Steampunk heats up theater


Troupe Azure dancers perform during Friday’s show at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre for the Festival of Converging Histories, where participants dressed in both Victorian era and steampunk outfits. Members of Troupe Azure also wore steampunk outfits, some in corsets, as they danced to industrial music.

Troupe Azure dancers perform during Friday’s show at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre for the Festival of Converging Histories, where participants dressed in both Victorian era and steampunk outfits. Members of Troupe Azure also wore steampunk outfits, some in corsets, as they danced to industrial music. CHARLIE MILLER

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WALLA WALLA — Steampunk made its debut at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre on Friday when “Steamtress” Eliza VanDeRostyne showed off to an almost full house what happens when you mix Victorian lace and frills with the wild American West, throw in some modern industrial accessories and a good assortment of boots, leggings and racy hem lines.

“I had a lot of people say, ‘You are really going to make 10 outfits in your basement?’” the seamstress said, as she prepped her 10 models for their Steampunk fashion show on Friday night.

A subgenre of Comic-Con — which is short for comic conventions where attendees often dress like their favorite science fiction, fantasy or comic book characters — steampunk participants occasionally hold their own conventions where they take part in lectures on 19th century Victorian and modern steampunk art, writings and music

The two biggest draws of steampunk, however, are the whimsical — and usually mock — steampowered devices that are created and costumes that the participants wear.

“I like the fashion clothing, the creativity and the amazing things they come up with,” said steampunker Patti Tuttle, who was not part of the show but dressed appropriately for it.

“You could ride into town with this ...,” Tuttle said, showing that the pants she wore had a flap that could be buttoned over to make a proper woman’s skirt. “... but you wouldn’t walk around town with pants. So this is what an adventurous woman would have worn.”

The rest of Tuttle’s outfit included a spice collector’s belt, pith helmet, cotton blouse and other accessories that made her look like she was going on a 19th century safari.

“Travel was important in the Victorian era,” Tuttle said, adding that not all the outfits are racy.

“It doesn’t have to be. When you go to a steam-con, there are small children there to people in their 80s,” she said.

Nevertheless, steampunk outfits can be intriguing and definitely more revealing than what was the norm in the Victorian era.

“A Victorian woman might have been weak, but a steampunk woman isn’t. And I love that,” VanDeRostyne said.

It should be noted, though, that steampunk and Victorian women often share the same pains of a constricting corset.

“OK. Let’s see if I can do this,” Shari Entrikin said, as she tried to sit back in her seat for the show while wearing a corset. Then she let out a little groan. “It’s just tight. I haven’t gotten used to it.”

The big difference between steampunk and traditional Victorian is steampunk women wear their corsets on the outside.

In addition to the local steamstress fashion show, guests were treated to a second fashion and sale show presented by the Miss Haley Bombshell Boutique.

Magician Master Payne was the main performance for the night, and he provided a second show at the Kirkman House Museum Saturday.

On Saturday night, the steampunk and traditional Victorian wearing couples attended the second annual Kirkman House Grand Victorian Ball.

And of all the events and performances given this weekend, one of the most noteworthy was the masterfully interwoven emcee presentation at Friday’s show by wandering intergalactic timetraveler Professor Beebe, played by Thomas Beebe.

Of course, Professor Beebe was appropriately dressed in a steampunk outfit, as were the belly dancers.

Adding to Friday’s show were the locally renowned Troupe Azure belly dancers, who wore a mixture of black lace, corsets and even some boots on their normally bare feet as they performed to industrial- sounding Persian belly dancing music.

But there were some limitations to how far they would go.

“We made sure the costumes weren’t too constricting, we couldn’t do a super-tight corset,” Troupe Azure member Halle Allgood said.

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