Our mermaid guest today lives in Florida and has close ties with the Renaissance and pirate cosplay communities. Please help me welcome Mermaid Jill to the blog!
Cynthia: Tell me a little about yourself, Jill.
Jill: I grew up in Northern New Jersey. I never really swam up there. My grandparents had moved to Fort Myers before I was born. We would constantly be visiting them, so I grew up swimming off of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel.
|Mermaid Jill - by Valiant Heart Photography|
Cynthia: How did you first get into mermaiding?
Jill: I was constantly in the water growing up. My grandparents had a pool in their backyard for years. I was also fascinated with marine life. I'm allergic to most furred animals so I looked in another direction, one where allergies wouldn't be a problem. That, combined with seeing Disney's The Little Mermaid in theatres when I was just two, and terrified by Ursula. My cousin and I would always pretend we were mermaids, seals, or dolphins while swimming. A few years back I met Mermaid Raven at the Tampa Bay Area Renaissance Festival. I was working in a shop that sold bellydance clothing, and she was a rose girl. She was friends with my boss, who would buy flowers from her nearly every day. We hit it off and through Raven I discovered I could realize my dream of being a mermaid.
Cynthia: Tell me about your work on the Indian Princess.
Jill: The Indian Princess is a paddleboat that runs off of Fort Myers Beach. I tend bar on that boat, as well as the Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruises. The Pieces of Eight is a bit more mermaid friendly, we even did a special skit for Valentine's Day where the captain had captured me and wanted a tear, inspired by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
|Mermaid Jill - by James Teeter|
Cynthia: You are also involved with pirate cosplay?
Jill: I do pirate, mermaid, and renaissance 'cosplay'. I'm slowly building my Steampunk repertoire as well. My parents took me to Renaissance faires when I was a child, my brother and I became obsessed. The obsession only grew as my seamstress grandmother encouraged us and eventually taught me to make my own costumes. That eventually led to a job working at renaissance faires all over the country, and was part of the reason I snagged my job on the Pieces of Eight pirate ship.
Cynthia: Who other than family has been an inspiration to you?
Jill: Science in general and the wonder of the oceans. When I was younger I had the great opportunity to attend Seacamp for a few summers. It's a delightful summer camp in the Florida Keys that is focused on Marine Biology. I was absolutely fascinated by sea creatures. For a long long time I had even wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Funnily enough, I even attended one of the best colleges for Marine Biology in the United States, Eckerd College, though I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Theatre. Young children also provide a wonderful inspiration. Anytime I swim along Fort Myers Beach little children come running up and asking me all sorts of questions. I love seeing their faces when a mermaid offers them a seashell and takes a picture with them. Frequently they run back to their parents and say, 'I told you they were real!'
Cynthia: Do you have any special stories from your adventures?
Jill: I don't have any terribly exciting mermaid stories just yet, aside from the embarrassing time my top tried to swim away from me off of Fort Myers Beach.
Cynthia: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Jill: If anyone is curious about my tail(s), I have made all of them myself. I have a Finis Wave monofin, which I altered mildly. All four of my tails, I have made myself. Though, I am in the hopes that I can save up and buy a silicone tail from Mermaid Raven. Of course, by the time I've saved enough she'll have released an entirely new and tempting tail design, haha!
Cynthia: Thank you, Jill! Look for Mermaid Jill on Facebook as well as the local Renaissance faires.
Best wishes and starfishes,
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com