Ok, that sounds kind of dramatic and mysterious, with the name change and just mention “pirates” these days and everyone thinks of Somalia. It’s not that interesting so, read as much or as little of this as you care to. break it up with snacks, video games, trips to the store, or even surfing the web. Come back when you want, I’ll be here. I will be combining several emails that I have sent previously to some of you FB friends so it might read a little jerky, but I will apologize now, and try to make sure it isn’t too bad.
Ok, I left Ohio in 1980 after graduating from Newark Senior High School and ran as far away as my 18 yr old mind could think of, CALIFORNIA! My brother Jamie( whom some of you will remember too) was going to school in Northern CA to become a Gunsmith, so I went to the same school and enrolled in Wrestling. What? OK, that wasn’t a program, but I was there for my AA degree and to Wrestle. I did both. During the summers I competed in Freestyle and Greco- Roman Wrestling ( the two Olympic wrestling styles) and won several Junior National titles.
In 1982 I moved to San Francisco to attend SFSU and to be trained by the Greco Roman World Team Coach. Over the next 4 years, I obtained my BA and my MA degrees in Psychology and also competed in the Los Angeles Olympic trials. In 1985, I Placed 3rd in the World at the Greco- Roman Grand Prix du International. I retired from competition. In 1989 I started and coached the first US Women’s Freestyle wrestling team and in less a year we had 3 of our 5 women win medals at the World Championships( sidebar: this was at a time when our US Governing body USAW didn’t even want to talk about women and wrestling in the same sentence, unless it also included the words, jello, oil, mud, wet T shirt, or Hooter’s. I had to write letters and reports pleading to them to give it a chance. They finally gave in and sanctioned the team. However, I did not make the trip to the World Championships as coach, As I did not meet the USAW’s coaching criteria, they replaced me with my second World Team Coach. Funny ‘ol world isn’t it? But, I am happy to say that now, some of the women’s Colleges actually have teams and the USAW has been fully endorsing and training women’s teams since 1990). I am proud to have been a part of that history.
I was with Lisa Frankfort for 8 1/2 years, engaged but never married. We shared an Airdale Terrier “Teddy” for about 7 years, even after we parent’s were “divorced”. He was a great dog. I worked at the Rapid Copy Center in the SFSU Library, from my student years until after, moving up the Chain of Command. I went from student assistant to clerical assistant 1, CAII, CA III, to LA I, LA II, to LOA ( Library Operations Analyst- fancy name meaning I ran the whole Rapid Copy Business for the JP Leonard Library. I also worked for the Surf Theater’s Group for about 5 years too, started at The Surf (and they sold it off) mostly at the Lumiere, but sometimes at The Castro Theater, The Clay. and thanks to a wonderful city wide employee pass system, we enjoyed many, many movies… one of my hobbies, you may recall. After having lived in Verducci Hall (SFSU Dorms) for four years, at least I had a single room for 2 years while in grad school…Lisa and I and two more of our friends from school rented a flat on Divisadero and Haight St, with the “Counting Crows” (not anybody yet) living in the flat above us. Noisy and inconsiderate guys…
About 4 and 1/2 years later, Lisa and I split and I and got a 3rd story Studio Apt on Fell St. between Central and Masonic (on the Golden Gate panhandle), and fell in Love with Kristen “Cricket” Sura who worked for me as a Student Assistant, and I started working for her too, as she managed Escape From New York Pizza in the Castro. I moonlighted as a Pizza Driver for 4 years. So we were each others bosses…. Lisa, Cricket and I all became great friends and even spent Monday Nights watching David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” with a small group of friends. Yes You can remain friends with your EX’s….. Cricket and I split after about 4 years, and at some point I stopped working at EFNY Pizza, I was no longer working at the theaters, by then. In 1993, I became dis-enfranchised (huh?) with working at SFSU and started managing a Windsurfing Business, CityFront Sailboards located on Lyon St. I did for another 4 years.
Oh yeah, I forgot.. I had taken up Windsurfing. Took one lesson on Lake Merced and then bought new equipment and taught my self how at Chrissy Field one summer on SF Bay. I became a pretty good windsurfer. I got a 2nd job with Odwalla as a Delivery Driver ( the Juice Co. The CEO was one of my Windsurfing customers). I had a nice route in Oakland, Emmeryville, Berkeley…… and then the E-coli bacteria tagedy, and I was let go along with over 1/3 of the company…downsizing… Odwalla acted quickly and prudently to survive the law suits. To their credit Odwalla invented ” Flash Pasturization”, putting all their resources and attention into quickly solving the problem…everything happens for a reason.
