Mermaid Maria: “I was born this way!”

Hey there, Bubblers,

Before I begin, Happy Thanksgiving. What are you giving thanks for this year?

Now, on to the interview:

Mermaid Maria Russo, underwater

In recent years, for me, a question has popped up in my life that is a little bit interesting to ask: Nature vs. Nurture. Are the current members of the Mer community here because we watched a lot of mermaid-related things in our youth which fostered our latent curiosity and imagination? Or Are we here because, as Lady Gaga put it, “We were born this way”? For Mermaid Maria, she thinks we were born this way.
“I love being in the water. I think I’ve always been a mermaid. I was born this way!”

Mermaid Maria is a cheery, relatively young (130 mer-years) mermaid from Texas. Her personality and spirit shine bright like the Texas stars at night.

She is the first public tailmaker (Merman Christian makes his own tails) that I have interviewed! She made her current tail with her best friend and creative partner, Jason Darling.

Mermaid Maria’s, “Candy Tail.” Sweet, Sweeter, Sweetest!

Mermaid Maria (in human form) and creative partner, Jason Darling.

Her current tail is just as happy and beautiful as her personality appears to be. It’s fluke is pink with hints of purple, and the body of it is blue, pink, and purple. The color reminds me of candy. Which is interesting, and makes a lot of sense. Her tail looks sweet enough to make a shark go to the dentist.

The Candy-related pun was not simply me being creative, however. In addition to being a beautiful mermaid, she also does the artistic design for a candy company called Lollyphile, which is specializes in lollipops in a crazy awesome variety of flavors. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FLAVORS (no really….you need to see this… it’s crazy cool.)

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Anywho, back to the mermaid. I asked Maria a question that I don’t usually ask all of the Mers. Or rather, I do ask them, but I rephrased it when I asked her. Often, anything that strays from the normal beaten path of average human life is looked at as weird. Inherently being a mermaid isn’t a mainstream thing. I asked her how she deals with those people that look down at us (as a community) for being mers, and her answer was:

“My experience has been that people respond very positively to the fact that I’m a professional mermaid. I have never followed the rules, if people judge me for that I honestly don’t notice. I’m too busy to focus on stuff like that.”
As a mermaid, and especially as a tail-maker, there is one huge thing that makes Maria and Sirenalia (her Tail-making company) different from the others: she is not very secretive. In fact, she actively shares her experiences and works with other mers to help them make their own tails.

Mermaid Maria in the studio, pouring scales for Mermaid Lyna’s newest Tail.

“My goal as a mermaid is to help other mermaid’s dreams of having a tail come true. I will always share information about how to make your own tails. I strive to find ways to get tails out into the world and on to people who normally wouldn’t be able to own them.”

She is currently a new tailmaker, but I’m looking forward to a lot of promising, gorgeous work from her in the future!

Mermaid Maria, swimming.

To check out the beautiful tails Mermaid Maria and Jason are creating, Click this link here!

To view the transcript, click here.

XOXO
JV

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Types of Tails

Hey Bubblers!~

One of the joyous things about Mer society and Mermaid Lore, is that there are so many variations of tails. Tails are one of the most customizable pieces of our appearances. Throughout history, many mermaids and their tails have been painted, drawn, etched, sculpted, and otherwise artistically represented. Tails can be broken down into multiple categories, which I will attempt to do now.

The first distinction to be made: Fish, Aquatic Animal or Mammal. Fish-like tails are the most common ones represented, but mammals and aquatic animals are rare, but still featured in popular culture. Everyone’s famous drag-queen-esque villain Ursula the Sea Witch and her whiney, less competent sister with a huge complex Morgana (from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and The Little Mermaid 2: Return To The Sea) are prime examples of Aquatic Animal mermaids (Octo-mers, perhaps?)

Ursula from the movie, and Queen Latifah as Ursula for the Disney Dream Portrait series

Sea Princess Azuri: Orcan Mermaid Fashion sketches *copyrighted to Erica Leigh Curry*

As far as Mammalian mermaids, we have very few examples to go off of. We do however have Sea Princess Azuri, a short lived comic by Erica Leigh Currey, (nee Reis) about a betrothed Orcan (human/orca hybrid) Princess that falls in love with her childhood friend and bodyguard. We also have Sora, from Kingdom Hearts, who when in Atlantica (from The Little Mermaid) has a dolphin tail.

Then after you get through that decision, you have to decide: “Hybrid/Anthro or Classic”. The classic design is the most used; it is the design where there is a clear separation between the fish part and the human half. Usually the devision is a few inches below the waist (like Ariel from The Little Mermaid). Sea Princess Azuri, for example, is a fabulous example of an Anthro hybrid mermaid. Hybrid mermaids have no division between the fish and the human. They are blended all over. This is usually a more “monstrous” design. Put simply, if you want a pretty sunbathing siren, go with the Classic design, but if you want to create a monster mermaid, go with the Anthro design.

Next decision: internal workings. Do the bones inside resemble that of a snake, an extension of the spine which would allow them to bend and coil however they please at any of the vertebrae? Or Do they resemble our legs, with a knee bone and 2 thigh bones? Most classic paintings all over the world employ the snake-like design.

