How To Get Ready For A Convention Or Festival

Steampunk World's Fair attendees

From The Steampunk World’s Fair 2014, by Babs Who Takes Pictures

As a person who runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, I am an expert in con preparation. In fact, I can sum up how to plan for a convention in less than a dozen words:

Give up. Give up NOW. Show up in nothing but Aquaman underwear and a tie and beg the front desk for a toothbrush.

However, I realize that not everyone will choose this option, because sometimes, the hotel doesn’t have very good toothbrushes. So for everyone else, I offer these handy hints:

1. How to avoid the stress of last-minute packing: All convention packing happens during the three-hour period after which you were supposed to leave for the event. This is unchangeable; there’s nothing you can do about it. But there is a working technique to soothe your pain:

(a) Pack for this event. You’ll be three hours late.
(b) Forget your suitcase at home. Show up naked, as instructed above. Then, just leave your suitcase untouched until the next event, and when the next event comes, you’ll totally be ready!

2. How to avoid getting Con Crud. Con Crud is a terrible thing – it’s the illness that spreads through an event due to the proximity of lots of people in a relatively small, enclosed space. But there’s a remedy.

(a) Get lots of sleep, take lots of vitamins, eat regularly, and have good personal hygiene habits.
(b) However, nobody actually does this. That’s okay. For a small fee, most events, including mine, will simply encase you in a huge block of Carbonite. This will prevent illness, as well as saving you money on food, and it makes packing irrelevant! It’s the perfect solution.

3. How to plan out all of your activities in advance. It can be hard to keep the mental focus you need in order to have good times. Fortunately, good preparation can serve you in good stead here.

(a) Think about activity you want to enjoy, and what you’ll need to do in order to get to it in the right place in the right time.
(b) Carefully place those plans within that famous suitcase full of writings which Hemmingway lost on a train. When the actual event starts, simply project an aura of confidence by shouting, “SHUT UP, I GOT THIS!” and firing up your Invisibility Cloak.

4. How to deal with seeing your ex at events. This is a serious and difficult subject. But there’s a simple solution:

(a) Blindfolds.
(b) Not for you, of course. Convince your ex to wear a blindfold the entire event. If you and your ex are not on good terms, this is best accomplished through reverse psychology: “BOY, I BET MY EX ISN’T CAPABLE OF SPENDING THE ENTIRE EVENT WEARING A BLINDFOLD”. Post that to your social media. Your ex will be challenged by your dare and put on a blindfold just to spite you. Trust me. 2% of the time, this works 100% of the time, assuming your ex is the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

5. How to make sure you have fun at events.

(a) Just go into the event with a positive attitude, a friendly demeanor, and a determination that you want to have a good time. Don’t stress too much, don’t worry too much; the event is there to help you be happy, and all you need to do is let it!
(b) If this doesn’t work, just eat Pixy Sticks and other forms of raw sugar until you’re basically bouncing off the walls like a rubber ball being continuously shot out of cannons. Keep bouncing long enough, and eventually, you’ll probably run into your soulmate and be happy forever. If this doesn’t happen, consider the possibility that you’re in the wrong movie. Fire the director, hire a new script, and have the whole thing re-shot by Michael Bay.

~Jeff Mach


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.

Three great Steampunk moments in mainstream music

Billy Idol dancing with himself.

Billy Idol’s Steampunk bolt of lightning. I do not own this photo.

I have loved music since I was thirteen, perhaps much younger.  And I grew up in that weird time when MTV was getting started. Strange fact: MTV, like Steampunk, brought weirdness to the rest of the world partway through accident and partway through force of will. When the financial forces behind MTV created the now-iconic channel, they had no money at all, and a lot of space to fill.

What DID they have?  A bunch of experimental films, mostly created by experimental bands whose record labels were, to put it kindly, desperate for attention. So they made whatever the bands felt would fit their artistic vision..within their tiny, tiny budgets and the laughable video low-budget special effects technology of the times.

