In Analyze This, Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) is telling therapist Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) about his inability to maintain an erection. Theyre sitting at an empty bar, and behind the top-shelf liquor, mermaids seductively tease the two men with pouty faces and sensual underwater acrobatics. But behind that veil of underwater eroticism, theres a glimpse into Florida history: the aquatic spectacle.
I call it aquatic performance, or water ballet, says Marina Anderson, a longtime practitioner of underwater theater and star of the Wreck Bar at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdales weekly mermaid show. Im sure some people can see eroticism in just about anything, Anderson says, but [that] certainly wasnt my motivation. My mom exposed me to Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid and Esther Williams movies, and the first time I came to Florida, I was blown away by all these dive shows. Sometimes parents will enthusiastically try to fool kids into thinking that Im a real mermaid. Ill tell them, No, Im not. Im an aquatic performer.
To experience a piece of Old Florida, check out Andersons free show each Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Wreck Bar (1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Admission is free, but the drinks will cost you. Call 954-524-5551, or visit starwoodhotels.com.
Fridays, 6:30 p.m., 2011