Does Pro Wrestling Belong In Steampunk?

An Editorial

By Ashley Lauren Rogers

Before we begin I want to let you know I’ve got an Indie Gogo live for a new stage combat show called SCOWL: Fight For Your Rights. Check out more info at the end of this piece!

As steam shoots from the stage a woman with fiery orange hair, corset, and striped attire enters from Gorilla Position. She is “The Irish Lass-Kicker,” Becky Lynch. Fans scream, many wearing goggles with “Becky Lynch,” painted on the side of them that they purchased from the official WWE shop. Becky Lynch is a professional wrestler, a WWE Superstar, and a former Smackdown Women’s Champion. Lynch has been a part of the WWE roster and instrumental to the “Women’s Revolution,” in 2015 and has been Steampunk since her feud with Sasha Banks a few months prior to that in NXT. She’s a major player currently on the Smackdown roster and she’s Steampunk but that brings up a question which surprisingly has rarely been considered… Is Professional wrestling Steampunk?

We can talk about the visual aesthetic of Lynch, and the antics of Aiden English and his former tag team partner Simon Gotch (now working the independent circuit under the name Simon Grimm) as The Vaudevillains but beyond aesthetics and character, at the core of Pro Wrestling, is it Steampunk? Much like freak shows, and wild west showcases of the past the art of pro wrestling evolved from turn of the century circus and carnival culture. Pro Wrestling as we know it today emerged from a series of grappling bouts by circus strong men who’s matches would be similar to amateur wrestling matches. These strongmen would challenge one another as well as paying customers.

The problem with this style was two-fold: first the organizers couldn’t guarantee the length of the match and amateur wrestling matches tended to be two-to-three hour long affairs but second the organizers couldn’t guarantee their chosen champ wouldn’t get hurt challenging random carnival attendees. Both problems hurt said organizer’s potential paycheck. If his champ were injured he wouldn’t be able to compete thus lost wages and as entertaining as these feets of strength and athleticism were the audience would eventually become bored.

Over time this was improved upon thanks to a number of performers including and mostly thanks to the likes of “The Strangler,” Ed Lewis, Billy Sandow, and Toots Mondt amongst others. By pre-determining the ending of the matches organizers could ensure a better level of safety for their competitors and by instilling time limits the audience would have a sense of the longest time a match could run, and by expanding the repertoire of what styles and maneuvers were allowed within a match (including Grecco Roman, Boxing, and various other martial arts styles) it added a much more visually interesting style for carnival goers to watch, and also being able to work out the finishes of the matches ahead of time optimizing storytelling drama.

While many of the changes, the flash, the long form storytelling are fairly recent (post 1920s) many aspects of the Carnival/Circus culture has never left the business, or at the very least it lasted until the internet age. There’s an attitude that has always existed of maintaining the idea of reality (a term known as Kayfabe). Wrestlers/Superstars for long stretches of time would have to maintain their character outside of the arenas and gymnasiums they’d perform in so as not to drop the veil that this is a legitimate competition.

In WWE superstar Chris Jericho’s Autobiography A Lion’s Tale he discusses the use of “Carnie speak,” amongst wrestlers in order to be able to talk about the business but not tip their hand that said business is predetermined, and in his time working in Germany observing that a common way how the Faces (the good guy in this case) would find themselves tricked by his dastardly Heel (the bad guy) opponent and fined money by the referee. The face would go out to the crowd to raise money in order to pay his fine and continue the match. Backstage the three would split the profits.

Professional wrestling is a style of story-telling is rooted in 19th century history which has been improved upon, changed and evolved with modern understandings but still harkens back to the old-school style and history that shaped it. Always moving forward while maintaining a sense of what it was. That sounds pretty Steampunk to me.

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More about SCOWL: Fight For Your Rights

Support our Indie Gogo and Check out our Twitter @SCOWLFight and Instagram for more updates!

