Fake Mermaids Are Constructing Real Fund

Life as a mermaid isnt always glamorous. You have to tolerate chlorine and salt in your eyes and keep them open like its no problem, tells Linden Wolbert, a self-described entrepremermaid in Los Angeles. There are times when I get out of the water and I cant even see to drive home. Wolbert also has to hold her breath for minutes at a time, smile without swallowing water, and swim in a silicone tail that weighs nearly 50 pounds.( She usually has spotters .) Other than routine physical torment, being a mermaid for hire is merrific and mermazing, she tells. Shes been one for more than a decade, running private events for celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, and Justin Timberlake. Her merformancesevents at which she swims mostly in ponds, though sometimes in the ocean or at aquariumsstart at $1,000, and she tells she earns more, hourly, for some projects than many lawyers I know. Her YouTube channel brings in four figures a month.

Linden Wolbert
Photographer: Molly Matalon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Hiring mermaids has been popular for years, as has pretending to be one. Lady Gaga, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Katy Perry have all worn tails for dres balls, music videos, or advertising shoots. Their passion has helped inspire a mertailing industry to support aspiring sea damsels, and its prospering: In October, Walmart Store ordered 58,000 of the Mermaid Linden children monofinsflippers like the kind you use to snorkel but fused togetherWolbert stimulates with outfitters Body Glove International. Wolbert and Body Glove also teamed up to make a spandex children tail thats patterned on a parrotfish.( The tail doesnt come with any kind of flipper attached .) We think its going to be incredibly successful, tells Body Glove President Russ Lesser.

The larger mermaid economy is as diverse as sea life itself. Schools teach aspiring sea damsels in the Philippines, France, Spain, and the U.S.( In Omaha, a two-day class for adults expenses $210; a two-day teacher-training class at New Yorks Coney Island is $375.) The three photographers and host mermaid who run the Mermaid Portfolio Workshop charge as much as $ 3,000 to shoot would-be mermodels in the Bahamas and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The classes are internationally popular, tells Chris Crumley, one of the photographers.

Wolberts spandex children tail( right) resembles aparrotfish; its meant to be sold withher $29.99 monofin .
Photographer: Molly Matalon for Bloomberg Businessweek