Arts and Entertainment

Pirates add spice to the Kitsap Harbor Festival | Kitsap Week

Steve Black, also known as
Steve Black, also known as 'Splinter' adds to the spirit of the Kitsap Harbor Festival.
— image credit: Brian Sauer

Blimey! Batten down the hatches, the pirates are headed our way.

B.O.O.M. (Brotherhood of Oceanic Mercenaries) is set to arrive this weekend for the Kitsap Harbor Festival.

The ringleader of the professional acting troupe is Steve Black. But this weekend, he will answer to “Zachariah ‘Splinter’ McCormick” or “Captain.” Black and 12 other lads and lassies will entertain festival-goers with their live-action pistol duels and cannon shows. They also will roam the town, amusing crowds with their fanciful stories and chanty singing.

“We don’t glorify the act of piracy,” Black said. “But we glorify the freedom lifestyle.”

B.O.O.M. is like many historical re-creation groups. They take on characters who could have lived during the golden age of piracy, but they don’t take on known pirates such as Blackbeard. They also try to be as accurate as they can with their costumes, but Black is quick to point out their group is not a living history group. “We aren’t historical down to the buttons on our skivvies,” he said.

Being part of the pirate troupe requires lots of pirate knowledge. Newbies to the group are required to read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pirates.” Black said it’s important for the actors to be well-versed in all things pirate. (Did you know that more pirates died from deck splinters than from cannons? Think of how many pirates could have been saved with a pair of tweezers and a little antibiotic ointment?)

For those wanting to join in the pirate fun, Black offers these tips on a pirate wardrobe: First of all, shop at Goodwill or at local thrift stores. Authentic looking pirate clothing is torn and frayed. In this case, a well-worn pair of slacks out shines a freshly pressed pair off the rack of a retail shop. Black suggests tan or black flat-fronted slacks. A striped T-shirt or plain white shirt is ideal for your top. Find a sash and tie it around your waist.  Black slip-on loafers fit the bill and they’re even more convincing if you hot-glue a buckle on each shoe. Striped socks help complete the look and Black assures the guys that it’s OK to buy women’s socks for this purpose.

Black warns that once you dress as a pirate, you may catch the buzz. “It’s going to bite you,” he said. “Then the next thing you’ll want is a real tri-corner hat.”

B.O.O.M.’s crew enjoys interacting and talking with people. But don’t even ask. You cannot fire the cannon or pistols. Nor can you play act with the swords. The props B.O.O.M uses are real and can cause real damage.

“We train and train. And when we get it down perfectly, that we can do it with our eyes closed, we train some more,” Black said. “Safety is our main priority.”

So while you can’t fire off their weapons, you can have your photo taken with the pirates. And it’s encouraged. But Black added a word for mom and dad: “With kids, pirates are a lot of fun, but from a distance. It’s the Santa Claus syndrome. They love Santa, but when they are forced onto his lap, they can freak out,” he said. “The same thing happens with pirates.”He said to give the kids time, and once they watch the action for awhile, the kids often warm up to the photo idea.

“Don’t force them into the arms of someone who has two pistols, a sword, a big tanker and is saying ‘Arrrrggghhhh,’” Black said.

The humor of B.O.O.M.’s act is mostly PG, although Black admits that sometimes they throw in a NC-17 joke or two.

“But always with a quick glance around to make sure the youngins’ ears aren’t going to be scarred for life,” he said.

After all, they’re pirates.









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