So I found myself in Fall of 1996, without a second, or third job. Not knowing how I was going to afford living in SF. A friend invited me to go with her to Baja. I decided to sublet my apt and go to Baja Mexico for the winter. To Los Barrilles where I was told, I could camp on the beach for free, for the whole winter and windsurf every day. So I went. I built a Pallapa on the beach that I lived under. even had a solar shower. I speared fish every day with my Hawaiian Sling and grilled them within minutes, talk about fresh! with some ramen noodles, rice, pancake mix, peanut butter and a few veggies tortillas and beer that I bought locally.. I ate well and lived almost 4 months on $800. including the gas to get down there and back. Can’t do that in the US, let alone SF. Spent Christmas on the Beach, New years in Cabo San Lucas. When I wasn’t windsurfing, exploring or hanging with my fellow beach bums ( and there were about 40 of us), or running our small Friday night Beach Bar,… I was soul searching about my life in SF, mostly about the Cost, and all my stuff in my apt. back home that I hadn’t needed or missed while living a very simple lifestyle. But it wasn’t until I was back in the country , in SF that I realized I didn’t want the pace of the city anymore. I was wound up way too tight and it had taken months to wind down … I needed to move, but where? I needed to be able to find a job quickly, as I now had very little money, and I wanted to be able to windsurf, and have a lower cost of living….. that really left one place, Hood River, OR.
The infamous Columbia River Gorge, the Meca of High Wind windsurfing in the USA, other than Maui of course. I made one phone call to the biggest and most well know Windsurfing Business in the US, Big Winds and was hired as a manager over the phone, to start as soon as I could get there. I sold all my stuff , said my good byes and moved in less than 2 weeks. It was hardest to leave my Dog “Teddy”, but I knew It wasn’t fair to take him from Lisa who was an excellent co-owner. …oh yeah, the last name … I had added to my name a long time ago, while still in SF, just out of SFSU as an “honorific” for my mother’s name (an MacKay) in Gaelic meaning “the son of Kay”(well, more closely translated to “Little”, as in “offspring of”) . My mom’s name is Kay. confused? so my whole legal name since then has been Jeffrey Robert Ciminello an MacKay, thus honoring both father and mother. But It was way long and for simplicity I shortened it and since 1997 I have been known by Jeff MacKay socially, while all my legal documents still have the full name. Anyway… I went to work at Big Winds in Hood River (the largest windsurfing retail store, school, rental business in the USA) as a Manager which I did for the next 11 years.
I also coached High School Wrestling at Hood River Valley High, and we have had numerous State Placers, State Champions and championship teams. I fell in love a number times and had my heart broken by most of them. I raised an awesome Irish Terrier ( Irish Terrorist), named Keegan. That little red guy was my wing man, and I truly think that it was Keegeeboo who clinched the deal with Rebecca (my wife). As he flirted with her awefully when he was boarded at her kennel during high school wrestling season road trips. He was the Best Dog ever and way too smart and stuborn for his own good. Keegee RIP.
I started the whole Pirate thing in 2003 as a small hobby – ebay business and… I have always been into pirates and have had a fascination for the 1700 period, around the time of the Revolutionary War. I grew up in Ohio with parents who were teachers and family vacations often included a historical perspective such as a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, and I remember seeing the Hat maker there. Maybe it’s my theatrical background, or a creative flare, but Halloween has always been my favorite holiday… I competed in a Halloween Costume Contest back in 2002. And while I clearly had the better costume , I tied. I vowed that I would win the next year.
That August, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl hit the theatres. The character of Captain Jack Sparrow struck a cord with me. I said ” Jack is my alter -ego” and I knew that this was the costume that I would win with. The only problem was that nobody was making the costume pieces for Jack Sparrow back then. I needed Jack’s tricorn hat and I decided to make one myself out of wool felt, as they were back in the day.I went to the Halloween Costume Contest in 2003 and won with his Jack Sparrow pirate gear. I also met my wife at that costume party, We ended up getting married and now have a three-year-old son named, Wilde.
