Mermaid Crowned MerPalooza Bad Ass Introduces Her Muse and Her Pod

Style Coven caught up with MerPalooza 2012’s Bad Ass Mermaid Chelsea Holifield after what turned out to be quite the successful and controversial event at Wyndham Orlando Resort. (For more on the controversy, see Style Coven Exclusive – MerPalooza 2012 Mermaid Convention Ousted from International Palms Resort in Orlando Florida for Supporting Gay Rights!).

With help and encouragement from her family and her muse (famous Hollywood “tail man” Thom Shouse), Chelsea became enamored with mermaiding, trained to swim with a tail, met her earthly mermaid pod at MerPalooza and was crowned the show’s most bad ass fishy lady.

Held Aug. 11-12, MerPalooza 2012 was the world’s biggest mermaid-themed gathering ever. Hundreds of mermaids, pirates, fairies and other magical and mythological creatures showed up at The Wyndham Orlando Resort for a trade show, swim fun day with pool games, a mermaid pageant and charity event.

We are fascinated by this emerging mermaid trend (even Disney got into the act by hosting a mermaid recruiting booth at the show!). For an insider look at today’s mermaids, here are some excerpts from our deep sea soul searching interview with bad ass Chelsea Holifield.

How did you win the MerPalooza trophy?

I am not a pageant girl, fashion girl or even considered trendy. I have never won an actual trophy and this one means more to me than I thought a trophy could. After a long weekend of being not only the smallest one in the pod, it turns out I am the toughest!

I always carry a knife (and thanks to new mer pal Robin), I had a new knife that I proudly carried against my back the whole time. I’m kind of the edgy mermaid.  I come from a pirate Renaissance faire background and I know how to take care of business. I don’t mind getting dirty or working hard. Because of all this, I was given the nick name Mer-Gyver, which I proudly accepted and now wear as a badge of honor. After busting tail at the MerPalooza trade show, I was given my trophy! Thom gave me the trophy for being a BAM (bad ass mermaid). I worked hard, I kicked ass, and Mer-Gyver was born!

I would never have the opportunities I have now without Thom. Thom is more than a boss. He is my Mer-Papa. Thom teaches us, watches over us and laughs with us. With him and the other girls, we are more than a pod of mermaids: We are a family of mermaids who really love and care for each other


What inspired you to become a mermaid?

I wasn’t inspired by a movie though like most I love (the 90s blockbuster film) Splash. I wasn’t inspired by a loss or tragedy like some in the (mermaid) community who have a story to share. I wasn’t inspired by a person or a place. I was just born with a grand adoration of water. I love the ocean, rivers, streams and pools.

Wherever there is water, chances are I am in it! I am Pisces, I have been swimming since I was two years old and I’ve been a scuba diver since I turned 18. My mother refers to me as her water baby and I was raised with the old stories of mermaids, sirens and sailors.

In fact, I come from a long line of sailors and fisherman. My family sailed and worked the waters of the North Sea in Scotland for many centuries. For many who lived off the ocean and counted on it for survival, just as many of my family gave their lives to the North Sea. Their blood is my blood and I like to think that — though their bodies where never found — they link me to the waters of the North Sea for all times.

I feel the most grounded when I am in the water. There are sounds of silence down there, that make you forget your worries and teach you to listen to the silence of the water world around you. Being a mermaid was just the next step in my evolution. It is another extension of my own being. Being in the water connects me to my family, my element and my heart. I could not think of a more natural thing, than being a mermaid.

What did you need to do to prepare for the tail experience?

Before I was even asked to come to MerPalooza, I was in training. Thom, who knew of my back ground in diving and swimming, wanted me to be a strong swimming mermaid. After a few trips to the shop – after learning and working alongside Thom — it was time to begin my water training.

Thom gave me a large black mono fin and sent me on way. I was confident that this was going to be easy for me. Well, It’s not easy, but it’s not hard either. I could swim slowly and float about easily. As the days went by, I found myself swimming faster, longer, and most importantly, with some grace! After about a month of swimming in the mono fin, I thought I was a bad ass. I could really move with turns, twists and hand stands came easily now!

My favorite new trick was to swim on my side down the length of the pool and twist around to go back! I kept a “dive log” on Facebook, so everyone would know my progress.

Soon after, Thom gave me a lovely green fabric tail to swim in and the first chance I had, I was in the water! Thinking myself somewhat of a bad ass, I thought I had this. I was wrong.

