Love Blooms Downtown

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By Marissa Maier

A Wedding of Hope

When Diamond Jones and Michael Thomas were married on Sept. 9, 2011, one might say that their wedding was a little unorthodox. They did get married in a 19th-century chapel, and hundreds of guests bedecked in their finest watched as Diamond, in her wedding gown, glided down the aisle.

The chapel, however, was located in the Bowery Mission, a two-building complex on the Bowery that houses the organization of the same name that supports homeless and poor New Yorkers. The guests were a collection of homeless men and women from the Mission and other shelters throughout the city, some of whom Michael and Diamond knew through their volunteer work, while others were complete strangers. The dress and the guests' attire was "practically donated," said Diamond, who paid a little over $100 for a $10,000 gown. Almost everything surrounding the big day, dubbed the "Wedding of Hope," was donated, from the food at the reception to the flowers and makeup.

For Diamond, her volunteer and advocacy work for the homeless was inspired by her own experience as a young woman living on the streets of Manhattan. A few months after arriving in New York City from Virginia in her early twenties, Diamond found herself sleeping in hotel lobbies and doorways while working a minimum-wage day job. Her lifeline came in the form of a good-paying position with a nationwide bank.

And of the wedding day, Diamond said, "It was magical-a lot of work, but it was such a relief that our dream wedding came true."

Blue Valentine

The first time Jennifer Stanton (née Lambert) saw her husband, Phil, his hands and head from the neck up were covered in blue paint. Phil, a co-founder of the Blue Man Group, was performing at a theater in Astor Place in the early '90s just as the group was gaining enough popularity to make a living.

During the show, the time came for Phil and his two fellow performers to weave their way through the audience. Jennifer found him hovering over her.

"He looked me in the eyes and-this is so corny, but I thought, 'His eyes are so amazing,'" she recalled. "I watched him for the rest of the show."

A few months later, in 1993, Jennifer and Phil finally met face to face-and this time he was in drag. As part of a Broadway Cares event, the Blue Man Group was set to perform En Vogue's "Free Your Mind."

"He came gliding across the aisle in patent leather high heel boots, short shorts and a long opera cape and, I swear to God, I thought I was going to pass out. I thought he was stunning looking, confident and uninhibited. He came up to me and said, 'Hi, I'm Phil. I'll be your date for the evening,'" she said. "From that first day, there was never a question of 'Are we together?' It was just, 'This is it.'"

The bridge in time from that first sighting to their first meeting almost reads like an old-fashioned courtship. After the Blue Man Group performance, Jennifer, at the time a cast member of a Guys and Dolls revival on Broadway, admitted to her fellow cast members that she "had a crush on a Blue Man."

Months later, at an event at Gracie Mansion, a publicist connected to both shows egged Jennifer to write Phil a note. On a Gracie Mansion cocktail napkin, Jennifer wrote "some smart things about the show," said Phil, and left her name and the address of the theater where she was working.

"I was intrigued. I wrote a letter and dropped it off at the theater," Phil continued. "She called me on April 1, 1993, and we talked for three hours."

The pair set themselves up on a "blind date"; Jennifer would meet him at his rehearsal space and help with the choreography for the Broadway Cares event. On that first date, they traversed Downtown Manhattan, from a sushi restaurant on East 9th Street-Hasaki, still there-to a bar in Nolita and then around Tribeca, where Phil lived at the time.

Over 15 years later, the Stanton duo has become a quartet with sons Cove and Scout and they continue to live Downtown. Through several other costume changes-and new projects like The Blue School, which Phil and Jennifer co-founded-they have stayed by each other's side.

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