“Another Adventure in the World of Steam”– A SteamCon II Report by Justin Stanley

Justin Stanley aka Justinian Stanislaus, Emperor of the Red Fork Empire. Image courtesy of Lex Machina.

 

I flew in to Seattle on Thursday, at baggage claim I soon learn that my bag that I checked that had all my clothes and what have you did not join me. So after dealing with that I met with Lord Baron Joseph Vourteque of Steampunk Chicago and took the shuttle to the hotel.

The airport Hilton lobby was nicely decorated. It looked expensive enough for people coming from the airport who had money but still affordable to those who didn’t. It was a very open area with many comfortable seats next to a fireplace. A circular table in the center of the lobby just for decoration. To the right was the hotel restaurant and bar, separated by low polished wooden dividers topped with glass made to look like waves. In front was the table and beyond that the seating area. Left was the shuttle desk and around the corner was the front desk for check in.

The Baron checked us in with little delay and we entered the place where we would be sleeping for the next few days. After leaving the lobby the halls looked like a normal inexpensive hotel. The room was the usual, two comfy beds, and all the other objects and items in a standard room that I am not going to bore you with. After Joseph settled in a bit he thought it best for us to grab a drink and maybe some food since both of us had not really eaten. It was about four or five when we hit the bar and decided not to order any food due to the large prices next to the descriptions on the menu.

That is when Scott Velasquez appeared greeting me with “Emperor”. I had met Scott at the last SteamCon, although I had thought to have met him before that. As much as I try not to be a dick I am terrible with names. He reintroduced himself to me and the Baron.

We had some small talk and then since we were done with our drinks the Baron suggested we take a stroll to see what was about pre-event and all. Our first intention was to go to the Marriott it was considered the food might be a bit more financially eatable. On our way we bumped into the Gypsy Nomads and spoke some words that were pleasant. It was possible that we might meet with them later. We took to the street and soon discovered the Hilton con center between the two hotels. So we took a detour to see if there was any hub-bub there.

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Attendees at the con. Image courtesy of Lex Machina.

 

The con staff, almost all in black, were moving around as if I was watching an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom about ants. Many were setting up computers and such for registration. Others getting rooms situated for the next day. We happened upon the Art Show room as they were setting up the dividers and tables. Since I was going to be in the show I inquired if my art had made it. I was told something that gave me little worry which may only have been heightened because of the situation with my luggage. So we left the Art room not wanting to be too much of a bother as things were getting prepared. Once we arrived inside the Marriott it was just as I remembered.

The Marriott was the home of SteamCon I, a very memorable experience. We walked around a bit noticing that our people were around and trickling through the door to check into the hotel. We met up with Lex Machina and Elizabeth Darvill, and decided to sit down to dinner. There was talk about many subjects, Steampunk, of course being one of them. The Baron might have at one point been a bit too loud in his exclamations, but it was all well met as the atmosphere was slowly turning to our preferred environment. It is a lot of fun to see the terra formation of a normal establishment into a nexus of reality.

After dinner we stumbled upon Diana Vick the VC of SteamCon and blatantly interrupted her dinner with her friends. Then it was decided to acquire alcohol, there were no liquor stores in walking distance to our dismay after much deliberation and asking of the locals. So it was to the 7 Eleven for our beverages of choice after learning that the store did in fact carry wine. So after being indecisive of my beer choice we four made our way back to our hotel room in the Hilton. The room phone was blinking like the bat phone and Lord Baron answered the call. It was a message saying that the front desk had my bag. I made several body movements of joy and ran to the front desk to retrieve my bag. As the others discussed and debated topics of variety, I unpacked and assembled the Will of the People. The night drew to a close and we put ourselves to bed.

