Saturday, May 10, 2008

Punk'd and Steamed


I am indeed a little steamed. For I am late to the party, having just learned, via the New York Times, that one of my favorite looks—postmodern-techno-Victorian—is an official subculture called steampunk.

In the winter I like nothing better to wear my ankle-length Cossack/Edwardian (I know I’m mixing genres here) coat and stomp around in riding boots, wearing my imaginary Amelia Earhart leather flying cap.

If I had a Woody wagon, I’d hop in it, warm my perforated-leather-gloved hands on the navy velvet-covered steering wheel, and plug in to my metallic pink iPod, its pure girliness concealed within its faux brass carrying case. Cyborg Victorian at its best.

But now I wouldn’t want to do so, knowing that I’d be an official steampunk; for me, the minute a label sticks, it’s time to change looks.

I do, however, love that the James Gang, a super-talented African American vaudeville troupe that performs at NYC’s The Box, is opening a “steampunk” customizing shop. You can bring in your TVs and have them wrapped in a more tactile, less techno material for a neo-Victorian feel.

And I especially love that one of the James Gang members calls himself The Great Gatsby. Many people probably think it’s ironic, since Robert Redford, in all his blue-eyed blonde iconicity, portrayed Jay Gatsby on film.

But if you read Gatsby carefully (with Walter Benn Michael’s smart essay “The Souls of White Folk” on the side), you’ll see that Gatsby is, in fact, symbolically “not white.” Genius move on the James Gang member’s part. Any steampunks out there?


**Photo by Kat Bret

7 comments:

K.Line said...

I remember when I first learned this term - I was so blown away that there was actually a word for that style. I thought Hollywood contrived it!

WendyB said...

I like that you wear an imaginary hat.

enc said...

Now that it's a phenom, it's the right time to jump off. Too bad, it's a cool idea.

riz said...

OMG, I read this article recently too and was about to do a post on it. It's pretty awesome I have to say. I didn' t know you were a steampunker! I don't know yet if I am one...

miss cavendish said...

I definitely would not call myself a steampunker. But I do love my winter coat ensemble!

Miss White said...

I first heard of it when I saw these steampunked macs I didn't realise it was an entire subculture, that's brilliant!

Pamcasso said...

I really dig the whole steampunk look, jewelry especially. there's oodles of stuff on etsy:)