Aura is such a unique and pretty name, is it your real name?
Aura was actually my given name at birth which means protector of the sea which is a perfect name for a mermaid. That’s just one of the many meanings to my name. In Taiwanese it means dragon and I was born in the year of the dragon. A fire dragon to be exact and I am a bit fiery at times. I’m not just your typical sparkle and joy mermaid I’m a little bit dangerous. When I was young there was a time I really didn’t like my name because someone would get it wrong. Or I thought it had been a private satirical joke from my parents. Because Aura is what you see before you get a headache or go into an epileptic seizure. The worst one was that it meant of the air you wouldn’t think that was bad, but my middle name meant gladness in Latin. So my parents named me happy air head and it so happened that I was blonde. For the longest time I did not like it but I learned to embrace my true calling as the protector of the Sea.
Why do they call you “The Swashbuckling Mermaid”?
As I said I am a little bit dangerous. A bit of a cavalier of sorts. I fight as part of the SCA my specialty is fighting duel wield rapier and dagger. Also I fight with a fighting cloak I hand stitched myself and use as an off hand weapon. Which I can use to disarm and use another person’s sword against them. I love to melee which is fighting multiple opponents at a time and I have thrown knives, spears, and axes. My favorite weapon is rapier because it’s very dynamic and there is a lot of skill with it and because it’s so much fun. Yes “The Swashbuckling Mermaid” is a perfect name for me and I hope some day to have my own troupe of underwater sword fighting merfolk, but that is still a dream.
When did you become a Performing Arts Model/Mermaid? Share with us the journey in becoming a mermaid?
In my heart I have always been a mermaid I always had a great love for the water my parents couldn’t keep me out of it. I couldn’t say that didn’t get me into trouble I was always the one playing in mud puddles, I fell in a lake when I was two trying to play with the fish had my boots on and clung to the pier until one of the neighbors fished me out. That did not detour me from swimming. When I was 3 I could swim a full size Olympic pool by myself. During the summer we would go to Wiki Wachee and watch the mermaids perform. When I was young I would always pretend to be a mermaid I spent more time under the water than at the surface It was my quiet happy place where all the troubles in the world disappeared. I got Scuba certified in high school. Joined the Navy the choices they gave me were EOD and rescue swimming. I thought I would definitely have a longer career as a rescue swimmer than working with underwater explosives. Only my father had a heart attack and I thought I had to get out. So my Navy career was sadly cut short. All my life I had been in training to be a mermaid and I did not know it. It was only after a horrible shipwreck incident off the coast of Nanaimo BC, Canada and I lost custody of my children did I realize my true calling was being a mermaid. One of my artist friend’s asked me to make them a mermaid tail for a music festival. It was super fancy looked like a classic mermaid tail composite silicone and spandex it was great had velcro up the side and a detachable fluke. Only at the last minute she backed out the booth was empty and I had a mermaid tail. Why not just pose for pictures as a mermaid. From then on I’ve done Gallery functions, Pirate functions whatever I could to get my name out. The first time I really thought of how much of a serious mermaid I could be was when I showed up for a function and there was a misunderstanding. I really thought it was an all inclusive mermaid function and I was really there just to help out. But I was told politely to leave. So I found a nice cozy rock on the hill and really just went up there to sulk and stare at the ocean by myself. They had a huge crowd of people there wanting to see mermaids. And I was up there not even five minutes can I take your picture, can I have your autograph do you have any pictures. I just went up there to sit and a line formed so long you could hardly make out the end. I was given shells and rocks the most adorable moment this little girl gave me a purse and said I made this just for you. My heart just melted. But from that moment on it was like wow this is what I have been looking for my whole life my niche and it was being a mermaid.
It seems as if there is a surging mermaid revolution happening right now in popular culture, why do you feel so many can relate to being a Mermaid?
Being a mer-person is huge right now not just for women, but men as well. There are many reasons to be a mer-person and anyone can be one. Who doesn’t like hanging out at the beach having fun soaking up the sun catching some waves. It’s so much more than just that though. It’s about the reconnecting with nature. Caring about the environment and this beautiful blue jewel of a world we live on that is 75% water. Which curiously our bodies are made of 75% water our tears are salt water the same as the ocean. So in a sense we are all aquatic creatures. Rare and special beautiful creatures and we should value each and every one as such. It’s about being your best self. It’s about loving yourself as you are and bringing your inner beauty out caring about others. It’s about imagination and creativity. Having fun enjoying life. It’s about bringing back the good in the world that spark of magic and curiosity and playfulness that we have lost and we desperately need in our lives right now. As bad as the world is I can go on the mermaid sites and always see how many wonderful and beautiful people and things there are in this world. People helping rescue animals and things people valuing and caring about each other. The truly important things in life that seem to get forgotten. It is about hope and making a difference and I think truly if the world was full of mermaids and our ideals changed we would have peace in this world and we would all be better off for it. I think that’s why it’s so important that we do have a mermaid revolution because we need to fight for what is right and good in this world.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite Mermaid Tails and who makes them for you?
Well my very first tails I made by myself only I had separation issues with the silicone on the spandex the print on the fabric I used was silicone based and silicone won’t necessarily adhere to itself after it cures so my beautiful tail molted and I could not use it in the water. So I made a second tail that was super shinny looked like a barbie tail I couldn’t use that in the water either for fear the plastic scales would come off and cause a hazard. Still they are so pretty I just use them for land events. You know in mermaiding there is always a struggle between creativity and environmental impact. So I wanted something that was water friendly and budget friendly for my first swimming tails I used a Fin Fun. I didn’t have the money for expensive tails because serious tails are not cheep. Some of the higher end tails can range from $5,000 to $10,000 USD. Since I had been swimming like a mermaid my whole life learning to use a tail felt like second nature so I wanted another tail, but didn’t have the money for it. My first higher dollar tail and my personal favorite for comfort and ease is the Mertailor Whimsy tail retails for about $300 dollars USD. My first Mertailor was the Royal Betta was really a gift from Merman Mike I held it for hours and wouldn’t let it go. For his birthday since he got me a tail I bought him a Mertailor Phoenix I had to admit it was hard to let it go it was such a great tail. Then one Christmas I got him the Moon Wolf and He got me the Mertailor Ustri Koi tail. The Rainbow Parot fish was also a gift from Merman Mike Our tail habit was almost becoming an inner struggle for our love of tail. So I decided to get the Devils Den he could use it, but as long as he understood that was my tail. So we shared that tail. I saved for my other tails I didn’t want him to be responsible enabling my mermaid tail addiction. So I got the Mertailor Hocus Pocus and The Sunset Fever. But if I was to get my true love tail the one tail the ultimate tail and my absolute dream tail I would have several individual designers in mind and it would be so hard to choose. I wish Raven from Merabella Studios could design it but as soon as she has anything done it’s sold within seconds it will have to remain a dream for now.
What are the mermaid tails made out of?
Well Fin Fun are mostly spandex the main fluke is plastic with a neoprene covering and it’s really easy to use my favorite cheep knock about tail and the tips are covered with silicone is a perfect beginner’s tail. It’s light easy to use and floats a bit in the water so you can relax more. Also it’s affordable.
Mertailor which for me has the best well-made fabric tails has several grades of fabric tails and has different prices that covers everyone’s budget and it’s a quality product made entirely in the USA plus their customer service is absolutely the best. The least expense of their tails is the guppy is a spandex tail skin with a mermaid Linden mono-fin. The step above that is their Eco tail sling. Has a neoprene body and a silicone fluke. My personal favorite and what I usually use for my photo shoots are The Mertailor Whimsy tails. I absolutely adore them the flukes are super comfortable made from solid silicone and are neutrally buoyant in the water they are made of a composite scuba knit fabric that is both durable, high quality, and double stitched construction makes it practically impossible to beat as far as a quality fabric tail. They also have a silicone tail they are working on several grades of silicone tails as well I like the fact they have a solid silicone fluke and since it’s solid you don’t have to worry about it separating still want to give one a home the problem with me it is my artist Libra brain can not decide on the colors.
Can you actually swim in these tails?
Oh my gosh you can practically fly through the water with these tails I swear when I’m using the butterfly stroke I can practically breach. It is just so much fun. I would do it all the time and probably get kicked out of the pool for over exuberance.
What state are you based out of?
Well I lived in many places, but Washington State has become my home for many different reasons. The food is great, I don’t have to worry about sun burn as much. Canada is just to the North and there is always something to do and somewhere to explore. New adventures are just around every corner.
Why is Washington State such a good place for Mermaid Photo shoots?
