To tell the truth, I’ve never felt I fit in anywhere

“Steampunk isn’t about fitting in.  Steampunk is about refitting – the Universe, the past, your clothes, your idea of how to have fun, your ability to make stories, everything.”
― Jeff Mach, The Steampunk World’s Fair

“But you don’t have to fit in to be okay. Believe me! I am the not-fitting-in world expert. I have not fit in in maybe five different countries so far. I am homelandless. I even make mistakes when I speak Bulgarian. But it’s not big deal, not really. It’s not the end of the world, right? It’s okay.”
― Anne Nesbet, “The Cabinet of Earths”

I’ve never really felt I fit in.  I’ve never really felt at home in groups, even though I love groups, even though my life’s work depends on bringing people together into large groups and making them feel as safe, excited, and happy as possible.

But I’ve never felt at home anywhere.

Which is odd, because I now have a lot of places that I can call “home”, and a lot of places where people welcome me with great kindness.

It’s true that I’m an extrovert. But the only real home I have is inside me – or inside the moments when I suddenly realize I’m part of a shared experience, creating something that’s never been before.

Humans are social animals; you can Google any number of studies on social isolation to find out what happens when we don’t have our own kind, our own tribes, people we can speak to.

I’m surrounded by people, people I genuinely love, and still, it’s hard.

It’s weird and it’s lonely. But at the same time…

It makes me treasure what I have even more.  It makes me treasure Steampunk, Faerie, Goth, Fandom, and all the peculiar worlds we build.  Because I’d rather feel at home a few times a year, and be driven to make those experiences, than feel at home all the time, and be content where I am.

~Jeff Mach

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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.

My interview with “For Whom The Gear Turns” – reprinted with grateful thanks

My Interview with Jeff Mach, Creator of the Steampunk World’s Fair – by “For Whom The Cog Turns

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Jeff Mach started the Steampunk Worlds Fair in 2010, and continues to oversee this amazingly successful event as well as other special interest conventions. I interviewed him as part of the Steamfest Gazette, and now that my backers have had their copy for a while I thought I’d share my conversation with you all as well. Steampunk World’s Fair 2016 was amazing and I’ve already got my room booked for SPWF 2017. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Now, on with the interview!

PD: Which came first, your love of Steampunk or your knowledge of large-scale event planning?

JM: The events definitely came first, and I’m glad I had that experience.  We’ve always created events with a focus on tremendous entertainment. They say that every word in a poem should matter; we feel that every minute in an event should matter.  This meant that we wanted to have lots of stages and lots of opportunities available to our attendees, which really helped change the way people saw Steampunk events.  It was very rare to see that much music or entertainment at Steampunk events when we got started; you’d usually see a lot of panels. Panels are wonderful, but Steampunk culture is so much more broad than what you’ll find through conversation alone!

Just one of the many talented performers at SPWF 2016

Just one of the many talented performers at SPWF 2016

PD: Tell us a little about your event and the inspiration behind it.

We had a simple idea: We wanted to try to give people an opportunity to experience EVERY aspect of Steampunk creativity we could find, and we wanted to be accepting of ANYONE who wanted to attend, regardless of how they dressed, or how involved they were in the Steampunk community.  We wanted a place where anyone who enjoyed Steampunk could feel at home.

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PD: What was your biggest mistake, er, “growth experience” when you first started holding SPWF?

JM: I took time off from managing the event in year two, when I was busy getting married.  I don’t regret getting married!  But I should have run that event, no ifs, ands, or buts.

img_9343PD: What are some strategies for people to use, or avoid, when it comes to increasing attendance at special interest events?

JM: Have a clear harassment and consent policy!  It will help increase your attendance with people who want to see a safer fandom, and decrease attendance from people who don’t. It’s a win-win.

PD: What is your favorite thing about Steampunk in general, or your Steampunk event in particular?

One of our mottoes is “”We don’t make imaginary worlds. We make real worlds that come from imagination.”  Steampunk is based on literally endless whimsy and creativity.  You’ll rarely find any two Steampunks whose Imaginary 19th Centuries are the same – and yet we ALL respect each other and we all respect each other’s views of that universe.  It makes me happier than I describe.

