who challenge received notions of appropriate dress and behaviour.

“So that’s the plan: to bring out the diversity, humour, energy and camaraderie of those within this apparently ‘dark’ culture and challenge the common conception that Goth is merely an intermediate station for withdrawn, morose, loners with low self-esteem and a vampire obsession. Whilst obviously acknowledging that yeah; the whole Dracula thing is also kinda important...

Truelove Tours also took advantage of ‘Manly’s stay in Whitby to take some publicity shots in and around the famous Gothic Abbey - Photography by Jamie Bollan and Stuart Johnston - ham by Darren Gooding…

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