I sent a few photos of myself in costume to Joey at Champion Attitude Boots (maker of the footwear for the POTC films) and he asked where I got the tricorn hat. When I told him that I had made the hat he suggested that I start making and selling them. And that’s how Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats was born. I started putting a few of his handmade hats on eBay in 2003 and let the demand on ebay set my price. made them out of my apartment and dried them in my oven at the time.. Then, I began creating hat designs of my own such as the MacKay, Captain Morgan, The Skallywagg, The Buccaneer, The Stede Bonnet, The Filibuster, the Singapore Pirata, and The Pirata. Soon I had eight different designs based on the hat styles from the Golden Age of pirates, which has grown to 15 styles. I made 70 hats in 2003 and now it is up to 1,000 hats per year, with over 4,000 total hats made to date.
In 2004 I Became the first Captain Jack Sparrow Impersonator in the USA at The Pirates Of The Caribbean Interactive. It was Interactive special event screenings of Pirates of The Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl. Imagine, if you will, Rocky Horror Picture Show Turned PIRATE! It was a blast, and the only case where Disney has allowed one of their films to be rented and shown outside of a very strictly controlled Disney Screening Schedule. We played it again in 2006 at the first PirateCon in New Orleans. I then went to Disneyland in LA dressed as Jack Sparrow only to be denied admittance. ( see the related article in my other “Notes”).
I have played Captain Jack Sparrow for the openings of POTC2 , 3 and 4 as well as participated in the much acclaimed FAO Schwarz/ Zizzle Captain Jack Look Alike Contest, ( where I then got arrested at JFK International Airport- yet another story), and also on occasion for the Make A Wish Foundation and at the first Portland Pirate Festival.” At their request, I made hats for Disney for Pirates 2 and 3.
In 2006, I became involved with a Independent Film Project called Pirates Of The Great Salt Lake, and I was the Official Hatter of the film. Through an odd series of events I would actually be added into the film in live action in 2008 playing myself ( see video clip)….and yet another story. oh yeah back to haberdashing…haberdashery… millinery, I still hand make every one of my hats and each is a custom order and a work of art. Take a look through my website http://www.captainjackspiratehats.com , visit the photo galleries..you’ll see over two thousand options offered to create a one-of-a-kind pirate hat. No I am not trying to sell you all Pirate Hats. lol Rebecca and I are ‘work-from-home’ parents and wanted to develop home-based businesses and turn our hat company into a pirate empire.
Rebecca has designed all the websites. She helps with hat and furniture businesses and writes pirate books for kids.Self Published “Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat” and “Little Pirate’s A, B, C’s” ( ebook), both available through our websites, and “Little Pirate Gets Dressed For Adventure” forthcoming. Rebecca and I started The Pirate Furniture Company in 2005, creating chairs stools, tables and other items that look right at home in a pirate’s lair. The hat business is the flagship but we are always looking for ways to expand our business. We created some furniture for ourselves and everyone thought it was so “cool”. We started selling it to our Pirate mateys. Also, when attending Pirate events we simply felt that too many people were walking around pirate festivals wearing what we call “yo ho hokey Pirate “costumes” rather than authentic attire. So we wanted to create a one stop Pirate shop where a Pirate Re-enactor or enthusiast would be happy to buy all their Piratical goods. The Pirate Trading Co. LLC is now the umbrella for our different Pirate businesses and web sites. From hats and furniture to real pirate T-shirts, flags, and weapons including working flintlock pistols and rifles as well as knives and swords of all kinds. Pirate Books and ebooks.
I wrote a Pirate Themed Screenplay called “The Buccaneer” which we re pitching through Social Media. My Wife Rebecca, son Wilde, and I live in The Pacific Northwest in The Columbia River Gorge Area on the border of WA and OR. We live up at 2700 ft in the woods in a 12′ x 20′ cabin that we share with our two Black Cats. Rebecca helps run her families Dog Boarding Kennel (on the same 7 acre property) and we manage goats, chickens, outside cats, family dogs, and our horse, Star .Which is why we love our work from home businesses. It allows us to spend all our time together doing the things that make us happy.
6/20/2006 was the happiest day of my life, Wilde James MacKay blessed us with his desire to be our child, and was born. He is AMAZING!( As I’m sure all you parents understand). Ok, well I hope that has answered some questions you may have had. Again I apologize if I took you away from your kid’s soccer practice, your show’s opening, or anything else of import. I would really look forward to hearing as much (or as little) as you would care to share too.. Thanks! -Jeff
ps. If any of this sounded like a sales pitch, it was unintentional… I just get excited about my life.