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Mermaids have part in movie

Cyndi Lauper can sing, and she's not a bad wrestler. But when producers of a film starring Lauper and David Keith needed to teach Lauper the art of working underwater, they turned to the experts: the Weeki Wachee mermaids.

Two women from the Hernando County tourist attraction finished filming Wednesday on the set of Moon Over Miami, a film starring pop singer Lauper as a woman who works as a mermaid in a Miami lounge.

Dan Wilson, public relations manager for Florida Leisure Acquisition Corp., which owns Weeki Wachee Spring, said Wednesday that two of the attraction's mermaids have been in Miami since Feb. 5 filming scenes with Lauper and Keith.

It is the first time since the late 1960s that Weeki Wachee Spring or its mermaids have been featured in a motion picture.

"We're real excited about it," Wilson said. "And the two girls are just thrilled. To have grown up around Weeki Wachee and then work in a movie with stars like that has been a real boost for them."

The mermaids, Kim Ramsey and Wendy Slidell, were chosen for their ability to "work underwater and look good while doing it," according to Wilson. They are expected to return to work at the attraction by the end of the week.

Officials of Aaron Russo Entertainment, the company producing the film, began negotiations with Weeki Wachee in late last year for consulting help on the project. Wilson said that the company originally hoped to have some scenes filmed in Hernando County, but that the plans were scrapped when film producers saw the size of the Weeki Wachee spring.

"They said that it was just too overpowering to be believable as a swimming pool," Wilson said. "We were disappointed by that, but thrilled to remain as a part of the movie."

Wilson said that the film's script calls for Ramsey and Slidell to play mermaids from Weeki Wachee who are in Miami for a special appearance. The two Weeki Wachee women meet Lauper's character, who shares a common interest with other women who spend much of their lives underwater.

"The attraction will be mentioned in the movie and will get a credit line," Wilson said. "It works out nicely for us."

So nicely that the park dropped the veil of mystery surrounding the spring's mermaids. Traditionally, the attraction doesn't allow the women who perform in the park's shows to use their real names or acknowledge that they are not really mermaids.

"Normally we wouldn't do that," Wilson said. "But we made an exception because we wanted to be part of this project."