How Now Vegas Vow

I recently listened to a TV discussion about a woman who, while informing her husband she was filing for divorce, was told by her vindictive spouse he had been having a lengthy affair with her mother. The husband blurted this bombshell with spite and glee. “Who would you be angrier at?” the women discussing this story asked. “Who would you feel more betrayed by, the husband or the mother?” The women agreed: the mother. And that makes sense. Nevertheless, I disagree. But don’t assume I’d pick the husband. To me, it was obvious, a slam-dunk; I’d be angrier and feel more betrayed by—ta-da—Donald Trump, whether he was involved or not. I suspect, though, he would claim to be the husband since, in his world, everything is about him and cheating on his wife is something with which he has had experience.

But hearing this story caused me to recall another doomed marriage, one in which I was involved. Oh, no, not as the groom, or the bride for that matter, but as a witness to the most dysfunctional wedding I have ever attended. What I am about to share with you is absolutely 100% true. That is because I have never exaggerated, lied, or bull-shitted anyone. Ever.

To begin with, this mess of a matrimonial ceremony was held in a wedding chapel attached to a 20-suite sports-themed Las Vegas hotel called The Score Pad. The hotel, designated for honeymooners who had just married in its chapel, featured soundproof honeymoon suites with sports-related names like Grand Slam, A Hole in One, and Dribble and Shoot. The two-story hotel’s halls, which smelled like stadium beer and hotdogs, were covered with yellowed newspaper sports sections. Instead of room keys, guests were given admission tickets which were to be handed to ticket takers stationed outside each suite’s door. The deteriorating hotel, located three blocks southeast of the famed Las Vegas Strip below Fremont Street, sat between a run-down house in which two male exotic dancers, Chip and Dale, lived and a seedy porn shop called T & A’s. It was owned by brothers Ted and Arnold Lipshutz.

As part of the sports theme, the hotel’s chapel could be decorated in paraphernalia and colors of the bride and groom’s school or favorite professional teams or with equipment and items from favored individual sports like tennis, golf, or skiing. Fees varied depending on the amount of decoration used and sport. For example, the chapel could be adorned in the unusual wedding colors of maroon and orange representing the couple’s alma mater, The University of Southern California, or the Los Angeles Raiders’ foreboding black and silver. Or in another scenario, the ceremony could take place under a football goalpost with blocking tackles lining the short aisle. Couples favoring winter sports could have the chapel floor covered in artificial snow and the chapel temperature set below freezing.

For an added fee, athletes, active or retired, representing the selected sport could attend. That was why I was at this pro-wrestling themed wedding. I had, in 1980 after the Death of Disco had left me without a reason to live, found a new calling; I became a pro-wrestling make-up artist, hair stylist, and costumer. I was the most famous behind-the-scenes participant in that most honorable sport.  I was somebody. I was important. I was, in fact, so important, I was asked to witness weddings at Las Vegas’ The Score Pad Chapel nearly 40 years after I had coiffed my final wrestler and garbed my last grappler.

The couple, too, was unorthodox. The bride, 19-year-old Tiffanie Storm, was an Olathe, Kansas stripper. Her husband-to-be, Rod Jackman, at 39, was a retired gay-for-pay porn star who had taken his ill-gained lucre and opened Olathe’s Strip Tees, a club where only girls with names beginning with T could perform. That is where Tiffanie and Rod met. She had been the ninth or tenth Tiffanie, Tiffany, or Tiffani he had hired. She was not the first he had fucked.

Bride Tiffanie wore a white see-through mini-skirt wedding dress with a neckline that plunged to her pubic region. She wore no underwear. Her lace veil was longer and more opaque than the dress. The groom wore a black leather jock strap and harness, which was appropriate for the professional wrestling themed nuptials. They walked down the aisle to a mash-up of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather and Lace.”

Three bridesmaids, Tiffanie’s fellow strippers Tequila Shotz, Tootsi Rohl, and Tudie Kupps, in identical gold G-strings and bras, preceded the bride, who was escorted by Strip Tees security guard Antoine Haynesworth.

Haynesworth walked Tiffanie down the aisle because neither her father nor her three step-fathers would attend the wedding. Her mother, however, did. Forty-year-old Nadine Strom Wilkins DePalma Juravic trying desperately to look 25, attended wearing a crimson halter top and matching Lycra pants.  Her black stiletto heels complemented her black flop hat, its brim adorned with an explosion of red sequins. Although her current husband Leif Juravic refused to attend, Nadine did with enthusiasm because, as she said, “First weddings are always so special, especially on the Strip.”

