Thursday, December 17, 2009


It’s not a dive suit per se. It is by what many on both sides of the authenticity issue consider an abomination.

On the Brass Goggles Forums earlier this year someone joked about something called the "Steamkini". A steampunk bikini. Granted that comment was made with salacious intent, and I being a salacious person with an over active imagination ran with it.

I talked much bravado of being able to produce a steamkini that blended the garb of ancient coverings with that of the minimal we know of today. I got called on it. I protested that even if I made said article I had no one to wear it! Well suddenly I had volunteers. My fate was sealed.

So I started doing research on bathing costumes of the Victorian Era, and I have to tell you back then with the rules of propriety and what not going to the beach was no picnic.

Heavy ankle and wrist length wool garments that tripled in weight when wet! Black to boot making an already hot day miserable! Then the bathing machines! A contraption that would trolley the ladies into the water so they could step out into the ocean and then bring them back into shore free of the gaze of men? I shant go in to the etiquette involved!

In the end there were a quite a few compromises made. Indeed it looks like a bikini, but there nautical skirts and flaps that give it just enough Victorian flair.

I made three. The first two went to Ohio and the Netherlands and I did get pictures back. But the third one is my masterpiece. I have been tweaking this one for months now and for me is an art piece unto itself. I am seriously considering getting a shadowbox and framing it. This one I made to fit into the theme that runs though my head quite often.

In my steampunk world I have a submarine. A steam-powered submarine. Steam-powered submarines were wrought with issues in the beginning, and very few were produced. What they did do in the beginning of modern submarine design was proving the concept, and urged designers to come up with new power sources.

In steampunk world though steam is king, so naturally the steam-powered submersible is a full realized and functional craft. One thing you are not going to get away from is steam-powered submarines are hot. Very, very hot. So in costuming to support this imaginary vision in my head, I have a dress uniform for events outside my hidden submarine base, and a dive suit when leaving my submarine for the murky depths below, but what were my crew and I to wear when sweating bullets when at sea? Well my seawomen get to sport steamkinis. That is my justification for the concept.

For myself I made the Steamo. Yep. I have a Steampunk Speedo. Now that you have winced…It is the long legged bicycle styled swimsuit instead of the tiny kind most associated with the style.

When I first started getting into steampunk I asked myself what I truly want to be. I wanted to be a submarine captain. I wanted to be an undersea explorer. I wanted to make discoveries, and rise up to challenges! I made a complete wardrobe to support this vision. Someday I am going to a Steampunk convention and eat drink, breathe, and wear nothing but my nauticals! Instead by necessity to preserve the character I wound up being the Mayor of my group, and had to produce a completely different persona.

In my heart I am Vice-Admiral Rudolph Begley, a name the Steampunk Name Generator at Brass Goggles gave me. I am an oceanic explorer. I am a brother to my own characters. I am the Father of the Steamkini.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dr. Strange: My Hero, My Self.

I didn’t really give much thought to Dr. Strange as a character until I turned 40. Back in the day, that of my High School days I was Captain America in the re-written World of Marvel we were doing. At the time I superficially identified with hum because I was on delayed entry for Naval service. That was it. It was the only connection I had to the character.

Having crossed over into my early winter as a full on costumer, I started looking or characters that were older. Besides portraying the Grandfather of any chosen anime character my options were pretty limited. Dr. Strange stood out though. The more I read about him the more I started looking at myself.

Short version of the similarities between the two of us. We were both at the top of our professions and we knew it. Then there was our falls from grace. We had to learn who we were beneath the ego, either to embrace it, or to change it. We both hooked up with a hottie, and we both grew distant from her. We are both currently looking at our lives once again and figuring out what we are going to do.

Marvel comics have take Dr. Strange on a long and twisted journey and now there is a new four part series concerning his adventures. He is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme having experienced another lapse in judgment and fall from grace. And he is no longer a doctor. He is just Stephen. Turns out in issue 1 of 4 he likes baseball! Amazing how I have nothing to do with the way his story is written that the similarities between us continue.

This series simply titled “Strange” starts as he is picking up the pieces of his life and moving on. Naturally he is a skilled practitioner of the mystical arts, but not THE practitioner. Stephen goes to a ball game and what at first appears that he is there to enjoy the game until the reveal. The game is cursed and possessed form beings of the mystical planes. The price the Yonkers Larks will pay is their souls if the lose the game.

He saves the game, and as it turns out everyone in the stadium, by playing ball himself. He is at the game in street clothes and not his normal colorful attire, but the artists have made a nice nod to his costume by keeping the colors of the Larks jerseys the red and yellow scheme o his Cloak of Levitation. A jersey Stephen is wearing to the park.

The battle scene between the Larks and the demonic possessed visiting team is brilliantly rendered psychodelia that we are accustomed to. In the end he may not be saving the entire world from the grander forces of the ethereal world, but he is saving a small part of it from something more intimate. You get the sense in the last panels that he is satisfied.

Steve… we are going to be alright.