Sinner man

Tao vows: Marklen Kennedy is ordained and ready to tend his flock

The Reverend Marklen Kennedy, getting suited up… perhaps to hear your Vegas confessions?
Photo: Courtesy

Break your roommate's iPhone? Secretly coveting her boyfriend, the dirty drummer? Hide a new tattoo from Mom? You're not alone. And we understand! But for those of you unwilling to leave the opulent environs of Tao Beach on Sundays, serious transgressions like these can be absolved by only one man: Marklen Kennedy.

Sorry, the Reverend Marklen Kennedy now that the Tao Beach director is a legally ordained "minister for life" in the Universal Life Church Monastery (tag line: "We are all children of the same universe") and able to perform all manner of nondenominational duties including "marriages, baptisms, and all other ceremonies of the church." First order of business: Taking confession at Tao Beach.

No doubt, the good Reverend has his work cut out for him.

"I had been thinking about this for several years," says Kennedy, whose own religious upbringing included stints around the Bible Belt and ran the gamut from Catholic sermons in Spanish and Polish to Baptist ones in English. "My mind immediately went to the fact that Tao has 'Worship Thursdays,' 'Good Fridays,'" and other various religious-inspired marketing slogans. When celebrities have asked Kennedy — usually after a throwing back a few — where they can swap vows, he says he's had to send them to off property, to the Little White Chapel. But, he thought, what if he were ordained?

The deed done February 25, Reverend Kennedy is now preparing, with Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg's blessings, to begin absolving some of Sin City's sin at Sunday's Sunset Sessions party; there's no shortage of VIP booths and cabanas. There's talk of a photo booth, Altar Girls, souvenir T-shirts...

Tao Beach opens for the 2010 summer season Monday, April 5, after a winter renovation, with Marklen's new menu of services appearing as soon as the May 1 celebrity-season opener. Sinners can expect their penance to be meted out in drinks.

And if the opportunity should arise to preside over a wedding — be it spur of the moment, or planned well in advance — Kennedy says, "We will marry just about anybody as long as they're at least only second cousins." First cousins and other kin need not apply, but drunken antics, true love, vow renewals — they're all fair game.

"I don't think any animals are allowed because of the food," says Kennedy.

And what about gay marriages?

"Why not?!"

To make qualifying marriages legal, bride and groom need only get their Clark County marriage license ahead of time for Kennedy, in his ministerial baseball cap, to sign. "I want to be able to look back and know that I've touched a lot of people's lives," says Kennedy. "We really have a big part in people's lives when they come here." Mother Kennedy has already strongly cautioned her son to approach this with care. Kennedy assures the Weekly that, while this is meant to be fun, he is taking this new undertaking very seriously. "I don't want heresy or anything like that. ...I do realize that there are a lot of responsibilities to this. That aspect to me is very serious."

Kennedy follows in the footsteps of some other Vegas nightlife reverends. Former Las Vegas Weekly editor Martin Stein married DJ Brian Hart and Tao promoter Kiki Kuzmirek on stage at Empire Ballroom's afterhours and presided over the vow renewal of Las Vegas Citylife food critic Al Mancini and his wife, Sue. And yours truly was ordained as well, also via Universal Life Church (October 2008), though I have yet to hear any confessions but my own.

"I always joked that I'd be lucky if I could get into hell, and that if there was a double-hell I'd be there with a bottle and VIP table," says Kennedy of his own sin. "Now who's going to take my confession?!"


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