The BDSM and Gothic/Industrial communities share a considerable overlap. Upon your first visit to a Goth/Industrial club, you may think you took a wrong turn and ended up at an S&M parlor. Fetish clothing, rubber, black leather, PVC, corsets, high heels, spiked collars is enormously popular among both Goths and Industrials. Both BDSMers and Gothic/Industrial types share interests in tattooing, piercing and body modifications. Should you be at a private Goth/Industrial party, you may even see bondage play going on in a discreet corner... or in the living room!

This is not surprising. At heart, Industrial philosophy is about determining your limits, then transgressing them. Things which appear ugly, discordant, or disgusting are recast and made beautiful and appealing. This fits in nicely with the BDSM idea of transmogrifying pain, humiliation, restraint and subjugation into erotic play. While less concerned with transgression and pain than Industrials, Goths are enamored of decadence and hedonism. This ensures a large cast of rapt and enthusiastic Goth players for kinky sexual practices like bondage and sadomasochism.

Anne Rice's influence cannot be denied. The open SM imagery in her Vampire Chronicles and other work has certainly helped make bondage more fashionable in the Goth community. While Rice's influence on the Goth scene has not been entirely positive (Hi, my name is Lestat, I'm a 350-year old vampire and I live in my parents' basement), it's safe to say that she's broadened the erotic horizons of a generation of Goths, and inextricably linked sadomasochism and vampirism for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the Gothic movement is, at its heart, fetishistic. The trappings of death gravestones, flowers, crosses become erotic stimuli. Negative emotions like melancholy, sadness and rage are transformed into sexually appealing poses. Goths of both sexes wear makeup to get that pale-skinned, sunken-eyed tubercular look Edgar Allen Poe loved so much. To a great extent, being Goth is about affecting a pose and playing a role; BDSM merely allows Goths to extend their role-playing from their daily lives and club events into their bedrooms.

Commentary by Kevin Filan, Saturday, May 30, 1998.

Illustration by Kurt Komoda