This was ready to publish two, maybe three weeks ago—but it turns out Tuesday is Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's what we inThe Business call a news peg, and pirates, besides talking like themselves,are all about pegs—peg legs, particularly. So here you go. Finally.
Pirates, for obvious reasons, are having the best year ever. Swashbuckling is no longer considered an alternative lifestyle; The Martha Stewart Show last month devoted an entire segment to galley fare (her flying fish carpaccio played off nicely against a hardtack bruschetta), and the Oakland Raiders started the preseason 3-and-0. Their checkered past—and Al Davis' unfortunate affinity for pantaloons—tells us the Raiders will probably blow it. But there's no historical precedent to dampen the outlook for Newport Beach entrepreneur Matt Stone, whose pirate-inspired clothing company Sea Wolf is riding high on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirate's Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, and the remarkable staying power of the bandanna, once thought slain—or worn to death—by one W. Axl Rose.
"Watch the movie and what do you see? You see adventure," says Stone, 35, a former Orange County sportswear designer who started Sea Wolf in 1990. "You see friendship and also romance. You see all the great things people reminisce about, all the positive things people remember about pirates." But have pirates really gone away, or have they merely changed with the times, embracing meatier weaponry (missile launchers) and cheesier targets (cruise ships)?
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"Modern pirates are terrorists," says Stone, admitting that in their heyday, the 1600s and 1700s, they were not that different. "I wouldn't call them noble." His adult clothing line of T-shirts, babydolls, sweatshirts, ball caps, bandannas, watch caps and rash guards—and his new line of infantwear, Sea Pup—fires a salvo at those who would revive the bold spirit of the men and women once also known as sea wolves.
With his own sea wolves at his feet as he works—his German shepherds, inspiration for the company logo—Stone and San Jose-based pirate scene painter Richard Becker have collaborated on an assortment of piratical logos: scary bandanna-bedecked skeletons, pirates with ghastly grins, and the periodic sexy pirate wench (always a crowd pleaser). Mottoes (pirates knew from mottoes; Black Bart's personal mantra was "A merry life and a short one") include "A Pirate's Life for Me," "Avast You Scurvy Scum" and "How Do You Like This Booty." The graphic with this last example shows, naturally, a pirate damsel facing away from the artist.
"This is what pirates would wear when they're relaxing. They would wear Sea Wolf," says Stone, who sounds like he's got a little Captain Morgan in him—the real one. Commissioned by the Jamaican governor in 1668 to take Panama, the pirate Sir Henry Morgan finally burnt the city to the ground three years later on his second try. What's happening today, Stone says, amounts to a second chance for pirate culture. The way he says it, with a quiet buoyancy to his speech—and a brace of flintlocks in his spare bedroom—makes a bubble in parrot sales seem inevitable.
SEA WOLF APPAREL IS AVAILABLE AT BELLA SEA, 34511 GOLDEN LANTERN, DANA POINT, (949) 487-0013; THE PIRATE'S COVE, 419 SHORELINE VILLAGE DR., LONG BEACH, (562) 435-2210; AND AT WWW.SEAWOLFONLINE.COM. SEA WOLF SPONSORS A PIRATE PARTY AT HOGUE BARMICHAELS, 3950 CAMPUS DR., NEWPORT BEACH, (949) 261-6270. SAT., 5 P.M.-1 A.M. $10; $8 IF YOU DRESS LIKE A PIRATE.