The mad scientist of steampunk, Thomas Willeford, lives in a Victorian house with 13 bedrooms—a museum of coffins, knives, pocket watches, antiques and clockwork mechanisms. Inside this time capsule he runs his workshop and company, Brute Force Studios, where he crafts sought-after steampunk gear. Willeford is a true freak, intelligent —he holds master’s degrees in physics, art and history—and eccentric. He would rather tinker over a phonograph older than my grandmother than turn on his television.
Willeford, aka Lord Archibald “Feathers” Featherstone, has written two books, The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide, aimed at children, as well as an introduction for adults: Steampunk Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos. He was a judge on the popular television reality series Steampunk’d, and to anyone in that genre, he is a rock star. Today, with his ultra-successful model girlfriend, Amy Wilder, he is focused on creating hand-sewn corsets, brass aviator goggles and custom-made sex toys. Together the couple bridge fetish, kink and their favorite genre. We sat down with them to talk Victorian-era sex, antique dildos, Morse code butt plugs and, of course, steampunk.
HUSTLER: Steampunk isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill. How did you get into it?
THOMAS WILLEFORD: I have been into steampunk since the 1980s. I am 52 years old. I was really into Victorianism when I was younger. My grandparents helped raise me, and they had a big Victorian house. I loved science fiction, history and thus the history of science fiction. Steampunk technically became a genre in the ’80s. Before that there were steampunk things, like that old television show The Wild Wild West, but a guy named K.W. Jeter coined the term in a conversation he had online with some friends. He wanted to call it steampunk, instead of cyberpunk. Cyberpunk was huge in the ’80s. I had light-up shirts and computer equipment stuck to me half the time.