You don’t have to have watched “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” a thousand times to know that Ike Turner physically abused Tina Turner, repeatedly throughout their marriage. And as is generally the case with most victims, the abuse didn’t start with him putting his hands on her. It began in the ways he coerced her even before then.
In a recent interview with The Daily Mail, in promotion of her new book, Turner revealed a detail about her life with Ike that she had tucked away in her memory.
After the musical duo were married in Mexico in 1962, Turner said, “Guess where we went? To a whorehouse! On my wedding night!”
Turner was 22 at the time. In addition to forcing her into the venue, she also said that Ike made her watch a live sex show.
“The experience was so disturbing that I suppressed it, scratched it out, and created a different scenario, a fantasy of romantic elopement.”
Turner said when she and Ike made the decision to drive from California to Mexico to get married, she’d already seen the violent side of Ike but went along with his plan because she was afraid to say no to him. As for the reason they drove to Mexico, Turner wasn’t sure.
“Ike always had an angle. He must have figured out that Tijuana was the best place for a quickie ceremony. It probably wasn’t even legal. But there was no point in questioning his motives. It would just make him mad, and that might lead to a beating. I definitely didn’t want a black eye on my wedding day.”
The ceremony was not romantic or sentimental in the way we expect weddings to be. She said the two sat down in a small, dirty office where a man pushed papers across the desk for her to sign and that was it.
“I may not have had much experience with weddings, but I knew the occasion was supposed to be emotional and happy. There was none of that at this wedding. Nobody said, ‘You may kiss the bride.’ No toasts. No congratulations. No mention of living happily ever after.”
But the bland ceremony paled in comparison to what Ike had in store for her when they left.
Turner pushed the experience down quickly and by the next day, when they returned to Los Angeles, she was bragging about their nuptials.
“By the next day, I was bragging to people, ‘Guess what? Oh, Ike took me to Tijuana. We got married yesterday!’ I convinced myself that I was happy, and I was happy for a brief time, because the idea that I was married actually held meaning for me. For Ike, it was just another transaction.”
“People can’t imagine the kind of man he was – a man who takes his brand new wife to a live pornographic sex show right after their marriage ceremony. There I sat, in this filthy place, watching Ike out of the corner of my eye, wondering, ‘Does he really like this? How could he?’”
“It was so ugly,” Turner said of the performance.
“The male performer was unattractive and seemingly impotent, and the girl … well let’s just say that what was on display was more gynecological than erotic,”
Turner said. “I was miserable the whole time, on the verge of tears, but there was no escape. We couldn’t leave until Ike was ready, and he was having a fine time…Some things you don’t remember. Some things you don’t want to. Those memories dig into your gut.”