It's 8 p.m. on a Monday and haunting medieval music is emanating from the radio, introducing WMBR's Goth show "Bats in the Belfry." DJ Mistress Laura's hypnotic, velvety voice soon greets listeners, then she slips on a track from Funeral Party circa 1981. Mistress Laura, a.k.a. Laura Wilson, has hosted the show for 15 years , and she's celebrating the anniversary at the Sky Bar tomorrow night by hosting a lineup of Boston-based Goth bands. We spoke with Wilson recently about life on and off the air, the music she loves, and the challenges of being fashionably Goth in the summer.
Q Off the air, who is Mistress Laura? Where do you work?
A I'm a registrar at Harvard University's Landscape Institute, which has a lot more responsibility than it sounds. Dealing with people's personal information. I've always worked in academia; the corporate world just isn't for me. Too stiff.
Q Do you become Mistress Laura once a week, or do you live the life?
A I adore all things Goth, the music, the architecture. That period in history. Just dark, moody stuff.
Q When did you start getting into Goth?
A Before Goth was even a term. I guess when I heard the Doors, they have that darkness. When I was little I was a huge fan of "Dark Shadows," the TV show. A Gothic soap opera. It's on DVD now. I'm obsessed with it.
Q How did you start DJing?
A I discovered WMBR and became a fan. I just got involved with the station, doing volunteer work. Then finally I said, "You guys need to have a Goth show and I'm the woman to do the job."
Q You play some really out-there music.
A I love medieval and renaissance music. To me, that's influential to Goth. I play stuff by Hildegard [of Bingen] even, who lived back in 1 , 100 A.D.
Q Goth usually means the Cure or Bauhaus.
A We call that "name-brand Goth." I play them, but I choose more obscure tracks. People don't know how much great stuff there is out there, so I love turning people on to great music. It's one of my missions.
Q What about other music? Would we find a Gwen Stefani disc in your collection?
A Oh no, nothing like that. But I have diverse musical taste. I love '60s garage and psychedelic. Prog rock from the '70s. I love the blues and indie rock. Even jangly pop.
Q Are you a musician yourself?
A No, I used to play piano and bass, but it didn't really work. I thought I'd leave it to other people who do it a lot better. There has to be someone to enjoy the music that's being created. That's important.
Q Goth is a subgenre of rock, but now there are subgenres of Goth.
A It can get really confusing. There's ethereal, there's darkwave, there's Goth ambient, and Goth industrial. Some people consider industrial to be Goth, but I don't. Goth has to be dark, melodic. If it's straight-up headbanging industrial, it's not Goth.
Q So Halloween's your favorite holiday?
A How did you guess that? How did you know that?
Q You keep rubber bats and cobwebs up all year round at home as part of the general decor.
A Yes, I do. You gotta have your bats up, they're good luck. The Chinese think bats are good luck.
Q You also seem to like velvet and lace clothes. Do you wear those fake fangs ever?
A No fake fangs, that's too funny. I love to wear velvet. That's the worst thing about summer, you can't wear velvet. But black lace is a good substitute in warm weather.