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Inside Chyna’s Beautiful, Surreal Memorial

Chyna's memorial reflected her fashion, warrior strength, and eclectic mix of friends: Coolio, Mormons, Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof, and the kid from "A Christmas Story."
Photos by Chuck Grant

Late last week, Chyna's ashes sat in a bedazzled urn on stage the Redondo Beach Convention Center. Three months after the wrestler's death, her friends and fans gathered to commemorate her life and career. She became the first women to fight men in the WWF (now known as the WWE). Her life crumbled into drug addiction following her departure from the league, but in the past 15 years she accomplished a variety of celebrity milestones: a stint on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab, Vivid Celebrity porn tapes, wrestling in Japan, fighting Joey Buttafuoco in a celebrity boxing match, and converting to a controversial religion. (In Chyna's case, Mormonism.)


Read more: My Week at the Bunny Ranch

Sadly, the event felt partially like a cash grab. Her manager hawked limited edition T-shirts (he said the proceeds would go to charity) and issued tickets for the event. Across the street at McDonald's, a kid complained to me he couldn't score a seat. Chyna's friends, though, performed moving tributes to the iconic athlete. A Mormon choir sang Smash Mouth's "All Star." Coolio rapped an original song and gave a speech about drug addiction. Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof, Joey Buttafucco, and the kid from A Christmas Story sat backstage, lamenting the loss of their friend.

It was like a strange, beautiful version of the Met Gala, one where VH1 celebrity reality show cast members attend instead of supermodels. Photographer Chuck Grant attended the event. She specializes in photographing Los Angeles women and celebrity culture, so she went backstage to capture the moving final tribute to the Ninth Wonder of the World.