My First Steampunk Experience: Nerd-lesque with Phoebe

I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in the power of a single moment to drastically change the trajectory of a person’s life.

I was back in my native Minnesota for a visit, and a friend happened to have a show the same weekend. I always thought of her as a singer. But she’d recently started to perform with a burlesque troupe. Or, what she said was more accurately described as “nerd-lesque.” In addition to the sexy strip teases, the performers usually chose something from geek or pop culture to integrate into the act.

That month, they’d chosen steampunk as their theme. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I can’t remember now exactly how my friend defined it for me, but I do remember that when she told me about steampunk I thought, “Wow! All those things that I love have a name?”

My buddy decked me out in a corset and a pair of goggles, and we headed to the show. Much to my embarrassment, halfway through the evening one of the stage hands pointed out to me that I had somehow managed to put my corset on upside down! She got me straightened out (pun intended) with a quick “corset 101” lesson, and now I always know to look for the garter rings if I’m not sure which way is up.

It turns out that steampunk and burlesque are a great pairing because the steam era saw a heyday for the art form. The performers did a combination of traditional burlesque, like a feathery fan number, as well as some geekier reinterpretations of pop songs with a steampunk spin.

The night was fully of spunk and silliness, and as I delved into steampunk in the ensuing weeks, I found out that these were crucial ingredients to what made steampunk, steampunk. The aesthetic, with its leather, lace, and mixed metals, certainly caught my attention. But I think what really reeled me in was the whimsy.

It took me a few years before I really took any steps to join the steampunk world. Between my first foray and 2013 when I started my first steampunk website, a lot changed. I won’t go into the details, but when I got to the other side of the tunnel, I found that I needed some magic infused back in my life.

Steampunk served as a gateway to get me thinking in a more creative and hopeful way than I had in years. But most importantly, it got me writing again. The look of the fashions and gizmos, but also the themes of the genre, captured my imagination and soon I found I couldn’t keep the words off the page.

And even two novels and over 500 articles later, I see no reason to stop.

About the Author

Phoebe is the pen name of a Steampunk-loving vagabond and aspiring novelist. She spends the majority of her time doing research for her novels about a relapsed con woman in gas lamp America, or writing articles for the Steampunk Journal. In her free time, she enjoys playing tabletop games and watching aggressively bad movies with her husband and tiny dog, and tearing the films to pieces with snarky commentary a la MST3K. (Though admittedly, the dog doesn’t add much in that department. His comedic timing is rubbish.)

Where to find Phoebe Darqueling

Author Website: www.PhoebeDarqueling.com

Twitter: @Gearturns

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Phoebe-Darqueling-953785968035747/

Come join the United We Steampunk, Divided We Fall group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1589640957716352/

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