We had the good fortune of connecting with Jack Laflin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jack, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe the most important factor behind the success of my brand/company is simple: just being genuine. It’s rather simple, but people tend to make it harder than it is. You of course have to factor in the commercial appeal of anything you do, but you can’t compromise who you are just to satisfy others. At least you won’t be able to successfully do it for long. People connect to genuine people, thoughts and aspirations. There are a lot of things about myself and my life that I could diminish, if not outright hide, to appeal to a wider audience. I could hide that I’m gay, I could skirt around that I’m a first generation, multi-racial performer. The truth is, I have never and will never do that, even when former bosses have outright told me not to be “too gay”. I am not interested in placating or attracting people who don’t like who I am. I am very proud who I am and what I stand for. That genuine backbone is very connective to the right people. Others who feel connected to you through similar journeys and struggles, those are the supporters you want. I have built a career of kindness, diversity and hard-work, Now, I get to work in a wild and crazy career path that isn’t perfect, but is perfectly me. I get to travel the world, performing underwater with amazing athletes, performers and friends. I get to tell the disenfranchised and marginalized people that the fight can be hard, but it is so worth to feel comfortable in your own skin and go to bed with your integrity in tact.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the very proud founder & owner of Dark Tide Productions. We are an event-entertainment company based in Los Angeles, CA. While we offer a variety of themes and performances, we are best known for our merfolk performers. From private pool parties in the hills and performing in aquariums to swimming in tv/film, we work throughout the private and professional entertainment industry. I am very proud of the diversity within my company. We celebrate and actively represent a variety of ethnicities, ages , religions, sizes, orientations etc. I cannot under value the importance of being supported and represented as performer and human being. In an almost literal sea of very safe, commercial, even just white-presenting performers, we have become a company clients/studios reach out to for more progressive representation. It breaks my heart when parents of children planning a birthday party cannot find mermaid decorations, much less performers, who look like their child. I don’t let that happen under my watch. You can see the connection, the recognition in a child’s eyes upon seeing a performer that looks like them. They see themselves, they see themselves able to do and be something they may have never thought possible. That is honestly beautiful.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
You really can’t go wrong with visiting Los Angeles or Southern CA! With beautiful beaches up & down the coast, plus mountains and forests not far off either, there is a lot of natural beauty in Los Angeles that is often forgotten. One of my favorites places to go to is Aroma Coffee and Tea company in Studio City. It is such relaxing place where you can sit, eat and drink with friends. Delicious food and great menu in a cozy setting. Plus, you can usually discretely spot celebrities here, but everyone is so chill and respectful, it never gets crazy. I adore this place. I had an amazing lavender latte last time I was there. Olvera Street is another gem of the city that I feel like many don’t know about. This historic street in DTLA, often called the “birthplace of los angeles”, is a celebration of the traditions and culture of Mexico. Olvera Street was created in 1930, with over 3 dozen shops and restaurants, not to mention the amazing, art, music and folkloric dancers. I love the immersion of culture here. Crooked Path is my my favorite metaphysical shop to go to in Burbank. They have a gorgeous collection of books, crystals, incense, ritual tools and classes. The owners, Sal and Popi are incredibly experienced and helpful. Also, you can get custom blended and created candles for whatever you are trying to manifest. This place is truly special.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would very much like to give a shoutout to my great friend and colleague, Rachel Smith of Mermaid and Mom. Not only is she an incredibly talented and experienced performer, both in and out of the water, but she is an inspiration to me as a person. Widely educated on art, history and culture, she has been an amazing collaborator. She keeps her head down and works quietly, but I am so impressed with the things she has created and the hearts she has touched. She has always made me feel valued and seen, which is not always the case in my very niche career path. She works more tirelessly than people know to create safe and supportive places to those who feel othered. I am more grateful than I can articulate to have her in my life.

Website: https://darktideproductions.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mermanjax/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darktideproduction

Other: https://californiamermaidcon.com/

Image Credits
– Mermaid Wrangler Photography – Brett Stanley Photography – Eryn Brydon Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.