THE YEAR THAT
In 2006 I was an awkward goth teenager at a very poncy private school that wasn’t very accommodating of my look. Then I met a group of people from another school and became an emo, getting fully immersed in emo culture. In this year’s Comedy Festival, I did a show called Just a Phase about this whole period.
It was like I had suddenly found out who I really was, which was an amazing feeling. It meant I wasn’t weird. Through that group of people, I ended up meeting my first boyfriend and falling in love for the first time. We were together for ages and became this weird emo couple who’d share clothes and skinny jeans. I’d dye his hair black and put eyeliner on him.
I lost all interest in everything except this group of friends. We’d go to gigs every week, jump into mosh pits and have the time of our lives. Even though I was only 16 and it was just a phase and I grew out of it, I have held on to so much of that period — things like my interest in rock music and my passion for clothing.
Being a goth was different. That had started when I was 13 and it was just so hard to maintain. You have to do so much upkeep every day that enthusiasm starts to peter out fast. For a start, being a goth is all about black clothes and layering. You can’t just slap on a pair of jeans and a shirt. You’re thinking: how can I stuff up this outfit even more by adding 19 skirts and neck scarves?
Being a goth in summer is really hard. The right clothes don’t come in the form of beach shorts and singlets. You spend all your time sweating in black gloves and tights and huge skirts. And a key element of being a goth is a trench coat, which also doesn’t work well in summer.
Makeup is a big deal. My makeup was very extreme with enormous black eyes, like I’d got a Vivid and scribbled on them for an hour. You have to maintain the tease in your hair and fluff it up several times a day to keep it as big as possible.
My goth friends didn’t follow me into the emo phase. When I began turning up at school with purple hair and a new piercing every week, they couldn’t work out what had happened to me.
It was an uptight school and I really put it on hold that year while I was raging and dancing and drinking. The following year I was still emo, but it was coming up time to leave school and I thought I should pull it together. I was always into drama and acting and comedy. I did well at that stuff.
The school was amazing. They ended up letting lots of my discrepancies slide because I was always a bit cheeky and able to get away with it. I had great friends there but the point of it was to succeed and conform. You were supposed to look and behave a certain way, which is fine, but I thought: what’s the loudest way I can not do that? It’s funny because becoming an emo itself was conforming. As told to Paul Little
Being a goth in summer is really hard. The right clothes don’t come in the form of beach shorts and singlets.