black alice

“So Goth, I Was BORN Black”

How Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Spearheaded the Goth Music Movement

In the recording studios of OKeh, a man, simply named Jay, walked in with a team of musicians, with the intention to record a heart-wrenching love ballad, filled with mourning. What resulted however, would shake up the music industry forever. Just after Halloween, the chill of one drunken, November evening in 1956 brought us one of the most iconic, perplexing, and somewhat horrifying pieces of music ever recorded. This was how “I Put A Spell On You” was born.

Prior to the inception of the 50s classic, Hollywood was already being re-infected by the Horror bug. The invention of Vampira, the popularity of American actor Vincent Price, and the rise of B-movie Horror flicks cemented a public love for the macabre, as established in the 30s, with Universal Studios’ Dracula, and Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were monster legends on the silver screen. Vampira, the queen of the television screen. But no one was making waves in the music scene to inject this beloved aesthetic into sound. How Jay Hawkins’ “Spell” was born was a complete accident, but those around him knew they had something special on their hands, from the moment they heard Hawkins’ vocal delivery.

The rare, original recording of “I Put a Spell on You” (now available on YouTube), was a simple, sad blues tune, that may or may not have entered the public’s consciousness had it been released as is. This version was recorded for Grand Records, in late 1955. Nearly a year passes, and Jay chooses to re-record it for OKeh Records, this time with producer Arnold Maxin on board. The story goes, Maxin brought in food and drink (plenty of drink) for Jay and his musicians, turning the session into an evening of inebriated music making.

“[The producer] brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version … I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.” -Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Thus, the “Spell” was complete, and in November of 1956, OKeh Records released “I Put a Spell on You”, under his new artist name, “Screamin’” Jay Hawkins. No records prior bear the moniker “Screamin’” in front of his name (see: Discogs).

Alan Freed, a Cleveland disc jockey, approached Hawkins about playing up his image, to draw the most out of this newfound success, including the wild idea of rising up out of a coffin for one of his performances. The rest, as they say, was history. Combining the aesthetic of Vincent Price (and coincidently his mustache), and an aura of Haitian voodooism, his act was born. He became the subject of mass media attention in the 50s, side by side with the best of the Horror scene. He was one of them; taking the derogatory “spook”, and turning it on its head—reclaimed, and turned into profit.

What Screamin’ Jay Hawkins created is what we now associate today with Shock Rock. The main features being his vocal delivery, his wardrobe, and props used on the stage to give macabre effects. With the 1960s came the first wave of Shock Rockers, directly influenced by the path Hawkins had carved out for them. Screaming Lord Sutch, of out London, used British Horror imagery, such as the legend of Jack the Ripper, to form his artist identity. Arthur Brown, who has covered Hawkins’ hit, wore corpse paint, and wore a flaming helmet upon his head in live performances. The Spiders, Alice Cooper’s original band name (1964-1967), performed with a huge, black spider’s web as their first ever stage prop. In the 70s, The Cramps, notable Gothabilly band, also claimed influence by Hawkins. And with these acts introduce a long line of Goth Rock history, that may not sound alike at times, but all descend from the same tree.

Kissing Styles...

James Potter: Very… very eager, but trying really… really hard to restrain himself. Knows how to do fun things with his tongue… has had a lot of practice. All in all… he’s what people like to describe as “fun”… 8/10 

Sirius Black: Knows how to adapt. Can pretty much match anyone’s kissing style, but likes deep, intense kissing the most… Also likes biting and hickeys. As talented as he is pretty. Down for basically anything… An enjoyable experience all the way around. 11/10

Remus Lupin: Nervous. Starts off slow… then kisses like it’s the last time he’ll ever kiss someone because he always feels like it’s the last time anyone will ever want to kiss him… 6/10 when he’s nervous… 9/10 when he relaxes and let’s go. 

Peter Pettigrew: Sweats a lot… too much tongue… 4/10  

Lily Evans: Expert kisser, knows her shit… at least as far as technicalities go… but lacks spontaneity. Get’s flustered when she doesn’t see something coming like James’ tongue tricks… also gets distracted easily (”SHIT! That’s due tomorrow!”)… Overall, needs some work. 6.5/10

Frank Longbottom: Handles you like you’re made of glass… very gentle… very sweet… enjoys kissing the spot just beneath your ear. Hates biting because he’s worried he’ll hurt you. Often stops to stare or chat. Worships the ground you walk on… 8/10 for kissing… 20/10 for making you feel like a goddess. 

