Amanda Fucking Palmer is sitting ahead of a gilt-framed own in a dressing room on the Ford Amphitheater on Coney Island, naked with the exception of for some gray lingerie. Spandex-clad handmaidens rub lotion on her fingers, while a stylist affixes a silver crown decorated with shadowy jewels to her curls. “It feels fancy this can discontinue, but can you arrangement it more viney-windy?” she asks, pulling a transient curl, spray-painted inexperienced for the occasion, out of its binding. A Periscope video of the singer and efficiency artist’s partial transformation into the Queen of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade had concluded factual ahead of Palmer stripped down (Periscope frowns on nudity, one amongst Palmer’s most in vogue states), throughout which a viewer requested in regards to the difference between a siren and a mermaid. “Presumably now we accept as true with got to earn Neil Gaiman in for a transient discussion on the historical past of mermaids and folklore,” she says. She applied a coat of turquoise lipstick and threw on a Cockney accent: “Oi! Gaiman! What operate you already know about staunch mermaids?”
Palmer’s husband, the acclaimed British fantasy creator and resident mythology professional, is within the room spherical the corner, getting dressed as King Neptune. “My glitter is shedding in each keep,” he says once I knock on the door. His long-established peep, shadowy denims and a shadowy jacket, is extremely absolute top a puny bit of modified for the occasion — one amongst his popular designers, the goth-Victorian couturier Kambriel, has sewn silver and inexperienced and shadowy beads and shells (and a starfish) to a linen jacket she’d made him about a years ago. His face, framed by a heavy mop of silvery curls, is dusted in glitter. He’d also grown his beard out. “When I realized that I became once going to be a mermaid king, the major ingredient I had to operate became once grow a extraordinarily serious ‘Fuck off’ beard because for folk that don’t accept as true with a beard, then nobody would know you'll want to maybe additionally be Neptune,” he explains. “I’ve viewed pictures of Neptune, and there are none in which he is clean-shaven. It’s no longer a ingredient.”
The Mermaid Parade, founded in 1983, is a unparalleled Novel York institution, a celebration of bohemian nonconformity featuring homemade floats and costumes heavy on fish puns (The Wu Tang Clam Ain’t Nuthin to Shuck With, The Salmon Witch Trials, The Ruth Wader Finsburgs…). It seems fitting that Gaiman and Palmer would preside over this proud collection of freaks and renegades, given that they’ve unofficially ruled as weirdo royalty for years. Palmer, who is maybe absolute top identified as the lead singer and pianist of the punk-cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls, writes uncooked, confessional lyrics about subjects as diversified as Harvey Weinstein, the unlit humor of abortion, and her deep love for Judy Blume. Gaiman’s prolific collection of books, short experiences, and graphic novels uncover more ethereal realms: In his absolute top-selling sleek, American Gods, which became once tailored for TV closing year, Gaiman raises the question of what happens to deities when folks conclude worshipping them. What did he deem Neptune became once as a lot as this day? “Doubtlessly homeless on the brink of the sea,” Gaiman says, after a second of consideration. “Produce of diseased, talking about his glory days.” Composed, Neptune isn’t completely forgotten. “Sailors light accept as true with puny rituals,” he factors out. “I deem he might perhaps maybe additionally earn a puny bit bit more worship than deal of gods.”
Gaiman became once supposed to be within the U.Good passable to accept as true with his postproduction responsibilities as showrunner for an upcoming Amazon mini-sequence, tailored from his first sleek, Proper Omens (co-written with the slack Terry Pratchett), however the invitation to Coney Island had been too tempting to flip down. “I’ve wished to hobble to the Mermaid Parade ever since I heard that it existed. There’s something very inclusive about a mermaid parade,” he muses. “You’re a mermaid for folk that notify you'll want to maybe additionally be.”
A royal attendant, dressed in sparkly sizzling pants and a purple sequined bra, arrives with Gaiman’s crown (shadowy netting with feathery iridescent accents), which had been a puny bit of beaten on the day out out to Coney Island. “It became once fancy a crown, and now it seems fancy a puny bit extinct girl’s hat,” Gaiman says sadly. He makes an are attempting to restore its form, tentatively puts it on, and surveys himself within the own. “Provided that I’ll be sitting next to Amanda, nobody is going to be taking a peep, anyway.”
Gaiman — whose dreaminess is so successfully-established that the fantasy net notify Tor.com published a humor part titled “Fiction World Rocked As Girl Claims No Sexual Attraction to Neil Gaiman” — is maybe selling himself short. Palmer and Gaiman met in 2008, when she requested him to jot down experiences to accompany pictures of herself posing as a corpse. They accept as true with been married within the house of the authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. They accept as true with been every cult-eminent ahead of they wed, but their marriage seems to accept as true with multiplied the operate. On her weblog, Palmer helps earn this mystique, every on occasion writing about their sex life (“waking up with neil,” she wrote in 2013, “i are looking out for to creep inner his mouth and hobble lend a hand to sleep inner his lungs”). They currently accept as true with what Gaiman has described as a “theoretically delivery relationship.” “It’s more or much less closed in observe,” he told the U.Good passable. Times in 2017. “Neither of us is going to sleep with folks when we’ve got a two-year-extinct with us.”
