In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we headed down to Long Beach on Saturday for Pyrate Daze. Held aboard the Queen Mary, Pyrate Daze is a two-day event featuring music, masquerade, merchandise and even a cannon show. With the involvement of steampunk-themed band Abney Park and local performance group The League of S.T.E.A.M., though, this was more than a simple celebration of buccaneers. The pirates far outnumbered the steampunks, but the latter brought with them an element of Victorian-influenced fantasy. Both groups came armed with creativity and dressed in brilliantly detailed costumes, but we had to wonder, did one outdo the other? We came up with our own awards below.
Pirates: Mic the Scallywag told us he is something between living and dead. “Does that mean you're a zombie?” I asked. “Aye, you could say that if you'd like,” he answered. And so we will. With his blue-tinted skin and algae coated eyes, Mic is a fright, but one who kept us endlessly entertained.
Steampunks: We heard that someday everyone will be lucky enough to have a “zombie manservant” like Zed. In addition to holding your drinks on a tray, he'll stand around with eyes rolled back in his head and bloody drool dripping out of the corner of his mouth. Zed can be trouble, though. You'll have to lead him around on a chain and, yet, he might not always follow directions.
Winner: Since both of these guys were so good at staying in character all day, we're going to have to call this a tie.
Pirates: On Saturday, Queen Mary's art deco Observation Bar became the “Pirate Observation Bar.” In the middle of a room packed with oversized headwear, we spotted this piece made from real skunk fur.
Steampunks: Professor Jager of League of S.T.E.A.M. concocted this “Victorian iPod” number. Wind the knob at the top and a song will play courtesy of a music box inside. As a bonus, the hat provides scalp massages.
Winner: You just can't compete with Victorian iPods. Win for the steampunks.
Pirates: “You can't be a pirate if you aren't drinking,” one attendee told us on our way up to the bar. Also, you can't be a pirate if you don't bring your own mug to said watering hole. The bigger, the better.
Steampunks: You may not be able to say you're a pirate if you aren't drinking, but you can't be a steampunk without contraptions. This compact, scientific-looking device helps one properly prepare a glass of absinthe.
Winner: We like the look of the absinthe gizmo, but the pirates win for sheer volume of rum mugs. Few costumes were complete without one.
Pirates: Monkeys are always cute, but a monkey in pirate gear perched upon a human pirate's shoulder? Adorable.
Steampunks: Baron Von Fogel of League of S.T.E.A.M. has an impressive faerie menagerie. They're a whimsical bunch, we think there's a very good reason he keeps these neon blue pixies in a cage.
Winner: Monkeys are always good for causing trouble, but faeries can be much peskier. Steampunks win.
Pirates: BlackHeart the Pirate probably has the best groomed facial hair to ever appear on a ship boasting a Jolly Roger. It's a good look, one that granted him a prize at Wumpskate last month for the roller disco's pirate event.
Steampunk: We've run into this gentleman at various events in Los Angeles and his facial hair is constantly changing. The Snidely Whiplash mustache, though, is a killer. We heard it was a hit at Dragon*Con too.
Winner: The Snidely 'Stache pulls in the win for the steampunks.
Pirates: Perhaps you would normally associate pirates with swords, but one group, who had traveled from Georgia for the event, arrived with hand-carved pistols like the one in the above photo.
Steampunk: Professor Jager has the cure for ridding your home of ghosts. This homemade device shoots steam that will vaporize specters.
Winner: DIY vs. DIY? We're calling this a draw.
Pirates: Over in the Pyrate Daze merch area, we found this table filled with bronze and stainless steel castings by Robin St. Graves that look as though they were found in a chest found far under water.
Steampunks: In their quest for scientific knowledge, the steampunks' cabinet of treasures include such curiosities as bugs and fetuses. Think of the specimen found in your old biology classroom without the overwhelming smell of formaldehyde.
Winner: You can't look at a table of pirate treasures without contemplating adventures on the high seas. Win for the pirates.
Pirates: It's a shrunken head on a walking stick. Need we say more?
Steampunks: Whether or not you a steampunk look requires goggles is still up for debate, but they're everywhere.
Winner: Goggles are cool. Some say they even allow for x-ray vision. But, we can't stop wondering what a pirate did to end up with a shrunken head. Win for the pirates.
Pirates: Of all the instruments we saw pirates playing on the Queen Mary yesterday, the conch shell has to be the coolest. It's not necessarily melodic, but it does sound like a ghost ship pulling up to the harbor.
Steampunks: Seattle-based band Abney Park works with the backstory that they are the crew of the airship Ophelia. When performing, Nathaniel Johnstone wields this clockwork piece.
Winner: Although we love the detail of Abney Park's gear, if we were stuck on a deserted island, a conch shell might be the only instrument available to play. That said, pirates win.
Pirates: Typically, when you see girls dressed in bodices or corsets, the goal is to pull the laces tight enough to keep the waist tiny and create a chin-rest. It always looks so uncomfortable. This lady pirate, though, kept the bodice loose for a look that screams, “I'm ready to swashbuckle.” We dig it.
Steampunks: Only when you are recreating an era that never existed can you pull off an outfit like this. We loved the way this steampunk mixed her lovely corset with pants, a top hat and long coat. It's ladylike without being too girly.
Winner: Steampunks for pulling off a look that you could comfortably wear outside of a themed setting.