CANTANKEROUS

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Wow. What a day. A not at all good day. These fabulously cantankerous pins from Wormwood & Rue, however, are very, very good, and arrived just in time to tell you about my current feels.

TiCK Kickstarter

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Photographer and filmmaker Ashlea Wessel (Ink) has teamed up with award-winning director Kevin Burke (24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters) for a new project they describe as a “live-action horror/sci-fi short exploring North American colonial relations in a post-pandemic age. With Vampires.”

Currently on Kickstarter with a goal of only $15K, TiCK is the “heartbreaking, blood-soaked, pulse pounding story of a young girl finding her strength in the face of shame, fear and adversity”, that takes you through a fractured, post-pandemic society, after vampirism begins to appear in a small subset of the population. We follow one such girl, Nishiime, who lives in hiding from the organization who kidnapped and enslaved her family.

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I got a bit of the scoop from Ashlea Wessel with regard to the film’s origins, and story concept…

“I’ve revisited the history of North American Colonization quite a bit of late, and I realized that there was so much that we weren’t taught in school or that was fully whitewashed. I think that because of that (among other things), people don’t understand what a huge problem there is in North America for the indigenous population and how colonialism is till alive and well. I thought of a future North America when many people believe that they are in a post-colonial, egalitarian society, but when a pandemic hits, they realize how wrong they had been. This is the basis for the world in which the story unfolds. I also love the idea that disease is what brings the power shift, much in the opposite way that it did in the early days of North America.”

Ashlea also shares with us some personal revelations with regard to Nishiimee, the main character…

“..her journey is almost a coming-of-age story, albeit a brutal one. Though she looks like a child throughout the film, for much of it, she’s actually an adult. She lives in a suspended state of childhood, afraid and ashamed and not realizing her own power until the end. I have this very weird connection to my childhood full of guilt for things that are absolutely ridiculous, that I had no power over, and I feel like Nishiime is a manifestation of that.”

And finally, she enthusiastically spoke to some of TiCk’s inspirations…

“Blood! When I got the idea for this film, and I realized I wanted it to be a vampire film, I was immediately filled with glee because I had an excuse to do scenes that are just DRENCHED in blood. Beautiful, full-tilt slow-motion, glorious blood. I’m giddy just thinking about it.”

There are some really neat backer rewards offered right now (that pink balacava!) so drop by the TiCK kickstarter site and give generously in exchange for some fantastic perks, and to ensure this sci-fi/horror gem gets made!

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Looming Spectres, Lurking Shades: The Art of Becky Munich

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(Back in 2016 I got to interview my favorite artist in all the world, and dear sweet friend, Becky Munich. I am re-posting the feature today because I love it just that much.)

It’s the rare well-dressed, bloody-faced siren that causes my jaw to drop to the floor and exclaim, breathlessly: “I want to wear what that vengeful ghost is wearing!”

Becky Munich’s gruesome muses, both beautiful and grotesque, evoke that very reaction– and more. On the surface these sinister, ethereal wraiths simultaneously menace and beguile, but in a strange and playful twist, there’s sly and creepy-clever mischief to be found in the details. Whether it’s a lone eyeball spinning lazily in a bare skull, a duo of ghouls gossiping idly, or a grim-faced Medusa in a party hat looking both threatening and eager for the fun to begin, one gets the feeling that Munich takes her spooky business quite seriously whilst winking at us playfully at the same time.

I recently spoke with Becky Munich about her passion for the femme fatale, the beautiful and the monstrous, and being kissed by darkness. See below for our interview with this enigmatic artist and stroll with us for awhile amongst the shadows, with Becky Munich’s looming spectres and lurking shades.

RAGE

Has art always been a passion? Tell us a little bit about your artistic background.

Becky Munich: Art has always been a part of my life, even at a very young age. I hoarded my coloring books, hating to share with other children who would wear down my crayons to nubs. My mom worked at an office, and I still remember my excitement when she would bring me interoffice envelopes filled with pristine letter-sized Xerox paper. I was like a troll with gold, keeping this paper boon to myself. I would even steal my teenage aunts’ Bambú rolling papers to doodle on, much to their annoyance, ha!

