Heidi Fleiss Reality Show Parrots
February 11, 2012 by staff
Heidi Fleiss Reality Show Parrots, “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss knows her life sounds a bit strange. But Fleiss’ three-year stint in jail, run-ins with exes like Tom Sizemore and struggles with drugs sound almost normal compared to her other addiction: Caring for more than 20 exotic macaw parrots.
Fleiss’ relationship with those birds forms the basis of a new Animal Planet special, Heidi Fleiss: Prostitutes to Parrots. The one-hour program, from Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Films and Television, airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and doubles as the pilot episode to a potential series.
Fleiss, who lives in Pahrump, Nevada (where she continues to consult for brothels), was pitching another reality show concept with her brother when Piligian suggested turning the camera on her and her birds. It’s an expensive hobby, one that she supports by running a laundromat and a doggie day care — as well as starring in reality shows (like this one and Celebrity Rehab).
With her macaws squawking in the background, Fleiss spoke with TV Guide Magazine about her love/hate relationship with the birds; her brutally honest take on Dr. Drew Pinsky; why she didn’t care for Mike Tyson’s Animal Planet show; and how she manages to stay sober.
TV Guide Magazine: How did your involvement with the birds first come about?
Heidi Fleiss: When I moved to Pahrump it was obviously to get into the sex trade, because that’s what I know, it’s in my blood. I know that business better than anyone on the earth. There’s a bed-ridden madam who used to run the exotic bird department at the Tropicana Hotel. And her single-wide dumpy trailer was filled with hundreds of birds. Basically she was dying and her last words were, “You take care of my birds.” And I [at first] said no. I have one bird left from her now. All the rest have their own stories and their own histories.
TV Guide Magazine: It sounds like this got out of control.
Fleiss: What I learned is they’re not meant to be pets. I think the species needs to go extinct. There’s no more room for them in this world, with deforestation and the illegal pet trade. They wind up in garages. I had one bird come to me that hadn’t seen sun in 14 years. These birds have the worst lives. And they’re such extraordinary, complex, sensitive creatures. It’s not fair. And these rescuers aren’t usually rescuers, they’re hoarders with a bunch of cages. My birds are free. They get distilled water, whole foods, organic. Look, I’m their caretaker, I’m their nanny. I work for them. Every day I tell them it’s their world. Whatever they want.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you enjoy the birds? Or are they more of a hassle?
Fleiss: Some days I’d love to give them all lethal injections. But I can never turn my back on them. I love them. They have my heart. And I’m 45, but they’re going to live to 100. I worry about what’s going to happen to them when I’m gone.
TV Guide Magazine: Given your struggles with drugs and alcohol, is this a hobby that helps keep you sober?
Fleiss: No, this probably prevents me from moving forward and doing things that I should be doing. It’s such a handicap and such a tall order, what I’ve taken on here. I’m not delusional where I think this is a normal lifestyle. But I can’t throw them away. I can’t see them in cages or eating seed from the pet store. I tasted it, the premium macaw food. It tastes disgusting.
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