Alice Longbottom: Kinky as fuck. 9/10

Dorcas Meadowes: Kinkier than fuck. Kisses like she owns your ass. Also hella gay. 10/10

Marlene McKinnon: Also also hella gay… less kinky. Uses a lot of tongue… but does it right. 9/10 

Mary Macdonald: Mary sue to the max… every kiss is like a reenactment of “The Notebook”. Disney-esque. 7/10

Regulus Black: Untrusting. Tends to panic if things go too quick… or too slow… or not exactly how he planned it. Perfectionist… and a bit of a control freak… doesn’t really know how to adapt to other kissing styles. 4.5/10

Narcissa Malfoy: Reserved… until between the sheets, then she will eat you alive. Mother fucking queen. Savage. Always tops. 10/10

Lucius Malfoy: Fun to look at… Terrible kisser. -5 stars. Two thumbs way down… would not recommend…. 0/10……………. alright… 2/10 for being pretty… Also… submissive af.  

Bellatrix Lestrange: Will rip your goddam lip off. 0/10…. unless you’re into that.

Fenrir Greyback: Will rip your goddam head off. -54/10

Severus Snape: Ew. 

If you liked Netflix’s Stranger Things, here are some podcasts you might enjoy:
  • Welcome to Night Vale (the community news of a small city in the American Southwest where all conspiracy theories are true and a part of every day life; BONUS - canon interracial gay couple as the main couple)
  • The Message (70-year-old message from outer space, cryptology, things are not as they seem)
  • Limetown (everyone in small town disappears and no one knows what happened to them; follow an intrepid journalist as she investigates)
  • The Black Tapes (sister show to TANIS; demons, investigation into the unexplainable, asshole Alpha Skeptic, and the journalist who tries to sort this all out)
  • TANIS (sister show to The Black Tapes; conspiracy, truth, and the investigation of what Tanis really is, plus an “information specialist” named Meerkatnip)
  • Archive 81 (found footage audio series where nothing is quite as it seems and there’s a building that isn’t exactly right)
  • Alice Isn’t Dead (from the people behind WtNV, a truck driver tries to find her missing wife and she runs into a lot of conspiracies along the way)
  • Within the Wires (again, from the people who brought you WtNV, instructional audio guides that slowly reveal a personal story and the revelation that the world the podcast is set in is that great)
  • The Bright Session (imagine what it would be like if the X-Men went to therapy)
  • The Behemoth (a girl and her monster walk across America)
  • Wolf 359 (the absurd misadventures of a small band of eccentric characters on board the Hephaestus Station in orbit around the dwarf star, Wolf 359, where it’s all fun and games until it’s not and the Blessed Eternal just wants a night light)

i’ve been getting a lot of messages lately (and unsurprisingly, considering how unrepentantly i’ve been reblogging stuff from them) from followers asking me for podcast recommendations - and i love getting those so thank you, guys! - and i thought i’d make a masterpost of what i’ve both a) finished and b) enjoyed since i’ve started bingeing them.  and, as an extra added bonus, what has canonical lgbt+ representation (since i know what you guys are into [waggles eyebrows]).

1. the bright sessions

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is definitely the first podcast that i’ve fallen in love with as hard as my original gateway podcast: welcome to night vale.  it’s so well-written, the characters well-drawn, the premise fascinating - atypicals, or people with some sort of special ability, in therapy - and it’s such a positive story and experience that i can’t help but feel better on days i listen to it.  it really believes in humanity and that’s such a wonderful thing in this day and age.  plus, the voice acting is killer.

2. eos 10

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i don’t think it’s been officially confirmed that dr. dalias is, at the very least, bisexual (in fact, the official channels seem to be dancing around it, possibly so as not to spoil anything in the upcoming season), though it’s been hinted at plenty in story.  especially as i don’t know how else you can explain a supposedly “straight” male character getting called out on repeatedly thinking about a naked man during a group mind-link experience.  that aside, it is freaking hilarious.  the premise is doctors in space, one formerly drug-addicted doctor helping to stabilize a currently alcoholic one with amazing side characters including nurse jane johns and levi, a hypochondriac alien and deposed prince who seems to have a personal vendetta against wearing pants.  it’s well-acted, cleverly written and a freaking joy to listen too.  so funny and so smart, i can’t recommend it enough!

3. the penumbra podcast

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  so much queer representation it’s bananas.  this ask the creators got is actually pretty representative of their approach to the show, slyly funny and very gay.  our main character is a genderbending queer private investigator who’s lost his heart head over a sweet-smelling thief with a heart of gold and more aliases than jennifer garner, all set against a noir backdrop.  oh, and on mars.  yeah, you read all of that right.  there are a few awesome side stories as well, including a couple of horror ones (that have no effect on the main juno steel story line, so can be skipped - and the creators are VERY GOOD about warning what’s to come in the episode notes), as well as lesbian outlaws and a disabled knight.  there’s literally nothing not to love.  EXCEPT FOR HOW JUNO STEEL WON’T LET HIMSELF HAVE NICE THINGS.