By the time I entered seventh grade, I knew I had to attend the High School of Art and Design. I had an art teacher who helped me develop my portfolio, and I was accepted into the program. If anything, my high school years exploded my brain: visiting museums, galleries, seeing art house films. Growing up in New York was the best education to go in hand with what I was learning formally. It was natural that my next step would be to attend college in my home state as well. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been so passionate and focused at an early age to pursue art and live in an environment that fed this goal!

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Your work heavily features the monstrous feminine; ghosts, demons, and all manner of she-devils seduce and threaten us from the page, sometimes, I think, simultaneously! It’s clear that you have a love for horror and strange, unearthly beauty; I would love to hear about your influences in this vein, and how they inform your work.

Both my parents worked full-time jobs, so my extended family would babysit me during the day. I was surrounded by the women in my family, all of different ages, attitudes, both scary and loving in their own ways. I was free to read and watch whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t get into too much trouble. I was told the strangest stories as a kid: about a babysitter so vain the children in her care all died, women who were dragons, dragon-women kidnapping princesses to lure the knights they were ruthlessly in love with, cautionary tales about bargaining with the devil. Added to this, one aunt would let my cousin and I pick any movie to watch after school from the local video rental place. I would pick the goriest, scariest, or most fantastical VHS box I could find. This is how I saw In the Company of WolvesExcaliburThe Wicker Man, etc.

I was allowed to stay up late on the weekends and would watch any Hammer films showing. I would then go to the library looking for books in this vein: mythology, horror, sci-fi, fantasy. My mom even bought me my first comic books! What I learned from consuming all of this is that I found the femme fatales–the woman wronged, the witch, the beauty hiding the monster within–to resonate with me. Here was my muse, she who is kissed by the darkness and more than what she seems.

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I also get the feeling–just from a tilt of the eye or a playful curve of the lip, or well, a spooky witch in a tiny hat–that they/you are having a bit of fun with us? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Oh, yes, anytime I can I want to imbue my ladies with a sense that they are in on the joke or plan, and you’ll never guess what it is. No matter in what physical state you see them, they are not victims of the darkness they inhabit. Even if they seem passive, I want the viewer to be uncomfortable, and question the nature of the scenario. I often aim for a disturbed and dangerous quality, to hint at a backstory that isn’t fully explained. Here is where there can be a bit of an interactive quality to the illustrations, giving room for the viewer to ponder on what has happened, and come up with their own stories. All of this feeds into the life of the drawing, gives it more power.

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Your ghastly ladies are usually gowned in dark, elegant clothing–they’re very fashionable creatures! Can you talk about how fashion influences your art and from where you draw your inspirations?

I have always loved fashion, and originally intended to study to be a fashion illustrator. I would even draw clothes as a kid, so my mom would take pity and take me shopping for the outfits I imagined. By the age of eight or nine, I was aware of Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Yves Saint Laurent. This was due in part to my mom bringing home fashion magazines (like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar) watching shows like Dynasty (where fashion often took center stage), and reading trashy paperbacks by Jackie Collins, because, again, I had complete freedom to consume all types of entertainment.

By the time I entered college, I had more income and access to buy foreign fashion mags. Clothing and accessories are the armor for my dark ladies, and secretly manifest my desire for the haute couture fashion that my wallet can’t afford. To this day, my reference file is filled with photos of beautiful fashion editorials, and the muses in my head go “shopping.” Seeing photos of Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen’s fineries set fire to my hand to start drawing. Also, the clothes and accessories help to suggest more of the backstory of my dark damsels.

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Oftentimes the subjects in your illustrations and paintings are bleeding, whether from the eyes or or nose or mouth–can you speak to the significance of blood in your art?

I’m probably going to come across as a cliché, but to be completely honest, I was traumatized when I started menstruating. Puberty hit me early, and I had my first period when I was a ten-year-old. I felt like my body betrayed me; I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Also, bleeding when I lost my virginity and the discomfort associated with the act the first time (though I was warned), was a milestone. In some ways I’m trying to make peace with all the blood loss, reclaim it for myself and what it means to me personally.

