Hannah Fraser – aka Hannah Mermaid – is a professional mermaid who swims among coral reefs alongside dolphins and whales and sharks and other sea critters and performs as a mermaid all over the world, educating people about ocean conservation (she works with the Surfers For Cetaceans and Whaleman Foundation to end the slaughter and captivity of whales and dolphins), inspiring others to put on tails and go “mermaiding” – which seems to be a new and growing phenomenon – and generally being gorgeously dreamy and aquatic. You might have seen her on 20/20 last summer:
And here are some photos in case you don’t believe such a lady exists:
I sent Hannah some questions over email, and shall meet her in person in Las Vegas this August, where she’ll be a featured performance at the first annual World Mermaid Awards. That is right. Mermaids from all over the world will converge and be mermaidly together…
but more on that in a riveting future post.
Here is my Q&A with Hannah:
When did you realize you were actually a mermaid? =)
I always identified with being a mermaid when I was swimming as a child, and made my first tail at age nine after seeing the film Splash starring Daryl Hannah. I made my first adult tail nearly eight years ago after doing an underwater modeling job and realizing I looked more at home underwater than on land. Once I began swimming in the tail I felt that it was a natural movement and very familiar, as if I had found a part of myself that I had just forgotten.
Why do you think mermaids are so popular and appealing to humans?
I thinks it’s because all life originated and evolved out of the ocean and even as humans we swim in liquid for the gestation period before birth. We come from water, we are made up of over 70% water, and when we are swimming we feel like we have come ‘home’. It’s also a way to experience what it would be like to fly, the closest we can get to total weightlessness.
The mermaid myth is a perfect combination of earth meets ocean in a combination of two species.
What is it like, swimming in the ocean with your powerful tail? How different do you feel as a mermaid versus as a normal human woman?
It’s amazing how once I put my tail in it’s like I am imbued with a few extra super powers! I can swim faster with more power and maneuverability, I can hold my breath longer because I am more comfortable and at one with my surroundings, and I have less fear of underwater animals because I feel like I am one of them!
Has any art or literature or film inspired you in your mermaid career?
Splash was instrumental for me in inspiring me to create a mermaid tail. It was the first time I saw a mermaid in film and realised I could create a tail for myself. There was a lot of beautiful mermaid art around as a child that fed my quest for beauty and mystery. I never found many good novels about mermaids… I am still searching!
[disclaimer: obviously Hannah has not yet read Mermaid]
Have you ever seen or met a merman?
I haven’t met a merman with a tail yet ;) but I have had the pleasure of swimming with true watermen such as David Rastovich (pro free surfer) and others who are at one with the ocean and connected to its inhabitants in a way that is truly magical :)
What advice do you have for aspiring mermaids?
Go through the process of creating your own tail. [Hannah offers tail-making and other tips on her website's FAQ page.] It’s hard and there is a lot to consider, but you get a much better understanding of how it works, what fin shapes create power, and how to create a tail that is original and unique. It does bother me that there are so many people just copying a design that someone else created rather than letting their own creative juices flow! Your tail is your signature! Make it unique! As far as getting started as a professional mermaid model, I suggest that you do modeling first so that you understand how to work with cameras, angles and looks. You can also learn to perform by appearing at kids’ parties for free to get started. Talk to dive ships about people who are doing underwater photography to see if they would take your photo to start a portfolio. Get involved in ocean preservation projects to help conserve the mermaids’ home!
Next week: Weeki Wachee!