- Gabrielle Rivera is a 25-year-old skilled mermaid based mostly within the Bay Space, California.
- On the age of 19, a pal launched Rivera to on-line group of merfolk, individuals additionally all in favour of mermaids and costuming. From there, her character Nymphia, The Nautilus Mermaid, was born.
- In the present day, Rivera performs as Nymphia in every single place from company occasions and children’ events, to aquarium and water exhibits, beginning at a price of $250 for a 90-minute look.
- Rivera says that as a trans girl, cosplay and dealing as a mermaid has helped her discover and construct up confidence in her femininity.
- This is her story, as instructed to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
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For so long as I can keep in mind, I have been drawn to the ocean. A few of my earliest childhood reminiscences as a bit boy are spending time on the San Diego seashores with my mother.
In highschool I started doing cosplay, attending my first occasion, The San Diego Comedian-Con in 2009. I loved stitching and costuming recreationally, so it was an ideal match for my pursuits.
Early on, I made my very own mermaid material costume compete with a swimmable model of Ariel’s tail.
I even wound up taking a mermaid class sporting the tail. The category taught us a collection of fundamental swim kinds such because the dolphin kick, flips and corkscrew turns.
I additionally loved taking images so, on the age of 19, I mixed these pursuits and took a job as a photograph ambassador and wardrobe assistant at SeaWorld. It was 2014, the identical yr I might begun doing pencil sketches of a personality I might dreamed up that I might later name Nymphia, The Nautilus Mermaid.
Quickly after, a merman pal of mine launched me to MerNetwork, a merfolk group, and inspired me to get entangled. It did not take lengthy for me to get hooked.
In 2016, I headed off to Otis Faculty of Artwork & Design in Los Angeles to review vogue design. I ended up leaving after the primary semester, returning to SeaWorld as a seasonal worker.
That very same yr I obtained my first paid mermaid gig. A pal advisable me for a mermaid meet and greet at The Escondido Renaissance Faire, which was plenty of enjoyable. I wore my Ariel tail, and collectively we greeted individuals in a grotto set-up and handed out treasure to the youngsters. That was the day I introduced my character Nymphia to life for the primary time.
It was my mother who first identified that this may very well be a enterprise for me.
I dwell with my mother and father in Oakland and the three of us have been usually assembly in our lounge, conducting casual enterprise conferences, and discussing what it will take for me to show this right into a actuality. We talked about all the pieces from sources to costuming to funds. With their help, for the primary time, I keep in mind pondering changing into knowledgeable entrepre-mermaid may simply be an precise chance.
From there, I joined a neighborhood group generally known as the Ocean Seashore Mer Pod, and shortly I used to be doing each paid and volunteer appearances. Two months after my first mermaid gig, I obtained licensed as an Open Water Scuba Diver by means of PADI. I additionally commissioned husband and spouse duo, Jim and Alicia Ward of See Through Sea, to design a customized silicone mermaid tail which value $2,700. It weighs 36 kilos, and feels such as you’re swimming with a dumbbell connected to you. It is fabricated from medical-grade silicone and it feels extra like a prosthetic than a fancy dress. I named her Moana.
Silicone tails are an enormous funding, working between $1,000 to $6,000 relying on the maker. They’re largely handmade by small creators nonetheless there are a handful of bigger corporations like Mertailor which provide mass silicones.
Material tails like neoprene are extra snug, weigh much less, are simpler to placed on, and far more cost-effective ($300-$500) however they’re nowhere close to as sensible wanting.
In the case of silicone versus material, it actually comes down to simply selecting your poison.
It sometimes takes me between two and a half to 3 hours to get into full costume.
Getting my tail on is a course of. I start by making use of a water-based lubricant to my legs so I can slide into it simpler. Then I lay down on a yoga mat and put my ft into the monofin, and start sliding it up the size of my physique. It often takes me half an hour to do and it appears like I am sporting an enormous condom on my physique as a result of silicone suctions to your pores and skin.
I am a make-up geek in order that half takes the longest, particularly relating to the female contouring. I put on a lace entrance wig that I glue to my scalp and use a small military of bobby pins and a crown to anchor it down. One time it got here off within the water and all my make-up smeared, however fortunately it was throughout a observe swim.
Cosplay actually helped me construct up confidence in my femininity, and I really feel my most female as a mermaid.
I did not come out to my mother and father as trans till I used to be dwelling in Los Angeles in 2017. It was extra of a passive sort of speak, however by then I used to be already utilizing female pronouns to discuss with myself.
At instances, it may be more durable to ebook occasions as a transgender girl.
Folks will not admit that is why they do not rent me, however I’ve heard it by means of the grapevine. I am very upfront about being trans. The truth is, I not too long ago served as an envoy and speaker for trans merfolk on the California Mermaid Conference in 2019.
After I do work, I do all of it — youngsters’ events, company occasions, seashore visits and meet and greets, and aquarium and water exhibits. My price is $250 for a 90-minute look on dry land and $275 within the water.
I all the time have an assistant readily available whose job is to behave like my land legs.
If I am working close to the water, I can simply roll into it, but when I am on dry land, my assistant carries me — which is not the best process, contemplating I weigh 162 kilos and my tail weighs practically one other 40. Generally he tosses me over his shoulder and carries me into an occasion just like the catch of the day. It is also useful to have him with me in case some drunk man tries to play let’s drown the mermaid. Luckily, I have never had any run-ins with that personally, however in my trade, we have all heard the tales.
Along with my mermaid work, I work because the lifeguard teacher for Bay Membership at The Gateway, a personal health membership in San Francisco.
Each my jobs require me to be at my psychological and bodily greatest.
This implies loads of sleep (8-10 hours nightly), a number of protein (eggs are my greatest pal), observe swims, vocal warm-ups, and deep respiration workout routines. I can maintain my breath underwater in a static place for 2 minutes and 25 seconds, and my lively breath-hold is between 45-75 seconds if I swim actually slowly on day. As soon as throughout a photograph shoot, the legendary mermaid mannequin and activist ocean ecology activist, Hannah Fraser, joked I nearly killed her underwater photographer as a result of I held my breath for thus lengthy.
Since COVID-19, enterprise is so much slower as a result of nobody is internet hosting occasions, however I’ve discovered methods to department out. I’ve begun providing digital storytime, in addition to customized movies for particular events or just to say ‘shello’ for between $35-50. The pandemic has additionally supplied me with the downtime I wanted to create a free YouTube channel for youths storytimes, in addition to a podcast referred to as Nymphia: Legend of the Sea.
For me, this isn’t only a job, it is a life-style.
No matter strategies I can use to encourage individuals to dream massive by means of my work, I take advantage of.
It is particularly vital for me, as a 25-year-old girl of trans identification, to unfold the message that anybody can obtain their wildest goals.