There’s so much symbolism and power to the red stuff that I want to use it as a sign of strength. Add to this mix the fact that I was raised Catholic, and it heightens this all to include ritual and otherworldly flavors. Exposed blood for my women is a show of power and the threat of a weapon. It could be your salvation or death. They are fountains overflowing with life and destruction. Even when my ladies are dismembered, opened, or parts severed, I want the viewer to be wary, and wonder if that is her blood, or someone else’s we can’t see in the picture?

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Tell us about your creative space. What is life like in your studio? Do you set aside a specific time to create or is your muse on full-time? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence as you create?

Since I live in New York in a small apartment, my dining room table doubles as my work space. My entire apartment is basically my studio. I’m surrounded by the works of other artists I admire, stacks of books, animal bones, all matter of knick knacks, and my cat. I work a full-time gig as a graphic designer in publishing, so I make it a point to fit art time in at night and on the weekends. I always carry a sketchbook in my bag, so I can draw during my long commute home, or when inspiration strikes. There are often times when an idea is “marinating” in the back of my brain all day till I can get home to work. There’s always music, regardless if I’m designing or illustrating. Music is essential and puts me in a creative meditative state. On my regular playlist you’ll find the soundtrack to Blade Runner, Jacaszek “Dare-gale,” and newer albums like Sexwitch.

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I know that you have recently designed some posters for Spectacle Theatre and have contributed to several of Heretical Sexts publications — where can one see more of your work? 

I use Instagram as my gallery for all the personal artwork; my professional portfolio that is more design-centric is over on behance. I’ll post to Twitter as well, and share other artist’s work there too! Also, I’ve recently opened a big cartel online store to sell prints. I’m hoping to do more Spectacle Theater posters when they’re done with the renovations in early 2016. I had so much fun designing some recent film posters. They sell those on their Etsy shop.

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Can you share any upcoming projects?

I’m really fortunate to be working on some fantastic projects currently, that will carry over into early 2016! I’ll be contributing, with other artists, a few illustrations for an upcoming Heretical Sexts publication on the history and significance of gothic literature . I’m also collaborating on a T-shirt design with the band, Sabbath Assembly, that should be available for their spring 2016 tour. In between these gigs and my full-time job, I’m also collaborating on an Occult Activity Book, because who doesn’t enjoy a mad lib that might also summon a demon?

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(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active. I have edited to include current, up-to-date links.)

 

she was not made for any man

she was not made for any man from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

A new mix, full of old magics. Well, not old, but certainly not new.
The comfort of familiar, beloved sounds.
{image: Ellen Rogers}

Track List:

Familiar by Agnes Obel | Blue Crystal Fire by Arborea | Adolescence by Brown Bird | Witches by Vaginapocalypse | Strange Moon Rising by Smoke Fairies | Serpents by Sharon Van Etten | Curse The Night by The Raveonettes | Spinning Centers by Chelsea Wolfe | Crown by Myrkur | 13 Beaches by Lana Del Rey | Margo by Haroula Rose| Love by Daughter | Whispers by Ayla Nereo | Sleeping Dead by Emily Jane White | Female Vampire by Jenny Hval | Blood I Bled by The Staves | Buried Alive by Hannah Rosa | Cross Bones Style by Cat Power | What the Water Gave Me by Florence + the Machine | Wild Eyes by Mariee Sioux | Eye of the Whale by Frankenpine | Harmonica by Anna von Hausswolff

Currently {October 2017}

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It makes me very grumbly that Halloween is not an official holiday and that I actually have to preoccupy myself between the hours of 9-5 on this day with things that have nothing whatsoever to do with ghosts or monsters or candy. Who can we complain to about this?

Being old farts, my partner and I are forgoing spooky soirées (not that we’ve been invited to any tonight, come to think of it) and staying home to pass out treats, carve up pumpkins, and watch Monster Squad. Maybe drink some whiskey. I might not even wait until the last kid has rung the doorbell! We’ll see what kind of night it is.

