Illustration by Martin Abel (Here's his Official Website )
During those unspeakable horrors known to Revengers as "cruise preparations" we were asked to perform at something called the Hollywood Pirates Ball, which would take place at the Key Club, one of my favorite music venues. The Key Club was on Sunset Blvd. at the very site where the famous Gazzari's rock club had stood from the 1960s to sometime in the early 90s. Old Bill Gazzari, the 'Godfather of Rock' would do radio commercials where he liked to point out that this was "..the same stage where the Doors, Van Halen, and Ratt started!" i'd always wanted to play Gazzari's on a Saturday night and here, at last, was my chance. Never mind that we weren't actually a rock band. Band of musicians, band of pirates; the difference was trifling.
There was no profit in it for us, only a promise (which remains unkept) that we'd receive a video copy of our performance. We didn't have time to put an act together and there was a certain lack of enthusiasm among the others to do this unpaid gig. In fact, it wasn't until the morning of the event that i exerted my dictatorial influence to get them to do it at all.
After a long and despairing morning of cruise rehearsals, i asked my core pyrates to stay late. i opened my first beer of the morning and told them: "Let's just take the next hour and pull a show out of our arses and then go and do this thing tonight!" The decision had been made.
We arrived an hour before stage time and were led thru the crowded club and out a door to the back rooms and out another door and to our dressing room, which was an old tour bus parked in the alley behind the back exit of the building. There were couches and a mirror and a plastic bucket full of ice and beer. Naturally, i wondered if this was the same tour bus "where the Doors, Van Halen, and Ratt" had drank beer before their gigs (it looked old enough). The walls and ceiling and floor were covered in band stickers. It looked like every single band that ever played here had left a sticker. There wasn't a square inch of surface that didn't have a sticker on it. Severine spoke first: "I've got one of our bumper stickers!"
Brandi, Bullet, Severine in the bus.
She pulled it from her bag. It was a big, lame-arsed oversized rectangle that someone had rush printed for us one night when we were desperate. Black lettering on white, sans even a jolly-roger, that read: "My Chest Was Plundered by Crewe of Revenge." It was embarrassingly clumsy to behold.
After several minutes scanning for the perfect spot to stick it, she gave up. It was just too damned big, there wasn't enough empty space to stick it on and Sev refused to cover any of the other stickers, "That would be really rude of us," she said.
"But we're pyrates. It's our privilege to be rude!"
"No." she said, and opened a beer. "You guys just really need to make some smaller stickers."
"Actually, we need to make cooler stickers."
"Actually, we need to make cooler stickers."
That was six months ago and we still need cooler stickers.
We drank and practiced our skit in the space betwixt the bus and the building. The girls had come up with something they wanted to surprise me with, so they wouldn't rehearse in front of me. This irritated me because if their "surprise" happened to suck i, as the director, would be blamed for it. i grilled Brandi to tell me what it was. "No!" she said. "Sev and i worked all week on it, and it's a surprise."
"You know what?" i said. "You're fired!"
"Oh, you'll just hire me back again tomorrow."
"Not this time! There's the plank, take a walk."
She didn't move.
Spillit kept interrupting our practice to talk to the groupies who were watching from outside the alley gate. He had been assigned groupie-duty since he was the only single pyrate in the show. Sporadically, we ran thru our half-arsed sword moves.
"Dude," said Spillit. "You really have to stop firing Brandi all the time."
"Dude, quit yer bellyaching and go grope a groupie. Or else we can do something bizarre and drastic like rehearse our fight a couple more times so we don't completely suck tonight."
He walked toward the gate where a wench in a skirt and biker boots was waving at him. i opened another beer.
Other vaguely piratical acts.
Louie wasn't performing with us this night. We hadn't even seen him at all since he'd started POTC3. But he had made it out to the Pirates Ball and was hanging with us -if only for the free beer- and when we went to the backstage door he came with us.
i entered from stage right a minute before the others and immediately i knew that something was wrong. Most of the time we have to perform a good show and win over the crowd before they cheer for us but this time i just had to walk out onto the stage and they were screaming bloody mad. i hadn't even done anything yet. It didn't make sense.
