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Pirate Skool.

on July 10, 2017 in Pirate Adventures

My last RobZerrvation reminded me of an exercise Krimson Kat and I did a few months ago. We were having a little toddy when the subject came up about what kind of advice I would give to a pirate or wench who is new to the craft.

Obviously, I know nothing about being a wench, so I will let Kat handle that here at the end. Plus she’s tossed so many additions into my own list that I can’t tell who is who. Since we really are pretty much the same person (Katticane? HurriKat?), think of the lessons below as coming from the both of us.

As you know, I was trained by a bunch of old farts who pretty much invented pirate entertaining in 1949. By the time I came along in 1982 some of these guys have already been pirates for 33 years.

Yes, there have been some others here and there in the U.S. who figured it out for themselves along the way (Ben Cherry and Cascabel come to mind). But the Seafair Pirates have been doing it for the last 68 years now, long before that Johnny come lately Sparrow guy came along.

I used to jealously hold on to all these lessons I’ve learned about how to be a great pirate and an awesome entertainer. But now that I’m getting older, I think it’s time I share some of the lessons the old farts taught me. It’s time to mentor a bit, if for no other reason than all these lessons won’t fit in my last will and testament.

Some of it is just common sense. But some of it comes from life lessons learned by doing this all these years. Trial and error, if you will, emphasis on the error.

So, let’s get to it:

  1. Find a good teacher or mentor. Not just a good teacher of how to be a pirate, but how to be a good human being.
  2. Be a good student. Keep an open mind and learn from those who have made all the mistakes before you.
  3. Be original. Don’t rip off someone else’s persona. No offense, but once you see six Jack Sparrows together, it gets pretty old, even if one of them is African American, another Asian and the third a midget (unfortunately, I have seen this first hand). And don’t steal someone else’s gimmick. It only shows that you lack imagination and have no respect for those who put a lot of time and effort into their craft.
  4. Have fun… always. If you’re aren’t having fun as a pirate, maybe you should be something else – like a civilian. Why would anyone do something they don’t truly enjoy? After all, this is a damned expensive pursuit, in more ways than one.
  5. Be a good audience. I can’t emphasize this enough. When others are performing, don’t step all over them. Don’t try to steal the moment. Don’t sing along if you’re not asked to. Or try to be funnier than they are. Applaud wildly when they are done. You can’t be a good entertainer without first learning how to be a good audience.
  6. Indulge in the unbelievable. Revel in the moment you are in. Enjoy the circus going on around you as if you’ve never seen any of it before. Especially if it’s a pirate joke. Let the civilian deliver it then laugh as if you’ve heard it for the first time. Refer back to #5 above when in doubt.
  7. Be legendary. History is filled with regular seaman no one remembers. Be a Blackbeard. Be a Morgan. Being a Leviathan means nothing to a child. Being bigger than life in his or her eyes does. It will make a memory that will last a lifetime.
  8. Never take yourself seriously. You are not a real pirate. Don’t run around acting as if you’re the king. The secret is to be the jester in the king’s clothing.
  9. Always give quarter. Never go first, never accept a drawing prize at a fundraiser if you’re there to entertain. Always give special attention to the disabled and the elderly. If you’re pirating for you, you’re in the wrong line of work because it is not about you (see above).
  10. Don’t expect anything but be open to everything. When you do, magic happens, from being invited onto fancy yachts to being flown across the country by a millionaire because he wants to play some more (and yes, these things have happened to me over the years).
  11. You are a fantasy for many. Indulge in it. No one writes romances about clowns.
  12. Watch your weapons. Learn to control them and most important, guard them. I always have my arm over the hilt on my weapon and I never carry the sharp ones in public unless they are latched down. And be sure you don’t leave a real weapon behind somewhere. I know a guy who was so drunk he lost a real flintlock. The thought of a kid finding it and loading it with fireworks still makes me shudder a year later.
  13. Always be willing to pay your own way. No one likes to hang around someone who never has the money and needs to borrow some. If you don’t have the dough, don’t go. Don’t be a bum.
  14. Find out what feeds your inner pirate. Are you an affiliator? Adventurer? Do you enjoy the camaraderie or the adrenaline of it? Are you interested in community service or history? Weapons or music? Find out what you love about it and focus on it. Few can do it all.
  15. Always be humbled by the moment you are in and always be in that moment. No one likes an ass. No one likes an egotist or narcisscist. Pirating is a gift. Appreciate it for what it is.
  16. Don’t be a drunk. The public expects pirates to imbibe. It’s OK to be a little swaggery in the street. But don’t be a complete lush. No one likes to be around a drunk.
  17. Always leave a good taste in the public’s mouth. The quickest way to ruin it for all of us is to be an ass or worse, do something that is downright mean, like stealing bags of candy from children in a parade (that’s how the pirates got thrown out of the Poulsbo parade – because of one person being an ass to little kids).And some wench-specific adds.
  18. Wenches have more power than pirates. Pirates always play like they are available. It feeds that romance novel fantasy. But wenches have a special power. As the old saying goes, “Men always wonder if they are going to get lucky, the woman already knows.” That said, no one likes a cock tease.
  19. No man likes to be played either. Never emasculate a guy. Your power lies in being the beautiful, alluring one. Emasculation while fun, can be very ugly as well.
  20. Don’t get in over your head. If you want to play hard, be sure you have a way out. We used to have a tough guy around always who could insert himself into any situation that had the slightest potential to get out of hand. Be mindful of what you are doing and the situation you are in, especially if you’ve been drinking and/or flirting heavily. Guys don’t always understand when playtime is over, or that it never even started.

Well, there you have it. There are many more, of course, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Plus, the Internet is finite. I don’t want to fill it up with 35 years of lessons all at once. I might crash the damned thing.

In the Emerald City, looking for the next adventure and the next lesson to learn,

  • Robb


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