Portraits of… 80’s Death Rock // Goth Culture

Growing up in the 80’s gave me the opportunity to see how one subculture could have an impact on another.In L.A., it was totally normal to see someone in the punk scene to cover their face in white pancake make up and then do something interesting with black eyeliner. This was before the terms “Death Rock” or “Gothic” were a part of our reality – this was just the way some kids expressed themselves. While this was happening in my hood, in the UK you had members of the Peace Punk scene start to express themselves in the same way, plus you had the whole Batcave movement. Nowadays, there is a rebirth happening on the Post Punk and Death Rock tip. Today we want to celebrate 80’s Death Rock and Gothic culture with this huge essay of photos from this era. All pictures were taken from the Now This Is Gothic tumblr – and make sure to check out this awesome book ‘Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace: The Worldwide Compendium of goth in the 1980s here.

1985 [photo by Brian Parkhurst]

1985 [photo by Brian Parkhurst]

10177346_763258827027928_6096671550068207893_n 10276981_763258900361254_8935878901875092817_n 10277686_763258947027916_6450632162220464181_n 10402382_792928194060991_5429549766896493284_n 10426310_939849442702198_2707219468429297678_n 10711064_845656502121493_4243614010627750495_n 11078083_947676898586119_3914190014123567156_n 11096506_939849536035522_2726676460159241736_n 11110213_939849526035523_6833349495019317685_n 11134030_939849549368854_3806022371096837004_n 11156126_947676901919452_6889649001970958891_n tumblr_l8l3fuXyPE1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_l8zscddPHF1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_lbj0k0NVGk1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_mlbu22GHrn1s5i2cco1_1280 tumblr_nba6uibyvL1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nba6vdpRhs1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nba694KFcx1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nbbfztwnak1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_nbbg15ay4t1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nblf2cBDfG1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_nblf22kMGf1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nbuwrgXZfF1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_ncggsj2u2L1s5i2cco1_1280 tumblr_ncqdn6SFFh1qbc9v6o1_400 tumblr_ncqdnxFSSF1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_ndcojrKT1c1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_ndekgxXh431qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_ndekszqqOe1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_ndeq8avLZW1qbc9v6o1_540 tumblr_ndeqdhMFzK1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_ndgd7wRxJK1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_ndgd8hWdaN1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nfemdy96kQ1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_ng2xwfxdgz1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_nk1cb0LKKY1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nm72vac91S1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_nm76xbtdpG1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_nmia9iuYpN1qbc9v6o1_1280 tumblr_nnxczb0J6k1qbc9v6o1_500 tumblr_non6ldlfaY1qbc9v6o1_500

Previous post

I look for the light through the pouring rain... ADDAURA // ISENORDAL Live Review + Photo Essay

Next post

The Shape of Punk NOW! REFUSED St. Vitus Full Set

The Author



Sean Reveron was born & raised in Venice Beach, CA. He terrorized the streets of the West Side as a young Suicidal Boy, and was a part of the early Hardcore movement. Sean has always been passionate about the music and the DIY fashion of the crust and metal world, and that passion led him and his wife Meghan to create the world of CVLT Nation and the CVLT clothing brand.


  1. Matthew_Bailey
    June 12, 2015 at 8:21 pm — Reply

    I keep meaning to do something like this for Texas and London.

    I did not make it to LA until ’85, the first time, and then did not get to return until ’88, when I began making trips between CA and TX every other month or so (and was in LA about three months out of the year collectively). I had meant to move there in ’89, but things fell apart (so many of my friends began dying of drug overdoses at that time).

    I remember hanging out with a guy named Andre, who danced for Death Ride ’69, and was in the newspaper in October for shooting the ex-boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend (she would later go on to marry the Japanese Guitarist for Haunted Garage). Strangely, shooting the ex-boyfriend produced exactly the result I wanted as far as staying in LA, because the police forbade me from leaving LA and/or Ventura County for the next two to three months.

    I recognize a couple of faces above, but cannot recall the names.

