Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid, a.k.a. Marina Duran-Anderson, fascinates with stunt-belly dance and other forms of stunt dance art. She’s a Fort Lauderdale and South Florida favorite on land and in the water.
Just as mermaids did in 1956-1962, Marina entertains audiences while swimming and dancing underwater at the Wreck Bar inside the Yankee Clipper Hotel. She also performs at assorted venues from television programs, music videos and theatre to high profile public & private events.
“My interest is to help take part in trying to preserve a little mid-century “Floridiana”. Many places that were well known and visited frequently for their uniqueness at one time are either neglected, forgotten or torn down entirely, no longer being considered “today”. The Wreck Bar is my labor of love- Live Mermaid shows took place here back in the 1950′s, ending in the early to mid-60′s. My hope is that the Wreck Bar, along with the Yankee Clipper will again be known- more for its unique significance in Ft. Lauderdale’s history rather than only being known (by the few these days that even know this place even or still exists!) as a location used in the film ‘Analyze This’ (though that exposure certainly benefited the Wreck Bar for a brief time). Hopefully those that visit the Bar these days may still get a little dose of what made Florida so unique back in those days.” —Marina from her official MySpace
After viewing pictures of a mermaid smiling effortlessly underwater I just had to find out more from this deep sea darling with a stunt man’s nerve.
Here’s my interview with Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid:
HIH: When did you learn to swim and how did swimming turn into performing underwater?
Marina: My Dad and brother started me free-diving at age 3. I lived in the Caribbean, so we would skin dive several times a week. Lots of great training there. Underwater performances just seemed to evolve from that. I actually began experimenting with it at around age 9, trying all sorts of techniques in swimming pools and when skin diving (somersaults, etc). I remember that was about the same year I went to Sea World and was in awe of the Pearl Divers~ and then visited Weeki Wachee- where I saw the mermaid show. (that mermaid show made such an impression that I actually memorized their “Mermaid Flip” song after only listening to it once. This was further confirmed when I came across a YouTube video featuring the song, and I SANG ALONG- I was stunned to still know them!) Somehow, both had made quite an influence~ adding to my free diving side that I had already been so familiar with. To connect it with theatre was beyond amazing to me.
All these amazing people were doing what I did on a continual basis; and they were ADULTS! This is probably when I realized that this was a possibility as a career. It started me on a lifetime love for underwater theatrical performances.
HIH: How did you go from gracefully dancing underwater to dangerous feats like performing on a bed of nails, dancing barefoot on broken plates and using actual sharp bladed weapons?
Marina: Ah, I have always been interested in stunts. I actually wanted to be a stunt woman for some time. My father is a Fencing coach, and Martial arts have been a part of my life for quite some time.
I get inspired by what I wish I could see. I would watch a glamorous woman dancing and think: Wouldn’t it be amazing if she danced on something unusual such as broken plates~ Naturally, after thinking about it, I would have to seek about to see if anyone has done it; once I found that no one had, it was just necessary to do. I dunno, I have that kind of work ethic. Someone has to do it… aw nuts… That someone is me…alright, alright- I’ll do it… It HAS to be done!
Belly dancers looking like showgirls: balancing swords or doing “floor-work” (laying flat on the floor or carpet and doing abdominal moves and the like) are interesting, but… I would think the act through, and wonder about a replacement for that carpet….
a bed of nails, perhaps? Has anyone done that?
Gotta do it.
HIH: Who introduced you to fire eating?
Marina: My great uncle was a fire eater as a young man in Morocco, and would tell me how he would do that on the streets for money. I found that tale to be very intriguing. I didn’t actually start fire eating” ’till I got one of ‘em inspirations”, which was ironically during the time I was training to be a firefighter. It’s always good to REALLY know what you are working with. It may seem like overkill, but, well, how many fire eating performers are you going to find out there with firefighter training?
