So I am a big big fan of Dame Darcy, who is one of those glorious artist types who can do anything and everything and makes everything – everything! – more astonishing and beautiful. She writes and draws and paints and sings and plays instruments and makes films and probably does many, many magical secret things besides and right now as we speak she’s probably doing something spectacular like changing a pumpkin to a carriage and heading off to a ball. She is also a huge lover of mermaids, and possibly a mermaid herself.
Here is our Q and A.
So have you always been attracted to mermaids?
Ahoy Mermatey! When I was a kid I used to draw mermaids, faeiries, horses, kitties, and unicorns to be popular with the other girls. I guess this is still my shtick today, hee hee! When I was Bi-costal and lived half the year in LA I went on dating shows and surprised my cheesy dates by showing up as a mermaid in the hot tub! It was so fun to mess with their jock mindset (Frocks not Jocks!). I refused to speak English and only answered their confused questions with Mermese: “Flippity floppity filp, drippity droppity drip.” I think it’s on youtube, and still gets the freakshow rerun.
What is the allure of mermaids for you?
The beauty and elusive mystery of mermaids will allure mortal imagination with its persuasion of sensual love eternally. Mermaids are the ultimate perception of femininity and untamed emotion.
A mermaid is a woman who is half human and half fish. She is the embodiment of transformation and alchemy. Half human and half Atlantian, she can reach into the ether of magic to manifest magic in reality. She is the go-between the two worlds. Her song is immortal. Girls on the verge of growing up are in a transformation stage, where the fantasy of becoming a mermaid is especially strong: the mermaid has all the alluring charms of a woman but is still free from the bonds of society.
The oldest image in mermaid mythology is the goddess Atargatis from Syria, where she is seen in the form of a statue a woman from the waist up and a fish from there down. All sea goddesses reflect the sea’s qualities. The sea can be gentle and nurturing or violent and deadly. The sea is alternately, beautiful, cruel, tender, loving, calm, or destroying, and so too can be mermaids. On a broader scale, this is man’s view of nature. The mermaid, a fantastic creature, is nature herself. Mami Wata is another timeless mermaid from Africa known for excesses. She has an inhuman beauty, unnaturally long hair, and a pale, unearthly complexion. She represents all races and her hair is combed straight back from her forehead and described as straight, curly or kinky and either black or blonde. Her illustrious, enticing gaze only enhances her ethereal beauty. In many parts of West and Central Africa, when a lady is called “Mami Wata” it’s a slang term for a gorgeous woman. She’s basically being called a mermaid, what a great compliment!
Mami Wata deities are closely associated with water. Traditions on both sides of the Atlantic tell of people who have returned from the paradisiacal realm of a mermaid which may be underwater, in the spirit realm or both. The people who were captured usually while boating or swimming were released on a mermaid demand, which may be as simple as not eating any more fish. Those who return are miraculously in dry clothing and gaze at the world with a new deeper spiritual understanding. Often these survivors in time grow more beautiful, their lifestyles more lavish and abundant, and their personalities more easygoing after the encounter.
Do mermaids inspire your art and music?
Of course, I want to align myself with the eternal magic of the Mermaid! I am searching to find the ultimate tropical paradise where I can swim and sail every day and also work on my books. I think this place may be in the Caribbean but I don’t know yet. However it my goal to find it soon and live the last half of my life there, but still keep a doll house in the NY vicinity. I love to surf and I think it is the ultimate workout. I’ve only swam in the Pacific and the Atlantic off North American shores, but I dream of crystal clear aquamarine water every day and long to find my beautiful Island home.
Can you tell me a bit about your band? You sing all sea shanties?
The apiarian folk instruments of Autoharp and Banjo are my first instruments and were taught to me by my Dad when I was 10. I always loved old ballads , folk harmonies, and sea shanties, so for the past few years I’ve been doing nautical acts dressed as a pirate or mermaid playing the banjo and singing saw.
Aye Aye Captain was my first sea shanty /rock band. We played and recorded an album in 2002. Death By Doll, my current band with Skippy Spiral recorded a more traditional sounding album, which was released in 2008 on Emperor Penguin Records. Death By Doll is currently active and Vincent D. Dominion (the spawn of a long Norwegian sailing lineage, which I see in him constantly) and I do shows all the time.
The latest album is a combination of Electro and Rococo (ElectRococo) with Skippy doing electro beats and harpsichord and Charlotte Antique and I singing operatic.
I spend most my time indoors in a sedentary kind of life, drawing and writing but there is a side to me that wants to just run away and apply to the merchant marines or sign up to be part of the crew on a tall ship off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago. I think there would be a lot of down time on these ships where I could draw my graphic novels in between ports, but I don’t know if I would lose my connection to my career if I do this, which is what keeps me land-bound.
When I was a kid and I read about Pippi and her pirate adventures I wanted so bad to search for hidden treasures in caves and sail to isolated far away islands. Sea shanties have this whimsical soul in them, but also and the realities of a rough life at sea.
I was raised on a horse ranch in Idaho and always felt land locked, I closed my eyes and dreamed of the sea, vowing to never live anywhere that I was not in close proximity again. I always thought life on a ranch and dealing with farm equipment and cattle was probably as hard and psychical as a ship.
This is the only reason why I think I could be a sailor, but the older I get the more I think I couldn’t handle it. I also think I maybe never could, that I’m too much of a sissy, but maybe one day I can be one of those pleasure cruisers and have a little boat.
I’d like to go to Caracou or Georgetown and sing shanties to the people then sail off on a ship and trade songs for coconuts and pineapple the ladies balance on their head like a Carmen Miranda hat.
Have you participated in the Mermaid Parade? Can you describe what that’s like for you?
Mermaid Parade always falls on or near my birthday which is also near the summer solstice, so it’s always a celebration in many aspects, and goes on for days.
Sometimes, I think aspects of NY is like what Atlantis used to be, I also feel a Roman thing there too, especially during balmy NY summers when ladies are walking down the street in light drapey sheer cotton. The best compliment I have ever had is one day a little girl, maybe only 2 years old was rolling by in a stroller and as she passed me pointed and said “Mermaid!” I think the love of mermaids is pervasive in NY and they have to let it out somehow so they started the parade. It’s the funniest, nautical celebration ever, and New York’s chance to have Carnival like in Brazil, or Fat Tuesday like New Orleans.
I understand you are in the Mermaids of New York documentary. Can you tell me about that?
Vincent made a comment today, which I thought would be perfect for this interview.
He has a theory that the movie Splash, which greatly influenced me as a kid to move to NY and be a mermaid (and also gave me hope that I could grow up and look like Daryl) was the impetus to the entire mermaid scene of NY and perhaps even started the Mermaid Parade tradition.
Either that or if the mermaid parade came before the movie perhaps the movie was inspired by the parade. We don’t know which came first, the fin or the feet. However, the mermaid obsession seems to be concentrated in NY more than everywhere else. When Jessica Delfino and I hosted the Naughty Nautical Nite at the Slipper Room in Lower East Side NYC, it was truly a bounty of the sea!
There are cabaret scenes abundant in every port town, originally more liberal and eclectic than other cities, because of the ports, I think this is why they thrive in these cities. And where there is cabaret there are mermaids.
Some of my favorite NY mermaids, are Lady Aye, Mica, and the crew of the Mermaids of NY documentary, Bambi the Mermaid, Whitney Ward (often seen as a Kali/Mermaid) Viva Knievel, Junko, Mara G. Haseltine (who does reef restoration through sculpture), Machine Dazzle and the Dazzle Dancers, Adam Dugas, Kai Altair, Shien Lee and the ladies of Dances Of Vice, Banzai featuring Muffin Head and Eric Schmalenberger, and so much more! I think the cabaret is really a place where people go in this day and age to worship the goddess in her many forms… Belly Dancers, Drag Queens, Performance Artists, Can Can Dancers, Musical comedy, Circus Performer, Freak, etc. It’s a place to be free.
Do you have any favorite mermaid movies/songs/books/art/lore?
I’m reading an awesome book now called The Chalice and The Blade which is about the origins of society and women’s history. I’m reading it so I can put the best info possible in my new graphic novel Hand Book For Hot Witches (due out on Holt in 2012).
The Chalice represents the vessel of life and creativity and is the origin of the Holy Grail myth. It is the symbol of the partnership society which is what started civilization in the first place. It was a utopia where people were equal, and women held honored positions as teachers, philosophers, priestesses, etc.
Art flourished and there was a real city called Crete where everyone had access to lovely homes, which had all four elements, light and air, indoor pluming and central fountains, community gardens, and beautiful murals and paintings, dishware, lamps and glass work. It was said to be the real story and place behind the myth of Atlantis.
The snake goddess was the origin of the mermaid, with her ever-changing cycles of life (maiden, mother, crone, and even for women now during our monthly period) is like a snake changing her skin.
