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frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: None.

August 29: Author and mermaid enthusiast Carolyn Turgeon interviewed a person with a mermaid soul, named Cynthia Rivers. Rivers has been very active in the online part of the real mermaid community for years. She runs a blog for it. She's an officer in a helpful mermaid group in the virtual reality setting of Second Life. She eventually got herself a mermaid tail, which she wears in her pool. Excerpt from interview:

“ … he asked if I believed in mermaids. ‘I have to,’ I replied, ‘I am one.’”


The mermaid community is separate from the otherkin community. It apparently sprang up with little mutual contact between them.

Source


Carolyn Turgeon, “Cynthia Rivers, Mermaid and Mermaid Blogger.” 2013-08-29. I Am A Mermaid. http://iamamermaid.com/2012/08/29/cynthia-rivers-mermaid-and-mermaid-blogger/
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Trigger warnings: Amputees and prostheses. Some linked articles contain the kind of ableism common in reporting on these subjects.

July: A group of students designed an amphibious prosthetic leg. Shown in the video above, it’s called the Murr-ma, and it makes it possible to swim very fast. This prosthetic has a bird-like foot for running on soft sand at a beach. It has fins on its calf area, instead of on its foot. Its fins are inspired by those of the sailfish. It has advantages over the usual kind of swim fins, which make it hard to walk on land.

Compare the prosthetic mermaid tail of Nadya Vessey. In 2009, Vessey, a swimmer who did not have legs, asked the special effects studio Weta Workshop to design it for her. Unlike costume mermaid tails, this one has the advantage of having only a supple spine down its length, so it moves more like a real dolphin tail. It’s a great example of how prosthetic limb design doesn’t have to resemble human limbs.

I could have sworn that I posted on Otherkin News about the mermaid tail of Nadya Vessey a few years ago. I remember researching the article, but it’s not in my blog archives, so I must have failed to post it. I thought that I also posted about the industrial design student Kaylene Kau’s prosthetic tentacle arm in 2010, but I can’t find that in the archives, either. (By the way, all three of these prostheses were unique prototypes that aren’t sold commercially. Years later, Vessey’s mermaid tail is still the only one of its kind.) Maybe I had doubts about these articles’ relevance to otherkin, trans-human, and trans-species topics. In the future, I think I'd rather err on the side of including such things.


Sources


Thomas Essl, “Murr-ma, the amphibious prosthetic.” http://youtu.be/Q-yFS9qrDd0 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-yFS9qrDd0

Victoria Woollaston, “The AMPHIBIOUS prosthetic limb inspired by the world's fastest fish that enables humans to swim at 'superhuman' speeds.” 2013-08-09. Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2387961/The-AMPHIBIOUS-prosthetic-limb-inspired-worlds-fastest-fish-enables-humans-swim-superhuman-speeds.html

“Close up: A mermaid’s tail.” 2009-02-26. TVNewZealand. http://youtu.be/cDajDkWGW4c or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDajDkWGW4c

Kaylene Kau, “Prosthetic arm.” 2010-10-23. Coroflot. http://www.coroflot.com/kaylenek/PROSTHETIC-ARM?school_name=University+of+Washington,+College+of+Built+Environments&
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: the linked article talks about religion (Christianity, exorcism), occult spirituality, and sex.

July: An article in an online magazine about paranormal phenomena mentioned people who think of themselves as vampires, werewolves, and mermaids. The online magazine in question is called Who Forted? (est. 2008). The article is about the silliest questions on Yahoo! Answers about paranormal phenomena.

The author of the article, Greg Newkirk, remarks that his experience with paranormal things on the Internet includes that he has “hung out on vampire dating websites […] and even stumbled onto a forum full of people who claimed to be real-life werewolves.” That’s all the article says about those people.

The given selection of questions don’t deal with people who identify as vampires or werewolves. A couple of the given questions are by young women who hope to become mermaids. They appear to be “wanna-be mermaids” of the kind examined by Ketrino. See an earlier Otherkin News article about their subculture, which appeared around 2006.



