The second Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention is definitely a bigger affair than it was two years ago! The crowds were bigger, the panels more ambitious. In any event of this size there’s bound to be some drama, from finicky customer complaints to diva behavior from certain performers and vendors. “I could never do this as my real job,” admitted a tired looking Justin Hackert during Saturday night’s Steam Powered Giraffe/Abney Park concert. Still, event organizers have worked hard to make this a truly enjoyable experience, and it has and it shows. It is honestly hard to remember that this is a largely volunteer production.
The first panel of the day was Social Media with Steampunk Boba Fett, invaded by the Red Fork Emperor himself. If you ever have an opportunity to see a panel with either of these two, TAKE IT! Emperor Justinian Stanislaus is a zany joy to watch, and I chose this class knowing that if Steampunk Boba Fett was there, I was sure to laugh.
“I am here because of social media,” explained John (the man behind the mask), who still seems as surprised as anyone else that his 2009 Dragon*Con cosplay has turned him into one of the most recognizable faces of the Steampunk and Star Wars fandoms. While the costume is awesome (he debuted a new, western inspired incarnation on Saturday) HE is a genuinely awesome guy and the reason that Steampunk Boba Fett is such a fun presence. During the panel I laughed and learned as he shared social media advice…and horror stories.
Next up was the Steampunk Fashion show in the saloon. MC’d by Lady Ember Brennan Sparks, the fashion show was a fun event displaying creations by Hydra, The Brose Brothers, and others. My favorite individual piece was a fantastic albino peacock feathered dress with layers of fluffy white ruffles. Without a doubt though, the showstealers were definitely the children. There was a four-month old baby in the most adorable vest that showed with his parents, and the CUTEST little girl who waved as she walked. I agreed with Lady Ember Brennan Sparks after she escorted the little lady offstage: “I wish I had discovered Steampunk at that young!”
Thomas Willeford led a panel to drum up some excitement for the proposed television series Lantern City, (www.lanterncitytv.com) which will take place in a strictly stratified, Steampunk world. Truly a labor of love, this is NOT a Hollywood production because “Steampunk is big right now.” Over and over during the convention I have heard that co-creator and executive producer Bruce Boxleitner is an enthusiast for alternate history and that the entire team is working diligently to keep things AWESOME. Though Willeford was threatened on pains of death not to reveal any major developments in the show, we know that this will be a love story and that the main characters are going to be modern people from our world who are drawn into the Steampunk city of Lantern City. We also know that there will be no magic involved, and all the fantastic occurrences will be scientific in nature. Lastly, Willeford confirmed that there will be plenty of practical props and it is expected to be truly aesthetically stunning. I look forward to more details as production progresses!
The Steampunk Weapons panel was a great introduction to modifying and creating fearsome steampunk weaponry. There was a good range, from basic Nerf modifications from L.O.S.E.R. representatives to more complex examples by Airship Isabella’s Mike Syfritt, to the Brose Brother’s insane creations. You could tell that these people love what they do from their excitement as they described finding objects (from a candlestick to a poison duster) and transforming them. Thrift stores and hardware store are great places to start whatever your do, but don’t tell the clock-maker what you’re doing! The best part in this panel was when Mike was demonstrating how it was important to him that his Nerf guns still function after modification and accidentally shot a guest in the front row! I left this panel excited to head off to Goodwill and see what I could create.
Fire performers entertained the crowd as we waited to enter the saloon for Saturday night’s Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park concert which was MC’d by the hilarious Professor Elemental. Personally I’m a huge fan of Steam Powered Giraffe, and I’m always blown away by how awesome they sound live. The “robots” are great entertainers and very silly in between songs—It’s no wonder that I saw several families in attendance with young children painted like the Spine or Rabbit. Family friendly and FUN, I will always seek out Steam Powered Giraffe when I have a chance! Of course, Abney Park finished up the night and as expected, totally rocked it! As one of the most successful and instantly recognizable Steampunk sounds Abney Park is always a definite crowdpleaser.
The second day of the Wild Wild West Steampunk convention was chilly, but blessed with better weather than the first. With only one day left I’m excited to see what comes!