Mention Lucy from the Trailer Park Boys and fake tits and bleach-blonde wigs come to mind. Maybe "trailer ho" slips in there, too. As Ricky's on-again, off-again something-or-other on TPB, Lucy struts on screen with all the glamour a trailer-trash cussing woman should have: None.
What comes to mind if you find out she'll be teaching grades three, four and five at Bedford Academy in September?
Whoa---hold up. Remove the wig and the fake tits. And maybe some of the swears (but only some). Lucy who?
Lucy DeCoutere lives in Halifax---not in a trailer park---with her labradoodle pup Fonzi Hounderelli (AKA The Fonz). She's currently shooting the second TPB movie, but when not donning her trailer park attire, she has short, darker hair and what appear to be real boobs.
Sometimes mistaken for a Montrealer, DeCoutere was born in Edmonton.
"I lived there for a few years but I couldn't get a job, so I came here and started school...yeah, I was four, or whatever," she says, with a shrug and a quick smile.
DeCoutere has toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher for some time and she gave the profession a whirl about a decade ago in South Korea, teaching kindergarten (well, mostly adults, but saying kindie kids sounds cuter on her bio). DeCoutere returned after fewer than 200 days there---and counted every single day she was away.
When DeCoutere got her feet back on Canadian soil, she attended Concordia's graduate program in communications and used the first season of TPB in 2000 as her internship for the one-year program. After she finished her studies, DeCoutere worked mostly on documentaries.
She ended up working on the production side of a reality show a few years later, where DeCoutere had to pretend to befriend people losing weight in order to find out what was most interesting about their struggle. Once she figured that out, she had to shoot the scenes for the show. This "real" show gave DeCoutere her own reality check---it's a job she speaks of with mild disgust. She got burnt out and decided TV wasn't her "cup of tea."
"It was a dark time in my brain, so I took a month and went to Europe," says DeCoutere. "I went to Amsterdam. I didn't smoke any weed or bang any prostitutes."
From Amsterdam she went to Toronto and put together her resume for film and TV. Then DeCoutere realized she couldn't physically bring herself to hand the papers out to anyone.
"The thought of working on another television series made me want to literally kill myself," admits DeCoutere. But she did wind up back here, working on Trailer Park Boys. "But Trailer Park Boys is a whole, totally different animal."
DeCoutere's the last person to show up on set for TPB and the first person to leave; it's a television job that doesn't work her to the bone and allows her to enjoy her work/life balance. She refers to it as a "different kind of investment." What DeCoutere doesn't want is what she calls the "inherent pain" that comes with television production. Now, at the age of 38, she wants to have a positive, tangible impact on people.
After briefly studying for the LSATs and thinking she wanted to be a lawyer, DeCoutere realized something.
"I love kids and have always wanted to teach, despite having been temporarily lobotomized by the film industry," she says. "I wanted to have a more tactile connection with teaching people how to learn."
Cue: Back to school for her Masters of Education. Well, almost.
DeCoutere applied to schools in Ontario to get her teaching degree, but they offered her the best of luck in her future endeavours. DeCoutere says she couldn't believe it: She'd gone to Concordia and aced it, was a mature student, had excellent references, taught in South Korea and was a volunteer in the Toronto teaching system.
" if they didn't want me, they could sorta suck it---although in the end I was the one who was sucking it."
Searching further for places to learn, DeCoutere discovered Mount Saint Vincent, a university in Buffalo or Griffith University in Australia. Wanting to learn culturally as well as academically and realizing the expense would be equal for both Buffalo and Australia, she chose the Aussie destination of Surfer's Paradise.
"Being in Australia, studying at a school with Canadian accreditation where you learn the Australian curriculum and the Canadian curriculum, but also getting recognized as television's 'Lucy' is a bit wacky," says DeCoutere.
When she hopped on the plane to Australia at the beginning of last year, people noticed who she was and snapped photos of DeCoutere while she was sleeping. All her classmates were Canadian---being in the same predicament as herself---and they didn't talk to her for the first week.
"They didn't want me to know that they knew that I knew that they knew that I was on this fuckin' show," says DeCoutere, a bit exasperated. "So in secret they watched the movie and were like, 'I'm sure that's her, I'm positive!' 'I don't know...her tits are a lot smaller!'"
Finally someone came up to her and asked the looming question, breaking the ice. After overcoming that obstacle, though, DeCoutere had another: facing her customers at the Hard Rock Café, where she worked to help support her education habit.
"I didn't make enough money to just float through the program from working on Trailer Park Boys," she says, adding that there are a lot of misconceptions as to how it's financed her life. "People would always come in 'cause they heard that I worked there. That was always awkward 'cause I'm like, 'Do you want fries with that?'"
DeCoutere says the best part of the program---aside from her charming classmates---were a few professors who had a "lovely way of describing teaching."
"They weren't blinded by the cuteness, because children, not that deep down, are evil," says DeCoutere, a smile creeping onto her face.
Back in Canada again, DeCoutere is a bit nervous for her first teaching gig. "Not at all terrified a bit," to be exact. She says teachers are able to show their humanity while being both unflappable and persistent and she wonders how to best control the energy levels of her students and herself in order to create a learning atmosphere. DeCoutere is quick to point out she doesn't think what you teach kids is as important as how they learn. If she can find a way to show her students a method of learning that works for them, she'll be happy. And she'll be with kids, which makes her happy, too.
"I'm genuinely interested in kids. I love the way they're built, I love the crazy stuff they say, I like their bananas way of spelling," she says.
One of the main reasons she's teaching younger kids and not teenagers, though, is there's a higher chance of the older ones watching Trailer Park Boys.
"I can't really say, 'Johnny, where's your essay?' 'Well, that all depends, Miss DeCoutere, can you go fuck yourself?'"
Not that she's ashamed of the show.
"It's a funny show and it is about family and it is about community, but children don't get irony," she points out. "And our show is pretty ironical, you know." She adds she doesn't want to teach them how to read during the day and how to roll a joint at night. DeCoutere sees herself teaching high school when TPB peters out a bit. That might be tricky, since the movie's coming out in the next year and a new season is in the works for next summer.
"People have asked me if I feel my work with Trailer Park Boys is a conflict of interest, and I don't. Because I'm not, like, rocking around the school with my fake tits and a shopping cart, right?"
Right. Or, at least, parents hope not.