I’m going to embark on a taboo subject. But I don’t care. It’s time to bring this up. I don’t say any of this to be mean. I am resolutely, definitively positive in my love of Steampunk. But sometimes, things are just messed up.
4. The Second Steampunk World’s Fair gets no permits. As you presumably know, I didn’t plan The Steampunk World’s Fair II; I was busy preparing to get married. But the temporary management made the slight mistake of moving venues, against my advice. They simply did not realize that the old hotel took care of all township and permit issues, and the new venue absolutely did NOT. So two hours before the event, the fire marshal showed up, pissed as HELL, and disallowed all of the room vending. Which was also all of the vending, period. Without the cool-headedness of our then vendor coordinator, PK, who carefully walked the fire marshal through the hotel, showing alternate vending spots, and then bringing vendors to those spots, the event would have ended RIGHT THERE.
Scary. But true.
3. Abney Park, arguably the world’s biggest Steampunk band at the time, was scheduled for the big time – Madison Square Garden in NYC! Unfortunately, just weeks before the concert, the show was canceled. Abney Park released an official statement which said that the promoter had marketed them as a HEAVY METAL BAND. I kid you not. As a heavy metal fan AND a Steampunk fan, I can say that if I saw someone call Abney Park a metal band, I’d be offended myself.
2. Okay, this one is disturbing to me personally, because apparently the community has forgotten that a Steampunk promoter deliberately destroyed the Goodreads Steampunk list to put author G.D. Falksen (no, I’m not linking to his page) on top. You’ll pardon me if I pause here and don’t say anything funny or witty. This is ridiculous. I’ve been Googling it for half an hour and almost all the records are deleted. I get it: the person who did this was thorough. Apparently, we’ve opted to all forget it. Steampunk, this is messed up. I’m ashamed of you.
1. The Greater New England Steampunk Exposition. Can’t find records? I’m not surprised. Try http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/group/thegreatnewenglandsteampunkexhibition. That’s pretty much the only trace you’ll find.
This one’s simple: They hired every big name in Steampunk, rented a massive convention center, ran up a gigantic bill, misrepresented themselves to vendors, drove a lot of vendors out of business, paid NONE of their performers…and vanished.
People sometimes talk to me about our own programming practices, because many of our performers are paid in just exposure (which is often a trap; “exposure” can be meaningless, as it was here) and a chance to sell their merch. But we pay our damn performers; our performer budget is significantly higher than my yearly salary. For Gods’ sake, Steampunk: watch yourself.
In general, the Steampunk community is a wonderful, happy, accepting place. But let’s not forget that it’s made some horrible mistakes. Let’s not repeat them.
Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks). He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.