Dr. Lucy, as you might know, is plum bonkers for steampunk and our excursion to Comic-Con did not help her obsession. In fact, she’s been leaving the Hotel Del quite a bit as of late, seeking San Diego-area antique shops, vintage stores and retro boutiques to help feed her need. Whilst fluttering down the coast, she came across a frabjous place devoted to steampunk. The downside? No booze. If only Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium had a wild west saloon attached. Maybe someday soon? For now, it does have a tattoo parlor.
Pairie purveyor Harriet Oleson, might well turn up her nose at the bottled, dried and otherwise preserved mammalia in the curiosity cabinets of Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium. Of course, that would be the well-bred, prim, Victorian in Mrs. Oleson: posh country-wife to Nels and mother to the precocious and glorious Nellie Oleson. The sales-savvy, shrewd Mrs. Oleson, the pioneer proprietress of Little House on the Prairie‘s Oleson’s Mercantile, would covet and embrace San Diego’s newest emporium of steampunk ephemera. She would see a thriving capitalism, bordered and framed fancifully by ruffles and feathers of gilded, Victorian-era proportions in the mighty powerful, contemporary trend that is Steampunk. A steadily growing interest in Victorian-tech and word-of-mouth about this beachside bazaar are both running at locomotive speed, headed straight for each other and powering Dr. Watson’s, and its formidable owner, straight into hogsheads full of 21st C. gold nuggets and peer popularity.
Now, many of you read my coverage of Comic-Con. Amidst the fervor, chaos and unrelenting joy that was Comic-Con, Lucy and I fielded the same question ad nauseam: “What is steampunk, anyway?” Imagery from Sherlock Holmes to Jules Verne, Wild Wild West to Copper were invoked and, despite the seemingly enthusiastic discussions, most glazed over midway, stole a few snaps and moved along toward less taxing, more easily explained cosplay like Catwoman, Doctor Who, Bender and Duff Man. Whilst overall, steampunk was a rarity, Lucy and I found a smattering of worthy steampunk folk about the Con. League of Steam, for one caught our interest: “Victorian-era Monster Hunters Serving All Your Supernatural Elimination Needs Since 1884”. (Monsters, indeed! Check back in October; I shall be posting a sure tongue lashing at the League during the Season. Too boot, just FYI, I’ll be spending Hallowe’en 2012 in style: with Harvey & Hildy, the parental units, in spooky, spectral Salem, Mass.!) For now, still not certain what this damned steampunk is? Voila … a succinct introduction.
During Lucy’s quest for further steampunk inspiration, she ventured up the beach to Dr. Watson’s. Mise-en-scène amidst one of San Diego’s most wonky and wild populations -marines via Camp Pendleton, surfers and skaters, tatted rockabillies, Bettie Page wannabes, wealthy property owners, hippies, retirees, vacationers, Real Housewives, the homeless, shadow immigrants, Victorian ghosts and so much more- Oceanside, California is just the fragmented and funky community to welcome this proctor of peculiar paraphernalia.
Dr. Watson’s is part-natural history museum, part-western general store and all saloon decor. It is run by one Tracy Scheidel, best described as an AntennaTV-worthy, feisty-yet-soft-hearted protagonist, an amalgam of Gunsmoke‘s Miss Kitty, Little House on the Prairie‘s Harriet Oleson and Dukes of Hazzard‘s Boss Hogg. I’m guessing if she likes you, you’re in good shape about this town. Owning a fair swath of property and store-frontage along famed PCH, (Body Piercing by Tracy and About Face Tattoo to start), Madame Tracy Scheidel is an affable, intriguing and inquisitive conversationalist.
Possessing a quality so few have, yet so many covet, hers is a social talent leading the visitor to believe of their utmost importance in her day. What you want, she has. What you need, she’ll attempt to satisfy. What you love, she loves. In a previous life, this broad might have been a formidable madam, saloonkeep or politician.
The Odditorium is sentried nicely by a charming looker with bombilating, black tresses, pale skin, rouge lips and a saloon girl-swagger. She calls herself Miss Celeste. What you need, she also wants for you and will go to lengths to get it. She will also ask, sincerely, “How did you hear of us?” As eager and positive about the Odditorium and its livelihood as is Madame Tracy, Miss Celeste also maintains the shop’s Facebook page, posting photos, articles and upcoming events.
Like a welcoming saloon after days on a lonesome desert ride, Miss Celeste and Madame Scheidel, in this surfside museum-cum-mercantile, amidst the shrunken heads, dried bats, vintage Playboy magazines, leather top hats, feathered baubles and mechanical goggles, will have you nestled nicely on their inviting divan. From there, you can watch a private fashion show, your special girl model striped, Victorian bloomers, Betty Grable-inspired bathing suits, Dita Von Teese-styled tap dance shorts, Sherlock Holmes-worthy plaid trousers and Lonesome Dove-ready cotton chemises. All the while sipping gratis coffee and noshing from an assortment of Little Debbies. Before you know it, just like that oasis saloon, you’ll have happily and easily spent a few hours and a few more dollars. Makes me think a steampunk saloon, along the lines of Old School Vegas, Fremont Street’s Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, might not be a bad idea, for Madame’s next venture.
Until Lucy gets her Gunsmoke-styled, steampunk saloon in San Diego, you might want to wet yer whistle at Dr. Watson’s Sweltering Summer Tea Party, Fashion Show and Charity Event: Sunday, August 12th, 2012, 1:00 – 5:00 PST.
Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium, proprietress Tracy Scheidel
421.A South Coast Highway
Oceanside, California 92054