Monday, July 30, 2012

Mermaid Marie-Chantal


Today we travel northward for a chat with Canadian mermaid Marie-Chantal... Mermaid, actress, artist, mom, and much more!

Mermaid Marie-Chantal
Cynthia: Greetings, Marie, please tell us a little about yourself.
Marie: My name is Marie-Chantal, I’m 41 years old, I’m French Canadian and I live in the Montreal region. Though I earn a living by several different means, I mainly work as an actress. My entire life has been about learning new things and new skills. I like to try my hand a bit at everything. I love to challenge myself, and I always thrive for new experiences.

Cynthia: How did you first get interested in mermaids?
Marie: I think I was born fascinated by the fantasy world as I was raised by my grand-mama (the woman I called mom all my life) and she had angels, birds & fairies all over her house. They were a part of my daily life. But when I was 4 years old, my aunt took me to see Disney’s Fantasia; little did she know that this would influence my entire life from then on. The scenes from the Pastoral where the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my short life and I’ve decided that this was the kind of world I wanted to live in, beautiful, peaceful and colorful. I became infatuated with mythology and all its fantastic magical creatures.

I was very little when we first moved to the suburbs and got our first pool. I already knew how to swim but, just for safety, I was registered to swim classes. Back in the 70’s in Quebec we didn’t have certifications, we had badges. So I got my very first swim badge when I was 6 years old. That was also the year they aired TV series version of the Japanese anime “Marina the little mermaid”. That was it. I wanted to swim like a mermaid so bad that I started to tie my legs with a skipping rope to get in the pool and practice swimming like a dolphin. I’d practice to hold my breath until I was on the verge of fainting. But it wasn’t until the movie “Splash” came out in 1984 that this became a palpable reality for me, that movie really brought all the magic to life.

Cynthia: Tell us about your work as a costumer and historical re-enactor.
Marie: Mom (my grand-mama) was a professional seamstress and she was working from home, so my entire childhood I watched and learned. At the age of 6, I started to make all my doll’s clothes and by the age of 12, I was making my own clothing for school. We didn’t have the money to buy the latest trends and I was tired of being laughed at and bullied so I took matters into my own hands!

I made my first crinoline gown when I was 12, inspired by Cindy Lauper, and I’ve made my first historically inspired costume at the age of 16 for a huge costume ball that I attended. That’s when I first became aware that there was such a thing as an historical society out there.

I believe I had my first customer at the age of 14; I was commissioned a prom ball gown. The gown was a success so I started to receive more commission work over time. I then went to study in fashion design even though I could have been the one teaching them a thing or two! Hehe! But that piece of paper saying that I was qualified was required to get a better position so I took the class regardless.

I joined the Society for creative anachronism over 20 years ago but it was focused on role playing rather than on historical research, so I left to join a more serious group. At first I was only making historical costumes for fun but then I took a trip to France in 1995 and I was shocked to realize that museum guides were promoting some totally bogus myths just about everything but particularly clothing. That’s when I realized that so many people were miss-informed about their past and culture and so, I made it my personal mission to start educating them the right way. I started to make costumes out of natural fibers, dyed my fabrics by hand with vegetable dyes, cut everything based on archeological findings and hand sewed everything from top to bottom. My public displays and online tutorials became so popular that I started to be commissioned by European museums and historical re-enactors world wide.

Now-a-days, I’m not as much involved with history due to a lack of time but I still enjoy costuming. I make most of my mermaid tails and accessories when time permits.

Mermaid Marie-Chantal
Cynthia: You are also an artist I hear!
Marie: Yes, I think I was drawing and painting before I even learned to walk. Mom was not only a fantastic seamstress but she was also very crafty, so I had access to all the art supplies my heart ever desired. I had the chance to experiment with countless forms of media as a kid, which has opened so many great doors for me my entire life.

I sold my first painting when I was 14. I took dance and ballet lessons most of my childhood. I started to teach aerobics to younger kids in summer camps when I was just 14. I opened my first photo studio with my boyfriend at the time when I was just 19. As I said before, I’ve always been thriving to learn new things so I went to learn photography and how to operate a lab, I took a make-up and hair dressing class so not to have to hire stylists. I had also been modeling since the age of 6 so this was a great opportunity for me to experiment with new concepts, which later brought me to digital photography and digital art.

Cynthia: Who has been an inspiration to you?
Marie: My grand-mama of course, she was an angel on Earth. She wasn’t just very talented; she had the biggest heart and generosity anyone could have. She was extremely religious and she devoted her entire life in helping others through community work, charity and such. And I chose to follow in her footsteps; I now devote half of my time to my community, to charities and to helping wherever and whenever I can. I’ve been a volunteer in a women center and community center for nearly 15 years now. Among other things, I teach art to the elders, French to immigrants, and organize events and benefits for the poor.