Sources


Greg Newkirk, “ ‘I Need to Become a Mermaid as Soon as Possible. Pls Help.’ – The Best of Yahoo! Answers Paranormal.” 2013-07-12. Who Forted? http://whofortedblog.com/2013/07/12/i-need-to-become-a-mermaid-as-soon-as-possible-pls-help-the-best-of-yahoo-answers-paranormal/

O. Scribner, “Another mermaid subculture.” 2013-05-15. Otherkin News. http://otherkin-news.livejournal.com/34349.html
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: Much about belief in paranormal phenomena and occult spirituality.

Last month, Ketrino updated an informal collection of information about a subculture of mermaids that emerged around 2006. They’re real people-- mostly teenage girls-- who hope to physically become mermaids by doing magic spells. Some of them claim to already be real mermaids. Ketrino compares them to otherkin and therianthropes, noting that they’re isolated from those groups. These mermaids sound like a different group of people than the mermaids who were at MerCon.


Sources


1. Ketrino T. Ghoe, “A study of mermaids and mermaid wannabes on the internet.” Created 2012-05. Updated 2013-04. Ketrino’s otherkin essays, rants, and other writings. http://ketrino.angelfire.com/merstudy.html

2. O. Scribner, “Mermaid convention.” 2012-08-12. Otherkin News. http://otherkin-news.livejournal.com/23389.html
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: The linked article talks about menopause symptoms, paranormal phenomena, and extreme violence in history and in horror fiction.

An article in the Huffington Post Blog talked about real people “who think they’re vampires, or werewolves, or witches […] a merman.” The humorist Donna Highfill interprets these as fantasies for coping with the boring or tragic parts of life.

Highfill wrote, “I must admit that I'd prefer to believe that I'm becoming a werewolf rather than accept the fact that, in my menopausal years, I now have to shave my face. How much cooler would it be to know that as the facial hair comes in, it brings with it tremendous power? […] So, maybe we forgive ourselves the need to be fantastical creatures. But, let's also keep our feet on the ground. Being human isn't that bad.”

Thanks to Merticus for pointing out this article in a post to the WereList Media Center.

- O. Scribner


Source


Donna Highfill, “Am I menopausal or a powerful werewolf?” 2013-04-23. Huffington Post: The Blog. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-highfill/am-i-menopausal-or-a-powe_b_3132315.html
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Default)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warning: none.

2012-08-11: Orlando, Florida: Following up after last year’s Mer-Con, a second mermaid convention took place during this weekend, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel (regional newspaper, est. 1876). This convention was more diverse than the last, featuring pirates and faeries in addition to mermaids. I didn’t find any articles where participants talked about earnestly identifying as mermaids, as I did for last year's Mer-Con. This may be a primarily commercial event, in addition to featuring some underwater performances.

Sources )
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: violence, crime, trolling (harassment). Not described in graphic detail.

The following post uses excerpts from my newly updated free e-book, Otherkin Timeline, as well as excerpts from earlier posts on Otherkin News. This isn't a complete overview of everything on Otherkin News in 2011, just a selection of relatively significant events. During the latter half of this year, I became very active with researching current events in or related to the otherkin community, and began posting regularly to the Otherkin News blog. As a result, I have more information about events during the latter half of 2011 than the early half. Would you please help fill in some events from the first half of 2011?

During this year, an otherkin community blossomed on the blog-hosting site Tumblr.com. This includes the creation of a blog called ’Kin Speak, which people can post to anonymously. In the last couple of months of the year, the otherkin community on Tumblr came to be frequently vandalized and trolled (harassed), but the otherkin there didn't falter in their high level of activity. Meirya wrote about how the otherkin community on Tumblr differs from any before.

