A pink-haired drag queen scattered rose petals before the bride as she glided toward the altar, looking every inch the goth princess -- vampy eyes, raven bouffant, black lace gown and black Dutch rose nosegay. She swooshed with funereal drama past her guests -- burlesque diva Dita Von Teese, pop surrealist Mark Ryden and Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins among them. Waiting at the altar was her dapper, inky-haired groom. The DJ, lowbrow artist Tim Biskup, faded out the music -- a dirge by Sigur Ros -- and the wedding officiant cleared his throat. He was wearing, naturally, a giant Easter Bunny head.
“Ladies, gentlemen, friends and fellow bunny lovers,” he intoned. “Welcome to the wedding of Jessicka Fodera and Christian Hejnal.”
When goth rockers Fodera and Hejnal decided to get married on Valentine’s Day 2006, the usual white satin thing was definitely not happening. Fodera, known professionally as simply Jessicka, once sang with Marilyn Manson, and went on to form a noise-pop outfit called Scarling with Hejnal, a guitarist and visual effects producer at Sony. At the heart of Hollywood’s goth rock scene, they were introduced seven years ago by their mutual friend, best man Lisa Leveridge, who thought they would make a good couple because they were both “small musicians with black hair.”
Goth culture has thrived for more than 20 years, but nowhere more than in Los Angeles, where America’s first goth club, the Fetish Club, opened in the 1980s. Now there are more than 20 goth and death rock club nights a month, a goth-industrial roller skating event called Wumpskate and goth days at Disneyland. There are a slew of goth bands in Southern California, and goth clothing boutiques such as Necromance, Shrine and Panpipes selling the dramatic velvet and leather looks to devotees. Some of L.A.'s most relevant fashion designers have a goth bent, Rick Owens and L’wren Scott among them.
So a goth wedding was pretty much inevitable.
Fodera and Hejnal booked the deco-decadent Oviatt penthouse in downtown L.A. for Oct. 13, and artist friends began pouring their talents into the details -- the invitations, the creepy bunny centerpieces and the goth-rock playlist.
Jessicka’s dress was a blend of influences -- “Addams Family” and turn-of-the-century vintage. Costumers Adele Mildred and M’Lynn designed a silhouette that was slimmer on top and flared at the knees with a small train, made of champagne silk overlaid with black French Chantilly lace. Mildred had also made the dainty veiled doll hat worn by guest Liz McGrath, the diminutive downtown sculptor known by friends as “Bloodbath McGrath.” McGrath had, in turn, designed the dozen or so creepy little rabbit centerpieces, each ghoulish bunny elaborately attired in top hat, polka dots and pink lace collar.
Ryden’s wedding gift was a miniature portrait of the couple -- a faithful adaptation of Jan Van Eyck’s “The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini” that was reproduced on the invitations. Gifts to the couple included a cuckoo clock, a mannequin head and an anatomically correct model of the human heart. Iconic horror comic book artist Roman Dirge gave them a framed sketch of a woman with vampire teeth and a fur-lined jacket.
It was Jessicka’s idea to have a rabbit, a symbol of fertility since pre-Christian times, officiate over the ceremony, and in his sermon, the bunny described how the star-crossed lovers first met seven years ago, on Friday the 13th. Then came the vows. Jessicka promised she would comfort Christian “in times of sorrow and insanity,” while Christian swore never to try to “restrain” his wife in any way, causing chuckles among many guests. As they slipped simple white gold wedding bands onto each other’s fingers, the couple vowed to “embrace each other -- but not to the point of smothering” and to “say I love you a lot, and let go of the stupid little things.”
The mother of the bride sniffled through the ceremony. Then the bunny declared them husband and wife -- and high-fived the groom.
The party was on.
The guests were fabulously attired, largely in 1940s siren style and, of course, black. There may have never been a wedding with so many black fishnet stockings, Vivienne Westwood heels and black crucifixes, unless it was in a Billy Idol video. Naturally, there was an abundance of body art, and complexions were fashionably milky.
Von Teese, who met the bride through her former husband, Manson, was a vintage vision in a 1940s clingy cap-sleeved black knit dress with tiny turquoise beads on the shoulders, Weiss costume clip earrings and a striking miniature aqua felt hat, adorned with a single saddle brown ostrich feather. In choosing her outfit, Von Teese was inspired by the 1944 classic “Cover Girl,” starring Rita Hayworth.
“I don’t often get to wear top-to-toe vintage,” she said, showing off even her nylon stockings, as Biskup DJ’d on his Mac laptop.
There was a pause in the action for speeches from the best man, maid of honor and author Clint Catalyst, who waxed lyrical. (“Jessicka and Christian’s union is an integral part of an ancient umbilical cord, connecting multi-talented musicians to visual artists to writers to performers to designers, in a symbiotic relationship that academics of future days will pigeonhole as a ‘movement. . . .’ ”
Then Jessicka took the mic and commanded guests to “go forth and drink.” Most were happy to follow her orders.
Meet the Addamses
Jessicka and Christian had decided that once married, they would both lose their family names and start afresh. After considering Bubblestorm, Awesome, Applebottom and Deathblow, they settled on Addams, an homage to the macabre TV family. “It was time for a new bloodline,” Jessicka said with a shrug. “Plus, the name Addams just fits well, like an old goth T-shirt.”
No, their actual families weren’t horrified. Nancy Gissing, the mother of the bride, could barely contain her emotion throughout the ceremony, which she said fitted Jessicka’s personality exactly. “I would have been shocked if she’d done this any other way,” she said.
Samantha Maloney, bridesmaid and drummer for Peaches (and formerly Motley Crue and Hole), graciously assumed the role of tour guide, showing guests around the space. Surrounded by twinkling views of the L.A. cityscape, the penthouse was built by haberdasher James Oviatt in 1927, whose high-end shop once occupied the ground floor. The place oozes decadence. Oviatt and his wife, Mary, were known for their lavish soirees, and signed photographs of their friends -- John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes -- still line the walls.
Downtown continues to be a destination for hedonists. As the Addamses and their goth royalty entourage celebrated at the Oviatt, around the corner indie folk hero Devendra Banhart was onstage at the Orpheum theater, while members of the Strokes and Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal looked on.
At the former St. Vibiana’s cathedral, fashionistas had gathered for EcoNouveau, a green-themed runway show. And a stone’s throw away, on Santa Fe and Fourth, trance freaks dressed in garish neons and Mylar danced off the last of the playa dust at the Burning Man Decompression party. Back at the Oviatt, the music segued from Sisters of Mercy to Christian Death to Kajagoogoo. Even at this iconoclastic affair, one wedding tradition refused to die -- crazy dancing. And the prize for best moves went, unsurprisingly, to the Easter Bunny, who by this point had revealed himself to be screenwriter Jeff Buhler.
“When Jessicka asked me to officiate the wedding as a rabbit, I thought it was a great idea,” he said. “It exactly sums up our group of friends, you see.”
Later he made a brave attempt at the splits.