Michelle Kaiser, “The Gypsy Mermaid”
Age: Born in March, the fabulous year of 1969.
How long have you lived in Vancouver? I grew up in North Vancouver; later I lived and experienced many interesting areas of Vancouver: heritage apartments in the West End, art/live studios in the downtown, lofts in Gastown and houses in Kitsilano and Kerrisdale. I left Vancouver for a while, returning in 2011.
Occupations: I did not opt for college or university, choosing hands-on experience with a whole array of jobs: customer service, waitress, sales, receptionist, secretary, security, film industry, performer, festival co-coordinator, photographer, restaurant owner, mobile food vendor, artist and musician. An exciting highlight includes the creation and organization of the art car festival in Vancouver for three years and another two years in Nanaimo. I opened a restaurant in Nanaimo called Mermaid’s Mug, which became a meeting place for all sorts of crowds: red hat ladies, political groups, Dungeons & Dragons players, families, artists, musicians, poets and singers. It also became a favourite of tourists coming off the cruise ships. After the adventure of Mermaid’s Mug I took off for a life on the road, spending three years travelling all over North America in my art car I called The Gypsy Caravan. To make ends meet I sang, read tarot and oracle cards and sold my music CDs and artwork. Currently I work as a Vancouver Trolley Company driver, giving live commentary for scary Halloween tours and karaoke Christmas tours. This job is pretty much tailored for me, as I have a large colourful vehicle, a microphone and a captive audience to entertain.
Passions and Interests: I always try to be the very best at whatever I am doing. I love letting my passions flow whether it be cooking, organizing, entertaining, writing, painting, creating, acting or singing. A tiny spark of curiosity or interest will get me trying to master new skills. I am in the process of writing a book of my adventures and editing the hours and hours of video footage that I took on the road.
What do people know you for? People know me all over North America because of my not-very subtle art car The Gypsy Caravan. People also comment on my outgoing personality. Many have said, “You should have a camera following you all the time,” as I get into the craziest and most interesting—but always entertaining—situations.
Thoughts on Vancouver? Vancouver is such a diverse city; people from all over the world live here in happy bliss, sharing their special foods, traditions, colour and flair. We are situated in the very best place on the continent, with ocean, mountains, rainforest and farmland. We have it all! Vancouver is a young city yet it has a rich, varied and interesting history. It continues to grow and thrive with it’s own unique growing pains and challenges.
I first heard about the Gypsy Mermaid from two friends whom she had captivated with her life and stories. It seems that she creates a world of smiles as she sashays though life. The photo shoot was her home away from home The Gypsy Caravan. We had many looks and smiles as the shoot progressed, cars slowed down and dog walkers would stop to chat—all normal occurrences for Gypsy Mermaid.