Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Steampunk World's Fair 2013

Ah yes...a day among the dandies and mechanics and robo-armed outlaws and faeries and ...Batmans...and apes....and Mothers of Dragons and Hogwarts naturally, I went as Finn from Adventure Time...Steampunked up of course. Emi is a recovering Goth, so her wardrobe contains slinky little black mini skirts and epic hellraisery jackets, and that would do just fine, so we packed up our leather pouches and Jake shield and headed out for the far off land of Piscataway, New Jersey. Exotic, I know.

The show is a familiar one, so navigation wasn't so difficult. Let me break it down for you. Two Hotels (or Towers to make it fancier) encapsulate the Steampunk world with shenanigans spilling over into outside courtyards and some parking lot space. As you wander the halls, you'll find hotel rooms transformed into mini Shoppes (with an E!) selling everything from corsets to the essential goggles to sheriff's badges and little tiny top hats the ladies seem to love. Larger ballrooms swing open to hold more vendors with ray guns, taxidermied cryptozoology, jewelry and the recordings of any musical act on tap that weekend.

You see, one thing the Steampunk World's Fair has in spades is entertainment...with musical acts performing simultaneously at alternate locations, comedians, sideshow performers and burlesque dancers packing the three day schedule. Usually, you'd also add buskers (wandering performers randomly situated throughout the grounds..conspicuously absent this year) and more outside entertainment, which the rains put a bit of a kabosh on. You'll also find mini-seminars in random rooms, fighting demos and my favorite...The Gentleman's Deul!! This kill-or-be-killed event is, in fact, open to both sexes who square off with Nerf guns in hand. Hit the opponent and you win. Should you run out of darts, you can re-load, quick as you please, and then advance for some up close cappage. This event probably shouldn't be as fun as it is, but there's just something irresistible about people in crazy awesome costumes trying to Nerf dart each other to death...and they often look incredibly serious while doing it.

The day was fairly uneventful. Good times and good friends, but no real stories came out of it, unless you want to hear about us devouring a pizza and discussing how guys can get out of the "friend zone". Top moments included...

- Figuring out how the food/ drink tickets work. You give the folks money and they give you tickets. Then you exchange the tickets for food and drinks. Sadly, the tickets were not called "Steampunk Fun Bucks." I'm going to vote that be fixed for next year. At the end of the day, you turn your tickets back into cash...and the sneaky hotel bastards give you a pile of dollar coins so you feel like a fucking video game pirate with cheapo doubloons. More change for the parkway I guess.

- Best costume of the day was a Steampunk Ape (from "Planet of...") who was walking a human astronaut around on a chain. As I passed he very seriously walked over to the astronaut and said "HUMAN. Dooo youuu have to use the facilities?" My head nearly exploded. Runners up include "That girl with the awesome wings", "That cowboy dude with the robo-jaw", "Explorer guy being ravaged by a squid" and on the strength of her name alone.... Steampunky Brewster.

- Saw a little girl doing her best to drag an iron chair across the lawn and had to help her, not realizing I was being very Finn like in my enthusiasm to help carry a chair. There was some clapping. People thought I was in character. 9 times out of 10 I was just being giant dorky me.

- Ran into another Finn. We fist bumped.

- Met a well dressed horse-man with a pseudo-mad scientist German accent. Then met a chicken in a bellydancer's costume. I regret not getting a picture with all three of us.

- Assuming the girls dressed as Robo-Girls were just very inventive and finding out they were actually acolytes of a band called Steam Powered Giraffe. With so many fans emulating them, we had to stick around to see what it was all about. Their music was...odd? Not what we expected at all from something lots of little girls were crazy about. Think of them as a more whimsical, old-timey-ish Ben Folds 5...with robot makeup.

- A band (Emperor Nortons Stationary Marching Band and friends) at the end of Saturday night performs a cover of "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello.

The day was soggy but an over abundance of friendly faces more than made up for it. Steampunk World's Fair has to be the most relaxed con I'll attend all year and this is reflected in the good nature of vendors, performers, people in costume and plain old folks just watching it all happen. Better still, the folks that run the fair are always looking for ways to build on the experience and make the whole weekend something you'll never forget..or will be able to match anywhere in the world. Any accolades they receive in the press are well deserved.

CLICK HERE for the rest of our Steampunk World's Fair 2013 picture gallery!

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