Like any other 22-year-old Floridian, Eric Ducharme loves to swim, except when he dives into the water, he trades his swim trunks for a floppy tail. Ducharme says he eats, sleeps, and breathes mermaids and mermen and tries to impersonate them whenever he can. “It’s a lifestyle. It’s a path in life that I have chosen,”
His love for all things mermen began as a child when, according to his website, his grandparents took him to an underwater theater and a woman in a mermaid costume swam by blowing kisses to the audience; at age six, Ducharme’s father hired two mermaids to swim up to a dock where the boy was eating his birthday cake. When he was 13, Ducharme created his company Mertailor, LLC and sold his own handcrafted tails made from garbage bags and various fabrics.
“It’s taking me a really long time to kind of understand my place in life,” Ducharme says of his obsession. Three times a week, he slips into his shiny handmade fin to swim Florida’s natural springs, an hour and a half drive from his home in Crystal River. He calls it “mermaiding” a time to escape the pressures of the real world. “When I put on a tail I feel transformed,” says Ducharme, who can hold his breath for four minutes at a time. “I feel like I’m starting to enter into a different world when I hit the water.”
And although his boyfriend Matthew Quijano was initially shocked, he’s accepted the mermen lifestyle. “When I first met Eric, I was introduced to the subject of mermaids, on our first date,” he says.”Your jaw just kind of drops and you’re just like, ‘wow.’
Ducharme’s mission is to make his costumes available to “every aspiring mermaid and merman who dreams of life in the sea.”
Hmm, sounds legit.