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!
1.- The interviewee
As announced in the previous interview with Hilde Heyvaert, Diana M. Pho (better known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker) is our February interviewee. She is the founding editor of the award-winning multicultural steampunk blog Beyond Victoriana, a blogger for Tor.com, and a current graduate student in Performance Studies at New York University. Her academic work can be found in the books The Steampunk Bible, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, Steampunk Magazine Anthology #1-7, and the upcoming academic anthology Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style from SUNY Press.
2.- The Interview
First of all, Diana, we want to thank you for accepting our interview proposal. We have been readers of your blog Beyond Victoriana’s for a long time and this is the reason why we have thought about you. When talking about Steampunk jewelry most members of the SP community, such as fashion designers or photographers, would probably bring aesthetics into focus. However, you can offer to the Steampunk community a wider view.
Q.- This said, what’s Steampunk jewelry for you?
A.- Thanks for having me here, Jose! It’s a pleasure to hear from readers of the blog, especially those who are looking to explore the more complicated issues that arise with steampunk style.
“What is steampunk jewelry?” is a big question, but I think I should expand it to address that that bigger question first: “How do you define steampunk?” To me, steampunk is defined on two levels: as a style and as a method (yes, I think steampunk can be – and should be – considered a verb, and I’ll get into that a bit more later). As a style, steampunk is “19th-century inspired science fiction and fantasy.”