Archive | May, 2011

Alexanderia the Great, the Housewife Houdini

3 May

So another momentous mermaid event on the horizon is the first annual MerCon and World Mermaid Awards being held this August 12-13 in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel. Of course as an aspiring mermaid you should already be well aware of this happening, especially if you read this blog as I’ve already generously put up interviews with featured performers like Hannah Fraser, MeduSirena, and Traci Hines. Plus yours truly will be there, along with fellow mermaid authors like Timothy Schaffert and possibly Tera Lynn Childs, and one tail-making Mertailor.

ANOTHER featured performer at this gorgeous event will be one Alexanderia the Great, the Housewife Houdini you may have seen on the news somewhere, since she’s always getting tangled up in straightjackets and chains and locks and whathaveyou, often underwater, and then busting her way out of them. When she’s not raising her three kids and making pot roasts, that is.

Here she is in the Boston Globe:

And here’s one of her many great escapes:

She’s pretty amazing, isn’t she? Recently I asked Alexanderia about her escapes and the escape she has planned for this August… where for the first time she’ll have to escape from EVIL MERMAIDS, and may in fact even be a mermaid herself.

You can, by the way, buy tickets here.

You’re welcome.

So Alexanderia, what inspires you to stage such great escapes?
I love the challenge of it. I started out watching my boyfriend (now husband) do escapes and said to him, “I can do that, too.” I’m very competitive. I love that he allowed me to try and that he showed me all he knew so I could become who I am today. He had no ego about it. What amazed him was that he did all the research on Houdini and learned many of his secrets – and yet he saw that I could get out of more things more quickly than Houdini could. And I hadn’t had the benefit of studying Houdini’s secrets. I guess I’m just a natural! My techniques are different from other escape artists’ and, frankly, they don’t understand how I do what I do. I’m unique.

Why was Houdini so alluring to you?
He was the world’s first superstar. George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the three most famous names in history are Jesus Christ, Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini. Even today, more than 80 years after his death, Houdini is a household name. With four movies, a Broadway play starring Hugh Jackman, and two TV shows about Houdini in the works, Harry is very much alive today. Harry dared to do what others would not and could not do. There’s such power in being able to do what others can’t. I love that feeling of making a great escape… but there was a time when I was trapped inside my own box, one I made for myself and let others put me in. I cared too much about what other people thought, and I would and could not perform for fear of rejection. When I was a girl and, later, a school teacher, I thought I could never do escapes because that wasn’t what a girl or a school teacher did. Then when I had kids and ran my own daycare, I felt like a mom and daycare provider couldn’t do anything that radical either. What would the kids think? What would others say? I was trapped in my own box. Even when I began to perform I was too concerned about how I looked, how old I was, and what others would think of me. I finally “escaped” from such narrow thinking and decided to show the world what I could do… and that I didn’t care that I wasn’t a model or that I was 49. Now all I care about is showing others that I can and will do what others can’t!

How does it feel to be the “housewife Houdini”…? Do you have any messages for other “housewives”?
For all those housewives that feel trapped like I used to be, I would say “throw away the rules.” There are no rules. All of us are unique and have something special to show. Find your inner strength. Find something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be risking your life and jumping into 12.5-foot deep pools and escaping 50 lbs of shackles and chains! Just find something you do well and do it better than anyone else and you too can have the same feeling. My pat line when explaining to others what I do what I do is simple: It’s mind over mater. If I don’t mind (escaping underwater in a padlocked tank) it doesn’t matter. If I am willing to deal with the pain then it’s ok. They say “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If you’re willing to endure (and let’s face it in these time we all have had to endure a lot,you can get through anything.

You’ve mentioned how therapeutic it is for you to physically escape restraints in the water. Can you talk more about that?
I love the water and I love a challenge. Underwater escapes are the most dangerous escapes to do. Few escape artists are willing to even attempt them because of the risk. The cost of failure in an underwater escape is great. In fact, it can be the ultimate sacrifice. Now I am not crazy. I do things as safely as possible. But just like a tight rope walker, it’s different when you do it with a net. I love the edge. I love testing myself but never to the point that I think this is a death wish. On the contrary, I’m living life to the fullest and these escapes make me feel even more alive.

What new world records have you set… and what new records are you planning to set?
I set a world record on national TV on Fox News Channel’s (Fox and Friends) live in Times Square last Labor Day weekend. I did something even Harry Houdini did not do. I call the escape “the extreme strait jacket.” I escaped a regulation strait jacket secured with an additional 50 feet of chains and ten padlocks. I did it in two minutes and 37 seconds. It was a great feeling though I was quite sore afterwards. I am also the first person to ever do Houdini’s Milk Can escape in a clear bulletproof container and without a curtain. A full view underwater escape with me shackled inside the tank and the tank padlocked on the outside. I did it on the CBS Evening News as their feature story in February. I have just begun in my quest to go beyond Houdini. Sadly most escape artists have chosen to simply copy all of Houdini tricks. If you knew Houdini, you would know he despised imitators. I do not look to imitate but take this art form further. And that is why I do more restraints or things in full view or attempt to do what Houdini would not (like underwater strait jacket escapes) as I want to push further and breathe new life into this art form.

