It’s said that love will always find a way — but in times like these, it may need a little help, like that of a fitness trainer, Emmy-winning actor, Britney Spears backup performer, and medical clown turned minister.
That someone is Matthew Allen Wilson, a bisexual man who officiated the wedding of his friends Reilly Jennings and Amanda Wheeler on a New York City street last Friday, with Wilson conducting the ceremony from a window of his fourth-floor apartment in the interest of social distancing. Instagram posts of the wedding have circulated far and wide.
Wilson got to know the two women when “we were all coworkers at this delightful cheeky fitness startup,” Mark Fisher Fitness, he says. He’s no longer there, but he’s stayed in touch with colleagues. Jennings and Wheeler planned to marry in October, but they moved the date up because of the current health situation. Then they found they couldn’t wed at the city’s marriage bureau.
Wilson’s wife, Stephanie, heard about the couple’s impending nuptials via the Marco Polo social networking app. Jennings then asked if Wilson could officiate the ceremony, as he is a minister in the Universal Life Church, a nondenominational organization that offers instant ordination. So he did, quoting from Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novel Love in the Time of Cholera.
It wasn’t Wilson’s first time conducting a wedding — “I’ve married multiple coworkers,” he notes — but his experience as an officiant is part of a rather remarkable résumé.
Wilson has spent some time working as a medical clown — exactly what it sounds like, a performer who helps to cheer up people in hospitals and clinics. Last spring he was awarded a competitive residency with TED Conferences in New York City, the culmination of which was a TED Talk on the health benefits of medical clowning. “It was released last month, and I’m proud to say that so far it has received over a quarter-million views,” he says.
He won a Daytime Emmy Award for his role on Cyberchase, a multiplatform STEM-based television series produced by WNET for PBS Kids for the past 19 years. He also acted in the West Coast premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, playing the roles of Leaf Coneybear, William Barfee, and Vice Principal Panch. And he performed with Britney Spears in her Circus Tour.
These days, he has a variety of gigs. He and Stephanie have a company called Spider Mouse Productions, which creates entertainment for special events, “and she pretty much runs the show,” he says. He teaches career communication and personal branding at the Fordham Gabelli School of Business in New York City. And he’s working on a project that will bring a new “experience” to Hudson Yards, a residential and commercial complex in New York.
He’s also a tactical arts consultant, an effort he describes as “using research-based arts practices to improve work environments and care settings, and forge connections that disrupt the status quo — which I’m delighted to say was illustrated most wonderfully by the window wedding in Washington Heights this past Friday.”
And you can learn all about medical clowning by watching his TED Talk below.