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

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


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.


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!)


 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



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:

About 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!


PR contacts: Lorne Caplan on behalf of 917-881-5613. [email protected] Interviews and additional information about The Dark Side of the Con, sponsorships, VF, Jeff Mach Events and Jet can be arranged by contacting Lorne.


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.

Why do this whole “Steampunk” thing?

Why do this whole “Steampunk” thing?

What does Steampunk mean to you?

Why do it?

I can tell you: very few of us do Steampunk because we think it will make us more popular in the “regular” world, or even in geek fandom.  It’s not that geeks don’t like or respect Steampunk; it’s that, no matter how we’ve grown, we’re still pretty tiny next to, say, almost ninety years of Batman.  There’s a reason why there’s a “Gotham” TV show, not a “Weird Alternative London Of The Victorian Era” TV show.

But that’s exactly why I love it, or at least, it’s a key piece, for me.  Steampunk doesn’t have a history, not in the way other fandoms do.  And it’s not exactly a fandom – fandoms, after all, are based on some larger existing franchise.  And that’s not really what we are.

Steampunk is the undiscovered country.  Steampunk is unconquered.  Steampunk doesn’t have a massive, $10,000 booth at New York Comic Con.  Steampunk’s not the property of a band, a company, a book, or a game.  We love doing the world’s largest Steampunk event; I can talk for hours about The Steampunk World’s Fair, and yes, I truly think it’s had some longterm effects on Steampunk.  But I also think that Steampunk has really defined SPWF, much more than the other way around.  We can’t tell Steampunk what to do – not at all.  We can only say, “Hey, here’s a playground for Steampunks.  What do you want to do with it?”

Why do I do Steampunk?  Because it’s constantly growing.  It’s constantly shifting.  It’s completely open to being as creative, as strange, as peculiar, as weird, as serious, as dark or light, as expected or shocking, as I can get away with.  I can wake up in the morning and say or do something with Steampunk that has never been done before.

And that’s worth the world to me.

~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.

A Steampunk recipe for Gin and Tonic

A Steampunk recipe for Gin and Tonic

“Tonic is the luckiest thing on Earth, for when it spends its time as close as possible to gin, people say it is doing a good deed.  When I spend my time as close as possible to gin, they have the audacity to close the bar on me.”

~W.C. Fields

Now, I’m no chef, but I’ve always been really good at preparing certain foods.  For example, if you ever want boiled water, just give me a pot, a source of drinkable water, and approximately four hours to figure out how to turn on a stove.  Likewise, if you like roasted marshmellows, all I need is a couple of long sticks, a roaring fire, and a willingness on your part to accept “a heaping handful of blisteringly hot cinders which might once have been edible” as being reasonably close to a marhsmellow treat.  And you should see my s’mores recipe, it’s excellent.

(I’ll actually tell you that secret.  It’s:

  1. Find someone else who knows how to make S’mores.
  2. Cry until they give you some.

Now, for Gin & Tonic, I have always favored a particular recipe.  You might not be able to guess what it is.  So I’ll tell you:

  1. Take three liters of gin
  2. Take 2 liters of tonic
  3. Realize that you live in the United States and have no idea what a liter is.
  4. Give up and drink whiskey.

I hope this helps!  Next week, I shall teach you how to make soup using nothing other than a can of soup, an ordinary kitchen heating appliance, a can opener, and reservations to a restaurant with an extremely liberal “bring your own bottle” policy.

~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, Fairyland, and making Reality

Steampunk, Fairyland, and making Reality

“If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”
Carl Sagan

As we get ready for Glimmerdark, our misfit Faerie festival, I reflect back on what got us here, what made us decide to enter the world of the Fae.  I can’t help but remember a conversation I was having with Professor Mark Donnelly about The Cottingly Fairies and how they had taken in no less shrewd an observer than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I asked Mark why he thought that was, and he said,

“Because Doyle wanted to believe.”

I think of that often.  Because, like Doyle, I want to believe.  And, like Doyle, I want others to believe, as well.  Only I know the Cottingly fairies were a hoax.  So what do I want other people to believe?

Not in Faeries, necessarily.  Not in magick, necessarily.  Not in it being 1847, though I often talk about Steampunk as reality (but that’s another story altogether).

I simply want people to believe that imagination, that possibility, that the idea of opening a door and finding it leads, not to the garage, but to Narnia or Fairyland – is not simply an escape, or a comfort which gets you away from the real world.  The imagination which creates Wonderland is a tool for the real world, is a piece of the real world.

I do want to imbue people with a sense of wonder, but more than that, I want people to realize that the world is not a hunk of cold iron, like an exceptionally ugly paperweight; it’s a piece of very hot iron, in a very powerful forge, and it takes our will and imagination to make the world become Whatever it might possibly become.

~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.