JMU Celebs: JMU Mermaid

12002298_10153319882927886_7658526664223177382_nName: Hannah Burgess

Major: Media Arts and Design, Concentration: Converged Media

Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia

Q: Have you always loved mermaids?

A: Oh yeah, definitely! I was way too obsessed with mermaids as a kid. I had a million different dolls, movies and stuff like that. I would go swimming with both of my legs in one pant leg with flippers on and pretend I was a mermaid.

Q: What got you into dressing as a mermaid?

A: There is an entire community of people around the world who dress up as mermaids. They are on this website called the MerNetwork and it’s a Reddit type website, where there are threads and different conversations about topics. I didn’t know this existed until my freshman year at JMU. I discovered it and I was like, “Oh my God wait, this is an actual career that people do and they make money and they get to dress up like a mermaid. This is the coolest thing ever.”

Q: When did you start being the JMU Mermaid?

A: January of 2014, right after I went to my first mermaid convention.

Q: What is your best memory as a mermaid?

A: I went to the Florida Keys over winter break last year. I had never been to any tropical place. I went with some other mermaids and other photographers who have boats. We went out to the coral reef. We took pictures underwater with the coral reefs. It was so stereotypical mermaid.

Q: Do people recognize you outside of being the mermaid?

A: Yeah.  A lot of times it’s at parties. People say, “Oh, you’re the mermaid girl!” They don’t usually stop me, but if they have a reason to, they will. One time someone stopped me in Dukes and said, “Hey, are you the JMU mermaid? Can I take a selfie with you? It’s on my JMU bucket list to take a picture with you.”

Q: How do you like being well known?

A: I like it. A lot of people who are mermaids, if they didn’t want the type of publicity from dressing up like something weird like a mermaid, they wouldn’t do it.

Q: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I was never on a swim team.

Q: So, how did you learn how to do all the tricks you learned how to do?

A: I always liked to swim under the water and not on top of the water. When people tried to teach me how to do freestyle, I was like “screw this.” There are a lot of videos and conversations on the MerNetwork that teach you different tricks. I go to UREC once, sometimes multiple times, a week.

Q: How many costumes do you have?

A: I currently have one mermaid tail. I’m getting another one. I have six different tops and different hair accessories, necklaces and earrings.

Q: Do you plan to continue dressing as a mermaid after you leave JMU?

A: Probably, yeah. I don’t know what I want to do yet. I really want to have a career that allows me to incorporate being a mermaid into it. Kids will always have birthday parties where they want a mermaid there, regardless of what I’m doing. It’s an easy way to make money over the summer and when it’s warm outside.

Q: Do you make money off of this?

A: Yes I do. It’s profitable, but it’s not like I’m a millionaire rolling in dough.

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JMU Celebs: JMU Mermaid

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