You know that scene in Working Girl where Melanie Griffith’s character proves that the Trask radio idea was really hers by showing all these little scraps of page 10 and all that other stuff, and so Sigourney Weaver’s character gets totally dissed like she deserves and Melanie Griffith gets a great new job with an office with a window, all because she could track the beginning of her idea? Yeah, this is kind of like that.
So I was reading The Bloggess, like I do, and she linked to this post from thehairpin.com about how Carolyn Turgeon (author of the novel Mermaid and proprietor of the blog I Am A Mermaid) went to Mermaid Camp. I read with delight and amazement about the author’s experience at the “Sirens of the Deep” Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida. The author takes us through the events of the camp, saying that the first day they dress up in their mermaid outfits and pose for pictures. Then, they eat lunch and watch a show put on my the mermaids of Weeki Wachee, and then they try their mermaid moves in their mermaid tails.
The author shares her tale in a funny and endearing way, and I highly suggest you read her account of the experience, and how turtles are really nothing but miniature Godzillas that look like giant roaches and have snake heads and mossy back. Her words, not mine, to those turtle lovers out there. She tells all about Day Two, where they spend pretty much all day in the water, learning how to do mermaid moves and swim in their mermaid tails.
Luckily, there were links to find more information about the two things I was most curious about, the Mertailor, Weeki Wachee and the Sirens of the Deep. Weeki Wachee Springs is an attraction in Weeki Wachee, Florida that features the mermaid show, boat rides, and a water park.
Started in 1947 by Newton Perry, an ex-Navy scuba diver (also known as a “frogman”) who put his knowledge of underwater breathing techniques to use by training pretty girls to do pretty things underwater using breathing tubes. Many famous people have visited the park, which has been owned by ABC (1959-2008), and is now owned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In addition to the tourist attractions the park offers, they also offer lifeguard camps and the Sirens of the Deep mermaid camp, which is the camp Carolyn attended. It costs $250 bucks, and sells out quick because there are only 6 students allowed per class. They fit you with a tail for posing, but it’s unclear as to whether you have to BYOT for the swimming and underwater ballet lessons.
So all of this researching/browsing around took me to the most important part. The Mertailor. The Mertailor is Eric Ducharme – a just-now 20-year old who has been into merfolk since he was a really little kid. He went to see the mermaids at Weeki Wachee at four years old, and was completely hooked (see what I did there?) after that.
Eric is a true success story in that he found something he was passionate about, and learned to make it his career. He started making merpeople tails at a young age, and has now perfected his craft, making very realistic-looking mermaid and merman tails you can buy. A spandex tail will run you anywhere from $175 – $375, a latex tail runs around $630. and a silicone, heavy-duty, super-realistic tail will run you about $2500.
Eric’s work has been used by Disney, by Ripley’s Believe it or Not Aquarium, at Weeki Wachee, and, most recently, by Lady Gaga. His client list is impressive, and for such a young man, he has achieved a lot. Plus, he is a pretty awesome merman to boot (er, tail).
^ that’s Eric showing off his sweet merman moves and and superior merperson tail at the same time.
Lots of people are enthralled with merfolk mythology and folklore, and choose to spend at least part of their time in their tail, in the water. We’ve come a long way from the days of getting made fun of for our Aveda commercials:
and because I couldn’t find a better clip of the next scene, you have to put up with this crappy edit by someone who says they took 4 days to mess up this small clip: