Welcome back to my blog. I hope you guys enjoyed my previous post about the Long Beach Comic Expo. Today, I’m conducting another interview. I’m getting more acquainted with members of the Star Wars Steampunk Universe. They’re a very friendly group who engages in both cosplay and charity work. Our guest is Baron Von Maul, aka Shaylor Duranleau. I met him at two comic events and it was a very pleasant experience. He’s a very active cosplayer and steampunk enthusiast with a seriously creative Darth Maul costume. Thanks for joining us today, Shaylor.
Q: Why did you join the Star Wars Steampunk Universe?
A: It happened really organically. I had met Captain Seekerman through a mutual friend at a couple other steampunk events. He asked one fateful afternoon if I could come up with a Star Wars Steampunk mashup cosplay for the up coming weekend for a photo shoot he was trying to put together for Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. After the initial response we received from WonderCon and Star Wars Celebration we realized we had something there. That was two years ago now and we haven’t looked back since.
Q: It seems like you make a lot of public appearances. How do you find the time?
A: Sometimes it’s difficult. I am lucky now that I have a job where I can make my own schedule for the most part. So if there happens to be a convention or a charity event that may take place during a weekday, I am able to work around it. Sometimes it can get challenging. Between work, charity, conventions, and just having a social life, from end of March till the end of the year most weekends are packed with at least one event if not multiple.
Q: Everyone appears really close and open minded in the SWSU. Would you say my assessment is accurate?
A: We are. We all come from different walks of life, at different stages, but we all share a desire to express ourselves creatively and find away to give back at the same time. That was one thing that was very important to us when forming the group. We didn’t want our focus to be about self promoting. We wanted to take a hobby we all enjoy and do something positive with it, and encourage others to do the same within the cosplay/steampunk community.
Q: I know the SWSU participates in cosplay and charity work. Is there anything else we should know about the group?
A: We are always looking for good causes to help out with, it could be from supporting runners in a charity marathon, Make-A-Wish events, toy drives, to a food drive for local animal shelters. We try to help out how ever we can all over Southern California.
Q: Why did you choose Darth Maul as your cosplay persona?
A: I have always been a big fan of Star Wars, some of my earliest memories are watching the VHS versions of the original trilogy. Even has a kid I always found the Empire/Dark Side interesting. My favorite character is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, but our group already had our Darth Vader, Dude Vader. So when Nathan asked me to come up with a cosplay for the photoshoot I knew I wanted to “Go to the Dark Side.” Maul’s character has always intrigued me. He is fleshed out a lot more than his brief appearance in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, with other media, such as; The Clone Wars tv show, some comics, and a few novels. It was thinking about what I could do with his iconic double sided lightsabers that really finalized my decision.
Q: I think your lightsabers were fantastic with a lot of Tesla influences. Was it a DUI project?
A: Thank you. Yes they were. Before I moved to California from New Hampshire I was a master plumber and HVAC tech. I had been soldering since I was a freshmen in high school. I was very lucky that my small town had a Technical Career Center. My plumbing and heating teacher, Doug Morton, taught me how to solder and braze copper and brass as an art form. Which is great to know if one of your hobbies is Steampunk.
I knew I wanted to make his sabers something special as they were so iconic in The Phantom Menace. My idea was instead of a lightsaber to have a Lightning-Saber. I envisioned lighting rods with arcing electricity flowing up and down to make the up the blades.
I actually just finished a new set of lightsaber hilts out of copper and brass for my girlfriend, Harely Kat Cosplay, and her new steampunk Asaaj Ventress.
Q: Do you cosplay as other characters outside of the SWSU?
A: I like to do a lot of mashup cosplays versus just a straight up recreation of a character. I have a couple unique steampunk cosplay charters as well, such as my Lou Sulfur, a steampunk devil. I also do a lot of pokemon mashups. Last year for SDCC I did a crossover with Ash Ketchum from Pokemon and Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, I called it House Ketchum. It was very well received.
Q: What’s the best part about cosplay in your opinion?
A: For me, its getting to be creative. I love coming up with ideas, especially with crossover cosplays between different characters. I enjoy every step of the process, from idea, to creating the costume, to the initial debut to see how it is received at the con.
Getting to take that hobby now and put it to use it for helping others is a great is the best of both worlds.
Q: Would you mind giving us a definition of steampunk? Everybody gives me a different answer.
A: I think everyone has a different definition of steampunk because I think it means something different to everyone. For me its a way to express myself, it represents a simpler time as well. A time of unlimited possibilities, adventure, something more romantic than the world we have today. Steampunk to me is about an era that could have been, but never will be.
Q: Have you applied steampunk elements on a practical level outside of cosplay?
A: Sort of but actually in reverse. I used my skills and knowledge of copper metal working, steam systems, and electronics, and apply them to my cosplaying.
Q: I always see steampunk from a writer’s point of view. It might be somewhat different from a steampunk artist, clothing designer, prop maker, or cosplayer. Do you believe different types of professionals and hobbyists are bringing multiple perspectives to steampunk?
A: Very much so, I know sometimes I actually have a difficult time because of my background with plumbing and steam systems. At times knowing what a certain part would practically be used for can hinder my creativity. I always have to try and make something look functional as far as steam systems go. I have friends that feel the same way but with the actual fabric part of costumes. Where they have a background in doing era accurate costumes for reenactments they have a hard time not be “accurate” as there is no right or wrong way to steampunk. I think regardless of how you are involved in steampunk everyone brings their own unique perspective to it.
Q: What do you think about the other “punk” genres? Cyberpunk, dieselpunk, biopunk, etc.
A: I find them interesting but I am not drawn to them like I was steampunk. I think that is because of my background working with copper and brass, even working on old turn of the century steam system in New England.
Q: Is there anything else we should know about you?
A: Well, cosplay isn't my only hobby, and certainly isn't the most expensive one either. My other hobby is cars. I have been building, and breaking, a car for four years now. A 1992 Acura NSX, I have replaced, upgraded, and rebuilt everything on it at least once. It is currently sitting in the garage right now with a broken transmission from the excessive amount of power it is making, 830 rear wheel horse power with 700 Ft/Lbs of torque.
That was a really interesting Q&A. I always learn something new from my interview candidates. Thanks for taking the time and I think your Baron Von Maul outfit is very impressive. Best wishes for your future appearances in the steampunk and sci-fi community.
All right! Thanks for checking out this interview. Here are some links, so you can learn more about Shaylor Duranleau. You can find him on Instagram @DLoCosplay. Leave a comment if you have anything to say about this post. I also hope you guys enjoyed the Academy Awards. Get some rest and stay tuned for next week's post.