Editor’s Note: Jedi Knights – believe it or not – are the 4th largest religion in Britain and are now seeking official recognition from the UN.
A Jedi Order Establishes a New Temple — in Lower Manhattan
Illustration: Jessica Hische
General sun wants coffee with a double shot of espresso. General Kalius A’dar will take a black iced tea. Cyran Oghma is all set, thanks. “Anything else, you guys?” Master Flynn asks the others assembled. As the founder of the New York Jedi, Master Flynn (no last name) knows mind tricks don’t work in Starbucks. You can’t order telepathically, and you still have to say “venti” when you really mean extra large.On Tuesdays, Master Flynn and his Jedi posse squeeze into a few corner tables in this busy café before heading to lightsaber training at a dance studio down the street. Sessions can be grueling, starting with meditation and yoga poses before moving on to choreographed swordplay.
“Star Wars is all about the hero’s journey,” says General Sun, an intense, goateed red-head in a tight green T-shirt. He sips carefully on his supercharged coffee. “Get that lightsaber in your hands and suddenly you’re like, ‘Hey, maybe I can be a hero, too!'”
In the Star Wars universe, a Jedi fashions a lightsaber by packing Adegan crystals into a handle with a power cell. In the New York Jedi galaxy, knights order them for $150 to $700 a pop from a guy upstate. Some Jedis arrive at Starbucks with their weapons slung across their backs, like mendicant samurai. Others, like Master Flynn, use a guitar case, gangster-style.
“Dude, I am soooo digging this new saber,” Cyran Oghma says. He wields a 40-inch-long polycarbonate rod loaded with LEDs and sporting a hilt of welded carbon steel coated with plastic from a truck-bed liner, glass “jewels,” and random electronic circuitry. “Sweet,” he says. Cyran Oghma cuts the Starbucks air with practiced chops, then strikes a ready pose. The couple at the next table quietly close their laptops and leave.
“The thing is, when you hold a lightsaber, you want to use it!” says General Sun as he flips the switch on his lightsaber. It powers up with the signature hum of voltage, like an electric razor on mescaline, and the tube radiates solid white. “So the new ones have the noise chip, and they’re thicker,” he says. “They’re made for dueling.” Behind him, the other customers glance nervously at the growing circle of swordsmen and their blades.
“The nerd element of being a Jedi is pretty obvious,” Cyran Oghma says. “We’re all huge nerds. But it’s more than that, more than Star Wars. If you base yourself on a character who has high personal ethics and a high level of skill and confidence, there is no way that’s not going to influence who you really are.”
By day, General Kalius A’dar is an unemployed technical director for theaters, Master Flynn installs home theater components, General Sun is a professional dancer and Monkey Kung Fu instructor, and Cyran Oghma teaches Western fencing and Philippine escrima style swordplay for actors. But on Tuesdays, they’re Jedi Knights.
Cyran Oghma describes his persona as a sort of drunken poet Jedi. “Like Jack Sparrow meets Cyrano,” he says. With his wild eyes, scraggly goatee, and long hair pulled back in an Anakin Skywalker meets Gene Simmons thing, he’s rather convincing. Also, Cyran Oghma is actually acting a little drunk. “Most people, you know, saw the movie as kids,” he grins. “And they saw that lightsaber, and they were like, ‘Yes. I want one!’ It’s just a cool, cool weapon. And then their dad had to explain that it wasn’t real. But now…”
Cyran Oghma powers up his customized weapon. It glows brightly. It makes that whooshing noise. And at 6:15 pm in a Starbucks not so far away, a new hero is born.