It’s a pirate’s life for Capt. Jack Spareribs
Ryan Summerlin May 28, 2014
Among the more than 900 performers who will take part in the festivities at the Valhalla Renaissance Faire will be a 52-year-old Capt. Jack Sparrow look-alike with a monkey puppet and a taste for magic. Ace Miles, Capt. Jack Spareribs, performs during the pirate-themed second weekend of the fair. Miles doesn’t take his act lightly. He has the tattoos and gold teeth to prove it. Here’s what he had to say about life on the seven seas:
Q: So, how long have been a pirate?
A: I’ve been a pirate pretty much since I was six and I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. It was the second year that they had the ride open.
What appealed to you about the ride?
You know what? I don’t know. It was just one of those things. I just liked the special effects, basically. I really thought everything looked very real. It was just amazing to me and I remember being in awe. I had just seen where President Lincoln stands up and talks and stuff, and I thought this was even better because there were cannons and a pirate ship and the fire was amazing.
Where did the character of Capt. Jack Spareribs come from?
I am a parody or spoof of Capt. Jack Sparrow, obviously. If you’ve seen what I look like, I look very much like Johnny Depp’s character with minor changes in the fact that I have a rather large nose compared to his, and things like that, that actually make me look humorous. It blends well with what I do. I do magic, I do juggling and I do ventriloquism. Usually I do the ventriloquism with a monkey named Maynard, a sort of Muppet-style puppet with a big head and that kind of thing. Now I’m even doing ventriloquism with a volunteer from the audience. I dress a guy up like a pirate and make him talk, and comedy ensues.
With all the audience participation you have in your act, is there anything funny or unusual that’s happened onstage?
Oh yeah, there’s always unusual circumstances, from a little kid that decides right in the middle of the show that he has to go pee, and he’s standing there doing the dance, like “Mommy,” everything from that, to you pick the wrong guy. At a Renaissance fair, maybe they had a wee too much ale. In general everything goes fine. I’ve never had any real bad problems with audience participation.
You juggle a lot of different items in your act. Is there one object that’s more difficult to juggle than the rest?
Not really. The fire is pretty dangerous now because I’m wearing long dreadlocks, and I have long clothing and sashes and things. So the fire is definitely more dangerous now. It’s not necessarily more difficult because once you can juggle three things you can pretty much juggle anything. I can juggle a bowling ball and an egg and a knife at the same time. The bowling ball is obviously more difficult because it’s heavy and an egg is difficult because it’s lightweight, but it’s not really, you know, any different form juggling anything else. I don’t juggle five things. I’m not that fancy. I just do the dangerous, fun, funny stuff. I leave all the fancy stuff to the guys in the circus because I also do magic and the ventriloquism. I just cover my bases.
Your wardrobe is pretty elaborate, what does your closet look like?
(laughs) It’s all just pirate gear. I got rid of my tuxedos and all that magic stuff ages ago, and now, literally, I have decided I am a full-time pirate. I’ve got the tattoos. I’ve got gold teeth that are real. My beard has actually grown out that way. I don’t glue it on. So I look like this no matter what. I don’t always dress the full stuff. I always wear like a bandana on my head. Now I can’t hide it so I don’t even try to.