Some of the other people that have inspired me were Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci (not for his art but rather for his beautiful inventive and innovative mind), John William Waterhouse, Mother Teresa, Bob Ross, Albert Einstein, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jules Vernes, Terry Fox, Marguerite d’Youville, Socrates and so many more, but there is also my son; Regardless of the difficulties (he’s mildly mentally challenged), he’s always a smiling sunshine!

Cynthia: Do you have any stories from mermaiding?
Marie: Oh goodness! I could write a novel with the bloopers alone! Hehe! But the one thing that never ceases to move me to tears over the years is hearing the hysterical screams of a child in the distance when they first get a glance at me “MOM MOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!! Look, it’s a mermaid mom, a REALLY REAL mermaid!!!” See, I’m crying just writing about it! That’s what makes everything worthwhile, THIS is what the real magic is all about.

Cynthia: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Marie: Over the course of my life I found that I don’t only yearn to learn, I also love to teach. Whatever my field of work or hobbies, somehow they always bring me to teaching others what I know. This is fundamentally part of what I do and who I am. Being a mermaid is no different; it’s all about teaching people to care by not only providing them with useful information but mostly, by opening their eyes and hearts to the beauty of our planet and to the cruel reality that threatens it all. My mission is to get people out of their materialistic routine world and bringing them back in contact with nature in hopes of a better tomorrow. I like to help and get involved wherever help is needed; right now it’s our sharks that are on the critical verge of extinction, so I’ve become a shark defender. I’ve always had a soft spot for the misfits and misunderstood creatures anyhoo, so this is the perfect job for me! ;)

Cynthia: Thank you for visiting with us, Marie! Swim on over and visit Marie-Chantal on Facebook and check out her other cool photographs.

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Far Horizons

We all love the ocean, beautiful yet untamed. But would you give up almost everything you have to spend 3 years living on a small yacht? This is exactly what one family of four did, as told in the book Far Horizons by Elsie Mackie.

The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble where it is described as follows:

The MacGregor family encountered certain death many times. The lives of four members of the family were thrown into chaos when the father had a mid-life crisis. He sold their home, most of their personal possessions, and moved the family to a sloop-rigged yacht.

The wife was trained by her stepmother as a child. She learned to anticipate needs. She learned obedience in fear of punishment. She became dependent on her husband and gave in to his decisions.

Adverse weather conditions, danger from commercial ships, pirates, lack of modern conveniences worked on the family. Escalating incidents unfolded every day. The husband insisted on his own way. The navigational course was aborted when heavy seas and winds crippled the yacht. The captain enforced his demands. His wife, the first mate, feared his tactics. She cherished the safety of her family. The children were five and eight years of age. Join in the adventures aboard Far Horizons.

Far Horizons is also available for the Kindle and Nook. Watch the two minute video trailer on YouTube!

Mountain Mermaid

I recently received a very nice note from Mermaid Loui, otherwise known as The Mountain Mermaid. Originally from Florida, Loui now lives among the mountains of Colorado. In her short note she said, "I was researching mermaid music... and somehow swam right into your blog!" Mermaid Loui also has a blog, so why not stop by and say Hello!


Reader Questions

Do you have a question? Please send it to me at the email address below.

Question: Are there mermaid shops in New England?
Cynthia: I haven't been to New England since the summer of 2009. At that time, there was a small shop in the village of Watch Hill, Rhode Island with a cute mermaid display in the front window (see photo). If anyone currently lives in the area, I would like to know if the shop is still around. I would also like to know if there are other mermaid-friendly shops in New England.

TellTails

We mermaids have become so popular, that we are sometimes mentioned in the description of products that have nothing to do with mermaids. In an article about TellTails, Large Wearable Animal Tails for People, was the phrase, "If a custom made mermaid tail wasn't your thing..." Based in the UK, Kigu sells the TellTails in a variety of styles including Squirrel, Lizard, Lion, Fox, and Lemur. Something different for the Renaissance Faire.

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Mermaid Julie

Today we're traveling back to sunny Florida for a visit with Julie Komenda... Artist, crafter, and mermaid! We mermaids always seem to be busy, and Julie is no exception.

Mermaid Julie
Cynthia: Hello, Julie, tell me a little about yourself.
Julie: I was born in Miami, Florida, where I had great art teachers all through school. I went to the University of South Florida and got my degree in English Lit, so I have a good foundation in mythology and actually had a class on the literature of the occult. That experience made the world more colorful, more symbolic, more layered... Weeki Wachee became home after years moving around the US with my family. Every place we lived - Texas, California, Washington State, Alabama, Colorado, Florida (and more) has it's own unique beauty, which widens and influences my work. I am married with two grown sons.

Cynthia: How did you get interested in mermaids?
Julie: I have 4 sisters, and the name I give myself is Manysisters. I have always loved the Andersen tale, as well as the stories of selkies and other water people. Mami Wata, the Great Mermaid Mother of the Caribbean, permeates the air in South Florida in her subversive, sultry way. We had an above ground pool when I was a child, and of course we all tried to mimic tails with our legs together. I am a huge comic book fan, and Superman had a Mermaid girlfriend, Lori Lemaris. How I wished I was her!

Cynthia: Tell us about your involvement with Weeki Wachee Springs.
Julie: Several years ago I interviewed the Former Mermaids for an article I was planning to do for a magazine. Afterwards, Barbara Wynns invited me over and we became friends. I was able to swim with Barbara and Vicki Vergara Smith in the great Spring and have been hooked ever since.

I wanted to be part of that atmosphere, to have some type of artistic access, so I nagged my way in so they would let me sell a poster of the famous Adagio pose at the 60th reunion. Since then, the State of Florida has taken over the park and provided many volunteer opportunities for me to do art or work on community events. I have been a member of the Friends of Weeki Wachee as well as on the Board, and I love to spread the gospel of Mermaids wherever I go! Currently, I am photographer for Sirens of the Deep Adult Mermaid Camp. Life is good!

Cynthia: You are an artist as well as a jewelry maker?
Julie: Yes -- I am laughing now, because I make myself compartmentalized. Batik is my favorite medium, but I am a painter, sculptor, quilter, fabric designer… if it can hold color or shape I will try anything. My subjects include lots of sports, landscapes, underwaterscapes, dance, corn, flowers, of course Mermaids -- it's all good! I recently started making ceramic beads to use in my bracelets -- sea urchins!

Cynthia: Who has been an inspiration to you?
Julie: I am inspired by my family, which expands and evolves in so many ways. The Former Mermaids, Barbara Wynns and Vicki Vergara Smith, especially, because they guided me through the Spring and empowered me both physically and artistically. I am inspired also by the great illustrators Kinoko Y. Craft and Ivan Bilibin. Craft has kept Faerie alive in her classically rich, beautiful style. I would buy every Celestial Seasonings Tea box that has her illustrations! Carolyn Turgeon is a wonderful writer that keeps me off balance with her twists on familiar tales. Karen Kay is amazing with her ability to draw groups together and make a movement happen. But really, art wise, Comic Books are IT. As a child of seven I went to New York with my family and went to DC Comics on Lexington Avenue where I was greeted with great surprise and treated to a tour of the studio and offices that have informed every thing I do.
Carolyn Turgeon & Julie Komenda

Cynthia: Have you attended or do you plan to attend any mermaid gatherings?
Julie: Every Sirens Camp I get to meet mermaids from everywhere! This was reunion weekend at Weeki Wachee. I could not believe the history and wealth of charm in the park! I would love to go to some gatherings in the US as well as UK.

Cynthia: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Julie: We are our own Mermaids. Tail or not, I felt the Mer-spirit come over me when I accepted that the world will take me as I am, so why not be who I was meant to be? I had a long 20 year break from making art. When the break came, I had my arms elbow deep in dye, and my hands actually remembered that this was where they belonged. My body memory was showing me, through comfort and joy, that my path was before me. And when I jump off the dock at Weeki Wachee, another path opens.

Cynthia: Thank you very much, Julie! You can follow Julie's adventures, in art and mermaids, on Facebook.


News Splash

Mermaid Shelly and this blog were mentioned in a recent article in Shine from Yahoo, 'Shine tries it: the mermaid trend'. In this article by Piper Weiss, the author gets her tail wet and states, 'Breaking news: Mermaids are real. Kind of.'

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Project Seahorse

Here is a great way for everyone to support marine conservation and restoration. As stated on their web site, Project Seahorse is a small organization that supports marine conservation more broadly by working to protect seahorses. Since its founding in 1996, the project team has been recognized with many international awards and honors.

The Project Seahorse web site contains photos, videos, podcasts, and a blog. It is a wealth of information on the seahorse and the many facets of ocean conservation.

The organization's major sponsor is Guylian Belgian Chocolate. I know quite a few mermaids and mermen that are quite found of chocolate. You know who you are! Be sure to pay a visit to the Guylian web site, and find out how YOU can help save our precious marine life.

