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Forget Tiger King's Joe Exotic. Meet HoExotic, Kalyn Heffernan's Alter-Ego

Kalyn Heffernan is HoExotic.EXPAND
Kalyn Heffernan is HoExotic.
Kalyn Heffernan
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Kalyn Heffernan has done it again — this time as HoExotic, owner of a bunch of fluffy cats, running a private exotic zoo out of her Denver apartment.

You know Heffernan: The Wheelchair Sports Camp MC; the foul-mouthed activist who helped shut down and shit in Senator Cory Gardner’s office with ADAPT protesters, trying to keep the Colorado Republican from killing the Affordable Care Act; the April Fools' prankster who announced a mayoral candidacy in this very media outlet as a gag, then went on to set the tone for the 2019 mayoral race, blasting Mayor Michael Hancock’s urban camping ban; the organizer who threw the best party of 2019, a street protest and seventy-some-person jam, where Denver’s scrappiest musicians literally blasted the Denver Center for the Performing Arts at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for opposing a repeal of that urban camping ban and calling the cops on joyful buskers; the youth educator and prison-rap workshop leader.

She has a hell of a résumé.

During this bleak pandemic, amid a stay-at-home order, Heffernan has now given the world its best parody of Joe Exotic. He's the star of Netflix's poverty-suicide-meth-mental-illness-drenched Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the crime-porn documentary series that has captivated the world.

With her shirt unbuttoned, a cross around her neck and the fluffiest animals in Denver, she rants as HoExotic, “the illegitimate butch granddaughter of Jake Jabs." (He’s the guitar-strummin’, bull-ridin’, lion-cuddlin’ CEO who has been starring in American Furniture Warehouse ads for decades — and a big-time free-market capitalist of the folksiest Western order.)

“We’re here at Denver’s exclusive, private, exotic zoo,” Heffernan pontificates in a Southern drawl. “There ain’t no governor, there ain’t no mayor of Denver gonna tell me I can’t exploit these cats and make some money off of them.”

First, she introduces us to her gray cat, Randal: “She’s cute and furry and lovable...but she’ll rip your face off if you hold her for too long.”

Then we meet Huey, a black cat Heffernan dubs “a black panther.”

“They say the Black Panthers is dangerous, but Huey Newton is just cross-eyed,” Heffernan says. “Errybody here at the private HoExotic’s Zoo’s got some kind of disability. So come on down. We’ll safe-distance. I’ll just throw the cat at ya’ from six feet.”

Eventually we meet Denver’s oldest dinosaur, 28-year-old Michelangela — a turtle in its shell, who may be shy or may be dead.

“The governor says only essential businesses are open,” Heffernan concludes. “And this is the most essential business in my life.”

And "HoExotic in Quarantine" is essential watching for anybody who needs a laugh. See for yourself below:

Heffernan made the video for her fellow actors and crew at Phamaly Theatre Company, a troupe run by and starring people with disabilities. She’s been working on a production of Alice in Wonderland, in which she’s performing and composing all the music. The play’s slated for a Denver run this summer.

“I made this video for @Phamaly_theatre because holy shiiiiiiit we're still working hard to roll out the Alice In Wonderland production for this summer starring meeeeee!!!” she wrote on Twitter. “+ all original music by Wheelchair Sports Camp. hope this holds us over until then…”

It should.

Alice in Wonderland is scheduled for July 22 through August 9 at the Space Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  For more information, go to the Phamaly Theatre Company website.

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