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If you live in the Nelson region and haven't heard of Faerie Lou then chances are you're not a parent or you're over the age of 10.
One of the country's most unique children's entertainers, Faerie Lou is the creation of Nelson artist and mother-of-one Lou-Darcie Lewis who started performing as a fairy "by accident" in Auckland 17 years ago.
Lou-Darcie was studying at Elam School of Fine Arts when she stumbled across a shop in Ponsonby dedicated to all things fairy and one thing led to another.
These days Faerie Lou is a regular on the Nelson children's party circuit and her routine includes storytelling, games and the sprinkling of lots of fairydust. This week she took some time out from spreading joy to talk to The Leader.
What are the tools of your trade?
A good fairy needs a good wand! This is very important. My wand, Lola, can do many wonderful things, apart from the expected spells, she can sing, blow bubbles, sprinkle fairy dust, sense treasure and glow. She also has secret compartments. I also take with me my treasure box of goodies to cover every kind of unexpected event and my trusty storybook.
What's the best thing about being a fairy?
The thing I treasure most is when I watch a young child's imagination unfold and bloom in front of me. You can see it happen. I love connecting with kids and watching as eyes twinkle at the excitement of the possibilities. I also love playing, dressing up and spreading fun. It's better than joining a gym!
What's the worst?
The non-believers are the hardest. Every now and then there will be a child who just can't believe in magic, imagination or fairies. It's hard and a lot of work and breaks my fairy heart. "You're not a real fairy!," they say, and then I say: "Well, you're not a real kid" and then I get them to try and prove they're a real kid.
Why do you spell fairy f-a-e-r-i-e?
I'm of Irish descent and this is the Irish spelling. I also identify with fae, the fairy folk from the northern hemisphere.
Do kids ever recognise you when you are out of your fairy costume?
I get lots of sideways glances when I'm out in public disguised as a human and, yes, I have been recognised without my sparkles many times. It's usually my voice that gives me away.
I wink and the child and I have a secret to share so, if you see me, don't give me away.
One interesting phenomenon is that when I'm in my fairy dress, grown-ups come up to me and hug me.
They'd never do it when I'm in disguise as a human. It's like I become public property and everyone feels they can play with me.
What are some of the most memorable gigs you've done?
Once I swapped places with a stockcar driver on the TV show Trading Places. It was a lot of fun zooming around a muddy track with my wings strapped to a stock car. Adult parties are always a riot they're a licence for people to be young again. The oldest party I've done was for a 56-year-old and the youngest was for one-year-old twins. I've done parties everywhere, from the Skytower in Auckland to Little Wanganui on the West Coast. I also did a funeral on Waiheke Island.
What's the hardest gig you've ever done?
The hardest party was the saddest. It was for just one little girl who loved fairies but was dying from a rare cancer. We fell in love with each other and had so much fun. We even managed to squish in one more extra celebratory fairy party before she left for her journey to the stars. She was gorgeous.
Do you ever get sick of trying to make kids happy?
I never get tired of being Faerie Lou because I can always write a new story, paint a new picture, devise a new gadget for my wand, make a new costume or create a new fantastical show. I believe everyone needs a little magic in their day and I have heaps to share!
What does your two-year-old son think of his mum being a fairy?
My son is a Pirate Prince so I think he is quite happy having a fairy for a mum because we play in a similar way. He loves dressing up too and singing and dancing. Who knows maybe he would like to be my sidekick? We'll see.
And your parents?
My mum loves having a fairy for a daughter. She always knew I was one - it brings out the fairy in her too. She is always helping nurture the magic!