Guylian is teaming up with NELOS-Festival to host the third Guylian Seahorses of the World Photo Competition. The competition is on now, and runs through September 1st, 2012.


Reader Questions

Question: What does discrete mean in the movie Aquamarine?
Answer: In the context of the movie, the proper spelling would be 'discreet'. The word means judicious in one's conduct, modestly unobtrusive. One that keeps a low profile, so to speak.

When teen-age friends Claire and Hailey find the mermaid Aquamarine in the resort swimming pool after a storm, they mumble something about mermaids being mythical. Aquamarine responds quickly, "We're not mythical, we're discreet!"

In case you're wondering, 'discrete' means separate or distinct, such as an object with 10 discrete parts.

Do you have a question related to mermaids, the ocean, or subjects covered in previous blog posts? Send it to me at the email address below. If I don't know the answer, I might even go so far as to ask Danny Dolphin. He knows everything.


Mermaids & Mythology

The summer 2012 issue of Mermaids & Mythology magazine is out. Articles in this issue include: Top 10 Most Asked Mermaid Questions, Diving Deep to discover the sculptures of Simon Moriss, Finding Mermaids in South Africa, and Modern Day Mermaid Sightings. For subscription information and other details, please see the magazine's web site.

If you have the summer issue, be sure to look for me on page 38!

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

News Shell 3

To my surprise, today's News Shell was delivered on time, and to its proper place. It appears that the news merboy knows that I've been blogging about him. Let's see what we find in today's edition.

What? No Mermaids?

Everyone has been talking about mermaids recently. As you have probably read, NOAA responded to the Animal Planet program about mermaids by publishing a statement that basicly boils down to 'mermaids do not exist'. As a mermaid myself, this is a bit of a letdown. In any case, the result of the NOAA announcement has been an increased interest in mermaids. This is good news for mermaid bloggers like myself! A large number of publications have posted related articles. Here are just a few of them:

One of the first related articles I saw was from Gizmodo. It has the very dark sounding title, 'Swimmable Mermaid Tails Are an Embarrassing Way to Drown'. The short article mentions Monika Naumann of 3-Fins, one of the many vendors creating swimmable mermaid tails.

A very similar article about Monica can be found on the io9 web site under the much brighter title of 'Live out your mermaid dreams with these swimmable tails.'

SFGate, a blog by the San Francisco Chronicle, provides us with a short history of mermaids in popular culture, complete with a photo gallery. The title of the article is, 'U.S. Government: There are no mermaids.'

Author and columnist Varla Ventura wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled, 'Mermaids: Aquatic Facts About the Sirens of the Sea.'  Varla has been researching mermaids for her upcoming book. In the Huffington Post article, Varla gives a brief history of mermaids including facts and legends. A very interesting read!

But what do the mermaids think of all this? In a recent Facebook post, Mermaid Linden Wolbert of Mermaids in Motion posted an under water photo of herself with the comment, 'NOAA, I disagree. Mermaids do exist :)'.


Under Water Texting

In an article targeted to divers, but just as important for mermaids, Bookofjoe introduces us to the 'World's first iPhone case that lets you text under water.'  The article explains that while a number of protective cases exist that let you take your phone under water, this one allows you to actually use the touch-screen.

If you should buy one of these, I would love to receive an under water text from you!


Mer-Pigs

If you are an Angry Birds fan and have not downloaded 'Angry Birds Seasons' as yet, now is the time to do so. Those with Apple devices can download the program for free for another few days. When you launch the app, you are given a choice of 2011 or 2012 seasons. Choose 2012, and get ready to laugh out loud. The first world is called 'Piglantis' and the icon shows a pig with a fish-tail. Merfolk ARE everywhere.

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mermaid Lorelei

For today's blog post, we will be chatting with the very talented Lorelei Mermaiden. In addition to her role as a mermaid princess (and what mermaid wouldn't want that job!), she is also part of the group, Mister Mac and The Mermaids. Please join me in welcoming Lorelei to the blog!

Lorelei Mermaiden
Cynthia: Greetings, Lorelei, tell me a little about yourself.
Lorelei: Most of you know me by my stage name, Lorelei Mermaiden, but my real name is Jennifer Ellison. I was born and raised in San Diego and absolutely love it here! I don't like any vegetable that starts with the letter "a", I'm a die-hard country music fan, I play guitar, ukulele, piano, and love to sing in the shower. Also, my favorite candy is Reese's, just in case you ever run into me and need a favor.

