Why Pete Steele of Type O Negative is the ultimate goth boyfriend
‘Happy Halloween… baby.’
Those breathy words in the middle of Type O Negative’s ghoulish Halloween sing-along hit Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All), sung by Peter Steele – the band’s hulking frontman who looked like he just galloped off the cover of a gothic romance novel – still send a tingle down many a spine.
The song – from Type O’s 1993 breakout album Bloody Kisses – is the sarcastic tale of a vain woman with a penchant for darkness who won’t go out on a rainy, blustery All Hallow’s Eve until she perfects her look by dying her roots jet-black. ‘She’s in love with herself, she likes the dark… On her milk white neck, the devil’s mark,’ Peter croons in a near-whisper, emphasising the ‘k’ in a way that makes you think of bared fangs.
Concluding with the mildly necrophilic jeer, ‘Loving you was like loving the dead’ the song remains a deviously cheeky double entendre: it’s both an anthem for goth girls everywhere unashamed of their vanity, and a cathartic track for anyone who has found themselves stuck in a soul-sucking relationship with a narcissist. The song creates a fantasy of Peter Steele seeing through your appearance… but still wanting to spend Halloween night with you.
It’s been 11 years since Peter – who was not only Type O’s frontman, but also its bassist and main creative force – tragically passed away at the age of 48 due to an aortic aneurism in his heart. And while Type O Negative died with him, his legacy of sensual, gothic doom is still extremely important to metal, its culture, and fans pining after a photo of his statuesque form and burning gaze late into the night.
Here are the top five reasons why, even this many years after his death, Pete Steele is still the ultimate fantasy goth boyfriend.
5. He sang about sex and death simultaneously in a way that no-one else could
Type O Negative established their dark brand of gothic eroticism early. Their 1991 debut album was called Slow, Deep, And Hard (also a juvenile nod to their low-end heavy, gothic style of doom) and its general theme was a fantasy Peter had about killing his girlfriend and then himself after he catches her cheating.
In his later years, beginning with Type O’s 1993 breakout album Bloody Kisses, his anger subsided and gave way to a more romantic, sensual variation on the band’s original theme. Christian Woman is a poppy doom tale of a woman who decides to sleep with him despite her religion dictating that she’ll burn in hell for her lust. The song concludes with Peter declaring, ‘Jesus Christ looks like me.’
1996’s October Rust album saw songs like My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, a tongue-in-cheek song about a polyamorous relationship, the unmistakable seduction track Love You To Death, and Be My Druidess, which pauses in the middle so Peter can repeatedly drive the point home that he’d ‘do anything to make you come’. Damn.
4. He treated his groupies with respect and discretion
Peter was once a guest on a “sexy groupie girls” episode of the Jerry Springer Show, which also featured an actual groupie of his onstage with him. During the interview, Jerry asks, “What do you think of these women who throw themselves at you?” Peter responds, “Well, it’s odd to me because this is my job. I’m lucky to have a good time. I’m here to pay my phone bill and pay rent. If they want to throw themselves at me, that’s their business.”
Years later, in an interview, he was asked how many women he’s slept with, to which he responded, “Oh, two or three. That question is sexist, too. Who cares?”
3. His deep, vampiric way of singing was unmistakable
Peter’s baritone register and vaguely Transylvanian-esque annunciation was somehow both demonic and comforting, but perhaps no-one described his singing better than Beavis and Butthead, who famously compared him to “a cross between Danzig and Megadeth” on an episode of the show.
Of course, when Peter spoke, one heard more Coney Island than Carpathian Mountains in his Brooklyn-bred voice, but that only added to the allure of his sultry singing.
2. He was an unabashedly sensitive bad-boy and a truly gothic lover
Peter grew up with five older sisters and said it felt like having six mothers. In his final interview, he said, “I’m actually a very emotional person… I admit I am a sexist – I hate all men. I want to be the only man on this planet. I have learned that people take advantage of you if you display an emotional side. I can be brutal, but also sensitive.”
That being said, Peter’s bad-boy image was no façade. He battled depression, bipolar disorder, and a persistent cocaine habit. But both of his major documented dark periods were attributed to having a broken heart. He once did time in prison for assault: after finding out his girlfriend of 10 years was cheating on him, he showed up at her lover’s apartment and, as he put it, “smacked the guy in the face”. Peter served 30 days and vowed to never go back. He also attempted suicide in 1989 and, when asked about his mindset at the time, said, “All I can say is I fell in love with the wrong person.”
1. He was, without a doubt, one of the sexiest frontmen of all time
As much as Pete Steele was more than just a chiseled body, let us not forget that chiseled body. At nearly 6’8” with waist-length black hair and a torso reminiscent of Michelangelo sculptures, he caught the eye of goths, metalheads, and those in mainstream culture alike. In fact, he even appeared on the cover – and as the centrefold – of Playgirl in 1995.
Those photos can’t be published in this article, but let’s just say a quick Google Image search will show you everything you need to know.
We miss you, Peter. Loving you is loving the dead, and that’s just fine.
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