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Seriously. Just ask 23-year-old Torie Fuller, currently an understudy aerial acrobat at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure—think Medieval Times, but mixed with Cirque du Soleil and a pirate ship—in Buena Park. “I was doing a little bit of everything—waitressing, mostly,” Torie says, remembering her odd-job dark days. “I hated all of my jobs.”

That was a little over nine months ago. Everything changed when a friend phoned after seeing a casting notice for Pirate’s on the evening news. “He knew about my background,” she explains, “and called me up and said, ‘Dude, you’re going to be a pirate!’”

Torie’s “background,” it turns out, involves growing up in Yucaipa, where the local YMCA had a “little youth circus,” a program to teach kids anything from juggling to more advanced single trapeze tricks. Every summer, the kids would travel and perform their routines, and Torie stuck with it until she was 16. Seven years, a few tryouts, and a month and a half of training later, she’s back at it. “As soon I got onstage,” she recalls, “I felt like I was back home.”

As for the show itself? Torie admits it can seem a bit hokey to some people: “I’m out on the stage, and then the pirates throw me in the brig,” she says. “Then I’ll go out and do something spectacular and run back.” Her character, the Golden Gypsy, is a “mysterious mute,” Torie laughs, since the act involves non-microphone-friendly routines like aerial tissues (think again of Cirque du Soleil—they’re the silks that performers wrap and unwrap themselves in) and a hand-to-hand cradle routine with one of the pirates (“He hangs upside down, I hang on to his hands”) and a bunch of other tough-to-describe stuff (including something called “neck spins”). Still, hokey or not, aerial acrobatics trumps double shifts and bad tips any day. And it’s a good workout.

In the future, Torie says, she’d like to put her circus skills to even better use—as a stuntwoman in Hollywood, ideally. But for now, she’s just happy to be back onstage.

And the best part? The cast from Pirate’s and the knights from Medieval Times? They totally hang out. (Ellen Griley)

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, 7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 690-1497. Call for show times. $33.95-$49.95, tax not included. Reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance.

KEY KOOL, OWNER, UP ABOVE RECORDS

Visionary Key Kool—co-founder of hip-hop group the Visionaries, as well as a regular visionary—put out the first release on his Up Above Records just about 10 years ago, and sharp business sense and a roster of artists like Jurassic 5, Pete Rock, Ozomatli, the late Jay Dilla and lots of the best hometowners have been pretty good to him ever since. He started in Carson, and now he goes to work in his own office above a Hooters in Long Beach—the first and best sign of success!—and when he needs a break from cranking his hip-hop records through the system, he heads for the most backwoods beach Hawaii can hide and turns the radio off.

OC WEEKLY:What high school experience best prepared you to run your own record label?

Key Kool: I’d have to say dissecting a cat. It’s not something you would expect to do and sometimes it’s not the most fun, but you have to get through it. And as you go through it, you start taking an interest in it, and then it becomes a morbid fascination—like, “Why am I doing this?” And once it’s complete, you feel like you accomplished something, and you did some things you never thought you would do, and at the end of the day, you feel like you learned something. It’s pretty gratifying.

What’s the Up Above work week like? Do you get to play video games on that console in the lobby?

Honestly, I think we’ve only done that once.

The day you got it?

The day we got the game the Visionaries had a song in, and we wanted to hear it. After that, we never used it. It’s not like 9-to-5—sometimes there’s a mixdown session that goes from 8 at night to 8 in the morning. During the two weeks we were trying to get the Visionaries album done, we were seriously going to bed at 5 or 6 a.m., sleeping a couple hours, then getting up and making some calls to deal with the whole office situation.

What’s your favorite thing about your employees?

The enthusiasm. These kids are true fans. Their commitment and enthusiasm makes me wanna work even harder. They’ll be grinding all day in 110-degree weather in San Bernardino and they’re real positive, and I’m like, “Wow.” Because I’m melting.

Do you ever send them downstairs to Hooters for a late-night wing run?

Actually, the Hooters always hooks us up—we make such a racket all day and a couple of the managers are real cool. They’re Long Beach heads—they know some people involved in the groups. We had a jam session one day, and they sent up a bunch of wings. And they validate our parking. I never thought we’d have a relationship like that. But now we call it Up Above Hooters.

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