Cynthia: How did you get interested in mermaids?
Lorelei: It all started when I was young and first saw "The Little Mermaid". I was obsessed with Ariel. I mean, come on, what little girl doesn't dream about one day becoming a mermaid? There's just something so magical and glamorous about the unknown waters. I remember putting on a play in preschool where I was chosen to play Ariel, and that's when I discovered my love of singing and performing.

About five years ago, I auditioned to become a children's entertainer that portrays Ariel (among other princesses) at little girls' birthday parties, and got the part! To date, I've performed at over 500 events for children and adults alike and I have to say, every single party is rewarding and memorable. I wouldn't give it up for the world, but let's be honest- I can't be a princess forever!

Naturally, my job as a princess led me to meet other talented performers and somehow I ended up becoming friends with Thom Shouse on Facebook. If his name isn't familiar to you, his work is! He created the mermaid tail for the popular mermaid movie "Splash!". I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of his mermaids for a photo shoot last year and am so grateful to call him my friend!

Mister Mac & The Mermaids
Cynthia: Tell us about Mister Mac and the Mermaids.
Lorelei: Our tagline says it all- "the world's only Pirate and Mermaid Band" (Though if you see our show, the mermaids will argue that it is the world's only Mermaid and Pirate Band).

Mister Mac is a beloved pirate entertainer standing almost 7 feet tall. He sounds intimidating but It's hard not to instantly adore him. Mac is great friends with Thom Shouse, too, and that's how we met. Mac wanted to add a little something extra to his show to give him that extra edge and appeal more to kids. Finding a great white shark that sang and was available for gigs seemed difficult- and dangerous- so he settled with mermaids.

Avalon Fynn is the other mermaid in our band. She is played by singer/actress/model Ashely Rowlett, who has a background similar to mine. Our love for performing and interacting with kids is what makes our act so magical!

We sing original songs written by Mister Mac himself, as well as some popular cover songs about life at sea. I even play the ukulele! Although our show is geared for the younger audience, it can be tailored for any event.

Cynthia: How did family and friends react to you turning into a mermaid?
Lorelei: It sounds weird, right? Including "mermaid performer" on a resume isn't something I thought I would ever do! I often get the impression people assume I'm just dressing up and flopping around for fun. It's a paid gig for me, but the real reason I enjoy it so much is because of the kids.

Both, girls and boys are enchanted when they meet me for the first time. I can see in their eyes that they truly believe I am a real mermaid. Just like Santa does, I make sure to spend a little time with each child that comes to visit me. Some of them just stare at me with wide eyes and dropped jaws. Others are very clever and have intriguing questions. My favorite so far- "If you're a mermaid, how do you pee?"


Cynthia: Have you attended or do you plan to attend any mermaid gatherings?
Lorelei: Yes! Mister Mac and the Mermaids has really taken off and we've already had several bookings this year. We debuted our show at the Pirate Festival in Vallejo, CA a few weeks ago and just finished up performing at the Long Beach Pirate Invasion. Our next show is on the 4th of July for CBS Studios!

We are available for bookings all over California, and are willing to set sail to other states as well! For booking information, please visit our website.

Cynthia: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Lorelei: There are many people who have helped to make our vision for Mister Mac and the Mermaids a reality. I want to take a quick minute to thank everyone who donated to our Kickstarter project. Without your support, we would just be a marooned pirate and two mermaids tanning on a dock. Hallows Keep Creations has also been a huge supporter or ours. They fabricate pirate and ocean themed props and created our mermaid rocks and the seaweed we hang on our microphones. And last but not least, a huge shout out to our dear friend, Thom Shouse, "The Tailman" whom we love dearly. Hugs and fishes! xoxox.

Cynthia: Thank you very much, Lorelei! You can visit Lorelei Mermaiden on her Facebook page. Mister Mac and The Mermaids also has a web site, a Facebook page and a YouTube page!


News Splash

From Mermaid Kariel, Hawaii

This full moon brings with it a huge wave of excitement for Kariel's world. Her online store is about to launch where she will be premiering her new skin care line which will bring out the inner Sea Goddess in you. So get your sand dollars to the ready and visit www.merchandise.com. All products are also available for wholesale, so let us know if you'd like Mermaid Kariel's products in your store.

This tide also brings with it a Mer from afar, Kariel is excited to announce she will be sponsoring British Lauren Ashcroft to work for her company. We will keep you updated as the company continues to grow and thank you for your continued love and support.

From Mermaid Cynthia

Just yesterday I found out that my friend Diana has started a blog. While this will probably not be true for all future installments, the first installment is about mermaids!  She was inspired by the recent news that the US organization NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has declared that 'mermaids do not exist.' See what Diana has to say about that!

Best wishes and starfishes,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com