On the list of ridiculous things that make me happy, Looking At Old Shit is wedged in between Any Media That Turns Abraham Lincoln Into A Vampire and Fluffy Bath Mats Right Out Of The Dryer. My parents spent the first sixteen years of my life dragging me and my brothers off on educational trips instead of ‘fun’ ones and for some reason I just never learned how to do anything else. As it is,i f I wasn’t so easily amused by Looking At Old Shit I don’t think I’d find the literary genre of steampunk half as appealing as I do. Not only does steampunk allow me to play with crazy science fiction things, but it also gives me an almost socially acceptable excuse for spending hours at a time researching French Naval sabres of the Second Empire and cooing over Victorians.
I know this is going to come as a shock to absolutely none of you, but man, do I love Victorians. I find both the shiny and the tarnished parts of Victorian society equally fascinating. I wish I could produce a five paragraph essay about why Victorians over say, Ancient Egyptians or 14th Century Persians, but whenever I try I just end up spending a lot of time looking at photographs of people dressed as cats and handbills for electric corsets. When I get stuck in that place I can’t stop giggling long enough to reverse engineer a context or coherent thought. The handbill above put me in that place.
This particular clipping is located in a tiny alcove on the third floor of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. The reason I initially took a picture of it is because of the question mark after the word ‘lady’. (Laaaaadies?) I thought my friends might get a kick out of it, so I snapped it and shared it. It wasn’t until after several of them pointed out that it was the last cake walk of the season–to quote one of them, QUELLE HORREUR!–that I really actually read all of it. Now it’s practically the best thing I’ve read all month. Whoever wrote this was incredibly dedicated to not writing checks the Hotel Alcazar couldn’t cash, specifically that there might be actual females in attendance at the event.
They’re also careful about not getting people’s expectations up re: the inclusion of “stunts” in the show. Those quotation marks make me feel like a ‘stunt’ could be anything from doing front flips like a dolphin to lighting two cigarettes at a time to some of the more interesting pleasures outlined in Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy. I want to say it would depend on the caliber of “girl” involved, but you never can tell with Victorians.
Personally, the whole thing makes me want to lobby my local gay bar for Victorian themed drag nights. It also reminds me of this guy, who I feel was probably a real riot at parties.