The fabric added more resistance and the tricks did not come so easily anymore. Not to be discouraged, I kept up my training and soon I was back to swimming gracefully! I was not to actually swim in the urethane tail until I arrived at Mer-Palooza. I knew I had to be ready and nothing was going to stop me from being a great swimmer. Every step was important. It gave me a goal and I worked hard to achieve it!

I trained daily by working on my mermaid art and learning from Thom. However, that was not all I had to prep for Mer-Palooza. I ended up as the test mermaid for the new line of mermaid prosthetics, fins, gills, scales, and even webbed ears!

In addition, Thom had an amazing makeup artist, Brenda Salome, come out to do my makeup and turn me into a real creature of the deep sea. I had also created my own scale pasties and large bibbed collar from the old scale pieces pulled from my tail.

What things are in the works for next year?

Everything is coming and going so quickly. Mermaid gigs are coming in and I am looking forward to everything the world has to offer me! I hope to continue to show, sell and create my art. I hope to work as a mermaid and bring a little magic into the world. I always say…Improve, Uplift and Enlighten….so I guess that is what is in the works for New Year!

Style Coven Lifestyles Editor at Large Sheryll Alexander contributed to this story.



Whimsical Fairy Sculptures from the Fantasy Works of Celia Harris

“I feel the urge to create at least one thing everyday, whether it be writing a poem, writing a song, sculpting, drawing or graphic design. Whatever forum of expression it may be, creating seems to be as effortless as breathing for me”  Celia Harris

At the tender age of 27 Aussie based artisan Celia Harris is already a master sculptor. The child of two sculptors, she was encouraged at a young age to create whatever she could imagine or dream. The resulting polymer creations are the most delightful fairies we have seen on 7 continents. We were delighted to catch up with her yesterday at her home in New South Wales, Australia to talk about fairies, magick and fun.

Style Coven:  Do you SEE fairies, or do your creations come from your imagination?

Celia: Definitely both! How often I see them depends on how lucid I’m feeling and the location. I see them mostly when alone and in the wilds and there’s no chance of me being disturbed by another human with a commanding presence! Here I feel most at one with my surroundings and feel no different to the trees, the critters or insects. Another sight unfolds in those spaces. Also a lot of my faes are from the imagination with elements of what I’ve felt and seen and also stem from a sense of child-like play (and maternal instinct sometimes)!

Style Coven: Have you ever studied “fairy magick?”

Celia: I’ve bought books on the subject but failed to complete reading them! My mind has become lazy these days, I tend to communicate with them through feeling and the heart. As long as they know that I love them and that I honor and recognize them as an integral part of the earth that bears both of us I’m happy.Style Coven:  How long does it take you to make a fairy?

Celia:  This depends on the type of faeries, the costuming and anatomical detail. They can take from 5 hours to a full week ranging from my tiny little ones to the larger.

Style Coven: How do you give them their names?

Celia:  They mostly just pop into my head when looking at them! Sometimes though they tell me they want that name even before they’ve been manifested!

Style Coven:  Do you keep up with the people who buy them?

Celia:  Sometimes I get swamped with orders but mostly I can manage!

Style Coven:  How long does it take for a fairy to be delivered to the USA once it is ordered?

Celia:  Made to order takes 7 business days on average once an order has been placed to be shipped. For faeries already completed (auction style faeries) they are sent within 5 business days and take from 10 days to 3 weeks to arrive to their destination depending on the time of year and the location. An express shipping option is available and guarantees delivery within 4 days however costs extra.

Style Coven:  Do you do custom fairies?

Celia: I have 7 made to order listings on etsy at the moment but other than that I rarely do custom orders because they frazzle me so! I tend to need to go with my own flow as much as possible and mostly other peoples vision is not in that flow. I’ve been known to say yes though if something resonates.

Style Coven:  Have you thought of doing gnomes and trolls?

Celia:  I made one troll called Og’rak the Troll Shaman but I need to do more! I see them so often! I saw a beautiful big swamp troll once down at the waterhole where I used to live and have been meaning to sculpt her ever since!

Style Coven:  When do your fairies ever go on sale?

Celia: Never officially but sometimes I lower prices to meet the current market which always pains me to do as so many of my faeries have a good chunk of me in them!

Celia has been auctioning and selling privately to collectors from all over the world including: Hong Kong, Japan, America, England, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Scotland. Her future plans include a children’s book and a range of stationary, gift cards and prints.

Dedication:  For DeAnna Rice who taught me how to love fairies, gnomes and elves.

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