All the cool cats and kittens in TImbergrove Manor recently had family photos taken for a good cause.
One of those families channeled the wild animal within them and took the idea to a whole other level.
Timbergrove resident and professional photographer Jacki Schaefer took drive-by porch pictures earlier this week of 14 different families in her neighborhood, asking them to donate money to the World Health Organization or Houston Food Bank in lieu of paying her for the service. Thirteen of those families played it straight for their portraits, while the other got more creative.
David and Courtnie Hays, along with their three young children, dressed up as the characters on the new Netflix docuseries called “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” David was the mullet-sporting, zoo-keeping main character Joe Exotic, while Courtnie played the role of his nemesis, animal rights activist Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue. Their children dressed up as John Finlay (Exotic’s tattooed ex-husband) as well as a lion and a cheetah.
“We’re bored to smithereens. We have not left our house since March 12,” Courtnie Hays said. “We were just trying to find a way to pass some time and be funny and not take ourselves too seriously and just have some fun.”
Schaefer said photographing her neighbors was an enjoyable way to continue practicing her craft, which is not considered an essential business that can operate during Harris County’s stay-at-home, work safe order. It’s in effect through April as the Houston area utilizes social distancing in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.
And because charging for the portraits would have amounted to a violation of the order, Schaefer turned it into an opportunity to support a good cause. She asked each family to donate at least $50 to either the World Health Organization or Houston Food Bank, and many gave more.
“We raised, I think, over $1,000 just for the World Health Organization, which was pretty cool,” Schaefer said. “Maybe this will inspire other people to do it in their neighborhoods.”
Schaefer said it also was good to create tangible, visual records of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was affected people all over the world. And she took precautions because she is at high risk for developing serious complications from the disease, which as of Friday had infected more than 976,000 people globally while causing more than 50,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Schaefer said she has only about 50 percent lung capacity. So she stayed in her car and used a long lens while taking the photos of the Timbergrove families, most of whom posed on either their front porches or in their front yards on Sunday.
When she saw the Hays family decked out their “Tiger King” costumes on Thursday, Schaefer said she “almost died laughing.” Courtnie Hays said they also got laughs and curious looks from city employees who were collecting trash in the neighborhood.
She said she doesn’t typically like shows such as “Tiger King,” which centers around scandal, dysfunction and dramatic themes. For example, Exotic is serving a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Baskin.
“We’re just so desperate for some comic relief right now, so we watch it,” Hays said. “It’s awful television. It’s the perfect show for this day and age with us being on quarantine.”