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Diary of a Middle-Aged Vampire Goth

November 24, 2002|Susan Salter Reynolds | Susan Salter Reynolds' last story for the magazine was a profile of Max Kennedy.

It's not that you don't love your family anymore. It's not that you're not grateful for the roof over your head and the salary and the dependable car. But one day it occurs to you that your life is essentially over.

You are now fertilizer for the next generation. You are not as pretty as you used to be or as open or as agile or as interesting. You will no longer have passionate escapades or romantic encounters. Any money you used to spend on clothes will go to your children's wardrobe.

It's just a moment, a little whoosh of air, as your spirit leaves your body.

At this point there are several choices for women of a certain age: Take a class, join a something or other, start speaking to deities, work on the house. An affair usually requires more self-esteem than you have at this moment.

This is where I began the year. I needed an escape, but most of them are marked with a big skull and crossbones. Alcohol makes you fat. Marijuana makes you slow-witted, and besides, my husband is a lawyer who wants to be a judge someday; blatantly illegal escapes are out of the question.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 28, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 80 words Type of Material: Correction
Milne poem -- In "Diary of a Middle-Aged Vampire Goth" in Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine, the title of the partially quoted poem by A.A. Milne was incorrect. It is "Disobedience," not "James Morrison's Mother."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday December 15, 2002 Home Edition Los Angeles Times Magazine Part I Page 4 Lat Magazine Desk 0 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
In "Diary of a Middle-Aged Vampire Goth" (Nov. 24), the title of the partially quoted poem by A.A. Milne was misidentified. It is "Disobedience," not "James Morrison's Mother."

Los Angeles came to my rescue. It was Halloween, and some children from my son's school were coming over. Most of the parents didn't dress up, but one couple, Lohriena and J.D., looked awfully comfortable in their vampire costumes. ''We dress this way all the time,'' said one of the school's best PTA moms. When she smiled, you could see her custom-made fangs gleaming.

Lohriena wore a corset and a cape. J.D., who looks like Jesus Christ, wore a singlet and a long wool coat. They looked as if they were going to a party in London in 1848. I must have looked stifled--or perhaps it was my witch costume. ''You look like you could use a little absinthe,'' said J.D., who is prone to touching and squeezing and hugging.

I saw a door opening in my soul. On it was a sign with a skull and crossbones.

Absinthe was popular in Victorian England, especially among members of a group that called themselves vampire Goths. In 21st century Los Angeles, the term ''Goth'' usually conjures an image of scruffy black-clad people who listen to heavy metal and stray into various fetishes. They are usually young. But J.D. and Lohriena explained that vampire Goths are usually middle-aged. They meet in clubs; in fact J.D. and Lohriena run one called Club Noire on La Cienega Boulevard that is open every other Saturday night.

The vampire Goths of Los Angeles are a close, friendly group. They dress up like crazy and fuss and coo over each other's clothes. They drink absinthe (banned in the U.S. since 1912 but making a comeback on the Internet and in underground clubs) and something called "embalming fluid"--a mix of rum, melon liqueur, vodka and gin. They smoke tobacco in hookahs. Frequently, there is a sadomasochistic component to their gatherings--a show, or a room where you can go to watch people being flogged or tied up. I'm sure that it can get very dangerous, but to me it looked like theater.

''Are you just in?'' a contract lawyer asks me during a Goth gathering at Club Makeup at the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard. He is wearing leather pants and a pirate shirt, and I'm sure he's alluding to my tame dress (although I thought it was outrageous when I first tried it on). Some of the vampires are here tonight, but the crowd also includes men and women on leashes and the hollow-eyed, chain-wrapped denizens of Melrose Avenue. The vampires stick together, and I hang with the vampires.

I arrive at Club Makeup courtesy of Lohriena, who calls herself Lady L., and J.D. By day, he is an actor. Lady L. would rather not say where she works, but she will admit that she ''fell in love with the 'Addams Family' when I was a little kid.'' J.D. fell in love with Lohriena when they met at Bar Sinister in Hollywood--our next stop.

Lohriena wears a corset, a favorite among the vampires, and her black cape. Both she and J.D. have fingers covered with rings and long, curved talons (''hell on nylons''); their attire includes custom-made fangs and yellow-green contact lenses. J.D. and Lady L. know many people at both places (at Club Makeup we are brought magically to the front of a line that snakes around the block), and we are greeted with enthusiasm. These people don't air kiss. They hug you by lifting you off the ground until your teeth rattle. I like all the touching. No one ever touches at our dinner parties.

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