Ipso Facto Celebrates 30 Years of Being Your Gothy Cultural Ambassador in Downtown Fullerton

Photos courtesy of Ipso Facto; illustration by Federico Medina

Terri Kennedy has presided over Ipso Facto since 1989. With the help of staunch allies and a legion of loyal customers, the shop continues to be a Goth mecca, evolving alongside the term itself. “The Gothic scene is so much more than fashion,” says Kennedy, “as it embraces and champions all forms of creativity and expression including visual art, music, culture, history and knowledge.” 

A celebratory bash incorporating all of that—plus, perhaps, a bit of the supernatural—happens Sunday, with giveaways, $5 tarot readings by Carl Young, and a live set by local band the Shrouds.

“My friend Morticia recommended Shrouds to me when I was seeking a band for this year’s event,” says the onetime Goth band vocalist. “I knew the members from other projects, and they frequent Ipso Facto regularly.” Since forming in 2017, Ana Thema (vocals/guitar), Grimm Beatz (percussion/backup vox) and Ludwig Wilde (bass) have adhered to a bare-bones minimalism while being inspired by their 1980s predecessors. “Their sound is an amazing throwback to the early death rock sound that I love,” adds Kennedy, “like Super Heroines, Christian Death and Kommunity FK!” 

If not strictly for the band, show up for the free swag from brands Ipso Facto has carried since its opening, including hair dye by Manic Panic, which was originally a brick-and-mortar in New York’s East Village. Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo opened their glam/punk-rock boutique in 1977, after a short stint as backup singers for Blondie—though they continued scouring thrift-stores with Debbie Harry. 

“I was never in any famous bands, but I did tour, record and release CDs sold around the world,” says Kennedy about the 12 years fronting Stone 588. “Of course, I’ve always tried to support local bands and music, and through my trips to Europe, we were the first shop in the area to offer CDs of bands like Wumpscut and Das Ich.” 

While the Manic Panic store, which opened on St. Marks Place when it was a junkies’ wasteland, shuttered to gentrification, Ipso Facto is on solid ground across from the Fox Theater and Angelo’s and Vinci’s—though that ground was once vulnerable to deluge. The river that rushed behind Ipso’s 1929 building was prone to horrific flooding, leading to scores of drownings until the Fullerton dam was completed in 1941. 

Kennedy tells tales of mediums entering the shop for the first time and immediately asking if she knows she has a little girl ghost. She does. The youthful spirit has been known to tickle the ankles of ladder-climbing clerks. 

The poltergeist and tourist ghosts dropping by, the music, and the mostly black merch are all part of the story. But the key to Ipso Facto’s longevity is Kennedy herself; she has the gracious authenticity of someone who wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. 

“Ipso Facto was conceived as an outlet for my creativity,” she says. “I am tenacious and not principally motivated by money. Always learning new things, I do my own repairs, website, social media, photography [and] accounting, while [my long-serving] manager runs the store, handles computer tech, and helps with my crazy renovation and creative projects. Longtime friend Bob Medeiros, who invested in Ipso Facto early on, still stops in from time to time.” 

While her straight-across bangs and waist-length black hair remain consistent, Kennedy evolves with her beloved scene. Her thirst for knowledge is equaled by her desire to share it. “Now is the time that small shops like mine are taking cues from independent bookstores, hosting community events and workshops that bring people in, such as our monthly wire-wrapping jewelry classes taught by friend Marggi [Markowitz], which always sell out, and metaphysical classes presented by various practitioner/teachers.”

In addition to Young, her mentor in spirituality, Kennedy has known Dr. James Rietveld since his student days in 1990. “He would stop by Ipso Facto and regale me with stories and talk about history, mythology and world religions.” 

In 2014, she began hosting free talks by her friend. “There are many people, like me, who may not have gotten the education they desired, and I believe that these lectures provide an important source for knowledge in the community, with our shop as a haven for culture and intellectual discourse.”

And every year, she throws kick-ass, inclusive parties. 

“It is important to have all-ages events, so younger customers can participate in the scene. I love dressing people for their first visit to a Goth club,” says the self-proclaimed “Gothy Cultural Ambassador.” After the party, “there will be plenty of evening left to prowl the nearby restaurants and watering holes and attend Anaheim’s local Goth club, the Chamber.”

Ipso Facto 30th Anniversary Party, 517 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 525-7865; www.ipso-facto.com. Sun., 6 p.m. Free. All ages.

Lisa Black proofreads the dead-tree edition of the Weekly, and writes culture stories for her column Paint It Black.

One Reply to “Ipso Facto Celebrates 30 Years of Being Your Gothy Cultural Ambassador in Downtown Fullerton”

  1. Great article! I’ve know Terri and Bob for years!
    Congratulations on their 30th anniversary!
    The longevity of the store ha lasted longer than most marriages.

    Bon anniversaire to Ipso Facto!

    Long Live GOTH

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