On the amphitheater, they imagine a chief come upon between the characters they’re playing on the parade. “We met at Total Foods,” says Palmer, who, while removed from frequent, is the more earthbound of the 2. “I disagree completely,” says Gaiman, leaning over to zip up the lend a hand of her scaly aqua sizzling pants. “I deem she became once doing the same outdated Amanda ingredient, sitting on a rock someplace luring sailors to their deaths by singing to them with a ukulele, and I came about to traipse by. I became once lured. Lured to my doom.”
As Palmer puts on a bedazzled bra and ties a foamy bustle around her waist, Gaiman ponders the timeless allure of the sea. “There might perhaps be something so successfully-organized and sleek in regards to the water,” he says. “And the muse of merpeople has constantly been magnificent. It shows an notion that the sea is a reflection of the land and the land is a reflection of the sea.” These days, he adds, the waters under accept as true with been threatened by the habits of the creatures up on land. “We’re imminent a keep appropriate now the keep there might perhaps maybe additionally quickly genuinely be more plastic within the sea, pound for pound, than there are fish. That’s fucked up.” The parade, he says, is a capacity “to enhance consciousness of our guardianship of the sea, of the truth that the seas and the oceans belong to humanity, but we got here from them and …”
“We’re factual fucking tourists, trashing the joint!” Palmer cuts in, with the arrangement of lusty enthusiasm that fans of the Dresden Dolls would get familiar. “Precisely,” Gaiman replies. He turns to observe at his associate, who seems fancy she might perhaps maybe additionally accept as true with stepped out of a Waterworld remake directed by Tim Burton. “I fancy every thing,” he says, “with the exception of the hair with the crown appropriate now feels very arrangement of high-college elegance queen.”
She glances within the own, then will get rid of the crown. “Having Neil Gaiman as my internal most stylist is one amongst one of the best choices I’ve made in my life,” she says. “No one is aware of that he’s the magic slack the mystery.”
Assist in her beget dressing room, Palmer puts the final touches on her outfit: a expedient-feathered collar, fingerless sequin gloves, a pair of thick, spherical shades. Gaiman reviews the phrase “Mermaid Vitality” drawn on Palmer’s chest in shadowy marker. “I deem that we might perhaps maybe additionally potentially command mermaids to replace coal,” he begins. “On the opposite hand, the captive mermaids …”
“You peep magnificent,” Palmer interrupts.
“I constantly peep fancy this,” says Gaiman, who seems as unlit and mysterious as his most eminent creation, Dream, the star of the Sandman sequence of graphic novels, which Gaiman began writing when he became once in his 20s. “You factual accept as true with to peep at me with unusual eyes.” says Gaiman, now fifty seven. (Palmer is forty two.) “That is the appropriate particular person you married.”
Their 2-and-a-half-year-extinct son, Ash, climbs up on the couch beside his father. “Let’s no longer no longer as a lot as present you some beads,” Gaiman tells him. “For these who’re going to be a mer-creature, let’s accept as true with some inexperienced beads. And some blue beads.” He slings about a strands around Ash’s neck. “There. You peep fancy a miniature sea prince in his pajamas.”
The royal family and their glittering entourage winds their manner out of the amphitheater, down into the blazing sunshine, the keep a wicker rickshaw pushed by two inexperienced sea creatures awaits. They climb in, and the sea prince settles into his father’s lap as the rickshaw turns up Surf Avenue. “You peep fucking unparalleled!” a parade attendee dressed fancy an orange sea urchin shouts. Any individual with very sensible gills thrusts a duplicate of Sandman out for Gaiman to signal; a particular person wearing a shark’s head pours a handful of inexperienced glitter into his palm. Palmer blows a kiss to the gang, then hops off the rickshaw and, ukulele in hand, shimmies as a lot as a troupe of dancing mermaids, her bustle bouncing slack her, the girls in mermaid tails drawn in direction of her fancy the tide coming in.
Down by the seaside, Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and the founding father of the Mermaid Parade, fingers them a pair of large scissors and asks them to diminish four ribbons, one for every season, a ritual to verify appropriate climate and enjoyable as the seaside opens for summer. “So perishes iciness!” shouts Gaiman as he does the honors. Palmer pulls off her Keep up a correspondence, her fishnets, her sparkly sizzling pants, her bustle, and closing of all, the bedazzled bra, till she is once more naked with the exception of for a pair of gray lingerie. To whistles and cheers and whoops, she dives into the ocean. Gaiman will get rid of absolute top his intellectual shadowy boots and beaded jacket and walks in after her. A line of magnificent youthful girls wade in in direction of the creator to pay their respects (and query for selfies). When the closing characterize has been taken, he turns to me. “I will notify, I’m impressed by your dedication to journalism,” Gaiman says, indicating the waves creeping up around my waist. He slings an arm around my shoulder and gestures in direction of the seaside. “Peep at that,” he says. “Isn’t that stunning? The costumes. And the drums. And the magic. And the muse that there are of us that factual got here down to be on the seaside, and all immediately, a day on the seaside grew to turn out to be into something completely incredible.”