“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn’t here. Live now.”

That is the motto of Marie “Mimi” Haist; words that carry more weight once you find out Haist’s story.

Haist, 90, lived in a Laundromat on Montana Avenue for 18 years and is now the subject of the documentary, “Queen Mimi,” which chronicles five years of her time spent on a plastic chair between the 2nd and 3rd row of the washers and dryers there.

One fateful evening 25 years ago the now pink-haired Haist, who had already been homeless for 10 years after leaving her adulterous husband, came across her future home.

“I was walking on Montana and thought ‘Oh my gosh a Laundromat, I can wash my clothes!’” Haist said. “I didn’t have any place to stay and it was a rainy night so the owner said I could stay.”

Haist was soon given the keys to the store, becoming very protective of the property, picking up lint off the floor for hours and offering her laundry services to young actors and professionals living in and around Santa Monica.

A few years ago Israeli native Yaniv Rokah, who was working as a barista across the street from the Laundromat at the time, struck up a friendship with Haist.

“I saw this cute lady,” Rokah said. “And not being from this country I found it strange that homelessness is just part of the view in Los Angeles, sadly. I see this woman in her 80s and she’s engaging, not on drugs, funny and mysterious. My first curiosity is how can this happen? Where are the officials, the family? I’m across the street at the coffee shop and struggling to be an actor in Los Angeles and thinking, ‘This can happen to anybody.’”

Rokah began to spend time with Haist and soon took out his phone to start recording her. “I thought, ‘How can she maintain her attitude and how can I be like that?’ So I pulled out my phone, the way you do to take photos of little kids. Because Mimi is like a little kid in a lot of ways. She tells you how she feels at any given moment. And then I thought I should be recording her story. Because everyone knew Mimi. But no one really knew her story.”

And when Rokah says that everyone knew Mimi, he meant everyone, including A- list actors like Zach Galifianakis and Renée Zellweger.

“I knew Zach for many years. I helped him do his laundry. And he gave me a phone to talk to my fluff and fold clients.” Haist said.

Galifianakis even took Haist to events like the premiere of his movie “The Hangover.”

“He had a limo pick her up from the Laundromat, take her to the red carpet and then she went back to the Laundromat that night and slept on her plastic chair like always,” Rokah said.

Then one day Galifianakis surprised Haist with another present.

“He said, ‘I have an apartment for you across the street.’ So now I live there.”

And Rokah has been there to document it all for the last five years, getting help along the way, as he will admit he was not a filmmaker and wanted to truly do Haist’s story justice.

“I’m the messenger of the Mimi gospel,” Rokah said.

Haist will never say she’s depressed, stating, “I never want to let myself get that way.” And for someone who spent almost 20 years living in a Laundromat, she doesn’t appear to have let it get her down.

She happily sang Celine Dion songs for patrons in her signature pink outfits (for which she was featured in the Daily Press in 2005). She was protective of the washers and dryers, sometimes yelling at clients who did not treat them with care. And though she has moved across the street, she still “works” at the Laundromat every day.

As for the nickname “Queen Mimi,” Rokah said where it came from is simple: “She really, truly believes she’s royalty. And I believe she is too.”

“Queen Mimi” is currently playing at the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd St. For tickets go to, http://www.laemmle.com/films/40753.

jennifer@www.smdp.com