The Swashbuckler Next Door
By day, they're caring for sick patients or advising homebuyers on their next real estate purchases. But when they go home, they're donning pantaloons and adopting the salty 17th century slang of the high seas.
Photographer Gregg Segal's foray into documenting the lives of the pirates next door began when he visited Enchanted Deva's Last Wish Revenge and Treasures, a North Hollywood boutique dedicated to selling all things related to swashbuckling. For Segal, it opened a window into a flourishing subculture of part-time pirates in Southern California.
"They make scrupulous reproductions of 17th century waistcoats and make deals on E-bay for just the right pantaloons," Segal explains on his website.
Like the Hollywood Boulevard superheroes that Segal photographed cleaning toilets or taking out the trash, some of the pirates he documented are able to make money from dressing up. But most of them hold down day jobs that have nothing to do with recreating a fantasy ripped from the pages of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel. They're nurses, librarians, appliance installers and even real estate agents.
The Daily Mail in London spoke to some of Segal's subjects, who talked about what it's like to get decked out in their swashbuckling best in, say, La Habra Heights on a day that's not Halloween.
"We'll go out in our garb to a restaurant," said library assistant, Maria Blumberg. "You're not conscious that, 'Oh, I'm in costume, I have to behave a certain way.' [...] It's like a second skin, and people respond to that."
Segal posed his subjects at their day jobs in their meticulously-reproduced outfits. He posed primary care nurse, Jefferson Wilmore, 49, from San Bernardino tending to a patient while dressed up as Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Roberts from Pembrokeshire in Wales.
"I believe piracy was the first modern democracy," Wilmore said. "In a cruel, oppressive world, it was the closest thing to freedom."
That quote gives a hint of what these part-time pirates achieve when they don the pantaloons and three-cornered hats — and perhaps it's given Londoners (and everyone else) another reason to roll their eyes at LA-LA Land.
"Los Angeles is a place where fantasy lives flourish," Segal said.