Monday, August 20, 2012

Mermaid Jill

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,
-Mermaid Cynthia
cynthia (at)

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