Thursday, July 14, 2016


I've felt like a deer in the headlights since the wedding as I try to begin the monumental task of thanking those who gave so much of their time, talents, and treasure to make this event so perfect. This post may be the hardest thing I've ever written because not only is it lacking the shocking revelations I'm famous for, it's simply hard to capture in words the feeling of that day and how much everyone's involvement meant to me. 

It all started with a day trip

As I stood across from Kage in the gazebo overlooking the park and the river below, seeing friends and family in the golden sunlight, I thought back to the series of random events which led me to that moment and place. A place I roamed on my own on a few occasions before discovering a steep staircase, partially obscured by trees, climbing a hillside. I had no idea where it led but climbed to the top, sensing something wondrous awaited, and now I was sharing that place with loved ones from around the nation. I thought about the random Saturday day trip with Meeshu Bono-Thompson, the first we'd taken together, to a town where we didn't know a soul, but where we now had strong friendships with people who've warmly welcomed us into their lives and homes, including the man I was marrying. 

In the moment

I knew the day would go by fast, so I worked to savor every second and to be present in the moment. Late in the morning we arrived to the historic Victorian home of George Scanlan Jr. & Ken Williams, where Meeshu, our wedding planning guru, had been staying for a few nights while preparing the decorations, cupcakes, and floral arrangements - fresh cut wildflowers from both his and George's gardens. We brought everything to the patio at Bubby & Sissy's and watched as the patio and lawn were quickly transformed for the reception.

We were surprised with a lunch spread brought in by Kristin Ecker, who I met during my teenage clubbing days in Tulsa, her handy husband Brandon, and the wedding party. It was great to visit and break bread with them, along with Bubby's Jason Brooks, Andrea Barker, & Michael "Bubby" Paynic, before the evening events.

Jason did some heavy lifting, moving tables downstairs, Brandon flipped chairs over and tightened screws, and Bubby and Andrea covered tables and prepared the bar. 

The Original Plan

When we began planning our wedding we figured only close friends in the area would attend, but before we knew it we had a guest list of 150, with friends and family traveling from Denver, Oklahoma, Atlanta and New York. As a showman I began to worry about the simplicity of our wedding, and that people traveling great distances would expect more. But then I was reminded this wasn't about a show, it was about people who loved us coming to share in the moment.

Logistical Problems 

The electricity to the gazebo was supposed to be on, but wasn't. For a moment I thought we'd have to do without, but my friend Donald Cole had an electric outlet in his SUV and Yogi Thomas had a very long extension cord, so we had power.

The Moment 

Photo by Rob Kiechlin-Thomas  
Shondra Adams passionately sang "Giving You the Best that I Got" during the processional. Ben Shambaugh, who I've known since he was born, and Donald, who stars in many stories in my book due to all the good times, stood behind me. Kage's Maid of Honor, Ashley Winchester, and Best Man, Zach Springman, both who threw us a bachelor party a week earlier, stood behind him, and Sarah Edington  eloquently officiated. The sun was glistening on Kage's smiling face, and I thought about how, in my eyes, the sun is always shining on him. With such an uncommon genuineness, such remarkable sincerity, and a simply awe inspiring capacity for joy, he's lit up my world in a way I never imagined possible.

The Reception 

Lauren Robb, who feels like a mother to Kage since first meeting him when he was 21, was the DJ and announced us as we descended the staircase, and restaurateur Ron Boles had a full buffet set out, with one guests hugging him in appreciation of how flavorful it all was. 

It's impossible to spend as much time as you'd like with each person, but we managed to share a moment with everyone as friends and families were introduced. 

We celebrated until the lights came on.

I held my emotions together on our wedding day, but they spilled over the following day while reflecting on all everyone did for us. We're both so deeply moved and appreciative.

Guests posted well wishes on the event page after and during the reception, including the following from Kage's longtime friend Ellen Vega:

At the wedding, and have seen a lot of dragonflies, so I share this:

'The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolized change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.'

Life has so much to offer. If you're willing to venture out, explore, and climb mysterious staircases you might find yourself surrounded by more love and beauty than you ever knew existed, and you might finally find where you belong. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Andoe - Black Wedding Info

Our wedding is this Saturday evening (7/9). We'll be married high atop a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, right where we first met, and we're excited that so many of you are joining us.

Below is the basic info, followed by sightseeing info for traveling quests.

Wedding Location:

Riverview Park. The address is 450 Belleview Ave, Alton, IL 62002, but that address takes you to a MASSIVE, four story staircase. Park Avenue runs along the other side of the park and is at grade. Either way you arrive, you can't miss the gazebo where the ceremony will take place. Please reserve the first few rows for family (either side of the aisle is fine). There's seating for about 40 and the rest will stand, but the ceremony will be short.


This is a residential neighborhood and parking is mainly on the street. The reception is at 602 Belle Street, about a mile away, so parking there (ample street parking) and carpooling to the park would be a good idea.


We're expecting the ceremony to begin at 6:15.

Dress: Casual.

This is an outdoor wedding and reception, so please dress comfortably.


Immediately following the ceremony (7:00pm) at the patio/lawn of Bubby & Sissy's, 602 Belle Street. When you walk in you'll go to the back door, behind the bar. We'll be serving BBQ.

Weather contingency:

If there are heavy rains the entire event will be moved to Bubby & Sissy's (Indoors).


The grill will be operational and the DJ will be working until about 10:00. At that point our reception merges with the regular Saturday night schedule, which includes a drag show. We expect the party to continue until closing time (3am).

RSVP: Please let us know if you're attending so we can get a final count for the caterer.


Simple, relaxed, and fun is the vibe we're going for. Come for all or part of the evening's celebration.

If you're spending the weekend in the area check out my guide to the Great River Road.

Saturday at 2:00: Ellen Vega is giving tours of Alton with stops at many historic and haunted sites. If you're interested please contact her via Facebook.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Notes on St. Louis man's tawdry 2005 encounter with Senator Larry Craig

On June 11, 2007, Republican Senator Larry Craig was arrested for lewd conduct for propositioning an undercover officer at the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport. Craig later entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. The scandal ended his career. 

Yesterday a friend, who I'll call "Jack" since he asked to remain anonymous, shared a story of a restroom incident in St. Louis a full two years earlier.  

In the middle of the rendezvous Jack gasped from the sensation, which apparently spooked Craig, who got up and "zoomed away like the Road Runner,"  likely believing Jack recognized him.

Because he doesn't want to go on the record out of fear he'll be judged by the community, there's not a lot I can do with this story, but my fiance Kage sat down for breakfast this morning and saw my notes, which he found amusing. 

In light of that I decided to share them.