WEEKEND: Port Townsend Steampunk — the other side of Victorian
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Port Townsend Antique Mall vendor Jan Dennler prepares a steampunk display in anticipation of this weekend's festival.
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Nathan Barnett, one of the organizers of the upcoming Brass Screw Confederacy, displays a hurdy-gurdy and a "fantasy gun" that will be a prop at the event. Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Brass Screw is turning.

The Brass Screw Confederacy, a Steampunk Hootenanny — which begins tonight and offers a variety of events through Sunday — is designed to bottle the magic of a whimsical new trend and channel it to underscore Port Townsend's reputation as one of the coolest places around.

“Our purpose was to create opportunities for artists and artisans in Port Townsend by bringing more people to Port Townsend,” said Dominic Svornich, one of the organizers of the event that begins today and ends Sunday.

“It's working so far,” he said. “A lot of local businesses have put on steampunk displays and have reported an increase in sales.”

Also, nearly 150 tickets had been sold as of late Wednesday to people who are coming from outside of Jefferson County, Svornich said.

A full pass, which includes general admission to events throughout the weekend, is $35.

A Friday-only ticket costs $10, while Saturday admission, which includes a vaudeville show with music, dance, magic and aerialists, is $25.

What is steampunk?

There are as many definitions of steampunk as people who are attempting to define it.

In a general sense, it is a celebration of science fiction-based technology developed or imagined in the 19th century.

“Generally, it celebrates a time where there were many steam-powered machines in a time before electricity became commonplace,” Svornich said. “It provides a sci-fi look at history that isn't necessarily accurate.”

It also provides an appreciation of the time that contrasts and complements commonly held ideas about the Victorian Age.

“This celebrates the Victorian aesthetic and the beauty of some of the things that existed in that time,” Svornich said.

The festival also celebrates absinthe, a powerful liqueur that “is said to have psychoactive qualities,” according to Svornich.

“Vincent Van Gogh cut his ear off after drinking absinthe,” Svornich said. “It was also the drink of choice for Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde.”

Svornich said three or four different varieties of absinthe will be served at various festival venues.

Buskers and performers are expected on the streets of Port Townsend throughout the weekend, organizers said.

Begins tonight

The festival will begin today with a Victorian boudoir and saloon from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St.

Live music will be performed by Hot Club Sandwich, and there will be a photo booth, absinthe tastings and a cash bar with local beer, wine and cider.

It is restricted to those 21 and older.

The main event will be a vaudeville show at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, also for those 21 and older.

Admission will be $25 cash or check at the door of the American Legion Hall.

The Crow Quill Night Owls will perform music, while the show also will feature aerialists and belly dancers, Tempting Tarts Burlesque, Artis the Spoon Man and Reggie Miles, and Master Payne, billed as a “steampunk sorcerer.”

On Sunday will be a Zombie Triathlon in which participants, who pay $10 each, will hunt zombies in the wilds of Fort Worden State Park, take aim at zombies with Nerf weapons and search through zombie catacombs.

This takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Half the proceeds from the Brass Screw will be split between the Port Townsend School District for science and art programs and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network.

The other half will go toward a 2013 festival.

Here are the highlights of the festival schedule:


■ 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Registration at the Pope Marine Building, with fire dancers and a silent auction.

■ 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Victorian boudoir-saloon at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St. Admission is $10.


■ 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — A “Bazaar of the Bizarre” at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., which includes vendors and artists, with a craft show simultaneously outside the hall.

Both events are free.

■ All day — Brass Screw Cabaret at Key City Public Theatre, 419 Washington St., including readings by Neal Stephenson from what is described as a “NeoVictorian cyberpunk novel,” called Diamond Age.

Also planned is Master Payne's Flea Circus, the Shadow Sprites and Diana Vick speaking about steampunk fashion.

Admission is free.

■ 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday — Vaudeville show at the American Legion Hall. Admission is $25.


■ 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Zombie Triathlon, Fort Worden State Park. Admission is $10. Parking requires a Discover Pass.

During the first event, the Zombie Hunt, a “stagger of zombies is released into the wilderness,” each with a token brain to be relinquished to the person who persuades it to give it up.

In Zombie Skeet, zombies can be shot with Nerf weapons in a shooting gallery, and in Zombies' Revenge, catacombs can be explored.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.brass-screw.org.


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 07. 2012 3:11PM
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