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Meet the Birdman of Silver Lake

June 5, 2010 | 10:01 am

His feathered friends

Contradictions fly along Hyperion Avenue when the Birdman of Silver Lake takes wing.

Rik Martino rolls his wobbly cart with two mismatched wheels to the corner of Tracy Street and stops at Baller Hardware to buy two 20-pound bags of True Value Wild Bird Food.

More than 30 years after arriving from his native Italy, the 58-year-old actor is still looking for his big-screen break.

Square-jawed and body-builder muscular, Martino views himself as more Al Pacino than Jean-Claude Van Damme. "No martial arts films for me. I want to be a serious actor," he explains as he waits in line to pay.

The customer in front of him, a man wearing spandex bicycling gear, is a few cents short for his purchase. Martino fishes in his pockets, pulls out a handful of coins and plunks them on the counter in front of the surprised stranger.

Martino spends about $12 for the seed. Clerk Joe Klaas gives him a small discount. "He's in here a couple of times a day," Klaas says. "Nobody else buys 50 or 60 pounds of bird seed a day like Franco does."

Says another hardware store worker with a laugh: "We're enablers."

"Franco Massimo" is Martino's stage name. Some in Silver Lake call him that, while others know him as Rik.

Read the full story here.

-- Bob Pool

Photo: Rik Martino, 58, poses behind a flock of pigeons on Griffith Park Boulevard. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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