Mermaid meetups, schools and conventions: Inside the SoCal water nymph subculture – By Felicia Alvarez – Jack Laflin likes to recall the time he wriggled into a 9-foot-long, 30-pound blue mermaid tail. He’d spotted similar pieces behind the scenes of the acting gigs he was trying to land, but this was his first attempt to maneuver his way into a silicon tube.

He wondered if using a bit of water would help ease the process — and it did, until the water dried, further constraining his legs and torso. Alone in his apartment and lying on his living room floor, Laflin considered his lack of mobility and thought, “If there’s a fire alarm, I won’t be able to get out of here.”

Laflin had purchased the custom-made piece from Mertailor around the time he was thinking about a career change. “When I first moved to L.A., I was modeling and acting, and I figured out pretty quickly that I didn’t like the way the industry viewed me,” said Laflin, who is mixed race. “I was cast either as a thug, a gangster or I was a piece of meat at the nightclub.”