BUT WHY IS THE RUM GONE?
Anguilla, Caribbean 2022
Captain Morgan is a name we all know. The Welsh Privateer, whom the rum brand is named after, was, by all accounts, a menace in the West Indies in the 17th century, raiding many Spanish settlements under the authority of the British flag and then taking the bounty himself. His life was romanticised after his death and he became the inspiration for pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.
His apparent lack of ethics nearly 400 years ago has done Captain Morgan’s owners Diageo no harm, with the brand selling over $500m a year in America alone. Rum brings out the pirate in all of us and Disney made full use of that with the catch phrase of their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise being “But why is the rum gone?”
I wanted to film pirate characters in as authentic a beach bar as I could find. The game of naming one’s favourite beach bar is played worldwide and will always be a deeply personal choice, as with “Death Row meal” or “fishing cabin guests”. In the UK, there are fewer pirates and it’s a world removed from the Caribbean, but my personal favourite bars by the sea are the Applecross Inn in Strathcarron, Scotland and the Sloop Inn near my home in Thurlestone, Devon. Both have a rustic charm and attract clientele smelling of the sea, but Captain Morgan types are rare.
Much further afield, it is worth the trip alone, to visit the renowned beach bar and restaurant Parador La Huella in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay, to see beach entertainment done properly. It is effortlessly magical and has rightly earned its place in beach bar history. I was in Buenos Aires with a friend not too long ago and I said we had to go there for lunch. He did not thank me when, after six hours, we were still an hour away, but when we arrived he was forever thankful. It is that good.
But for this shoot, we were necessarily in the Caribbean and much of the beach side offerings I know are modular, stiff and banal. I wanted raw authenticity and a hint of historically bad behaviour, a place where upon arrival you hope that the walls - or what’s left of them - can talk.
Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve in Anguilla is that bar. It is the sole reason some people come to Anguilla and yet it is hopelessly uncommercial. At times the bar becomes an ‘“Honesty Bar”. Part of its charm is that almost everyone that works there is high.
So, the Dune was where we shot - there was no Plan B. I hope all those that see this photograph, rather wish they were there that night. What could possibly go wrong with that crew? I think everyone did a great job and of course Bankie Banx steals the show. He does not play supporting actor well anywhere, let alone in his own joint.