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Attendees with Justin and The Will of the People

 

I awoke Friday morning and quickly got myself ready, putting on my fabulous attire. The Baron and I made our way for him to get some coffee before we see what registration has in store for us. As we approached we saw some of the members of the League of S.T.E.A.M.:. Crackitus Potts, Baron Fogel, and Thaddeus. They were also in search of morning liquid nourishment. I got the fruit bowl. We exchanged hellos and I introduced Joseph to the League. Baron Joseph and I ate our breakfast watching the early ones walk about.

Then it was off to registration and after that to set up at the Art Show. It was obvious that we were quite early. Badges were very quick to get, which was not the case not too much later that day. Not to the fault of the staff, mind you. They were doing everything they could to make it a fast process. It’s like when you are in a store and see that there is no line so you take your time but by the time you want to go to the register everyone else had the same idea. The cashiers of course are barraged by this obvious telepathic occurrence. Same might be said about registration at SteamCon Friday afternoon. However, still not too long of a wait.

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From the art show. Image courtesy of Lex Machina. Click for link.

 

Off to the Art show. I walked in with my prints and helpful objects and asked where I would be setting up. As I looked around I was very impressed with the step up and attention to the art show this year. The dividers they used were very practical and did a tremendous job breaking up the room. The only small nitpick I had was that the backgrounds needed a more attention, drop cloth, or black. That being said, I must thank them for having spot lighting put into the room. Most hotels have crap ass lighting for the large rooms so much so it makes white look like yellow. Whoever thought of putting in track lights knows how to present work, that’s what I’m saying.

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From the art show. Image courtesy of Lex Machina. Click for link.

 

Other artists started bringing in their work and setting up, the staff doing its best to answer questions and see everyone happy. Once I got done I made my way back to the room to pick up the Will of the People so I could start my event mingling. I happened into meet the League of Steam panel with Baron Joseph and took a seat. Baron Von Fogel came up to me and wished my aid in capturing the panel for posterity. Being the nice being I am I took on the task and gave it what for. Afterwards I spoke with Crackitus and Ryan from the upcoming Wild West Con in Arizona. By then it was late afternoon and people were flocking in. Registration had picked up quite a bit and had its busy spurts.

I walked and talked to many interesting people with caged creatures and an arm of such fantasticness I was humbly impressed. After some time I went over to the Marriott and perused the vendor room. It was packed of people. They did a good job of packing in as many vendors as they could and still make it not bad to navigate. It was a good mix of different types of wares. The vendors overlapped in what they sold, like jewelry, but were different in the stock they kept. Which is one of the trappings of Steampunk I enjoy, not much of the wares sold is churned through a machine. Walked out of the room and spoke with a few lovely people before I found myself back at the convention center before the Artist Reception was to begin.

So I continued with my mingling and as I waited outside the Art room to be allowed in I chatted with some people whose’s first intro into a steam punk event was this one. I talked with quite a bit who had just dove into the sub-culture and almost all of them looked magnificent. It was very cool to see the effort in attire. The Reception was fantastic. I talked with quite many an interesting fellow or lady about many things of leisure.

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From the art show. Image courtesy of Lex Machina. Click for link.

 

I was very glad to run into Mr. Von Slatt again and engage in a small chat. In a lot of ways I think he sets the bar of coolness in the sub-culture. As the reception began to wind down I spoke with Dianna about various things and then I ventured to the Wild West room party. There were many fabulous people carousing about, entertaining to the eye and ear. After a few sips of spirits I joined compatriots outside for a smoke. Not that I partake in nicotine, I just enjoy the camaraderie of smokers. I also enjoy being on the move during an event to see what other ongoings are going on. Later we joined up with Joseph at the bar. It was then decided that more libations from 7 Eleven must be procured due to the price of a drink in the hotel.

