Michelle Marchese at the Stakeout. Photo by Rosalie Spear.
Michelle Marchese is out to Save the World
By Rosalie Spear
WITH her short, bouncy cherry red hair and plastic rimmed glasses, she feels she stands out from the crowd. She believes she’s a bit klutzy though her cat-like moves going table to table says otherwise. Her regular customers attest to her friendly and efficient service, which has gotten her a good reputation at the local bar and grill near UNLV where she works.
Michelle Marchese, 40, a waitress at The Stake Out, is so much more than the person who takes your order and brings you a Corona.
She’s a Libra. She’s a native New Mexican. She’s a self-proclaimed “Trekkie” and an avid science fiction and TV junkie. She’s a UNLV environmental studies graduate who plans to enroll in graduate school for public administration this fall. She’s a plant enthusiast who eats a lot of veggies. Besides being a server, she hopes to also begin substitute teaching within the next couple of weeks.
Besides “providing a cool beer and kind words,” as one of her regulars Tim Hager said, this server at Stake Out is trying to save the world.
“She has a really great heart,” said Hager. “She is one of the people who cares.”
Marchese is fighting to have whales and dolphins in captivity released, working to abolish animal testing, trying to stop poachers and keep endangered species alive and raising awareness on all of these global issues.
“It’s the beginning of a huge movement—once it’s started, there’s no stopping it,” said Marchese.
From a young age, even Marchese’s mother, Peggy Parker, realized that her little girl was different from other kids. As a child, Parker said that her daughter didn’t play with dolls—she played with stuffed animals.
Marchese now has real-life animals of her own–and they’re all rescued. She has a rare chocolate albino, 18 inch plecostomus (algae fish) named Chocolate and three rescue cats named Shiloh, Ruby Tuesday and Sir Simon Donovan.
Her feline Simon is the namesake for the non-profit group that she wants to create: Sir Simon Donovan’s Gleaming Auctions. This name comes not only from her beloved cat but from the song “Gleaming Auction” by one of her favorite Irish bands, called Snow Patrol.
Marchese’s activist group would organize fundraisers for non-profit organizations that fight for both animal and human rights. She hopes to have enough funding to start up the group by this fall.
Marchese has also raised money for other non-profit organizations through silent auctions and raffles. These organizations include Heaven Can Wait animal sanctuary, Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc. and C.A.T.S Inc. Her most recent fundraiser was in one of Downtown Las Vegas’ hotspots, Artifice.
Marchese’s primary and more global goal is to shut down Sea World and the Miami Seaquarium for their acts of animal cruelty. She is a big proponent of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which is working diligently to release marine animals from captivity.
“A whale being kept in a small tank, like those at SeaWorld, is equivalent to a human spending their life in a bathtub. If you were kept in a bathtub for 25 years, wouldn’t you be a little psychotic?” justified Marchese on the human fatalities associated with the mistreatment of orca whales at SeaWorld.
She is also one of two administrators on the Facebook page Boycott Sea World, which has now surpassed 17,000 likes.
“I love looking at the Boycott Sea World page and seeing how many likes we get every day,” said Marchese. “Every person makes a difference, because each one voice all over the world ends up becoming a group of millions.”
An example Marchese gave that portrays what she means by each person being able to make a difference is the petition to pass a bill that would ban allowing orcas to be kept in captivity in San Diego. This petition has now reached over one million signatures, and this wouldn’t have as much pull without each and every one of those people who signed it.
Another group that Marchese is working with to help save whales and dolphins is the Blackfish Brigade. This group is named after the recent documentary “Blackfish” on Tilikum, a whale in SeaWorld that has killed three people.
Marchese and other animal activists want to free the animals being harmed in captivity and make the public aware that marine parks are really not fun and games. She says keeping wild animals in captivity is unfair to the animals and dangerous for the humans interacting with them.
“I am taking on governments and multi-million dollar corporations who are profiting off the enslavement of highly intelligent, social creatures,“ said Marchese. “This is slavery. It doesn’t matter if it’s a different species.”
One of Marchese’s good friends, Gaetano Curcio, finds inspiration in her and the team work she utilizes to help save the whales and dolphins.
“She is like my leader,” said Curcio. “She follows others, and I follow her.”
Marchese said that she spends hours researching information about the problems all species of animals are facing and how these issues can be resolved.
“We’re getting close to saving the marine animals in captivity, but it’s a battle,” said Marchese. “It’s amazing and rewarding to see the progress we’ve obtained. It’s like history in the making.”
Marchese is turning her aspirations to revolutionize the planet into a reality.
“It’s time to make some long overdue changes, such as ending vivisection (surgical experimentation involved with animal testing), freeing cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) from slavery, and protecting and conserving endangered species like rhinos and snow leopards,” said Marchese.
She hopes to stick around for a long time just so that she’ll be able to accomplish more.
“I’m convinced I’ll live to 108. So, I’m just starting out,” said Marchese with a grin.
And hopefully, 39,420 days give her enough time to save the world–one orca at a time.
UPDATE: Though many of the regulars have said they’re missing her, Marchese has decided it’s best she moves on from Stake Out. She’ll primarily be focusing on substitute teaching, but in the meantime will carry on elsewhere.
“I am really excited about teaching. I’m hoping they will let me start teaching right away, before this school year ends,” Marchese said.
Rosalie Spear is a Broadcast and Print Journalism major at UNLV, enrolled this semester in Mary Hausch’s Advanced Reporting Class in the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies. Ms. Spear is currently producing a television show on arts and entertainment in Las Vegas called “Front Row Center.” She will graduate in 2015. Additional note: the April 10, 2014 publication of this profile coincides with the author’s twenty-first birthday.