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ANNE BONNY:

BUTCH BUCCANEER

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By 18, Anne Cormac was already a fierce-tempered, hard-drinking gal, who had a bad reputation for being rebellious. Like the time she knifed her maid to death five years earlier on her father's Charleston, S.C. plantation.

As an adult in the early 1700s, she sought to bolster that image. The legends of her early exploits (such as beating suitors nearly to death, shooting peoples' ears off, and humiliating her fencing teacher by publicly stripping him naked with her own sword), were only the beginning of her illustrious career as a South Seas pirate of the swarthiest caliber.

When she eloped with pirate James Bonny, who had his sights set on stealing Anne's father's plantation, her father disowned her. She retaliated by burning down his plantation. The couple skipped to British-controlled New Providence in the Bahamas. When Anne discovered her husband to be a traitor, coward, and a government snitch, she dumped him and sought the company of a group of pirates who--so the story goes--swung "port," as well as "starboard."

Escaping matrimonial tyranny, Anne met up, and sought refuge with Calico Jack Rackham, a perfumed and effeminate pirate who fancied frilly clothes and the company of women over that of masculine ruffians.

After a night of drunken debauchery with her new pirate pals, an enraged James abducted Anne, and delivered her naked to the governor. She was charged with the felonious act of marital desertion. Anne escaped, and again caught up with Jack. Disguised as a man, she officially joined his pirate crew, and set sail upon the high seas to pursue her pirate career.

Although the exploits of Anne Bonny are too numerous to mention, her first set the tone for her career. After hearing from one of her gay pirate friends, Pierre the Pansy (yes, he was real), that a fully loaded merchant ship would soon be sailing by, they set into action one of the most bizarre acts of piracy ever witnessed.

Anne, Pierre, and other thugs stole a boat and doused the sails with buckets of turtle blood. On the bow, they lashed a dressmaker's dummy clothed like a woman, also splashed morbidly with blood. With Anne similarly bloodied, and wielding a beheading axe, the crew sailed the boat quietly under a full moon and pulled alongside the merchant ship. The merchant crew was so frightened they gave up without a fight.

In an ironic turn of fate, while on-board Calico Jack's ship, Anne fell in love with Jack's lieutenant "Mark" Read. Legend has it Anne burst into the lieutenant's cabin one day, stripped off her shirt exposing her breasts, and proclaimed her love. Lieutenant Mark (actually Mary) Read, similarly removed her clothing, and both realized there wasn't a man between them and the bunk, which they eagerly climbed into.

Soon after, the pair no longer bothered with costuming themselves as men, and felt free to murder and pillage proudly as lesbians. Not content to be second in command, Anne liberated Calico Jack's private quarters for herself, but allowed him to save face and retain his Captain's command.

However, one day in 1720, one Captain Barnet attacked Calico Jack's ship in order to subdue the pirates. While Anne and Mary are said to have fought like savages against the attackers, Jack and his crew hid below decks and cowered in fear. This outraged the women, and while fighting off the enemy alone for two hours, they also began shooting their own crewmates, even wounding Calico Jack for his cowardice.

Eventually, all survivors onboard were captured and brought ashore to be hanged. Knowing they faced execution themselves, Anne and Mary begged to be spared, and lied that the two were pregnant. Since it was illegal to hang a pregnant woman at the time, their lives were spared for having "plead their bellies."

Mary died in prison of fever, but eventually Anne was granted a reprieve. After that, the daring lesbian pirate Anne Bonny mysteriously disappeared, as if she dropped off the face of the earth. JOHN DOOLEY

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