Meet leading Merman Jax who is hitting the scene hard and changing the way Mermen are portrayed both in the past and now in the present. He is a strong and passionate merman who really understand a deeper meaning of balance, and what the Mer community is all about.
One of my favorite lines in this interview is:
Be a proud but humble merman, set an example. We are guardians of the sea and most do with strength and sincerity.
Thanks, Merman Jax! Keep reading to learn how this Merman is creating some big waves.
Where are you from? What do you enjoy filling your day with?
I was originally raised in the Bay Area of Northern California, but have been living in Los Angeles for some time now. Southern California allows me to work nearly year round as a Professional Merman, which I love, but I often miss my forested, foggy and rainy Northern California. I try to come back up to visit as much as possible.
A great majority of my days are happily filled with admin work as a Professional Merman and the owner of Dark Tide Productions LLC; as it is my career and primary source of income. When I do force myself to take a break from work, I enjoy going to see scary movies, eating sour candy and reading mythology/folklore books.
Where did you learn your love for the water?
Water has always been a part of me and always will; some of us just have salt water & seafoam in our veins. My last (human) name Laflin, literally means “land of lochs” or “lakes” as it were. The love of the sea runs through my family on both sides; my father’s father was a whaler (it was a different time) and my mother’s father was an abalone diver for a time in the Philippines. I grew up with a pool in my back yard and as a competitive swimmer my whole life, with a focus on the Butterfly Stroke- the base of ‘dolphin kick’ needed to swim as a merman. When I wasn’t actively in the water, I was at aquariums learning more about it scientifically or reading the myths and legends about the ocean and its creatures.
Why do you love Mermen so much?
Well, mermen, in general, are kind of the underdogs in the mermaid world. That’s something I innately connect to and understood very early on. Growing up multi-racial and gay, I understood very well what it felt like to be “different”. Most evidence points to mermaids being a matriarchal society, with mermen often not mentioned or seen as much as their feminine counterparts. Plus, in some legends mermen are described as ugly or at the very least monstrous. I think it is so important to shed more light on the merman not just in modern culture, but in history/legends. That is also why I have done lectures on Merman Mythology before and will be doing so again very soon.
How long have you been using a Merman Tail?
My first merman tail was silicone and from The Mertailor. I received it about 8 years ago now and have been working as a Professional Merman for almost 7 years. It was a wonderful tail that helped put me on the map both socially and professionally. The monofin in the tail, unfortunately, cracked while performing as a guest at Dive Bar in Sacramento. This led me to get my current tail from Merbella Studios. Raven and Tyler are such an amazing team and great people as well. I simply gave Raven some color choices and she pretty much designed the tail from there. It’s definitely become a signature look for me, especially since my fluke style was custom made for me. I believe I am the only tail from Merbella studios with the “barbs” on the side of my tail. I do have another big surprise on this subject coming sometime this year, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that…
What do you think people can learn from Mermen?
I hope genuine confidence. Not bravado, not selling yourself as just a sex object, not lying to fluff your resume and not desperately seeking the approval of the public, especially on social media; you can smell the frantic desperation a mile away and that is not a healthy way to live. The sea has no ego and disingenuous behavior is so incredibly socially toxic. I can’t recommend enough to be honest and proud of your actual accomplishments because you diminish them when you lie about your experience. Be a proud but humble merman, set an example. We are guardians of the sea and most do with strength and sincerity.
What is your favorite Merman or ocean quote?
“The difference between my darkness and your darkness is that I can look at my own badness in the face and accept its existence, while you are busy covering your mirror with a white linen sheet. The difference between my sins and your sins is that when I sin, I know I’m sinning, while you have actually fallen prey to your own fabricated illusions. I am a siren, a mermaid; I know that I am beautiful while basking on the ocean’s waves and I know that I can eat flesh and bones at the bottom of the sea. You are a white witch, a wizard; your spells are manipulations and your cauldron from hell, yet you wrap yourself in white and wear a silver wig.” – C. JoyBell C.
This quote always makes me think of the inner balance that I strive for. Balance to me is accepting and understanding all sides of who you are, your light and dark, your joy and your sadness. Those who don’t acknowledge their “dark” are often controlled by it sooner or later. It’s also a cautionary tale to beware of those masquerading as “good” or “innocent”; it’s an unfortunate pitfall in the community.
What camps or Merman gatherings have you been to or wish to go to?
My schedule, unfortunately, doesn’t leave a ton of room for non-professional mer travel. It is a goal of mine this year to carve out the time and travel and see all of my mermaid friends around the globe. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of professional work, especially when you have an entire team that you support and want to help further their careers. My favorite mermaid focused event is The California Mermaid Convention. I am so excited to be a part of this very unique event. Even if I wasn’t part of the event team, I would definitely still attend this event. The ethics and values of this event are so genuine and community-based and I think that really shines through. Plus, I’m super excited to take part in a special Kids Swim this year, by and for mermen! It was a wonderful idea that Mermaid Rachel had since the little boys can often feel shy and/or pushed aside by the mermaids. I loved the idea and suggested we bring Merman Thommy on board for it too!
