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THE BIRD LADY AND BATMAN

Published:
22/02/2017
Author:
Think Local

It all started 12 years ago, when Kris received a call from a local aged care facility down the road from her home. They knew she had three birds, and the centre asked if she could bring them in to cheer up some of the residents. So, she did.

"The visit was so successful that the nursing home invited me back," Kris beams.

Fast forward 12 years and Kris and her husband John now have 23 birds, and they've just performed their 4000th show.

Yet they are not just any old birds - included in her crew is a dove, lorikeet, and five special chickens which she has dyed different colours - pink, blue, green, yellow and orange. "The yellow chook is called lemon chicken and the orange is apricot chicken," she adds. And the craziest bird of them all? "Me! I'm the crazy old chook!" the 66-year-old smiles.

"The one-hour show is full of comedy. I've had to stop because the residents and I have been crying with laughter. It's me introducing the birds - telling stories about the birds."

But there are parts of the performances that are unscripted.

"A few times in my bird show, a chicken has laid an egg on a retirement home resident," reveals the former hairdresser and live theatre performer.

Yet the bird whisperer says there have also been some very special moments she'll never forget. "Sometimes I visit retirement homes and a few of the residents have Parkinson's Disease, so they have slight tremors. If I rest the wedge-tailed dove on their arm, it stops the tremors. It's something you have to see with your own eyes," she says.

What may come as a surprise to bird novices is that Kris had to pick the specific breed of her feathered friends through a checklist she made.

"You can't just have any breed of bird in a show like this - it all comes down to whether the birds can handle travelling in a car without getting anxious, and also the state of their droppings - just in case one of them has an accident in the show," she reveals. Without going into too much detail, the birds she has opted for in the show do "dry pellet-type poos".

And now as a senior herself, does she think she'll stop the show soon? "No. I love it. I absolutely love it!" she is quick to answer.

Unsurprisingly, Kris and her 23 birds have garnered a lot of attention - they have appeared on Dr Chris Brown's Bondi Vet and Better Homes and Gardens with Dr Harry several times, as well as read the news with her chickens on Sunrise.

Kris and her birds have been so inspirational that her son Chris has decided to follow suit, with the 28-year-old already having visited nursing homes in a Batman costume.

Dressing up is a regular pastime for Chris - he's into CosPlay ('costume play') where enthusiasts dress up as different characters and head to conventions in their outfits. Chris is a self-confessed "stickler for accuracy" with his costumes, and due to this has gained quite the following on his YouTube channel. Chris has more than 165,000 subscribers who listen to his movie reviews and thoughts on new collectibles, and gasp over his latest costumes. In the past, he's dressed as Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, Hugh Jackman in X-Men, and Edward Scissorhands, plus many others.

Due to his perfectionism and fervent fans, his Batman costume isn't a one-stop online purchase. In fact, he spent "several thousand dollars and a few solid months" on the outfit, which he says has been "a labour of love".

"I travelled to LA to go Ironhead Studio, the place where they made Ben Affleck's Batman costume, and I was able to buy some pieces for my costume there," he reveals.

Chris says the reaction he gets from residents at retirement homes is mixed. "There is usually a lot of confusion when I rock up," admits the CosPlay YouTube sensation.

"Once when I visited [a seniors home] as Batman, one guy jumped out of his seat with surprise. Most residents get a really good laugh out of it - most know who Batman is."

And he can't wait to visit Pittwater the retirement homes his mum has already been to.

"I'm so proud of Mum and what she does and how far she's come," Chris reflects. "Her show has gone from strength to strength and she's a great supporter of me."

And what does Kris think of her protege? "I'm over the moon.

When I was his age and I had dreams of what I wanted to do, I had no support whatsoever, so I’m glad I’m here for him to give him a few tips!”

 

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