Heidi Fleiss lives with almost two dozen roommates.
Of both sexes!
Relax. It's not what at least some of you are thinking.
The former Hollywood madam's roommates are 19 macaw parrots, and it's her relationship with these feathered roomies that is the focus of her new reality show, "Heidi Fleiss: Prostitutes to Parrots."
The show premieres at 10 p.m. today on Animal Planet. And while the channel bills it as a special, Fleiss said it's on its way to becoming a series.
During the '90s, Fleiss ran a call girl ring that catered to the rich and famous. Since then -- and after having spent three years in prison -- Fleiss has battled substance abuse and drug addiction, done memorable stints on two rehab-oriented TV reality shows and attempted to open a women-friendly brothel in Pahrump.
Today, she lives in Pahrump and tends to business interests that include a laundromat there and a recently opened dog hotel and grooming business in Las Vegas.
Fleiss inherited some of her birds when a neighbor who kept them died. She adopted others from a rescue organization.
"I never even had pets," she said during a phone interview last week. "I don't bond to anything. This is the first thing I've ever bonded with."
Maybe it has something to do with "my years in prison, my years in a cage," she says. "I can't just turn my back on them. They're very sensitive creatures."
The birds live at Fleiss' home, where they have free rein to fly, come into the home or perch on ladders and ropes outside. She has found that caring for 19 macaws not only is time-consuming, but expensive, too.
That's one of the lessons she hopes to teach via the show. People "buy them on a whim because they're so cool-looking," she says. "But they are so demanding."
Fleiss concedes that some people do consider her devotion to her birds odd. But even when she adopted the first members of her flock, "I just knew inside that if I just took care of them, my life would work out," she says.
Speaking of which: Fleiss says she continues to remain clean and sober.
"Know what? It's still a battle for me, but it's the most important thing in my life," she says.
Appearing on the VH1 show "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" was "the best thing I ever did," Fleiss says. "I didn't realize I had a drug problem, and I sure as hell wasn't aware what I looked like."
She laughs. "It was horrible. Even as a drug addict, you think you look good, you think you're looking fine. The first time I saw myself, I was, like, 'Oh my god.' "
However, Fleiss understands that some people don't care and probably never will.
"People don't like me," she says. "They think I'm the Antichrist.
"But this is who I am. I know that my morals and my core values are right."
"You know what? You can't care what people think," Fleiss adds. "If you care what other people think, you're screwed. Just every day I try to be a better person and try to learn something."
Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.