The fairy’s tale

Ariel Ryan

Photo By Shoka

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What’s harder to believe: that fairies exist, or that professional fairies exist? The latter is indeed real. Sacramento native Ariel Ryan works for the local branch of Happily Ever Laughter ( Ryan—under her fairy name, Miss Stella—enchants children at parties with magic tricks, puppet shows, face painting, storytelling and balloon twisting. The fairies wear corsets, handmade sequined skirts with petticoats, and wings, of course. That suits Ryan, since she loves dressing up, hugs trees and has a mesmerizing effect on little girls who spot her. Believers and disbelievers alike, read on.

How old are you?

Well, my human age is 22. My fairy age is 723.

How do you know that?

My mom told me that, but it can also be measured in glitter specks on our wings. I’ve gotten into many arguments with children over that one, but then they try to count the glitter specks, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s a very high number to count to. It’ll take the rest of the party.”

Is this your only job?

It is! I’m proud to say I’m a full-time professional fairy.

Before you were a pro, were you an amateur fairy?

The best part about this job is that we get picked because we are fairies. I think [HEL proprietor Miss Fae Diddle Diddle] finds these girls who are fairies and haven’t necessarily grown their wings yet. My mom has always said I’m a fairy, and I’ve always considered myself a fairy. There’s something more validating to it when you have a pair of legitimate-looking wings—and a paycheck that comes along with it.

Tell me what you do as a fairy.

I bring lots of fun things to parties, but truly my job description is to inspire magic and imagination. I go to a birthday party and I have a beautiful elaborate magic show. I have all these amazing puppet friends, and I face-paint with magical colors, and I bring fairy dust and I bring balloons. … But really what it is is to bring magic, imagination and love with you and you share it with all of the children. Some of them just get so, so excited and so happy that there’re other people out there who believe that fairies exist. Of course, there are the kids who don’t even want to believe, and usually you can change them by the end of [the party].

What’s your favorite magic trick?

I can blow bubbles, and if they help me catch the bubbles, I can turn those bubbles into a crystal ball.

How often do you do events?

They’re every weekend. … I’d say 12 to 15 a month.

Client comments on the HEL website praise you and your co-workers for staying in character, but I’m getting a feeling that it may be your actual personalities.

You just found out our secret! Most of us are not actually in character.

You’ve placed second and first place in Sacramento’s Promenade of Mermaids for your costumes the last two years. And you have bright red hair, and your name is Ariel.

Yes. My name is Ariel, and that’s been my name since birth, but I actually dyed my hair red because … when the movie Moulin Rouge! came out, I fell madly in love with Satine. I thought she was the most beautiful creature in the world, and I wanted to be exactly like her, and when I was 13 or something, I dyed my hair red.

You actually have a mermaid tail that your boyfriend made for you that you swim in.

I do! It’s a dream come true. I can’t even explain how wonderful it was to get in the pool for the first time, dive in the water like a mermaid.

When Dive Bar opened downtown, did you think about swimming in its tank?

Oh my goodness! The first second I heard about it, I went down there, pushed my way in … found the owner, and I ran up to her, and I was just in this I’m-going-to-get-this-job mode. I said, “Hi, I’m Ariel, I have to work here, you have to hire me, so I can start anytime.” She laughed and thought it was funny, but she gave me her number … and she would hire me the next round they were hiring mermaids. … Around that time, that was also when I was hired to be a fairy, so that kind of softened the blow that I didn’t work as a mermaid. And then I got that tail for Christmas.

What will you do when you hang up your wings?

I’ve always cared a lot about animals. … Right now I volunteer at a shelter, but I definitely want to pursue animal welfare.