By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Don, the mostly naked trample victim from the Crowne Plaza, for example, has had some issues to work through. A former business professor from Las Vegas, he hasn't been able to maintain a healthy relationship with a woman because he believes so deeply in female supremacy. It has paralyzed him at work and in his personal life. So Mikayla has taken on the role of an unofficial psychologist.
"Women are a higher form of life," Don says in staggering seriousness. "If she's much larger than me, it's that much better."
It's September 1987, the first day of school at Knob Noster Middle School, in the woods of small-town Missouri. Chattering sixth-graders step off a canary-yellow school bus. In their back-to-school garb, they file into a fluorescent-lit gymnasium and settle into packs on the bleachers. Pretty girls make a show of exchanging hugs and dramatic stories about the summer. Pimpled boys crack sarcastic jokes. Mikayla, a gangly, bucktoothed, six-foot-tall 12-year-old, wanders into the gym alone. Slouching to make herself seem shorter, she stumbles slightly over her size-13 white Payless sneakers.
One prissy athletic girl with sandy-blond hair — and her own set of pubescent insecurities — sees Mikayla and shouts, "Hey, Big Bird, nice shoes!" On cue, the girl's friends cover their mouths and cackle.
Mikayla feels her face flush with embarrassment. God, I hate this body, she thinks.
"She was really angry at that point," her normal-sized sister Tammy says now. "She'd try to hide it at home, but we knew."
Eventually, Mikayla would learn to turn what she despised most about herself into a trait for which men would worship her. But even with the transformation, an obsession with the fetish world would cost her relationships, privacy, and emotional health.
From the day Mikayla (her real name is Teressa) was born, her size shocked people. Her mother, a sweet, slender, five-foot-five homemaker, somehow squeezed her out in March 1975. "I still can't believe you did this without a C-section," the doctor told her a few days after the birth. At 10 pounds and two feet long, Mikayla occupied her crib like a pine tree in a flower pot.
As a 6 year old, standing five-foot-six, she was taller than her first-grade teacher. Some nights, her growing pains were so excruciating that she'd wake her sister in the middle of the night screaming. "Dad would go in and rub Bengay on the back of her legs," Tammy says.
And she'd fall asleep crying.
She made one friend, Jennifer, who ironically was the shortest girl in school at four-foot-eight. They bonded by raising middle fingers to the rest of the class.
In high school, she joined the basketball and volleyball teams and gained praise for dominating on the court. Despite her pretty face, she never got much attention from boys. She was, after all, six-foot-four. "I always had crushes on the small, nerdy, shy guys," she says. "They were scared to death of me."
As a 17-year-old at Woodland Park High, she set the volleyball record for the most blocks in one season. "Coaches would tell her to stand tall when she walked into a room," says her former coach, Vickie Cusimano. "I don't think she knew her potential."
When a recruiter from the University of Missouri-Kansas City saw her and offered a full ride for volleyball, she accepted. A year later, she transferred to the University of Northern Colorado to be close to her family and play basketball.
She got a job teaching second grade in Colorado Springs. Through an online dating site in 1998, she met Jason (not his real name), a thin but well-built 27-year-old. Like her father, he had a military background. She fell for his childlike energy and sense of adventure, and they married in November 1999 on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.
A couple of years into the marriage, she went online to search for shoes. On a Yahoo group for large women, she posted a few sentences, asking where she could find a pair of heels. Almost instantly, she got a reply. It read, "If you're who you say you are, I will fly you to L.A. and we will make money."
Without knowing it, Mikayla had stumbled into a foot fetish cyberland— a place where bigger meant sexier, for once. The note came from a low-budget movie producer who knew her size 16 shoes were a ten-toed gold mine. At first, she had reservations. She didn't want him to take advantage of her. She talked with Jason and decided to try it. "Do it if it makes you happy," he told her.
A week later, they left for Los Angeles to make a video. "It was weird," Jason says. "He treated her like a star. She was playing a role."
Upon their arrival, the producer took them to a sex shop and told Mikayla to pick out any outfit she desired. She chose a leather skirt and bustier with cutouts for her breasts. "I looked like, I would say, a whore," Mikayla says.
Then he drove the couple to an industrial ghetto of Los Angeles, where a secret knock and a password got them into the chambers of a dungeon. In a dark room, past a faux electric chair, a guillotine, and a doctor's office setup, a skinny transvestite with frizzy blond hair greeted them.