1.- The interviewee
Gretchen Jacobsen (aka Wilhelmina Frame) is a freelance producer, award-winning costumer, prolific crafter and frequent convention panelist; her alter-ego, Ms. Frame, Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle and Part Time Lion Tamer, travels the globe in pursuit of adventure and style. When not in the circus ring with Rajah, her tiger and the rest of her “Kitten Kabal” (seven lions, three cheetahs and a rather droll panther), Ms. Frame can be seen at the most fabulous parties, in the latest fashions, sparkling with wit in conversation. In addition, she is the founder and Tiffin Master of The American Tea Duelling Society.
2.- Steampunk media and fashion
Q.- Gretchen, your Steampunk persona is Wilhelmina Frame (part time Lion Tamer, full time Adventuress). Why did you choose this nom de guerre?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. In the summers when I was young my family would often take day trips up to various places in nearby Wisconsin. One of these was Circus World in Barabo. Circus World is a museum, showplace and historic site at the former winter headquarters of The Ringling Brothers’ Circus. One time when we visiting, the wild animal tamers were mingling with the visitors and carrying a tiger cub. They were quietly going up to select parents and offering a photo opportunity with the tiger. My parents were never the kind of to pay for these kinds of things, but due to the uniqueness of the offer and, most likely, my wide eyes, they agreed to pay for the photo. The trainers sat me down in front of a circus wagon, put a blanket of some sort on my lap, told me to smile and quickly put the dozy tiger cub in my lap. The moment lasted an instant but the memory and the photo will be with me always. This was the inspiration for Part Time Lion Tamer!
When trying to figure out a steampunk persona, I wanted something that could realistically support a variety of places, moods and adventures — and the clothes to go with them. A wild animal tamer seemed to fit that bill. Victorians were all about dressing for the occasion and being a lion tamer — even if part time — gave me ample excuses to vary my dress. I would have performance costumes, safari gear, outfits to mingle with the rough and tumble circus types, gowns for when I would mingle with the rich and powerful since I would obviously be famous and infamous. I would have reasons to travel and meet people from all walks. And I would, obviously, have lots and lots of lovely pets.
As for the actual name, Wilhelmina is very Victorian and has some family history attached. The Germanic derivation of Wilhelmina also reflects back nicely to Gretchen. I liked the idea of being referred to as Wil, although it seems that the more common nickname would have been Billie. Frame? Well it just sounded good. A nice sharp end to an otherwise obtuse name.
Q.- You have been Steampunk Chronicle’s Editrix de Mode for a long time. How did your collaboration with Steampunk Chronicle begin?
I was recommended to Deadline Dan, Steampunk Chronicle’s publisher by our former media editor, DJ Doctor Q. Doctor Q knew me and my fashion sense from various Steampunk events. The Chronicle was in need of a fashion editor so Deadline Dan asked me for a meeting. We met at my favorite bar, talked about our Steampunk philosophies and after a few rounds of delicious brews, I was the new Editrix de Mode of Steampunk Chronicle.
Q.- You have a wide experience as broadcast producer. From your point of view, what role does media play in the growth and development of the Steampunk community in the USA and abroad?
Honestly, not much! Traditional broadcast media — television, radio, film — hasn’t really picked up on Steampunk. While there have been a couple of music videos, Panic! at the Disco being a good example and Justin Beiber being a bad example, we really haven’t seen that much Steampunk representation. A lot of people point to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Firefly. They were released near to each other in 2002 – 2003 so they are little early for me to be representative of what we now call Steampunk. Really, we have yet to see our great magnum opus in cinema or television. Everyone is looking to Lantern City but we don’t have a confirmed release for that.
Where you are seeing Steampunk is in online media and in print. The internet is really what brought Steampunk to prominence. It’s also how Steampunks from around the world are finding out about each other. Steampunk based literature has been popular and many would argue that literature is where Steampunk truly has its roots. To a lesser degree, mainstream news media is picking up on Steampunk through its coverage of art, fashion, and trends in consumer goods.
Q.- In addition, we have to consider the famous Steampunk Chronicle’s Reader’s Choice Awards. We were among the nominees to the 2013 awards thanks to our Sky Captain Series and it was a fantastic experience. Do you think there should be a category for the ‘Best Steampunk Jeweler’?