So a small party was off as the rest of us tried to see if the Wild West was alive. To our dismay the party had come to an end, as we later found that it had not died but moved. In any case we relayed message we would meet our friends in our room. On the way I was faced with a detour. A man I had met the previous year greeted me with a smile as I once again apologized for the altercation by our adopted companion who we later abandoned. He invited my party into the room that I soon found was named the Diamondback saloon. There was a bit of food to nourish our stomachs and a fantastic contraption that poured what may have been nectar of the gods. I managed to engage in my proper-ganda with a few Toy Soldiers before I realized what an ass I had been leaving the rest of the party in wait for my arrival to our room. We took to the halls and as it happened ran into the rest of the gang who were wondering if we had been lost to the bleed. Soon we were all in the room speaking of subjects of little importance. Then as the night grew rather late we said our goodnights and till the next day. I laid my head to rest and slept.

On the bright and sunny Saturday morning I awoke with Joseph getting ready for his panel. Soon I too was getting ready and made my best attempt to make myself presentable for the creative elite and at the same time not missing the entirety of Joseph’s panel. Without many social detours I made my way to the panel to catch what was obviously a fantastic time had by his audience. Once it was over I asked if he needed assistance packing up since he had to return his Ghost Hunting Equipment to the Art show room. He declined my offer as he packed every piece into an antique suitcase and we slowly walked to the Art room.

On the way I noticed the registration line was packed. Again, the staff did their best to keep it moving but by sheer number of people in line the wait time could not be helped. It was nice to see many people dressed for the occasion. There were a number of attendants who were not wearing “proper” attire, not that I am a huge stickler for such a thing but it does make a very pleasant setting if everyone is joining in to the aesthetic.

I happened to bump into friends of mine that I completely forgot were going to be there and tagged along until I found myself in a panel about the Science of Fencing. I was sold as soon as I saw the bayonets. The panel was informative, entertaining, and delightful to behold. The group went through several styles and weapon types concentrating on the fact that it was a science of time, distance, and form. It was proven several times that not using these fundamentals would result in bad things. The panel was slotted for two hours which I thought was good for the ground they had to cover.

Afterwards, my friends and I met Joseph for lunch and enjoyed a lovely conversation as the wait staff was running around with its head cut off as seems to be the case in most hotel restaurants that underestimate the number of people that get hungry at an event. So I was a bit nervous about getting my food in time so that I would not miss the Ghost Hunting panel Joseph and the League were putting on. To my relief we finished with plenty of time to get to the panel. To my surprise there was a large line of people waiting to get into the room for the panel. Then Lex reminded me of the awesomeness of the League and I was not surprised any more.

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From the League of S.T.E.A.M. panel. Image courtesy of Lex Machina. Click for link.

 

The panel was slow going at first but became highly funny when the ghost showed up and the League started doing the thing they do. I will not go into great detail however “circle the wagons” has a new meaning for me. The panel came to a close as I obnoxiously told Joseph that he had no time left. Dear Phineas invited me to partake of his Absinthe and who was I to refuse. He regaled me with tales of his origin and other topics of amusement.

Steamcon II

From the League of S.T.E.A.M. panel. Image courtesy of Lex Machina. Click for link.

 

We left and I mingled the crowd a bit speaking with the local lead toy soldier Adam as he sat behind a table full of Dr. Steel pamphlets and other goodies for potential toy soldiers. The line for the evening’s concert was very long as the bands sound checked. Looking for Joseph I messaged to gain where he might be and was told he was in the Art room. When I entered I noticed that people were interviewing one of the artists and Joseph had told me he was on deck. They were from SteamPhunk and of course they could not finish without interviewing my awesome self. Afterwards, I decided to munch on a bit of candy in my room drinking a bottle of water in case of the ingestion of alcohol. I filled the bottle with some tasty beverage and went about seeing what adventures would lay before me that night.

The line for the concert had not dwindled and Adam was passing out water to the parched public. Well as the concert proceeded I continued my carousing looking for good conversation. I caught a glimpse of the burlesque show, enough to see a woman bound and hoisted scantily clad. Eventually I returned to the second part of the Wild West room party, after encountering a lovely woman who made it a verbal point to only call me by my civilian name. The occupancy of the room was less than the night before to my surprise, I did enjoy running into the military attired group which I believe originate from Portland that I met the previous year. I did not have the fortune to speak to them long due to a lady suffering from intoxication and possibly ( I am not positive) a bit of dreadful drama.