Have you ever before performed with – or had to escape from – mermaids, or will your appearance at the World Mermaid Awards be a first for you?
It will be my first appearance with mermaids. I am very excited about it. Anything new and unique is fun for me. I have been a fan for a long time and so I’m thrilled to share the stage with performers like Hannah and Medusirena. They too are pushing their art form and I respect them for it.

What do you think of mermaids anyway?
I am jealous as I would love to be able to breathe underwater… though it might kill the act huh? Then my escapes might not be so death defying.

What’s this about a mermaid film?
Darling Entertainment approached me to work with them on some shows up in Nova Scotia. Apparently they’ve found some strange creatures in the waters there and have had many sightings, so they’re going to do some filming. Now I will tell you I’m excited but a little nervous as there have been stories of how some wild mermaids have lured ships to crash into rocks. I guess there’s a wild side to the untamed ones. So I’m very curious but cautious about the nature of these creatures. Having never worked with them, I’m not sure what to think. But since I am comfortable being underwater I thought I’d give it a try.

Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids…. and/or advice for aspiring Houdinis who may or may not have a problem with them?
To aspiring mermaids, go for it. Show us your talents and be the best you can be. But beware of wild mermaids as I’ve heard they can be dangerous and unpredictable! =)

Debora Iyall, New Wave Mermaids, and the Sacramento Mermaid Parade

2 May

So there are many extremely fabulous mermaid extravaganzas on the horizon, and as a mermaid expert it is of course my duty to keep you informed about each and every one of them. One brand new one is the first Sacramento Mermaid Parade,  happening this July 16th in Sacramento, home of the recently opened Dive Bar where mermaids and mermen swim in a 7,500-foot aquarium above the bar. I know.

The parade begins at 1pm at the Rio City Cafe in Old Sacramento and makes its way to the Dive Bar. Prizes will be awarded for BEST COSTUME for both adult and children’s categories, and the Grand Marshall of the parade will be one Ms. Debora Iyall, best known as the lead singer of the new wave band Romeo Void. The band that did this awesome song,

which came out in 1982 and might be considered a new wave classic, not to mention the sound of yours truly’s misspent youth.

That means that between Coney Island (the Coney Island Mermaid Parade is June 18th) AND Sacramento you’ve got two prime opportunities this summer to apply body paint, glitter, and a fish tail… so you should probably start working on your costume now. Below, I talk with Debora about the parade and new wave, and I even lovingly try to get some insider tips for you. That is how generous I am.

So Debora, how did you get involved in the Sacramento Mermaid Parade?
Jenn asked and it sounded like a blast. I grew up swimming all summer long in Fresno and was usually the first one in and the last one out of the pool. My mom worked so we always got season passes to the local pool. I still swim year-round participating in water aerobics classes 4-5 times a week.

Can you talk a little bit about what potential parade-goers might expect?
People could expect lots of colorful costumes reflecting love for the sea and her creatures. A blend of all ages, races and genders will hopefully participate.

As Grand Marshall, you’ll be judging BEST COSTUMES for adults and children. What will your criteria be?
Costumes should be:

  • Appropriately ocean themed – Mermaids, Mermen, Mollusks and other sea creatures welcome.
  • Creatively designed with character
  • Good workmanship
  • Confidence and poise as befits a sea creature

What makes a prize-winning mermaid/merman?
A beautifully unique and sensuous costume and manner.

You’re best known as the lead singer and lyricist of Romeo Void, and I personally think that “Never Say Never” is one of the best songs ever. Do you feel there’s any overlap between new wave and mermaids?
Probably not, but mermaids love to frolic in the waves, why not new ones?

What might a new wave mermaid be like?
It would have a palette of contrasting colors like orange and blue, black and pink, red and green and bold with graphic polka dots or stripes.

Have you always been fascinated with mermaids (if you are) and/or identified with them?
I’d love to be a mermaid and would be a super strong swimmer with the right fin and tail. I always wanted to travel by swimming. I always wanted to swim to school and the store. If not a water-world I want to return to the equestrian mode of travel, I love horses. Also: if I have a totem animal it is the seal.  I don’t have a tattoo but I almost got one years ago of a seal scratching its head with its tail.

How would you explain the allure of mermaids – and mermen?
Have you ever done a mermaid kick in the water? The sensuousness of full body propulsion!

And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Love your body! Remember: water is healing and we all deserve it and the admiration of our peers for our creative efforts and healthy risks.

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