Former Miss Germany International 2006 Katrin Felton and her husband moved to Phuket in 2011 to realize her life-long dream of becoming a mermaid— yes, you read that right. Now she runs a Mermaid Academy where she teaches others how to become real-life mermaids like herself.
What got you obsessed with mermaids?
It happened 20 years ago when I watched The Little Mermaid at the age of five. I was so intrigued by the outfits and the way they moved underwater. Living in Germany, I wasn’t close to any body of water so it was hard for me. My father, who was a commander in the police, would never allow me to jump into a pool with a mermaid tail, so for a long time I couldn’t pursue my dream. After high school, I went into modeling then moved to Australia in 2010 and became a scuba instructor. I trained in free diving and practiced underwater modeling.
 
What makes you a mermaid?
I free dive in the ocean, and I’ve learned how to hold my breath under water for about three minutes. I am able to pose underwater and look attractive without a mask! It required a lot of practice but I can now open my eyes underwater without the salt water affecting me much. Once I could do that I got my first tail from the internet— and I knew I could be a real-life mermaid.
 
Do people think you’re crazy for opening a Mermaid Academy?
It’s silly. I get stupid looks from people. Even my husband; he supports me but even he says, “Honey you can’t become a mermaid.” I didn’t believe it either. I never thought three years ago I’d have my own academy or shop. But being an underwater model, it got people more interested. They see my photos, videos or performances and contact me. The more people see me, the more people contact me saying, “I want to be a mermaid.” I’d like to share my skills and knowledge with girls from all over the world to make their dreams come true.
 
What makes a good mermaid?
You should be able to hold your breath underwater for a long period of time, look good underwater without a mask and also have rescue skills. I cannot emphasize that enough. Having your legs tied into a tail can be dangerous if you don’t know what to do in emergency situations. I train my girls to know the ocean. We are not just pretty girls who swim; we are ambassadors of the ocean. I teach them to be role models, to not use plastic bags or participate in shark finning or overfishing.
 
Run us through one of your workshops.
We have different workshops for children and adults. The Mini Mermaid Workshop is a fun presentation for kids, about the environment, the ocean and also playing in the pool. The Real Mermaid Workshop [B10,000] is a two-day workshop for adults; I
only train those who can swim 200 meters without stopping. If you pass the qualifications, you get a certificate and become either a bronze, silver or gold mermaid.
 
Do you have other mermaid friends?
Yes! There are other mermaids around the world. We know each other and keep in touch through Facebook. “Mermaiding” is growing. I attended a mermaid convention in Las Vegas and they even had an award for the best mermaid! I have an online shop where I sell tails and the bikini tops to a lot of people from different countries. I’m still waiting to meet a merman friend, though!