Speaking Advocates Host The Newlywed Game (new date!)

Speaking Advocates Host The Newlywed Game (new date!)

(Rescheduled to March 2)

Why The Newlywed Game?

In any community where people create and work on projects together, romance is inevitable.

Each February we remember fondly those couples who fell in love while participating or found new ways of being together in an artistic space through one of Art Spark Texas’ programs. Our performative programs—Actual Lives Austin, Body Shift Dance, Opening Minds, Opening Doors/Speaking Advocates—have been especially adept at inspiring these sorts of flames. Perhaps it’s the vulnerability we experience there, or the welcoming atmosphere that allows us to be ourselves and others to witness who we truly are, that brings people together when we perform.

This month the Speaking Advocates are launching a twice-monthly virtual Happy Hour for folks with disabilities to mingle, vent, laugh, chat, create, and more. As Valentine’s Day (came and went and we all got snowed in), we rescheduled The Newlywed Game featuring a few of our star couples! We hope you will join us Tuesday, March 2 at 5 PM for this fun inaugural event.

The Happy Hour is every first and third Tuesday of the month, from 5 to 6 PM CT with a rotating cast of hosts. Here are a few topics we look forward to: Journaling/Poetry with Eric Clow, Card-Making with Nicole Cortichiato, Mindfulness for Beginners with Ms. Boye. Be sure to join our Speaking Advocates email list for notifications and login information.

Now let’s meet those contestants (in their own words)!

Susie Angel and Juan Munoz

Love at First Sight (Well for One of Us)–by Juan Munoz.
Photo of smiling pre-teen Susie wearing hip purple rim sunglasses and Juan, all within a campy game show border that reads "The Newlywed Game, Actual Lives AustinThis story begins on October 8th, 1980. I was completing an assignment on my typewriter at school (sporting my fashionable helmet). A much-needed distraction came in the room and the teacher introduced Susie Angel and her family. They came to where I was sitting and all I could get out was “hi.” The one thing I noticed was her long blonde hair, and she was looking around the room with pretty blue eyes. They matched her socks. She was gone before I could even talk to her. I looked at my teacher and said, “I’m going to marry her someday.” He got a good laugh.

As fate would have it a couple days later, she boarded my bus. Unbeknownst to me, this was the first time she had rode in her chair while traveling. It was not going well. She inconsolably screamed the entire hour to school. No one could calm her. Once we were back on solid ground, she was no longer a screaming crazy girl, but my new best friend.

Years later she admitted to me she thought I was just as crazy as she seemed that day. My helmet had not given a good first impression. That was how the last 41 years of my life started. To this day, I still hold her hand in the car.

Laura and Adam Griebel

Photo of Adam embracing Laura with roses in the background, all within a campy game show border that reads "The Newlywed Game, Actual Lives AustinLaura and Adam both attended Austin High School (the “mistake on the lake” as Adam so fondly refers to our alma mater). Adam was a stoner and Laura a band geek so, their paths didn’t cross often. In 1994, Adam and Laura reconnected and dated while Laura was working for Adam’s dad at Goodwill. After 3 months, Adam dumped Laura, and they went their separate ways romantically but stayed friends.

In August 2000, Laura and Adam both joined the original Actual Lives crew. They rekindled their love, married in November 2001 (witnessed by the entire Actual Lives crew), and, 20 years later, are still joyfully married and the very proud parents of their 14-year-old daughter, Madeleine.

Nicole Cortichiato and Eric Clow

Selfie of Eric and Nicole smiling with snow behind, all within a campy game show border that reads "The Newlywed Game, Actual Lives Austin"As the most recently wed couple competing, we must admit we’re a little intimidated by our fellow contestants! At the same time, we feel heartened knowing that relationships ignited, rekindled, or strengthened in the inclusive, arts-inspired community of Art Spark Texas seem to endure.
Nicole says she fell at the first sound of Eric’s voice when he called to give her more information about the Opening Minds, Opening Doors program. It didn’t hurt that he was well-versed in disability history, either. When she finally saw him in person, she knew she was in trouble.

It took a bit longer for Eric because he was younger, less confident, and when they started working together, they frequently butted heads. To give you an abstract idea: the name “Eric” means “complete ruler,” while “Nicole” means “victory of the people.” But ultimately their differences in opinion and approach drew them to each other, inspired a friendship that became a romance.

Their first date was on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act–a fitting day for two disabled creatives proud of their communal heritage. Eric surprised Nicole by popping the question in front of their friends (and parents!) at his birthday party in 2018. They got married on Zoom–one happy gift 2020 offered, but it won’t be finished until they can have their big celebration!

Join Us!

Sign up for our Speaking Advocates email list if you want to attend The Newlywed Game or future Happy Hour events.

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