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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Despite Howard Stern and Hulk Hogan attending, civility and tradition carry the day.
By ERIC DEGGANS
Published January 14, 2007
For a guy who makes his living toying with strippers and porn stars on the radio, shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem throws a fairly traditional wedding.
At least, that's how his nuptials unfolded Saturday night, as Clem and Heather Cole tied the knot at First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg.
Clem entered the church to the strains of C.C. Rider, performed by the church keyboardist. Taking center stage in the church's vast cathedral, Clem and Cole took their vows before an audience that included groomsman and wrestling star Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea and Clem's boss, shock jock Howard Stern.
Stern brought most of his radio crew down for the event, including sidekicks Robin Quivers and Artie Lange, Fred Norris, producer Gary Dell'Abate and his model girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky. On Friday, the crew stopped by the Tampa studios where Clem broadcasts his show for Stern's Howard 101 channel on Sirius satellite radio, saying they had come to enjoy spending time in the area.
The ceremony Saturday was quick - about 25 minutes - and relatively traditional, though Pastor Walter Draughton III took time to joke with Clem about Cole's acceptance of his "unconventional career ... which I assume includes the pig incident." (Clem made national headlines in 2001 when he aired the killing of a boar.)
Reading excerpts from statements the couple wrote about each other, Draughton noted that Clem had been attending the church for a while with Cole. He quoted Cole saying: "I will never judge you despite what others may think of our relationship."
And from Clem, he read: "Heather, when I say I love you, I love you without condition."
Clem was traditionally dressed, with a black tuxedo and pink tie; Cole wore a white gown with sparkling shoulder straps. The most adventurous fashion statement came from Bollea, who sported a black silk bandanna along with a black tux, cream-colored vest and white tie.
The couple included their children - Clem has a young son, Tyler, and Cole has a daughter, Julia, both from previous relationships - handing them necklaces to symbolize their involvement in the new union.
About 200 guests were sprinkled throughout the huge hall, and sheriff's deputies guarded the church, whose location had been kept from the pubic to avoid paparazzi and crowds of fans.
The scene was slightly different for the reception, held an hour later at the Gulfport Casino. Fans and onlookers lined the sidewalk - two were even ejected for attempting to pass themselves off as invited guests - as Stern, Bollea and the other attendees filed into the reception hall, outfitted with a sushi bar and seafood display featuring an ice sculpture of Stern's new black fist program logo.
Despite Clem's reputation for on-air debauchery, this night unfolded the same way countless wedding have before: with friends and family toasting the start of a new life, strippers and porn stars nowhere to be found.