Sunday, August 14, 2016

Becoming a Sophisticated A.I. (and Airship Pirate)

"DIGITIZE THE WORLD. (A new life awaits you)." - Cyberpunk Dada Manifesto
When Tuesday Tease decided on a retrofuturistic theme, I knew I had to get in on the action.  After all, I love cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, all the past-meets-future mash-ups.  We had originally called the show "Robo Renaissance", and I took things literally.   The Renaissance version of steampunk is called "clockpunk".  My friends do a really great interpretation of that sub-genre's aesthetic.  However, that wasn't what I was looking for.

I've always said that I was more "punk" than "steam" since I like the tech and the sci-fi more than the retro aspect of steampunk.  So I decided to Google "cyberpunk Renaissance" in hopes of finding some works that were less gears and more robotics but still had Renaissance fashion.  Miraculously, I found Deus Ex:Human Revolution.  I played a little bit of the original Deus Ex (for a college class actually) and enjoyed the themes of the game.  As I did more research on the characters, I became very inspired by the symbolism of the Renaissance fashion.  Eliza Cassan, in particular, jumped out at me.  I like wearing black, and the many layers of her identity as a celebrity and an artificial construct provided a wonderful narrative.
from Eidos Montreal Community post
by Valerie Bourdeau
Eliza's jacket was going to be the centerpiece.  I couldn't make it on my own so I wound up commissioning it from Dahl Parts Designs.  Although I thought the dress she wore underneath would be simple enough to alter from existing lingerie pieces, I hit a roadblock with the stretchy material and the zipper.  However, it's the first zipper I've installed on my own (and by hand too!) so I think I'm slowly making progress as a costumer.  The boots provided a different challenge.  They were a lucky acquisition from Missy Lisa of the Ruby Revue and the highest heels I have ever worn.  After some practice, I was able to walk confidently (or at least fake it) in them for the amount of time needed in my act.

Captain Tony Fo-Hawk
The possibilities of the theme made me unable to settle with just one act, even if it was an ambitious one.  In the beginning of my steampunk days, I befriended the vocalist of Marquis of Vaudeville, and they're one of my favorite bands.  I've always wanted to pay tribute to them before I even started burlesque.  Levi des Peu-Chapeaux has an act to the song of theirs I used to belly dance to, "Ordinary Day", so I chose another track, "Dear Isabella".  It's their tribute to Airship Isabella, a highly influential group in the Texas steampunk scene.  That made it perfect because I could pay homage to the entire community who have helped me grow as an individual and fall in love with living in Dallas.  Plus I never got to be an airship pirate (my "steam-sona" was a dancer and scientist) so this was my chance.  I gave the song to Tony Fo-Hawk because I could see him take the skies and not be limited by the rules of society.

Both acts were hits even though Eliza could still use some work.  The show, Steam-Tease, was a lot of fun to be a part of because everyone in the cast was geeky and the producer really encouraged many different interpretations of the retrofuturistic theme.  It was heavily steampunk, but as I've learned, there are a myriad of ways to interpret that sub-genre.  I also finally got to meet fellow Loki/Bucky/vampire-loving nerdlesquer Vita DeVoid in person.  I have to thank Tasseled Squirrel for believing in my two visions, Jessica Dahl for her impeccable work on the jacket, and Oliver Clothesoff for videoing my routines.  Several people complimented me on the jacket, and I want to do the act a hundred times so that I can strut around in it some more (cosplay may be a more feasible alternative).  This was a good start for Eliza; I'm excited to keep tuning her up so that I can bring her back to the stage.

In the meantime, I get to debut another video game act at one of my own shows.  With the help of Vivienne Vermuth, I'm bringing a Smash Brothers-themed Tuesday Tease to Sue Ellen's this week! A lot of extra care has been put into this show because The Companion is one of the long-time members of the competitive Smash scene in Dallas.  So please come and nerd out with us!

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