With great reluctance Hollywood resident John Lundin removed himself from the goth music scene nearly a dozen years ago. He was 33 years old at the time and growing a bit long in the tooth to be hanging out with a crowd of death-worshiping dilettantes half his age. "You just grow out of things," Lundin says philosophically. "Your life changes. You get old. But I still loved [goth]."
Lundin is in the audio-visual business. His job basically entails setting up equipment for corporate meetings and such at a large hotel. Occasionally, on his own time, he indulges his yen for filmmaking. His latest project is a 22-and-a-half-minute documentary film called Gothic that will soon air on WAMI-TV (Channel 69)'s late-night Local Showcase series, as well as on fellow USA Broadcasting subsidiary stations in Los Angeles and Atlanta.
From such promising beginnings, Lundin envisions an expanded version of Gothic available in select record and video stores all over the country. In his wildest dreams, he sees himself at the vanguard of a nationwide -- perhaps worldwide -- goth explosion that will reap untold dollars and hip cachet to burn. "The vampire ethic, Renaissance clothing, blood, fear -- none of it's been exploited by mainstream media yet," he figures. Obviously the situation calls for a man of grand vision, and when 45-year-old John Lundin peers in the looking glass, he sees just that man.
As the rains and winds of Hurricane Irene battered the eastern coast of Florida last month, Lundin packed up his video camera and headed for a couple goth hot spots. On the 14th he hit a club in South Beach called Zanzibar (known on its goth nights as the Kitchen). Two nights later he was in the dark confines of Pompano Beach's Manray South (known on its goth nights as Sin). With the camera rolling at each club, Lundin induced several young goth addicts to hold a microphone and talk about the scene. In Gothic we see the edited fruits of his labor:
Annoying male punk with spiked blond hair and black threads: "I think I'm better than a lot of people in this world because most people just piss me off and I really don't like them."
A female, magenta hair, black threads: "The music has always inspired me because it's dark. It makes me creative. Depression makes for great art."
Another male, older and sunnier than the first, black threads: "What we like about goth is how diverse we are. We dress in black. We're not all bad; we're all good."
His giddy female friend: "We're not all Trench Coat Mafia. We have feelings."
Interspersed among these fascinating snippets of dialogue are goth kids dancing in slow motion and two hosts who read spooky passages from old books and endeavor to explain the basic historical origins of the goth movement. One host is male, the other female. Lundin is designing toy figurines in their likenesses to sell to the masses. T-shirts, as well, will soon be available. "There's a void right now," Lundin explains. "There's nothing culturally for kids to rebel against. Every generation needs something to focus its rebellion on." The Calibrator regrets that he failed to probe Lundin for a plausible linkage between cultural rebellion and toy figurines.
For Lundin, a one-shot pilot deal on Local Showcase and a couple other regional stations is relatively small potatoes. He thinks it would be a fine thing if WAMI turned Gothic into a weekly series. He thinks it would be an even finer thing if his abiding affection for goth culture somehow made him a wealthy man. The Calibrator thinks it would be the finest thing of all if Lundin brought something greater than silly toys and T-shirts to America's next great youth rebellion.
Michael Bianco's five-night-a-week, five-and-a-half year run as the house entertainer at the Now Art Café in Young Circle in Hollywood has ended on a dour note. Bianco, best known as a master of the Chapman stick -- a ten-stringed instrument that sounds somewhat like a harp -- and for his ability to play two guitars at once, reportedly directed some unsavory epithets at Now Art owner Angel Spence during his final performance a couple of Fridays ago.
A source who wishes to remain anonymous told this gossip-mongering measuring device that Bianco was angered when his payday for the evening amounted to a paltry $35. Bianco will neither confirm nor deny the allegation. For her part Spence thinks Bianco was upset about "a misunderstanding during a two-minute conversation we had earlier in the evening" that had nothing to do with money. In any event, as this issue goes to press, the two main actors in this unfortunate little drama have not spoken to one another since the incident occurred.
According to both parties, Bianco's financial arrangement with Now Art never changed from the day he began to the day he quit: He received $1 from each customer for every set he played. A couple years ago, Bianco says, just after he released a self-titled disc of New-Age ditties (recorded live at Now Art, no less), that arrangement could add up to as much as a few hundred dollars on any given weekend night. He estimates the clientele at Now Art has been reduced by at least half since those peak days. And that, of course, means his own take from the café had likewise been sliced in half. "I tried to work out deals at particular times [with Spence]," Bianco says, "and she would say, 'No, we have to stick to our original deal.'"
Spence says she and Bianco never discussed restructuring their financial arrangement. Otherwise she can sympathize with the plight of her former house troubadour. The downtown Hollywood renaissance, she says, is definitely over. Her business is ailing. Others on Young Circle are struggling. Money is tight everywhere. What can she say other than that she never laid a finger on what rightfully belonged to Bianco? "There's no way I'm ever going to replace Michael," she says. "This place was molded around him."
Send warm thoughts and a dozen blooming orchids to Calibrations, P.O. Box 14128, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33302 or e-mail to David_Pulizzi@newtimesbpb.com.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.