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A Day With the Sea Rebels

August 30, 1992|SUSAN PATERNO

It might have been Peter Pan. Or maybe Errol Flynn.

Oberon Seliceo can't remember exactly what drew him to pirates. Whatever it was, Seliceo has been enamored ever since. "I've done knights, Gypsies and pirates," he said. "But pirates are my big love."

A Los Angeles actor who played a pirate in the movie "Hook," Seliceo is leader of a band of marauding seafarers moored today at the Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach. . The pirates, part of the Long Beach Renaissance Arts Festival, will roam the festival grounds, capturing tourists and locking them in the lagoon's island fort.

The pirates are part of the festival's Renaissance tribute, a pageant featuring 16th-Century diversions that include Shakespearean actors, singers, dancers, jugglers and strolling musicians playing the lute, hammer dulcimer, krummhorn and the sackbut, a precursor to the trombone. The pirates also are planning a workshop to teach the seaman's jig, and country and court dancing.

Seliceo's pirates are somewhat anachronistic to the Renaissance, he said. His group features sailors of the 17th Century, a time when Blackbeard, Sir Henry Morgan and Captain Kidd roamed the Spanish Main, the huge expanse of sea then controlled by Spain and Portugal.

"That was the golden age of pirates," he said. "And anyway, most people don't know that Elizabethan pirates don't look like 17th- and 18th-Century pirates." Today, people identify with pirates "because they were the rebels, the nonconformists of the 17th Century," he said.

Seliceo has always loved the romantic side of piracy. The Errol Flynn movies he watched as a child inspired him 10 years ago to found the Brethren of the Coast, a Los Angeles-based volunteer group dedicated to historic preservation related to pirates. Since then, membership has grown to 158 men and women, Seliceo said.

Along with performing for free at community festivals, Seliceo and other Brethren work the Pilgrim, a 118-foot replica of an 18th-Century schooner that sails for private parties to Catalina. (It costs about $3,000 per party to rent, Seliceo estimated.)

At today's fair, pirates will fight hand-to-hand over women, men and general insults, and they will stage a sea battle with cannons.

Festival-goers are encouraged to dress in period costumes; costume contests for adults and children are part of the day's fare, as are food, drinks, and arts and crafts booths.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 6 p.m. at the Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach, between the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Long Beach Convention Center off Shoreline Drive. The festival is a primary fund-raiser for Travelers Aid Society of Long Beach and Orange County, a United Way agency that helps the homeless and unemployed.

Tickets cost $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens, and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free. For more information, call (310) 437-0751.

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