This all-male underwater burlesque show making waves in Fort Lauderdale
Jimmy “Poseidon” James is from Hollywood, Florida, with medium-length curly brown hair that spreads slightly when submerged. The self-proclaimed beach guy spends his days surfing or working as an Ocean Rescue lifeguard in Miami. But at night, the 35-year-old puts his locks – and everything else – to work, as an underwater burlesque performer at the B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale.
James is a member of the Aquanauts, America’s first all-male underwater burlesque troupe. Formed last year by local aquatic legend Marina Anderson— aka MeduSirena – the men perform weekly at the B Ocean’s Wreck Bar, a small kitchy porthole bar that’s been around since the hotel’s days as the Yankee Clipper – when stars like Marilyn Monroe stopped by.
Designed to resemble the inside of a shipwreck – complete with “broken” deck planks – square windows look out onto the hotel pool, where during their performances the Aquanauts look right back in.
Porthole bars were common in South Florida in the 1950s and 60s, but in 1965, the Wreck Bar ceased regular performances.
Anderson convinced the hotel to revive the mermaids in 2006 with her throwback squad – the Aquaticats and their glamorous sequined tails. Today, the Wreck Bar is one of only two porthole bars remaining that play host to shows. All performances are included with the $30 food and beverage minimum.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the Aquaticats perform both family-friendly fare and adults-only aqua burlesque shows, with a Mermaids and Mimosas brunch on Sunday.
The Aquamen Underwater Burlesque Show, featuring the Aquanauts, with Anderson hosting, run on Thursdays. Among the Aquanauts ranks are a school teacher, a shark diver, two Polynesian dancers, two Ocean Rescue guys, and a whole lot of amazing hair.
“Those guys use more conditioner than I’ve ever seen,” jokes Anderson.
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The shows have been so popular they’ve inspired a Wednesday night co-ed Sirens & Sailors show, billed as a “sensual aqua ballet experience.”
Like the Aquaticats, the guys wear no goggles or nose clips.
“I want the audience to forget that they’re holding their breath,” says Anderson.
The schtick is playful and their outfits – which are eventually whittled down to almost nothing – change on a whim, from business suits to Western wear, to flamboyant 80s rock costumes. They’ve even done Magnum P.I.
Before joining the group James was familiar with the mermaid shows but had never seen one.
“I joined the Aquamen because it was unlike anything I had heard of,” he says. “On top of the fact that it was outside my comfort zone.”
James describes his underwater personality as cool, calm and smooth. His go-to move, the upside-down shirt pop, is always a crowd-pleaser.
“Not only is it sexy, it can be a bit surprising to the audience,” he says.
Though the performers are submerged, James says you can still hear the crowd and feel the energy.
“It encourages us to be bolder and wilder throughout the show,” he says.
And in an audience that includes all genders and all ages, no one is left out, though Anderson admittedly has a favorite.
“I love the old lady birthdays,” she says. “If I know there’s a woman turning 80, the stallions are going straight to her table.”
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