We premiered SCOWL as a concept first at Motor City Steam Con a year ago and have been approved for a full show at The Transgender Theatre Festival at the Brick in Brooklyn.

SCOWL: Fight For Your Rights is an action packed theatrical presentation combining stage combat choreography, acrobatics, and mixed media to create queer and trans inclusive theatrical performance with a sports appeal. Much in the same way streaming shows like GLOW, live theatre like The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, and even long form storytelling elements from shows like WWE and Lucha Underground.

How far would you go to fight for your rights? To stand up to insurmountable odds? To refuse disrespect? When The Riarchy Corporation bought out the majority shares in SCOWL they instituted rule after rule, seeming to punish those most in need of support. Pushed to the edge it’s up to former SCOWL champion April Rain and a motley crew of trans and nonbinary warriors to defeat the Riarchy Corporation in a best of three competition. If they win Riarchy Corporation owner Pat Riarchy will give up his shares in SCOWL and dissolve the Riarchy corporation. But if she loses, April, and all members of the SCOWL roster will have to present and compete as their sex assigned at birth or leave SCOWL.

Published in: on May 6, 2018 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)  

Interview 110, Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus author, Sean Patrick Little, Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion in our talk with Sean Patrick Little, author of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

Read Part Three here.

 

 

Airship Ambassador: Looking beyond steampunk and writing, what other interests fill your time?

Sean Patrick Little: I have a 13-year-old daughter, so antagonizing her and making her do homework is a big chunk of my day. I play guitar and bass badly (self-taught), so I try to do that occasionally. Other than that, I work. I write. I sleep. That’s my life. I’m not terribly exciting. I don’t get to travel much. I don’t leave my house much.

 

AA: Antagonizing a teenager, sounds dangerous and entertaining, and hopefully there’s some good story fodder in there, too. What other fandoms are you part of?

SPL:  Anything nerdy, really. Big Star Trek guy. Big Star Wars guy. Big D&D guy. I read a lot of fantasy novels. I’m also a progressive rock fan. Total Marillion guy. Love Rush. Love Pink Floyd. I listen to them a lot.

AA: Good list! What is on your to-be read pile right now?

SPL: Currently, I’m sitting on a ton of stuff. I’m trying to get into the Stormlight Archive series from Brandon Sanderson, but it just isn’t clicking for me. I am reading a lot of CJ Box novels. I’m a big Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire series) fan, so the Joe Pickett novels are along a similar vein. I am waiting for the next books from Sebastien de Castell and Alex Bledsoe, too. Bledsoe’s Tufa novels are some of my favorite books of the last ten years. They are instant classics, in my opinion.

My friend, Maddy Hunter, has a new book coming out in her Passport to Peril series, too. She’s a wickedly funny mystery novelist from Madison, Wis. Well worth your time to check her out.

I’ve also been trying to read a lot of steampunk novels, lately. I read Cherie Priest’s books a while back, and I’ve waded through some Gail Carriger. I’m halfway through Robyn Bennis’s The Guns Above right now, too.

 

AA: Someone’s to-be-read list just got longer. Who is an inspiration to you?

SPL: I suppose it’s cheesy to say my dad, but he is. He’s a guy who has been dealt a lot of bad hands in life, but he keeps forging ahead. Outside of my dad, I look at a lot of people who do things outside the mainstream systems—Elon Musk, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Raimi—people who did things their own way because they wanted/needed to. I admire that. I like it when authors who self-published books find success—Andy Weir, for example. Michael J. Sullivan. Marcel Proust. I like people who buck the system and achieve success. Those are my heroes.

 

AA: Plenty of leaders and people with strong visions. What is the best advice you’ve been given?

SPL: One of my college writing professors, Dr. Emilio Degrazia, said, “Tell the truth.” That was basically the culmination of a semester-long creative writing class. He meant that you need to tell the truth about the characters, and the conflict, and the fallout of the conflict, no matter how bad any of it is. Don’t cater your writing to fit other people’s concepts. Tell the truth and stand by it.

Also—writing has NOTHING to do with inspiration. Writing gets done because you put your butt in a seat and your fingers on a keyboard and you grind. That’s it. If you’re not putting in the hours it takes to write, you won’t write. Simple as that. If you want to write, then find the time and plant yourself at that keyboard.

 

AA: Good advice for everyone about the things they want to accomplish. When you do interviews, what is something that you wish you were asked about but haven’t been?

SPL: I don’t do many interviews. I’m very much under the radar. Like…way under the radar. I’m on the ground, undetectable by radar. I suppose the one question I’ve never been asked is “Why do you do it?”  –and the answer is, because I can’t stop. I quit writing all the time (out of frustration, out of sadness, out of feeling like I’ll never “make it”—wherever “it” is), but I always go back. It’s an addiction. A disease. I have stories in me that I want to tell, that I need to tell, so I tell them.

As much as I would like to have a zillion readers, and a dedicated fan base, and get invited to speak at conventions and such—it has nothing to do with why I do what I do. I write, because I must. If you’re writing for any other reason than that, you are doing it wrong.

AA: We are driven to create, to release the energy inside to bring form to the formless. Any final thoughts to share with our readers

SPL: Thanks for reading. Honestly. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am if you take time out of your life to read anything I write, even if you didn’t like it—thank you for reading it. I appreciate it more than you know. So often, writing novels feels like being on a remote island. I’m alone in my head hoping someone sees these stories.

Also, if you read something, if you read anything by any author and you liked it and/or want more of it, PLEASE write a good review for it and post it as many places as you can. You’d be surprised at how many doors open when something gets 50 reviews, or 100 reviews. For authors, a single review can be the difference between a book being put into promotional material and being ignored. Please review books you enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy them, that’s fair. I don’t like every book I read.

However, if you don’t like someone’s work, don’t be a jerk about it. No one likes that sort of person. Stay positive. Spread some positivity in this world. Make someone’s day; don’t ruin someone’s day. Spend your time spreading the word of things you like rather than condemning those you don’t. It’s better for your mental health.

EXTRA POINT: My next book, Long Empty Roads, the sequel to my best-selling post-apocalypse survival After Everyone Died, will be out on Feb. 2, 2018. It should be available in hardcopy and Kindle edition. It will be available for Kindle Unlimited, too—so if you have that, you won’t even have to pay for it.

 

 

Alright readers, get out there and leave reviews for all those books you’ve enjoyed over the years. Authors need our support!

Thanks, Sean, for joining us!   I am definitely looking forward to reading Lord Bobbins and the Dome of Light!

Keep up to date with Sean’s latest news on his Twitter feed or Facebook.

You can support Sean and our community by getting your copy of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus here.

Published in: on April 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview 110, Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus author, Sean Patrick Little, Part 3

Welcome back for part three in our talk with Sean Patrick Little, author of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

 

 

Airship Ambassador: What has your general publishing experience been like?

Sean Patrick Little: This has been something I have set upon doing since I was in second grade. I’ve only really wanted to be two things: A novelist and a comedian. I failed at one, and I’m not really successful at the other, so I just struggle along and try to forge my own path in the world of publishing. I’m not doing things by any sort of rule book. I don’t market well. I try not to take this too seriously, because it would probably break my heart if I did. Each book, I get better at the whole process. Someday, I might even get it right.

 

AA: Every step takes us forward, even when it doesn’t feel like it. For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

SPL: Agents are difficult to find. I don’t have one. I’ve had discussions with some, especially after my last novel, After Everyone Died, became a sort-of best-seller. However, none have latched their horse to my wagon, so to speak. I’m out there mostly on my own. I have friends who beta-read my projects, as most authors do, and I have a network of editors who lend a hand, but editors cost money, and some are far better than others.

No one will care about your book as much as you do—that’s the most important lesson. And no critic will be harder on your book than you are. If you think your book is fantastic, then you’ve probably done something wrong.

AA: Spoken like a true artist. What do you think when people say that writers need to be readers, too?

SPL: You absolutely cannot write without reading. You must be a reader first before you can even think about writing. That’s where I came from—I was a big reader as a kid. Still am. I try to read at least an hour a day. Some days, I will do a lot more. I try to write at least an hour a day, too. So, my ratio is pretty even most days. However, there are some days where I only read for ten or fifteen minutes before bed. And there are some days where I don’t write at all. I am not set in an ironclad schedule.

 

AA: Has anything made you stop reading something before finishing it?

SPL:  I stop reading when I don’t personally identify with a character. This is no knock against the writer, mind you. I just know who and what I like, and who I gravitate to, and if I don’t gel with a protagonist, it is hard to continue to read. I have written books (well, started to write, at least) where I fail to find a way to like the protagonist, and I never finish writing those books.

 

AA: Not liking a protagonist makes it harder to side with them, and yet, I think apathy can be even worse. How have you and your work changed over time?

SPL: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned I have more to say about the world—specifically, how I don’t understand anything. I am always amazed when a 20-something gets a literary novel published. How did they learn so much in life? I’m 42 now, and I know less this year than I did last year. I think embracing the fact that I’m still clueless to having profound things to say about the world has helped me to streamline the stories.

I’m telling stories, not creating literature. Knowing that has made my writing stronger. I look back on some of the purple prose-laden pages I wrote in college, and I cringe.

 

AA: There’s that old saying, “Too soon old, too late smart.” In your experience as a writer, what have been the most useful skills to learn?

SPL: I think learning to tell the story and not worry about stylistics has been the hardest part. Some writers have great stylistics (Neil Gaiman, for example), and they can tell great stories. If I get worried about how I’m telling the story, I forget to actually tell the story. The story is king. It is the Alpha and the Omega. Everything else is just details.

 

AA: Substance over style. As such, what story would you like to write but haven’t, yet?

SPL: I’m trying to write that very story now! I have always, always, always wanted to write a sci-fi “ship & crew” novel. Growing up as a Star Trek fan, and later following Firefly, I have always wanted to write that book. I want a cool ship and a small cadre to run it, and I want them to tool around to different planets. I’m working on that sort of book right now, trading time between it and Clockwork Girl. We’ll have to see if I can finish it.

AA: New books, new adventures!  What kind of reactions have you received for Romanian Ruckus?

SPL: The book is still relatively new, so I haven’t received a lot of feedback, yet. It usually takes months for a book like this to find an audience without a lot of marketing. The people who attended TeslaCon and got copies there seemed excited to see it. My beta-readers really liked it.

 

AA: You’ve mentioned how writing is a long term passion. If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?

SPL: Well, I was teaching English and overseeing the General Education department at a tech school before that school changed its curriculum and eliminated the Gen. Ed. Classes. I’m currently unemployed, so I’m looking for a new job. It’s a sad fact that the majority of writers out there cannot make a living on their writing income. My writing income is almost non-existent. I tell people I have to work to support my writing habit. I have training and education in Journalism and English Education, so ideally I’d like to be doing something to do with either of those two fields. I like having a steady job, and I need the income.

Having a job really cuts into writing time, but it’s necessary. I would love to be able to have a standard income from my writing, but I doubt that will ever happen. The number of writers who can sustain that sort of life is painfully small.

 

OK, readers, while we need to pause here in our chat with Sean, we need more books to read, so let’s see what opportunities are out there for Sean, and for all of our friends.

Join us next time for the conclusion when he talks about interests and hobbies.

Until then, keep up to date with Sean’s latest news on his Twitter feed or Facebook.

You can support Sean and our community by getting your copy of Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus here.

Published in: on April 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm  Comments (1)