By Donna Beth Weilenman
Martinez News Gazette
Special to the Herald
Usually Justin Vorhauer strolls the Northern California Pirate Festival as a character familiar to those who like pirate history – or rum.
He has portrayed Henry Morgan for the past three years, working alongside such other famed historical pirates as Grace O’Malley, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach and the noted trio of “Calico” Jack Rackham and his female cohorts, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
But this year, he’s been promoted from captain to king. He’s portraying Poseidon, king of the sea.
Festival organizers knew Vorhauer had the right attire for the job. He’d made most of it when he competed in a beard and moustache competition. And, he said, he has “the right attitude.”
Once he knew he had the role, he decided to upgrade his appearance, adding scaly makeup using secrets taught by the mermaids, and a new crown with such features as real barnacles, a fossil megalodon shark tooth and sting ray leather.
A friend fabricated the trident, “the real deal,” he said, and his herald announces his presence with a conch shell trumpet.
Like the historical pirates will have, Poseidon will have collectible cards he’s giving to children, and he meets the crowds throughout the day.
“I have some photo appointments at the mermaid tank – alas, not in!” he said, and he joins Blackbeard in judging the children’s costume contest.
He also was the emcee at Saturday’s Buccaneer Bash.
“I’ve been a pirate for well over a decade, and have been coming to ‘NorCal’ since its inception,” Vorhauer said.
As Morgan, he portrayed a ruthless but jovial captain who prided himself on staying on the good side of the British.
“I enjoyed the contrast, playing him with the other pirates, because while I could carouse with the best of them, when the hangman came calling with the Governor, I wished the pirates the best of luck and watched them scurry off,” he said.
“The chance to play Poseidon was something different, and I was more than happy to make the switch to help my favorite festival add another element of wonder,” he said. “My interest in him goes back to my love of mythology. Poseidon was always my favorite of the gods. He is powerful, but extremely temperamental. My friends would be able to attest to why that appeals to me.”
He also cuts an imposing figure on his own, standing 6 foot 8 even before he adds the features that turn him into the king of the sea.
In his everyday life, he teaches language arts at a middle school. So Vorhauer takes advantage of the vacation time to indulge in his hobbies, from pirate events to pop culture conventions and facial hair competitions. He also takes time to travel and to organize or participate in charity events, including his own Pirates and Paws charity fundraiser for animals.
Whether as Morgan or a sea king, Vorhauer said he’s glad to be part of the festival, which is in its last day today. “This festival is hands down the most fun for everyone I’ve had the pleasure of attending, and it is an extreme honor to be asked to play an increased role in that legacy,” he said.
The Northern California Pirate Festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the Vallejo Waterfront Park, 298 Mare Island Way, Vallejo. Admission is $12 at the gate and free for those 12 and younger when they accompany a paid adult.
By Donna Beth Weilenman