Big, burly Newfoundland guys in mermaid tails a global hit for a good cause


ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — They’re bearded, they’re burly and they’re wearing sparkly mermaid tails.

A group of men posing as “merb’ys” to raise cash for a Newfoundland therapy service has become a global hit.

“This has gone so much more viral and bigger than anything that we imagined it would be,” said Jason Piercey of St. John’s.

He was photographed among the wharfs and rugged cliffs of the Quidi Vidi fishing village, resplendent in a shimmery ensemble with strips of aqua blue ribbon woven through his hair.

“That’s my seaweed,” Piercey said with a laugh. “I had this crown but it just wouldn’t stay on.”

About 30 guys posed as merb’ys, a term that combines two words — mermaid and b’y — the Newfoundland jargon for boy or buddy.

Increasing orders for their 2018 calendar of photos by the sea, at a barber shop and in a pumpkin patch are coming in from around the world.

It’s all an effort by the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club to raise money for Spirit Horse NL.

The service builds mental health and life skills for children and adults as they ride and care for horses.

The Merb’ys 2018 calendar is available through the beard and moustache club website for $25.

It says “due to increased sales” all new orders will ship by Nov. 27.

Organizers are saving details on exactly how successful the project has been until they’ve got an overall tally.

Piercey, an entrepreneur and community activist, said he hopes the endearing fundraiser inspires other men to don mermaid tails for good causes.

“It’s so whimsical. It’s so fun. Everybody needs to relax and stop taking life so seriously.”

Dressing as a merb’y, complete with shell necklace, was strangely liberating, he added.

“There are subtle signs in that photo that I used to be fit. You can almost see it.”

Piercey’s photo shoot happened on a gorgeous fall day with crowds of people visiting the historic fishing village near downtown St. John’s.

“You know you look just ridiculous. At the same time, it feels incredible because you’re destroying all these images and everybody’s laughing,” he said. “They’re laughing because it’s such a weirdly beautiful, comical … thing.

“It destroys gender stereotypes and all these roles. It’s something cute, and that draws people’s attention.”

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Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press