Random Reality – Josh Clinton Interviews John Lakness of Pirate Master

Josh Clinton: Hey John. How are you?

John Lakness: I’m doing well. Thanks.

JC: You have an interesting background. You are highly educated and a scientist, but yet you are also an exotic dancer. How did that all come about?

JL: From the science perspective, my grandfather had a double PHD in Mathematics and Physics. He was one of those over excentric professors. He was very much in that “Nutty Professor” mentality. He couldn’t even go to the store by himself. So it’s been in my genetics to be a scientist, and I’ve been programming on computers since grade school. That was so natural for me that it just came about. Of course, then I get into the real world and enroll into school and start to study famous scientists like Richard Fineman, who was a very interesting character. For instance, I was sharing a Biology lab with a guy who was Richard Fineman’s assistant. He said every morning at 8 a.m. Richard Fineman would greet the sun with a session of naked bongos.

But then I started thinking that I loved the laboratory work and all of that, but I needed a new challenge. With science you get longterm appreciation as opposed to instant gratification that you get with an entertainment career, because that is all about making people smile. So I took on this challenge that I wanted to become this famous male entertainer because it was the most unpredictable and outrageous thing that anyone could imagine me doing, and it took me a year to focus on things and learn how to dance and make people smile. I studied dancing and choreography the same way I studied Physics. I turned it into a language that I could understand. I eventually got better and better at it and moved up to Chippendale’s. We go out and make women smile. That is our job. It was so different and so rewarding on an instantaneous level that it satisfied the other half of my dichotomy in terms of my personality and basic human needs. So I felt good about that since it was a challenge I conquered and it was fun to do. To me, though, it was just a challenge and it was fun to do. I don’t think I should be defined by it, but it was interesting.

JC: Cool. Did you consider going on other reality TV shows before Pirate Master?

JL: No.

JC: What attracted you to Pirate Master then?

JL: Pirate Master, I was involved with these guys from Pirates Magazine. I was actually writing for them at the time. Pirates sorta captured my fascination a few years ago. It was about three years ago when I did a personal favor for a friend by modeling for her dressed as a pirate. We put on these clothes and played dress up with me as a pirate and this pirate wench. So that was one thing, but when Pirate Master came around here, it was this chance to live on a ship and do this fantastic voyage. Once again it captured my imagination, because I had been writing for Pirates Magazine. So it was just a chance to live it. As far as I was concerned, the reality TV aspect was a detraction from the total package. But I kinda took that in hand and said “well if I have to do this in order to live out this fantastic experience, I will”.

JC: Right. Why didn’t your mutiny plan work on the first episode?

JL: I don’t think people were ready to take that leap yet. It would have taken a Herculean effort psychologically to change from a mode of being afraid of the captain and being in a safe role. Those people who didn’t get a black spot were safe for one more week and that is all they were concerned about for that moment. The only things I could do to save myself were two things. One, I could do the logical thing and illicite a strong emotion like fear of losing control of the game. In other words, taking the compasses and say that if you don’t keep me in the game you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Stir up the fear of the unknown. But the more important thing, which I started with but (which) wasn’t really shown, was my 30 minute speech about what a pirate ship really was. The pirate ship was essentially the first fashion of de-monarchy in the modern world. Simply because we lived in a society of monarchs for years. The western world was a society of monarchs, pre-Magna Carte, where no one really thought what it would be like to be free. But then a couple of people did and what did they do? They took to the ocean and decided that they were going to declare their independence at all costs. One of those costs was that they had to pawn their ships to make enough money to survive and while they were at it they said to themselves that they were going to have a hell of a time. So I tried to illicit a strong emotion of freedom. But it didn’t really catch at all. That independence didn’t catch on, though. I was a little disappointed by that, but then I said forget about it. That’s when I pulled out the compasses and see if that worked, because I had to pull out something.

JC: Do you regret stealing the compasses now after seeing that it backfired on you?