It’s also what inspired me to create Glimmerdark.  I wanted to make a Faerie universe, but not one which obeyed or imposed any single set of rules for how it came about.  I wanted to see if I could take Steampunks freewheeling acceptance and apply it to a fantasy event.  (Of course, Glimmerdark is multi-genre – so we do expect and hope to have quite a lot of Steampunks there, too.  It all works together!)

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 PD: You also got a chance to bring Absinthe Heroes to life at this year’s fair. What was your inspiration for writing this Steampunk opera, and who is your favorite character?

Part of it was simple: There was almost no other Steampunk musical theatre at the time, and I felt that Steampunk culture could use a theatrical tradition.  I figured I’d do my part to help prime the pump!  I was a playwright long before I started doing events, and I felt that, with the resources of a festival behind me, I could really produce a show worth seeing.

Favorite character?  Ah, c’mon, that’s like asking about a favorite child!  But I will say that I can’t imagine not falling in love with an Evil Chocolatier.

 PD: I know Absinthe Heroes was funded through a Kickstarter campaign because I contributed to it ? Do you have any advice for other people who are developing their own crowdfunding campaigns?

JM: Always, ALWAYS have a plan BEFORE you start.  Always have an idea of how you’ll get your ideas out to people, and have a clear vision of what would make it worthwhile for other people to contribute.  YOU know why your project’s going to be fantastic and why, once it’s funded, it will succeed.  But other people don’t!  You have to explain it to people who don’t live in your own head.  Too often, people run a crowdfunding campaign on the basis of, “Trust me, this will be THE BEST” – and that’s just not going to help unless the people reading it already know who you are.  And even then, having a clear vision and a structure to what you’re doing will really help people decide that backing you makes sense.

About the author of this article

Before I Kill You (An Arch-Villainelle)

Before I Kill You (An Arch-Villainelle)

by David Sklar

The villainelle is one of the most complex and mesmerizing forms of poetry; it’s one of the hardest to write, and it arguably reached its speak right before the Steampunk era.  We love this piece by David Sklar; it speaks deeply to our cold, cold hearts.

Originally published in http://stonetelling.com/issue12-apr2015/.

Although I’m not particularly vain,
I’m sure you’d like to know how you will die,
so, first, before I kill you, I’ll explain

my brilliant plan. Don’t bother to complain;
you won’t escape, no matter how you try.
It’s not that I’m particularly vain,

it’s just that after taking all these pains
I would like you to look me in the eye
before I kill you, so I can explain:

a cistern in the mountain gathers rain
through ducts in my enormous statue’s eye
(not that I am particularly vain).

It enters a robotic water main,
which, on command, can self-electrify.
Before I kill you, now, I will explain:

I’ve added some enhancements to my brain—
you’ll nev— What’s that? You’re out? Good grief! Good bye;
good riddance. It’s a good thing I’m not vain;
next time, before I kill you, I’ll explain.

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David Sklar is a time traveler from the twenty-first century who does not know why he can’t get cell phone reception here. His work has appeared in Ladybug, Nightmare, and many odd places in between. http://davidwriting.com

A Steampunk ventures into the Gothic world

After four years of development and extensive research from over 8 million VF members since inception, the darker side of North American culture is on exhibit for the first time this March 17-19, 2017.

New York, New York (January 23, 2017) – Vampirefreaks (VF) and Jeff Mach Events are proud to announce the first annual Dark Side of the Con (DSOC). An un-convention that brings the dark aesthetic to Metropolitan New York.

DSOC was created to bring all of the darker elements of popular culture to members and fans who are tired of typical comic and manga conventions that make no attempt at presenting dark elements that have overtaken all of media platforms in the past decade. VF Director Lorne Caplan penned the Darker Edge of Culture which emphasized how art, movies, television, literature, gaming, retail and other categories have adopted and promoted darker aspects of humanity. The DSOC brings these aspects of culture including dark curiosities, fashion, toys, food and games to fans in one place for the first time with no apologies! With Con-Fatigue beginning to grow from the same old same old conventions and events in every state, VF and Jeff Mach Events felt it was the right time to give denizens of darkness what they have been asking for as an event for years.

