'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice' star Jenna Ortega lifts these goth girls out of the shadows (2024)

Fashion photographers regularly seek out Onyx Mondragón.

The 38-year-old Gilbert resident of Mexican and Spanish American parentage told The Arizona Republic her "exotic" features have long elicited praise from her goth cohort. The attention prompts modeling work from publications catering to a subculture derived from dark, medieval aesthetics and accentuated by punk music, mourning attire and Victorian period elements.

Mondragón recalls being in her 20s and visiting Denver’s goth scene, realizing how white it was and just how fully appreciated she was while there.

"They were completely fascinated with me," Mondragón said, adding a common refrain she heard was, "You are so exotic. Where are you from?"

For many who are not goth, the subculture appears to leave Latinas and other women of color in the shadows. Who the goth movement regards as its foremothers is restricted to white women like silent film vamp Theda Bara and campy 1950s TV hostess Maila Nurmi, a.k.a. Vampira. Additionally, much of goth makeup centers around white foundation.

'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice' star Jenna Ortega lifts these goth girls out of the shadows (1)

The goth lifestyle, which often demystifies death and sometimes even celebrates it, aligns well with some Latinas in the American Southwest where Day of the Dead proves a cheerful tribute to the departed.

Through the goth lens, Mondragón holds a certain kinship with actress Jenna Ortega. Vogue Australia declared the 21-year-old ingénue of Mexican American and Puerto Rican descent, “the ultimate new-age goth girl,” while Elle.com has a running tally of Ortega’s “most fabulous goth-glam looks.”

Ortega stars as Astrid, the rebellious daughter of Winona Ryder’s morose and clad-in-black Lydia Deetz character in Tim Burton’s upcoming "Beetlejuice" follow-up, "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice." With Michael Keaton reprising the title role from the 1988 original, an official trailer dropped Thursday. A budding actress, Ortega portrayed perennial goth Wednesday Addams on Burton’s Netflix series "Wednesday."

Mondragón is among Latina and Hispanic goth girls in Arizona spanning three generations opened up to The Republic about all the ways they thrive under a pale moonlight.

Racks of garb

Growing up in the '90s in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mondragón was entranced by goth art and music during what she said was the subculture’s "golden age."

Her artwork was "heavily influenced" by the Burton-directed "Edward Scissorhands" and the Burton-produced "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Mondragón said. She studied animation at the Art Center Design College in Albuquerque under the late Phil Young, who she learned had roomed with Burton when both worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice' star Jenna Ortega lifts these goth girls out of the shadows (3)

A graphic designer by trade, Mondragón clings to goth garb with racks of custom-made clothes at her home. A recent favorite is a red pleather dress based on the bare muscle-resembling armor that actor Gary Oldman sported in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film "Bram Stoker’s Dracula."

As a woman of color with "a penchant for odd things," Mondragón said she appreciates how the tribe of goths she found early on was so welcoming to "the misfits of society."

"Being an ethnically diverse person, I kind of see the beauty in that," she said. "And I think that's probably what drew me to it and kind of what endears me to it."

Drawing inspiration

For Giselle Torres, unburying her goth identity came about within the pages of her sketchbooks. Torres’ drawing style leaned on Swiss artist H.R. Giger and Japanese manga illustrator Kazuo Umezo. A book tied to her childhood as a Mexican American also became a basis for the 26-year-old Phoenix resident’s black ink drawings.

Influences from Alfred Avila’s illustrated "Mexican Ghost Tales of the Southwest" began to creep into her compositions. "La Llorona" is a work by Torres inspired by the book’s illustration featuring the notorious weeping Mexican boogeywoman as a ghostly female apparition replete with jagged teeth and hollowed eyes.

Aside from Mexican folk tales like la Llorona, Torres has also drawn inspiration from José Guadalupe Posada. The 19th-century Mexican political cartoonist satirized high society through black-and-white skeletal imagery and created the Day of the Dead’s la Calavera Catrina archetype.

"I thought being goth was strictly a white thing. But when I grew older, there was elements of the Mexican community that one, from the outside, could find it to be pretty goth," Torres said.

'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice' star Jenna Ortega lifts these goth girls out of the shadows (4)

Torres foresees a bright — yet aptly dark — future for Latino and Hispanic representation in goth spaces through Ortega’s presence.

Ortega herself appears to have faced challenges in establishing a goth personality.

"I’ve always respected goth culture. I’ve always had a darker sense of humor, but I never felt like I was able to express that. Now I feel like I can embrace those qualities in myself," Ortega told Vogue in an article published April 12, 2023.

Torres remains conscious of possible pushback and limitations. She pointed to reactionary gripes online whenever a character or role previously deemed white is depicted as a person of color. Ortega has been part of moves toward inclusion by way of her casting in Burton’s productions and as one of the "Scream" franchise’s first Latina final girls, or slasher flick heroines.

And as welcomed as Ortega’s prominence as a "goth icon" may be, Torres said, she is concerned the actress might prove to be "the only Latina representation."

