They didn’t bump; they didn’t grind. What they did, mostly, was listen . And smile, and hug, and kiss a cheek or two, and generally liven things up at the Country Villa South like they haven’t been livened up since their last visit, back in April.
The Villa is a West Los Angeles nursing facility for the elderly, and last week’s visit by a couple of the semi-notorious Chippendale dancers was kinetic enough to put the buzz back in more than a few batteries.
“Initially, I think all of them were a little shocked,” said Lynne Miller, Villa activity coordinator. “Remember, most of the ladies are from a Victorian generation. No, they didn’t dance, but while they were here, the women had the sorts of smiles I’d never seen before. I think it was the pleasure of seeing someone good-looking and male, but it was a lot more than that.”
Miller was “stunned, knocked out at how responsive and gentle and kind the guys were--so generous with their time and affection. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they all had degrees in social work.”
The affection, it seems, was mutual. Said Jeff Blankenship, 27 (who visited the Villa with Rick Esajian, 24): “They’re real lonely people and they like to talk, but they didn’t bore me at all. If you have the patience, you find that each has her own story--some of them pretty exciting.”
The Chippendales--now located at El Rey Theater on Wilshire--do a lot of charity work, and seem to enjoy it. So, too, did the ladies of the Villa. Whispering in Blankenship’s ear was Nora Pace, 95 (and “a born tease,” said Miller). What did she tell him? “Come up and see me some time.”
Will You Please Join Paws and Repeat After Me . . .
It all started when Dawn Rodgers’ 3-year-old granddaughter Tawni asked, “Grandma, is Ka-Chu (the Rodgers dog) going to have puppies?” “I winced a little,” says Dawn. “I thought it was going to lead to one of those questions.” As it turned out Tawni only wanted to know if Ka-Chu was married. . . . “
A short step, then, to Apple Blossom Weddings, a San Bernardino enterprise devoted to uniting animals in wholly petlock--"four or five a month,” says Dale Rodgers, “from archway to altar to certificate of ‘petrimony.’ ‘Rev. Dawn’ officiates.”
Besides dogs, they’ve married ducks, frogs, cats, snakes, cockatoos; you name ‘em, they’ll hitch ‘em. “Often they’re pedigreed,” says Dale, “but they’re not always the Beautiful Beast set; we once married a mutt, whose owners called him the ugliest dog in town, to a schnauzer. Love is blind.”
Depending on price (from $35 to an average $150-$200 and on up, for a limo, a singer, etc.), the wedding can include bridesmaids, wedding cake, costumes. . . . “We had a little top hat for Sir George II, the frog mascot of Castaway restaurant. For his betrothed there was this tiny little garter belt. . . . “
“We had a veil for one of the snakes we married,” says Dawn. “Had to stick it on with chewing gum since she wiggled around so. Wiggled right around my leg, in fact. ‘She loves you,’ said the owner. I said, ‘Fine, but I prefer she neck with her groom.’ ”
“Two ferocious chows we married were the soul of propriety,” says Dale. “Ate their cake, then drank their Champagne without spilling a drop. Cold Duck, of course.”
For a couple of 4-H Club sheep, there was a “shotgun wedding; the lamb wore diapers and suckled through the whole ceremony.”
And then there were the horses Rev. Dawn spliced. “Since then,” she says proudly, “the relationship has been stable.”
At the Reception, Maybe They’ll Bob for Apples
Master Adolfo may or may not show.
Christie Smith will be there, though, and Dave Fox, and the Rev. Carol Simpson, “and if Master Adolfo doesn’t come through, I’m sure it’ll be a great bash anyway,” says Smith.
Simpson, ordained by the Healing Light Center Church in Glendale, will unite Smith and Fox--both of North Hollywood, both of whom work for law firms--in holy matrimony Monday, a date chosen by design. “We’d been engaged since March,” says Smith, “but we couldn’t find a date that seemed right. One day I woke up and said, ‘Halloween!’ Dave almost simultaneously said, ‘How about a costume wedding?’ ”
Smith, 40, will be Scarlett O’Hara, only in black: “A beautiful gown from TV’s ‘North and South.’ ” Fox, 33, will be a pirate king. (“No ordinary man could tame Scarlett, not even Rhett,” muses Smith. “Maybe a pirate. . . . ")
And then there’s the matter--or anti-matter--of Master Adolfo. The Rev. Simpson, it seems, channels the entity: “an ancient soul, I think from the Atlantan period,” says Smith. “I’ve been communicating with him for years, through Carol, of course. He was instrumental in getting me out of a rut in Tahoe and down here to a new life, a new marriage. “But you know how these entities are: Sometimes they come through without being asked; other times you plan to have them and they don’t show.
“Not that it matters. Word’s gotten out, and everybody else will be there!”