JL: I think that there is a broad disconnect on what it was that put me in the line of fire. I was going, if I didn’t do something that was extremely bold. It would have taken a Herculean effort to save my ass, just because Joe Don was the captain, was put in this position of command, and wanted me gone. Anyone that stood up to him by not voting me off would have put themselves in tremendous risk. So what you had was a situation where people were scared of the unknown of what Joe Don would do to them if didn’t vote for me. They had gone into Pirates Forum with their decisions in hand and knew who they were going to vote for. Psychologically the human mind has a need for consistency, and they were going to make sure that they followed through with their decision to vote for me for whatever reason. So the compasses were the only thing that I could have imagined that could have changed that. So it doesn’t really make sense to regret stealing the compasses, because I was already dead.

JC: So did you really take them with you when you left the ship and the show or did you have to leave them there?

JL: Oh no, I really took them.

JC: Do you think your team was unloyal to you after you basically won the challenge for them?

JL: I think the expedition was a great time and I did a lot for the team, but the net result was that ‘he did this for us and we made this money but we don’t know what’s going to happen to it.’ So now it’s time to think about ourselves and what this really means. The basic idea is that I don’t blame them for anything they did. I was dangerous to them. You don’t know anything. I think they would have assumed that they would have put this guy in who never really crossed them in any way or came across as a big character. Before Joe Don became the captain, he kinda came across as the big “softie”. There were two things about that. Joe Don just seemed easy to rely on as captain and also Joe Don has anthropology-psychological advantage, because he was taller than everyone else. Physically height is often what determines who people look to as the leader. If people don’t know who should be the captain, they look to the tallest guy and that’s the way it worked out. I pushed for Kendra to be captain, because I knew the way people respond to tall men and the way that any man put in command would think and what would happen to me if Joe Don was out in there. I just thought that Kendra would have made a better captain, because the ship would have ran a little smoother. But in addition, she was the most likely person on that crew to listen to logic. So really I don’t blame them, because things are the way they are.

JC: Right. So do you think Joe Don was a good leader or “captain?”

JL: **laughing** That’s a pretty direct question. It’s funny, because I haven’t really been asked that before and that’s probably a really important one. I think he did a tremendously good job of psychologically dominating the rest of the pirate crew. They were scared and would do anything in the world to not cross this man. He was really good at making it clear that the nails that stick up will be hammered down. So from that perspective, I don’t know if you are familiar with the Zambardo prison study, but basically you take all of these dull people. If you are watching the show, these are a bunch of reality TV contestants, and then they get put into a situation and make a random decision that Joe Don is the captain. So it’s like okay there is a reality TV contestant that is a captain. But we were living on the ship. It was so real to people out there. So he wasn’t a reality TV contestant anymore, he was the real captain. What I’m saying is that he did a tremendously good job of controlling the psychology. So he really did what he had to do in terms of playing the game.

JC: Right. In the preview for the next episode, it’s hinted at that Jay may sell out the others and be an inside man for Joe Don. Did you see signs of that before you got cut from the show?

JL: Yes. I think there were times where Jay started playing the role of crew chief and was put in that position by Joe Don. At that point he started acting in such a way as to make everyone believe that the situation was real. So Jay was really a major part of that psychological situation to say that this was a real ship and not just a reality show. He did a great deal to control that. However, I feel very confident that Jay was playing the game and was still playing it for himself. He didn’t necessarily fall into the role that everyone else did. We had spoken before and made a soft agreement that he could use me and I could use him. But being put in that situation, it became extremely difficult for him. So the fact that he voted against me, I knew that it was okay because I knew what he was up against and he was playing the game very well for himself at the time.

JC: So what do you plan to do next in your real life now?

JL: Well it’s one of things where now that I’m more of a public figure in a small sense, it becomes more and more difficult to go back to the laboratory environment. So now it’s time to introduce into my life a kind of synthesis of all of these analytical and performance type personalities, and a way to leverage that into a sort of independent project. I really can’t say much about it, but it will be very interesting and I will leave you with that.

JC: Cool, well thanks for your time and good luck with everything.

JL: Thank you so much Josh.

Pirate Master airs on CBS on Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT time all summer long.

Pirate Master airs on the CTV network in Canada on Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT time all summer long.

Sir Linksalot: Pirate Master

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