HIH: You’re not only an entertainer you also give Poi Ball and Fire Handling lessons to the public. What types of people sign up for these classes and how safe is it?
Marina: Quite a few who are interested in adding a little something to their dance repertoire, I guess it took a wacky person like me to prove that it actually is interesting to do something a little “different”, an “entertainment upgrade” if you will…
HIH: Tell us the difference between Marina the performer and MeduSirena?
Marina: MeduSirena is truly what I am, a combination of everything.
Marina is merely a portion. – But most friends just call me Malia~
HIH: You were featured in Belly Dance Magazine. Which do you prefer belly dancing on land or dancing underwater?
Marina: They are two completely different challenges, as is Polynesian dance.
I dig ‘em all, but I guess the underwater dance is more uniquely me.
HIH: I read you are a pop culture and retro enthusiast. What are some of your favorite films that include mermaids or swimming performances?
Marina: “Mr. Peabody & the Mermaid” That’s a biggie. Esther Williams films are terrific: “Neptune’s Daughter”, “On an Island with You”… sigh….
Too many to name, really.
HIH: You’ll be part of the Hukilau 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, June 11-14. Give us an idea of what Polynesian Pop is all about.
Marina: It started a romanticized vision brought to the mainland by WWII soldiers upon their return from the South Pacific. It so intrigued Americans, that Polynesian flavored design was seen just about everywhere, home decor, restaurants, gardens, bowling alleys, movie theaters, swimming pools, you name it.
Exotica music fueled this genre, films & television took it even further. At cocktail lounges, Polynesian shows would entertain & exotic drinks would be served by sarong clad beauties… a fabricated exotic world that like an enhanced image was irresistible. The period lasted from the 40′s to the mid 70′s.
I was lucky to be born into it.
HIH: I love the music profile list on your official MySpace page. What are some of your favorite musicians and bands?
Marina: Early exposure through my parents was a combination of Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John to Broadway musicals and old movies and island music. Exotica and Lounge music was a constant at our house, as my parents often entertained at their elaborate home tiki bar in our patio. I was also always into the background music played on older TV shows. You know, like that musical piece they would play on “I Dream of Jeannie” when one of the characters is sneaking around, or the music played between scenes… Then came the 80′s…I was an Adam and the Ants fanatic- any time “Stand & Deliver” would come on MTV, I would come running in like one of Pavlov’s dogs to watch Adam look at himself in the mirror in that last scene…(oh, YOU know the one). I live for world sounds Asian 60′s pop, Korean & Japanese Rock; The sound of a well played Japanese shamisen makes me swoon… That set the foundation for my eclectic tastes.
At this point, I cannot name just one- I dig Lola Dutronic for their rendition of “The Porpoise Song”, which is a personal favorite-
Shotaro Hattori will always be the creator of what I affectionately call “MeduSirena’s Theme Song” : デイ・ストリッパー (Domo arugatou gozamasu, Hattori-chan!)
It encompasses everything I love in one neat little package.
HIH: Were you born and raised in Florida? What do you like the most about living in the Sunshine state?
Marina: Nope, I was born and raised in the Caribbean.
Florida was to me a vacation spot, not for the beaches, but for the tourist kitsch. I loved all the old theme attractions-
As a Florida Resident, now I live in “Kitsch Heaven”! My job now is to help preserve some of it.
HIH: What type of makeup do you wear that stays so perfect underwater?
Marina: Waterproof and long wearing makeup only- No moisturizer.
Simple as that.
Anything that says 18 hour wear works perfect.
HIH: How long can you hold your breath underwater?
Marina: I never time it-
My swimming is performance driven, so the act of knowing someone is taking a stopwatch and timing me would make me choke.
Put a camera in front of me however, and I will stay under and smile for as long as it takes~ and I can say that it is plenty. (smirk…)
Visit http://www.medusirena.com for more information, and venue updates. You can also get fun Marina T-shirts, and calendars.
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