Championing ‘freak folk’, Cocorosie is an American musical group formed by sisters Bianca ‘Coco’ and Sierra ‘Rosie’ Casady in 2003. Born and raised in the United States, they decided to create the band in Paris after meeting for the first time in years.
Their fourth full-length album, ‘Grey Oceans’, was released on 11th May 11 2010, including the jaw-dropping song ‘Gallows’. We wanted to include this work of art in our ‘Singular Soundtrack’ series due to the unique personal sound of the band and the dark-victorian aesthetics of the haunting video directed by Emma Freeman.
About Laura Márquez’s Gallery
If you live in Spain and love art jewelry, you will have heard about Laura Marquez’s Gallery for sure. For those of you who have never heard about her, let us clarify that Laura Márquez is a renowned jeweller, expert gemologist and well-respected teacher with a long professional career and her own art jewelry gallery in Madrid since 1999.
My partner Irene López and I are most pleased to announce that some selected jewelry pieces from our Machinarium Collection are going to be exhibited at Laura Marquez’s Gallery until the end of February 2014. Taking advantage of the fact that not only art jewelry may be found at Laura Marquez’s Gallery, but also works of art of many other disciplines (painting, sculpture, etc.), an opening reception will take place on Thursday 12th December featuring our Machinarium Collection and the outstanding paintings of Natália Ruiz Llopart, a really promising multidisciplinary artist from Barcelona.
Why the Machinarium Collection?
Decimononic’s Machinarium Collection has been selected due to:
Being independent is power and we got to find the power in ourselves.
The Origin of ‘Zombie Boy’
Born 7th August 1985, Rick Genest (‘Rico’) grew up in a working class family in Châteauguay (Quebec, Canada). Diagnosed with a life-threatening benign brain tumor, Rick Genest at the age of 15 underwent a surgery that many had not survived in the past. and he got his first tattoo (a skull and crossbones) at age 16 on his left shoulder. He left home at 17 and became a member of the underground punk rock scene in Montreal. It was then when his friends gave him the moniker ‘Zombie Boy’ and initiated him into the street culture of tattoos, piercings, music and DIY fashion.
By 19 he was decided to develope his full body tattoo project and trusted the now retired Montreal artist Frank Lewis; over the next six years 80% of Rico’s body was tattooed (he has spent close to $20,000 to date).
1.- The interviewee
Austin Sirkin, a scholar and writer who has been studying the Steampunk movement for nearly a decade, and is one of the world’s leading experts on it. His work can be found in various blogs around the internet, as well as in the recent anthology Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution
2.- Steampunk beyond conventionalisms
Q.- Austin, we love your sense of humour (try reading ‘15 Types Of Annoying Steampunks’ without smiling) and your irreverent approach to Steampunk because we are convinced that a fresh look is essential in order to develop a deeper and wider vision. You have been involved in the US Steampunk scene since 2006 with a prolific activity as divulgator: blogger, columnist, panelist, podcaster… Why is Steampunk so attractive for you?
Austin Sirkin (AS).- Thank you! I think that when you get involved with something you love a lot, it’s easy to lose your sense of humor. Since no one is making tons of money on Steampunk, everyone is involved because they love it. That can lead to a lot of ruffled feathers! As a result, I always try to include my sense of humor in anything I write so as to bring some smiles back into what can be an awfully upsetting dialogue for many.
Steampunk is attractive to me for a variety of reasons. First of all, I grew up reading as much sci-fi and fantasy as I could get my hands on, among which were the classics by Verne and Wells. I also grew up watching reruns of The Wild, Wild West, so I’ve always had an interest in Steampunk since before I even knew that it was a “thing”. Second, my clothing preferences have always leaned toward the fancy and Victorian, so when I discovered Steampunk, it was sort of a natural fit. Third, for the longest time, I wanted to be more involved in costuming, but until Steampunk took hold, it was exceedingly rare to find someone cosplaying a unique character. Practically everyone was dressed up as a character from a movie, or a TV show, or a comic book, or whatever, and let me tell you how hard it is to find characters in popular media that are a little on the heavyset side who have a goatee and glasses; it’s extremely hard! So when the metaphorical Steampunk ship pulled up with the prospect of cosplaying unique characters, I jumped right on board!