Interview With Jupiter Mendoza of “Pirate Master”

AE: What strategy did you choose going into the show?
JM:
The majority of the contestants had months to prepare for what was about to happen. I got chosen a month before leaving, so my strategy was, I'd just come at it in an organic way and see what happens. I'd use my intuition and decide from there what kind of action I need to take.

AE: We can't discuss what it was it like to live on a wooden ship for over a month, so instead, have you ever been on a cruise before?
JM:
I have been on a cruise. I went on a seven-to-eight-day cruise several years ago through the Panama Canal. That was absolutely amazing. So I [was] really looking forward to being on a pirate ship.

AE: Was it an Olivia Cruise by any chance?
JM:
It was an Olivia Cruise. Yes.

AE: What's the difference between being on the pirate ship versus an Olivia cruise?
JM:
It's completely different.

AE: Is there anything you can tell us about the show that's not about the show?
JM:
You knew about Olivia cruises, which means that you know that I'm gay. I wanted to put it out there that one of my strategies — I chose not to come out on the show. So no one on the show [knew] that I'm gay.

AE: Why did you make that decision?
JM:
I didn't want guys to automatically not want me on the ship. I didn't want it to be … it can be kind of intimidating. I can come off as a very in-your-face kind of person. So, sometimes guys don't like that. For the women, I didn't want to tell them because I don't know if it would make them feel uncomfortable. And I don't know if there's anyone that's homophobic on the boat. I didn't want it to work against me, at any rate.

AE: We'll have to wait and see if that strategy worked. Is Jupiter your real name?
JM:
No, Elicia is my given name. Jupiter is actually a name that was gifted to me through the desert.

AE: What?
JM: Well, I go to the Burning Man art festival. I was taking a nap on the playa, and I was dreaming about being on the playa and having all these different adventures. And as I was waking up, I was saying, "Jupiter." I don't remember talking in my sleep. … I realized that the playa had gifted me my name. So I have been Jupiter for the last six years.

AE: Good story. Here's a pirate quiz. Do you know how to walk a plank?
JM:
The only plank that I've walked is like a diving board, but it seems like it would be comparative. Yeah, I guess I know how to walk a plank.

AE: What does "shiver me timbers" mean?
JM:
I think that it's more out of an excited "Oh my God! I can't believe that happened!" You know?

AE: What do you think is the best way to avoid scurvy?
JM:
I would definitely say go out on the closest island and find just the most nutritious things. Try and stay as healthy as you can.

AE: How do you feel about pirate clothes?
JM:
I love pirate clothes. The outfits [on the show] aren't so far off from what I wear on a daily basis. Headbands, that's very piratey. The earrings I wear … my necklaces and bracelets; those were mine. Corsets and bustiers are things I like when going out to a party. It felt like really natural to be wearing the costumes that [I was] given.

AE: You probably didn't get to wear a broadsword, though.
JM:
No, but that would have been great. I definitely would have worn a sword. There were a couple of things that I would have liked to have worn that they didn't give us: cut-off, fingerless gloves, different kind of hats, maybe more jewelry would have been cool.

AE: I don't know if you can swab a deck wearing a lot of pirate bling.
JM:
You don't have to wear it all the time, but pirate bling is good for sure.

Pirate Master premieres on CBS on Thursday, May 31, at 8 p.m. ET.

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