FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
** We will match ANY competitor's written price quote, service for service. **
Send us the written price quote you have received from one of our competitors, and we will meet and then beat that price, service for service. Guaranteed.
Standard Fees: In order to book The MerFriends, we will need, as applicable, the booking fee, travel fee, late fee, and any additional services you want to add to our basic packages.
Booking Fee- Each event is charged a $25/hour booking fee which is paid in advance to The MerFriends to hold your date, time, and performers. Your event cannot be scheduled until the booking fee is paid. You will be invoiced for the booking fee via PayPal once we receive your booking request. (If you book through a booking agent, such as GigSalad, you will pay the booking fee through them. These booking agents may or may not add on their own fees for their services.)
Travel Fee- The MerFriends travel up to 100 miles and 2 hours from DFW Airport at no charge. After 100 miles, it is $0.70cents/billable mile, and each hour after the first is $20/performer. Mileage and travel time is based on Google Maps from DFW airport to your venue. There will be no surprise fees the day of your event, even if the expected travel time and distance must be altered due to construction, weather, or traffic accidents. NO SURPRISE FEES!
Late Fee- Any event that is booked with less than 7 days to prepare may be charged a $50 late booking fee. Book early to guarantee your preferred performers and to avoid this late fee.
Add-On Services- If you opt to add-on additional services (tail rental, treasure box giveaways, etc as listed under Event Packages), those will need to be paid for in advance as well, though not necessarily at the time of the original booking. Add-on services must be arranged and paid for at least three days prior to your event. Please refer to our Event Packages link for pricing details on our various packages. The quoted hourly rate for performers will be paid by credit card the day BEFORE the event or in person by cash the day of the event directly to the performers. (Exact change is appreciated as performers don't carry cash. We cannot accept credit cards in person.) If paying by credit card, we use PayPal, and there is a fee attached to this service. We have a pirate's treasure box to keep our keys and phones in. This is where you will place our payment. Tips are appreciated! Failure to pay your performers before they leave your event will result in a late fees of $50/day. NO exceptions.
Though it is easy to simply book the company with the lowest price, the customer needs to compare what all they are getting. Does the company offer free underwater photos and videos? Do they have dry entertainment in case of inclement weather? How many performers are included in the total price, and do the performers have an appearance itinerary customized for your event so you know exactly when, how and where they will appear/perform? With the MerFriends, yes, free photos and video taken underwater during your event are sent to you within two weeks of our appearance to share with family and friends. Yes, we bring both wet and dry entertainment just in case. All quotes are for a minimum of two performers as we ALWAYS abide by the buddy rule when around water. Your booking contract is long and detailed broken down to the minute by minute plan for your event so you know EXACTLY what you are getting.
** And remember- we will match ANY competitor's written price quote, service for service. **
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
For events where guests will be swimming with the MerFolk:
With the help of the MerWrangler, the Mermaid will be carried into the event. They will organize age appropriate mermaid games, obstacle course, races, diving for treasure, and so forth as time allows. She will also encourage guests to sing songs with her, she will answer questions, tell stories, and other forms of entertainment as time allows. The Merwrangler will assist the mermaid with her activities and entertain guests poolside as well. If any additional packages were purchased, such as tail rental, tail purchase, mer-makeovers and so forth, they will be the primary focus of your event. Your booking contract will include a detailed event itinerary prepared especially for you.
For events where The MerFriends will be swimming without guests, such as living centerpieces:
With the help of the MerWrangler, the Mermaid will be carried into the event. She will continuously swim, stopping only to pose for photos or answer guests' questions. Out of respect for the guests' clothes and shoes, she will keep her tricks under water so to limit splashing. As you request, when she intereacts with guests she can be a silent and alluring siren, friendly and bubbly as she chats with guests, or she can be aloof. The MerWrangler's persona is also up to you, and he can appear as a pirate, sailor prince, or just about any other costume character that will fit your theme.
For events where The MerFriends are providing the water source, a.k.a. a tank rental:
We require an entry gate and performance area of at least 6 feet in length, 12 feet in height, and 4 feet in width in order to maneuver the tank into position. We also require a hose and the ability to fill up the tank with 500 gallons of fresh water (normally takes 2 hours.) For an event taking place outdoors in the months of September-May, we will need a hot water source and/or electrical outlets to plug in our space heaters. We will also need a way to empty the tank where it sits at the end of the appearance. The tank may only be used and handled by members of The MerFriends for safety and liability reasons. Due to the myriad of logistics involved in a tank rental, we work closely not only with our client but with the venue itself to ensure a smooth event.
