Being Goth in the Cowboy State
Renne Rotting is not hard to pick out in a crowd. She has long black hair with Betty Paige bangs and absent eyebrows. Today she is wearing a lacy baby doll dress with ripped tights and tall, buckled platform boots -- always the hallmark of head to toe black.
Some of us grew up collecting Barbies, but for Rotting (an alias) it was Monster High Dolls. Other inspirations include Elvira and Edward Scissor Hands.
We meet at the Pig to chat about her goth lifestyle and how that goes in a place like Casper, Wyoming.
Rotting has been in the Oil City for about three months and already making waves.
She came to Casper for a fresh start.
Growing up in Cody, people were less than accepting of her dark, moody aesthetic. She recalls feeling lonely and isolated.
And yet, the 20-year old's parents are very supportive. Rotting credits her tattooed skateboarder dad for introducing her to bands like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana; she tells me she is her mommy's "little monster."
And while she has fallen head over heels for a thrasher-metal musician, things haven't exactly been easy in Casper. Finding employment was challenging and she thinks her numerous facial piercings may have played a role in that.
"People are probably a little intimidated, scared of the fact that I look different; I bet you people who don’t understand it, especially older people, haven’t been on the [social] media that much or been surrounded by it. Even Casper, it’s kind of a secluded area. You don’t really see it much."
And yet, she tells me that even if she could, she wouldn't change anything about Casper.
"There are good people here. I may not belong here, but a lot of other people do and this is their home."
We shift to the topic of spirituality. Despite her dark look, Rotting tells me she believes in a higher power. Sometimes others look at her and are fearful, seeing her as a symbol of Satan or hell.
Being raised in a Christian church, she understands. She says she doesn't judge others for their beliefs and hopes they'll do the same.
"People are growing to have a more open mindset; they are starting to become more accepting; I went to the farmers market the other day...they had this event and I got so many compliments and it threw me off guard."
Being goth is more than just an appearance thing. Goths value confronting fear -- the apex of which is, probably, death. She says she and her best friend Millie like to visit the cemetery and look at the pretty tombstones.
"I think if people embraced death it would resolve a lot of anxiety and overthinking. And embracing being a freak. I’m okay with it. You don’t have to be normal anymore."
I ask Rotting how often she gets the eye-roll-worthy, You would be so pretty if...
Too much. People tell her she has "ruined her face" with piercings.
” I get a lot of reactions when I dress like this, people assume you get around and do 'anything.' I don’t agree with that. I don’t have to have the face that everyone wants me to have to have a successful life or a healthy mindset or be a successful businesswoman."
But despite that, Rotting says, "This is what makes me happy. It sounds weird, but if I don’t wear my black eyeliner, I’m not happy. It’s a personal choice of what I want to do."