On Saturday my husband and I made the trek, and ferry ride out to the lovely waterfront hamlet of Port Townsend, WA for their first steampunk festival, the Brass Screw Confederacy. It is the brainchild of Nathan Barnett, owner of the Old Consulate Inn, natty dresser and long time Steamcon supporter. Having injected a bit of steampunk into the town’s long standing Victorian festival, he then managed to convince the populace that they might enjoy a more fully fledged dose of steampunk. Judging by the number of store fronts with steampunk displays, they were certainly eager to get into the spirit of things.
We arrived and got situated in time to attend a reading by Neal Stephenson from his book The Diamond Age at the Brass Screw Cabaret. By my definitions, it is not so much steampunk as Neo-Victorian science fiction and perhaps cyberpunk, but it is still a wonderful book. I read it a long time ago, but after listening to him, I may need to give it another reading. His vivid descriptive prose is quite fascinating. Neil himself was dressed in a very appropriate Victorian or perhaps Edwardian suit (I am no men’s fashion expert, by any means) and during the Q&A I asked him about it. He confessed that he finds the style quite comfortable and will be acquiring more in the future. Because my talk was immediately afterwards, I didn’t get a chance to speak to him at more length, but I certainly would have liked to.
I had been asked to give a talk about how to dress in steampunk attire. I only had about a half an hour, so I tried to keep it to the basics, but during the question and answer portion it was obvious the audience really wanted more information on what steampunk really is. I try to tailor my talks to my audience so I happily obliged. They seemed to both entertained and educated, so I think I did my job. I gave out flyers for my blog, shop and book at the end. Denise Winters who is in charge of the Key City Public Theatre and the “cabaret” as it was called, appeared to be quite happy with me and asked me to return next year and possibly do my gun mod talk.
We wandered over to the Bazaar of the Bizarre at the American Legion Hall next. Most of the merchants were quite familiar, but it was a good variety of wares and the locals as well as tourists enjoyed looking at all the peculiar things.
A woman came up and asked if I was Diana Vick and I said yes. She beamed and told me that her two daughters were big fans of mine and asked to take a picture of me with them. They found my work in 1,000 Steampunk Creations. I was quite tickled. Several people who were at my talk came by with more questions throughout the day as well. We also wandered the outdoor merchants, watched some artisans creating their wares and got some wickedly delicious doughnuts. My purple outfit got a lot of attention and I used it to hand out Steamcon postcards.
We then strolled off to check out the quaint main street, which was marred slightly by all the construction work being done. We found a pub that had gotten good recommendations so we had an early dinner. The sun made an appearance so now the ensemble I chose was a bit too warm. It is always difficult to decide what type of outfit to wear for events that have both indoor and outdoor components and a chance of showers. It had been breezy all day, so my jacket and layers had been just about perfect up until now. Due to budgetary constraints and far too many things to do this year, we had to make this a day trip only. We said our goodbyes and made our tired way back home. Hopefully next year we will be able to do more than just a day trip and partake of the evening festivities as well.
I think that the BSC has a lot of potential. The town is charming and the inhabitants are friendly and open to the genre. The organizers were calling this year zero, but that does this event a disservice. You don’t really get to have a trial run for this sort of thing. It’s jump in with both feet and hope. I suppose if steampunk rewrites history then so can they, but for better or worse, it did happen. Folks seemed to be having fun. It will most likely get bigger and better over the years.
My photographer didn’t take many shots this time, but they are found here.