She is depicted as half lady half snake (which looks like a mermaid tail) and also a mermaid with a snake, as before mentioned with Mama Wata who is black and is also like the Black Madonna.
So when lady of any age is drawn to the image and idea of a mermaid, what she is really doing is getting in touch with the Goddess, even if our current society doesn’t let us know what the Goddess is, we all know in our heart of hearts that she is alive today in every one of us, and by celebrating Mermaids we celebrate the Goddess and keep her alive in the cycle of life. What the Goddess originally represents IS life itself.
What about your own art and comics – have mermaids always been favorite subjects for you?
Yes, and I always subconsciously knew they were a powerful , import and sexy alluring image, but not until now, have I pieced all the info together to see the whole picture and how it pertains to my own experiences as well as the experiences of all women on earth through out time.
Do you own a mermaid tail?
Yes, I do cabaret and perform in it at music events as well. I have a walking fin which is a long tight green/aqua skirt with a ruffle flipper at the bottom which I can walk in, but I also have an aquamarine fin which I have to be carried by sailors in or be pushed in a wheelchair or chariot because I can only swim in it. I have a silver fin that is it’s twin and I did mermaid sister acts with Jessica Delfino at NNN in those.
JD is my girl Gemini twin, and everyone always thought we were each other even though she’s a brunette and I’m blonde and I’m six yrs older than her.
I also have several mermaid dresses most of them glittering aquamarine in some form. I always know other mermaids because their favorite color is usually aquamarine, however there are coral pink, sea green, ocean silver , arctic white, and other kinds of mermaids I meet all the time.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Take a nice bubble bath and listen to sounds of the sea, swim in the ocean with friends naked under a full moon on a warm summer night, do each others’ hair, nails, and ornament yourselves with jewels and pearls, then wear a slinky dress to go out and do something special. Practice flirting and being alluring just for fun, get in touch with your inner goddess and she will guide you to a whole new magical life.
Any other thoughts about mermaids you’d like to share?? =-)
There are many secret mermaid names, and people have them and don’t even know it. You should look up the meaning of your name and see if you have one.
My name means Dark Sea in Gaelic (Dar-cy), which makes since because I love to surf but don’t love to be tan and try to avoid the sun. I like to go to the ocean to swim after 3:00 and stay at the sea until night. In Portuguese Dame Darcy is Dama De Mara-Negro. “Lady of the Black Sea” I know my parents named me after a murder ballad but I don’t think my Mom was aware of the mermaid connotation. Speaking of Mom…
My wonderful mother is so into mermaids she has a whole mermaid themed home overlooking the ocean from which I am writing this now. My dear witch friend Amber did Mom’s whole astrological chart which showed that all her houses are moving into Scorpio, the witchiest dreamy water sign that reigns over intuition and creativity, it also shows that my mom is soon going to retire from being a nurse and be able to do all her shell crafts now and not have to put up with anyone’s crap.
Oh BTW speaking of astrology, I have a rising of Scorpio and am a Gemini on the cusp of Cancer which means I am an air sign bordered on both sides by water. I think this makes for a bubbly time but also for choppy seas. And that when someone has water in their chart, especially a rising, or sun, or moon, sign, they look like or act like a mermaid and are drawn to the water.
For instance a Cancer rising means they will look like a mermaid on the surface no matter what their real birthday is.
Water sun sign is BEING a mermaid like my witch sister Mara (her name literally means ocean) born a Pisces, and the most Mermaidly lady coming straight at you from Atlantis.
Moon sign meaning what they really are under it all, like if someone has a birthday born in a very solid and logical sign like Capricorn but really has a Scorpio moon, watch out, they have a secret mermaid soul, and are not as predictable as you think.
Before I sign out, here’s a seaweed /raw food recipe so you can eat like a Mermaid without hurting any fish:
*Luxurious Mermaid Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich
2 cups nuts (almonds and cashews work best)
1 lemon, juiced
Gradually blend 2 cups of nuts into powder in the blender. Then blend a cup of seaweed. Put it in a bowl and mix it with the seafood seasoning, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sea salt, and brewers yeast. Mix with olive oil until it is the consistency of tuna salad. Finely chop celery and mix in as well. Take romaine lettuce leaves and spoon in the tuna salad. Place cherry tomatoes on top. Wrap in the lettuce leaf.
Thanks for including me, I love your Mermaid book Carolyn!
And thank you fellow mermaid lovers for reading. To contact me or see my art/books/and music please go to DameDarcy.com.