What young girl hasn’t dreamed of being a mermaid, swimming around with a shiny tail and enchanting everybody around her?
That’s pretty much what Tami Baker does for a living alongside her human job at a property management company. She’s what you would call a professional mermaid, and for the past four years, Mermaid Tami has been making a splash in the Mansfield, Ohio, area, doing meet-and-greets and appearing at various events such as birthday parties and charity fundraisers.
Just last year, Tami decided to take things to the next level when she and her husband Andy Baker bought a 1964 Drift R-Cruz houseboat so they could spend even more time on the water in the warm months of summer when mermaid requests are at their peak. Tami and Andy love living on the houseboat and Tami has had a blast decorating it with a mermaid theme.
When Tami first started out as a mermaid her popularity came as a pleasant surprise because she did it as a personal hobby. Then as people continued to notice her and request her for different events, she realized she’d stumbled (or unknowingly yet gracefully swam) into something truly special. She decided to jump in with both feet (fins?) and chase her dream as a professional mermaid.
Using her mermaid-themed houseboat, the Nauti Mermaid, as her base in the summer couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. Even her free-range rabbit Winston enjoys living on the boat with them.
The Nauti Mermaid
Before the houseboat, Tami and Andy owned a pontoon boat. They found the pontoon to be lots of fun, but it didn’t quite sustain their constant need to be out on the water, rain or shine.
“When we had the pontoon boat there were a lot of times that it would rain so we weren’t able to go out on the boat,” explained Tami, “and we weren’t able to spend the night on it either.”
Constantly having to load the pontoon up with all their stuff and haul it back and forth began to wear on the Bakers, so they decided to opt for something else. They figured that with a houseboat, it doesn’t really matter if it rains because they can still enjoy their boat, and once the weather turns sunny, they’ll still be right where they want to be.
“We sold the pontoon the same day we bought the houseboat,” laughed Tami. “Never going back!”
Mermaid Décor & Upgrades
The Bakers keep their houseboat at Pleasant Hill Marina in Perrysville, Ohio, where they live aboard in the summers. Once they bought it last year, they immediately went to work on it, making renovations and decorating it with a mermaid theme.
The boat used to be an old police river boat, so when they first got it, there wasn’t any running water. The Bakers added a sink which made a big difference. They also purchased a generator, which has been another huge convenience since they can run power now without having to be plugged into shore power. Then Tami also went to town decorating everything to match her love of mermaids.
“I even have my light switch covers all covered in little scaled patterns,” shared Tami.
Being a professional mermaid is busy work, especially when you’re as popular as Mermaid Tami. Tami’s calendar fills up quickly and these past two Februarys she’s been completely booked. One of her favorite events that she attended this year was Pirate Fest at Put-In-Bay in Lake Erie.
“Pirate Fest was amazing,” enthused Tami. “It was so much fun. They were really great and we met a lot of people who do Pirate Fest on a regular basis, so I’m definitely hoping to go back to that next year.”
Then Tami also always enjoys the events hosted at her home lake on Pleasant Hill. During these events she interacts with the kids, letting them get their picture taken with her and playing mermaid games. As the grand finale, the kids get to swim with Mermaid Tami.
When Tami goes to any event, she typically brings her mermaid display along which includes some pop-ups, her inflatable pool and her shell throne. Then she also brings her mermaid crafts and dolls to sell at the booth. Tami said her husband Andy has always been extremely helpful at events and that without him, there’s no way she could pull it off.
“I can’t move when I’m in a tail,” explained Tami, “so he has to carry me. We also have a wagon that he pulls me around in.”
Andy also mans the booth while Tami does meet-and-greets, managing the sales of crafts and also helping out with taking photos. Together they make the perfect team.
Tami is amazingly crafty and creative when it comes to making mermaid paraphernalia. In fact, she even makes some of her own tails.
“I actually just finished one,” shared Tami. “It’s a sequin tail, so I really only use it for pool events and more land stuff. I don’t swim in it very often just because you tend to lose a lot of sequins swimming and you don’t want those floating around in the water.”
She’s made two sequin tails so far and this one she just finished is Ariel-themed, so it’s made of green sequins. Altogether she has six tails and she just ordered another one from Mertailor which she should receive soon. Of all her tails, her favorite is the silicon one from Mermaid Kariel, a professional tail maker in Hawaii.
Tami said that swimming with a mermaid tail takes a bit of getting used to. You’re not using your legs, but more your core and abs. Tami has been swimming pretty much her whole life, so it wasn’t too hard getting used to the tail in the water, and now she’s an expert which comes in handy for her underwater modeling.
There’s actually a large community of mermaids that you probably didn’t know about. Tami even mentioned there are quite a few mermaids in Ohio and they’re continuing to get more in her area.
“Three of my friends have actually purchased tails,” said Tami, “so it’s nice to have people really close to swim with.”
The four friends try to go out in the lake and swim around in their tails as often as they can, but it can be quite a challenge when you’re as busy as Tami. Most of her weekends are booked and then she still has her regular job that she has to attend to on weekdays.
Another fun event that Tami got to host which really showed off the mermaid population was the Ginnie Springs Mermaid Meet Up in Florida. Tami described this as one of the most interesting events she’d participated in because it was the first time she was able to swim with large group of mermaids.
“It was just absolutely amazing,” reminisced Tami. “We had over 160 mermaids from across the country that came to Ginnie Springs.”
Many of the mermaids who attended have been doing it for many years and it was incredible for them to meet up and get to know other mermaids.
Tami and Andy both love being a part of they houseboat community. They keep their boat on Dock Two at Pleasant Hill Marina and they are always impressed by the friendly, close-knit community.
“The people at Dock Two are just amazing,” said Tami. “We’ve become great friends with them and it’s been really nice getting to know everyone.”
Not only are the boaters friendly, but they’re also always willing to lend a hand if you ever need any help. Tami said they recently lost their prop on their boat and within about three minutes all the houseboaters were there to the rescue. She finds it amazingly comforting to be a part of a community she can count on.
Tami and Andy could not be more pleased with how everything is turning out. With Tami’s growing success in professional mermaidism and being able to live on a houseboat on the water, she feels right at home and completely in her element. Living on a houseboat in the summer during her busiest months is the perfect setup for Mermaid Tami and she could not be happier.
For more information about Mermaid Tami, visit her website www.mermaidtami.weebly.com
Photos provided by Tami Baker.