2020 Year in Review
Well, I’m a few days writing this, but that’s just how 2020 went, isn’t it? 2020 threw a huge curveball to everyone with a global pandemic that genuinely shut the entire world down for months. As an airborne virus swept the Earth, people were forced to quarantine in their homes to slow the spread as hospitals quickly filled the maximum amount of beds they could care for with the staff they had available. Businesses shut down, over 30% of them for good. Unemployment was at an all time high as companies laid off workers with no end to this madness in sight. Week after week, people thought “we must be getting close to the end” and month after month it continued. December brought hope with the first rounds of the vaccine going out to healthcare workers, but most people still aren’t seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For most small businesses, the tunnel has been shut off completely as they did not nor could not survive the shutdown.
One of the industries that seemed to be hit the hardest was the entertainment industry, which includes mermaiding. All of our Circus Siren Pod gigs were cancelled, every single one of them. Even into 2021, so far our gigs until May have all been cancelled as well. Venues aren’t allowed to host more than 10 people in some states, so big events are definitely a no-go across the country. This forced us to reexamine how we can generate income in a time when income is nonexistent for millions of people. We have three different sized travel tanks - Puffin, our 300 gallon tank; Frigate, our 1,000 gallon tank; Albatross, our 3,000 gallon tank. We take these tanks across the country for various mermaid events all season (in a normal season). People of all ages love to watch the mermaids in the tanks and dream they could be us, if even for a moment. So, with all of our normal (and not normal) gigs being cancelled, we decided to make those dreams come true. Circus Siren Pod’s owner, Morgana Alba, took our medium sized tank, Frigate, around the Mid-Atlantic area for “Tank Time” sessions where people could rent out the tank for 30 to 45 minutes per session. Only three people, including any photographers or models, were allowed in the area at once; all must be wearing masks, and social distancing was in place as well. Thankfully, our tank times were a big hit and generated enough clients to keep the lights on for Circus Siren Pod.
Additionally, we submitted video for a “performance” for the Digital Ren Faire, where renaissance festival acts from all over were shown digitally, since all the festivals were actually closed due to the virus. Our company information and PayPal were listed for people to donate tips to, but I’m unsure how much, if any, we made from the venture (that would be a Morgana question).
Our busiest season is the Ren Faire season, where we are booked solid every single weekend from August to November at Pennsylvania Ren Faire and Carolina Renaissance Festival. This year, we didn’t have either. With the year coming to a close, our two major gigs knocked out, and government restrictions tightening back up, thereby limiting and closing our winter Tank Time sessions, we gave it all we had at one last money making project for Circus Siren Pod for the year, - a project I had been pushing for since CSP’s early days - a Circus Siren Pod calendar. Twelve months, a full year, of beautifully created underwater images in our touring tank, Frigate. Mareish Media was amazing enough to donate her time and talents to making these images that don’t even look like they were shot in a tank! Half with tails as mermaids, and half just underwater models in dresses, our first calendar will be a keepsake for many, long after the year is over. If you haven’t purchased yours yet, you can do so at www.circussirenpod.com/shop.
In a normal year, most of my gigs come from Circus Siren Pod. As mentioned above, in 2020, all of our Circus Siren gigs were cancelled. I was fortunate enough to be featured on the Digital Ren Faire but that was a voluntary gig, not a normal, paying gig. So, if I wanted to mermaid in 2020, I needed to figure out a way to do it myself.
I regularly offer several events on my own, aside from Circus Siren Pod. I partner with local photographers to offer mermaid mini sessions; this can be done one of two ways - the client can either just be a human and get pictures with me as a mermaid, or the client can put on a fabric tail for an additional fee and get pictures as a mermaid themselves. I also offer an experience called “Discover Assateague with Mermaid Tasha” on AirBNB experiences, where people have the opportunity to meet a mermaid on Assateague Island and learn all about the local marine life, history of the island, and some eco tips from a local mermaid. This year I had no bookings for either of these events. I also offer birthday parties and other in person mermaid entertainment, which again was halted for 2020.
I was very eager to start working the hotel circet in 2020 as a resort mermaid and had two events booked at the Hotel Monte Carlo. I even had fans messaging my Facebook page with how excited they were for those events as well, but unfortunately, they also ended up being a no-go. However, I was fortunate enough for Mystic Harbour’s community pool to pick me up for a mermaid event for the residents of their community this summer. That was my only “wet” mermaid gig of the year, but we are working together to make it an annual occurrence. I picked up a “dry” gig with the Grace Center for Maternal & Women’s Health’s annual Motherhood Walk, where I read Mermaid Shannon’s book “Turtles Want Teammates” and taught the children how to make a sea turtle in sign language; then I masked up for some picture opportunities.
