How Type O Negative's Peter Steele Became My Gothic Fairy Godfather | Revolver

How Type O Negative's Peter Steele Became My Gothic Fairy Godfather

The story behind a chance Brooklyn park meeting that ignited a lifelong friendship
jessica pimentel SNEAKERS retouched, Nikki Sneakers
photograph by Nikki Sneakers

Revolver has teamed with Type O Negative for limited-edition colored vinyl pressings of the band's classic albums plus a new Type O collector's issue and exclusive official band merch. Get yours before they're gone!

Memories ebb and flow. Times and dates may be inaccurate, and names and events may blur but there are some things, some moments and some people that leave indelible marks on your life. Peter Steele and Type O Negative's music have left such a mark on mine.

I have always felt like a bit of a loner. No matter how many "friends" I may have had around me, there was always an inherent disconnect and sadness that colored my experience of life. Luckily, I was taught at an early age that there is beauty in that sadness, that darkness, that bit of anger and feistiness in me. Some comes by nature and the blood running through my veins and some by nurture as someone who grew up pounding the pavement in NYC. My two saving graces in life were music and my beautiful hometown of Brooklyn, New York. Buddhist studies would help save me a little later but not too far off from where this story begins.

There were days when I felt particularly overwhelmed with life in general. Instead of acting out I would pull myself in and get lost in whatever album matched my mood and take a long walk through my beautiful area of Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights and make a beeline to my "think spot." The edge of the world as I called it. The amazing the Brooklyn Promenade overlooking the East River where you can see all the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the iconic Brooklyn bridge while surrounded by gorgeous trees and historic homes. The promenade was always quiet, desolate, and immaculate on school days and my favorite place to cut class, or rather, go in when I was ready to face the day. I'd park myself on my favorite bench in front of the Twin Towers and let myself get swept away to daydream with the current and clouds.

brooklyn promenade jessica pimentel 2021, Jessica Pimentel
Brooklyn Heights Promenade, October 2021
photograph by Jessica Pimentel

One fateful day I heard the most Brooklyn of Brooklyn accents cut through my blasting headphones and ask me, "Shouldn't you be in school?" My heart stopped: I thought I was about to get busted by a truant officer. I choked as I tried to think of a lie, and I saw the man's boots … Then this green uniform as I looked up and up and up and up — I was sitting on a park bench and he was 6'8" (well really 6'66" but the boots were big) — at this Parks Department uniform to see this pale face and long jet-black hair.

"You can't just be hangin' out here," he said. "I'll get in trouble." I explained that I went to LaGuardia High School for the performing arts and my "real" classes didn't start until 1 p.m. Not quite a lie but … y'know, the classes I cared about didn't start till then. He asked what I studied. I told him music and acting. I was a violinist, but I was super excited about just getting my first electric guitar…

He asked me what I was listening to. I pulled out some cassettes from my vintage army backpack. King Diamond, the Cro-Mags, Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Yuppicide, Killing Time, PJ Harvey and Metallica were all on regular rotation then. "Not bad kid" he smirked at me and asked me if I had heard of Carnivore or his band Type O Negative. I had but I could never remember Type O Negative correctly and often referred to them by a completely different blood type. The Carnivore story involves sneaking into [Brooklyn music venue] L'Amours while being really underage, so we'll save that for another day … and yes people from Brooklyn always add the s at the end of the club's name.

I think he saw something in me. Maybe something he saw in himself, a kindred spirit who needed some sanctuary and protection and from that point on he became like a big brother/uncle/counselor figure. He'd turn me on to new music of all sorts and give me tips on playing as well as the more than occasional pep talk to get through whatever life garbage I was going through. The joke is not lost on me that he handled cleaning up the garbage at my favorite place on earth.

When Bloody Kisses came out [in 1993], he went from being this enigmatic, gothic fairy godfather to being a legit, no-joke superstar and hometown hero. To see someone you know who is literally picking up garbage one day and on TV the next with a huge hit song inspired me in ways … well, in ways that show in my life today. Not only that, but as I grew older the meanings of the songs began to change for me. With more life experience came more pain, more loss, more disappointment. Peter often wrote of those things in such an honest way. He was not afraid to bear his soul. He was not afraid to be the persona and indulge the sexy, dark, romantic parts of his mind and life as well. He wasn't afraid to drop the act like so many "neighborhood" people I knew and grew up with that felt they always had to be one way all the time because anything else was too weird.

Type O's Music was exactly how I felt. A little gothy, a little tough, very Brooklyn. A mish mash of everything good that was our own little secret for a while. Although there are many Type O songs I love, every April 14th [the anniversary of Steele's 2010 death] — and occasionally, when I know I've been holding back tears and grief for too long trying to be strong or just get through — I go to my special playlist marked "do not playlist" and I hit play on "Everyone I Love Is Dead" and I allow myself to feel. I know I am blessed and fortunate. I know I have many people that I love and love me in return. But there are some moments and people that can never be replaced. There is a grief that never goes away. Those moments when you reach for the phone. Those moments where you walk past a special place. Those moments when that song comes on...

And it hurts all over again. Just like it happened yesterday. I miss those talks. I miss those shows. I miss my friend. Savor every moment. Everything dies.