2011-01: Someone claiming to be from a casting department spammed the otherkin and therian forums to search for someone to interview for a purported documentary TV show about otherkin that would air on the Animal Planet channel. So far, nothing has come of it, but members of the WereList forums are researching it, with trigger warnings for that link: adult topics. Currently, it looks like it's a genuine casting call, not a phishing scam, but the show would also feature some adult topics.

2011-08-14: The first annual Mer-Con 2011, the world’s largest mermaid convention. Some of the attending self-proclaimed mer-people described a lifelong desire to become real mer-people, or assert that they are now real mer-people. Recently, a participant called Mermaid Shelley reflected on this and other events in the mermaid community during 2011. The mermaid community isn’t connected with the otherkin or therian communities, and is news to me and to the rest of the otherkin I've talked to.

2011-08-13?: A vampire crime. Lyle Monroe B., 19, broke into a stranger's apartment and injured the woman living there, and then told the police that he was a 500 year old vampire, but denied it later, claiming that he’d been under the influence of a drug. I haven’t found any follow-up articles explaining what the authorities concluded about him.

2011-08-29: Media. A polite article introducing otherkin to outsiders is published in a Polish-language women’s online magazine, We-Dwoje, which is otherwise mostly about fashion and health. The article is “Otherkin – a quirk, or a fantastic way to live?

2011-09: A vampire/werewolf crime. Stephanie P., 18, was charged with accessory to the murder of Jacob H., 16 in July. One of six suspects for involvement in the murder, Stephanie told the news station that she believes herself to be part vampire and part werewolf. Later, she was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial. For a collection of all news articles on this topic, see the Atlanta Vampire Alliance (AVA) Media Center forums, with trigger warnings for what the articles describe: murder, rape, violence, blood-drinking, teenagers in a cult, animal sacrifice, some of which is described in graphic detail.

2011-10-04: Media. On Sweden’s channel 5, a TV series titled Outsiders aired an episode about the furry fandom. This includes at least one furry fan who is also a therian. Later, in acknowledgment of this episode, a newspaper editor publicly blogged a joke about killing a child who comes out as trans-species.

2011-11-13: Media. A TV documentary airs on Channel 4 about the Crimson Blood Wolf Pack in Texas, some of whom identify as werewolves, some as vampires. Soon, the vampire community condemned it for showing unsanitary and dangerous blood-drinking practices.

2011-11-17: An early group of elf people called the Silver Elves return one of their books to print: An Elfin Book of Spirits: Evoking the Beneficent Powers of Faerie.

2011-12-05: Ashlyn Nafina prints To Dream, Perchance to Soar, an urban fantasy novel with intentional themes of the otherkin experience.

2011-12-20: The Forest Voice, an independent magazine “for those among us who are nonhuman in nature,” releases its first issue.

- O. Scribner
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (Default)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings for this article: none I can think of. Work-safe. Enjoy!

Last Friday in Las Vegas, mer-people and mer-people fanciers attended the first annual Mer-Con 2011, the world’s largest mermaid convention. Men, women, and children swam while wearing fish tails, and competed in a beauty contest, the International Mermaid Pageant. Other attendees were mermaid-focused painters, authors, tail-makers, and other artisans.1

What kind of people real mermaids, exactly? I ask for your forgiveness in advance, as I am probably going to make some mistakes here as I try to answer this question. I not familiar with their subculture, but evidently they have one. The official Mer-Con site mentions that one of the attending authors is working on a non-fiction book about mermaid culture.2 MerNetwork is a social networking site for mer-people, established in 2010, originally with the intention of connecting performers with tail-makers.

