This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
It's many people's childhood dream: spend the day donning a mermaid tail, swimming in a pool, and looking completely glamorous. But No. 1, that job is less flashy than you'd think, and No. 2, you can make big bucks if you can handle the chlorine and long hours wearing a heavy fin.
Bloomberg Businessweek took a deep dive into the entrepreneurial endeavor of being a mermaid and spoke with a number of people who have made it big in the industry, whether it's actually wearing the tail, taking photos of the mermaids, producing the fins, or building the tanks for mermaid shows.
You can check out the full article here, but ahead are some little-known facts about the wild world of professional mermaids.
Being a Mermaid Can Be Painful
In the article, Linden Wolbert—who describes herself as an “entrepremermaid” in Los Angeles—shared that there are times when she has to keep her eyes open underwater for minutes at a time (not an easy feat when there pool is filled with chlorine). She also shared that the tails can weigh up to 50 lbs, and that she often has spotters keeping an eye on her while she performs.
The Pay Can Be Great
Wolbert shared that her performances start at $1,000 and often earns even more hourly, depending on the project. Wolbert also hosts a YouTube page, which, according to Businessweek, brings in four figures a month.
You Meet Celebrities
Wolbert shared that she's worked for Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, and Jessica Biel for various private events. Given the number of celebrities who have dressed up as mermaids themselves for special occasions, the opportunities are endless.
There are Schools Where You Can Learn to Be a Mermaid
More specifically, these are days-long workshops that show you the ins and outs of making money doing mermaid performances. According to Businessweek: “Schools teach aspiring sea maidens in the Philippines, France, Spain, and the U.S. (In Omaha, a two-day class for adults costs $210; a two-day teacher-training class at New York’s Coney Island is $375.)”
Fins Can Cost Upwards of $5,000
Custom fins are expensive, and it's not uncommon to drop $5,000 on a one-of-a-kind design. Businessweek also spoke with Eric Ducharme—who calls himself a Mertailor—who sells thousands stock tails for $120, as well as custom designs.