Is this my very first book review? I think it might just be. It seems fitting for my first to be the informative and adorable Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters. Complete with gothy makeup tips, badass illustrations (by the author’s talented husband), and great advice for Goths (and everyone else, really), this book was an enjoyable read. It even confirmed my suspicion that I was a Goth, too! (Sidenote: I once was that person who was too special and awesome to be tied down with labels. Nowadays, I happily embrace them. Maturity is a funny thing.)
I will be shamelessly honest in saying I was drawn to this book because the title reminded me of one of my favorite crappy reality TV shows. The difference is, Gothic Charm School is full of class and Rock of Love: Charm School was full of…trash. (I believe being a stripper/porn star was a requirement on that show.) As we all know, stripping is not polite. The Lady of the Manners (a.k.a. author Jillian Venters) simply wouldn’t stand for it. Scaring children intentionally and acting a drunken fool are off limits in her book, too, ghoulies.
The main premise behind Gothic Charm School is to treat others how you would like to be treated. Just because someone calls you a freak due to your elaborate makeup and Victorian fashion does not give you free reign to retaliate. Let’s please not reinforce any scary stereotypes the general public has about us darklings. The Lady of the Manners stresses the importance of etiquette in romantic relationships, at the club, and even on a job interview. No, little old grandma really doesn’t need to see your new PVC corset, no matter how cute it is. Respect others and they will respect your gothiness, too.
I actually learned quite a bit more about the Gothic subculture through this book. Jillian’s tips and recommendations are really helpful, especially if you’re new to the subculture. While I was never a babybat (a naive teenage Goth), I suppose I was an emo kid. As I’ve gotten older, I naturally drifted more to the darkside, but I think I was hesitant to fully embrace my gothiness. I thought I would be viewed as childish for not outgrowing the hair dye and decadent fashion I loved. The Lady of the Manners made me feel a lot better about embracing my individuality. According to her, Goth is for all ages and people who disagree don’t know what they’re blabbering about. Jillian herself resembles a Gothic Mary Poppins and often gets mistaken for a Christmas caroler. lol How freaking awesome is that?
Thanks to Gothic Charm School, I’ve now learned how to remove hair dye from bathroom surfaces, survive the Summer in Goth clothing, and explain why Marilyn Manson is not Goth. I also now have a bunch of music and book recommendations to explore. The Lady of the Manners should write many more books! 😉