Man who lives as a mermaid
ERIC Ducharme was three-years old when he had his "aha" moment.
It happened at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida's premiere mermaid attraction.
It was there he clapped eyes on his very first living, breathing water witch and it was love at first sight, as she swished by in her glamorous gold lame tail.
"From that moment on all I wanted to do was swim in the water with the mermaids," recalls Eric. "They were just so magical and free."
I’m typically behind the camera, training someone how to “mermaid”, or making tails. I rarely get a chance to be in front of the camera anymore. Thanks to @mermaid_ginger, she ripped the camera from my hands today to capture this shot! Thank you so much for doing that, you know how to make a merman feel special ❤️🧜♂️ #merman #mertailor #themertailor #floridaboy #floridaspring #mermantail #underwaterlife #underwater #underwaterphotography #malephysique #gowiththeflow #behindthescenes #scruff #instagay #creating #watercolor #waterripples #lookinggood #feelingmyself #canon7d #malemodel #gayfitness #siliconemermaidtail
By the age of eight, Eric had confidently learnt how to sew his very own bedazzled tales on his nan's sewing machine. By 16, he was making a splash as the mermaid prince in Weeki Wachee's production of The Little Mermaid, where he mastered the art of being breathless and looking fabulous at the same time.
"Working underwater is something that requires a lot of practice and patience," reveals Eric, who can hold his breath for up to 4 minutes.
"You have to know what you're doing, trust yourself and remember that safety comes first.
"It also takes a lot of skill and a lot of hours of hard work to appear effortless," he adds.
Sometimes it takes a small army to make magic happen ✨ Thanks to my awesome boyfriend for capturing this beautiful shot of myself and The koi queen herself, @mermaid_ginger gliding through Silver Glen! Mermaid tails by @Mertailor . . . . #goafteryourdreams #liveyouradventure #anythingispossible #believeinyourself #goals #passion #makingdreamscometrue #mermaids #mertailor #themertailor #mermaidsarereal #love #mermaidtail #merman #underwaterphoto #underwaterphotography #ginger #floridaliving #adventure #journey #downunder #reflection #magicalmoments #littlemermaid #disney #romancenovel #valentinesday
School life can be notoriously hard for kids who are creative or different. If you're moonlighting as a merman on weekends, it can be unbearable come Monday.
"For years I was judged and looked at weirdly and awkwardly by many because of my passion for mermaids and mermen," recalls the 27-year old.
"Other kids just didn't share my passion so I tended to hang by myself a lot.
"I'm just lucky I had a supportive family to help me get through it all."
Today Eric is one of the top mermaid tailors in the business.
For years I have been judged and looked at weirdly and awkwardly by many because of my passion for mermaids, mermen, and the creation of tails. I was told that I was never be successful at what I wanted to do. I was also made fun of because I was a gay man with Tourette's syndrome living his passion. Never once did I let that get into my way. Because of my strength and the support of my fans, friends, and true family, I have gone leaps and bounds beyond my wildest dreams. Creating an empire and Fighting for "mer-equality" has been a major role that I've chosen to undertake. When you decide to purchase from Mertailor, remember there's a true and deep story here. Remember that young boy who created this story, that many today are free to live! We support mermaids and mermen of all colors, shapes, and races! It's not just about women in tails, it's about men and women living their dreams. Thank you for the 15 plus years! The industry demographic maybe women in tails, but I refuse to follow that demographic 100%. It's about everyone. Photography by @angelinaventurellaphoto #mertailor #themertailor #merman #mermaid #mermaidtail #mermantail #sunset #southcarolina #dock #basking #rainbow #equality #instaart #instagay #gaystagram #instagood #instadaily #instalike #liveyourdreams #dreamy #lifestyle #choice #strong #believeinyourself #standup #standout #lgbt #empire #originalcharacter #storyofmylife
His company Mertailor, which creates tails and more for little kiddies and big kids alike, has even made bespoke creations for Lady Gaga and Disney. Yep, he's that good.
"I have tails that are as real as the fish you just caught on your boat," says Eric, who makes them out of silicone, urethanes, neoprene and latex.
And the good news is he still finds time to wriggle into his tale of choice for a bit of "me time" when he needs to decompress.
Thanks to everyone who joined in on my live feed! For those of you who missed it, here’s the big announcement! We are releasing SILICONE tail skins for our Fantasea Fins the Thursday afternoon, February 8th! Made from quality silicone rubber, 3-d detail and embedded glitters. They are going to come in 5 stock sizes (refer to our Eco Tail chart) and 4 colors. There will be a limited amount available and we know they are going to sell fast! Prices for the Fantasea Fin and Silicone Tail Skin package will be $650 USD plus shipping. The total weight of these tails range between 15-18 lbs and fold up nicely in a backpack. We will begin shipping these brightly colored beauties 60 days after the release date ❤️Thanks for your continued love and support, we are so excited with this launch and many more to come in 2018. ✨ #Fantasea #Fantaseafin #liveyourfantasy #mertailor #themertailor #merman #mermaid #mermaidtail #siliconemermaidtail #putasmileonyourface #mertailorpod #baseballcap #mermaidcostume #glitter #entrepreneur #monofin #mermaidfin #mermaidlife #mermazing #littlemermaid #thelittlemermaid #disney #mermaiding #realmermaid #cosplay #costume #mermaidstyle #mermaidhair
"At the end of the day everyone needs a way of escaping and getting away from the world and getting in the water does that for me," he says. "As soon as I put on a tail and jump in I feel transformed. "It's just the best feeling ever."
If all this chitchat about glittering dugongs has whet your appetite, you'll be pleased to know mermaids are white hot right now.
Not only is there a live-action version of The Little Mermaid scheduled to hit cinemas later this year, there's even a new 10-part series called Siren about a mermaid-obsessed town that's turned upside down after a mysterious "girl" starts wreaking havoc.
Looks like Eric was well ahead of his time.
Siren airs Monday at 8.30pm on Fox8 and is available on Foxtel On Demand.