Washington still has a lot of wild spaces and natural beauty. Quiet hidden beaches all around the sound really make it an ideal place for a mermaid photo shoot. Also it has pristine hidden lakes and rock river beds are everywhere. You have the mountains to the west the ocean all around. Hidden cliff side coves empty lonely beaches some of the longest sand coastlines in the world. It’s cold and rustic beauty a cold weather mermaid’s dream. The mermaids here are definitely made of tougher stuff here.
Tell us about some of the photo shoots you’ve done thus far?
My first photo shoot trip was Meramar falls and crescent lake with the Mertailor Royal Betta tail. It was actually a mer-camping trip with my pod we were all from the Seattle Mermaid Pod. A fantastic group of mermaids and had so much fun. It’s where Merman Mike’s idea of doing more photo shoots first came to be. And where I first saw the pure magic of the tail was something out of a dream.
The next shoot was on a beach at fort warden with the Mertailor Rainbow parrotfish tail. It was a bit chilly the sand was blowing a bit in my eyes the waters were rough but the sun just was seeping through the clouds with some prefect rays of light. On the rocks looking out to the ocean serenely gazing into the rough pacific waves I sat and breathed the sweet smell of the salt air.
One of my favorite shoots was Salisbury point park and Port Gamble. For that shoot I wore the Mertailor’s Devil’s Den tail. Loved that shoot was by far one of my favorite looks that embodies what it means to be “The Swashbuckling Mermaid”. It embraces the perfect balance between strength and beauty. It kind of pays homage to favorite my saying “Mermaids are Made of Tougher Stuff.”
For the Shine Tideland Park shoot we used the Mertailor Usturi Koi tail. It was a beautiful orange and black tail a stark contrast to the Grey rocks and deep blue sky. The light was so beautiful that day I loved it. We found lots of great driftwood on the beach to pose on.
We went to Port Ludlow for the next shoot it looked like it was going to rain and the wind was blowing fairly hard, but the stormy grayish clouds actually complimented my ethereal sea witch look . The glass bubble and iridescent black netting with my hair wisping in the wind actually set off my fiery Mertailor Hocus Pocus tail.
The Marrow Stone Island shoot was one shoot I didn’t think would happen It started pouring rain when we got to the island and the first beach we were trying to get to had no access and we got caught in a seemingly endless GPS loop. By the time we finished with the loop the rain stopped and we were able to get to the East Beach Park and it was one of the best shoots. The lighting was perfect the sky was half blue and stormy. With the Mertailor Sunset Fever it completely popped from the background.
I’ve heard you have a calendar coming out next year, can you elaborate on this a bit?
Yes the rumors are defiantly true my calendar will be out some time after October so definitely be looking out for it. My hope is that part of the proceeds for this project go to help clean up the oceans. The Oceans gives us life and 50 to 85%of the oxygen we breath comes from the ocean. So many beautiful and wonderful creatures live in the ocean yet are in a constant struggle for survival with the amount of pollution and plastics we really need to do our part to clean up this mess not just for our sake, but for our future generations.
Any advice for anyone thinking about becoming a mermaid or merman?
Get swimming lessons first and swim smart and think safety first. Live your dreams, but never do anything that goes beyond your personal abilities. Many pools have been closed down to mermaids because of safety issues. The more pools close the less fun it is for everyone. Don’t swim alone always swim with a buddy. Be aware that swimming can be dangerous even for the most trained swimmers so don’t swim in heavy currents and don’t take unnecessary risks. Learn everything you can about it first. If your super serious about it take scuba diving classes and free diving classes are super helpful to increase your breath holds and increases your level of safety in the water. Have fun be creative and if you are a land locked mermaid or merman who says you can’t sit in your mermaid tail and just have fun!!!
For those who may want to follow you on Social Media can you please provide us with some links?
I’m also an artist and you can see some of my artwork @ Gallery 724 in Port Orchard WA: https://www.facebook.com/jlouisking/
You can also see examples of my art @ https://woodlandvikingworks.webs.com/
and again on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Woodland-Viking-Works-196339060430749/
Also at Celtic EuroB Works on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Celtic-EuroB-Works-1307992962594002/
Thank you for your time today is there anything else you want to say before we end this interview?
If you wander your whole life and never find what your called to do always keep your dreams because in life that’s what will guide you the most. Always fight for what is good and right and just in this world and care about each other and love with your whole heart. It is never a weakness to care in fact it is our biggest strength. Always follow your dreams you never know what adventures life has in store for you. “The Swashbuckling Mermaid”
End of Interview