Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Mermaids in Vegas: The Mermaid Convention

Two weekends ago I went to Las Vegas for the first annual Mermaid Convention and World Mermaid Awards at the Silverton Hotel and Casino, because not only are there enough mermaids in the world to gather for a convention, there are enough to get awards.

The con part lasted all day, and the highlight was a full-on mermaid pageant called International Mermaid. The reigning International Mermaid, who is also Mrs. Weeki Wachee and a current Weeki Wachee mermaid, Kylee Troche, was there in a gown, tiara, and gleaming International Mermaid sash to crown the new winners. I was a guest judge at said pageant, along with my fellow authors Tera Lynn Childs and Timothy Schaffert, who had (along with poetess Matthea Harvey) all come to do a “mermaid author” reading at Barnes and Noble the night before in an attempt to add some literary flair to the happenings.

The judges' panel, hard at work.

Here’s what a mermaid pageant is like: Strong men from the audience carry each contestant out, since as everyone knows mermaids cannot walk and there were no wheelchairs for them to roll themselves out in. Each mermaid was luminous in her tail, and there were tails of all kinds: tails made of fabric or silicone, tails covered in sequins, shiny spandex-y tails, and super-realistic scaled tales in a variety of shimmering colors. Some mermaids flapped their fins as they were delicately placed on the stage, others positioned their tails alluringly to the side, fluke standing straight up, and everyone smiled and waved at the audience. One mermaid chose to hop on stage, another to be carried up piggy-back style. All age groups were represented, as well as both genders. There was even a merbaby who was carried out on stage by his mother and who sat there grinning in his bright blue sparkling tail before attempting to crawl off out of the limelight. There were several little girls, too, including two Australian sisters, ages two and four. The four-year-old won for her age group and apparently the two-year-old was very upset by this.

It's not an easy thing, scoring mermaids and mermen on scales of one to 25. In the “formal wear” section of the competition, I did dock that baby merman several points for showing up in a polo shirt. I mean, what was he thinking? But we judges soldiered on and diligently scored every contestant, and new international mermen, mermaids, and merbabies were crowned, and at the end, every contestant came out on stage to sit on chairs or stretch out on the floor. The little girls were sucking on lollipops as crowns slipped off their heads, and that baby was crawling and smiling in his bright blue fish tail, and all those gorgeous mermaids were posing and smiling, and it was all ridiculous and wonderful and awesome, and I was proud to have lent my services and done my part. I thought, This is why I became an author.

There were also a bunch of vendors, photographers, and artists around, as well as the aforementioned authors, who did an impromptu reading on stage after the mermaid pageant, but, I’m not going to lie, didn’t get quite the same response. (We had had the reading and mermaid ball the night before, which you have to admit might be the coolest literary event ever. I mean how often have you entered a bookstore and seen this?

or this?)

But anyway, the con ended and that night was the main event: the big pool party and World Mermaid Awards. Which meant that for the first time ever, tons and tons of mermaids and mermen jumped in a pool together and swam around in their tails. Many mermaids changed in nearby cabanas and were carried out by strong men, who delicately placed them poolside. Stars of the mermaid world, like Hannah Fraser, who swims with whales and sharks, and Marina MeduSirena, who performs with her pod of aquaticats at the retro Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale, were there, along with tons of reporters and journalists and photographers, and suddenly that pool was full of people in tails that stretched out of the water and splashed all around, and you knew that at least some of those creatures in that pool felt like they had finally, at long last, come home.

Speaking of journalists, Joel Stein of Time magazine was there at the Silverton, wondering what to make of the whole thing. “I kind of feel like I’m at a taping of Real Sex,” he said to me at one point, and for a moment I was taken aback — I mean, mermaids! splashing about delicately in the waves! — until I looked in front of us and realized we were in fact looking at tons of dripping-wet girls in shell bras and tight tails posing for a not-unsubstantial crowd of mostly male photographers and admitted he might have a point.

