The first rule of being a goth is deny, deny, deny.

“I hate labels,” says Jonny Slut, whose actual surname is Melton, over a phone call on WhatsApp. “They’re not good because they restrict you.” That’s rich, coming from the accidental crowned prince of goth, but it’s understandable. The subculture is full of deniers: one must not admit to their gothiness in order to be goth (our curmudgeon bat boss Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy is one of the more vocal ones: “I’m not interested in what goths think.”) Confusing, I know.

The second rule of goth is that you absolutely must know who Slut is—and worship him—as he, alongside a few mainstays like Eldritch, are the very basis in which such exorbitant goth labels derive. If you don’t know Slut’s name, you’ve certainly seen his photo on the internet, or in books, or on goth club flyers, as he is goth’s visual blueprint. In photos, Slut’s backcombed masterpiece of a deathhawk teeters towards the sky, grounded by sharp cat eyes and even more angular deathbrows. Though it might seem less shocking now, the look was then completely his own.

Jonny Slut getting ready for one of my first visits to in 1982, at home in a bedsit on Albany St. in London, wearing one of his mum’s old tops.
Photo by Jonny Slut
How to style one of your mum's old tops, 101.

In September 1982, Slut attended a Bauhaus concert in London and, right then and there, decided to never return to his small hometown of Chatteris in Cambridgeshire. It was a pivotal year for the scene as the Batcave, goth’s most infamous club, opened its coffin doors and became the catwalk for Slut to strut his most provocative outfits. Much like Bauhaus’ frontman Peter Murphy—with his extravagant theatrics and a dark sort of dandyism onstage—Slut’s parade of rubber and feathers overtop conspicuously placed ripped fishnets stole the show.

And it didn’t take long, literally one month after moving to London, for Slut to be recruited as the synth player-cum-debutante of Batcave’s house band, Specimen (the club was run by the singer of Specimen, Olli Wisdom, with help by guitarist, Jon Klein). Slut’s addition to Specimen added that extra oomph—it was the finishing touch. And despite the band’s lack of mainstream popularity (who wants that, anyway?), their 1983 mini LP, Batastrophe, brought them recognition among the U.K.'s darkly inclined underground circuit. The album was equal parts glam and grit with the club playlist mainstays “The Beauty of Poisin” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” but by 1985, the band moved on without Slut. But that’s okay, he had moved on, too.

The spectacle of Slut in his handmade fetish regalia—the androgynous alien in the goth goulash of textures—stands alongside the Batcave’s legacy: one does not go without the other, much like goth certainly does not exist without their influence. So we’ve set out to get Slut’s own words on those decisive years spent in the dimly lit, cobwebbed recesses of goth’s birthplace (even though, in true goth fashion, he should deny it all.)

Jonny Slut poses while deejaying in full goth fashion.
Photo by Jenny C. Bill
No juggalos allowed.

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