Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interview With Airship Isabella Publishing on Convention Fans Blog Magazine

Interview With Airship Isabella:  Their Past, Present, and Future

Airship Isabella has become quite a sensation as a Steampunk Performance Art Airship in Texas, the surrounding states, and at many conventions throughout the country.  This has happened in an amazingly short amount of time through hard work and consistent effort to perform and spend time with fans at all the conventions.  They also are willing to go to conventions too remote to generally receive a visit from say, “The League of Steam”.  Airship Isabella has built a great fan base and has risen to the point where they can expect to be welcomed as one of the Guest Celebrity Groups at any convention or event they choose to attend in little over a year.  They state on the internet their intention to help others that want to break out of the chains on people’s minds and lives that are imposed by corporations set to make a profit at any cost.  In spite of how well known and popular they have become there are still many questions that remain unanswered about where they came from and where they are headed, so this blogger set about to put before them a rather lengthy list of questions that focus heavily on the character acting aspects of their work. Most groups would simply use such a list as an unusually guest friendly situation where there were enough questions to answer the ones that were most comfortable and ignore the rest, but in their usual fashion, Captain Whittaker and his other half Amelia answered every question put before them quite candidly.  The list is long enough that it will be offered to several Steampunk Magazines as smaller topographical groups of interview questions with answers, but the interview will appear in it’s entirety only on the Convention Fans Blog Magazine website.  

1. What was your first exposure to Steampunk as an actual subculture.  (as opposed to say Steampunk movies or fiction books)

Ikkicon IV, officially. But even then we didn’t necessarily see it as a subculture, but more as an aesthetic movement. Events of that weekend did, however, cement in our minds that there was a definite attitude about steampunk, specifically that it was a snobby, elitist white movement that we wanted nothing to do with. We also realized that weekend that there were many people in the steampunk movement that wanted to see that change. As we started talking to people, we made it our personal mission to change that attitude and belief. A lot of our personal philosophies of what the steampunk subculture is and should be developed out of that convention and grew as we realized there were many other groups with the same ideas.

 2. When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire that was distinctive enough to really draw attention and what effect did it have on you?

In the Summer of 2008, we had a friend who called us and said “I found your people!” She told us to look up steampunk on the internet, and we were immediately enthralled. I had been wearing the Victorian “goth” style since the 80’s and hadn’t really given it up. Steampunk was a natural evolution and was beautiful. We were members of the Burning Flipside community at the time, and decided to do a steampunk-based theme camp, specifically, we decided to build a two story “airship” dance camp. It eventually wound up in my front yard as a 50’ X 20’ two story structure that appeared at Flipside 2009, and we called it Airship Isabella.

3. When did you first decide to develop a fictional Steampunk Character Personae, and what do you think motivated you to do so.

We first decided to build characters after Flipside 2009. Originally, it was just and extension of the inspiration that the steampunk aesthetic had infused within us. Then it developed into who we would be within the crew, and grew from there.

4. What prompted your choices in development of your personal character?

We based most of our characters on the people portraying them. It’s always easier to act as someone you truly understand. So most of the characters are bigger than life versions of ourselves. We have our vampires and a clockwork doll, but mostly it’s just us on steroids.

5.  In what ways is your character like you, and how are they different?

Like I said in the last question, mostly our characters are just like us only exaggerated, so I will concentrate on how they are different.  Most people have things about themselves that they wish they could change or wish they had made different choices. We encourage our members to write those things into their stories and give them a chance to do things differently. What’s funny is that most of us have come to realize through story development that there are no “better” decisions, only different ones.

13.  What training, formal, informal, or recreational (such as fantasy role playing games) do you think has helped you to learn to "get into character" sufficiently to believably portray your Steampunk Personae?

Amelia worked as a theater instructor for junior high school students while her children were really small, and Nyxie is a senior theater major. Everyone on the crew has experience with cosplay or larps that pre-date ASI.

14.  Do any of your fellow crew members currently or have plans to do any singing or dancing related to their Steampunk character or storyline at Steampunk or related events?

Ugg….yes and no. We were asked to do steampunk karaoke for Oni-con and were really hesitant, but agreed. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun. And we found that we have a bunch of amazing singers on the crew. Jonas is actually a member of a band outside of ASI. So, we will probably bring back the steampunk karaoke, but we just don’t have time to go into the professional music business.

16.  Have you made significant changes regarding your level of involvement in character acting recently, and if so, what prompted this.  What are your plans for this in the future?

Yes. We have been asked to do a lot more skits recently, so it’s been a challenge and a lot of fun. Though I think putting Javert in a jar has been my favorite! As far as future plans, I have an old saying… “I build my roads today because the future is too uncertain for plans.”

17.  What sort of public performance art, classes, or other activities have you not done so far, but that you would like to try in the future?

We want to get involved in actual prop building and working with other costumers. Another big project at the moment is writing penny dreadful novels based on the misadventures of the Isabella.

18. How much difficulty do you face getting event organizers to understand the needs of performers for adequate compensation for time, travel, lodgings, and wardrobe costs?

It depends on the event. It also goes back to the bad reputation steampunk has had in the convention world. If you act like all mighty demanding children that expect you to kiss their feet, then convention organizers tend to be difficult. It’s amazing what happens when you treat them with respect and as employers. Honesty and no-nonsense business ethics go a long way. So, mostly, no, we haven’t had any problems. The only problems we’ve had are with conventions that have had bad experiences with other groups in the past.

The above are excerpts from the interview.  The full interview can be found at:

Ramon Fagan, LCSW (aka “Admiral” Ramon Leon del Mar) writes articles and reviews for Convention Fans Blog Magazine and for 6 different online Steampunk magazines as well as for his own personal blog at 
He also writes fiction, songs, short comedic plays, and educational books and articles about world religion and cultures for other outlets.  “Admiral” Ramon is also the leader of “Kali’s Hourglass”, a nautical oriented Steampunk/Clockpunk performance art troupe, organizer for the DFW Clockpunks and Renpunks Group , co-administrator for the North Texas Steampunks Facebook Website, , and an alternate administrator for the Steampunk Illumination Society website.


  1. I am having a really hard time finding a steampunk outfit for my daughter who is 10 and wears a size 8-10. I am at a loss. Our whole famnily wants to do steampunk for comikaze expo and comic con and I cannot find any for her. Can anyone tell me where to look?

  2. Dear Dawn. We have a son about the same age. Surprisingly, military nauticle style items are fairly common in some stores (we do a nautical theme) but only in the women's and girl's section. Honestly almost any base outfit made of natural fibers that does not have a lot of zippers will work for a base, but I recommend against blue jeans unless she is a wild west prospector. they were the only ones using them at the time. Outfits that have a longer dress are typical, especially for young girls, but what makes it steampunk is any base clothing that is not clearly more modern than early 1900s with some obviously time period inappropriate items that look somewhat futuristic as a contrast. Anything that suggests equipment used for a variety of adventures such as weapons, telescopes, pouches, a whip, a coil of rope, etc. will help the outfit. there is a static page on this blog that details more suggestions. With a little effort you can make something better than most people sell by simply adding such items to clothing you can find at most thrift stores.