And then all those mermaids and mermen got out of the water and sat poolside, their tails dangling down, and the shimmering, light-haired, luminous Hannah Fraser did this gorgeous, mesmerizing performance, undulating with fire and then diving gracefully into the water, and then MeduSirena camped it up, all masses of black hair and curves and a deep red tail, and splashed through that pool to the other end and sat there and ate some fire, and Mermaid Sora bellydanced and later Maluhia Kawai did hula by the side of the pool, and there was swimming and splashing as awards were announced, and Sita Lange, who put on the whole thing — which was huge and crazy and at one point was rumored to be attracting Daryl Hannah and Johnny Depp, and at another point not going to happen at all — got a ton of applause, and I could barely hear, but it was all beautiful and ridiculous, which all the best things are, especially when you’re in Las Vegas.

Previously: Mermaid Camp.

Carolyn Turgeon wrote the novel MERMAID, runs the mermaid-themed blog I Am a Mermaid, and is co-editor of the new upcoming annual MERMAIDS publication.

29 Comments / Post A Comment


What is Justin Theroux doing in the first picture? Is he a mermaid enthusiast?


@melis - is this a good time to talk about my wife?

(waits for rage)


@brad Oh my God, she's a mermaid, isn't she???




"My beautiful and perfect wife is a mermaid, but my legs are so stumpy and hideous I don't know why she'd want to ever look at them. I'm so lucky. I'm so lucky. I'm so lucky I'm going to go fuse my legs together with this glue gun and some sequins."

I think we're becoming friends, now.


glue? don't be stupid. if you hold her underwater long enough the gills just grow!! yeah? wait, we were talking about my legs huh? shit...


There's something fishy about this post


SO JEALOUS! I need to go to this next year for sure. I was a mermaid for Halloween last year.


@QuiteAimable Life is precious, and God, and the Bible episode of Mr. Show with Bob & David.


We Need To Talk About Mermaids.

I am slowly coming to terms with my fear of mermaids. THEY'RE FUCKING TERRIFYING. Something to do with scales in the nether regions. Eeesh.



Having said that, I'll make an exception for the Irish poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill's mermaid poems.

The Mermaid in the Hospital

She awoke
to find her fishtail
clean gone
but in the bed with her
were two long, cold thingammies.
You'd have thought they were tangles of kelp
or collops of ham.

"They're no doubt
taking the piss,
it being New Year's Eve.
Half the staff legless
with drink
and the other half
playing pranks.
Still, this is taking it
a bit far."
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.

But here's the thing
she still doesn't get—
why she tumbled out after them
How she was connected
to those two thingammies
and how they were connected
to her.

It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
"You have one leg attached to you there
and another one underneath that.
One leg, two legs...
A-one and a-two...
Now you have to learn
what they can do."

In the long months
that followed,
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell,
her instep arches.


This is neither the first nor last time I will make this comment, but my favorite line from any moment of any tv show ever:

I'm gonna fuck me a fish.


@leon.saintjean I'd guess the Atlanta episode of Futurama, but I imagine they'd have censored the word fuck. I'm stumped!


Ahhh I am torn between my intense love of mermaids and how much I dislike able-bodied adults being carried by other adults. I am not sure what it is about people carrying people that pisses me off, but wow. Totally does.


@cherrispryte "SWOOP ME!"


@Decca Look at that— I pinned him! I pinned the Army man! God bless you for being in the Army. Up, Dragon! Left. Left with vigor.


@melis To the nuts! The bridge mix! The bridge mix! Fool!


@Decca Heyyy, fake Uncle Jack.


@cherrispryte Back to the blonde! Back to the blonde!


I want to be a mermaid so bad. Number of times I've kicked myself for never being in the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island (when it was still good)= Every Time.


I'm going to Vegas tomorrow (holla!) and I got all pumped up thinking that the mermaid pageant was occuring this weekend! Then I actually read the article and realized it already happened. Emotional roller coaster of the past 3 minutes... the highest high, followed by the lowest low.


Also, Summer's poem:
"I wish I were a mermaid, and friends with all the fish. A shiny tail and sea shells, that would be my wish."


@emilylouise OH MY GOD you are my O.C. soulmate.

Carrie Murphy@twitter

did she just say poetess?


I wasn't sure how I felt about this until I saw the photo of a man carrying a mermaid in a bookstore. Awesome.

Hot mayonnaise

@SarahP: How else to expect Mermaids to get books? They don't have the internet down there, you know.


anybody else get excited for "aquaticats" thinking they had somehow got cats in the show (possible with tails) only to be disappointed yet again?


I love Matthea Harvey. This makes me love her more.

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