Steampunk brings Victorian vampire hunting to life
Picture a dark, dystopic world where waves of steam billow upward to intersect the zeppelins in the sky. Brass technology has overtaken every corner of the world, and the citizens of the land, in their corsets, top hats and petticoats, must face the dangers of zombies and feral creatures on the ground, as well as the drunken airship pirates flying up above. Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the world of steampunk.
While it's obvious that the actual modern-day world isn't remotely similar to what was previously described, a fairly new and emerging subculture is making the esoteric fantasy possible. Steampunk, a subculture with science fictional roots, is a movement that involves certain, fictional post-Victorian ideologies.
Instead of the electronic, digital age of today, steampunk revolves around the concept of steam-powered machines. What results is a unique choice in lifestyle and hobby: Fashion pertaining to corsets, goggles, and waistcoats; literature and film with similar ethereal outlooks, and music such as the likes of neoclassical Abney Park or industrial musician Doctor Steel.
Those are just the basics, however. With such a fleshed out faux-historical background, creative expansion is always possible. Take the League of S.T.E.A.M. for example.
The League of S.T.E.A.M., a group based in southern California, is, to put it simply, a steampunk version of the Ghostbusters. The League specializes in exterminating pesky mythical creatures like leprechauns, detecting and collecting ectoplasm from sites with frequent ghost activity, and of course, zombie domestication.
"The aesthetic and creativity of the genre is really what initially attracted me to this culture," Nick Baumann, co-founder of the League, said when asked about his interest in steampunk. "At the time, when I first was getting caught up in the scene there wasn't much of a subculture that there is today."
Though the League wasn't officially formed until 2009, Baumann and a group of friends have been building steam for a couple of years now.
"Our first event as an organized group was at the Labryinth of Jareth Ball in July 2009," Baumann said. "We decided it best to break off the use of the ‘Ghostbusters' name and develop our own logo and name."
And so the League and its wide array of characters was born: co-founders Crackitus Pottss and Professor Jager, specialists in ghoul and ectoplasmic containment, respectively; Sir Conrad Wright III, a member skilled in vampire elimination, and Zedediah, the League's domesticated zombie butler.
The League's range of equipment is also a story of its own. From an immobilization engine powered by baby electric eels, to a re-animated corpse with pumps and steam running through her, it's safe to assume that the highly ornate machinery require additional effort than every-day items.
"My first piece, the Steam Ghost Pack, I started designing at least six months prior to the event, and building took about 3 months," Baumann said. "There was much research and development that went into trying to figure out what would work and how to achieve the effect. This is when the most time affects the projects, all the working parts. It often slows me down but the end result is well worth it."
Steampunk is a multi-faceted subculture, and while it might seem daunting to just jump in and participate, Baumann assures that it's not.
"This community has been very friendly and welcoming, creative, inspirational, adventurous and willing to try new things. You can learn a lot by attending events and socials, and chatting and making new friends," he said.
For more information on the League of S.T.E.A.M., visit www.leagueofsteam.com. Additionally, for any steampunk-related events, visit www.socalsteam.com.