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Brizo Isleña

Brizo was born Maria Elena Gonzalez Gandara on Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands. The daughter of farmers, little Mari longed for something “more than this provincial life.” When a pirate ship from Sevilla stopped ashore on its way to the Caribbean, helmed by a beautiful crew of Spain’s most daring “outcasts,” Mari knew this was where she belonged. She joined them that day and quickly became adept at boarding ships, dancing rumba, and fighting on the open seas for those who Imperial Spain had imprisoned, enslaved, and abandoned. She worked her way up the ranks faster than any pirate before her, becoming a kind of Robin Hood of the Spanish Caribbean (though red flattered her so much more than green…), starting love affairs and tavern brawls with all sorts across the Spanish- and English-speaking worlds, and always remembering to send delicias home to her family when she could. Over the years, her pirating prowess, romantic rendezvous, dazzling dance moves, and devil-may-care attitude, gained her infamy as a capable but “villainous” pirate captain.

By Andrew Lesny

One fateful day, after a long trip back across the Atlantic from Cuba, an unexpected storm sent Mari’s ship off course toward the Islas Británicas. Thinking a strong ale would do her storm-tossed crew some good, she dropped anchor in London and sauntered into her favorite British pub. Around pint number three, a couple of buxom women in purple and green approached her with command in their steps and swords on their hips. Mari knew immediately that she would listen to just about anything they had to say.

“You’re the captain of La pícara española, are you not? Our team of mercenaries-turned-performers is looking for more swordswomen, and we think you’d make a great fit, if you know what I mean.” Mari laughed from her belly and tossed the barkeep a few escudos. She called out to her incredulous first mate, “Oye! The ship is yours! My next adventure—my next familia—is calling.” And with that, she followed Athena and Persephone out of that bar and into the Vixens En Garde. From that day, Mari took the name Brizo Isleña—the fierce and flirtatious buccaneer who would never forget her small-town-outcast island roots.

Favorite Causes/Organizations:
Community and Activism for LGBTQIA+ People of Color

The Audre Lorde Project

By Frank Tirrell Photography
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