Monday, October 25, 2010

Vintage Roadside Visits: Aquarama Aquamaid Quinetta

Our latest Aquarama interview features original 1964 Aquamaid Quinetta. Quinetta performed at the Aquarama from 1964 - 1967 and was kind enough to share some of her memories with us.

Let's raise the Curtain of Bubbles once again...

Vintage Roadside: Do you remember how you first heard of the Aquarama?

Quinetta: I was working as a waitress at a restaurant across the street from the Aquarama. Mr. and Mrs. Johl and Marc came in for lunch. I overheard they were holding swimmer tryouts that very afternoon. I took off my apron, told the owner of the restuarant I had an emergency, went home to get my swimsuit, and showed up for tryouts. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't gotten the job!

Vintage Roadside: Wow! That's quite a story. Had you been working at the restaurant for some time?

Quinetta: I only worked there 1 day!

Vintage Roadside: How old were you at that point?

Quinetta: I was 16.

Vintage Roadside: Being a part of the original cast you trained in that unheated, outdoor motel pool. So, was it pretty chilly out there?

Quinetta: It was cold but I was so busy trying to learn to regulate my air so that I could stay in the middle of the pool and learn the routines that I hardly noticed the cold.

Vintage Roadside: Do you remember those first shows?

Quinetta: I just remember being so nervous and afraid I'd forget everything. I didn't forget and after the first show I was so excited that I hardly slept after going home.

Vintage Roadside: In the photo above you're shown performing on the trapeze. That must have been something to learn how to perform on a trapeze underwater?

Quinetta: It was difficult at first. Breath control is the secret. I had to inhale just enough to swing back and exhale while swinging forward.

Vintage Roadside: Did you perform any routines with Marc?

Quinetta: Marc and I swam to "Three Coins in a Fountain". We wore black bodysuits with black fins and masks. The bodysuits were fitted with underwater lights with a switch at our waists. When the music started we switched on our lights, the pool was dark, and all the audience could see were our body silhouettes moving to the music.

Vintage Roadside: Any other routines come to mind?

Quinetta: I was also part of a John Phillips Sousa march. Three other girls and myself hooked up feet (fins) to neck and did a big circle in the pool. When it worked it was wonderful, when someones air hose got caught, well, you can imagine - we gasped for air, broke the circle and headed for the top of the tank.

Vintage Roadside: Did you have a favorite routine?

Quinetta: My favorite was being a mermaid. I had to put the mermaid tail on in the water. I coated the zipper with Vaseline to keep the zipper from rusting and help it zip more easily. The tails were stored in baffles at the side of the pool. I would swim to the baffle, put on the mermaid tail, then swim to a clam shell to wait for the start of the music.

Vintage Roadside: Do you have any memories of Wally & Nola Johl?

Quinetta: I remember going to their home for lunch and to listen to the music for the show. They were very eager to use music that we liked and could swim to. I also remember Mrs. Johl's voice on the underwater speaker reminding us to point our toes or to get with the music. She would often tell us that we did a great job, too.

Vintage Roadside: Looking back how does it feel to have been one of the Aquamaids?

Quinetta: It was great fun! Swimming and making money too - can't be beat!

Vintage Roadside: Were you able to use your mermaid training later on in life?

Quinetta: Swimming at the Aquarama opened many doors for me in later life. During my freshman year at college I tried out for the synchronized swim team and made the team. In 1976 I started teaching swim lessons at the Jefferson City (Missouri) YMCA and eventually became the Aquatic Director.

Vintage Roadside: Thanks Quinetta! We're honored to talk with you.

If you have any information, souvenirs, stories and maybe even worked at the Aquarama we'd love to hear from you! Click here for our contact form.

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside


Rick in KC said...

Been reading all your Aquarama posts. Fascinating! Thanks. Growing up in KC, I've always loved Ozarks kitsch, but I had never heard of Aquarama before. Some ambitious folks really made that area back in the 60s, eh?

Vintage Roadside said...

Rick - Glad you're enjoying the Aquarama posts! We've got several more Aquamaid interviews in the works - it was really a special time at the lake.

Thanks again for the comment.