Witness Jayne Post in one role, her audience sipping libations, scarfing pasta, sucking down chicken and reaching over each other to grab the basket of rolls: “I know you might feel a little crowded, but as the night goes on and people die at your table, you’ll have more room,” she announces, zipping between rows of dining tables like a bee with ADD.
Witness Jayne Post in another role, her audience in rapt attention before her in pews: “I hope we hear God. Sometimes we have to be still for God to get a word in.”
Who says you can’t play the platinum-blond, ditzy-dame hostess in a long-running, interactive Vegas murder-mystery show, dropping suggestive double entendres with sex-bomb aplomb—and also minister to the flock?
Not Pastor Jayne.
“Because we create we believe in a creator,” says Jayne, referring to herself and her husband, Eric. Both are co-stars and co-creators of Marriage Can Be Murder at The D, and co-pastors at Henderson’s Sin City Church, celebrating its first anniversary this month.
“He gives gifts as he sees fit. To be able to be funny and entertain people is a gift, so it’s not a separation for me, being a person who will make you laugh, but also get you one step closer to knowing who God is.”
While she was ordained in 2011, her showbiz/real-life collaborator—also the production’s director and a bear of a man who’s quite the sight as the murder-investigating lawman in thigh-hugging, tighty-tight shorts—was just recently ordained. “The type of work we do is enjoying interacting with people,” Eric says about the show. “That is real close as far as our faith and caring about people.”
Fifteen years into its Las Vegas run, Marriage Can Be Murder remains a popular stop on the tourist circuit. Created by the Posts in South Lake Tahoe, it has bounced from the former Showboat Hotel to the Egg & I restaurant on West Sahara Avenue to the Four Queens to Fitzgeralds-turned-The D.
Though the show performs nightly, the Posts rotate with other actors in the lead roles in this durable vehicle in which, amid the dining and drinking, patrons can watch—and try to solve—a comic mystery. Actors posing as guests and planted among the diners are “poisoned,” “stabbed” and “shot” as Jayne, playing hostess DD, is squeezed into black leggings streaked with images of yellow “DO NOT CROSS” crime-scene tape.
“We’re the only show in Vegas that allows you to videotape, audiotape and duct tape,” she tells guests.
Rarely are the performers onstage—the action mostly unfolds on the dining room floor, the stars roaming the tables—and rarely do they stand still.
Prowling the floor, Jayne owns it, urging diners to suspect each other, assigning some to carry out the bodies when they drop and picking others to form a fake band. Noting that two men went to the bathroom together, she leads a sing-along to “Y.M.C.A.” Later she claims people with PMS are “telepathetic,” and a thespian is “a lady who likes other ladies.”
In between she sprinkles jokes ranging from corny to clever to racy with a what-who-me? expression of blissful innocence and utter sincerity:
“I worked at an orange juice factory, but I couldn’t concentrate so they canned me. Then I worked at a blanket factory but it folded. Then I got a job at Starbucks but it was a grind.”
“A shipment of Viagra was hijacked. They told us to be on the lookout for six hardened criminals.”
“If a man owns a gun and he has no arms, is he still armed?”
Once the first “victim” is gunned down, she trades shtick with Eric, the blowhard cop who charges in to interview witnesses:
Jayne on his shorty-shorts: “That’s a violation of the penal code.”
Eric: “I moonlight on the side.”
Jayne: “You moonlight on both sides … more to the right.”
Eric: “Do you know what happens when you blackmail?”
Jayne: “You never go back?”
“It’s really a sick thing we’re doing,” Jayne says about the murder plot. “But we bring in some camp, some hijinks. [It’s] kind of ’40s radio stuff.”
Playing straight man to his wife—who is a former standup comedian and morning-zoo radio personality—didn’t come naturally to Eric, a veteran actor who in other shows has played Sonny to her Cher, Tarzan to her Jane and Caesar to her Cleopatra. “I had been the clown my whole life,” he says.
“After I met her, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I have to be the straight man, because she’s such a good clown.’ That was a learning curve to play the other side, because you have to play much more selfless. It takes real teamwork.”
Their professional/personal partnership began in 1989, when they met in Sacramento at Suspects Dinner Theatre, another interactive show. Romance went at full gallop for the divorced, single parents. “Fifty-eight days later, we were married,” Eric says. “I said no six times,” Jayne notes. “Now we have three grandchildren and a fourth on the way.”
