1.- The interviewee
Marcus Rauchfuß is an anthropologist and a minor scholar of the Cthulhu Mythos and H.P. Lovecraft. Besides, he is also heavily into Steampunk and Dieselpunk: he collaborates with The Gatehouse, promotes EuroSteam and many, many other initiatives… and, by the way, loves travelling.
2.- The interview
Q.- Marcus, you live in Munich (Germany). Is this your birthplace?
A.- I actually live in Augsburg, I only work in Munich. My birthplace is not worth mentioning. I consider Nottingham in Great Britain to be my home town (I spent some of the best years of my life in Nottingham).
Q. What can you tell to our readers about the German Steampunk scene?
A.- The German Steampunk scene has been building steam (excuse the lame pun) in the last two – three years. We used to be few and far between but now there are gatherings (mostly in pubs) all over the place. I organise one in Augsburg on a monthly basis. There is also things going on in Mannheim and northern Hesse. The Hamburg area also has a very active scene and the first big German Steampunk Convention, Aethericus, is going to happen there in August
Q.- You are not precisely a newcomer to Steampunk. In fact, the first post of your English blog The Traveler’s Steampunk Blog is dated 1st July 2008? What ‘hooked’ you to Steampunk?
A.- That is actually a long story, so I try to make it short: As you can see on my blog, I have a thing for airships and zeppelins. I have been a zeppelin fan for as long as I can remember. But I actually joined the scene more or less by accident after reading about Abney Park on a gothic forum in early 2008.
Q.- If we are not wrong, you have been the main promoter of EuroSteam. How did you come up with the idea of organizing an event conceived to spread and strengthen Steampunk across the old continent?
A.- Well, I am friends with the sci-fi author Lavie Tidhar who has also written the Bookman series of steampunk books. One day Lavie and I had a conversation via Twitter and he suggested, Europe needed was a big steampunk convention, so I thought: OK, let’s do it!
Q.- There was a fund raising campaign, how do you think that it could have become more successful?
A.- More and better incentives/bonuses for donators, and I think in the current economic situation, most young people (i.e. those below 35) do not have that much money to donate. Also: We got very few donations from outside Europe, there was little interest from the international scene outside Europe for the fundraiser, although Evelyn Kriete helped promote it.
Q.- Would you say that EuroSteam has the potential to become the seed of a Steampunk European Network? Or could we be even more ambitious considering that the EuroSteam organization has been contacted by sympathizers from outside Europe?
A.- I certainly hope it is the beginning of a network across Europe, and it has already reached further: Latin America and Japan have shown interest and so have a few bands from the US. If the first European Steampunk Convention is a success, maybe there will be a second and this could be world-wide. Who knows.
Q.- We know that the preparation of EuroSteam has already begun in Spain. The Decimononic team will be happily attending the EuroSteam party at Ithilien (the only Steampunk pub we have heard about in our country) and we are expecting a full weekend plenty of activities. Do you have any advice or suggestion for the ‘EuroSteamers’?
A.- All you have to do is get a group of people together in a place with internet access, have a webcam and a monitor ready and join us online. The size of the event is entirely up to you. If you can get dressed-up for the occasion, this is obviously a great thing and adds to the atmosphere, but if you do not own anything suitable, you can still join us. Even if you are a lonely steampunk in a really remote part of Europe, you can still simply join us online. You can also try to infect some friends with the steampunk virus and have a little party!
Q.- Conventions are among the classical media used by crafters to get exposure. EuroSteam is a particular case due to its virtual nature… do you think that it can be seized by artisans like us in any way?
A.- Absolutely! There are non-virtual events happening and we already had requests by several artist asking if they could participate and display their art. I support this but if an individual event wants to have crafters is entirely their decision (but I cannot see why anyone should say no).
Q.- Do you think the Steampunk community can get to a common definition of Steampunk jewelry?
A.- That is a tough question… See below…
Q.- In any case, would you dare to give us a definition of Steampunk jewelry?
A.- If it is a piece of jewelry a protagonist in a Jules Verne/Gail Carriger/CM Priest/Morris and Ballantine novel would wear during an adventure, it is steampunk jewelry.
Q.- We are aware that you are very interested not only in Steampunk, but also in Dieselpunk. We find Dieselpunk very interesting too and would like to pay more attention at this later on, and we have begun to wonder how should Dieselpunk jewelry be… although we are going to leave this for the future. In any case, and going back to Steampunk jewelry… do you think that men’s jewelry should receive more attention?
A.- Absolutely yes! I am hard-pressed to find anything I can wear and usually have to make do with the odd pin or brooch. Luckily, I recently got a tie-clasp when I visited the SteamUp Festival in Prague. Jewelry for gentlemen is definitely missing.
Q.- We wrote recently a blog post entitled ‘The 5 secrets of Steampunk fine jewelry’. Do you consider that quality is receiving attention enough or maybe not?
A.- Hmmm… Judging from the majority you get on Etsy, most of the stuff is average. I guess everybody tries to do the best they can but there are few master craftsmen out there who do steampunk jewelry. On the other hand, the true master work is being drowned out by the mass of average stuff.
Q.- Before finishing this interview we cannot help but asking you something about H. P. Lovecraft works. You are a big fan of Cthulhu Mythos with all its tentacular creatures… could this be related to the profusion of octopuses in the emerging ‘Steampunk cosmology’?
A.- Nope, in my case, I was into Lovecraft and Cthulhu years before I was into Steampunk. I actually did my Master Thesis in Cultural Anthropology on the influence of H.P. Lovecraft’s work on pop-culture.
Q.- Is there anything else you would like to add?
A.- Thanks for giving me the chance to write a few lines for your blog, I should use this opportunity to plug my own upcoming book, but since it is only available in German, there really is little point.
Disclaimer.- The opinions or statements expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Decimononic.
3.- Next interviewee!
On the 15th of September we are publishing the interview for Karen Grover (aka Ladie Elsie) and Major Thadeus Tinker, prominent steampunks in the U.K. scene. They like to refer to themselves as ‘Steampunk Facilitators’ and promote Steampunk wherever they can.
In 2008 they formed the Victorian Steampunk Society with the idea of setting up a U.K. festival for steampunks (“Weekend at the Asylum”) and have also promoted music events in London and Lincoln. Both Thadeus Tinker and Lady Elsie are respected makers of Art and Costume.
Remember that all the published interviews are available for your delight: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’ the brief interviews series by Decimononic.