I asked Stella to cover Teslacon since I couldn’t go and she has a wonderful write up after the break.
See her pictures Here:
So this is my first attempt at a con report type thing. I have been going to all sorts of conventions since 2001 and most follow the same tried and true formula but Teslacon is its own bucket of fish. It is an immersion con where actors put on a show all around you then it is up to you to choose how far you go in to the performance. I have been going since the first one three years ago it was crowded chaotic and wonderful. This year I decided to jump in with both feet and do something I do not do normally for Steampunk and try out a persona to go with my green and black wardrobe. Thus I took up the mantel of Anna Dearling founder of the Society of Deadly Darlings a sorority for villains, mad scientists and other nare do wells. I go in to this mainly because of the odd magic of Teslacon. All it took was one panel where I spoke about my outfit and persona and suddenly there where people interested in joining this organization and now it has become a real group outside of my mind and the internet. That is what being put in a hotels full of other fans can do for you.
The panels are varied some on real history and making things and some on imaginary but each was lead by some amazing people and all taught me at least one thing. The villainy classes led by Dr. Proctocus were both sinister and quite amusing and led to quite a bit of fun cheering for the bad guys. My favorite panel and the one I was looking forward to on naughty pictures led by William Dezoma made my night despite the fact i was violently allergic to Wisconsin and rather under the weather at the time.
The immersion events were staggered throughout the weekend and were easy to find my only problem was during opening and closing ceremonies where sometimes it was hard to see or hear what was going on. Hearing would be hard to boost since we like to shout and are such a lively group but the seeing could be somewhat remedied by asking people with large hats to please remove them if possible.
The grand ball was quite a bit of fun even if I only participated in one dance (I have four left feet.) It is watching the other people try the complicated dances that make it fun I think. I did sneak out a few times to dance in the music hall room where a DJ was playing some fast dance music I like. The grand ball wound down the steerage ball started up with a lot of thumping and stomping where i bounced around until I was ready to drop.
The other fans have become as much a reason to travel here as the programing itself. Have a problem in costuming? Want tips on how to make your stories better? Have a new way to make things? At almost any hour of the con there were people to talk about those things knowledgeably and after years of anime cons that was a delightful change. S.Sprocket asked me to interview a few people and it was other Steampunks I picked rather than media guests.
First up is William Dezoma who plays Capt. Krieger and is directly responsible for more giggles and entertainment for me in the past two years than he probably knows.
How did you get in to Steampunk?
“Well I got in to Steampunk around three years ago at windy con where Steampunk was the theme it was still pretty new for a lot of people. At that Steampunk event my wife and I went to we did civil war, 18 century and 16 century and it looked like fun and history put together whereas a lot of times when you do history there are nimrods that don’t get if it is not fun stop doing it. And this looked fun. So we went there one of the first people we met was Baron Jason Vortech, an event organizer and promoter par excellence who throws really excellent diner parties with cheese and wine. we also met Eric Larson Who the world knows as Lord Bobbins who was promoting his own first Tesla con event with a large screen print of a zeppelin mooring station that people could come in their Steampunk costumes and get their pictures taken and then posted on line so you had this memento winch many of us used for Christmas cards and greeting cards. So we struck up right away with Eric went to Teslacon one and had a tremendous time and then Eric asked me if i would like to play the part of an insane German U boat commander heir Krieger and that is how we got started. Since then we have done antiquing events, to museums in Steampunk mode, gone to botanical gardens in Steampunk. We have done diner parties, teas, Rose viewing of vintage and heirloom roses where everyone came in costumes and we went around the garden then sat down for tea and genteel conversation. And so many people have had events we could not make it to. So that is how I got started and that is the trajectory of Steampunk for me.”
How have you seen Steampunk change over the years?
“More people better costumes but I don’t have a problem with people not having grate costumes because you have to start somewhere and the primary thing of Steampunk is are you having fun. As long has you have made an effort to look slight different, not wearing jeans and a t shirt, you are creating an atmosphere and when everyone does that you make something magical. Eric Larson had a vision to create a convention, an immersive experience and it has blossomed from around 350 people in the first one to over 1200 for this third one. It almost mind bogging to think this is only the third Teslscon because it is so very large.”
“Yes the first one was very crowed though.”
“Yes it was crowed but it was a horrible space.”
“But everyone still had a great deal of fun. it still had a promenade staircase people could come down and have their portraits taken but it is the people of Steampunk that make it magical. From the begging until now people being nice to each other, having fun with each other and showing something that approaches manners. What Manners mean not avoiding pissing people off it is making people feel welcome; the job of any hostess at a party. Not to show off but to make people feel welcome and help them find a way to be happy and if we all do that we have a marvelous Steampunk community. And if we all do that in our regular lives we have a better community period. Steampunk therefor is not just a fandom it is in many, many ways a way of life and I have seen increasingly people embracing the fashions of Steampunk in to their daily lives. My teaching costume is almost identical to my civilian Steampunk costume. I just take some pieces and leave some off. I have seen it growing. i have seen so much marvelous craftsmanship in these made items. Because even in the first year that i was involved people made marvelous things but each year because of the internet they can see what other people have made and how they have made it and suddenly we have this brilliant diffusion of new creativity that seams spontaneous but it is not. It is the result of hard work and shared understanding that creates and enhances a community.”
My second interview I must admit I picked because being a costumer myself and I liked his props. And you must admit his giant hand of doom is very attention grabbing. Justinian Stanislaus the red fork emperor allowed me to take him from the grand ball and pick his brain for a moment.
“How did you get in to steampunk?”
“I was an a comic book sci-fi convention and immaculately as I normally dress and a couple people came up to me and said you have a fantastic Steampunk attire. I had no idea what they were talking about so I went home and looked it up on the little computer thing and I found what Steampunk was. And I said oh I am already doing this. I met other people through the community and they embraced me as I embraced them and it led to very awesome things.”
“How have you noticed the community changing has time has gone by?”
“Ah I was actually talking to some people about that today. I have noticed that from years past people that I have seen keep getting better and better at the skill sets the have accumulated by being in this community. Because this community inspires and propagates itself to allow and encourages people to learn new things and grow has an artist.
“What changes would you like to see in the community?”
“I would like for it to continue and progress as far as it can go. Like any subculture there are people may take it the wrong way. There are people within the community that I have run in to that are a little elitist. Which is going to happen.”
“Yes you get enough people in a room.”
“Yes I would like for that to change. I would like it to be more a type of fellowship community than for it to change or distort in to in to everyone stepping on each other to get ahead. There are a lot of people now that find that they are able to make kind of a profit of those in the Steampunk community. That is all well and good and i have no problem with that what so ever. If Steampunk can help you follow your dream and become a professional artist and quit you day job and 9 to 5 than by all means but I don’t think we should turn in to car salesmen. Other changes I would like to see is i want it to grow to the point where more of us are getting hired professionally and more of us that are immersing ourselves it to encouraging people who aren’t in the community to not necessarily to embrace Steampunk but to inspire people who do not consider themselves artist but are.”
All in all I can’t wait until next year and I hope to see you all there. I will be the one in the green and black with the gas mask bag.