The subculture around the half-billion-dollar industry of mermaid cosplay finally gets its own series with MerPeople. Like drag, there is a strong LGBTQ+ element in its history and traditions, including shows, pageants, and conventions.
One pro in the trailer says:
I get emails all the time from people telling me that they want to be a professional mermaid and my first thought is, oh you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
For many Americans, their first introduction to the subculture was at Florida’s Weeki Watchee springs:
The art form has continued to grow over the years, especially in the US. Via Netflix:
Directed by Cynthia Wade (Freeheld, The Flagmakers), MerPeople follows a group of mermaiding hopefuls at different points in their career — they all spend countless hours and sea dollars to make a name for themselves. Many were inspired by the live shows at tourist attraction Weeki Wachee Springs, including Eric Ducharme, known as the Mertailor, whose time at Weeki Wachee led to his own quickly expanding business creating custom fins. The series follows his attempts to open a mermaid show and aquarium in an old furniture store, where he holds highly competitive auditions.
Trans youth in particular often identify strongly with mermaids (a venerable UK support group for kids is called Mermaids). Jazz Jennings helped popularize the trend among gender-diverse American youth:
MerPeople premieres on Netflix May 23.
Images: YouTube / Netflix