The Little Mermaid Statue, erected 1913 in Copenhagen

One of the noted exceptions is the Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen, which celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary this year in August. It is quite clear that this little mermaid is bending at the knee-bone area. However, her tail brings us to the next distinction between tails and tail types.

Zac from Mako Mermaids.

Proportions. These are super-important to me, as a performing Mer. A lot of art depicts mermaids with elongated tails with small flukes, or exorbitantly large fins. The children’s show H2O: Just Add Water (and it’s spinoff series Mako Mermaids) are a fine example of tails that aren’t entirely proportionate to the the human form. While it works for art and drawings, this type of thing can make swimming difficult. Which leads to the final, most vast difference with tail types.

Fluke style and shape. With Fish-like tails, we have millions of designs to chose from. Every fish in the ocean can serve as inspiration for fins and finshape. Most fit into one or more of 7 categories: Rounded, Pointed, Square/Truncated, Lunate, Forked, Indented, or Bi-fin.

Using the chart above, Zack’s tail is a mix between Lunate and Truncated/Square, with a hint of indented. Disney mermaids are Forked Bi-fins (possibly Pointed Bi-fins, this is definitely up for discussion)

Overall, Mermaids have been portrayed a thousand different ways over the course of these hundreds of years. Chances are, out there, there’s a design that fits you the best.

Happy swimming.

Merman Christian: “Protect the Ocean, Protect the Future”

Hello, Bubblers,

A Handsome Merman, Holding a small bottle of some unknown substance.

A Handsome Merman, Holding a small bottle of some unknown substance.

I was lucky enough to score an interview with this pretty handsome merman. Aren’t I just the luckiest fish in the sea?

His name is Merman Christian, he’s 290 years old, in Mer-years. He hails from somewhere just off the coast of Maryland, making him a part of the Chesapeake pod. I happen to know, though, that he is also an honorary member of the New England Pod (my home pod!) as well.

Like many Mers born around the same time, he has loved mermaids from an early age, since seeing The Little Mermaid, which came out in November 1989. He learned the dolphin kick, the most important swimming technique all merfolk need to know, in his grandparents pool. Flashing forward to nowadays, his human self works at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. He makes his own tails, which feature very gorgeous, very large flukes. When I asked him what inspired him to don a tail for the first time, he said:

“Well it started a few years ago when I happened to be on YouTube one day and I just randomly typed in the word ‘mermaid’, and many choices came up, but it was one specific video that caught my eye and it was one of Mermaid Melissa’s, swimming in the clear ocean in her new silicone tail.  I immediately started searching online for other professional mermaids and tail-makers and that’s when I discovered that the whole mer-community existed.”

I also asked him about his tail collection. He currently has only one tail, but is working on adding more, including one that is top-secret. He cites SPLASH (1984 movie starring Darryl Hannah and Tom Hanks) and The Thirteenth Year (Disney, 1999) as an inspiration for his tails. He is working on one based on the Thirteenth Year at the moment.

Merman Christian’s Next Fluke

His message to the world comes in three parts. To the Land People, he tells them to follow their dreams. “You are never too old to discover or re-discover your love for something.  I had some very hard times in the past two years and I can honestly say that this passion that I’ve had since childhood got me through it.” He also reminds them to care for the ocean. “You may never think that by not recycling a simple plastic bag it would never reach the sea: but it DOES.”

For the Merfolk, he had this to say: “Always stay true to YOU.  Don’t copy another Mers’ achievements.  We all inspire each other, but make your character totally your own, something that you can look back and shout ‘SEE! I DID THAT! THAT WAS ALL ME!’ Be unique and don’t’ be afraid to push yourself to go further.”

This very unique Merman will be very busy this upcoming year. It is only November now, but he already has quite a few gigs planned.

Stunning-while-sunning Merman Christian

“In December I will be in a Christmas parade with other Mers and scuba divers, January brings NCMerfest which I’m starting to be more heavily involved in, February I have a 3-day international event where I will be performing in a tank with my mermaid friend Lanai-the New York Mermaid, and then I jet off to L.A. for what maybe TWO photo shoots, one with a very well-known artist in the Mer-world,  plus I have a new website, videos, and two new tails coming out and much more!” What a busy fish he is.

For his fans, he has ever more inspiring words:

“What I would love to say to my fans is that you guys are amazing and you all inspire ME, just as much as I hopefully inspire YOU!  You all are my fishes and I hope that you’ll take what I do and teach and run with it to do amazing things in your lives.  I never expected to receive such support and I hope you will continue to follow me onward as I help Protect the Ocean, and Protect the Future.”

That’s a great slogan. “Protect the Ocean, Protect the Future.” Reminds me like an aquatic version of, “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World.”

In any case, I know Merman Christian will be a crusader for the environment, and a true hero for the sea.

Until next time, Bubblers!~

XOXO, Mer-Prince JV

To view the Full Interview: click here.

Click the fin below to access his Facebook page, and be sure to like him!