Tricia’s Wedding, a 33-minute dramatization of the solemn rite that joined Patricia Nixon and Edward Cox in holy matrimony, was the first movie the Cockettes made. Per Kenneth Turan, it premiered at the Palace Theater in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco on the very day of the happy event, June 12, 1971. Not only is the Cockettes’ movie much livelier than the televised ceremony, it includes the all-too-brief screen debut of Tomata du Plenty, some five years before he formed the Screamers in Los Angeles.
Incredibly, the Cockettes’ movie was screened in the Nixon White House. In Blind Ambition, John Dean mentions watching it in the president’s bomb shelter underneath the East Wing, John Ehrlichman’s favorite spot for “monitoring” protests. There, Dean saw Tricia’s Wedding on the orders of H.R. “Bob” Haldeman:
I knew I wouldn’t use the shelter for monitoring demonstrations, although Haldeman had told me that that would be one of my responsibilities. The only time I ever returned there was for a secret screening of Tricia’s Wedding, a pornographic movie portraying Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Edward Cox, in drag. Haldeman wanted the movie killed, so a very small group of White House officials watched the cavorting transvestites in order to weigh the case for suppression. Official action proved unnecessary; the film died a natural death.
Of course, the movie is completely not safe for work, no no no, but it’s not “pornographic” either. True, after everyone drops acid at the reception, there is an orgy, but it’s more of a “ha-ha” orgy. Courtesy of the nonprofit LGBTQ film distributor Frameline, you can rent Tricia’s Wedding for $3.99 below. Tomata du Plenty appears at the five-minute mark as Hazel, a maid whose bad luck it is to have to sweep the floor near Martha Mitchell and Pat Nixon. Embedded further down is the Nixon Foundation’s film of the real-life nuptials. See if you can spot the difference.
Tricia Nixon’s fabulous, imaginary wedding, acted by the Cockettes:
Tricia Nixon’s drab, actual wedding, acted by the Nixons and Coxes: