Some people enjoy reading, while some others prefer cooking. But one man’s hobby is impersonating mermaids, or for him, mermen.
Eric Ducharme, 22, of Florida, eats, sleeps and breathes these mystical sea creatures, known for their human torsos and fin lower-halves.
"It's a lifestyle. It's a path in life that I have chosen,” said Ducharme, who appeared on Wednesday night’s episode of TLC’s “My Crazy Obsession,” a reality show that follows people with unique -- rather odd – fascinations.
“When I put on a tail, I feel transformed,” Ducharme said on last night’s episode. “I feel like I'm starting to enter into a different world when I hit the water. Being under water I feel, I'm just totally away from the world.”
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Ducharme first became intrigued by mermaids when he was a child, seeing a woman in a mermaid costume at an underwater theater show. And on his sixth birthday, his father commissioned two mermaids to swim up to Ducharme and greet him where he was sitting on a dock, eating his birthday cake.
“Eric is obsessed with mermaids,” said Candy Ducharme, the self-proclaimed merman’s mother. “We have our own passions. That’s Eric’s life.”
Three times a week, Ducharme makes the hour and a half trek by car to Florida’s natural springs from his home in Crystal River to get away, put on his handmade fin and transform into a merman.
While his hobby certainly catches the fishermen’s eyes, Ducharme’s boyfriend, Matthew Quijano, thought his fixation was shocking as well but now embraces the merman’s hobby.
"When I first met Eric, I was introduced to the subject of mermaids, on our first date," Quijano said."Your jaw just kind of drops and you're just like, 'Wow.' When we go swimming, I don't even see him because he swims off to his own little corner, it's all about getting away from the rest of the world. Sometimes we have to ask people what's with the scolding looks because they're just like, 'Why is there a guy in a tail? It's supposed to be a girl,''' Quijano added, "Haters gonna hate."
Despite those “haters,” the young Floridian, who can hold his breath underwater for up to four minutes, has been able to turn his passion into a viable business and has become “one of the leading Mermaid Tail Makers in the industry,” according to Mertailor, LLC, the company he started at just 13.
Ducharme’s fins, which are made from silicone, urethanes and latex rubber, cost anywhere from $185 to a whopping $2,759, and they’ve been featured in ads for Skittles, on a “Saturday Night Live” skit and he even made a fin for pop songstress Lady Gaga.