So MeduSirena Marina is a gorgeous fire-eating professional mermaid in Fort Lauderdale intent on bringing back old-style aquatic entertainment – or retro-tainment – to the world at large. She’s also one of the featured performers, along with Hannah Fraser, at the World Mermaid Awards this August. She performs all over Florida, and appears regularly at the Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale with her MeduSirena Pod of Mermaids – her aquatic performance students – swimming alluringly in a pool visible to barflies through small porthole windows (this is the same place, incidentally, where the mermaid tank scene from Where the Boys Are was filmed). She combines belly dance, stunt dancing, Exotica and Polynesian Dance in her performances, which some Weeki Wachee ladies raved about to yours truly. So I am very excited to see some MeduSirena Marina for myself in Las Vegas this summer. But in the meantime, here’s our Q and A.
So when did you become a mermaid?
I don’t think there was ever a time I “became” a real mermaid. I’m simply aquatic performer. I was raised on the islands of the West Indies, where I learned to free dive at age three, so I have been underwater for a lot of my life.
Do you feel differently in and out of the water? What about with and without your tail?
I suppose it’s the physical equivalent of being bilingual. One behaves differently in and out of the water, of course. In dreams during sleep, however, all bets are off. Swimming and walking/running are always interchanged – so they both must be quite ingrained in me.
Swimming while wearing the fin certainly is different than swimming without it; as a result, different techniques have to be implemented for fluidity.
How would you define the mermaid’s appeal?
The mermaid is an iconic figure that many can identify with, historically as well as in popular culture. Perhaps it’s a person’s perception blended with the mythological – where one can fill those missing pieces themselves, and make the figure all their own, therefore identifying with it better. For myself, I find the vision of the mermaid to be an artistic vessel, a familiar medium for sub-aquatic expression. It allows me the opportunity to present to the viewer something that they not only can identify with, but can take in as a new experience.
I never wish for the audience to think I’m trying to be a mermaid. The tail is but an implement. I want them to see the physical performer expressing through movement – hopefully they will enjoy watching the performance as much as I enjoy having the honor of presenting it.
Have you always been attracted to mermaids specifically?
Not specifically. Although it’s easier to “relate” to mermaids – at least the top half! – I’m attracted to all types of sea life. My marine biology background allowed me to truly appreciate the physiological differences and movements of aquatic species. Those were and continue to be some of my best “mentors.”
Can you tell me about your performances, and what inspires them?
I perform stunts such as fire eating, bed of nails and others, as they are based on older stage performances that were popularized through vaudeville and the Golden age of tourism, a time when hotels and theaters often had aqua/stunt shows. It is my contribution to “Retrotainment Preservation.” I sincerely hope to help continue and return and cultivate this almost forgotten movement art form.
I’ve been very interested in aquatic spectacles since I was a child. I loved watching diving shows at Cypress Gardens, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids in Florida, Annette Kellerman (the original Million Dollar Mermaid) silent films, and of course those amazing Hollywood numbers featuring the great Esther Williams, just to name a few. As the popularity of these types of spectacles later decreased, the entire genre seemed to get narrowed down and only become identified by most as the sport of “synchronized swimming,” which has evolved to be quite different.
I’d like to try and bring some of the older genre back, to allow the audience member to see something that appears surreal and is actually done by a different style of performer. Recently, someone watched a video of my underwater performance and commented that it looked computer-rendered. I found that quite amusing, that the lines between human abilities and those aided with technology are now becoming blurred.
(**I was however, filmed performing underwater and given a CGI tail in post for the “Virtual Aquarium” display currently playing at the City of Dreams in Macau.)
What do you think about Ariel?
I see “Ariel” as a teenager who changed her outward appearance and left behind her identity to impress a boy, and was rewarded by “getting him” in the end. Dunno if that’s the best message. Also, in the Disney version all the “bad” is channeled unto the “Ursula” character, who was actually a very fair and honest character in the original story.
Can you describe some of your mermaid tricks?
Equanimity in liquid space is the goal. I wouldn’t call it a trick – more of a movement style.
I love the intimacy of just swimming up to a window and flowing with the surroundings, to dance in liquid space. From my perspective, riding the created current; from the audience’s standpoint, watching a dancer gliding while defying gravity.
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Study, train, and learn how water and the human body work together. Lots of cardiovascular and strength training. Use the water around you as a medium rather treading it. Most importantly: be original, credit your inspirations and role models, and stay humble.