For the past couple of years, I’ve tailed up for local Trunk or Treat events around Halloween time. This year, a majority of those events were cancelled due to the virus, but several were not. I participated in Ocean City’s Trunk or Treat and their Drive in Disguise event, where we dressed up the Mustang as a pirate ship captured by some mermaids and drove it down the boardwalk to the inlet where the trunk or treat event was to take place. Keeping with the pirate theme, I gave out salt water taffy - blue for the water and yellow for the sun (plus I think yellow tastes best). I also attended Rawlings Farm’s Trunk or Treat event up in Goldsboro, Maryland. It was a really windy day and my backdrop kept blowing over, but it was great to “sea” everybody anyway and Steve Moody had the jams pumping to keep the energy flowing!
That about wraps up my in person mermaid entertainment events for the year. I did have one of my previous client’s hire me for a virtual mermaid time, which was a blast! It was great to see girls that had formerly hired me for their birthday parties again. I also joined Cameo! Cameo, if you don’t know, is a video service where celebrities and other public figures, such as Drew Brees, Paula Abdul, Ice T, Lindsay Lohan, and others record and send customized videos and/or messages to fans.
While most events decided to postpone a year or cancel fully, some events went virtual. I was able to participate in three of these virtual events, creating unique video recordings for each one. SeaGrant Delaware’s Coast Day celebrated our local coast with two tracks of webinars (Exploration and Investigation), activities for kids, virtual touch tanks, and virtual exhibit halls. For this event, I recorded a reading of Turtles Want Teammates along with how to make a paper plate turtle craft! For West Ocean City’s Harbor Day at the Docks, I compiled a video of my open ocean adventures, including swimming with the sea lions, stingrays, and reef sharks, in addition to recording a reading of Priscilla Cumming’s classic, Chadwick the Crab. I also recorded a mermaid curse video for Reef Relief’s Adopt a Mermaid month, where several mermaids from the Key West Mermaid Festival were cursed and needed help. Reef Relief is a Key West non-profit “dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystems” and this event helped raise “sand”dollars for their educational programs that reach over 5000 students each year.
As those were all of my mermaid adventures in 2020, I had to come up with another way to stay relevant to the community, just as Circus Siren Pod had to do when creating Tank Times. So, I stepped back and thought about what I could do here and now as a next step in my mermaid journey. No matter which arena, performers of all types don’t last forever. Injuries, old age, and the next generation kill careers in entertainments and athletics across the board. While my time as a performer should not be coming to an end soon, it is important I make sure when that day comes I do not falter. What better a year to practice for such an occasion than 2020, the year of no gigs? If the virus continues past 2020, I need to ensure that I can continue to make a dent in the mermaid world despite lack of traditional gigs.
So, I started Mermaid Camps. Mermaid Camp is a weekend long mermaid intensive that teaches people how to safely use a mermaid tail, how to care for their environment and themselves, what local marine life they might see in the area as a mermaid, and ends with a photoshoot to commemorate the time they first turned into a mermaid. Tails, instruction, and lunches included. They went so well that a pool approached me about doing mermaid lessons at their pool in summer 2021! Fin Fun Mermaid Tails were used because of their quick release safety feature, and in November of 2020, Fin Fun brought me on as an official Fin Fun Mermaid University instructor to teach mermaid lessons with their name and brand associated with Mermaid Tasha LLC! I am their first (and only) partner in Maryland and on the Delmarva Peninsula. Be on the lookout for mermaid lessons in addition to more Mermaid Camps in 2021!
I also joined the Fins Magazine team as their Copy Editor and one of their US based reporters! I started my TikTok and while not very successful as a whole, I started a segment called Mermaid Reacts where I react to other mermaid videos to give a professional’s point of view. I’ve also begun to put more out on YouTube, where you’ll be able to learn more about the creatures I’ve had the privilege to swim with in the past, as well as view my Mermaid Reacts segment if you don’t have a TikTok. Hopefully as things open back up in the near future, there will be plenty more opportunities for interesting and engaging content. What would you like to see? Let me know in the comments!
Mermaid Kisses & Starfish Wishes,