By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Photography by B Fresh Photography
There's never been a better time to fall in love in Minnesota. With the rousing defeat of the anti-gay marriage amendment, we stood up for the belief that loving commitment should be open to everyone. To celebrate our state's conjugal bliss, we asked a diverse array of local couples the cocktail party question that eventually confronts every attached-at-the-hip pair: How did you meet?
Burlesque performer Ophelia Flame is the fire behind Lili's Burlesque Revue, the Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy, the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival, and others. Her husband David Holmdahl is a former Navy SEAL and MCAD graduate who now works as an award-winning video editor at a local ad agency. The couple fell in love on a wild road trip to the Burlesque Hall of Fame in 1999, but they first met a decade prior. At the time, both thought the other wasn't for them.
David: I was still in college and she and a friend came over with my friend one night. We actually had a long conversation, and I was shooting some video.
Ophelia: Uh-oh. I kind of remember it now that you're saying that. You've always been an easy person to talk to, but the few times we hung out was in a group and I thought you were nice and cute but just not my type. At the time my type was tattooed boys with drug problems. It was like, "Dave, you have a car?" I was not interested. He was far too together.
D: I thought she was beautiful, but maybe not running in the same circles as me.
O: I got tired of tattooed boys with drug problems. Then in 1999 my girlfriend and I had a couple shots of tequila and decided to enter this Miss Exotic World contest. It was this crazy whim. I thought maybe we should ask our friend David to come with us. And there's something about driving in a convertible...
D: Something about being on the road and going to this carnival-type thing, it opened us up to each other.
O: Having this shared weird experience was really uniting ... I actually took a runner-up title, and we were driving back through the desert with this trophy to Las Vegas and we partied all night.
D: We were taking [the trophy] to all the bars.
O: Once we got back from that road trip it was pretty fast and furious. We were living together by fall of that year, and for Dave's golden birthday I got him the weekend off, packed some bags, blindfolded him, and took him to the airport.
D: As I remember you kept me blindfolded all the way to the actual gate.
O: No, but you wanted to know where we were going. We stayed with friends who live in Cottonwood, Arizona, near Sedona, and the next morning was his birthday.
D: She woke me up and as we climbed this hill without coffee —
O: I proposed at sunrise. I had a ring made. Later Dave returned the favor and proposed in Mexico. Now we have a seven-year-old wild child, and even after nearly 15 years we still love each other madly and live to give each other shit.
Jasha Johnston and Carrie McCabe-Johnston have both been staples in the local bar and restaurant scene for well over a decade. Carrie graduated from culinary school and landed an internship working under Alex Roberts, first at Restaurant Alma and later as the head baker at Brasa. Jasha is a familiar face to regulars at Mortimer's where he's worked the bar for more than 15 years. The pair now own and operate Nightingale, the small plates-focused late-night restaurant in Whittier, where the couple also live with their two sons. But before the dinner parties and walking dates along the West Bank, the two were students at Augsburg College.
Jasha: There's kind of an ongoing debate about who chased who.
Carrie: It's not a debate. You chased me. Completely.
J: Well, she was the first one to really initiate the first interaction between us. She asked me to do homework with her in the park over lunch.
C: We became good friends very quickly.
J: I guess there was one time we spoke before that, and it was one of the more odd things I have ever done in my life, but I saw her at the school mailboxes and I just walked right up to her and I flat-out told her she was going to have my children.
C: And I was 17 years old at the time! I thought he was a total creep. But that must have been the first time we ever actually talked.
J: It was so weird. I never said anything like that to another person before and I never have since. Something just came over me.
C: And then I became the mother of his children.
J: It's funny because usually she's the one who knows what's going to happen before it happens. It's impossible to keep a secret from her. To this day she always knows everything I'm going to do before I do it.