Paint It Black

Local zine publisher Christina Wojtan crusades on behalf of her passion

Jan 23, 2002 at 4:00 am
...When night/Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons/Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine. -- John Milton, Paradise Lost

2 a.m. Christmas morning, Nocturnal Blasphemies, KWUR (90.3 FM). A surprisingly chipper female voice interrupts KWUR's late-night automated programming with the following announcement: "It's Dec. 25, which makes this a special day for some people but an even specialer day for me -- 'cause I can rain blasphemy and terror among the radio waves! This is not the first edition of 'Christ-Raping Christmas,' but it's the first one in St. Louis. Anything blasphemous, anything gory, anything just downright raunchy -- you name it, I'll play it, as long as it's within the guidelines of the FCC regulations."

Then the inevitable disclaimer: "The views and language used in the following songs are not necessarily representative of KWUR or Washington University or its administration and may be offensive to some listeners." No doubt -- assuming, of course, that such listeners could decipher the lyrics, which is no mean feat, considering that the singers all sound as if they're gargling with sulfuric acid.

The volunteer host, Christina Wojtan, plays two hours of the hardest, heaviest, bleakest and baddest black metal you'll ever hear on St. Louis radio -- Dimmu Borgir, Graveland, DarkThrone, Judas Iscariot -- and she does it every Monday, 2-4 a.m. She also publishes Tohmet, a free newsletter that she distributes to select local record stores (although some meddlesome counter-jerks -- you know who you are -- toss them in the trash the second she leaves). Radar Station spent many idle hours wondering about the woman behind this mysterious zine, which offers crudely typeset but informative news items about the underground extreme-metal scene, with an emphasis on black metal, death metal's corpse-painted, keyboard-friendly cousin.

The real stumper? Tohmet has no ads: "The underground is about MUSIC! NOT money," Wojtan proclaims grandly in the December/January issue. But obviously the fanzine itself costs money; toner doesn't grow on trees. What kind of philanthropic nutjob would spend her hard-earned dollars to further the cause of black metal in St. Louis, a city that doesn't seem to appreciate it much, if the clubs, record stores and radio stations are any indication? Our curiosity got the better of us, and we tracked down the enigmatic DJ/publisher. After much sweet talk and repeated assurances that we wouldn't stalk her, we somehow persuaded her to meet us at Llywelyn's.

We're ashamed to say that we arrived with certain prejudices. Whether it was because she'd already explained by e-mail that she has "no life" or because Radar Station is a dimwitted bigot, we know not, but we expected some fat chick with dyed black hair, multiple piercings and a bad case of acne. We couldn't have been further off the mark. If you ignore the double stud just below her lower lip and the Burzum sticker pinned to her purse, Wojtan looks like the girl next door, one of those wholesome coeds Ted Bundy used to favor: big green eyes, dimples, a heart-shaped face framed by long, brown center-parted hair. She certainly doesn't seem like someone who'd celebrate a Christ-raping Christmas.

Like Lester Bangs, Patti Smith and Ginger Spice, Wojtan was once a Jehovah's Witness, a fact that goes a long way toward explaining her apocalyptic zeal, if not her interest in sacrilege. By ridding herself of all that extraneous religious hoo-ha, she found a new way to witness. Of course, black metal and its related genres are, on the whole, distinctly anti-Christian when not outright Satanic, but this detail doesn't seem to bother Wojtan, who describes herself as agnostic. "Many philosophies and cultural themes are based on the occult, but [black metal] itself is based on pure, raw, unaltered emotion," she explains in an e-mail to Radar Station. "Being raised by parents who are Jehovah's Witnesses, I was instilled with certain morals, values and principles I have managed to uphold. I'm not a Satanist, a fascist, a Nazi, nor am I a conformist. I believe in personal evolution and making oneself happy. I find happiness in beauty and beauty in darkness."

Wojtan is doing what she can to spread the black gospel: publishing Tohmet, putting up fliers for the rare underground-metal show and hosting Nocturnal Blasphemies. But she's new in town, and she's growing disenchanted with the lameness of our underground metal scene. If you'd like to join her righteous crusade, shoot her an e-mail at [email protected].

Speaking of beauty in darkness, the Handsome Family brings its grotesquely pretty chamber-folk to Frederick's Music Lounge on Jan. 26. Drawing from pre-World War II country, late-19th-century art-song and poor-white gospel, spouses Brett and Rennie Sparks create the aural equivalent of a Henry Darger painting. Their friend and fellow corpse-hugger Larissa Dalle opens the show.

An irate lady recently called Radar Station to complain about our use of the phrase "miserable teenage dumbfucks" [Jan. 9]. "That's a better description of you!" she snapped, slamming down the receiver before we could tell her how awesome she is. (Whoa! She, like, totally pranked us!) In any case, Radar Station apologizes to each and every miserable teenage dumbfuck who was offended by our careless remark.