So, as you know, this blog has featured many scintillating interviews with mermaids over the past year or so. But mermen interviews? Not quite so many. We all know that the mer world is female-dominated, and in fact as a bona fide mermaid expert I am asked about mermen all the time, and whether they even exist. That is how un-represented, even invisible, the poor mermen out there are. Of course they exist! So now, as proof, I present to you one real-life merman named Chris, who is the significant other of the gorgeous Mermaid Shelly, whom I interviewed here last year (and who also makes mermaid tails). Only recently, however, has Chris unleashed his merman identity and taken his fair spot as fish-tailed husband next to his flame-haired mermaid wife. As of now, they’re the only mer couple I know of, and quite a striking couple at that. When they showed up at the Pre-Mercon Reading and Ball hosted by yours truly before the World Mermaid Awards in Las Vegas last year, they were both like 6 feet tall (and probably still are!) and they glowed with health and looked like movie stars. I guess that’s what happens when you’re in love with each other since high school and swim hand in hand in ocean waters. Sigh.
And look at them in 1989!
Below, I ask Chris about being married to a mermaid and his own merman transformation, not to mention his deep love for another (almost mermaid) out there, Miss Taylor Swift (who was outed for her mermaid hair by one Ms. Tabatha Coffey on this very blog), and his campaign to get her into one of Mermaid Shelly’s mermaid tail. I mean really. How can she possibly resist this merman call?
So Chris, how did you get involved with mermaids in the first place? Was it through your fabulous wife, Mermaid Shelly?
Sort of. I had always been fascinated by mermaids and the ocean as long as I can remember; one of my first memories was of a shower curtain in my home as a boy with a gorgeous mermaid on it that I would just stare at constantly, completely entranced by how beautiful she was. Even at such a young age, I think that was where my aesthetic concepts of beauty were formed. When Shell and I did meet in high school, you never would have thought she was a mermaid due to her “punkish” appearance. However, we soon discovered we had this mutual obsession, and it just grew from there. We have always had a ton of mermaid things in our home as a result, as well as trying in vain to make cheap lycra tails for her way before the internet was around. We remained fairly low-key about it all until we both met Linden Wolbert a couple of years ago and she set us on our current path.
You’re husband to a mermaid and call yourself a “mer-tender.” Can you explain what that means?
You’ve recently transformed into a merman yourself, and swam in a tail for the first time. Can you tell me about that? What was it that made you decide to make that leap?
I think what made me finally decide to go for it was turning 40 recently; I knew I was due for a midlife crisis, and it beats buying a Corvette! Shell never knew I harbored this idea; not through our 20 years together did I ever once mention myself joining the world or even pondering it. Suffice to say, she was a bit shocked when I “outed myself.” Also, swimming together with her in a tail and me with legs was not too fun; I simply cannot keep up. So, like in the stories, I had a choice; and I chose to join her in her world, and it has been amazingly good fun! I am enjoying swimming like never before, that is for certain, as it feels like nothing else.
Mermen might be a little less celebrated than mermaids. What is it like being a merman when it’s a mermaid’s world?
It doesn’t bother me at all, as I have always preferred the company and friendship of women, and also with so much in the world being patriarchal and male-centered, I think it is great that there is a culture where the females get to be the central figure. We guys are lucky we get to exist in their world. I do think part of it is aesthetic as well; the curvature of the tail seems a bit more fitting the shape of a woman, and of course women are much more mysterious than us dudes.
What would you say to those who’d argue that mermen aren’t the manliest or most alluring of creatures? (Have you dealt with this attitude at all, or no?)
I have not yet really had to deal with this myself, but it has never been my worry about being manly or alluring! I am more than secure with my own identity to not worry about what other people who don’t matter think. Of course, I did wrestle with the idea of negative perceptions, otherwise I would not have stayed quiet for so long. In the end though, as long as Shell was cool with it, that’s all I cared about.
Now that you and your wife are an official mer-couple… has this changed your relationship at all?
Well, not in any profound way, but it is does feel like our mutual obsession for our whole relationship has reached where it always should have gone; the point it always should have been building toward. Human life goes on for us as it did before, but now there is that little something extra that we share and enjoy together that just makes sense.
What kind of reaction do you get when you appear as a mer-couple?
Pretty much the same reactions she gets appearing by herself; some people come up fascinated, others avoid. The best reactions always come from other mermaids if they are around; they just seem to love that we do this together and wish the same for themselves. If our appearing together can inspire others to live their dreams together, than that is a great thing I am happy to be a part of.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermen out there? (and/or for the significant others of fabulous mermaids?)
Do not care what others may think. Life is too short to worry about the opinions of small minds. Also, putting on a tail does not make you gay. Yes, many mermen out there are, and bless them for going for it and doing what they want. Straight guys should have their nerve and free spirit and not be so pent up over prejudices and stereotypes. Do what I did; make the fiercest, most aggressive looking tails you can imagine. And above all, just forget about Zoolander.
I know you’re quite involved in the mer community. Can you talk about how it’s grown and changed over the past few years?
The growth has been pretty huge; as with all things, we can thank the internet for that. Before then, who knew people thought about such things? That, along with the emergence of Hannah Fraser, taught us all it was perfectly okay to live your dreams and have fun. People could now see how many others were out there, meet up, trade secrets and tips, and so on. I never would have imagined something like the WMA’s happening before that, and I am proud to have helped it happen with our dear friend Sita. Shell was also involved with establishing the annual mermaid camp Mermaids in the Desert. I imagine the two of us will be active in the scene for quite some time. We’re not going away.
You work at Mermaid Shelly, the business. Can you tell me about that? Do you have another job as well? (If so, what do your co-workers think of your mer-life?)
I certainly wish I did more on the tail making end, and hope to learn more; as it is, Shell has all the artistic talent, and I cannot sew. I need to learn, for sure. As it is, I simply do whatever I can that she needs. I can cut a mean sheet of neoprene! I do have a “day job” as it were, and my co-workers know all about it. I have always been the office weirdo, so no one really even blinks twice at whatever crazy thing I am up to now.
Haha, yes. My Taylor obsession is well known. She is my favorite singer, even though I am primarily a punk/metalhead. Her songs and her personality just move my soul. I got to meet her and talk with her for 15 seconds last year, and it was a highlight of my life. Shell and I consider her to be our dream client, and I even left her a greeting card at that meeting offering our services. The Facebook campaign is just my latest windmill I am tilting to get her attention, as we know she sees such things and does respond sometimes. Who knows?