Stuffed pink Flamingo

Quirky Bird

This flamingo has some talent: „Stupid Cupid you're a real mean guy / I’d like to clip your wings so you can’t fly / I’m in love and it’s a crying shame / And I know that you’re the one to blame.“

This is the tune sung by the stuffed animal at the press of a button. The music box emits a tinny rendition of American singer Connie Francis’ 1958 hit as the bird’s long neck gyrates.

The owner of the flamingo is Mike Lüdorf, a burly man with countless tattoos. The pink stuffed toy is his delight. Lüdorf has been through quite a lot. His life ran off the rails in his youth: alcohol, hard drugs, an uncompleted baker’s apprenticeship. Lüdorf plunged into homelessness and lived on the streets of Düsseldorf for about thirty years. From 2004, he sold the street magazine fiftyfifty.

Poverty has many faces. Those without a roof are the most visible, but there are many others. In North Rhine-Westphalia, almost 2 Million people receive social security from the state in order to maintain their income at a minimum level. 17 per cent are seen as in danger of living in poverty. More than 170 food banks provide food for the needy in exchange for a small payment.

Mike Lüdorf, the man with the flamingo, had a cheerful disposition. He kept his chin up. Thanks to fiftyfifty, he was able to live out his sunset years in a flat. He enjoyed cult status among the fans of football club Fortuna Düsseldorf. Upon his passing in November 2019, they dedicated two enormous banners to him. Such friendship and respect for a man who spent most of his life without a home!