Spillit and i had some dialogue but we weren't wearing microphones and the crowd was never quiet enough to hear it, so we gave up and just pantomimed some business which included him throwing a coin toward me as an insult, thus provoking our fight. It went over fantastically. They laughed and then cheered as the swords came out then pressed toward the stage during the fight. The girl's were next and their "surprise" was the addition of breakaway clothes, which they tore off of each other during their catfight. i liked it and so did everyone else, apparently. Brandi and i then did a double-cutlass duel to climax the show and then we were done. The whole thing had lasted about six minutes.
Brandi and Sev.
Louie had followed us out onto the stage and when we took our bows he came right up to the front and bowed alongside the rest of us even though he hadn't actually done anything in the show. That took nerve and i totally respected him for it. What a f**king pirate!
i noticed my hand had been bloodied during the show but i couldn't locate the cut...
"Yes," i said. "But something's wrong. We just can't be that f**king popular."
"We're not," he said. "Remember what you did on that pyrate cruise? When you planted people in the audience?"
"You mean quackers? To incite the crowd..."
"Yeah. I put Adam out there. I told him to get some of his friends and to all scream loud as hell as soon as we came onstage."
"How many friends did he have?"
"Only like three, they were just really loud and got everyone else going!"
"Sh*t! i'm gonna buy him a beer!"
Some rocker kid stopped me at the bar. "You guys were f**king great! That was the coolest sh*t I ever saw!!"
"Thanks," i said, and dove into my first rum and coke of the evening. The kid didn't go away.
"I'm Steven," he said. "I'm writing an article about the Pirates Ball. Can I interview you?"
The last thing i felt like doing was talking to him but.. "Alright." i said. (we're media whores, have you noticed?) "Just promise me you won't say 'arrrgh'."
"Either promise or i won't talk to you."
There was beer in the trailer so we went there. He said he'd arrived just as our show started so he missed the performances before us. i told him what happened, careful to mention only our friends by name, viz: Shelby, Courtney, and the Scarlett Harlott, of course.
We had been playing up the rock star/pyrate parallels in every interview for the past few months so i encouraged him to use that angle. After we plied him with beer and sent him on his way, Sev asked: "Do you think he'll give us a good write up?"
"Of course he will. i told him you'd hack him to death with your cutlass if he said anything bad about us. He's terrified now."
She laughed. "Damn! I never would have thought of threatening a reporter."
"Well, you're not the only one who knows how to work the media."
In the interview i'd had to spin some of the difficulties we'd had that night...
(from Rock City News):
According to Bullet: "We made a point not to use any of our usual FX. No gunshots, blood splatterings or bottles breaking over heads. We wanted this one to stand on just the sword work alone. Like an acoustic set. Revenge: Unplugged."
(what really happened):
Sev forgot to bring the breakaway bottle, Bullet brought the blood squibs but forgot to fill them before going on stage (he'd been drinking), the venue threatened to sue us if we used gun powder.
A few weeks later it was on the newsstands. Spillit called me as soon as he read it. "Accoustic set?" he said. "What kind of bullsh*t did you shovel on that guy?"
To which i could only retort: "Dude. If it was in Rock City News, it MUST be true!"
Well, as you know, the dedicated pirates of Revenge were born and are destined to suffer, and to that end we had to awaken early the next day as Spillit, Louie, and myself were committed to do an appearance in Long Beach. Ah, those wonderful post-pyrating hangovers!
i began suffering land-sickness during the ride but a quick stop to lean out the door and things were much less bad. Pyrate Wisdom: Always remove your seatbelt before casting up accounts.
We stopped for a bottle of rum and drank it in a hurry as we gassed up the car. i began to feel optimistic after a few swigs of the pirate potion. i found my bottle of sunscreen, alcohol based, and squeezed some onto my left hand. Immediately i located my wounds from the previous night.
There were four small, almost invisible cuts at the base of my fingers. i blamed Brandi for it.
"That bitch! She's fired! She's so f**king fired! i'll kill her!"
My pirate brothers only mocked my misery.
Louie: "Oh my god! He fired Brandi!"
Spillit: "Again? You bastard!"
And the worst was yet to come...