With the full force of American consumer marketing behind it, the skull is a hot item--but it's losing much of its fearsome "outsider". meaning. Beyond the sea of skull wear like belts, T-shirts, ties, sneakers, cashmere sweaters, and swimsuits, there are now skull umbrellas, packing tape, watches, party lights, and a skull toilet-brush caddy. "Skulls are a rock icon," says Cindy Levitt, vice president for marketing at the Hot Topics clothing chain. "We've always had them. We see this as more of a fashion trend." Perhaps the skull has simply become the Smiley Face of the 2000s. "This is such a gripe of mine," says Voltaire, a musician and author of What Is Goth? "Throughout hundreds of years of history, what the skull has communicated is, 'I am dangerous.' That's where the irony is. You can buy dangerous for $11.99 at Kmart."