Beyond performing, religion bonded the pair. “I was divorced, I had a kid, I was anti-men,” Jayne says. “My world had gone upside down, and I was feeling empty. I started going back to church, but my Catholic upbringing was so heavy. He introduced me to Christianity as I understand it now, as a nondenominational thing—just Christ alone. Religion itself has done a lot of yucky stuff.”
Describing himself as a “T.O”—for “theological offspring,” the son of a pastor—Eric addressed the religion question early on. “My faith has been pretty strong my whole life,” he says. “After our first date, I went home and called her and asked, ‘So what’s your faith?’ … That was crucial at the beginning. She was at a spot where she was searching.”
Search and ye shall find—which they did, and then some.
Casually dressed in jeans on a recent Sunday, Jayne, striking and statuesque, mixes easily with her flock at Sin City Church, its name bluntly appropriate. “I have a heart for God, and I want your heart to get bigger for him,” Jayne says. “We’re not trying to beat it into you. We know we’re going to fail. Hence the name—Sin City Church. We know we’re sinners.”
Adds Eric: “I’ve sinned more than enough not to be judgmental. To me, that’s the biggest misconception about Christianity—‘You think you’re so good.’ Well, no. The real essence of Christianity is knowing you need a savior, which means knowing you’ve been bad.”
Warm and energizing, Jayne draws congregants toward her after her sermon—today’s was on cultivating our best selves—at the church she co-founded with Reverend Rhonda Baker. Launched with “$25 and a Facebook page,” the church, Jayne adds, is “the only one planted in America by two women,” at least that they know of.
“I’m a female running a church, which is rare, though it’s becoming not as rare,” Jayne says. “But it’s still mostly a male narrative, so it’s breaking the stained-glass ceiling, if you will.”
Though not a co-founder or senior pastor, Eric serves on the church board, ministers to congregants and helps oversee operations, while Jayne—who is earning her master’s degree in business from the Harvard Extension School—helps in financial matters.
Adhering to the motto “Loving People to Life,” the church inside the campus of the Somerset Academy of Las Vegas elementary school is heavily geared toward charity and volunteerism. Ten percent of donations go to a network of charities—including Opportunity Village, Global United Missions, Wednesday’s Child, Nevada Donor Network and Speedway Children’s Charities—and volunteers are dispatched to hospital, hospices and homeless shelters.
Such Christian ideals sustain them, but 12 years ago that idealism was challenged in the most awful way. While bicycling on Pecos Road near Windmill Lane, their 16-year-old son, Paul, was struck by a vehicle driven by another 16-year-old. He died on impact.
Jayne explains the aftermath: “He came to the funeral, and I forgave him instantly. Because I know how much I’ve been forgiven in my life, it was easier to forgive. That’s what Jesus would do. Being godlike in forgiving people changes lives. Many months later I met his mother in the grocery store, she just collapsed in my arms. She couldn’t believe I had completely forgiven, but it freed him up to live. He was only 16. Now he’s married with two kids, and he’s an attorney.”
After learning that, statistically, the majority of couples who lose children divorce, Jayne and Eric later renewed their vows at the Little Church of the West, and Eric says their relationship adjusted to a new reality. “I didn’t want to lose Jayne, but then I realized I had lost Jayne,” he says. “Losing a child changes you. So I fell in love with the new Jayne.”
Rather than wreck her faith, her son’s death crystallized it.
“It’s a piece that’s missing, it’s a phantom limb, it’s the empty chair every Thanksgiving—it never goes away,” she says. “But we have to believe the faith we follow, so my faith went from concept to reality within 10 seconds. It intensified for me that time is short so we want to make the most spiritual help—and the most laughs—that we can.”
Claiming religious faith is easier when nothing is at stake, and far harder—perhaps a deal-breaker—when something so precious is lost. Jayne and Eric Post kept the deal, living it day by day through their actions. By night, they live it laugh by laugh, as an infectious, if oddball expression of love.
So perhaps when, as DD, she tells the munching mystery-solvers that there’s been a twist in the plot, then leads everyone in gyrations to “The Twist” as Chubby Checker blares over the speakers, the giggles don’t qualify as a hallelujah chorus. Instead, it looks like a daffy pastor leading a cockeyed congregation in goofy prayer. And it’s fun.
Can they get an amen?
Marriage Can Be Murder
6:15 nightly, Showroom at the D Las Vegas, $77 and up, 702-388-2111, TheD.com.