Eric Ducharme, from Florida, loves to swim and is so obsessed with mermaids.
He wears his handmade tail and dives into the clear blue waters of Florida’s natural springs as if he really is the mythical creature.
Eric is a self-proclaimed merman, a mystical male counterpart to the mermaid.
As the legend goes, these seductive sea creatures with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, make themselves visible to ships during thunderstorms and would lure the opposite sex into the water with their siren-like singing.
The Merman wannabe was featured on TLC‘s show My Crazy Obsession and says that he eats, sleeps, and breathes like a mermaid.
“It’s a lifestyle,” Eric said. “It’s a path in life that I have chosen.”
Eric drives more than an hour and a half three times a week to swim in one of his sparkling handmade tails at a natural spring.
“I came out here looking for some alligators and saw a tail that I’ve never seen before in a river,” a confused man nearby on the spring said.
He calls it “mermaiding,” his own style of costumed free diving that allows him to escape the world up above.
“When I put on a tail I feel transformed,” Eric explained. “I feel like I’m starting to enter into a different world when I hit the water.”
“Being underwater I feel, I’m just totally away from the world.”
While Eric’s boyfriend, Matthew was shocked at first, he then learned to accept the mermen lifestyle.
“When I first met Eric, I was introduced to the subject of mermaids, on our first date,” Matthew said. “Your jaw just kind of drops and you’re just like, “wow.”
“When we go swimming, I don’t even see him because he swims off to his own little corner, it’s all about getting away from the rest of the world,” Matthew said. “Sometimes we have to ask people what’s with the scolding looks because they’re just like, “why is there a guy in a tail? It’s supposed to be a girl”.
“Haters gonna hate,” Matthew said.
Candy Ducharme, Eric’s mother said that his son is obsessed with mermaids.
“We have our own passions,” Candy said. “That’s Eric’s life.”
Eric’s obsession started at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida’s premiere mermaid attraction when he was 3. He laid eyes on this breathing water witch and it was love at first sight, as she swished by in front of Eric in her glamorous gold lame tail.
“From that moment on all I wanted to do was swim in the water with the mermaids,” Eric remembered. “They were just so magical and free.”
Courtesy of Andrew Delozeir/themertailor.comBy the age of 8, Eric had confidently learned how to sew his own dazzling tales on his grandmother’s sewing machine.
When he was 13, Eric created his company Mertailor, LLC, and sold his own handcrafted tails made from garbage bags and various fabrics.
Three years later, he put on his first show, swimming as the mermaid prince in the Weeki Wachee Springs Little Mermaid show in 2006.
Today, Eric is one of the top mermaid tailors in the industry. His hobby of creating tails has now turned into a business. He uses silicone, latex rubbers, and urethanes to create wet suits that look like colorful tails with texture.
It ranges from $185 for the spandex tail to $2,759 for the silicon version and there’s even a kid’s tail priced at $169. The tails have been featured in photo shoots on Germany’s “Next Top Model”. His client list even includes Lady Gaga.
Eric’s website is called The Mertailor, and it describes his products as “I have tails that are as real as fish you just caught on your boat, which is available to every aspiring mermaid and merman who dreams of life in the sea.”
“As soon as I put on a tail and jump in I feel transformed,” Eric proudly said. “It’s just the best feeling ever.”
Erics’s mission is to make his costumes available to “every aspiring mermaid and merman who dreams of life in the sea.”