Q: Hey, guys! I found another interesting person from the steampunk community who’s going to give us a really cool interview. Meet Tobias McCurry. He’s an actor, crafter, artist, and cosplayer. I’m sure we’re going to learn many things from him. Welcome aboard, Tobias.
A: Happy to be aboard! I may be used to captaining my own airships, but I’m always happy to be a guest on a right proper Steampunk vessel!
Q: What attracted you to steampunk in the first place?
A: Without question, I was drawn to Steampunk through its welcoming and diverse community. Initially, I showed up to a Steampunk convention (Seattle’s Steamcon,) and participated in my first LARP. Enjoying myself immensely, I was kind of brought in under the wings of some of the coolest, most talented people I had ever met. From there, I was able to create and appreciate the genre, the people, and the awesome art we could all collaboratively make together.
Steampunk has helped spread an all ages, inclusive, and creative culture. It’s more than just a genre of storytelling or costuming, it’s a supportive artistic community.
Q: I remember you from a reality tv show called Steampunk’d. How would you describe the experience?
A: Steampunk’d was an interesting experience. I can’t say I wasn’t happy to go earlier than my fellow cohorts (SPOILER ALERT!) as it was definitely taxing to participate. The experience overall wasn’t too bad for myself, but it was the hours of being in a pressure chamber off camera that were the most intense. We weren’t given our own hotel room keys, no tech or exterior communications, food brought to your door because you weren’t leaving anytime soon. Thankfully I had a decent enough head on my shoulders to endure it, but I could see how that could drive someone a little crazy after a month of the same.
Q: Was the competition stressful?
A: The competition itself wasn’t entirely stressful, my team leader JW was absolutely a professional project manager who helped keep everything on track. Because of that, everything fell into place, in spite of what you may have seen on our lovely edited final cut of Steampunk’d. Just remember, with reality TV, you see the story that the network wants to tell, not necessarily the reality of the situation.
Q: Did you meet any new friends or contacts from the tv show?
A: One of the biggest benefits of being on Steampunk’d was the networking. Most of the people I met on the show, my fellow contestants, the judges, even some GSN staff alike, have all become family. I went to go work for Thomas Willeford as an intern for several months post show, Tayliss has made a hilarious body pillow of me (totally for sale!), many of us contestants also still talk to one another regularly. James, Tayliss, Charles, JW, Kate, Thomas, Karianne, and Niki are all amazing people. We’d go out of our way for one another any day of the week when it comes down to it, and I could never say enough good about these people.
Q: I doubt we’re going to see a second season. GSN finally cancelled the show. Does that surprise you?
A: I’m not going to say I’m sad, but I was pretty surprised when GSN decided to cancel the show. From my understanding, the network utilized Steampunk hitting mainstream as a tool to boost their 18-35 ratings, which it allegedly did quite well with. The idea that it supposedly accomplished its goals but ended up being canceled makes me think it may have been an experiment in genre? I’m not from the network, so I can only speculate as much as the viewers can.
Q: Do you have a specialization in the realm of steampunk? For example, are you more of a performer, crafter, or something else?
A: I definitely have spread myself quite thin when it comes to specialization in what I do. In Steampunk, I definitely fancy myself a crafter and personality. Bouncing around on jumping stilts at conventions, answering questions, and sitting in on the occasional panel is primarily what I end up doing. I made my own armor and costuming, but I only have several outfits for this genre specifically.
As many may already know, I participate in many genres and activities outside of the realm of Steampunk, such as performing in Renaissance faires as a live steel combatant, fire breather, stilt walker, singer, day-drinker, and shenanigator. (An instigator of shenanigans, for the uninitiated.) I also am an avid Live Action Roleplayer, and lover of genres ranging from high fantasy to post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk. What I’m saying is, specialization is hard.
Q: Have you worked on any interesting projects lately?
A: As of late, I’ve been primarily doing private commission work for Live Action Roleplayers making contact safe prop weapons so my friends and clients across the country can beat each other up with awesome looking foam pistols, swords, and more.
Otherwise, I’m looking at hopefully securing my own shop space in the coming months so I can start hammering out some awesome projects in the near future. I’d love to revamp some of my current armor, and especially do some maintenance on my gear. It’s been well loved over the years, and needs a tune up. Though as they say, if it’s not falling apart, it’s clearly not punk enough!
Q: I noticed several subgenres of steampunk. Victorian, Wild West, post-apocalyptic, etc. Steampunk is growing a lot. What do you think about this development?
A: Subgenres are one of my favorite things about Steampunk, and it’s what I believe makes it so very appealing. The fact that this genre provides such an open and undefined framework allows for optimum personalization and creativity, which are two incredibly important pieces when it comes to making art.
Steampunk allows us to tell our own stories, to make our own choices about what Steampunk means to us, and it brings people together to collaborate and share those perspectives. From heavy industrial metropolises, to weird west adventures, there’s something for everyone to participate in and enjoy. It’s always wonderful to see a unique take on Steampunk in any of its many forms.
Q: A few months ago, I saw a bunch of steampunk books at Barnes and Noble. Do you have a favorite steampunk book or series?
A: As I am a biased Seattleite, I very much have enjoyed Cherie Priest’s The Clockwork Century series, starting with Boneshaker, which takes place in my beloved hometown. Steampunk zombie apocalypse quarantine: it’s pretty much everything I love in one book.
Q: Steampunk seems to be hitting the mainstream, but many people still feel intimidated by it. Why do you think people are so apprehensive about steampunk?
A: Steampunk, though mainstream, is considered intimidating primarily because people initially feel inadequate. It’s absolutely the same thing with cosplay and other artistic forms. People are often hard pressed to try to go do something because there’re already established individuals in the community that do such a good job, that they feel they shouldn’t bother.
I’ll be the first one to say that we’d love to have you. So many of these talented makers, myself included, are happy to answer any questions you might have about participating. Sure, you may not create the most amazing thing in the world the first time going out, but your own unique art and vision is something nobody else has. If you don’t go out and share it, we never get to see it, and trust us, there’s nothing that people love seeing more than your passion for an art.
Q: I heard you participate in a live action role-playing game called Dystopia Rising. Would you mind explaining some details?
A: Once a month, for about three days at a time, I shed the identity of Tobias and survive the wastelands of the zombie apocalypse as Doctor Jebediah, a character of my design in the framework of Dystopia Rising, a full immersion LARP.
I’ve played for about four years, and have been introduced to an extremely welcoming network of talented individuals across the country, and our hobby is, in fact, living through a zombie apocalypse.
With games all across the nation, players everywhere participate in their own roles and cooperate to gather resources, fight off the hordes of the infected, and live to fight another day. Dystopia Rising is the ultimate blend of theatre, sports, and game mechanics, allowing participants to truly live in a future that went terribly, terribly wrong. I’ve absolutely enjoyed participating, and I’d recommend it to anyone with an inkling of interest.
Q: Miss Morgan from Steampunk'd said you’re a gamer. Dishonored 2 is a brand new video game with a lot of steampunk influences and supernatural elements. Does that sound fun to you?
A: I have been a gamer for many moons, and I have in fact played the first game in the Dishonored series. The artists over at Bethesda rarely ever fail to provide a fleshed out environment, and the Dishonored series is no exception. Needless to say, I’m absolutely stoked to get my hands on this game to see what the storytellers and artists have come up with for this second installation in their series.
People also often ask me what games I would consider Steampunk, or in the vein of the genre. I always tend to recommend an older RPG called Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura, which is one of the oldest PC games to really introduce a steampunk element to gaming. I also, of course, recommend Muse Game’s Guns of Icarus, a cooperative airship combat game, where you and a team of friends act as the crew that makes up one of several airships blowing one another out of the sky. It’s a helluva time.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: Fun facts, I enjoy black coffee, gin and tonics, long walks on the beach, and shenanigans. I’ve performed in musicals aplenty, and know more sea shanties than most other pirates ever will.
But overall, I’m just an artist working to, as Neil Gaiman has said, make good art. Anyone is capable of picking up the skills I have, it just takes practice, and talent is nothing but glorified practice.
If you’d so care, feel free to drop a line about commissions, LARP, or just generally follow my silliness over at:
Thank you so much for having me, and I hope to be able to provide more awesome for the world in the future!
I really enjoyed talking to you, Tobias. You gave me a lot of useful information. I hope we can continue to learn more about each other. Thanks for your time and keep up the good work. As for the rest of you, I hope this interview was a good experience. Tobias is a really fun, talented, creative, and open minded guy. Keep you eyes open for the next blog post and we'll see each other again soon.