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Master of ceremonies Doc Phineas kept the crowd jumping at the Steampunk Festival. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Saturday, October 20, 2018

By Chris Frost



A visual treat, fueled by the minds of participants, highlighted the Oxnard Steampunk Festival at Heritage Square Oct. 13.

The day featured wine tasting, food, lots of shopping and great live bands, but the star of the show was the Steampunk outfits that stretched into the Victorian era.

Master of Ceremonies Doc Phineas took a break from his regular Pawn Stars duties to take part in the event and said he designed his outfit that was sewn in Paris.

“It’s a little bit different in Europe because it’s leathery over there, edgy and more like fashion, it’s a leather tuxedo and tails,” he said. “I am a balloonist, so I wear things I think a gentleman might wear.”

Phineas had a pair of goggles that was made in Los Angeles of real things.

“We don’t like plastic, there are a lot of plastic goggles on the market, but Steampunk people wear real metal that is hand-crafted and real,” he said. “My goggles have infrared lenses, and I wear them to weld.”

He loves Oxnard.

“I know a little bit about the history of this town, but I was raised a Christian Scientist, and when I lived in L.A, I remembered the church and I think it’s four blocks from here,” he said. “I love what you guys did preserving all this great architecture.”

The vendors

Keith Coffman-Grey staffed the booth from Neil the Wandmaker and said his husband Neil was given a stick with a stone at the end, decided he can do better and ended up re-doing it.

“He found another stick, did another one and we got to around 60 in the house and people kept saying that we should start selling these, these are amazing,” Coffman-Grey said. “Neil said I couldn’t get rid of any of these and when we got to 75 (sticks), then he said okay, we'd start trying to sell a few of them,” he said. “About 18 months ago, we went to our first festival, the Summer Solstice Festival, and it was amazing. We sold out almost all our stock.”

That lit a fire under the duo, and they started selling the magic wands ever since.

“They are magic because of what you put into it,” he said. “It’s the magic of you holding the wand and picking out the right one for you.”

Neil said if you pick up a wand the person charms the enchanter with its beauty.

“We guarantee that,” he said.

Coffman-Grey joked he turns the wands into money.

“The wand does choose the wizard,” he said. “With that said, it does make a nice broom if you have a witch for decorating. We’ve sold about 400 in the past 15 months.”

Neil said the wands are a sensation wherever they go.

“We have the right product at the right time, and the world is in desperate need of magic and beauty right now,” he said. “We also make divining rods, crucifixes and we are working on a vampire stake collection because we want the magic wielder to have the full range of tools to battle the dark side. I also do binding spells for the Trump administration to contain their evil.”

Sarah was selling soy candles that she makes by hand, and the fragrances are 100 percent original.

“I make them myself, so you’re not going to find them in any stores,” she said. “My boyfriend makes beautiful candle holders by hand.”

Candles usually take a couple of days before they are ready, she said, but her boyfriend’s process for the candleholders are more labor intensive.

“He free-hands the carving and then he burns the wood, and after that, he does a polyurethane seal so you can have them outside and not worry about maintenance,” she said.

Sarah wanted to participate in the Steampunk festival in 2017, but could not attend. When she started her company earlier this year it popped up on her Facebook feed, so she contacted the coordinators about participating.

“I am dressing the part,” she said about her attire. “I did have fun getting this together, and it is something I will wear on a regular basis.”

She loves being in the Steampunk Culture and interacting with the people.

Jim Englund Photography was on-hand making creations for attendees and created many headshots.

“This is my second event, and it’s a lot of fun, and I love the costumes and makeup,” he said. “My wife left my goggles and my hat at home, so I am wearing a baseball cap today.”

Jim said the different characters make interesting subjects to shoot.

“I ask them to do a lot of different expressions, like big eyes,” he said. “A lot of people that squint, when you do exaggerated eyes, they look more normal, and we get some good imaging.”


The music

The opening act, “The Unknowns” delivered some killer sounds and was made up of children from Oxnard that studied at Rock City Studios in Camarillo.

Drummer A.J. Lowe said when he was little his cousins had a drum set they played all the time and it piqued his interest.

“We met at Rock City, and we had this thing called the Sonic League, and they put a bunch of kids together, and we all played, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

He said his drumming doesn’t drive his mother crazy.

“I’ve been listening to music since I was little,” he said. “My mom and dad love music, it was one of their most important things, and it’s something fun to play.”

Mom Theresa Lowe said A.J. encourages himself to play the drums, but she enjoys listening.

“The more he practices, the better,” she said. “This is our first Steampunk Festival, but I hope we get invited back. This has been a lot of fun.”

She was dressed in full Steampunk attire and said it’s her cleaning outfit.

“Why not,” she said. “Mostly, the kids pick the songs they want to do, they talk about it, and they work together and have a great friendship. We love The Unknowns because they love each other.”