Monday, May 9, 2011

Vintage Roadside Visits: Aquarama Aquamaid Claudia Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of our interview with former Aquarama Aquamaid Claudia. In Part 2 we'll learn how to put on a mermaid tail, what it was like to be one of the Aquarama "Alley Cats", and even an Aquarama theme song.

Vintage Roadside: Did the second season offer any new roles for you?

Claudia: After the first year I got to do the opening mermaid routine. We would position ourselves in the large clam shells (sometimes with those pesky fish as shell mates) and then use our air hoses to help us open our shells as the bubble curtain ended and the lights came up. We would do "dolphins," a smooth circle movement, and then go from window to window to smile and wave to the audience. We didn't have to wear a swim mask and I loved the leisurely free swim time just moving to the music.

Vintage Roadside: We've seen photos of the mermaid tails and they looked pretty incredible.

Claudia: The mermaid tail was my favorite because it was made of shimmering silver lame and was decorated with green sequins.

Vintage Roadside: Was the tail hard to put on?

Claudia: It was difficult to put on because you had to place your feet in flippers that were in the bottom of the tail and make sure the flippers were aligned correctly, and then you had to zip the tail up the side. It fit perfectly to your body when it was done. You moved freely and easily in the water, but it was heavy and difficult to get out of the water when the number was over.

Vintage Roadside: Did the routines become more complex over the years you performed?

Claudia: Yes they did. The first year we worked on controlling our breathing, learning the routines, maneuvering in our costumes, and finding our way in the darkened pool between acts. After we mastered those basics, we worked on embellishing the routines and increasing the pace. The later routines were more involved and athletic. In the first year we wore masks for most of the numbers, but as time went on we challenged ourselves to see how many routines we could do without the masks.

Claudia at far left (photo provided by Marc)

Vintage Roadside: We've got a great photo of the cast in their "Alley Cat" costumes. Do you remember that routine?

Claudia: Oh yes! "Alley Cat" was a popular song, and it had a great rhythm with which to swim. Our costumes involved a black and white swim suit with a yarn tail attached. We also wore lovely black gloves with teardrop shaped rhinestones for fingernails. We would hold the tails and wave them to the music and scratch the water with our claws. That was such fun!

Vintage Roadside: Did you battle the dreaded "green" hair that affected much of the cast?

Claudia: I was the only redhead in the cast so my hair didn't turn green, but the daily contact with the water really dried my hair. I remember doing hot oil treatments each week to try (not too successfully) to minimize the frizz.

Vintage Roadside: Do you have any photos or souvenirs from your Aquarama days?

Claudia: I do have some of those tucked away. In hindsight I wish I had taken some casual snapshots of the cast. We became good friends, as well as co-workers. We went boating, skiing, shopping, dancing, and would you believe, even swimming together. We had slumber parties and held various gatherings in our homes. At one time we even made up a song about ourselves. It went like this:

We are the Aquamaids!
We wear our hair in braids.

We wear our dungarees,
Way up above our knees.

But when our show is here,
Then you will give a cheer.

For we are really great,
We start our show at eight!

Vintage Roadside: Have you kept in touch with any of your former cast-mates?

Claudia: I exchanged Christmas cards with Marc, but had lost contact with the others. Thanks to the connections you have provided, I have started a wonderful email correspondence with Dian. Dian and I were in the same graduating class at School of the Osage and we also attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. We have enjoyed reminiscing about our shared memories of growing up at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Vintage Roadside: Not many people can say they worked as a mermaid. What's the reaction from people like when they learn you once did?

Claudia: At conferences or meetings they often ask you to tell the group something about yourself that might surprise them. I always say that I was a mermaid in a former life. They usually laugh until I explain, and then they become fascinated when they learn I swam underwater and had a mermaid tail.

We'd like to say thanks again to Claudia for sharing some of her history with us!

Jeff & Kelly
Vintage Roadside

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