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      'Babes with blades' work to promote reading

      The women of "Swords and Roses" are hoisting the Jolly Roger and enjoying the life of a buccaneer on the side, donning period costumes and fighting with swords.

      It's an unusual hobby with a historical twist.

      The women of "Swords and Roses" are hoisting the Jolly Roger and enjoying the life of a buccaneer on the side, donning period costumes and fighting with swords.

      Maria Romine began the all-female pirate acting troupe 13 years ago after she and her sister attended a sparring class. Click here to watch more on how the group formed.

      Members of "Swords and Roses" fight, sing, act and promote educational messages at venues like libraries and renaissance faires all over the Midwest and beyond. Click here to watch them practice on KHQA This Morning.

      "This was before pirates of the Caribbean, so we've been riding that wave ever since," Romine said.

      Piracy was at its peak in the 1500s, but what you may not know is this all-female troupe of pirates finds its basis in history.

      Female pirates? Did they really exist?

      "They really do exist," Romine said. "Some of the best pirates were the women behind the men. Calico Jack Rackham who became famous as Captain Jack Sparrow was actually backed by two lady pirates dressed as boys named Anne Bonny and Mary Reed. They were boarding pirates, which was a dangerous job. They went onto other ships to take control. They were very successful at that. Another pirate Grace O'Malley, is known for having a baby and then fought the next day. Her men were under attack and were going to give up her ship. She wasn't going to let that happen. She lived to be pirate into her 80s."

      Click here to learn more about the history of female piracy.

      It takes a lot of work to be a pirate. Performers with "Swords and Roses" practice every week to hone their skills from the basics to the more intricate moves.

      "We have what we call fight club to do drills and learn more techniques," Beth Ashby, a member of the troupe said.

      Ashby joined up with the babes of blades a couple years ago. She says the act is as enjoyable for her as it is for her audience.

      "They act, it's a fun show and its something cool to do on the weekends," Ashby said.

      "Swords and Roses" travels all across the region.

      Click here to watch KHQA's Melissa Shriver get a sword lesson from "Swords and Roses" on KHQA This Morning.

      Find information on how to bring them to your area by contacting Elsenpeter Productions at (217)335-3338 or by logging onto www.ElsenpeterProductions.com.