Founder, programmer and promoter Jeff Mach, who almost single handedly has grown alternative festivals like Wicked Faire, Glimmerdark and The Steampunk World’s Fair, was eager to bring DSOC to his fans as well. Jeff commented that; “…..”

DSOC will be combining leading-edge and topical panels and symposiums such as Vampires vs. Zombies, Goth Cuisine, Present Day Politics and The Apocalypse as well as titles from popular culture of dark interest, with live dark entertainment,

Goth Girl and villain competitive cos-play, vendors of all manor of darkly oriented items and other interactive “darktivities”.

Headlining Goth and Industrial musical acts for the DSOC will include:

Aurilio Voltaire – (Havana, Cuba, New Jersey)

Panic Lift – (Newark New Jersey)

The Amatory Murder – (Brooklyn, New York)

The Long Losts – (Husband and Wife team from Santa Monica, CA)

Xentrifuge – (New York, NY)

Psyche Corporation – (New York, NY)

Jess-O-Lantern – (Oscala, FL and New York, NY)

Darkly oriented performers include;

Karnevil – Circus Sideshow Acts with a Dark Side

Ashley Bad – Can Fetish have a Dark Side? Why yes!

Lydia Vengeance – Burlesque can be twisted too…

Jakal – Fire Performer

Kali Va – Fire Performer

…and DJ’s with dark play lists;

Mighty Mike Saga – (Philadelphia)

End:The DJ – (San Diego and Cincinatti)

Phoenixx – (Pittsburgh)

Jet – (NYC – Cybertron / Vampirefreaks)

Xris SMack! – (NYC – Stimulate)

Annabel Evil – (NYC – Cybertron / Vampirefreaks)

Shadownightz – (NYC – Cybertron / Vampirefreaks)

V-Christ – (NYC – Redrum Ball)

Swabby – (NYC – Cybertron / Vampirefreaks)

Aengel – (NYC – Redrum Ball)

To learn more about Dark Side of the Con, visit the links below: http://darksideofthecon.com/about/ https://www.facebook.com/events/199366893801128/

About Vampirefreaks.com: VF was founded in 1999 by software engineer and computer programmer, Jet Berelson. His original idea was simply to create a cool, safe place for Goth’s of all kinds to interact with each other without judgment by “normals” and society at large. By adding profiles of over 12,500 musicians and bands, VF created a solid foundation to build users and supporters of the site to over 1.7 million active people today. The VF community now offers a wide array of dark Gothic clothing, gifts, toys and accessories to satisfy the fashion, make-up and cultural and lifestyle oriented needs of its fan base and members. VF is revamping its user experience and adding state of the art mobile applications to help its fans reach each other about the things that matter most, music, art, fashion and Goth culture.

About Jeff Mach Events: Magic. Mayhem. Merriment. Jeff Mach Events is one of the East Coast’s largest creators of unique events for geeks, Steampunks, Halloween-lovers, and other non-normal people.

They run the world’s largest indoor Renaissance Faire, Glimmerdark, the unbounded Wicked Faire; the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; and the world’s largest adult events for geeks, The Geeky Kink Event and The Geeky Kink Event New England.

Their mission is to provide playgrounds for anyone who loves things that are unusual, creative, joyous, and different!

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PR contacts: Lorne Caplan on behalf of Vampirefreaks.com 917-881-5613. lorne@vampirefreaks.com. Interviews and additional information about The Dark Side of the Con, sponsorships, VF, Jeff Mach Events and Jet can be arranged by contacting Lorne.

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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.

Announcing The Great Steampunk Talent Search Winner…..Dyno Staats

We are thrilled to welcome Dyno Staats as the winner of SPWF’s The Great Steampunk Talent Search!

Come watch Dyno Staats present amazing scientific phenomenon so astounding you won’t know if you’re watching science, or magic!

Along with his headlining performance, be sure to watch for Dyno Staats busking throughout The Steampunk World’s Fair!


Dyno Staats is the West Coast’s Premier Steampunk Magician. His unique brand of magic and mad science has made him highly sought after for the most entertaining events. Come watch, something might go horribly wrong!