So you're asking... Whaz up with the whole Pirate-core scene?

What is it?  Is it fashion?  Is it art?  Is it music?

Sure, Pirate-core is all of that, but in the immortal words of my last girlfriend, "Slow it down Mr. Grabby Hands..."   So, we'll start off by breaking down the lingo; the word "Pirate" obviously refers to the jaunty lads that sailed the seven seas, hunting for treasure, flying the skull and crossbones, sword-fighting and spreading disease.  "Core" would mean from the center, the root, or as a reference to being "hardcore."

Not wanting to go into a full history lesson on pirates and such, we'll move on to the phenom which is Pirate-core and our cultural obsession with pirates.  Pirate-core has been around... well since the freakin pirates jerky... but the second... third... fourth?... wave of Pirate-core style is coming back around.

What is Pirate-core about?  Well it's about paying homage to the pirate lifestyle and their rowdy culture.  Umm, sure?

Nah, it's about dressing like a pirate and yelling, "Yo hO ho!" at the top of your lungs.  It's all about stereotypes.   Blackbeard's Ghost... John Blythe... Errol Flynn... Long John Silvers... Skippers... Captain Beefheart... Captain Hook and his poor little piggy Smythe... The Goonies... Walt Disney's Treasure Island and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride... Anime's Captain Harlock... Cereal's Cap'n Crunch... all glorious pirate stereotypes that make us immediately think of the classic 'pirate' image.

 

lip-service.com

Pirate-core is a fashion movement.  Not quite Gothic, not New-Romantic, it's something all of it's own.

These great items to the left are from various Lip-Service lines of clothes, but totally represent Pirate-core style.

Lip-Service takes the style of the Pirate era and melds it with modern materials giving us the fundamentals of a great Pirate-core closet.

But the basic style remains the same, lots of lace and frills, 3/4 pantaloon legs, knee-high boots, big stripes, velvet, velour, and the skull and crossbones.

Check these items out by clicking on Lip-Service to the left.

Pirate-core is also art.  Here are four paintings from a recent group show at LA's Sixspace gallery, entitled "Pirate Booty."

Coop, who's print is the one on the far right, uses pirate imagery   in lots of his prints.  He even uses the famous "art test pirate" image as a tattoo in this piece.

Pirate Booty - Tim Biskup.Lynne Naylor.Camille Rose Garcia.Coop
All three by SHAG.  Check out the interview with him here on xjan.comJosh "SHAG" Agle also uses pirate imagery in his artwork.  In the center is his entry into the "Pirate Booty" Sixspace show.

He's also created two characters, "Jolly Roger" and "The Retired Pirate," which have been used repeatedly in his paintings and are now available on stickers and various other media.

Siouxsie Sioux and Adam AntAnd Pirate-core is also music.  But before talking about the new wave of Pirate-core music let's take a quick peek back at some of the trendsetters of another era.

Siouxsie Sioux and Adam Ant were both trendsetters of Pirate-core style.  Adam Ant took it one step further with his New-Romantic fashion, but it wasn't until more recently that the Pirate-core sound was established.

THE AQUABATS!!Bands like the Mad Caddies, the Aquabats (pictured left), Ween and many others have embraced the sounds of Pirate-core.  Pirate-core music is still undefined - at times it's as simple as the salty sea sounds you would hear in any port back in 'dem pirate days - and sometimes it's just songs about pirates and pirate life set to a ska beat or any beat.  The Aquabats chant a ska tale of young pirate woe with "Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates."    Most Pirate-core songs are easily learned and are great for joining in and singing along.
The PiratesThen there is another batch of rockers that embrace the "camp or kitsch" of Pirate-core.  The band pictured to the right is simply called "The Pirates," and they love to dress up like "Holloween Pirates."  No real pirate would wear a plastic hook on his hand, but whatever.

Do they rock the plank?  Sure, why not... how would I know... what I do know is they dress like pirates and sing little ditties about pirate stuff...

They've got Scurvy?The "Scurvy Pirates," hailing from NYC, do about the same thing -- but is totally unrelated... except for the dressing like a pirate and singing songs about pirates part...  The "Scurvy Pirates" will sell you a keychain and possibly a CD if you're willing and able.  These two groups are just a sample of the Pirate-core rock scene.
And don't forget about Pirate bars!  Here in South Cali we have two that immediately come to mind, the "H.M.S. Bounty" and "The Galley," I've even heard rumors of yet another place where the bar staff dresses up in pirate gear on the weekend.   Both "H.M.S. Bounty" and "The Galley" have wooden exteriors, nautical tchotkes, and various other cool stuff.  "The Galley" boasts that it is the oldest bar in Santa Monica, but you couldn't tell by the prices... maybe just by the really cool b&w's of sea-ladies and sea-gents that line the walls.  I don't know... but I was drinking too much while doing my "research" to get you any good photos to represent these awesome watering holes.
Experience your FantaSEAGetting near the end now... Here's just something that's kinda odd.  While doing my research for this article I ran across a service that allows you to get married as a pirate.  It's located in Key West, Florida and it's called "FantaSea."  Ok, so you can buy costumes like these and go get married on a ship full of fake pirates like the guy to the right!

Click on the costumes to go to the costume palace or click on Cap'n Gruffy to check out some "FantaSea" weddings.  Barf.   Sometimes this stuff can be a bit much.

Even though it can be a bit much Pirate-core is spreading fast.  And Pirate-core is many things to many people... but all-in-all it's a revolutionary outburst in fashion... art... music... culture... that has infected the USA like athlete's foot.... slowly with painful itching.

Mega-star Johnny Depp is even starring in a pirate movie, the remake of Cap'n Walt Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean."  You just know Entertainment Weekly is going to run a cover like... "Depp in the DEEP".. or "Long Johnny Silver".. or some such crap... exclaiming that Johnny Depp has brought Pirate-core to the masses with his newest flick... but remember you read about Pirate-core's rebirth here first biznatch.