Interview With Jupiter Mendoza of “Pirate Master”

Pirates are all the rage these days. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End sailed to No. 1 at the box office last weekend to the tune of $142 million over four days, and tonight, CBS premieres their newest reality/adventure series, Pirate Master, where eight men and eight women become "modern-day pirates on a high seas adventure" (according to the website) who will "live as buccaneers and travel around the Caribbean island of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million."

Pirate Master is the latest creation of Mark Burnett, the producer who gave us Survivor and The Apprentice, and it will have classic Burnett touches such as a "Pirate's Court" held at the end of each episode where one unlucky matey will be "cut adrift." The contestants — er, pirates — will undertake weekly "expeditions" (instead of challenges), decipher clues and, of course, engage in mutinous behavior.

On the eve of the show's launch, AfterEllen.com spoke with Jupiter Mendoza, one of Pirate Master's 16 contestants — and its only known lesbian. CBS wouldn't allow us to discuss any of the show's content before it aired, so Jupiter talked about how she lives as a modern-day pirate, why being a lesbian was not part of her strategy for winning, and why pirates need more bling.

AfterEllen.com: How did you hear about the show?
Jupiter Mendoza:
I heard about the show through my friend, Courtney [Marit from Survivor: Panama] She called me up and said, "This show was made for you." I kind of live my life as a modern-day pirate anyway, and she thought this show would be fantastic for me, and it was.

AE: You live your life as a modern-day pirate? What does that mean?
JM:
Well, sometimes I have to kind of finagle my way through certain situations … and make sure I make money. Also, as a modern-day pirate, I helped build a pirate spaceship. We take [it] out to the desert to Burning Man every year. I consider myself a wench just as much as I consider myself a pirate.

AE: Is the pirate/wench thing like a butch/femme thing?
JM:
I feel like there's a wench and a pirate. Wenches need to have just as much notice as a pirate.

AE: So wenches aren't getting their due? Is that what you're saying?
JM: I don't think so. I think they're not as recognized as much as they should [be]. Wenches usually get the brunt in pirating.

AE: Always the plundered, never the plunderer.
JM:
Yeah. Exactly. But you know, if a pirate is what I need to be, a pirate is what I will be. I'm a pirate and definitely a wench.

AE: I know your type.
JM:
Oh really?

AE: What makes a good pirate?
JM:
Putting yourself out there, being extremely competitive. You know, no one likes a slacker. You have to put everything in. You have to make sure that you keep your head on your shoulders and watch your back at the same time because, you know, pirates like to lie, cheat and steal.

AE: This show is like Survivor, but there's none of that whining, "You promised you'd watch my back" after someone gets burned. A pirate is supposed to be a liar.
JM:
Absolutely. You know, I think there's definitely going to be a lot of that. I think a lot of people are saying one thing and really doing something else.

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