Steampunk Society Invades the Pfister

Just in case you had any preconceived notions about the Pfister clientele, allow me to challenge those. First, watch this slideshow:



These are steampunkers. What is a steampunker? Good question – I was also unaware of this counterculture until the Steampunk Society Milwaukee held their first Maker’s Fair last Saturday at the Pfister, organized in part by the gregarious Timothy Westbrook, Pfister’s Artist in Residence.

The group emulates the culture and costumes of the late nineteenth century and Victorian era. There is also a fascination with sci-fi elements and gadgets. Most people I talked with couldn’t exactly explain what a steampunker was, but described what drew them in.

Allizarin Crimson a.k.a. Kristin Poehls is a new member whose goal was to make just one sale at the fair. Jim Best has been involved for two years and started going to events something to do in his free time. For him, it was something more productive to do than playing video games. He uses old watch pieces to create pins and jewelry.

Clinger, adorned in a metal top hat and metal tie, calls it “A classy looking way to rebel.” He rode 10 miles to get to the Pfister on his ordinary bicycle. It’s his primary mode of transportation when the weather is agreeable. Anna Rodriguez sees it as a way to express herself. She loves the creative element and the costuming that goes along with it.

Bridget Sharon started the society in Milwaukee after seeing many of the same people from Milwaukee at the Chicago events. “I saw a lot of potential in it,” she said. “We used to do ‘invasions’ where we’d all decide to go someplace and show up in costume. Now, we hold monthly events to get together and grab drinks or socialize.” There are no requirements to be a member. Events attract anywhere from 20-40 people, but there must have been at least 100 steampunkers at the Maker’s Fair.

Bridget encourages everyone to check out a Steampunk Society gathering. I agree, you have to see this for yourself. For more information, click here.

My Other Pen is a Hydro-cyclonic Ink Dispensing Thought Engine

I have never stopped going to the Pfister. I’m still there, buy cialis lurking among the new artists and writers and last night, I snuck in to lurk among the time-travelers and inventors. My confession is that I love the art/craft/clothing/mission/vision/literature that calls itself Steampunk. I’ve been known to lust after a pair of great goggles and as a renaissance faire actor in the summers, I’m no stranger to a good corset. I have long wished the hotel had airship parking.

So I dragged a friend out for a drink in the Lobby Bar—something she’s no stranger to as she was one of my partners in crime when I was the Pfister Narrator—and we looked at gears and hair fascinators and costumes. And we descended on the bar and had a Zaffiro’s cheese pizza, remembering my introduction to the family whose girls’ day out during the holidays included pizza in the lobby.

And there she was. I saw our new Narrator at the bar, watching the costumes stream out of the Steampunk party. She typed on her tablet, and I found that appropriate as Steampunk is about unique inventions and hodge podge creations and a tablet is the perfect contemporary hybrid to reflect that sensibility, even if it’s not from the Steam Age.

I’m curious if she spotted us, if she recognized me. I only knew her from her interview video and was happy to note that the energy that jumped off the screen and grabbed us in that conference room was pulling people toward her in the Lobby Bar last night as well.

The entire evening just reminded me (not that I needed reminding) that the Pfister captures more than just people. Seeing the turn of the century garb, met with visionary mechanical implements and jewelry, was surreal when the garb floated into the lobby. Our favorite may have been the gorgeous Victorian bustled dress with teal brocade that fit its bearer so perfectly we questioned whether her body, too, had traveled through time. My friend gasped when she looked up and saw the mistress being photographed by her captain on the glorious staircase. What better place to reconsider the turn of the century and the romantic lure of the past than a hotel that was created to capture the future the turn of the century would bring?

I’m so proud to be a part of the Pfister because the beauty and elegance of this place and its people lend themselves and open their doors to contemporary, unique events like the Steampunk ball. I was proud to see so many of the artists showcased at the event were not from Chicago, but rather right here in Milwaukee, proving again that we’re current, we’re cool and Milwaukee has its fair share of airship pirates.

If you pictured the art of Timothy Westbrook as textile manipulation and beautiful, you were correct. But if you’d never looked at his pieces in the gaslight of a Victorian evening or seen how their feel couples so wonderfully with an Oscillating Mechanical Stun Weapon particular to airships and rogue captains, the Pfister provided that for you. Again, I was amazed at how a place, rife with history and bursting with elegance is also a playful contemporary who is willing to embrace gears, gadgets and difference engines to prove how welcome we all are when we’re there.

Good luck, Jenna. I have not forgotten, nor abandoned my journey with time travel, facilitated by the Pfister and its staff; I crack the proverbial bottle of champagne over your airship for luck on your adventure.