    LA was really the center of the Goth world in the 80s (And I spent a LOT of time in London as well. LA had a much better scene than in London it turned out), and I allowed most of it to pass me by.

    • June 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm — Reply

      Oh yeah, there was a big goth/death rock/batcave/whatever-you-wanna-call-it scene out here in the ’80s, especially ’85 onwards, so you were lucky to be out here at that time to experience it. Even if it did pass you by, it certainly left an impression, just like it did to me.

      If I had been in a slightly different mindset and not stricken with tunnel-vision as part of L.A.’s mod/ska scene, I think I would’ve been able to get along with the goth kids and perhaps understood their scene more. But at 15-16 yrs. old, all of that gloom and shade was way too deep for me to comprehend…so a lot of it passed me by as well. There were also invisible but set “barriers” between scenes, so even if a goth girl piqued my curiosity, it wouldn’t have been a comfortable association.

      • Matthew_Bailey
        June 26, 2015 at 2:01 pm — Reply

        I was Deeper into the SF Goth scene, as I had a long-term girlfriend who lived in SF who I would go see.

        And I was the epi-center of the Texas Goth scene (making the covers of several magazines with statewide distribution in 86 and 87). Had I been able to have a higher profile in CA I probably would have wound up doing more in LA than I did (I had an actual agent after I was picked out from a crowd in a movie I was in in 86 – Robocop, I think – but she was always trying to get me to come out to audition for roles, or see somebody for a part. I was terrified of auditions though, and my job was really down on me having any more notoriety than I already did).

        But the 1980s/early-90s were the cultural peak of the century (and this one as well). It will be some time before we see that kind of cultural phenomenon again.

  2. June 11, 2015 at 8:23 am — Reply

    I forgot to mention that I think the lead photograph is of the two female singers from “Die Schlaflosen,” (a.k.a. “The Sleepless;”) Claudia and Lucretia.

  3. June 11, 2015 at 8:15 am — Reply

    I remember this era so well, and I recognize about a third of these people! We used to
    call it “Doom and Gloom. ” The term “Gothic,” (not “Goth,”) was used to describe those people across the pond, where the music was quite different. The first regularly held club was called “Theatre des Vampires, ” and was at the Grandia Room. The scene didn’t really take off until Henry and Joseph, (of the Melrose store “Vinyl Fetish,”) started a club called “Fetish, ” at the Berwin Entertainment Center. Funny thing, at the time we mostly went to see bands, and dancing was considered to be really lame! I remember standing around, feeling awkward, and people watching a lot. We did, indeed, hang out mostly on Melrose, and you would see a lot of people at Okie Dog’s in Hollywood at odd hours of the morning. There was also a lot of people going to the Brave Dog and Al’s Bar in Downtown Los Angeles. The look seemed to grow out of another of Henry and Joseph’s clubs, a wonderful New Romantic club called “The Veil,” a magical place I will never forget. It was a sister club to the Blitz Club in London; run by Steve Strange of Visage. All of this is documented in great detail in the forthcoming book “Phantoms, the Rise of Death Rock from the L.A. Punk Scene,” by my good friend Mikey Bean. https://www.facebook.com/groups/67775297450/ I recognized Dave Grave of “Voodoo Church,” and Stephanie from, “The Flesheaters,” for sure in the above pictures and almost everyone else looks incredibly familiar. One of the interiors looks a lot like the Brave Dog, run by Claire Glydden. I’m definitely getting some names wrong. We also all mostly belonged to a rather unusual casting agency run by Janet Cunningham, (who also ran a club,) and you can see me in “Ghostbusters” and many of us in an episode of “Night Court” and the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John film; “Perfect,” which we were all extras in at the time. In “Perfect,” we were paid more if we were dressed like Boy George fans, so most of us put on kimonos, make up and dreads to get paid. One of those people was Patrick Mata of “Kommunity FK.” I tell a funny story about this in Mike’s book. Some of the early, L.A. based bands were “Kommunity FK,” “Aphoticulture,” “Die Schlaflosen,” “Christian Death,” “The Superheroines,” “Radio Werewolf,” “Voodoo Church” and “45 Grave.” They mostly played at “The Brave Dog,” “Al’s Bar” and “The Vex.” The first magazine/fanzine devoted to the aesthetic was “Night Voices,” published by Paul Perner, long before “Propaganda,” which was a bit of a joke, actually. I remember those days fondly, and I talk about the early days of the scene and what it was like in some of my videos on my channel on You Tube, “The Gothic Bohemian Salon.” It’s easy for us to forget nowadays, with the Gothic Aesthetic such a part of mainstream culture, that there was a time when it was all very new, and magical, and mysterious. I miss those days and that feeling of discovery so much sometimes. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • Matthew_Bailey
      June 12, 2015 at 8:31 pm — Reply

