Exclusive Interview: John Lakness, 1st to be cast adrift on Pirate Master
Exclusive Interview: John Lakness, 1st to be cast adrift on Pirate Master
Say what you will about the first episode of Pirate Master (some liked it, others not so much), but at least the casting was interesting.  A Rupert look-a-like, the Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye, and Jon Lakness, a scientist by day, exotic dancer by night.  Lakness dances for Chippendales, and was the first contestant to be cast adrift on Pirate Master.  Lakness took some time to speak with us after his elimination, and viewers might be surprised at a couple of the man's answers.

Below you will find both the written transcript and the full mp3 audio of the interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up on Pirate Master? Was it something you actively tried out for?

Pirate Master was a project that actually kind of came to me in a very opportune time in my life. I was ending one scientific job and I saw this thing coming along. It actually…I got an invitation from a Cancer Pirates Magazine to send in a video and all kinds of things and they found out that I was a scientist/Chippendale and all this stuff so apparently that was interesting to them and I was interested in being a pirate because I’ve kind of been fascinated with the life for a while and everything just sort of fell right into place.

Are you a fan of Survivor? What were your expectations when you came into the show?

I don’t really know a great deal about Survivor.  I really never watched an entire season or even more than an episode before this, before I went out and what I was expecting was something totally different so I thought “Oh, you know, I mean, I didn’t even study up on Survivor and things like that.”  Turns out I was wrong. Interestingly enough there was many parts of the social game that I couldn’t match a whole lot better obviously but I was thinking more in terms of logic so for instance, it could be logical puzzles, sort of mathematical about how to divide money, things like that.  Okay, if you’ve heard about the pirate logic problem and you know, well anyway that’s sort of the side thing. But the main thing that I was expecting was a lot of hard work and just general difficulty with getting the ship going. And I expected just tremendous challenges physically in the expedition and all kinds of things like that. So, you know, my preparation was more like sort of physical, you know. Taking my fitness from a 9.5 to a 9.9 and you know in terms of just being to run fast.  So, it didn’t really make a tremendous amount of difference in that regard and so the things that I was expecting were like, okay, the ship needs to get somewhere so we have navigational skills, survival skills on the ocean. You know, all kinds of general competencies that would be required on a pirate ship, you know, sailing and all kinds of things. It turned out we kind of had a ghost crew in production that was actually getting us there and you’re really…the basic idea was that the show must go on, so we didn’t need that kind of an element. We didn’t have that much of a particular challenge in terms of like, if the food was going to be there, it was going to get delivered. There was nothing we could do about that, necessarily. You know, there was very little we could do to ameliorate our situation in terms of how much we ate and whether we found the treasure or not because, you know, like I said, the show must go on, the treasure will be found. And the boat will get to the point where the treasure is and it will run smoothly and that was kind of the way it works.

For those who watched the show last night and saw that they called you a scientist/exotic dancer, can you explain where you are in both of those fields and how you kinda got into it?

Okay, well the scientist is sort of part of my blood, my grandfather was a double Ph.D. in math and physics and he worked on thermonuclear weapons programs and things like that and it basically…it’s just always been a part of my life. I’ve been programming since I was in grade school, computers that is, and basically I felt like that was sort of there but I needed a new challenge. I needed a new mode of expression and kind of a way to get out there and do something completely different and unexpected and Chippendale’s was the one thing that the world would never, ever expected that I would have been able to do and so the things they’ve taught, I’ve brought this whole dance idea and the whole entertainment idea and, you know, in terms of how to sort of you know, go out there and just put on a show and turn it into a language I understood and make little choreography, notation, and things like that and just really study it like I’ve studied physics and it turned out that I really got into it. So, in terms of science, you know, it's still something I love doing and as an entertainer you know, I’ve gotten there, I still like doing it, but it is something that I’ve kind of conquered and in both of those fields I’m definitely ready for a new challenge and so hopefully it’ll be some kind of a synthesis of both and I’m trying to push for new projects, and just kind of something new and totally unexpected, as you might expect.

For last night’s show, watching it at home, what did you think of the way you were portrayed? Were there any sort of editing tricks that they used? Were there things that you wish they have shown that they didn’t?

The thing in Pirates Court I hadn’t…I probably spoke for half an hour. You know, just one speech is kind of going on about a whole lot of things. This show to me was not necessarily about the treasure that’s out there, and just you know, the dynamics of the social game and things like that because I didn’t know what to expect and so the one thing I looked to was pirate history, which was sort of…the difference between the pirate ship and the Royal Navy. And I think Mark Burnett had in one of the previews for the show sort of alluded to this, but one of the things that really pushed was the idea of independence and freedom and that was why we should have mutinied. And that wasn’t shown. The thing that really struck me about myself in terms of what they were showing from a personal perspective was the overbearing arrogance and I…you know, when I went out on the thing, I knew that was going to happen because I had as much fun as I could with it. You know, how many chances do you get to go out and be a wild, completely zany, off-the-wall pirate that is not only, you know…he’s not only a little bit eccentric but also arrogant and every little bit of psychology that you don’t really get to express in your everyday life in a cubicle job and you know, locked up in a science laboratory with people that don’t want to see anything more than just nose to the grind stone. That’s when I came out and showed and it was just fun, I had fun with it and I hope that people understand that instead of saying, “This guy is an arrogant asshole.” And I hope…I don’t know if you could air that but…

We sure can.

Okay. But I hope that they understand that it was a situation that I could do that and I had fun with it and it was a fantastic opportunity to do that and that’s kind of the way I played. As far as the camera interviews and a lot of the things I was doing, it was just fun, you know. I went out there thinking, “We’re going to go out there and just have a grand old time,” and in a person who has the most fun with it is happy with whatever circumstances come at him and is going to come out the winner, you know, financially as well as personally.

Did you actually keep those compasses?

Yes, I did pull the compasses out. You know, I…at this point I left the ship thinking…you know, I find importance with the compasses which was probably greater than they actually were because the show must go on. So, whatever they need to do the expeditions, they’re probably going to get but at that point in time, the very best chance I had was to try and tell people that it was important. It doesn’t matter how important those compasses actually were, it’s what people think they were and the very best chance I could come up with was to assign an importance to those compasses.

We appreciate you stopping by and thanks for the time. Any final thoughts? You got anything coming up in your personal life that you’d like to talk about?

No, actually the world will have to wait for some of these things. That’s all I can say about that.