I did converse with Chuck the Tailor and later to the spectacular Xander, who worked with the lovely Cellist and singer Ashia, who I met shortly after speaking to Xander. Once last call was made for the room Joseph, myself, Xander, and Ashia began our wanderings for excitement. We traveled to the very top of the hotel in hopes of fabulous sights of the city but were thwarted by locked doors. It was then decided to go back to our room where Ashia and I engaged in small talk as she grew too tired to continue. The other two were engrossed in their musical swapping until the lady could not keep her eyes open another moment if they were going to be able to make it back to their final destination for the night. I too found myself becoming tired, slowly creeping into bed. We said our final heartfelt goodbyes and glad to have met one another. It was then I laid my head to rest once more on the ridiculously soft pillow and put another day of the event behind me.

As the sun woke me that Sunday morning Joseph was once again getting ready for another panel which he was going to read from his novel. I tried to make it to the panel but was detoured by a few social necessities and arrived just at the tail end of the panel. The time was drawing close to pack up the Art show and so we took our time getting there.

There were still people eclipsing the registration desks with their bodies in line for next year’s event. I swear the reg. desk had not stopped since it opened on Friday. The con staff were indeed illusionists of the highest order. People dropped in to pick up the art they bid on and last minute purchases. I packed up my creations and patiently awaited to be checked out.

When that was finalized, I tagged along with Lex and Claire Hummel for their fantastic Who’s Who in Steampunk Art, I noticed that I was not among the artists they were talking about but I let it slide being the humble person I am. I had lovely conversation with Mike Perschon and Chris Garcia. The numbers of attendants began to dwindle as I loitered around the League table during the closing ceremony. Said my heartfelt goodbyes to Scott and to others as they were leaving the event to go back to their normal lives.

I volunteered to aid the League in the transport of their goods to their room. A few moments after I decided to change into my civvies and tag along with the League to the after party. It was a hoot. A feast to rival Valhalla itself. After a few drinks a gang of us made the daring attempt to brave the cold and walk to the fabled Dennys.

There much revelry was had. When we arrived back at the closing party it had ended, we saw Diana and Baron Joseph at the bar and made them move to a larger table. Once again it was decided that beverages from the 7 Eleven were needed so a party volunteered and we followed good Thomas of Brute Force Leather to his room for merriment.

As Crackitus with his keen insight eventually saw that it was time for the ramblers to get the eff out of the room we adjourned to the courtyard. At this point we encountered a man with a guitar that may have annoyed a few of our party but I found to be quite amusing. Once the music had died we found ourselves in a fine debate on the definition of Steampunk and what it means. Unfortunately my point of view was in the minority although I understood the point of the opposing view and agreed with a few of their thoughts. By the end they also understood where I was coming from although they did not agree with me.

It was time to call it a morning when the man came down from the fifth floor telling us we might want to tone it down a bit. We professed our love to one another in a pure ridiculous sense of the word as the party began to break to their rooms. In the end, it was Joseph and myself with him soon off to sleepy land as I finished packing my belongings and exited the room grateful for the generosity shown to me by the good Lord Baron Joseph Vourteque. As I boarded my shuttle I said good bye to another fantastic episode of SteamCon. If the fates will have me I will most assuredly be back for the third.

***

Justin’s Bio: My name is Justin Stanley but many know me as the Emperor of the Red Fork Empire. I am an artist first and foremost but in my spare time I rule. www.redforkempire.com

Lex Machina is a photographer and digital artist from Detroit, MI. She shoots portraits, fashion and events, which illustrate and celebrate the seemingly endless subcultures that make up the modern counter-culture. You can see more of her work on Flickr.

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