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Speaking of soirées! I was actually invited to a Halloween party a few weeks ago, and I am shock–shocked!– to tell you that I had a fine time. I actually had fun. What! How can this be? Honestly, parties are pretty awful for me; I get anxious about a lot of things, but nothing sends me into panic attack mode faster than the thought of celebratory social interaction. I think what made this an okay experience is that I knew the hostess and had been to her home a number of times, I already knew most of the attendees in some capacity, and, well, I went with a date. Actually three! My sister, brother-in-law and partner were all there. Come to think of it, there was actually nothing to be nervous about. Huh. My costume, in case you couldn’t tell, was a skeletonwitch. Oh, what, you thought I was a panda? Are you blind or something? Unfortunately, this fabulous hat arrived after the event, but that’s fine. I’ll wear it while I’m watching Monster Squad and drunkenly carving children. Pumpkins, I mean. I’m not drinking already or anything.

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candles

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Though we’ve had some glorious weather these past few days with lower temperatures that lend to layers and cloaks and tights and cardigans, the beginning of October was pretty wretched, as this time of year tends to be. I felt sorry for myself and bought an obscene amount of autumnal candles, spooky records, and a number of haunting reads. Also some “trock or treat” socks from Korea.

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A few additions to the gallery over the past month: a lovely petite bat lady from Lady Weird and this wondrously elegant Martyred for Love sculpture by Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio

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Knits finished in the past month: all patterns by Caitlin Ffrench. A thick, cozy shawl {Mabon} from her Wheel book, and two smaller altar pieces, each finished in a day.

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Earlier in the month I spent the weekend with my best good friend in Orlando, who is moving out of state. I can’t believe she’s leaving, but we’ve been through this before. 15 or so years ago, I was the one who was leaving…and everything ended up being just fine. So, although I will miss her, I know this will just be a new phase in the adventure that is our weird and wonderful friendship. Anyway, she fixed the most amazing breakfast for me, during the course of our visit. Basically a toads in a hole slash avocado toast mashup. It may now be one of my top five favorite breakfasts.
Let me tell you about my other favorite breakfasts lately: rice with a little butter and soy sauce, topped with a runny fried egg and furikake; a “fake bagel”, which is basically a low calorie english muffin toasted and spread with laughing cow cheese, ripe tomato slices, red onion, and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, and salmon jerky. For real! Salmon jerky is amazing. Do you, like me, hate sweet breakfast offerings? Cereal, yogurt, most breakfast bars, etc.? Gah, they’re just the worst.

What are you up to this Halloween? Tricks? Treats? Napping with your cats and favorite monsters? That sounds pretty great, actually.

2017 Weenie Collection From BPAL

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YOU GUYS. It’s that time again! The most weenderful time of the year! At Haute Macabre today I share my thoughts on Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2017 Weenie collection…take a peek to find out which scent made me weepy, thinking of my dead mom; which scent is precisely perfect to wear with your next gothic romance novel ensemble, and which one made me throw up in my mouth a little (I love you forever BPAL, but there’s always that one in every collection!)

Stroll on over to Haute Macabreto take a peek, and make sure you share your favorites from this years collection–I want to hear all about the ones I didn’t get a chance to try!

Links of the Dead {October 2017}

October Shadows by William Basso

October Shadows by William Basso

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {October 2016}

💀 A 1903 Proposal to Preserve the Dead in Glass Cubes
💀 In the U.S. market for human bodies, almost anyone can dissect and sell the dead
💀 Assited Suicide – When Dying A Dignified Death Is Better Than Living, And Why
💀 The woman who cleans up after ‘lonely deaths’ in Japan
💀 Iris Schieferstein’s Death and The Maiden
💀 What to Wear at the End of Someone Else’s Life
💀 If You Love Marie Kondo, Swedish Death Cleaning May Be for You
💀 The Movement to Bury Pets Alongside People
💀 Caitlin Doughty Recommends Coffee Table Corpses
💀 12 of the Most Beautiful Cemeteries Around the World
💀 Video: see inside the Museum of London’s secret bone archive
💀 Kyrgyzstan’s bread that feeds the dead
💀 Grave concerns: Haunting tales from the ancient burial sites of Tayside and Fife
💀 The Saintliness of Undecayed Corpses

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