Fragile mortality

Kris Martinez may not have seen many other Hispanic girls in film or on TV as a young teen, but seeing Ryder as Lydia in "Beetlejuice" gave her someone to style herself after. Much like Ortega is celebrated now, Ryder was herself regarded as a goth starlet for her roles in "Beetlejuice" and "Bram Stoker’s Dracula."

Martinez, however, tossed out her goth look early on to avoid possibly transgressing her strict Catholic upbringing.

These past several years have led to a shift for the 50-year-old Casa Grande resident, where her wardrobe is now exclusively black and her head of hair is routinely dyed in atypical colors like green and purple. "I’ve decided at this age that I don't really care what anybody thinks anymore."

After the deaths of her brother in 2011 and her boyfriend of 26 years in 2022, Martinez said she fully accepts the fragileness of her own mortality. In her jewelry business, Slightly Twisted by Kris, Martinez regularly crafts wire-wrapped pendants, rings and earrings with coffin-shaped stones and skulls.

Even as Catholicism initially pushed her away from her calling as a goth, Martinez considers the Catholic burial rites are partly why she is comfortable using death motifs in her jewelry.

"I think goths tend to look at that and tend to romanticize it," she said. "It doesn't make it look scary."

Strutting at ease

The air had a thick coldness to it on the Saturday night of Feb. 10 as Martinez made her way to the Valley for the Arizona Goth Festival in south Phoenix. The annual event draws performers, vendors like Martinez and spectators, and is organized by the Arizona Goth Society. Martinez, Mondragón and Torres are part of the 4-year-old, nearly 8,000-member Facebook group dedicated to bringing goths across the state together.

Surrounded by hundreds of fellow goths, Mondragón was at ease as she strutted into the event in her "Bram Stoker’s Dracula" dress.

"I don't think I've ever met another kind of community that accepts all those walks of lives in one place, and it's not considered weird," she said. "It just means you’re allowed to be whoever you are, as you are."

Reach breaking news reporter Jose R. Gonzalez atjose.gonzalez@gannett.comor on X, formerly Twitter:@jrgzztx.

'Beetlejuice Beetlejuice' star Jenna Ortega lifts these goth girls out of the shadows (2024)


How old was Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice? ›

At the time Tim Burton made the film, Winona Ryder was only 17 years old. Before her iconic role in Tim Burton's hit fantasy film, Ryder debuted at the age of 15 in Lucas (1986). She gained widespread popularity after her iconic role as Lydia Deetz, a character she will soon be seen reprising.

What is Jenna Ortega doing now? ›

Upcoming projects. Ortega will star in Burton's fantasy film Beetlejuice Beetlejuice (2024), a sequel to Beetlejuice (1988). She has also joined the cast of Klara and the Sun (2024) to be directed by Taika Waititi.

How old is Lydia in Beetlejuice? ›

While Lydia Deetz's age was never explicitly stated in Beetlejuice, she's confirmed to be a high school student who is likely about 16 years old, which was Winona Ryder's age when the original 1988 movie was released.

Who is playing Beetlejuice in 2024? ›

Tim Burton is back in the director's chair. Michael Keaton dons the striped suit of Beetlejuice once more.

Why does Jenna Ortega blink? ›

During the filming process, Ortega said she found not blinking "pretty annoying," but eventually figured out that she could blink while other characters were saying their lines, keeping her eyes wide open for her own.

Why is Jenna Ortega not on TikTok? ›

Jenna Ortega is one of TikTok's biggest stars. But you won't catch her using the app. Ahead of Tuesday's Golden Globe Awards, the 20-year-old actor revealed that she “can't be on” the Gen Z-facing platform and doesn't make a habit of scrolling through videos re-creating her viral “Wednesday” dance.

Why did Jenna Ortega pull her hair out? ›

She had to switch cello teachers abroad and learn to perform a piece written for two cellos with just one instrument. “I did not get any sleep. I pulled my hair out,” Ortega said. “There's so many FaceTime calls that my dad answered of me hysterically crying.”

How old was Winona Ryder in her first role? ›

She landed her first role in the 1986 film Lucas at age 14, which led to her being cast in 1988's Beetlejuice by the time she was 17. From there, her career skyrocketed with parts in 1988's Heathers, 1990's Edward Scissorhands, 1994's Little Women and more.

Is Beetlejuice 2 confirmed? ›

Yes there is! The first official trailer dropped on 22nd May, 2024, which gives us a real taste of what to expect from the film. Winona is back as Lydia Deetz, who is explaining to her daughter Astrid (played by Jenna Ortega) that she was once terrorised by a man named Beetlejuice, who tried to force her to marry him.

Are Barbara and Adam going to be in Beetlejuice 2? ›

Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder will also return as stepmother and stepdaughter Delia Deetz and Lydia Deetz, respectively. Baldwin and Davis, however, will not appear in the sequel.

Why did Winona Ryder change her name? ›

Winona Ryder

The actress changed her last name from Horowitz when asked how she would like to have her name appear on the credits of her first role. She suggested Ryder as Mitch Ryder's album was playing in the background.


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