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"It's like a Lord of the Rings brotherhood thing," Marina told me when I asked about her pod of mega-hot mermaid compatriots. "I train them, make their tails, and give them mermaid names. One of them even got a tattoo after her training ended."
"Is it weird to be a celebrity in tiki culture?" I asked. Tikiphiles love mermaids about as much as they love their barrels of rum.
"It's cool when I go out jogging and people yell, 'Hey, that's the mermaid!' " She clasped her hands to her chest and batted her eyes.
1140 Seabreeze Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Fort Lauderdale
"You know, they thought having a mermaid was a dumb idea when I first pitched it to the hotel managers here," she said. "But then I worked out a deal where I could come 'practice' — in full costume and makeup, of course — and eventually, it caught on."
"Yeah, people don't hate watching hot, wet women swim around," I said.
Just then, a shy little girl in a jean skirt walked up to Marina, her blond mother in tow.
"Can I have your autograph?" the little girl said timidly, staring at Marina in wide-eyed wonder.
Marina swept her up in a huge hug, then grabbed the paper and pen and pretended to consider thoughtfully what she was going to write. Then she began to sketch an elaborate drawing of a mermaid.
Marina asked where the girl was from, and she shyly said, "Connecticut."
"Do you have mermaids in Connecticut?" Marina asked.
"There's nothing like that there," said the girl, still in awe.
"Maybe you should open something," Marina suggested.
"I could be the mermaid," the little girl said thoughtfully.
Meanwhile, teenaged boys had taken over the pool and were taking turns swimming down to the windows to peer in at the crowd of drinkers. A very shocked couple — who had a few drinks in them by now — were surprised to recognize their own sons. A man with glasses turned around.
"It's fine now," he shouted to the pair. "Just hope they don't decide to moon us!"
When she returned to my table, Marina was aglow from the little girl's adoration. She said that any time I'd like to swim with them, I was welcome.
"Once we had a guy dressed like an evil monkey swim with us," she said. "We acted scared, and we could even hear him roaring underwater."
"Wow, there's an audience for evil monkeys?" I asked.
"The mermaid act strives to have something for everyone," she said. "Girls love the whole mermaid idea, and the guys love my cans. It's the perfect show."
And at the heart of it, the Wreck Bar is really a chameleon club with a bit of something for everyone. Yeah, there's a family quality to the place now — at least, no one's screwing under the tables or nothin' — but you still can't beat the strong mojitos. Or Marina's fabulous cans.