The chapel-hotel complex owner Bart O’Toole, a former Nevada community college pole vault champion, served as minister. He wore skintight white Levis without underwear which intentionally showed off his “pole.” His wife, petite Grace Powers, an ex-rhythm gymnast who specialized in ribbon gymnastics, played the organ while strategically wrapped in leopard print ribbons.

Professional wrestlers Chris “Comando” Cramer and Raven “The Black Bomber” Washington served as ring bearer and flower girl respectively. The ceremony was held inside a raised mini-wrestling ring. Two University of Nevada-Las Vegas wrestlers, Jason Wicks and Pedro Sanchez, served as ushers.

When the eight minute wedding was over, the joyful group retired to The Score Pad’s bar, Knock-Out, for the reception where Nadine doffed her flop hat, letting the long, artificially blonde hair she had crammed inside, fall to her waist. Tiffanie stripped off her wedding dress and veil and celebrated her first marriage in a white thong bikini. Rod donned black leather pants for the event. They were assless.

After his third rapid beer, Rod excused himself to go to the bathroom. “Gotta hit the head,” he announced loud enough for patrons of Caesar’s Palace, a cab-ride away, to hear. Nadine followed him. As Rod stood in front of the urinal, his new mother-in-law stepped into the men’s room.

“You’re gonna fuck me in here,” Nadine ordered Rod, she told me later, after her fourth guzzled martini.

“What? Are you crazy? Not in here. Not tonight. Not right after the wedding.”

“If you don’t, Rod, I’ll tell Little Tiffi you’ve been fucking me almost as long as she’s been working at Strip Tees.” According to Nadine, that’s when she grabbed Rod’s naked left butt cheek. “You wouldn’t want me to do that, would you?”

“You wouldn’t.” Rod paused. “Yeah. You would.” He looked her over. “You look fuckin’ hot tonight, Nadine. OK,” he said as he pulled her toward a stall, the larger wheel-chair wide one set aside for the disabled.

Fourteen minutes later, after the duo was satisfied and their passionate gyrations had activated the toilet’s automatic flushing system three times, Rod and Nadine exited the men’s room as Tiffanie and Bart O’Toole stepped from the women’s rest room next door.  Furious glares volleyed back and forth between Tiffanie and her mother. Angry words were exchanged. Nadine slapped her daughter. Tiffanie pulled her mother’s hair. Rod and Bart cheered them on. Antoine Haynesworth attempted to stop the fight, but only succeeded to rip out a handful of blonde hair extension and get kicked in the gonads by the groom who scolded him with a terse, “Bitch fight, Dawg!”

Tiffanie, stunned by Rod’s celebratory comment, stopped fighting, stared at him a moment, and bolted, in tears, for the door. Her entourage of T-named dancers followed. Within minutes Rod and Antoine disappeared, I later learned, to a nearby strip club where they got arrested for fighting with two drunken patrons, overweight 20-somethings wearing Oklahoma Thunder tank tops. One of the Okies apparently recognized Rod from a farm-set gay porn classic and yelled, “Hey, that’s the fucking faggot from ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do!’”

When Rod responded with, “And how would you know that?” fists flew.

Meanwhile, I was sitting next to Nadine in Knock Out as she downed “martoonies,” as she called them, like salted peanuts. My poison that afternoon was White Russians.  Three of them.  Not the drink, though. Sergei, Ivan, and Oleg were Russian acrobats performing in a Cirque de Soleil knock-off on Fremont Street and they were sitting across the bar looking better than Rod Jackman, Bryck Wall, and Ty Knotts in “Cock-a-Doodle-Do.”

The next day, as the annulment of Tiffanie and Rod’s marriage was filed, hotel security officer Bruno Carbonara, scanning security video of the wedding, discovered the two UNLV wrestlers emerging from under the makeshift wrestling ring.  They were flushed, flustered, and sweaty. Pedro was wearing Jason’s singlet. Jason had on Pedro’s. Backward.

Stories about the mother-daughter Knock Out fight spread through Las Vegas and Tiffanie, cashing in on her notoriety, remained in the gambling mecca and became the headliner at the largest strip club between The Score Pad and Henderson. Nadine returned to Kansas and starred in the TV series The Real Housewives of Olathe. Her husband, Leif, was elected to the state legislature. Rod, the short-term groom, became a leader in Kansas’ 2016 Donald Trump campaign. And I wrote this 100% true account using my professional name, my wrestling world alias, Fool Nelson.

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