4. the black tapes

hey, hi, if you’re into horror, suspense, creepery or demons, this is so very much for you.  the premise is that alex reagan, our host, begins a podcast to interview people with interesting professions.  she starts out with dr. richard strand, a paranormal investigator whose mission statement is to debunk all things paranormal.  he even has an institute that offers a one million dollar prize for proof of the paranormal, which he has never even come close to having to part with.  while alex is interviewing him, she comes across a handful of black vhs tapes: the only cases that strand hasn’t been able to definitively solve yet.  the technology to disprove these incidents simply hasn’t come far enough, in his opinion.  needless to say, she never moves on from dr. strand and the mystery of the black tapes.  each episode, alex investigates another of the black tapes and much later on realizes it’s possible that they’re all connected.  oh my god, i almost got chills just writing that, it’s so good, it’s so real, because dr. strand is such a good anchor to reality.  alex will occasionally lose her skeptic’s perspective; dr. strand does not.  and once alex starts experiencing intense insomnia, making you realize your narrator might not be so reliable?  things somehow manage to get even murkier.  i really, really adored this one.  it’s paranormal set in the most normal of normal worlds, only making it that much spookier.

5. wooden overcoats

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  okay, well, if you’ve ever watched black books?  this is kind of like black books, aka one of my all-time favorite shows.  rudyard funn is just as incapable and universally disliked as bernard black, which was all well and good when the village of piffling vale (which is very nearly a town, you know!) only had one funeral home to choose from.  unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore.  eric chapman has moved his funeral home right across the street and stolen all the business from rudyard, his embalmer (cum part-owner) and twin sister, antigone, and georgie, their assistant.  to add insult to injury, he’s charming and universally adored by everyone except those at funn funerals.  very british, very ridiculous, and very funny!  WE GET THE BODY IN THE COFFIN IN THE GROUND ON TIME.  (well, like that one time they did.  [coughs])

6. ars pardoxica

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i listened to this one pretty slowly, for me.  it’s very much plot over character, at least in my opinion.  which is fair since there’s quite a lot of plot and set dressing to establish.  we’re following (dr.) sally grissom, a scientist from the twenty-first century who accidentally creates time travel and ends up stuck back in the 1940s.  think a bombs and eisenhower.  it was always interesting, and the paradoxes created by the time travel experiments they kept doing were fascinating (i love time travel stuff because of the paradoxes it creates) but i didn’t get really ravenous for it until season two, which is when i really felt it picked up speed.  you’ve got anthony stuck in a literal CAGE - a “blackroom” bubble set outside of time, sally trying to garden (oh god), a gang consisting of a veteran, a (former) widow and time doubles trying to bring down ODAR (the company sally used to work for, and that anthony still does) and esther sliding down the ladder of morally unsound one determined rung at a time and it makes for a REALLY grabbing audio drama, eh?

7. the strange case of starship iris

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i’m already in love with violet liu, all right?  she’s a science officer on starship iris–well, what was starship iris.  when we first join violet, every single one of her crew mates has just died in an explosion on the pod they were traveling off ship with and the starship iris is in its last throes as well.  luckily(?) a passing ship comes along with a plan to get her to safety.  this has a real illuminae vibe to it (which is an amazing book btw) and all the characters are already so freaking likable.  it’s only on episode two and already shaping up to be a favorite!

8. the orbiting human circus (of the air)

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  if there’s a more heart-warming podcast out there, then i haven’t run across it yet.  first of all, julian koster’s voice is so vulnerable and soft that i would use myself and everyone i know and also puppies as a shield against everything terrible in the universe for him.  second, the rest of the cast - leticia especially - is just as freaking talented.  the premise is that julian is the janitor at a radio show that broadcasts from the top of the eiffel tower and has strange and impossible acts every night, from tale-telling crickets to singing saws to the orkestral, a bird that can play every orchestral instrument (except that it refuses to play the viola, because reasons).  it’s fun and cute and breaks your heart with happiness regularly and often!

9. alice isn’t dead

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is a horror podcast about a truck driver who is looking for her missing wife.  jasika nicole has to have one of my favorite voices around and having it be so heavily dependent on that makes me ridiculously happy.  throw in the story-telling of joseph fink, the depth and cohesiveness of his writing, and there is nothing not to love here.

10. within the wires

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is really sufficiently creepy considering it’s not often overtly creepy.  this is set up as a series of relaxation tapes, which progressively get more and more interested in helping the listener break out of the facility in which she’s being kept.  super chilling at times, because the voice is so calm and the action so dangerous.

11. welcome to night vale

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  okay, well, what more can be said about this at this point?  if you’re not listening to it, you’re wrong.  why wouldn’t you want to visit a town that can’t be visited and where every conspiracy theory is real and a part of everyday life?  yeah, everyone knows about the vague yet menacing government agency, steve carlsberg, you’re not hitting on anything new there.  there’s a dog park that doesn’t allow dogs, angels that are never to be identified as angels, mountains that aren’t real, a glow cloud that–ALL HAIL and a love story so complete and perfect that it can and will utterly steal your breath at times.  go, listen, inhale.