I live by the salt water, and look out every day on a rock where seals sunbathe; my distance vision is impressionistic, the bodies lounging where rock meets wave might as well be mermaids. Traditionally half-fish, half-woman, and drop-dead gorgeous, mermaids, at some point, got confused with the traditionally half-bird, half-woman sirens, whose singing voices were notoriously beautiful. Both animal-woman forms caused shipwrecks, or brought bad luck, although some could bestow boons, as well. In today’s popular imagination, the mermaid/siren is commonly thought of as possessing great physical beauty and an irresistible soprano, and she seems to have lost her danger along the way. Weeki Wachee Springs, in Florida, has been featuring professional mermaids in an underwater stage with glass walls since 1947. There are now mermaid schools in Los Angeles, Montreal, Colorado, and the Philippines, among others. Students pick out a colorful monofin and dive in. Mermaiding is now a verb, a hobby, a job. It seems all fantasy, fetish, and sparkle. But I was interested in a mermaid’s interior life. And now, my friend has become one. A mermaid. So I thought I’d ask her.
Fides Krucker is an internationally acclaimed singer specializing in contemporary vocal repertoire. Based in Toronto, she is also a teacher, writer, and vocal composer. Her current role is the Mermaid in DIVE, a work she co-created with writer Richard Sanger and composer Nik Beeson.