Riki Robinson – Raphael Tortuga

Born “late December back in ’63” as the song goes, Ronald Richard Robinson – ever Riki to both family and friends – began his life on December 21st, 1963 half a world away in Karachi , Pakistan . A globetrotter by the time he had reached the Third Grade – he had already flown ‘round the world three times with stops, hops, and houses in: the Philippines, Hong Kong, Beirut, Hawaii, Europe, Georgia (of the USA, not Russia), Thailand, and Laos before finally setting down roots to live in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The rest of his childhood played out in that sleepy Greek community with Riki forming strong ties to like-minded friends both at church and in school. He possessed a frame too small to be suited for sports and a hyperactive personality that was prone to bouts of shyness. He turned to a quirky sense of humor and found that the ability to make others laugh – even at himself if not the situation – proved to be the key he needed to unlock social doors and liberate him from all kinds of trouble. And a geek shall inherit the Earth.

One junior college and two universities paved the way to temp services and waitering jobs with the occasional acting class to break up the monotony. Riki’s theatrical experiences waned throughout the 1980′s while he busied himself with the many different vocations that caught his eye. Ever in search of distraction, he enjoyed movies and books with their ability to whisk him away to whatever scenario that he might wish to vicariously step into. In this, Dungeons & Dragons held a broad appeal for the still very impressionable Riki, where he placated his desire to act with the game’s strong fantasy and role playing aspects. It also set the stage for the one of biggest turning points that his life would see.

The year was 1984. It would be the first time that Riki had ever set foot on a renaissance festival site, visiting both the Sarasota Medieval Faire and the Bay Area Renaissance Festival over the course of one weekend, and he was amazed by the spectacle. The sights and the sounds, the tastes and the smells all wove together in a tapestry of sensation that captivated Riki’s as yet unknown desire to set his inner Tortuga free. The following weekend he was working in Largo , Florida as the Elf, and his life would never be the same. The next few years saw Riki become more and more ensconced in the renaissance festival arena. In 1985 he joined the Bronz Dragons stunt team, under whose tutelage he learned and performed various styles of staged combat. There he worked his way up through the ranks, and eventually went on to direct the Largo festival’s Human Chess Match for six years.

By the time 1987 rolled around, Riki Robinson was primed to set both feet upon the road that destiny had long before laid out for him. His two-year friendship with Jef Hall had already morphed into a brotherly bond, and from there it was nothing for them to sit down in a McDonalds near the Florida faire site and hash out the soon infamous details of their fast approaching Twindom. 1990 saw a much bigger change for Riki when Ronn Bauman convinced him to go out “on the road” with him to try their hand at the Renaissance festival circuit. Over the next few years the Tortuga Twins’ home-town success grew to national and then international status, with the circle becoming complete in 1999 when Jef threw his hat into the ring full-time and joined the duo in their escapades around the United States and Canada. Together their lives are a testament to the J.R.R. Tolkien quote that “Not all who wander are lost.”

 

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