Monday, January 30, 2012

The Lost Treasures of Steampunk at The Steampunk World's Fair

Picture above created by the staff at the Steampunk World's Fair


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jeff Mach
Tel: 201-724-7687
Email: jeffmach@wickedfaire.com

Spreading the Steampunk Love

The Lost Treasures of Steampunk gives back to artists of the Steampunk community.

This May, the annual Steampunk World’s Fair will return to Piscataway, New Jersey with, as always, unforgettable entertainment and the largest gathering of steampunk fans in the country. But the fair is offering more than entertainment and camaraderie this year. The Lost Treasures of Steampunk is the event’s latest program addition, designed to assist artists of the genre whose works fly under the radar of most fans. The event will share some of the hidden gems of the steampunk world by featuring work at the fair as well as by awarding scholarships to the artists themselves.

The Lost Treasures of Steampunk, however, will not fund itself. Event creators hope to bring the program to life by devoting fundraising and even a portion of the event budget to its success. Event creator, Jeff Mach explains, "The Steampunk community has been good to us, and we want to give something back!" As head of an event that attracts the attention of Steampunks nationwide, he says, "We see a lot of great creative endeavors that often don’t get the attention that they deserve." To solve this problem, he developed the Lost Treasures of Steampunk, and is encouraging those who create steampunk art, from fashion to literature, to apply for a scholarship.

Of course, besides the Lost Treasures of Steampunk to look forward to, this year’s Steampunk World’s Fair will be packed with pleasures. There will be performances from such bands as Amor Obscur and Igor’s Egg, along with appearances of the famed Steampunk Robin Hood, and much more. It is just another year for The Steampunk World’s Fair in helping the steampunk community.

The creators of Steampunk World’s Fair are also notable for their annual
Wicked Winter Renaissance Faire and Geeky Kink Event.

More information on The Steampunk World’s Fair can be found at steampunkworldsfair.com


See also in 2012, the latest addition to the Steampunk World's Fair lineup:  Psyche Corp!

Psyche Chimere of Psyche Corporation


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Clockwork Con Brings Steampunk to Austin



Most people expect an interesting and fun, but chaotic time at brand new conventions.  The lack of communication and organization at some new events is such a problem that many won’t even attend until the second year, but Clockwork Con surprised people by being unusually well organized and well run. 

 

The schedule planned looked very unusual at first in that the main event had performers on it only after 8 pm on Friday and Saturday and no actual performances on Sunday.  The schedule showed comedy, magic, and burlesque starting around 8 pm the first night and Concerts by Steam Powered Giraffe and Marquis of Vaudeville the second night, but very little on the main stage throughout the day.  My confusion on this point was mostly just the result of a rather unusual floor plan in which the majority of the main room was broken up into smaller rooms used for other purposes during the day.


At times the changing rooms seemed almost like the maze from Harry Potter stories in that the layout changed drastically at different times of day, but staff were always available at the registration desk and happy to direct us to what we were looking for.  We were also pleased to find most things well attended and fairly punctual. Perhaps a little explanation of this and maps of the two floor plans on the web site, in the program, and on the wall at the registration table could easily resolve this confusion and make it more clear to those considering the ticket purchase that this con emphasizes entertaining and educational panels during the day and performances at night.



The event schedule posted about 2 weeks before the event and had panel titles, but did not mention who was presenting panels.  Content for many of the panels was posted later, which was helpful, but a few items, were not described.  One of these was the "Gathering of the Fleet" which sounded interesting, but the volunteers at the registrar desk were unable to locate anything explaining it other than one line labeled "Captain's Panel".  It turned out to be primarily a role call for the SCARS Steampunk network and a discussion of how the LARP concluded and plans for the next LARP at Aetherfest. This was a small thing, but a confusion easily amended with a fuller schedule posting on the website.

 

A new steam punk LARP (yea!!!) was unveiled by Airship Isabella with help from various “darker forces” serving as the opposition force to highlight the beginnings of Airship Isabella's backstory about waging a war with “The Order”.  This LARP went on for some time without being obvious or intrusive to the other con goers, but it ran throughout the convention venue.  The conclusion of the LARP was unveiled at the “Gathering of the Fleets” at the end of the convention.  This LARP war will spill over into a larger LARP and mystery at their sister Con Aetherfest this May.



The panels were many, varied, and appeared to have been well attended even as early as 11 am on Saturday.  Topics ranged from Multicultural aspects of Steampunk Attire and character portrayal to art, music, steam punk film debuts, and even such pragmatic topics as running a convention or an “airship as a business”  Overall, the variety and quality of panels appeared to be the greatest strength of this convention.
 




The Gadgeteer Festival was actually surprisingly impressive!  With no more incentive than an invitation on the web site and the opportunity to show their art (not even bragging rights as there was no contest) truly talented people brought surprisingly interesting items to display.  It may be best actually that there was no contest in that festival as this type of art, especially the functional or semi functional art, is all beautiful complex, and hard to compare one against another.  Some steamy inventors brought in helicopter back packs, powered glowing canes, steapunked robots, and a host of other conveyances, art, and gadgets made by creative geniuses to rival the best items I’ve seen on the internet anywhere.


The Comedy show Friday night was started off by Mr Saturday and Sixpence who led some fun improv interactions between themselves, audience members, and the events Special Guests Baron von Lahey from the Wandering Legion of Thomas Tew and Emperor Justinian of the Red Fork Empire!  While this was a difficult type of act to perform with participants from the audience and others that were not experienced at improv, it was funny just watching them try!


After that the comedy continued with Cut, Thrust, and Run, who are veterans of Renfairs and a variety of Steampunk Conventions and Steampunk events in Texas and Oklahoma.  They presenting a wonderful blend of improv comedy with highly professional & comedic sword battles on stage.  This was followed by the entertaining magic show by Roscoe from Biloxi.  Then the crowd was treated to a fine Burlesque presented by Taloolah Love and fine artists both local and from out of state including - Cocolectric, Goldie Candella, Ruby Lamb, Ruby Joule, Lula Houp Garu .   All of this was well attended with about 150 + in the main event hall.


On Saturday Night the concert was scheduled to be led off by The Voodoo Island Cannibals, a really colorful group of Pirates that drum, strum, and charm the audience right out of their doubloons!  (Or was that bloomers?  Ah well… out of their minds in any case!)  They are always great fun, so they made a great opening act to get things started for the concert. 


Steam Powered Giraffe played at both the Captain’s Dinner (available for an extra fee) on Friday and at the main concert on Saturday Night.  They were fun, funny, and very entertaining!  Their music reminded me of a blending of smooth Jazz and old style Rock from the 40s and 50s era, but all agreed they were good musicians and performers.  They had over 150 at their show as well and the crowd appeared very excited to see a group that was famous on the West Coast, but had rarely performed this far east before.


Marquis of Vaudville was great, as always.  This Diesel Punk/Steampunk band has been adopted by the south central state’s Steampunk community so completely that they are playing at almost every steam punk event in the region for 2011 through 2012.  In spite of this super saturation of thier target audience, they still can excite the crowd, especially with their newer music which has not yet been released on an album , and as such, is largely unavailable outside of concerts.  What was most evident at the concert was the fact that these new songs are not only really good music with interesting and fun lyrics, but much more appealing to the community’s dancers than anything they have performed before.  It was generally agreed that Marquis of Vaudville produced much better dance music, for this crowd’s taste anyway, than the DJ at the dance afterwards who had the freedom to choose from any song ever recorded, yet could not inspire the dancers nearly as much.

 

The dances were attended fairly well for a steam punk event.  Ballroom style dance is unfortunately no longer a common style even among steampunks, and many of our community just don’t dance modern styles either.  As such, dance does not seem to be as big an attraction yet at our Steampunk Events as I hope for, but we are making real efforts to change that.  What seems to be confusing the DJs though, is that our hard core dancers come largely from Goth, Neo-Pagan, and Renfair backgrounds, so their tastes in dance music are much more into Darkwave and Belly Dance styles of music.  These tunes tend to have more heartbeat style trance inducing rhythms and interesting, but sometimes dark lyrics than anything most DJs are accustomed to playing at conventions.  


In fact, as Steampunk has largely appeared at anime festivals and conventions prior to this year in Texas, it is quite understandable that our DJs are largely confused as to why the steam punk audience is not attracted to rave music, electronica, or re-mixes that are normally what they play.  In fact, remixes, pretty much any type of remix actually, of favorite Steampunk songs, like say Black Day or Stigmata Martyr by Abney Park, can get a very bad reaction from avid fans of said band, which are quite common in the crowd at such events.


This is a learning experience, and hopefully our local DJs will figure out who to ask about tastes and what to play.  Part of the problem is that they are not accustomed to dancers with such specific tastes and that really dislike songs dramatically altered, sped up, or really tampered with, which are the things DJs are noted for in their field.  This is something happening at all of the new “all steam punk” events, so we will just have to pull together and find solutions to the changing landscape of dance.

The game room was well set up, well managed, and well run.  They even had special constructed wooden table covers that kept dice, papers, pencils etc. neatly in place for each of the players.  For those that wanted to take a break from the featured game "Tephra", one of the three gaming tables alternated between Tephra Games and other options such as Magic the Gathering or Laser Chess.   Yes, of course making Tephra the main game available is a bit of self promotion, since the convention’s organizers helped invent the game, but honestly, I was thrilled to see my 11 year old playing something without electricity and Tephra is one of the finest Steampunk Role Playing Games ever invented!  The game was also highlighted, explained, and questions answered in a two hour panel discussion on Saturday Morning in one of the main rooms.


The only thing they really needed to work on in the game room was setting aside a clearly labeled location where attendees can ring a bell for assistance if they come too late for instructions on setting up a new character which apparently happens only very early in the morning.  My son spent both Friday and Saturday watching his friend play, while playing himself on his Nintendo DS, because he had lost his character sheet from last year and he claimed we were not getting him there early enough to get a new one made or included in the ongoing games until Sunday.  This is easily fixed, but needs to be prioritized for next year. 


The other thing they will need to do is to advise game masters on simple tricks to allow new players to smoothly enter a game already in progress if there is room at the table.  Some Game Masters with decades of experience are able to do that on the fly, but for a convention atmosphere, it makes sense to work something into the story line in each adventure where there is some nefarious group kidnapping adventurers, or somehow using paralyzing devices to trap intruders in a way that puts them and all their equipment in stasis.  As such, any new player can get “found and rescued”, with their equipment fully intact, by the adventuring party in almost any location.  Naturally they will have to act in character to explain where the adventurer has found himself and integrate him into their party, but that has always been part of the fun of such a game.

 

Items that did not go as scheduled included the two 10 am panels on Saturday where both the sets of panelists apparently were not early risers.   The screening of Nickel Children also did not occur, although the reasons are still unclear.  Some attendees that wanted to see it advised this reporter that it was apparently replaced last minute with a panel on art.  This is compounded by the fact that the film is out of stock and out of print, and therefore not available for purchase anymore.  (On the good side though, the short film will soon be released for viewing free of charge on the internet.  You can of course still donate whatever you think the art is worth to the charity the director, cast, and crew have donated all profits to at Love146.org  The film depicts fictional children rescued from the slave trade, but the charity does this for real!  For more information about that, contact this writer or anyone at S. S. Kali's Hourglass.)

When the event was done, what really stood out, beyond all else, was that this was a fun place for people to meet each other, hang out with friends, show off new gadgets and costuming, and generally feel a part of something exciting, colorful, and interesting!  The hallmark word that keeps coming up at all steam punk events in our area is “Community”.  While there are always some kind of conflicts whenever large numbers of people get together, here they were so few and rare as to be almost invisible. 


What is even better about this community is that when conflicts do occur between individuals or groups there seems to be a genuine effort made to find solutions, bridge gaps, and move toward a stronger and more unified community instead of falling back into the cut throat competition so common in America today.  We have been told by guests from other states that this is not true of all parts of the country, and that we are doing a good job of pioneering a better way of making Steampunk into a true community.  The Steampunk Community in Texas and surrounding states also tends to emphasize "family friendly" events where children are fairly common and made welcome.  (Our children thus far have also proven to be amazingly well behaved.) 


Instead of High School popularity contests and jocks versus nerds, this seems to be a place where people genuinely try to revive the idea of courtesy, mutual respect, and acceptance of people from all walks of life.  In fact, this is one of the few places where those that are the most different are often the most admired.  Here even the quiet, shy, inventor types stand out and are recognized as powerfully positive role models and teachers to the community as a whole!

 

This event was quite impressive for a first convention from the Clockwork Con staff.  Well done to all of you!  I look forward to seeing more of your events and hope to do so for many years to come!

Fair Winds to you!












Monday, January 23, 2012

Interviews & Concerts at Clockwork Con 2012

Gadgets from the Gadgeteer Festival at Clockwork Con 2012
I was privileged to interview Baron von Lahey of the Wandering Legion of Thomas Tew, Emperor Justinian of the Red Fork Empire, and the robotic singers, musicians, and comedians of Steam Powered Giraffe.  Here are links to the video images of Clockwork Con 2012


Emperor Justinian, Admiral Leon del Mar, and Baron von Lahey




Steam Powered Giraffe Jam






Marquis of Vaudville




Monday, January 16, 2012

Clockwork Con in the Planning Stages

Back in Spring of 2011, I interviewed Alex Whisenhunt about the new all Steampunk 3 day convention they are putting together.  Unfortunately there was a major pressure leak in the steam driven logic and memory chambers of my brain. It seems between writing articles, writing a play, rehearsing the play, recruiting talent, responding to emails, and programming our own event, this never got put together into a finished article.  As a result the article never actually got put on my site.  As I just discovered this, due to the fact facebook keeps past threads in messenger, I advised Alex I would publish the very interesting and insightful glimpse into the mind of a "mad genius" crazy enough to try to take on such a daunting task and bring it to completion now.  The event will be this weekend on January 20th, 2012, so be there or be, well, not very steamy.

In areas where the information is out of date, I will try to insert a correction in brackets, but keep in mind this article is not so much about the event adn as about the thought process that brought it into being.  Here's how the question and answer session messages went:



Q: Is the venue set, if so where, and most important, has a contract been signed regarding the date and location yet?

A:To start off, yes, be booked our date and location, this was actually done before a Clockwork Wonderland and before A Difference Engine was announced. However we had been keeping it on the down low for a bit until we had things ready for pre-registration. In fact we had been talking to groups about it since December. It is at the Crowne Plaza in North Austin, January 20-22nd.


Q:Second, what are your thoughts about the timing and do you think it will appear to be a conflict with Marquis of Vaudville Events or with the Difference Engine New Years Event?

A: When Difference Engine announced it put us in a really bad spot, because even though we had been talking to people a while, they went public first so it made us seem “second” to their Con. I heavily looked into changing the date of our convention, however, moving to any time other than May-August (which would be horrible in Austin) there will always a Con within 3 weeks of us. Toby is highly supporting Clockwork Con, I have already talked to him and his event will not be happening in January next year. In fact he has already been booked to perform at Clockwork Con.


Q: I would strongly suggest, as a friend, that you contact Toby Lawhon, lead singer for Marquis of Vaudville and ask his advice about a date that would not conflict with an already hugely successful and well loved and well supported event, (The Marquis of Vaudville Clockwork Wonderland) and will avoid any hint of suspicion that the date and name was not coincidental.

A: One of the first things I did, Toby is a great guy as was his event and I would never want to interfere with that. In fact, Toby is already booked for our convention and is very excited about the event.

[editor's note:  Toby Lawhon of Marquis of Vaudville stated plans to move his groups annual special event to September, but their band was so well promoted and supported by the steampunk community that they were booked for so many performances they just couldn't make that happen.  They have just recently announced that they were booked by a non-steampunk group, Viva Dallas Burlesque to play their event on 2-3-2012 and to add their own unique air to the event.  This is how Viva Dallas Burlesque - Gadgets and Gobstoppers, organized and advertised primarily by Viva Dallas Burlesque, came to get scheduled so close to Clockwork Con.]

Q: Will you have bands, dj or both. If so whom?

A: We will be having both DJ’s and Bands performing at Clockwork Con. At the moment the only band with a signed contract however it Marquis of Vaudeville.

Q: What panelists of performers do you have committed so far to the event?

A: I have personally invited several of the Airships out to Clockwork Con to run events and panels. We also have several artists and authors lined up and are in the works of negotiating the specifics with them.


Q: Do you have volunteer staff from other conventions interested in helping you run this?

A: I currently have 2 Staff working with to run this event, however I have a block of around 10-15 volunteers who will actually help run /setup the Con for passes and food.


Q: You should also stay in close touch with Pablo of the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Society

A: Yes, Pablo and I are working very closely to make sure both of our events are a success.


Q: The other thing to consider is that while hotel based is preferred by some, convention halls or performance halls with many adjacent panel type rooms can be obtained much cheaper at other locations.

A: Well as our location is already booked, this isn’t much of an issue anymore. But our event is being hosted at hotel, with a bar and restaurant inside of it, as well as in close proximity to several restaurants. The event also has free parking.



And I do thank you for the concern, much of it has already passed through my mind in regards to timing and other events. I’ve also got a lot of support from several other steampunk conventions, so with their help, I think this event is going to turn out to be a wonderful weekend. Feel free to keep in touch and I will work to answer any other questions you may have.

Cheers!
~Alex

For more info go to:  Clockwork Con

If you want to know more about how this whole journey evolved and future plans come to the event.  there is even a specific scheduled panel to discuss this topic and plans for similar events in the South Central US.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Victor Sierra, Parisian Steampunk Band, Grants an Interview

Left to Right "Big Machine", Anouk, and Bob of Victor Sierra
I was recently privileged to interview a band that has been bringing Steampunk Music, almost single handedly it seems, to Paris and the rest of France.  When I first listened to their newest album "Electric Rain", my first thoughts were "very fun and very Steampunk!"  About the steampunk part, they don't even try to be subtle and that's why I like it so much.  About this interview, my first gut reaction when I thanked them for the interview seems very appropriate in describing how it came across and so I will share it with you:  What I really like is that it is very candid, personal, and brutally honest!  It is also funny one moment and philosophical the next.  I especially laughed when big machine switched from rock star mentality to one of the most profound definitions of steampunk music I have encountered to date.


• Could you tell us a little about the musical backgrounds of the different members of the band and what brought them together to create Victor Sierra?

Bob: I already was a musician in my diapers, dancing to the musical programs on the radio, my mother told me. I have been through several musical trends and I formed several bands. Whatever style I was in for a while was only a platform for me to evolve towards something else, to experiment. I moved too fast and I was the engine while all of my co-members were the brakes. It has been a drag until I met Anouk and we formed Victor Sierra.

Anouk: My background is more theatrical than musical. About the band's birth, Bob knows better how to tell it…

Big Machine : New wave, cold wave, no wave, 60’s garage punk, blues, electro, ambient, dark ambient and Krautrock. Victor Sierra was created before I came in but their sound pleased me…


 


• When did you first encounter people in steampunk attire or singing Steampunk related lyrics that was distinctive enough to really draw your attention and what effect did it have on you?

Bob: Your question is not funny but this always makes me smile… When Big Machine joined the band two years ago, he told us about Steampunk. We had never heard of it before. So we googled it and all of a sudden we found out that we were not alone, at last… Everything seemed so familiar to us… The dystopia, the "uchronical" visions, the outfits ands contraptions, the mix of genres… The encounter of romance and technology.  Victor Sierra has been a steampunk band from the beginning without us being actually aware. But I would like to mention that Dieselpunk does attract me, as well. That's how we came to create the Airship Hydrogen Queen -of which I'm the Commander! I would rather speak of retro-futrurism. It's yesterday's tomorrow.

Anouk: All at once was there, clothes, music, jewelery, the universe… At one point  we were suggested we were  SP, a click on google to understand what it was about and we realized we were at the right place, home…

BM : We had been playing for a while when I realized : Victor Sierra is a retro-futuristic band. We are Steamers but we don’t know it yet ! It really changed my life… -_o



• What has been your exposure to “Steampunk” culture, fashion, lyrics, or style in music and how has that influenced your own approach to your art?

Bob: Art is vision. Steampunk is one particular vision where no one ever dies. War is ugly but the image of war is beautiful. One can make art of it. Courage, audacity, revolutionary romanticism, all these feelings and mental concepts fill steampunk avenues and quench my thirst of adventures. Real steampunkers are not dreamers living in the past. It's a real insight on the world and every aspect of it.
About fashion…  in the first place, wearing high hats clearly don't make you smarter. But it is an expression of dystopia I enjoy. Many people in the community come from Goth. I've always found their outfits very conventional and stiff boring, all one and the same, let alone color. And not an ounce of creativity decade after decade. Steampunk is much more attractive. The present world is mixed with the past and what could have been if… What if… (the "what ifs"  are parts of my favorite mottos.)

Anouk: In SP, I found things meaningful to me and that had been lying in my imagination for a long time… With SP I have been able to link my passion for robots, with the one I have for puppets and automatons … until C3PO… 
As the band lead singer, and because I'm a former actress, SP allows me to re-link with the idea of theater, of characters and costumes … I'm actually addressing the characters in the songs, sending them signs...

BM : I've known Steampunk culture for 25 years… I was kinda cyberpunk in the early 90’s. Very much into technology and computers but Steam culture definitely brought a little bit of aesthetic into it !


• What other musical groups or performers, from whatever genre, do you think most strongly influenced you musical styles?

Bob: Aha, the question I fear the most… Very difficult to answer. I won't say that nobody influenced me. I can tell you what artists I love in the steampunk community but whether it is out of friendship or out of a real artistic influence I could not say… Vernian Process, Clockwork Dolls, Veronique Chevalier, Escape the Clouds, Dr Carmilla… and a  lot of the artists from the compilation (2 Cds!) Evelyn Kriete built up around the novel "Blood in the Skies" by G.D Falksen, which is to be sold with the book. 

Anouk: Let me briefly explain where I come from, musically speaking. My musical culture dates back to my childhood :  "La Chanson Française". I have a true tenderness for the realistic song "à la Piaf". Perhaps a bit cliché but totally sincere. Then I experienced the big blow of the New Wave, along with Eastern tunes and central Europe songs that have a highly emotional impact on me.. 

BM : Gary Numan’s my hero! And also Bowie, Bauhaus, Eno, Virgin Prunes, Tuxedo moon, Thomas Dolby and all the Krautrock movement.

 

• Everyone has a different interpretation of “Steampunk” as a musical style, and some even question if the style is defined enough to be a genre yet, but what makes you think “Steampunk” when you hear music?

Bob: We eventually have a word to define an actual universe, not a musical style only. I have been struggling for years with people asking me what kind of music I was writing without finding a word that could possibly fit except that of  "universe" and let me tell you that it did sound a bit preposterous. I read a lot of bullshit on FB groups about it. It reminds me what people were saying within the techno circles I was involved in a few years ago. "What kind of instruments are musicians allowed to play?" and "Can songwriters trespass the boundaries of the Victorian Era in their lyrics?" etc. I don't give two hoots about whether Veronique Chevalier's style is different from my friend Allison's from the Clockwork Dolls. They are steampunk in the mind, meaning able to see several realities crisscrossing each other, make fun of them and take inspiration from them.

Anouk:  It's a feeling, it's here and that's it. When I listen to the Clockwork Dolls, I don't need to see them, it's simply obvious . And what is funny is that although our musics are very different, we're clearly one of the same family; it strongly showed when we performed with Frenchy and the Punk in Paris.

BM : It's a journey thru different cultures and different ages.

 

• Where would you like to see this new musical genre go from here?

Bob:  I would certainly like it to keep its "epic" part. Something thrilling you… Uplifting, even if sometimes lyrics are very sad…The intellectual excitement is also decisive to me, therefore I hope that steampunk music will be keeping on thinking hard about how the world could have been… I know that some aspects will be (and are already) used by some mainstream pseudo artists but we can't prevent this and therefore I think we shouldn't set too much importance to that.  The world hasn't changed with the internet and the digital way of buying music. There were people paying for things of poor interest before. 

Anouk: May SP keep on inventing its own history!

BM : I would like it to become the next major world trend ! I want to be a steampunk star, have tons of money, and also nude girls and huge cars in my video clips, ruin hotel rooms and throw tv sets thru the windows… Somethin’ like that would fit me well enough…

 

• How popular is Steampunk these days in France and other countries where you perform?

Bob: Well, first the music. France is not a country with big musical traditions. Meaning, there is obviously musical creation but you can't bump on a bar at every corner with a band mounting its gear at 5 pm. For other aspects of Steampunk, you should refer to the Lugdunum Steampunk Imaginarium of Lyon where we perform last year. It was the very first convention ever organized in this country. Many performers, bands, dancers, fashion designers, circus artists were there. It has been a big success. But for the time being it's the only one. Let's hope it'll be the starting-point… 
About other countries we have great expectations in the UK where we'll perform next August. We are setting up a tour and if Britons read this and want us to perform at their place they can reach me at: management@victorsierra.net.

BM : I think it’s so popular that we should live in some other country… Antarctica might well be more into steam culture than France (aha…)
… 


 
• Additional: Is there anything else you would like to add about any aspect of Steampunk music, performance art, or about Steampunk as a lifestyle?

Bob: Dystopia has always been part of my songwriting themes. Rather easy to get lost in those particular lands... Sometimes I hardly make ends meet and after a while, I say to myself: what the use of being logical... Retro-futurism allows every trick, so let's do it.

Anouk: Another passion: fabrics, costume, couture! I am beginning a new trip in designing Victor Sierra's costumes…

BM : Steampunk is most of all, a literary culture, every kind of music can be steampunk, it just has to be a perfect soundtrack for a journey thru different ages and cultures.

Check out their website at:    Victor Sierra

and one of their videos at:   You Tube Victor Sierra




Here also is a review of their latest album Electric Rain  
on the blog "MeloncholyRomantic" 

Episode 2 of Nightclass Comedic Horror TV Series with Ad. Ramon Leon del Mar

Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar, leader of the Covenant of the Kraken, shows up this time as his evil twin who is a time traveling psychopath named Aliester Graves, a college professor from out of your worst nightmare presenting as the host, this entertaining mini-series "Night Class" which appears on Denton Cable TV, but is now released to the internet on YOU Tube.

Take a look at this episode where we find the problems of modern day college students can go far beyond just studying, boy/girl issues, and exams in Night Class: Friend or Food




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twisted Gears Steampunk Event with the Crew of Airship Dionysius


I was recently very pleased to be able to interview the Captain of Airship Dionysius, Tayleb Duque, about their newest Houston Steampunk Event.  It's called the "Twisted Gears" steampunk convention on February 25, 2012, and promises to be a really good time at a really great price.  While there are now many Steampunk events out there this one is dedicated to making some grass roots performance art and entertainment available in ways that really gives Houston, Texas it's very own home grown steampunk convention!!!

1) Can you tell us a little about the new Steampunk Event you are planning?

 The event we are planning is called: "Twisted Gears" it is a one day all steampunk convention here in Houston. Over the last year we have seen steampunk events pop up all around Texas but not one here in Houston yet we have so much talent here alone that needs to be shown.

2) In a few words what does the term "steampunk" mean to you?

Steampunk to me is a mixture of reality and fantasy, its a community where our creative minds are able to run free and we can explore new, old, lost and forgotten styles. Its bringing back the beauty and joy of making something with your own hands. Sorry if this doesn't make sense but I'm not going to say what era I think "steampunk" should be because then you are making boundaries for your creativity.

3) How did you find yourself attracted to steampunk events and what can others attending your event expect to find of interest there?

It was about 2 years ago.  I had been a cosplayer for many years, but I was losing interest in it. I have dark skin, so whenever I did a character from my favorite anime people said I was an Original Character [instead of accepting that it was the character I was trying to cosplay]  The only one I ever really pulled off was Yourichi from Bleach. In the cosplay world people were always tearing each others outfits apart {metaphoircally speaking]  If it wasn't hand made, then they thought you were cheap.  It just wasn't a nice place. It was at A-kon where a friend told me to go see this thing called a 'Steampunk Tea Party'.  I was curious so I went and I just fell in love with all the clothes, props, stories, and people. They were all so much nicer and more understanding.  they were always willing to talk to you and help if you needed anything. I ended up starting my own ship and I have been enjoying it since.

4) What types of entertainers or classes do you have lined up so far?

Well we wanted to be different from other steampunk conventions that had been done so far. Most of the Vendors and Panels are being done by people in the Houston area. We have a panel about tips for sewing but it covers from standard patterns as well as plus size too, its mainly for plus size because it is very hard to find patterns for steampunk in plus size but the tips can be used for all sizes really. We have one on toy modification, where you can learn how to turn Nerf guns, water guns, or other toy guns into steampunk guns. Also for that panel for a small fee we will give you a gun that you can mod step by step there and walk out with your very own gun. We have a panel about the history of the 'Gentleman's Dual' from medieval judicial dueling through the 20th century, also with professionals watching and the proper gear you can pay a small fee and have your own dual. Then we have a cane martial arts panel where you learn about Bartitsu and La Canne, which are common styles use back then and many people have seen some of it in Sherlock Holmes but they just didn't know it. Then of course we have a panel about the history of steampunk and all the different styles and here it gives people who may not know the world very well a chance to ask questions that they might have. We will being having a museum where people can show off their work, we will have a fashion show by Jesse Thaxton of the Rouges, we have a raffle at our Cogs N' All Dance and the end of the event.

5) How much does the event cost and when and where will it be held?

This event will be held at the University of Houston main campus at their University Center in the Underground part of the build on February 25, 2012 from 12 pm-1am. As for prices we have pre-registration up and its $10 and at the door is $15. This is the website for it:    www.twistedgears.weebly.com

6) What else would you like to tell our leaders about this new upcoming event?

That this is something I hope everyone will like and enjoy, this is about bringing out the steampunk community in Houston, and showing all the talent that is here. I can not tell you how amazed and proud I am of all the people who came to my aid to help put this together, because we all wanted to see this happen. Many people don't know just how much work goes into making something like this, and so to the people who have helped me, Thank You!  Though there are not enough words of gratitude that could be said, I am happy to have friends like you.

Thank You also Ramon Leon Del Mar for taking the time to talk with me and help spread the word of the talent of this area as well as showing people what steampunk is and can be.


Twisted Gears


You are most welcome Captain Tayleb Duque !

It is wonderful to see a community come together like this, and to not only work with each other, but also reach out to steampunk communities in other areas in a completely mutually supporting kind of way.  We need much more of this spirit of friendship and cooperation and to help spread utter rebellion against the typical American mindset that everything must be a competition to the bitter end!  



Admiral Ramon Leon del Mar,  S.S. Kali's Hourglass

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Peter Pixie Master of Ceremonies!




Once again I must say I was very impressed with the services provided by our Master of Ceremonies, Peter Pixie (aka Peter Berry), and his lovely (and well dressed) assistant Rachel.  Very few MCs actually make the performers, special guests, and event attendees alike feel so welcome and appreciated.  Peter Pixie, on the other hand, actually researches performers and Special Guests to ensure he is familiar with them and their work to some degree before the event. 

At the event he tries to find the performers and panelists and asks them in person for more information about what type of performance, panel, or lecture they have in store and for any special preferences about how they are introduced. He then does a fine job of convincing the audience that they should really be excited to have this person before them.   He also announces events before hand with that rare talent of a voice that carries well and quite clearly without being unpleasantly loud or intrusive even in a large room full of people.

All of this I knew before he ever worked for us as I have performed and presented material at events before where he worked as the Master of Ceremonies.  What I did not know, was that Peter is also so organized and capable of adjusting to the rapidly changing landscape of a convention floor that any event that had it’s performers and necessary equipment in place was sure to go smoothly whether I or any of my program staff made an appearance or not.  While Murphy’s law does not take a nap around this “Pixie”, it does eventually just give up and go away as he manages to fluidly sidestep all such conflicts with humor and panache!

 I let my event organizer know that it was amazingly helpful to have someone so dependable, because when I or my staff made our routine pre-event sweeps looking for problems, late performers, missing privacy screens or malfunctioning sound equipment etc., we simply go fix any problems we encountered before those sections of the program happened and not worry that other events would not go well without our direct supervision.   It reminded me of having a fine Executive Officer or very experienced First Sergeant in the military so The Commander and his Lieutenants could command, prepare, and fix a last minute crisis yet everything looked to the paying customer as smooth as silk.  
To give a more specific example, one of my special guests had trouble with their room in a sold out hotel on New Year’s Eve.  While the event organizer went to arrange getting the hotel to correct their mistake, I spent time making sure the guest knew how much we valued their services and contributions to our event.

This was not a task I could delegate and be sure it was done well enough.  As a result, I actually missed much of the “Steampunk Fashion Show”.  While this was happening my second in command, the artistic director, was busy doing her most critical job of calming and coaching first time models before they hit the runway. 

In spite of all this, I was surprised to find that I felt no apprehension as I had faith that if any problems arose, the Master of Ceremonies, Peter Pixie, would find a pleasant and amusing way to overcome them.  My faith was justified when I arrived to find that the show went off without a hitch and no one even noticed I was missing.  For once I didn’t have to worry that things might go terribly wrong if I wasn’t there every moment.

In other events, where I or my second were available and chose to be highly involved, Peter performed just as smoothly without so much as a ruffle even if we gave him a bit more assistance than he actually needed.  In fact, he often caught things that might have gone overlooked and corrected them on the fly while making any oversight correction appear to be as carefully planned as every other aspect of the performance or show.
 
As such I welcome any event organizers, program directors, or meeting planners interested in Peter Pixie’s services as MC to directly contact me at covenantofthekraken@yahoo.com as I will be delighted to give him a good reference and discuss our reasons for such high satisfaction with his services in more detail. 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Guest Blogger-Donna The Bard Reviews The Difference Engine Steampunk Convention



I am happy to announce that "Donna The Bard" has approved the following presentation of her review of the first Difference Engine 3 day Steampunk convention in Fort Worth, Texas.  And now for your entertainment and enlightenment, I bring you Donna the Bard:

The Difference Engine Steampunk Convention rang in the New Year with 3 days of fun. A steady stream of entertaining performances occupied the stage in 30 minute increments all day long while enlightening panels and presentations addressed issues of interest. I enjoyed the corset class hosted by the ladies of Airship Isabella, and being a quilter, I had to see the Victorian Crazy quilt presentation by Melia Newman. I enjoyed meeting author Bev Hale and the waltz class prepared folks for an enjoyable evening at the New Year’s Eve ball, the highlight of the event.

As always, “Cut, Thrust and Run” kept you alert and laughing with their innovative improvisation and exceptional swordplay while the Tribal dancing of Heidi Wunder bewitched the audience into spellbound fascination. Professor Ewell Tar sold Princess Feather Flower’s Magical Elixir in a hilarious Wild West Medicine and Magic show. Sarasvati Bodhisattva played the sitar beautifully and added some drumming to my show as well- I really enjoyed getting to know her.

Though the audiences were small, energy was high and attendees seemed to have a good time. Many turned up in exquisite costumes and Peter Pixie did a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome as he announced and introduced performers.

I hope everyone who came to my show had a good time. I enjoyed teaching people to play the bodhran and leading the sing a longs. Wishing you a happy new year and Auld Lang Syne.

Lady Genevieve Gordon aka Donna the Bard.