      No kidding (thanks for the trip). As I pointed out above, I was only peripheral to the LA Scene (due to having a job in the 80s that kept me moving around a lot), but I kept gravitating back to it (mostly because of an ex-girlfriend who lived there. She married a guitarist in Haunted Garage). But I wound up in the same casting agency you mentioned, in several episodes of Mancuso FBI, in the Andrew Dice Clay “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane” movie (where I mostly wound up on the cutting room floor – I learned about bitchy screen-hog extras who try to fuck their way into a larger part from that movie), and Lekili (the ex girlfriend) was in an episode of Married with Children (that I could have been in if I wasn’t so fucked up at the time).

      You guys had created a world that will never have an equal (and there are academics who will back that up).

      Today’s “Goths” are a pale imitation for the most part. They are like hollow shells, which copied the exteriors of the older goths they saw, but failed to understand the substance, the stuff inside of us that drove us to look the way we did.

      One last point… I was at the Joy Division Show in London where the term “Goth” was supposedly first used. It confused us. We had a long argument over whether they mean “Goth” as in “Ostrogoth” or “Visigoth” (barbarians) or if they meant “Goth” as in “Gothic Architecture” (we would later discover it meant the latter). That was where I was “turned” (to use the phrase my younger sister applied to my appearance changing from a suburban US punk to what would later be called “Goth” (which was a severe change, U.S. suburban punk in 1983 wasn’t really that extreme, yet 1983/84 London “Goth” WAS severe as it would be until the 00’s).

  4. Bishop Johnson
    June 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm — Reply

    why are people so proud of being desparate fo attention

    • Matthew_Bailey
      June 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm — Reply

      Wrong question.

      But obviously one that is pertinent in hindsight.

      About nine years ago I wrote a paper about that, and several of my professors at school (I returned to college when I was in my late-40s at UCLA) have suggested that I explore the question further, as they too are very intrigued by the Goth Subculture. It is a very unique phenomenon as subcultures go, only rivaled by the 1960’s hippy culture in terms of the fear it engendered in the mainstream culture.

  5. June 10, 2015 at 1:04 am — Reply

    Ah yes, I remember those days well…the mid- to late ’80s at least, in L.A. …it was one thing for me as a mod to bust out with my parka in 90-degree weather, but I had to hand it to the death rockers (glad you mentioned that term, btw) for their passion and commitment to make every L.A. day fade to grey in their leather and lace get-ups. Heh, how they managed to remain as pallid and pale on L.A.’s sun-kissed Westside is beyond me, but that was the beauty of L.A.’s youth subcultures in the ’80s…we made it work, no matter what. Thanks for sharing…I’ve really been missing those days lately.

  6. June 9, 2015 at 5:21 pm — Reply

    I used to shop at Retail Slut!

  7. June 9, 2015 at 4:56 pm — Reply

    Nicky Olivio this so reminded me of you!

    • June 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm — Reply

      omg yes <3 this post kind of made my whole day

  8. June 9, 2015 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    Spotted a young Al Jourgensen

  9. June 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm — Reply

    Benjamin Carlson

  10. Criado
    June 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    Al Jourgensen of Ministry is sprinkled in there haha

  11. June 9, 2015 at 12:36 pm — Reply

    Kia Alice Groom all day

  12. June 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm — Reply


  13. June 9, 2015 at 11:46 am — Reply

    Hair like the Hindenburg. Good times.