The swimming mer will be inside the tank, taking breaths as needed at the surface. The tank itself will be decorated like the NeverLand Lagoon. The MerWrangler will remain dry outside the tank. Both performers will pose for photos, answer questions, and interact with the crowd as able. The swimming mer will demonstrate basic tricks (as space allows) such as flips, twists, bubble shapes, and extended breath holds.
For events where The MerFriends will be performing a choreographed show for an audience:
Any venue can host a performance. The MerFriends can provide the music, sound system, and lighting required for this type of event. The host is asked to provide the area for the audience. These shows can range from 5 minutes to a full hour, depending on the event's needs. A variety of shows are available including (but not limited to) water ballet, merlesque (water burlesque), a comedic safety presentation, or a choreographed demonstration of skills and mer-personalities. The MerFriends can also sing and tell stories while on the surface. The MerFriends do not utilize air tanks or hoses, but for certain events will have safety divers in the water. If totally enclosed, The MerFriends will share oxygen with the divers as needed, but do not swim with visible air tanks or hoses. "Our MerFolk are mammals." AT LEAST 3 WEEKS NOTICE IS REQUIRED TO PREPARE A SHOW FOR YOUR EVENT. The more prep time, the better.
For events where The MerFriends are appearing dry:
The MerPerson will sit inside our giant clam shell, on a pearl ottoman, surrounded by blue and green fabric, decorating the provided area around the clam as able to create a NeverLand Lagoon effect. Other props such as treasure chest, sea shells, and fisherman's netting will be added as needed to create an interesting backdrop. From the clam shell, the Merperson will entertain guests and visitors with songs, stories, and temporary tattoos. They will also pose for photos alone and with guests. The Pirate, Sailor, or second Mer-Person will remain near by, also posing for photos and entertaining guests in character. The set up of this photo booth takes about 30 minutes, and it is preferred we do it unseen as we never appear in public without our tails. A dry show is also possible, which is more cabaret style.
WHY MUST I BOOK TWO PERFORMERS? Other companies don't require this!
One of the most basic tenants of swimming is NEVER SWIM ALONE, and the merwrangler is there to be the buddy of the mer especially in those situations where the mer is in the water before guests arrive. Even mermaids and pirates must follow pool rules!
Real MerFolk cannot walk in their tails. They cannot scoot or be dragged. They must be carried when out of water, though they have a limited range of motion so to change their position while seated. This is why EVERY merperson is accompanied by a merwrangler. The merwrangler knows how to maneuver the tails in a variety of conditions, including wet and slippery ones. Non-Employees are prohibited from picking up a MerFriend out of liability and safety concerns. A merwrangler is also there to facilitate the mer appearing in different locations during your event- such as on the bar or in the party room so to lead the singing of Happy Birthday. A merwrangler is a second performer who entertains and interacts with guests in character but whose primary focus is the safety of the mer. (A mer is performing in water under a variety of uncontrollable conditions, AND the mer is almost helpless when on land. Clearly, safety and assistance are essential.)
In addition to the merfolk, ALL of our performers appear with a buddy for their safety, accountability, and security. No MerFriend is ever alone with a guest nor are they alone in the performance venue. This is for the physical safety of our clients and to safeguard the integrity of our reputation. They are always watching each other. The personal security of our performers is also a consideration, especially when a performer is scheduled to arrive at an unknown venue or private home.
Finally, the second performer, especially a merwrangler, allows everyone to arrive performance ready. For example, if the mermaid comes alone, she must be snuck into the EMPTY pool area without anyone seeing her. The pool area must be cleared of all guests so she can transform (about a 15 minute process) unseen and enter the water. Then, at the end of your event, the pool area must be cleared again so she can transform unseen and exit the venue. Particularly at public venues, this can prove almost impossible. A merwrangler preserves the magic!
HOW DO YOU HANDLE HECKLERS AND DOUBTERS?
Without divulging all our trade secrets, The MerFriends are EXPERTS (thanks to their extensive training and experience) at handling every situation from the questioning child to the intoxicated adult. We do not quash curiosity or genuine questions, nor do we attempt to discipline or ostracize anyone who vocalizes their disbelief. Instead, The MerFriends guide them through a series of age appropriate questions and answers based in science and logical reasoning to allow guests to come to their own conclusions.