My favorite part of these types of gatherings is getting to spend time with friends, both old and new. That quality time is so special and unique when you don’t have to explain such a huge part of your life; they just get it. Sharing wonderful moments swimming and laughing with everyone is so amazing.
What ocean conservation efforts do you support?
For me personally, ocean conservation is important; I’ve worked with a variety of ocean and water-related organizations in my career. Mermaids for Change is a great organization that I’ve collaborated with. Not only do they help bring awareness with photo campaigns about pollution and recycling, they actually fiscally donate to organizations and host beach cleanups. I’ve also done work with Heal the Bay, which is a great organization based in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, in general, has really become great about reusable bags and paper straws. Every year at The California Mermaid Convention there is also a river clean up that benefits the American River Parkway Foundation.
What are your favorite Merman theme items or clothing?
I have so much mermaid stuff lol. This isn’t just something I do professionally, I literally love mermaids and every aspect of them. You can always see a true mer when you walk into their home and it looks like an undersea grotto. I have become a bit of a hoarder of the Merbella copper jewelry collection; I think have 6 necklaces that I love. When I’m not actively performing at an event, I often wear a big piece of aqua-aura wrapped in silver. I love the aesthetic and energy very much and consider it my merman stone. The aquatic piece I wear nearly every day is a silver starfish earring given to me by my oldest friend, Andromeda. She’s always called me Starfish.
Any tips and tricks for fellow Mermen?
Well, if you plan on swimming in a tail I definitely suggest being a strong swimmer in the first place. Then I recommend starting with a fabric tail. You can very easily be overwhelmed with a very heavy and very expensive silicone tail; we’ve all seen many people sell their tails within 6 months as they didn’t properly consider all the logistics. Plus, fabric tails are so beautiful now and much more affordable. There definitely weren’t amazing fabric tails like what Mertailor is now creating when I first started. That being said, you don’t have to have a tail to be a merman; that’s something that comes from the soul.
In professional terms, create a career, not just a social media account. Having tons of followers is like being rich in monopoly money- it does not translate to booking jobs or other opportunities. It can also distract and distort what is genuine and real. Social Media is a slippery slope, swim carefully.
I also suggest checking out custom pieces from shops like Mermaid and Mom and Garnet’s Grotto. They both have an understanding of the merman aesthetic and the underserved accessory needs of mermen in general.
What is it like working at a mermaid bar?
Well, technically I’m a Guest Swimmer at Dive Bar, which I consider a huge honor and responsibility. I went through all of the extensive training to do, as it is a very difficult task to maneuver in, especially if you aren’t petite in height. The tank is dark and narrow, not to mention cold since it does house a variety of live fish. Even a very well trained, top 5 professional mermaid in the world has gotten in the tank and said, “I don’t know how you all do it!” Performing in that tank really is an amazing one of a kind experience. Plus, the Dive Bar Mermaids are just such an amazing group of performers. They are very underrated as they are humble and genuine people. They are wonderfully trained under Head Mermaid Rachel Smith and original trainer Mermaid Linden. Other companies like to scream at the top of their lungs all the time how trained and professional and important they are… However, a lion doesn’t have to roar to prove it’s a lion.
What do you hope to accomplish long term with your Merman career?
I hope that my visibility and representation helps others, both personally and professionally. From when I first started this career, there were practically no merman at all, much less trained and actively working professional mermen. Mermen are very slowly starting to get the recognition and professional opportunities they deserve. I am very proud knowing I have helped to pave the way for any male representing individuals in the mer community and the LGBTQIA community.
For myself, I hope to just continue to love what I do, to continue to create a life I am excited about and continue to do all of this with integrity; it’s vital that I respect who I am and the decisions I make. I’m not going to sell my body or soul to “succeed”. I’ll let my body of work to do the talking for me. Hopefully, that is something that catches on.
What are some things people don’t know about your professional work?
I think a lot of people don’t know how many events I lead or help organize. After working in this industry for as long as I have, I have become a sort of point person for aquatic themed events. The inner workings of the needs and logistics of mers for an event can be so incredibly specific; it definitely saves time and energy to have someone facilitate. The network of colleagues and genuine friendships I have formed to help cast events.
I am very proud to be the Lead on organizing the “Water Tribe” for the Labyrinth Masquerade, the largest fantasy-masquerade event in North America, which has also been running for 22 years. I’ve also been put in charge of the Mermaid Cove area of the Pirate Invasion of Long Beach, which is the largest pirate gathering on the West Coast. Of course, The California Mermaid Convention is so close to my heart. I am so honored to be a part of a team that has hosted the longest-running mermaid convention in the world. Who would have thought I could live such a charmed life and am so grateful for the opportunities I have earned.
I really do love my life.