Really Retro: Heading for the 1890s: Living in the Weird, Weird West

When most people think Steampunk setting, images of Victorian London likely come to mind, but across the Atlantic and a steam engine-pulled train ride inland stretched a vast frontier. This Saturday night, July 23, at THE WEIRD WEST SALOON, the fine folks at The Artifice Club transform The Solarium in Oakhurst into a steampunk version of that less polite society where the law often came down to the fastest draw.

Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with the opening of the Trading Post Market with vendors of unique jewelry, weaponry, costumery and other unexpected ephemera. Then at 7 p.m., doors officially open for ticketholders. Chance your cash for charity in the saloon casino, test whether you’ll be caught dead or alive in a quick draw tournament and kick back an alcoholic beverage in period sets created by mad geniuses Sean O’Shea and Penny Dreadful Productions. Of course, there’ll also be entertainment aplenty from Blair Crimmins & the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair here) to Mistress of Ceremonies/Sheriff Sabrina Pandora, tunes spun by DJ Swivel and Artifice Club maestro/founder DJ Doctor Q to a bevy of Atlanta burlesque beauties, dressed delightfully down as sexy saloon personas including Fonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love.

The tantalizing Ms. Love graciously consented to give all you ATLRetro cowboys and girls an exclusive sneak peek, as well as the scoop on a Friday pre-party and late night after-party for those who want to play in the Weird West beyond the Witching Hour.

How did The Artifice Club get the idea for a Steampunk Western theme night?
There are many cultures to pull from when you talk about the Victorian era. Many of us start out with the European influence because it seems the most natural. Since The Artifice Club wants to explore all advents of the art form, the American twist was where we went with it this time, and it seems like everyone is really jazzed about it. It’s something new, and a great excuse to whip out those sewing machines, spray paint and epoxies! It’s time to think about a new slant on a good costume and new props, because you can always use a new form of weaponry, just ask Bill Harrison! The West Coast does a lot of really cool wild west conventions as well but not on the East Coast. That should be remedied.

It’s often said that THE WILD WILD WEST 1960s TV series was an early example of Steampunk. Can we expect to run into Jim West (Robert Conrad), Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) or—yikes—Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless (Michael Dunn)?

You might, though I find that most of our Steampunks lean toward doing unique costumes. Though, you never know with this crowd, they tend to surprise me at every turn! I know that the burlesque portion of our show is most definitely inspired by movies with saloon girls, such as THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, RIVER OF NO RETURN, and even a little French import from CAN CAN. I think Doctor Q would do flips if someone did the 1960s version of Loveless or Gordon, but that’s my opinion.

Blair Crimmins and the Hookers usually talk about themselves as being inspired by 1920s ragtime/Dixieland jazz. Does that mean that ragtime and jazz were invented a little earlier in your alternate Steampunk universe or will they be doing more fiddling than usual?

Blair Crimmins

Honestly, the thing I love about Steampunk is that you can be pliable with the time lines. I’m no music history major, but I do know they are simply perfect for this event in particular. In my mind’s eye I can absolutely see Blair at a player piano and ducking behind it to avoid a bar room brawl, can’t you?!?!

How did you select the entertainers?

Doctor Q and I have been fans of Blair and the band for a while now. Honestly it was a matter of the right venue, the right theme and a solid budget. As for the burlesque performers, I’ve always wanted to do a saloon girl show. Burlesque lent itself to this perfectly to this theme so we went with it, and I am very pleased with the results.

Sabrina Pandora’s always a hoot and a half. She has this fantastic duster getup that would make Doc Holiday envious and a twist of the words if ever there was one. She’s one of those rare breeds that started with Americana Steampunk, so she was the natural choice for Mistress of Ceremonies!

Doctor Q surrounded by Talloolah Love and a bevy of Weird West Saloon girls.

I asked Fonda Lingue to be a part of the Saloon Girl Project as he’s been a choreographer for a long time and is one of the best dancers I have ever met. This show has two big group numbers, and I did not want to undertake all of the choreography on my own for this one. It would have been overwhelming. Fonda took it like a champ and was invaluable to the process.

Tupelo Honey is just a lovely and talented performer. I chose Tupelo because she has a downright stellar number to one of Blair’s songs, “Demon Like Me.” I feel like this number is what really made Tupelo come into her own on the burlesque scene,  and I love seeing burlesque with a live band. So we really took that opportunity when it presented itself in such a pretty package.

Ruby Redmayne was chosen because she has a fantastic act that makes the room want to blossom with her. She debuted this number during my Rue Du Paradis show at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art back in March. Her stage presence is, in a word – yummy. I know the room will just eat her up!

What special treats does Miss Talloolah Love have in mind?

Penny Dreadful Productions.

There are a few surprises I would like to save for those who come to the event. But what I can say is that this is another immersion event where the folks at Penny Dreadful Productions, and Sean O’Shea are actually building out part of the Solarium to make it look like an actual Saloon. Another fun fact is that the curtains we are using for this show were actually a loving lend from HepCat Mike and Hotsie Totsie. A lot of love is going into this show, so I am expecting it to be pretty fantastic.

 

What are the chances of a cowboy picking up a sexy saloon girl?

Like I always say, if you want a smooth landing, you gotta’ have a good approach!

I hear there’ll also be a vendors market, as well as casino games and a rootin’ tootin’ fast draw contest to raise money for charity. Can you tease us with a few more details?

Well, Doctor Q and I wanted to do a charity that went with the theme. We partnered with VONSchmalhausen. She put us in contact with Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center. To raise money for this charity, we have The King Casino with Texas Hold’em, Black Jack and Roulette. We also have a quick draw Maverick Shootout Tournament for those less inclined to games of chance. All proceeds go to the charity. Casino prizes will be donated from The Trading Post Market. For the dueling tournament, a pair of matching guns from Venusian Airship Pirate Trading Company were donated along with a custom harness to hold them by Other Worlds Outfitters.

We have a Trading Post Market that opens before the show from 5-7 where you can go and shop for free before the show to add any sort of frippery to your costume you may have not gotten to beforehand. A list of vendors can be found at www.theartificeclub.com

How should I dress and what’s the best time to arrive for maximum entertainment?

Kenneth Branagh Dr. Loveless in the movie WILD WILD WEST (1999).

For this event, you don’t have to dress up, but I promise you will have more fun if you do! Steampunk, eccentric, Wild West, all is welcome. If you want it to be more specific, the most modern interpretation I can point to is [the 1960s series movie remake] WILD WILD WEST with Will Smith. Not great cinema, but it’s got the aesthetic just right! As far as time to arrive, you should come in at 5, peruse the wears, and grab some grub at one of the local eateries and pubs and be back for the show, the tournaments and games!

Is it true there’s a pre-party and an after-party, too?

There is indeed a pre-party at The U-Joint in Oakhurst, right across from the Saturday night venue on Friday July 22. The Muleskinner Macqueen Trio will be jamming the night away and warming us all up for the party ahead! Come Saturday at midnight, we all go to the after party at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub next door where DJ DoctorQ and DJ Swivel will be spinning ’till the populace can’t take any more.

What whimsical wonders does The Artifice Club have in store next?

Our next event will be at Blue Mark Studios on November 12. It will be the Second Annual Mechanical Masquerade: A Paranormal Fantasy. The booked entertainment for this show has me really excited! The fabulous Vauxhall Garden Variety Players are coming, and the fantastic Mezmer Society with Onca and August are coming to play. Lastly, the infamous Inventor, snake oil salesman and magician, Doc Volz and his Steampunk Trunk! It’s got a delightfully mystic overture and will be our most full immersion event yet!

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