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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Born to pillage

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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 31, 2003


Columnist Amy Scherzer recently sat down with rookie Gasparilla pirate Raymond Haynes "Trey" Carswell III, 26, as he prepared to walk his first parade.

A 1994 graduate of Plant High with a degree from Georgia State, Carswell sells commercial real estate.

His krewe ancestors include great-great grandfather C.W. Greene, a charter member in 1904; grandfather Fred R. Martin III, Gasparilla king in 1986-87; father Raymond Haynes Carswell II, a pirate since 1981; and great-great aunt Klooloo Glenn, a maid in the 1904 court.

Q. With a Gasparilla heritage like that, did you ever doubt that you would be a pirate?

A: I knew I would join the krewe as long as I lived in Tampa. I thought about staying to work with my dad in Atlanta after I graduated Georgia State, but once I moved back to Tampa, I knew I would join.

Q: Have you always been aware of your family's involvement with Ye Mystic Krewe?

A: Actually, I didn't know the extent of our history until a few years ago when my grandfather told me.

Q: Are all your best friends pirates?

A: Lots of them. Jay Annis, Bob Cooper, tons of guys.

Q: Were you on a waiting list to get into the krewe?

A: Not to my knowledge.

Q: You're a courtier in the 2003 court? How does that happen?

A: I'm not sure. My grandfather asked me, and I said if I was going to get involved, I wanted to be part of everything.

Q: What advantages does membership in this vast pirate network get you? Do you put YMK on your resume?

A: I wouldn't be opposed to putting it on my resume, but I don't think it would get me a job, although I guess it couldn't hurt. I might get to meet people I wouldn't otherwise get to meet.

Q: It's not cheap to belong to the krewe, starting with annual dues of $1,300. How much have you spent getting ready for the parade tomorrow?

A: I set a budget of $300, not counting my costume, which cost between $400 and $500 to have made. So far, I've spent about $180 on beads, and I don't want to spend more than $250 total. That may be impossible, but I'll find out.

Q: Are you going for the authentic pirate look or the gross, scary pirate look?

A: Authentic. My costume is black pants and a black shirt with green palm trees. My mom is getting me a black vest. For the coronation ball, the krewe rents the courtier costumes.

Q: Accessories?

A: Ear plugs are key from what I hear.

Q: Won't you feel silly parading around dressed as a pirate?

A: I'm sure I'll get over that feeling quickly.

Q: Does being a pirate help you get dates? Are women impressed?

A: I'll find out. I can use all the help I can get.

Q: Tell me how you'll start your Gasparilla Day.

A: I'll get up around 6 a.m. and put on my costume. My father always puts on a coat of base paint at home, so I'll do that, too. Then we'll go to the yacht club, eat breakfast and get painted up. I'll probably start out with a screwdriver -- I don't like milk punch -- and after that, strictly beer.

Q: Share some more childhood Gasparilla memories.

A: I remember Dad holding me while I tried to pull the trigger on his gun, but I couldn't do it. Miss Florida kissed me when I was a page in the court and my grandfather was the king. I guess I was about 9, and it was a big thrill.

Q: Any idea how many beers you'll consume tomorrow?

A: No, but I'll be eating as many Cubans as possible.

Q: Have you practiced shooting a gun?

A: I'll be carrying my great-grandfather's World War I 38-special. Hopefully, it won't blow up in my face. I expect it will be pretty wild on the boat. I'll put it in the lockbox when we dock. You have to stay on a float if you carry a gun, and I'd rather walk.

Q: Flashing female flesh is part of pirate lore. Will you exact a tribute like the Barbary pirates?

A: I'm not going out of my way to encourage that, but whatever happens, happens.

Q: Who's your favorite pirate: Blackbeard, Capt. Hook or Peg Leg Pete?

A: Jose Gaspar.

Q: Do you have aspirations of being king?

A: Definitely, I'd like to carry on the family tradition.

Q: If you ever have daughters, how will you explain that they can't join the krewe?

A: I wouldn't want my girls around these guys. But they could run for queen.

Q: Do you pirate music?

A: I have never burned a CD.

Q: Your grog of choice, not during parades?

A: Ketel 1 (vodka) on the rocks, dirty.

Q: What would surprise me to learn about YMK?

A: The krewe was started 100 years ago to bring tourists to Tampa, and that's still the goal.

Q: Who or what about the krewe would you like to make walk the plank?

A: I'd like to see the end of the stereotyping that all members of YMK are white, wealthy and successful. We're not.

Q: If you had a parrot, what would you name him?

A: Chucky.

-- To reach Amy Scherzer, call 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com .

Datebook

SUNDAY: Simply Spectacular, Ebony Fashion Fair benefits Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League; 5 p.m.; Tampa Theatre; $30; 229-8117.

THURSDAY: Napa Valley Wine Tasting benefits the Abilities Foundation, a local group helping people with disabilities; 6 p.m., VIP party, $150; 7 p.m., Grand Tasting, $100; Raymond James Stadium; (727) 538-7370, Ext. 345.

THURSDAY: Florida State Fair Fashion Show features Georgette's of Old Hyde Park; State Fairgrounds; 11:30 a.m.; $15; 627-4216.

FEB. 8: Tampa Museum of Art's Magna Graecia exhibition opening; 7-9 p.m.; free to members; $10 for guests; 600 N Ashley Drive; 274-8130.

FEB. 11: Florida Orchestra soiree; home of Janet Cruz & Steve Rifkind; 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40, or $60 per patron reserved seating. Call 926-0099 for details.

FEB. 14: Eighth annual "Stars, Hearts, Fashion & Fun" celebrity fashion show and auction benefitting MacDonald's Training Center; Hyatt Regency Tampa; 11 a.m.; $40; 870-1300, ext. 310.

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