I guess Catster is to blame for my becoming a mad cat-lady celebrity.
It started with the article I wrote for Catster about marrying my two tabby boys Lugosi and Spider in December 2013, after having tied the knot with them via www.marryyourpet.com eleven years ago. Then, in November 2014, a freelance journalist from the UK spotted said article and, together with a photographer, arranged to visit us here in Lanzarote (in the Canary Islands where we live) to do an interview and photo shoot with myself and the cats.
The first publication to print the story on Christmas Eve 2014 was the Sun newspaper, a daily “rag” with a reputation of “don’t believe anything they say!” — and rightly so! As amusing as it was, the newspaper printed things that were totally fabricated and not true. I never did or said any of this:
She held a ceremony at home with herself and her well-groomed grooms. Bride Barbarella wore a dress with cats on it and knelt next to her pets as she said her vows. She declared: “I do take Lugosi and Spider to be my wedded partners.” The trio celebrated with a “honeymoon” in Lanzarote.
The other amusing thing about the Sun article was that they had put us on page three, which is usually reserved for those topless ladies.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, the story exploded all over the British press, including the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Star, and London Metro, to name just a few. And then it went viral across the rest of the Internet, with the story appearing on the the Huffington Post (but this one was in my own words!), on countless websites in various European countries, and globally as far as Indonesia, South America, and even China.
And that’s when the offers for radio appearances, further interviews, and TV shows started rolling in.
Since I’m really protective of my cats, I wanted to keep them out of the whole media circus as best as I could so they would be able to carry on with their stress-free, lazy feline lives. This meant declining an offer to appear on a popular British morning TV program because they wanted to fly me and the cats over to be on the show (they didn’t want me solo without the cats). Lugosi and Spider are, after all, 16 years old, and to put them through the trauma of a five-hour flight to London and back would probably have meant the death of them.
I even suggested that I could bring a couple of tabby body doubles with me; for example, two young cats who could be sent over to the UK for rehoming who look exactly like Lugosi and Spider. This would have been a wonderful idea since trying to find homes for cats here on our small island is always difficult, and the cost of sending just one cat to the UK is extortionate, around $650. But sadly, the TV channel wouldn’t go for that. The bottom line is: My cats’ welfare always comes first, and if this means we’re missing out on a chance of fame, then so be it.
But then came an offer from Doghouse Media, who were making a documentary with the working title For the Love Of Cats (final title: 90 and Counting: Cat Crazies) for Channel 5, a major British TV channel. The difference was that they actually flew over to see us, rather than us having to fly over to England.
Unfortunately, after the team had arrived at Lanzarote airport, we weren’t off to a good start — the airline had lost their camera equipment. The next two days were spent trying to locate it, but to no avail, so on the third day the company in the UK had to send over a replacement camera. We would have been filming over two days, on Sunday and Monday, but instead had to do all of it in only one day, which meant shooting about 10 hours straight. That experience got me a bit of an insight of what it must be like to be a film star and how hard they must be working every day. So, off we were on Tuesday to finally get rolling.
First thing in the morning, the Doghouse Media Team visited us at home and we did a very relaxed interview, and they went round filming the kitties and me and all my cat paraphernalia (of which I have way too much, as some of you know).
At midday, we drove down to a local salon where we did some more filming while a manicurist painted cute paw prints onto my nails.
This was followed by a quick lunch, driving back to the apartment for a change of outfit, and then on to the most important part of the shoot:
Lugosi, who really prefers to stay in his familiar surroundings at all times, wasn’t very happy to be carted off by car to my best friend’s house for the ceremony, but apart from panting in the heat (it was 90 degrees) and throwing a hissy fit right in front of the camera, he did admirably well. His brother Spider took it all in his stride and seemed to love all the attention. All in all, I am so proud of my boys for having acted like well-behaved kitty superstars.
My friend’s house has a huge terrace, and there are three or four friendly ferals living on her property whom she feeds; a couple were present and weaving in and out under our chairs seeking cuddles. I have always been hopeless remembering lines, so I had a piece of paper with me to read my “vows” to the camera. My good friends Bernie (director of local TNR charity 9 Lives Lanzarote) and fellow mad cat-lady Lori (who is owned by 15 cats) were also enjoying the ceremony with us and acting as witnesses. Since the grooms Lugosi and Spider were in an unfamiliar place, we secured them with little harnesses and leashes so they would not run off and get lost; they were sitting on our laps during the ceremony.
Here are my vows:
Lugosi and Spider, 11 years ago, I pledged my love and commitment to you, but it seems like only yesterday. I promised to love you, honor you, comfort and keep you. I pledged to be by your side in sickness and in health, in times of want, and times of plenty, for better or worse, for the rest of our lives. You are my best friends, the loves of my life, and my soul mates. Today, at the beginning of our 11th year as companions, in the presence of my human & animal friends, I renew my vows to you, pledging my eternal love for you, and eagerly awaiting what the rest of our lives may bring us.
After the ceremony we drove back to our place, much to Lugosi’s relief. Following another quick change of outfit and last-minute filming to capture bits and pieces the team had missed around the apartment earlier, we drove down to the Old Town Harbour area of Puerto del Carmen, where there is a cat colony of about 20 feral cats whom I regularly visit. That’s where we did the last of the shoot for the day.
It was a hard working day, but so enjoyable at the same time. I shared lots of laughs with the Doghouse Media team, who had the most fantastic sense of humor and were the best people to work with — and two of them are massive cat lovers, too.
Following all that media attention, I have actually been recognized by random strangers in the street and the shops a few times, which is rather weird but flattering. “Aren’t you that mad cat-lady?”
However, in the end I am glad I’m not a full-time celebrity. It really is not the kind of lifestyle I would enjoy on an ongoing basis, and nor would my kitties. Back to our lazy cat lives now.
The documentary, 90 and Counting: Cat Crazies, will be shown on Channel 5 in the UK on Wednesday, July 1 at 20:00 hours GMT/UTC, but if you are not in the UK, you can watch it online via filmon.com.
If you missed it, here’s the clip that stars me and my “grooms”:
Have you and your cats ever had a brush with fame? Let us know in the comments!
Read more by Barbarella Buchner:
About the Author: Barbarella Buchner — Ailurophile. Geeky Goth Girl. Ex-Musician Singer/Songwriter. Photographer. Web Designer. Fibromyalgia + RA Sufferer. And totally mad. She originally hails from Hannover (Germany), then moved to London, and since 2004 has lived on the tropical island of Lanzarote, together with her tabby twins Lugosi & Spider, and ginger queen Ruby Akasha. Apart from being an avid hobby — and sometimes even paid. — photographer, she works as a freelance web and graphic designer and occasional Catster contributor. She designed and maintains her local cat charity 9 Lives Lanzarote‘s website.