Cynthia: Hello, Marla, please tell us about yourself.
Marla: When I was young I used to hope I would fall into the ocean and turn into a fish, like that movie The Incredible Mr. Limpet. I was very fortunate to have grown up along the California coast where there were plenty of tide pools to keep me busy. I even had a secret cove that I just knew mermaids used on full moon nights. As I got older I never lost my love for the ocean, but my childhood mermaid fantasies were pushed aside as school and work took over. It wasn't until I moved to Florida that I finally made time to do something I had wanted to do most of my life - get scuba certified! Getting scuba certified with my husband was a dream come true and I finally was able to enjoy being under the sea with all the sea life I had always longed to swim with. My only regret is that I waited until I was in my mid 40's to achieve this dream.
|Mermaid Marla - Cozumel|
Marla: Although I have always loved mermaids I never realized that there were people who made tails and swam in them. It was all quite accidental that I even found out about them. A couple years ago after having been scuba diving for several years, I started becoming interested in free-divers as they seemed to be more at one with the ocean, without all of the equipment that goes along with scuba. I started googling monofins to see if I could purchase one to practice with. As I was going through the sites I saw something about mermaid tails with monofins. That definitely peeked my interest! I was shocked and elated to see full on mermaid tails, and the more I clicked the more pictures and videos popped up. Well, I was hooked and immediately started looking into purchasing my first tail and I haven't looked back since. Two years later, I find myself about to turn 50 with two mermaid tails, two more under construction and never happier! What a magical world we truly live in!
Cynthia: You do professional appearances as a mermaid?
Marla: Well I suppose "professional" means getting paid? In that instance I have made several paid appearances and am so grateful to be doing something that people really seem to appreciate! It always surprises me how excited people are to see someone in a mermaid tail because for those of us who are part of this community it seems common place. But I guess if I look back at how I would react, before knowing about these tails, I'm pretty sure I would have been just as excited! I sometimes feel guilty to get paid to do something that is so fun, but in actuality not everyone can do it I guess. People are always surprised that I can swim with my tail and even when I explain that there's a monofin used for the fluke, they still are astonished. If you think of it, the vast majority of people have never heard of a monofin and then to say you are swimming with one doesn't make it seem any easier to them. So I guess what I'm saying is if there are others that ever seem like it doesn't seem right to get paid for "just swimming around in a tail" really look around at the people watching you. Most of them would not be able to do this and even if they could, they are very intimated by just the thought of having their legs bound under water, let alone holding their breath and actually trying to propel themselves forward. This indeed is a very special and unique sort of thing to do.
|Mermaid Marla and fans|
Marla: I don't get to swim in open water as much as I would like. I'm very lucky to have a pool in my back yard, so when I get the urge I can just jump in but it's not the same as the freedom of just letting loose in open water. The two places I have swam so far are The Blue Heron's Bridge in Ft. Lauderdale and The Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, FL. Both had their challenges. Blue Heron is in salt water but I had no problem with the water in my eyes. Salt water is very natural to our eyes so once you're used to it there really isn't any sting. My problem in salt water is that my tail is very buoyant so it was hard to get under and stay under. At Three Sisters Springs the only problem I had there was that the water is a constant 72 degrees which is about 14 degrees cooler than I would like it. Modeling in my tails is definitely fun and of course challenging in itself as you can't just walk yourself to each location. You have to enlist a mertender (my husband coined that term at the WMA). When you see mermaids on rocks and then on the sand and then in the water you can bet that shoot took quite some time as the poor mertender has to constantly pick you up and place you in all those positions! My husband is my personal mertender and none of this would be possible without his love, support and heavy lifting - lol!
Cynthia: Do you do appearances to raise awareness of environmental issues?
Marla: This is one of my favorite parts of being a mermaid. I have always been concerned with our environment and in particular, our oceans and the marine life in them. Putting on a tail really helps to draw attention to these issues in a fun way and also reaches some very important people - the children! Children are of course our future and it is up to us to help them understand why it's important to fix our planet. I don't only appear for environmental issues, but if any group needs attention drawn to raise money I will try to make time to be there. I recently was a part of a local group who were raising money to help people in this area who need help paying for cancer treatments. I helped raise a little money by people donating some $$ to pose with me for a picture.
|Mermaid Marla - Three Sisters Springs|
Marla: Being the type of person I am, not one of my friends or family ever questioned me when I showed them a picture of me in a tail! Everyone who knows me knows that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I never pass up the opportunity to dress up, so putting on a tail seemed quite natural to them. I think it also helps that I have super long hair and some of the comments are, "well it looks like that's what you were meant to be".
Cynthia: What can you tell us about your upcoming trip in June?
Marla: We are planning a very special trip for June as I will be turning 50! I know some people cringe at the thought of turning 50 but I embrace it. I finally seem to be at one with myself and love that I'm swimming around in a mermaid tail at this amazing age! We will be travelling to Mexico and of course will be doing some scuba diving. I will have my tail with me and hope to get some incredible mermaiding shots, if everything works out as planned. Stayed tuned to my website and Facebook page!
Marla: I have had a few instances that my hair has hampered me while mermaiding, but I have learned to deal with it now. I have a beautiful sequinned top I wore a couple times with my gold tail, but it definitely was not long hair friendly. I wound up getting quite a bit of my hair wrapped around those tiny sequins to the point that I had to stop swimming and painfully untangle, which took almost an hour. I also can't wear any bracelets or rings as I have ripped a few strands out getting caught up in them. Other then not being able to wear all the sparkly stuff I love, my hair seems to be fine underwater.
Cynthia: Anything else you would like to share with us?
Marla: I know there are people who may look at me and my age and wonder what the heck am I doing? I think the most wonderful thing about turning 50 is that I am finally comfortable with myself and don't worry about what people think anymore. What I do know is that mermaiding has brought back my inner child that I seemed to have lost most of my life and the truly amazing thing it has done for me is helped me bridge the gap between me and children. Because I don't have children I've never been very comfortable around them, mostly because I have no idea how to interact with them. With mermaiding they are drawn to me and ask me questions and I am having a blast learning how to answer them. For me, being a mermaid has opened so many doors and has taught me that you can always learn something new no matter what age you are.
Cynthia: Thank you, Marla! You are right, you are never too old to get your tail wet!
Best wishes and starfishes,
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com