Who knows what would have risen to the top in the age of autotune and an ability to make amazing things happen with no more than a laptop and a few hundred dollars in software?  But that wasn’t the world they lived in.  So music videos could be weird and experimental…and they succeeded.  And suddenly, major record labels wanted in on the act, and, as major franchises do, they said, “Wait, what’s selling now? Let’s do that!”  What was selling was weird… so artists were suddenly free to be weird.  QED: The music of the 1980s.

And that spirit continued, and it’s why so many music videos could take so many odd artistic chances, and why so many artists could do peculiar things.  I’m going to give you a mixed bag of three of my favorites.

#3.  Pete Townshend’s “A Friend Is A Friend”.  To be honest, I love rock operas, and I love Pete Townshend, and I’ll admit that I love everything he’s ever done.  But you have to figure: Only a rock start with major clout could get a record company to let you write–and then film!–an entire rock opera about a misunderstood giant robot who needs to save the earth from an evil giant bird.  That being said, that robot is massively Steampunk, and if you haven’t seen it, you owe yourself the pleasure:

#2.  Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West”.  This video is actually the reason this article isn’t entitled “the top three Steampunk appearances in classic rock videos”.  That being said, I could watch this video forever.  It’s become less common these days, but when I first got started in Steampunk, the way we used to explain it was, “You know ‘Wild Wild West’?  Yeah, with Will Smith.  Steampunk’s kind-of like that, only with less dancing.”

I’d like to think that now Steampunk is still like that, only with more dancing.

#1. Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”.  There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think that Billy Idol singing semi-gibberish while using clearly Frankenstein-inspired machinery to destroy zombies in some sort of post-apocalyptic London is awesome and totally Steampunk

….and those who are wrong.

Watch the video and decide for yourself!

~Jeff Mach


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.

Special All-Request Concert with ENSMB!

Photographer Credit: Babette Daniels Photography

You might have heard us talking about a Q&A with ENSMB – well that has now morphed into a private all-request concert just for the 100 lucky folks who purchase this $10.00 add-on.  Wow!!! What a bargain!

Ticket buyers will even get to help choose the songs!  Look for a voting poll soon – voting will only be for a limited time and only for concert ticket buyers! So buy your ENSMB add-on concert ticket now to make your choices part of the event!

Formed from the most talented deadbeats and drifters that could be rounded up, this group of raucous and rambunctious musicians will honk, wail, blow, beat, bounce, scream and serenade their way into your hearts. Playing anything that won’t break from vigorous use; their instrumentation is a unique blend of brass, winds, violin, accordion and an eclectic rhythm section.

What does it take to run geek/nerd/steampunk conventions at hotels?

Winter landscape with old hotel at nightWhen people say, “What does it take to run weekend-long Steampunk, Fairy, or Goth events,” I generally say:

A hotel that actually WANTS your weird friends to hang out in it.

This is more unusual than you’d expect..  If you’ve not booked a hotel before, your feeling might be, “Well, it’s business; you’re bringing them money; they’re in business to make money, right?”

But it’s not unlike, say, restaurants that wouldn’t serve longhaired hippie folks in the 60s, or clubs that wouldn’t let you in unless you were wearing day-glow naugahyde pants with a purple polyester shirt..  They feel they have a certain image to maintain, and they make certain assumptions about who and what you are..  Hotels are often scared that your strange people will scare off their corporate clients.

Sure, your strange people are ALSO their corporate clients, and hotels are slowly learning that some of the businesspeople in suits and ties during the week ARE the ones showing up in Steampunk Pokemon outfits on the weekends, and they don’t appreciate having hotels condescend to them or their friends..  But that learning process is extremely slow, and sometimes it moves backwards..  There are still people in corporate boardrooms (and not always the oldest or most old-fashioned) who fear that potential “normal” clients will see your “weird” clients and decide not to patronize their hotel.

(By the way, the popular euphemism for scifi, geek, fantasy, horror, and other conventions and festivals, in the hotel business, is often “association groups”..  Don’t be surprised to hear yourselves called that.)

There’s also still a general belief that we’re the troublemakers.. It’s certainly true that some of our folks party (and, indeed, I would NEVER have expected how hard nerds party; that IS true).  But we’re seldom the ones making trouble, because we’re all really invested in coming back, and in seeing hotels welcome our kind.

Wedding parties, on the other hand?  Wedding parties are a holy terror.   If you’re ever in the position to speak to a hotel about holding an event, and they ask if your people are problematic, you can say, “Some of our people party, but not to excess.  You and I both know that a single wedding party will cause you as much trouble as any three association groups put together”.  Because it’s true – you get wedding people who feel it’s their genuine duty to party, and who may never see that hotel again; they certainly are hoping that their event only happens once.  So they’re not invested in coming back!

But even now, even with the rise of fandom, even with the recognition of fandom, even in a world where, say, I can tell a hotel, “It’s a Steampunk event”, and there’s a chance they’ll know what I mean before I even explain it–

it’s still a core rule.  Parts of society don’t accept us.  And you know, if the people at your local diner look at you funny, maybe you patronize that diner anyway because they’ve got good coffee or something.  But NEVER, if you have any way of avoiding it, go to a hotel that doesn’t respect and WANT your business.  Because they just won’t take care of you and your attendees, and that will hurt your event, no matter what else happens.

I’m pretty lucky – the two primary hotel organizations I work with have been partners with me for a long time–one for over six years, one for almost twenty!  And to be honest, I’ll follow good management to a new hotel.  Because the core remains the same:

A good event makes a home for people who have trouble feeling at home elsewhere.  Find a hotel that wants to help you do that.

~Jeff Mach


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.

Steampunk’d Stars at SPWF!

You’ve seen the TV show…now meet some of the contestants in person! Stoking The Fires of Inspiration, The Steampunk World’s Fair is thrilled to welcome the inspiring talents of Steampunk’d judges and contestants…
Check back as we add more guests and surprises!

Thomas Willeford

Thomas Dean Willeford is a steampunk writer, artist, and maker. He is particularly known for his work appearing on television, his book Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos, and his company Brute Force Studios.
Willeford created the steampunk arm worn by Nathan Fillion in episode 3.4 of the television series Castle. His work has been displayed at the University of Oxford’s Museum of the History of Science, at the Steampunk Bizarre Experiment, the Penn State Berks Freyberger Gallery, at Nemo’s Steampunk Art & Invention Gallery and at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, and has been featured in Popular Mechanics. He is a contributor to Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City and was a judge on Game Show Network’s Steampunk’d.

WebsiteFacebook  | TwitterInstagram | Steampunk’d

Tayliss Forge

Tayliss is a cosplay model and artisan crafter. She was also a contestant on the show “Steampunk’d.” A majority of her time is spent making costumes and accessories for her online business: Nonconformity Accessories. She loves leather-working and creating corsets, bracers, purses, etc. She also enjoys making replicas of props, jewelry, and clothing from movies, TV shows, anime, video games, or board games. She often attends anime and comic conventions where she wears her costumes. Most of her costumes are heavily influenced by steampunk and Victorian fashion.

Facebook  | Twitter |  Deviant Art | Etsy | Steampunk’d

Tobias McCurry

Tobias McCurry is a young and ambitious Jack of All Trades nerd out of Seattle, WA. Tobias is one part Costumer, three parts Performer, and a whole lot of Live Action Roleplayer. Having been involved in various fandoms and events since 2009, Tobias has become a staple of Steampunk and shenanigans.

As a costumer, Tobias prefers to keep his materials as close to reality as possible, often incorporating various leathers and metals. He also specializes in creating contact-safe foam boffer weapons for LARP games, as well as props that help flesh out quality storytelling for a myriad of fictional worlds.

Enjoying the aspects of performance and community inclusiveness involved in his line of work, he is primarily known for his appearances on GSN’s reality show series Steampunk’d, his presence in the Live Action Roleplaying community, and for his Steampunk “Spring-Heeled Jack” stilt-walking kit.

Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram | Steampunk’d