By Liana Jacob
MEET THE real-life merman who says he was inspired by The Little Mermaid to buy a tail and live as a half human half fish in his free time – and when he swims as a regular human he feels WEIRD.
Stunning pictures show John Rodriguez (29), looking up admiringly at a statue of his other childhood icon, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, while wearing his scaly green tail.
He can also be seen hugging his biggest adult inspiration, Shakira, while on a plane working as an air steward and also sitting on a plane’s engine.
A landscape photo shows him peering through lustrous green leaves while he sits on a rock overlooking the crystal blue waters of the ocean.
While the transformation has been a simple one, John says that having to switch from a merman to a flight attendant is the hardest part.
“The only problem I have faced is taking care of my ears and balancing my two passions: being a Flight Attendant and Merman at the same time,” he said.
“As a flight attendant I have to take care of my sinuses, I cannot fly with blocked ears or a cold, and I’m not supposed to practise extreme sports, scuba-diving before or after a flight.
“Shakira, she has been my inspiration since I was nine years old, she inspired me to learn English, Portuguese and Italian.
“If she can stand in front of thousands of people and sing in a language that was not her native one then I can do the same; whether it’s during a school presentation, doing a belly dance show, or being a merman in a crowded beach.”
This offbeat lifestyle started when John, who lives in New York, USA, watched The Little Mermaid for the first time when he was a child and he has since fallen in love with the freedom of gliding through the water as a merman.
He has always been against the use of tanks for sea life entertainment and has made it his mission to stop this and to encourage people to protect oceans from all around the world.
“I remember The Little Mermaid being the first movie I watched when I was a little kid in Colombia, and I was fascinated and fell in love with the idea of living underwater,” John said.
“It simply called me, so did my love for the water and every time I swam I would swim with my legs together, so I had already mastered the merman kick without even having a tail yet.
“Whenever I’m underwater, I experience freedom in a way I’ve never felt before; I love lying on the beach, the texture of the sand and letting the sun bathe me.
“I like the idea of raising awareness for our oceans. I am also against animal entertainment. I hope that one day people pay to see merpeople swimming in a tank and doing shows rather than animals that should be freely swimming in the vast oceans.
“When I swim as a regular human I actually feel weird. I love clearwater beaches, so far, I would have to say Isla Majeures in Cancun, Mexico and Bonaire have been the best waters to swim in.
“I’ve received many private messages on my social media pages, sometimes from co-workers or school friends, and they tell me how much they love my work and free spirit.
“They say that my work encourages freedom and liberty and that they wish they had the courage to do what they want just like I do.
“To me this is what is all about; I want to let people know is okay to do what they want to do as long as they are happy, and they are not hurting others.”
He has made changes to his lifestyle to achieve his dream of being a merman, including dancing and swimming regularly to build a lean body, he has grown his hair long and has bought two tails each ranging between £210 to £280 ($300 to $400).
“I travelled to Miami to get measured for my first tail, they had standard sizes, but I wanted my tail to be tailored for my body and it was an awesome experience,” John said.
“Two weeks later I flew back to Miami to pick it up, and I decided that whenever I would have a layover on the beach or visit a city with a big body of water that I would bring my tail with me.
“I try to stay in shape by dancing, and swimming regularly helps me stay toned and lean, I also decided to let my hair grow since it looks better underwater.
“I have been to many beaches around the world and the moment I become a merman many people of all ages and genders come to pose with me for pictures or ask to take pictures of me.
“I am known in my career as the Shakira lover or the merman. There are roughly 25,000 Flight Attendants.
“It’s funny to me that sometimes I run into co-workers from different bases at different airports or layovers and they look at me and say ‘wait, are you the merman?’ and I reply with a smile ‘Yes, I am’.
“I hope to be able to swim in Asian and Australian waters soon. To keep on inspiring people around the world to be tolerant and free.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/mermanjohn23/