Gothic Council Decides If Steampunk Is Goth

Having just spent an afternoon absorbing the new kung-fu steampunk masterpiece Tai Chi Zero, I got to wondering on what the official gothic position was on the steampunk phenomenon. After all, we share an awful lot in common with the steampunkers, like a love of classic gothic literature, ornamentation, a predilection for dark music.

Should we consider them gothic brethren or not? I decided to ask the Gothic Council.


Top 10 Steampunk Songs

Joining us the week is Regen Robinson of Space Radio, model Scarlett St. Vitus, Jvstin Whitney of Church of Melkarth, Author of Starblood Carmilla Voiez, blogger at Night's Plutonian Shore Drusilla Grey, Niki Marshall of the Braggart Family Circus, Sara Rockey of the Dark Lantern Society, DJ Martin Oldgoth, and artist Michelle Weissman.

Regen Robinson: Personally I've always liked the steampunk community from what I know of it. The look has this "I just robbed a stagecoach and can't be late" kind of feel and some of the clothing I have seen is gorgeous.

Scarlett St. Vitus: I'm not personally a huge fan of steampunk fashion, and I'm not sure if there is a steampunk music genre, or what that would sound like if there is. Most of the steampunk people I've met listen to goth/deathrock/industrial/EBM.

Since I think music is the most integral and important part of our scene, I think they should be included. I am all for a very inclusive scene that welcomes all facets of our subculture. We get a bad rap (probably accurately) as being exclusive elitists and I really wish that wasn't the case.

Jvstin Whitney: You let deathrockers in, so why not? I'm neither for nor against it.

Carmilla Voiez: Unless I'm missing something don't deathrockers listen to '80s-style Goth? Batcave et al. Aren't they the purest form of post-punk style goth still remaining?

Jvstin Whitney: I just fucking hate them, and their haircut.

Carmilla Voiez: Oh that's okay then. For a moment I thought you were being a snob.

Scarlette St. Vitus: ...Because all deathrockers have the same haircut. I listen to deathrock primarily.

Carmilla Voiez: Here, here, Scarlett. I think some goths wear steampunk. There was a massive steampunk contingent at Wave Gotik Treffen, but they probably already identify as goth. So I'm not sure whether this is a worthy debate.

Drusilla Grey: I don't know that it is something different. From what I can tell it is primarily a fashion thing which meshes nicely with goth. I'm ok with letting them in as a sub-genre. They fit nicer than cyber-goth. So, unless someone can more clearly define steampunk other than a fashion statement and show that they don't belong, they can stay.

Carmilla Voiez: Are you sure they want to be under the goth parasol, though? Don't steampunk lovers come from all sorts of backgrounds and musical tastes like vamps? Isn't it more about wanting to return to an idealized romantic and exciting time? If that's what goth is does that also mean rockabillies should be embraced under the genre? Of course I imagine rockabillies would be even less thrilled than steampunkers and vamps by the inclusion.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner