Seeking positive attitude adjustment with the highest return of fun? Be a pirate! This is your captain speaking. Call me Mad Esmerelda Truelove, Captain of the Good Ship Badunkadunk.
On a given weekday, I’m a 50-something female, navigating the landscape of money, health and staying happy in an often grumpy world where everyone keeps getting younger and I easily fade into background. But, thread the corset, hoist the hooters, fire the cannons, and gangway, mateys!
Here comes Truelove, who’s PG in the afternoon and at night …you guessed it…. rated ARGH! Nothing beats setting me compass to a Renn Faire, Pirate Fest or small local bash to trade “yars” and “huzzahs” with a fine krewe of other piratically-expressed wenches and skalliwags.
Where else can a woman of high ethical standards harass little children, kiss men of all ages, say “5 bucks” to anyone who asks to pose for pictures, be flogged before a cheering mob, carry a sword, a flint lock pistol, a whip and a flask?
It’s not only good to be a pirate. It’s good therapy. Everyone looks great in the garb and oh what an extensive garb-o-rama it can be! The 18th Century inspiration we draw from, was not known for its simplicity. One must pile it on, scurvy dogs and kitties—and accessorize!
Mix grommets and lace ups, breeches and waistcoats, a bodice with bloomers and fluttering ruffles that bounce when you walk. Hang pouches with hardware from belts made of leather… to keep all your needs at your hips: your flintlock, powderhorn, feather fan, telescope, whips of all sizes and strengths, handcuffs, fox tails, a tankard for your grog, and of course, keys, money and cell phone. Drape a baldrick over your shoulder to hold your cutlass and hide a dagger in your boots.
When you find the right hat, a good tricorn or Muskateer, trick it out like a Harley. Add pins, plumage, rubber rats, the shrunken heads of your victims. For special needs add tentacles, seaweed, shells, a peg leg, hook, eye patch or perhaps the bejeweled severed hand of your fiance. You’re going to need a credit card or a strong needle for all this if you want to be more than a one-time pirate. It’s an evolutionary process. But once you feel it, infuse it all with a swagger and set sail!
We can probably tip our tricorns to Captain Jack Sparrow and the pirate honchos at Disney for inspiring this particular spread of merriment. But we can also thank Rennaisance Faires (society’s antidote to techno overload?), to re-enactors sporting all degrees of period correctness, to Comic Cons, to festivals devoted to Steampunk, Tribal Bellydance, all things Cirque de Burlesque, Mermaids, Fairies and Zombies, too.
Wearing little outfits and going out to play is no longer just for Halloween, drag queens or nerds! This pirate thing, in case you haven’t noticed, is huge! Gasparilla, John Leveque, Blackbeard, Billy Bowlegs, Buccaneer Bash, Sirens and Seafarers and Pillage the Village are just some of the more 135 Pirate festivals held around the U.S. each year.
Kraven MoreGrog (yes, land lubber, you need an argh-some pirate name like this!) is the beloved Founder and Captain of Thee Leviathan krewe based in Daytona, Fla. Says Kraven (Douglas Kosarek, a former hotel exec and radio host), “our basic philosophy behind what we do...is fun, love and acceptanct…so lacking in today's frenzied economic reality. When people find a group like ours, they immediately feel the difference...like some kind of nutrient that their body and soul have been missing...and that is childlike fun!”
For Captain Cuda (Dave Kolodzik of Ormond Beach, FL) “it’s about the rum and wenches.”
For Shangheid Molly (Dani Sherman of the wandering tribe) it’s about the corset. “Never had better posture or boobs!” Scurvy Squirrel (Jeff Coyle) “It lets the normally shy and awkward person become the bold and flirty party animal…. And the rum!”
For Lilly Blackheart (name withheld to protect the not-so-innocent) of Melbourne, Florida, “it’s an outward expression of my inner warrior. It’s the greatest demonstration of femininity I’ve ever known!” And for Byrda Paradise, Louise Starbird of Belize “It lets me leave real life on a shelf for a day or weekend and be someone else for a bit. And give bead necklaces to kids if I don’t scare them off first.”
For others, like Dixie Nunez (what, no pirate name?) of Portland Oregon, it’s become a life. When her mom took her on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World she was disheartened to know she couldn’t grow up to be a pirate. “I was enamored of the wildness and the treasure, the possibility of travel and an exotic life.” Now she is partnered with a man who forges swords! “Together we travel about in our pirate / gypsy tent, peddling our wares and dressing like pirates! It gives me a sense of doing something incredibly real in a make believe world!”
A Pirate’s Life may not be for you. But I say this for all crewes, it is most definitely for all of us. Now that it has grabbed us by our beating buccaneer hearts, like a giant squid, chances are slim it will let go. No it’s not a soft or simple life, even for the festival pirate. It’s not easy wearing a corset for eight hours or melting in a frock coat and boots on a steamy Florida day.
One must build the endurance to plunder and pillage from Friday through Sunday, especially if rum is involved. But it’s a rich life, full of great people who let themselves play in this oh so appealing way. Truth is, we can hardly wait to garb up once again, program the GPS to the next nautical adventure and say “bring us that horizon!”