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- December 21, 1998
- Vol. 50
- No. 23
State of Disunion
Her Quickie Marriage in Legal Limbo, Mrs. Dennis Rodman Rebounds
Electra's nipped nuptials were the latest blow in what has been a trying year for the Cincinnati native (real name: Tara Patrick). In July, her sister Debbie, 40, suffered a fatal heart attack. Then, a week later, her mother, Patricia, 58, died of a brain tumor. The youngest of five children, Electra had changed her name at the suggestion of the Artist, formerly known as Prince, who heard her sing in 1990. They performed and co-wrote songs in his hometown of Minneapolis until 1994, when Electra moved to L.A. to pursue a TV career.
These days the former Baywatch star, who lives in a two-bedroom L.A. townhouse, plays the daughter of a computer mogul on The WB drama Hyperion Bay. Last week, she met with PEOPLE correspondent Danelle Morton and talked about her relationship—past, present and future—with Dennis Rodman.
When I was a kid imagining what my wedding day would be like, I thought of a beautiful white dress, my friends and family there crying as I walked down the aisle and a big reception afterwards. Instead I wore black Capri pants, a black Mark Wong Nark shirt and black high-heel platform shoes, and my groom was in jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap. But I love Dennis very much, and I wanted to get married, so it really didn't matter what we wore.
The Friday before the wedding I was in Los Angeles, getting ready to shoot a calendar. Dennis called and told me he was in Las Vegas. He asked me to pack a bag and said he'd send a plane for me. I wasn't interested in going. I wanted to get ready for my shoot. But I grabbed my girlfriend Monica Ortiz and we met the plane at 7 p.m. Dennis played a little trick on me. He said that the plane had to stop in Newport [Beach, where Rodman lives], to pick up his friends and then go on to Vegas. He surprised me when he boarded the plane at Newport.
With his friends and my friends we had eight people in Vegas. We spent the night clubbing and gambling. By around 3 a.m. we were back at the Hard Rock, where we were staying. I was tired so I went upstairs to bed. Dennis kept gambling, and at about 7 a.m., his friend woke me and said that Dennis wanted to talk to me downstairs. I asked if he could come up because I was sleeping. About 20 minutes later he came upstairs. He grabbed my legs and started shaking me. I looked at him and said, "What the hell do you want?" And he says, "Get up. Get dressed." That's when he asked me. I think he said, "Let's get married. Do you want to get married? Let's do it." I said yes and I gave him a big hug. I got dressed and off we went. Six of us were in his friend's Jeep Cherokee. I've seen Dennis drunk before, and he didn't seem drunk. I asked him, "Dennis, is this really something you want to do?" He said yes, and he asked me the same question and I said yes. I felt it was right. We loved each other.
We were married at the Chapel of Flowers. The ceremony went really fast. There weren't really choices for the vows or the music. There was an aisle, but we all walked in together. In the middle of it, the priest was going on and on about life and how you have to trust each other and be together forever, and Dennis asked, "Would you just hurry it up, please?" So we all started laughing. That's Dennis.
After the ceremony was over, we all went back to the Hard Rock and had breakfast, then went to bed at 9 a.m. I had to go back to L.A. for my shoot. Dennis stayed in Vegas. I didn't want to separate from him. I had no idea I was going to get married or maybe I could have arranged my schedule differently. My psychic voice tells me he had his bachelor party after I left. I heard from him during the course of the day and it was like normal. We had the same kind of conversations we had before we got married.
We first met about 10 months ago at the Billboard Live nightclub in L.A. A friend of his walked over to me, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me over to Dennis at the bar. We were all hanging out having a good time. Then my girlfriend slipped and broke her arm in the bathroom. My friends took my car to rush her to the hospital, and I ended up with Dennis, who took me to Fat Burger with his friends. A lot of people wanted Dennis's autograph, so he made me sit in the car for my protection. It was taking a long time, and I was getting very anxious. I complained to one of his friends that I needed to leave, and he said, "You're not going anywhere." So I said, "Oh, yeah?" and got out of the car and hailed a cab.
Somehow Dennis ended up getting my number. He invited me to hang out. Eventually we started to get involved. I would fly to Chicago when I had a break from work. It took a long time before I got to really know him, and sometimes I don't think I really do. He is very spontaneous. We talked on the phone every day, and if I didn't hear from him I knew he was in Vegas. He loves to gamble. He would also surprise me with little things. When my mother and sister passed away, he sent enough flowers to fill my entire apartment. I never had a man do something like that for me before. I see how much good he has inside of him. That's what I fell in love with.
Of course we had a few fights. Once, on the Jay Leno show, Dennis said I wasn't really his girlfriend. I was "just taking care of the big guy." I wasn't happy about that, and I did have a talk with him. A lot of people said I should be careful, whatever that means. But they weren't people who know him.
On the Monday after we were married, the whole world found out. I was starting Hyperion Bay, and I received a phone call from Dennis after work. He said, "Oh, Carmen, you're not going to like this one." That's when he told me his manager had released the statement that Dennis was intoxicated and I had an ulterior motive. That hurt my feelings really bad. I drove out to see him to try and figure out what was going on. We watched it together on every news channel. I can't speak for Dennis, but I felt overwhelmed, even though Dennis was being cool about it and comforting me.
The press had gone wild, so we decided to stay away from each other for a while and let it cool down. I had paparazzi following me and waiting at my front door, and he had them at his front door. It's not that we broke apart. It's just that we needed some time. And I felt sad too, because I didn't really know who I could talk to, because my mother had died. I felt heartbroken.
Finally, on the Wednesday after we were married, Dennis and I discussed it and decided the right thing for now would be to get an annulment. I didn't have an attorney and we filed it through his attorney, so it looked as if he was annulling the marriage. Everything is fine between us right now. We're just working things out slowly. We talk almost every day. I am still in love with him. Absolutely. And I do believe in marriage. We decided to get an annulment right now because of all the chaos and confusion. It's not a great way to start a marriage. It's hard when both of you are celebrities and you are always in the public view. It's not normal. There is possibly a future for my relationship. We take it a step at a time.
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