  14. June 9, 2015 at 11:43 am — Reply

    Luiza Cravo

  15. June 9, 2015 at 10:38 am — Reply

    I recognize some of those faces…

  16. June 9, 2015 at 10:13 am — Reply

    Esther Duguay

  17. June 9, 2015 at 9:29 am — Reply


  18. June 9, 2015 at 9:13 am — Reply

    Fabián Salazar

  19. Emerson Penerari
    June 9, 2015 at 8:59 am — Reply

    About the author of the post: “He terrorized the streets of the West Side as a young Suicidal Boy”.. well, if he was a Suicidal Boy and stay alive today, maybe somethig go wrong… suicidal boys are dead now. or it’s just to claim their parent’s atention. Loser.

  20. June 9, 2015 at 8:55 am — Reply

    So much awesome style back then…I love looking at these!

  21. June 9, 2015 at 8:38 am — Reply

    One of the pics is actually a Ministry promo pic of Al Jourgensen.

  22. June 9, 2015 at 8:07 am — Reply

    Ari Ferrari

  23. June 9, 2015 at 8:06 am — Reply

    Alejandra Reuhel

  24. June 9, 2015 at 7:42 am — Reply

    Kevin LoBiondo

  25. June 9, 2015 at 7:34 am — Reply

    Kelly Walsh

  26. June 9, 2015 at 7:12 am — Reply

    Fabiola mazoia

  27. June 9, 2015 at 7:06 am — Reply

    i miss the creativity that went into these looks back then. and the big hair. some real hotties in these pics.:)

  28. June 9, 2015 at 6:50 am — Reply

    Vana Vaninha

  29. June 9, 2015 at 6:42 am — Reply

    These are the kids who used to hang out at Knotts after dark.

  30. June 9, 2015 at 6:36 am — Reply

    Pre Hot Topic!

    • Matthew_Bailey
      June 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm — Reply

      The hair dye or the store? Definitely pre-store.

  31. June 9, 2015 at 6:23 am — Reply

    Marcin Cycoń

  32. June 9, 2015 at 6:17 am — Reply

    Soha Sioux

  33. June 9, 2015 at 5:58 am — Reply

    Michael A. Simms

  34. June 9, 2015 at 5:49 am — Reply

    Dayvison Possessor

  35. June 9, 2015 at 5:40 am — Reply

    I love this! The hair is over the top!

  36. June 9, 2015 at 5:05 am — Reply

    Giovanna Agrimi

  37. June 9, 2015 at 1:39 am — Reply

    Jack Strang

  38. June 9, 2015 at 1:19 am — Reply

    Alicia Sanchez

  39. June 9, 2015 at 1:15 am — Reply

    Ricky Washuk!

  40. June 9, 2015 at 1:02 am — Reply

    When it was cool, before the word.

    • June 9, 2015 at 1:30 am — Reply

      Young dudes with high tops and the toung sticking out….

  41. June 9, 2015 at 12:50 am — Reply

    Stephanie Parks

  42. June 9, 2015 at 12:50 am — Reply

    Lhûg Dae

  43. June 9, 2015 at 12:43 am — Reply

    Nick Benson 🙂

  44. June 9, 2015 at 12:26 am — Reply

    Ixchel Selvas Dorian Culebro

  45. June 9, 2015 at 12:23 am — Reply

    J.c. Robinson get in here.

  46. June 9, 2015 at 12:14 am — Reply


  47. June 9, 2015 at 12:12 am — Reply
  48. June 9, 2015 at 12:08 am — Reply

    Fotos chingonas de los 80’s :3

  49. June 9, 2015 at 12:08 am — Reply

    Thanks for somewhat covering or at least mentioning this genre… nobody else does.

  50. June 9, 2015 at 12:03 am — Reply

    Tracy Wilson

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *