How To Kill Steampunk

Swordwoman ready for battle.

Steampunk’s been declared dead, or about to die, many times. Most often, it is when some aspect of the mainstream, whatever that is, picks up some pieces of Steampunk. Suddenly totally “unhip” people know the big secret, and you can get some Steampunk stuff in your shopping malls. And everyone thinks this is the end of the world. So I’ll let you in on the forbidden Lore, the knowledge of the Illuminated Masters, the hidden truth:

There is no Steampunk secret.

There is no Steampunk secret. Steampunk, as I discussed other places, has no hidden Masters; in fact, it has no Masters at all, just some people who do a lot of it and make interesting things.

“An Enlightened Master is ideal only if your goal is to become a Benighted Slave.”
~Robert Anton Wilson

Sure, you can find a wrong way to do anything – every time I hear a Reeses commercial that says there’s no way to eat their snacks, I get a perverse purge to attempt to absorb it into my body using my fingers for osmosis. But honestly, would even the Reese’s company consider that wrong? Especially if already paid for their damn candy bar. If that’s what I want to do, I may not actually ingest the thing, but I’m getting fair use out of it.

You could, I’m sure find some way to do Steampunk wrong; there infinitely creative ways for human beings to mess up if they really want to.  You could claim that your pet cat is a working 747 jet airplane, and I think most of us will generally agree that you are not correct. But if you work hard and your feline wants you to pick her up and run around your place making jet engine noises and claiming to be a passenger aircraft, then we will at least recognize you’re trying, and while we probably wouldn’t buy tickets for that flight, we would find it adorable.

Likewise, you can take a chicken burrito and claim that it is Steampunk and, if you really want to be proud of yourself, you can watch the rest of us try to figure out what the hell you mean. But that’s not really being wrong, that’s just intentionally messing with people’s heads. If you have some way to tie that burrito into the vast world of what Steampunk could be, then dammit, I see no reason why even that couldn’t be steampunk, given a bit of ingenuity and a sincere desire to create something that others would appreciate.

How do you kill Steampunk?  You can’t; it’s not something that “lives” or “dies”; it’s something that we create and keep creating.  That is its own special vitality, and it comes from all of us.

How can you do Steampunk wrong?  Only one way I know.  hose who tell you that their way is the only right way? Those are the only ones were definitely doing it wrong.

~Jeff Mach
Jeff Mach Events

The Wicked Faire: A Steampunk Origin Story

Wicked Faire blue-haired Steampunk Rennaissance Faire attendee!

(Photo from The Wicked Faire 2013 – by Babs Who Takes Pictures)Our flagship event, The Wicked Winter Renassance Faire, was seminal to how we got into Steampunk.  We created an indoor Renaissance Faire which broke all the rules of Renfaires – so when Steampunk came along and broke all the rules of what a punk or geek culture could we, be embraced it with open arms.

This is the ethos behind doing an unbounded Faire; it was written eight years back, and I think you might see how it influenced the Steampunk we do.

“Hello! This is Jeff Mach, of the Wicked Winter Chocolate Factory Renaissance Faire. You may have heard of us; you may not. This is the part where it would be helpful for me to describe Wicked Faire in a single pithy sentence…but I’ve never been able to do that well, even though I strongly believe a promoter should be able to explain things that simply.

I’ll try this: If you took an event which changed rules of place and time, like a Renaissance Faire; had an insane amount of entertainment, like a festival; was social and full of rich interaction, like a convention; and worked its metaphorical ass off to give unusual people a place that felt like home–

Then you’d come as close to a good description as I can.”

We’ve gone through good times and bad time and most of all weird times, and we’ve learned this: the more we welcome and accept ever-greater weirdness and friendliness, the more we help create joy.

If we do it right, if we welcome you, then I feel, in the back of my mind and the center of my heart and the core of my gut, that we have succeeded in the thing I wanted most: We have put together something unspeakably, gloriously, wizardly unworldly great this year–and at the very damn core of my being, I want to share it with you.

That was my credo almost a decade back.  It’s my credo now.  And it’s my happiness and my delight to see that I’m not alone – to see that Steampunks all over the world feel the same way.

I live in the best of all possible worlds: the one right between the imaginary and the infinitely possible.

Yours in service to dreams,

Jeff Mach
Jeff Mach Events

Nerds are damn hot

Erotic geek fashion concept. Sexy nerd wearing alluring black sensual lingerie sitting on the couch having cup of coffee or tea

I think about geeks getting together pretty much all the time. I have to. It’s my job; I run events for geeks – and while, in actuality, “geeks getting it on” is shorthand for “geeks being able to make powerful social connections which lead to longterm connections” – it genuinely occupies much of my brain.

I keep considering the question of scarcity. If I were viewing this a younger geek, thirty years ago, it would deprecation, with a culture whose members were universally told that they were not wanted, and would never be wanted. For me, the journey might be summed up like this:

1995: “You geeks love computers because they’re the only things which will ever love you.”
2017: Holy DAMN, were they ever wrong!

Not every geek has an incredible intimate life, not even in 2017. But now we know that every geek can. They told us we’d be locked out of intimacy for life, barely able to find enough kindred souls to form a few friendships – certainly not love, not sex, not abundance. But they were wrong: in fact, un-fucking-believable nerdex is the legacy of this generation of geeks.

I won’t try to define “geek” or say exactly what a “geek” or “nerd” is; there was a time when those definitions seemed totally critical to my life, but now it’s just Tribe: If you’ll declare yourself a Geek, and be open-minded and good to other Geeks, I’ll call you a Geek. Simple as that.

Whether it’s romantic fiction or not, I like the historic view that geekery as we know it started with science fiction. That’s quite disputable, but it’s still one good place to begin. There we were, inventing a weird genre with no literary credibility. There we were with no support but that which we made for ourselves, when we started tiny magazines and began forming tenuous communities. We had nothing except our minds, and the concept that you could–and should!–use ideas to challenge conceptions of the world around us.

Then came my generation, and, again, my vision of it is more of a romantic memory than a real historical breakdown. But give this a nice 80s rock backbone and splash it into a montage:

The embrace of home computer technology! Our entrance into pop culture (as deranged, invariably male engineers with terrible social skills, true – but at least they knew that geeks existed) – and the rise of what was starting to become modern fandom! We helped establish the culture of geekery – in art, film, literature, clothing, gaming, social lives. We were the ones given the tools and materials to build the fledgling Geek Nation.

And now?

Now comes the geekery of joy! Now comes the geekery of celebration! Now comes nerdsex beyond belief!

This is the generation of those who know geek love is strong. After all, this is the generation whose members might very probably have attended their first conventions with their parents. This is the generation which, as others have noted, can wake up any morning and be immersed in geek culture. This is the generation which knows that geeks are not alone.

This generation of geeks has the entire architecture of imagination as their rightful heritage. Our bequest is that of dreamers-of-dreams. Because we are the third generation to push the boundaries of what is possible. Because our creativity has decades of spanning galaxies and millenia in search of new ideas. Because we have spent half a century building rich lives of the mind– and being told that those were the only lives we would get. And we are shattering that idea so hard that the next generation won’t even believe it really existed.

Geek sexuality has always, always been powerful; it’s simply that we were few enough, and our confidence little enough, that you seldom saw it. Now we’re visible, and we are creating the birthright of those who’ll come after. Because if geekery has always embraced the mind, and geekery can now embrace the body, then the geekery we build is limitless.

We are getting together for our future. And it is a glorious damn future indeed.

-Jeff Mach

Jeff Mach Events / The Steampunk World’s Fair

Three Defiantly Non-Victorian Steampunk Anthems

"Kiss The Misfits", by Felix Hagan & The Family - Album cover.I have long maintained that there’s a key spirit of Steampunk music which doesn’t need to fall within the Victorian era, or be about goggles or gears; I love those things, but the true heart of Steampunk culture is that Do It Yourself, fiery passion, a refusal to be satisfied by the “ordinary” Universe, and an outpouring of creative possibility; as Men Without Hats put it, “We can act like we come from out of this world, leave the real world far behind.”

With that in mind, here are three defiantly anthemic songs which have real Steampunk souls.

Felix Hagan and the Family, “Kiss The Misfits”.  I’m biased, because I absolutely love Felix Hagan.  But there’s a reason behind it; they create music about the grandiose, glorious struggle to make truly original things and bring them to an audience.  There are few subjects more near and dear to my own heart.  This is the title song of their recent EP, and it will make you want to do exactly what the chorus says: “Kiss the misfits, dance with the punks!”

Adam Ant, “Stand And Deliver”.  You might know Adam Ant; he’s been making mockingly, glimmeringly charismatic punk-glam-pop music for decades now.  He’s seen it all, the punk movement, the scifi of the 80s, the peculiar evolution of the 90s–and then he’s just kept making music straight up to the present day.  Here’s a very young Adam Ant, in a music video whose era clearly predates the Victorian era by no more than, say, twenty or thirty years; there’s just a tad too much Revolutionary War for this to be the 19th century, but I don’t care about that; I want the dandy highwayman to leap through windows and frighten all the staid and stolid gentry!

and then

Jethro Tull, “Too Old To Rock & Roll”.  Steampunk purists would assuredly tell me that this band is too well-known to be Steampunk; that the video covers too many eras, only some of which appear to be 19th-century; that a mad flute player isn’t their idea of an airship pirate.  To them I say: Nuts to you!  Jethro Tull is in their fiftieth–yes, fiftieth!–year of making music.  Sure, some of their work, including this song, can be heard on classic rock stations, but they’ve got literally a dozen albums (including several rock operas and concept albums, which are not easy things to make) – spanning all manner of subjects mythic, dystopian, unusual, and often previously-unexplored.  And there are few songs more subversive than this tune–written while the band was still young, and already anticipating the thing we’d later experience in the 1990s, that phenomena where rock-as-revolution had turned into rock-as-supermarket-background-music.  Tull has refused to stop or back down; they just create.  I’ll raise a glass to that!

-Jeff Mach
Jeff Mach Events

Steampunk festival memories

Steampunks hanging out at The Steampunk World's Fair 2013 - photo by Babs Who Takes Pictures

Steampunks hanging out at The Steampunk World’s Fair 2013 – photo by Babs Who Takes Pictures

It’s cold outside, but in a part of my heart is always in May.  I realized that the welcome that I used for the last Steampunk World’s Fair would actually work well for pretty much any Steampunk event.  So I thought I’d release it into the public domain.  Please feel free to take this and modify it for your own Steampunk festival, event, or show!

And behold! We come to the biggest and best Steampunk World’s Fair in all recorded history to date. Welcome! Steampunk and Steam-curious, Goth and Faerie, Geek and Rennie, Scholar and Artist, and Person Who Just Likes To Hang Out In Places Where There Are Lots of Goggles, it’s our pleasure to have you with us.

To our returning attendees, let me quote Oscar Wilde: “There are many pleasures in life, but few can match that of seeing a friend again.” To our new guests, let me quote Kermit the Frog: “Oh, I wish I were you people, seeing this movie for the first time!

Do remember to wander everywhere you can in our Fair! It’s meant as an adventure, and we have everything from big stages to quiet nooks. Encounter them all!

Do patronize our fine vendors; they are the lifeblood of any event. When they do well, we all do well.

Do be kind to hotel and event staff. If anyone, in turn, treats you with less than kindness, please let me know.

Our venue wants your good reviews! So if you have troubles during the weekend, and they aren’t fully resolved, please let us know!

And thank you for being here!

Yours truly,

Jeff Mach
Jeff Mach Events

A Steampunk Holiday Word From Scrooge

It's Steampunk Santa!

I think I speak for all grumpy old men of Steampunk when I say: “BAH!  HUMBUG!”

I suspect that the next entry here will contain some kind of holiday cheer.  For everyone who’s up for that sort of poppycock, you should probably check tomorrow’s entry.  But for now, let me give you some of the benefits of using Steampunk to avoid the holiday season.

7 Some people are dreaming of a snowy white Christmas.  I dread that, my thought, which is precisely why I have my Steam-Powered Weather Alteration Device set to “Volcano.

6. Want to avoid awkward conversations at dinner?  Just show up in your full Steampunk garb, complete with an assortment of weaponry.  Everything becomes much more polite.

5. Don’t want to give presents?  Just do what I do… give everyone tickets to events that have already happened.  If they’re too lazy to own time machines, that’s on them.

4. Food coma from too much turkey and other festive food?  Just slip your goggles off your top hat and over your eyes, and nobody will know you’re asleep!

3.  Did Santa leave you a lump of coal?  That’s fine; you can just use it to stoke the boiler in your airship.  Then you can chase after his sleigh and get the GOOD presents.

2. Television wasn’t even invented in the Steampunk era, which is an excellent excuse not to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the millionth time.

1. Remember, if anyone asks…you’re not a mean, nasty cuss; you’re just reproducing a beloved figure of the Victorian era – the one and only Ebenezer Scrooge!

(As told to Jeff Mach of Jeff Mach Events.)

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.”

~Charles Dickens

“I happen to LIKE oysters, thank you.”

~Ebenezer Scrooge