As an example: "You're not a real mermaid. That's just a costume!" "Are you a real human?" "Yes." "But you're wearing clothes that you take on and off. Does that make you a fake human?" "No." "So, it's not what you wear that makes you who you are, right?" and so forth. Even when adults ask, "What is your tail made of?" our answer is "muscles, cartilage, blood vessels, and more blubber than I would like!" Also, The MerFriends will determine if a line of questioning is appropriate for the audience at large. For example, an older sibling dominating a younger child's birthday party may be pulled aside by the merwrangler and have their questions answered separate from the group as little ones may be more interested in swimming than interrogating the mer. This questioning child will be entertained and addressed at his or her level rather than turned away.Every question is answered in character and honestly with a bit of magic mixed in. So, when The MerFriends arrive at your event, feel free to ask them questions! LOTS of questions!
The MerFriends also invite guests to inspect their appearance, including by touching their tails, swords, or wings. However, inappropriate, unsafe, uninvited, or potentially damaging to the costume touching will be handled swiftly by both MerFriends and brought to the immediate attention of the client and any appropriate authorities if needed. The MerFriends welcome and will invite guests to inspect and scrutinize their appearance and guide appropriate touching as part of this interaction, but they will control and monitor this activity. Any sexual advances or non-consensual touching may be reported to the police and criminal charges may be filed. Our performers have the right to say, "No," "Don't," and/or, "Stop" at any time.
PLEASE NOTE: We reserve the right to stop service and/or turn away a guest at any time for any reason.
WILL YOU TAKE PHOTOS OR VIDEO? CAN I?
At no additional cost, The MerFriends will bring their underwater camera in order to capture underwater videos and photos during the event. This is amateur video and photos and therefore the content nor the quality of the photos is guaranteed. All photos and videos will be uploaded to a private YouTube channel, with links emailed to the host within 14 days of the event. These will be the property of the host to use as they desire.
The host and all guests are also free to take photos and/or video of The MerFriends during the event on their own devices. We can sit on the ground and pose for photos or in the water. We can take group as well as individual photos. You are HIGHLY encouraged to post these photos on the internet, including social media, and to email a copy to Info@TheMerFriends.com. Please tag #TheMerFriends whenever possible. www.Facebook.com/TheMerFriends or www.Instagram.com/TheMerFriendsDFW. Any photos we find or that are sent to us will be edited to blur out all participants who appear younger than 18, and then may or may not be posted to our webpages, including social media, for advertising purposes.
We also have a professional photographer package as an optional add on service under Event Packages.
WHAT DO YOUR PERFORMERS LOOK LIKE? Are the costumes authentic?
You can choose your MerFriends from the photos on our website under Meet Us. They will appear in person as they do on the website. Our photos are posted UNEDITED. All have the most realistic tails available today which are made out of silicone. They are custom fit and designed for each MerFriend. These aren't just costumes but custom fit prosthetics made to our measurements and designed down to the detail by us. These tails can pass even the most scrutinizing inspection- we are REAL merfolk. (Fabric tails do not cut it!) Our merwranglers are not to be left out. They carry REAL swords that are peace tied- meaning they will NOT pull them out for kids to touch for safety reasons. Their jewelry, boots, sashes, and even hats are top quality costume replicas of real pirates, mostly from the Caribbean circa 1800s. No fake eye patches or stuffed parrots here! Even our fairies will have you clapping your hands and shouting, "I believe!" with their translucent wings with invisible harness and ethereal dresses. Not only does every MerFriend look good on camera but also when standing inches away. All MerFriends welcome appropriate touching as guests inspect our mythical qualities to discover, for themselves, just how real we are.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SAFETY?
THE PARTY HOST IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF ALL GUESTS DURING THE EVENT. The host is HIGHLY encouraged to hire a certified lifeguard to watch swimmers, or at least appoint a water monitor. The MerFriends are not able to watch every swimmer the entire time AND perform. A lifeguard is an extra pair of safety eyes who would not be distracted by other guests, the taking of photos, or be engrossed in a mobile device.
The MerFriends will not swim or appear around water or in open fields if lightning is seen or thunder is heard. Rain is not an issue.
The MerFriends will gently remind guests to follow basic pool rules such as jumping feet first and walking around the pool deck, but do not assume responsibility for rule enforcement.
The MerFriends carry entertainment liability insurance coverage.
The MerFriends reserve the right to end any appearance early for safety reasons. No refunds will be given.
EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND CERTIFICATION:
All members of the MerFriends are professional performers (actors, singers, dancers), stunt performers (with specialized training with swords, hand to hand, and water), certified lifeguards, and certified in SCUBA. A few have begun training for certification as freedivers as well. We have twice weekly rehearsals and ongoing training as a troupe. We are writing the curriculum and going through an accreditation process with our training program, The Mercademy, as there is no formal licensing or training for professional merfolk. Let me repeat that- if someone tells you they are a certified mermaid, ask what accrediting institution they trained with as there are no ACCREDITED programs. Yet. We have sought out every imaginable certification needed for this work that is currently available as well as providing each of our performers with extensive training including an apprenticeship with senior members of the troupe. The MerFriends are setting industry standards for this new vocation based on years of experience as performers and in related aquatics fields.
The booking fees are non-refundable. The hourly rate is due to the performers on the date of the event by cash or check. If the event is canceled, we must be notified in writing via email and/or text message at least 24 hours in advance. If 24 hours notice is not given, a cancellation fee of $50 will be charged. No refunds will be given if purchaser cancels event. If host is not able to pay the balance in full by the end of The MerFriend appearance, a $50/day late fee will be applied and the full amount due must be paid via PayPal, which will include a service charge. Please make every effort to pay the performers the balance due- they have taken the appointment in faith they will be paid.
We know that life happens. People get sick, mother nature lets loose, guests run late and delay the event starting on time, etc. However, there are no guarantees that we will be able to attend your event if you decide to change the date, time, or location after it is officially booked. We will make a reasonable attempt to do so, but if we are not available for your changed date/time/location, then the event is considered canceled by the purchaser, and there will be no refund of the booking fee. (To date, we have been able to accommodate every change submitted to us. We WANT to be at your event and will make every effort to do so.)
Once The MerFriends arrive at the event, balance is due, regardless of weather, fire, pool chemical imbalance, or any other occurrences that may arise to prevent us from performing at the event as expected. Please have an alternate plan in the event of pool closure or inclement weather. All performers are certified lifeguards, and if there is thunder or lightning, we will clear the area. We will remain at the event, in a safe area, and entertain to the best of our ability. We are always prepared for a change of plans and will work with you to make your event MERmazing but, most importantly, we will help make it SAFE.
If you wish to keep The MerFriends beyond the scheduled time, and both are available to stay longer, you will need to pay each performer an additional $50 per 30 minutes. Each MerFriend has a waterproof watch, and it will serve as the official time keeper. The prep time needed to transform at the arrival and departure is not considered billable time as it is our choice to maintain the illusion.
To date, The MerFriends have a track record of ZERO cancelled bookings and are always ready to perform exactly on time. When you book with us, you can rest assured The MerFriends will be there to perform as contracted.
HOW DO I BOOK THE MERFRIENDS?
We provide a VERY detailed quote and booking contract in writing for every event. The more information about your event you can provide, the better. (However, we also know what questions to ask so don't feel like you need to have EVERYTHING figured out right away!)
We will need to know:
which performers you would like (minimum of 2) and you can choose from our Meet Us list
when your event is (day, date, start, and end time)
what time WITHIN your event you want us to appear (start and end time)
where it is (physical address of the venue)
the type of venue (home, waterpark, hotel, nightclub, etc)
if it is swimming or dry
the type of event (birthday, corporate event, holiday, etc)
what is the theme, style, or vibe of your event
how you foresee our participation fitting your theme
any other details you can provide us- there is no such thing as too much information!
SPECIAL NOTICE: Some pools have restrictions on the use of fins at their facility. BEFORE booking The MerFriends, please confirm you have permission for us to appear. The venue is MORE than welcome to contact us should they have any questions, even before you book. If you are having trouble finding a venue, please contact us! We have a list of mer-friendly pools, waterparks, hotels, and even aquariums all over DFW. Helping you find the right venue is our pleasure and at no additional charge.
I WANT TO BE A MERMAID/ FAIRY/ PIRATE! Are The MerFriends hiring more performers?
