Sunday, March 8, 2015

Starz' "Black Sails" - It Just Keeps Getting Better (and How to Get your Piratesexual Game On)

So you love pirate stories? However, if you are the not watching "Black Sails", you're missing out something entertaining on your TV screen. Especially so, if one is tired of cartoonish over-the-top characters and more of "the-same-the-same" from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Cable network Starz' "Black Sails" provides the viewer with smarter mindmaps of each pirate's motivations. The series, created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine, is mostly about Captain Flint's past, before his famous adventures and the gold he found was regaled in Robert Louise Stevenson's book "Treasure Island". Together with other famous badasses of the sea, like Charles Vane, Calico Jack, Benjamin Hornigold and Anne Bonny, most of the series unravels in the island hangout of Nassau.

Red Dot Diva was invited for the series premiere at SDCC two years back, where before it was screened, musician Bear McCreary performed the rousing "Black Sails" theme song with his band. It was awesome. McCreary's theme song as well as the accompanying gorgeously artistic title credits is something to behold on their own.

Despite the series being hailed as Michael Bay's high-budget pirate show, Season 1 of "Black Sails" started out slow, like the lull of a low tide, where creatures started to emerge from their little hidey holes to show their true colours. A lot of time was spent on character building but Red Dot Diva assures that it's all worth it, when the series shows that it was not afraid to have one or two of your favourite characters killed off ala GRRM, the action also kicks up several notches toward the end when Flint makes a valiant bid for the Spanish gold.

ooh Flint, can I help remove that coat, please?
Other than the high production values, the cast in the series is simply one of the best things in "Black Sails". Toby Stephens is captivating as the flawed but relentless Captain Flint. His simmering rage echoed in his sometimes bloodied face and gingery beard, all which belied a man who was once an honourable officer of the Royal Navy. In contrast, Zach McGowan prowls around Nassau like a unpredictable primal force as Flint's constant nemesis Vane. Adding to the shenanigans is Luke Arnold as the opportunistic John Silver.

One of the things Red Dot Diva enjoyed about "Black Sails" is that the ladies are not to be messed around with. Hannah New mixes a tinge of young naiveté and determination as Eleanor Guthrie, who leads the black market and business side of Nassau. And as this is a Starz' series after all, sex is always shown as a form of power. Leading that way is the beguiling and scheming prostitute Max, brought wondrously alive by the beautiful actress Jessica Parker Kennedy. Holding her own in the testosterone-filled world of piracy, Clara Paget adds cold-hearted mystery into the character of Anne Bonny. To be honest, Red Dot Diva is still not quite sure what Bonny's play is.. yet.
Brains and sexiness combo that is Max

The rest of the actors which include Mark Ryan as quartermaster Hal Gates, Toby Schmitz as the weasley-smart Jack Rackham, Tom Hopper as loyal (or so he was) ripply man-candy Billy Bones, Louise Barnes as the enigmatic Miranda Barlow, amongst many others, round up an impressive group effort in each episode.

Pirating is hard work. Just look at those lickable Billy Biceps.

Currently in the tail-end of Season 2, "Black Sails" has ramped up on the gritty violence, a slew of surprising plot twists and turns (and yep, not forgetting the hot sex scenes too!). It just keeps getting better and better. This is the fantastic payoff for the slow setup in the previous season. "Black Sails" is undoubtedly a complex and multi-layered show, and one has to commit being part of the visual crew to truly enjoy its journey.

Throughout the revelations of each character's inner motivations, Red Dot Diva could not help but also wonder how these bad boys and girls maintain their game on the topic of pirate couture. Seriously.... doesn't the mere swish of Flint's leather jacket stir up some very lusty feelings? Why does Vane get hotter the more unruly his hair gets or the dirtier or bloodier his cotton shirt is? Needless to say, the Nassau brothel fashion-wear featured in each episode was also very ogle-worthy.

So she asked her beardy pal Danger Gene Whitlock to give us some tips on how to be a piratesexual. This is what he said:

FIVE SWASHBUCKLING FASHION TIPS FOR THE ASPIRING PIRATE! (or, How to attire oneself in a manner befitting a highseas privateer!)

1. Be ye a rugged pirate or a spirited dandy? Your choice of beard will tell scurvy swabs exactly who you are * (* lady pirates may choose to do away with the beard entirely)

2. Cast a pall of fear wherever ye may tread! Landlubbers are cowardly and superstitious and will be easily cowed by by your freebooting ways * ( *a true piratey-type may appear fearsome, but carries within a heart of gold, or gold coloured material if no actual gold is available)

3. Boots, not slippers.

4. Buttons and bows and bleu-blanc rouge. All things lively must be used.

5. Chest hair looks best when your shirt is torn, artfully. (Red Dot Diva: So do bosoms. *g*)
Red Dot Diva has a couple more tips to add:
6. A jaunty hat adds flair and character. And all the more to peer ominously out from with one's (hopefully still intact) eye.

7. Don't forget about the hair. So many hairstyles to choose from! Braid it, have them in dreadlocks, stuff them in a ponytail(s) or just leave them wild like a tropical storm for extra fierceness. 

Well, there ya go. Now, you can be a tough but fashionable pirate too!

There are just a few more episodes yet to go for Season 2 of "Black Sails". But with Season 3 already in the cards, there going to be much more powerplay, clever politics and sexy island buccaneer fashion to learn from. Red Dot Diva cannot wait! (And BTW, in case you are wondering, she's TEAM FLINT!)



Red Dot Diva has a "Black Sails" scarf, button and postcard up for grabs. (The scarf's words are a little faded on the other side, but it's still a very piratey scarf!)


Here's how to win them!

Answer this super-simple question on Red Dot Diva's post on the FB page or Instagram, or send @reddotdiva your answer on Twitter.

QUESTION: What is the name of the Spanish galleon carrying the gold Captain Flint is looking to secure?

Terms & Conditions:
1. Follow or Like Red Dot Diva on Facebook (please set profile / post to Public) or Twitter or Instagram
2. Submit your answer by 18 March 2015, 9 PM Singapore time.
3. Open to international participants.
4. Only 1 contest entry eligible for each person, regardless if the answers are submitted through Facebook or Twitter.
5. Winner will be randomly chosen and announced by 21 March. The winner will be contacted via Twitter/ FB Message.
6. If you are the winner, you will have to be prepared to email your contact details ASAP to Red Dot Diva so that the items can be sent to you.


Thanks to Danger Gene Whitlock for having fun contributing to this piece. If you want to check out more of Gene's work, like this pirate fox called Belmont, follow his Facebook page.

Or buy his first book entitled "The Unsavoury Alphabet".

Red Dot Diva's interview with Gene and short review of his book can be found here.

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