The California bride didn’t wear black. She did, however, go down the aisle in a casket. So did the groom, borne by his best man and ushers. The minister skipped the line about ” ’til death do you part.” The bride’s mother fainted.
We know what you’re thinking: This time those Golden State trendies have gone a little too far. Relax. The bride and groom had merely stopped off at the establishment of an entrepreneur named Gloria Parker, otherwise known as Cassandra, the Casket Queen. From her Rent-a-Casket/Rent-a-Hearse, one may hire out a flattop casket or a dometop ($35 each) or the tapered Dracula ($50). Also available are a hearse, ghoulie costumes, a tombstone cake, a Dracula mannequin, rubber bats and spiders, or 25 pounds of thighs, breasts and drumsticks delivered in a coffin and dubbed, you guessed it, Chicken in a Casket.
“I’m not into death,” claims Parker, who teaches a combined fourth and fifth grade class in Los Alamitos when not attending her business. “I believe in life. If a casket can make you the life of a party, great.”
Parker, 59, got started in her underground line in 1978, when her son David hauled home a coffin from the florist shop where he worked and presented it as a Mother’s Day gift. She remembers, “When he tried to bring it into the house, I said, ‘Over my dead body.’ ” Then she began to see the potential. Gloria ordered another box from a jittery mortician, who delivered it under cover of darkness. Now she has 18 homebuilt models, which she rents out for kill-the-umpire picnics, political wakes, birthday bashes and especially Halloween parties. A divorcée, Parker has turned her ranch house into a sort of Frighthouse Boutique. The living room is filled with black satin roses and dead flowers. The bedroom is stocked with styrofoam tombstones, and out by the pool, between caskets stacked like cord-wood, is her secret layaway plan: six tiny doll-size coffins lying open and waiting. “When people get tired of those Cabbage Patch dolls,” says Porter, “they’re going to want to see them off in style. Right?”