The MerFriends are not currently hiring, but we always accept applicants to keep on file. Please send a recent photo (in tail or other appropriate costume if you have one), work resume, acting resume, copies of applicable certification, and a cover letter detailing your interest and experience to Info@TheMerFriends.com with a subject line: Applying to be a MerFriend. We will confirm receipt and place your materials on file. When we have an opening and/or are considering hosting an audition, you will be contacted. YES, we really DO keep a file and we really DO contact interested applicants to come in for an interview and audition. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, have reliable transportation, be willing to utilize Facebook and check personal email often, be in good physical condition, and be available for weekly swim practice and lifeguard inservice training to keep all certifications current. Applicants should expect an extensive background check (criminal and sex offender registry), random drug testing, and a lengthy contract that should be read carefully. Once hired on, you will go through an orientation (classroom setting) and then apprentice with a senior troupe member on three different appearances. Once your apprenticeship is complete, you will perform at a gig as the lead performer and be shadowed by the senior troupe member you apprenticed under. This is followed by a professional photo shoot and listing on our webpage as available to work. It is a lengthy process so that the BEST candidates rise to the top and earn the honor of becoming a MerFriend.
WHY HIRE THE MERFRIENDS
Professional swimming merfolk as well as live costumed entertainment is an ever expanding industry, though many clients don't know what to look for. Most of our clients tell us they have never done anything like this before. And that's okay! We have, and we will guide you through the process.
The client wants someone who is PROFESSIONAL. Whichever MerFriend you hire at any event, this is a major physical performance. It requires training and practice in order to adhere to top quality production standards. We are not just enthusiastic, charismatic performers in a costume. We are working professionals who can make fantasy a reality. The MerFriends are trained to handle a variety of situations, audiences, and types of events, but not only are they trained, they are experienced, too.
For swimming mers, extended breath holds, graceful form, bubble rings, bubble shapes, flips, twists, synchronized swimming moves, and even underwater poses enhance the experience. Our performers have EXTENSIVE training in all of this and perform it with ease. They can also offer mer-rides and merfolk swim lessons. Some of our competitors offer performers who can barely swim and simply entertain while seated in water. Others, believe it or not, don't want to get their hair (wigs) wet. We are SWIMMING MerFolk, and we come prepared to show all our tricks as appropriate for the event.
Our pirates have choreographed sword fights and know how to handle their real weapons as professional stuntmen. They are also trained as lifeguards and merwranglers- learning how to entertain while keeping the mer and other guests safe. The fairies and even Peter Pan himself have learned to play various musical instruments, can do bubble art, and have even trained to work in a fly system. YES. We can offer FLYING performers because we have trained to do so! Again, a costume does not a professional make.
We are also a business, not just a hobby. We have a proven track record of upholding our contracts and remaining in communication with our clients at all times. We recognize that this is a financial investment for the client and we expect to provide you with MORE than you paid.
The client wants someone who is BELIEVABLE. Fabric tails do not cut it in person (and rarely in photos or videos.) Our tails are made of silicone for the most believable look and feel. Our pirates have REAL pirate clothes, not cheap costumes, and the swords are so real, we keep them peace-tied unless a specific demonstration/performance has been approved in advance. No fake eyepatches or stuffed parrots here! Our fairies have translucent wings that flutter in the wind attached to invisible harness. These are not store bought wings with glitter but rather custom crafted extensions of the performer's body. Every MerFriend can answer many questions as part of their interaction with audiences. Test them in this and be amazed at their responses. From science to philosophy to snappy comebacks, children and adults will find themselves believing.
The client must ensure the event is SAFE for all their guests. Anyone can put on a costume and get hired to do an event, but you want to make sure in our litigious society that no one is injured- not guests or performers. Someone who is certified and experienced as stunt performers, water safety instructors, lifeguards, SCUBA, and freedivers is optimal in this line of work. If there is a certification to be had, The MerFriends have sought it out. However, there is no formal, accredited certification for professional merfolk- yet- and there is no state approved licensing program for costume characters. There is NO oversight for this industry. Anyone can get a costume, take some photos, get a web page, and start working. Anyone who says they are a certified mermaid or merman or are licensed to perform should be scrutinized. They might simply have a certificate from an un-accredited program. While we wait for accreditation for our training program and for the government to establish a licensing program, experience allows The MerFriends to anticipate potential safety concerns and address them in advance. We can also help our client to plan with safety in mind. Safety is not an after-thought but is at the forefront of our planning process.
Finally, with professional, believable, and safe in mind, we advise our potential clients to research each company they are considering. Call their references. Look at photos, videos, and reviews very carefully. Sometimes what a company advertises isn't exactly what you get. With The MerFriends, what you see is what you get. What you expect based on your contract is what you get- and more. Invest the time to compare our performers and services to other companies. We have no doubt you will book with The MerFriends.
Simply put, we are the BEST choice for
mermaids, mermen, pirates, and fairies ANYWHERE.
Our motto and our guarantee is: Professional. Believable. Safe.
And we've earned it.
If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us.