How did you become a professional mermaid?
As a kid, the only princess I looked like was Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” I used to bind my legs with Velcro and pretend I was a mermaid. After studying communications and business at Cal State Fullerton, I decided to start my own company. I’ve now been doing this for four years.
What sorts of events do you do?
I probably do five parties a week in the summer, and I charge $250 an hour minimum. I’ve been hired by Jessica Alba, Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby McGuire, and Courtney Cox. I’ve also worked for resorts, photographers, weddings—I was the ring bearer once!
What do you do at the parties?
I’m CPR certified, so I’m like a swim instructor, model, and clown at the same time. And I have a “mer-handler” who helps me get the tail on and carries me in and out of the pool. I can swim in this, but I can’t walk. Kids ask me, “How do I know you’re real?” And I just ask them the same question. They have a mini-existential crisis.
Tell us about that tail.
I have five of them. They cost between $750 and $5,000, they’re custom made, and weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. I’m friends with the guy who made the tail in “Splash.”
Do you ever wear the tail in public?
I’ve been to the beach. Once at the Balboa Pier, a group of kids came up to me and asked if I could talk to dolphins. Well, I talked to them for a few minutes and suddenly a sea lion came out onto the beach where we were! They all thought I was magic.
Any party fails?
I was at a nighttime party in a Beverly Hills Mansion and they hadn’t heated the pool at all. It was ice cold and windy. Luckily, I had an inflatable clam shell that I bring with me, so I mostly stayed on top of that.
Do you ever meet other mermaids?
I’ve been to the largest mermaid convention, Mermania in North Carolina. There were 500 mermaids in the pool. I met Philo Barnhart, one of the animators for “The Little Mermaid” and he drew me as a mermaid! And every year, I get a dozen mermaids together and we go to Catalina Island and scare the divers.
Do you see this as a lifelong career?
I hope I can do this for the rest of my life. There is an octogenarian mermaid named Grandma Orchid. Mermaiding is for everyone—any age, color, or gender. It’s a welcoming community.
Find out more about booking Avalon at orangecountymermaid.com.