The definition for real mermaids includes—but is not limited to—dancers who perform while skin-diving, during which they may or may not wear fish-tails.3 This type of performance was invented in Weeki Wachee, Florida, “in 1947 by an ex-Navy frogman named Newton Perry.”4 Some Weeki Wachee mermaids performed at Mer-Con, and at an earlier event this year, Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee. One experienced Weeki Wachee mermaid, Barbara Wynns, now age 61, says that

“I knew when I was 7 years old I was going to be a mermaid. Yeah right, you say! Me too, but when I first saw the show at Weeki Wachee … I was like, oh my gosh you can get paid to do that? I made up my mind then that I wasn’t going to college, wasn’t going to get married, I was going to be a Weeki Wachee mermaid. [… When I was 7, I had been] daydreaming, and I saw clearly I was going to be a mermaid, and not a cartoon character one, a real one. I just saw it clearly.”5


Some modern mer-people are not just performers, but people who express a serious desire to become real mer-people, or who assert that they are now real mer-people. I am not clear on the boundaries, but evidently for some, it is more than a costume or a role. It is an identity.

A performer who attended the convention, Mermaid Shelley, said in an interview, “When I was a little girl and saw the movie Splash, I knew instantly that I was meant to be a mermaid. Something about Madison’s outsider perspective on human society and her understanding of the depths of the ocean just resonated with me.” When asked, “Have you always identified as a mermaid?” Shelley replied, “Yes, I think I have since I was about nine years old. … It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend (now husband of 16 years) Chris that I really started embracing it culturally.”6 In her blog, A Mermaid’s Journey: Thoughts of a mermaid in this world, Shelley writes eloquently about environmental issues from a mermaid perspective, and apparently not as a role-playing character.7

Participating New Age author and fish-tailed performer8 Doreen Virtue has written a little in her books about people who identify as mermaids and/or believe that they were marine animals in their past lives.9 Participating mermaid Allie Causin indicated a preference for life underwater and said, “I’ve discovered that I hate having legs.”10 Hannah Fraser (not attending this event?), who has a talent for skin-diving with a fish-tail, says “I’m a mermaid,” and as a child, “she told her parents that she wanted to become one—for real.”11 Traci Hines performs as a lookalike for Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, calls it cosplaying, and says,

“I think a part of me has always been ‘Ariel’ on the inside…we’re a lot alike I think…but ever since I dyed my blonde hair red, and began actually performing as The Little Mermaid for children, even when I am out of costume I think I tend to take more care in how I act and present myself, at least whenever little ones are around, since they always seemed to believe I was her regardless of what I was wearing! Even in jeans on the street I would be stopped and asked almost daily if I was ‘The Little Mermaid.’”12


Raina the Halifax Mermaid (Stephanie) describes how her more confident mermaid persona is an acting role, which has nonetheless changed her life for the better:

“Through Raina I’ve met and made more real friends then I ever did as Stephanie and perhaps that’s because Raina is just an outward expression of my true inner-self. The gap between the two is closing though and Raina and Stephanie are becoming one and the same. I’m starting to realize it’s not the fin that makes the mermaid- it’s her spirit!”13


I recommend Carolyn Turgeon’s blog, I Am A Mermaid. (Caution, NSFW. No actual nudity, but mermaids are not known for wearing a lot of clothes, either.) It includes interviews with many mermaid and mermaid-interested people, in which they explain how they are mermaids, advice to aspiring mermaids (such as safety tips for swimming with a uni-fin), and what they see as special about mermaids. Many of them answered that last question in beautiful ways, but this is one of my favorites, by fantasy author (not a performing mermaid) Sarah Porter:

“I love the image of a divided nature: human vs. other, visible vs. secret and subaquatic, everyday vs. magic. If you only saw a mermaid as she was rising to the surface, you could think she was a human girl. Her tail is like the secret side of her personality, her hidden self, or the unconscious mind.”14


In the otherkin community, mermaids are a surprisingly scarce type of otherkin. In all, I’ve heard of perhaps three of them in the otherkin community. Nonetheless, it seems that there is a substantial community of people out there who do identify as mermaids and mermen. It’s just that nearly all the mer-people don’t call themselves otherkin, and they don’t mingle in otherkin communities. Is this by choice? Or could it be that they have not heard of “otherkin,” which is still a very obscure concept?

Sources )

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