Jyll Hubbard-Salk, 52, is the founder of Urban Asanas. Danny Salk, 49, works in film. The pair got married in 1996, after knowing each other for two weeks. They have been married 22 years.
Jyll: This is about to be a buncha laughs. Just so you know, we’re a very unique couple.
Emma: Wonderful. That’s what I’m curious about. So, how did you meet?
Jyll: So it was about 1996. I waitressed at a restaurant in the West Village called Florent. Danny walked in with two of my customers who were friends. And as soon as he walked in the door, I looked at him and he had a halo — a white light over his head. No fucking joke. And I, at that second, was like, Oh my God, who the fuck is that? Next thing you know, they come and sit at my table. And then he ordered this half a chicken.
Danny: Can I jump in for a second? When I asked Jyll what her name was, she told me it was “Mocha Hurricane.” So I did not know “Jyll” for a while. I was interested in Mocha Hurricane.
Jyll: When I worked there, it was a heavy gay community. There was a lot of drag queens. A lot. You know what I mean? It was very festive, and all the queens called me Mocha.
Emma: This is great! So Danny ordered half a chicken…
Jyll: He got the chicken with this red wine sauce. And then afterwards, they invited me out to have drinks with them at Belmont Lounge, by Union Square. They were like, “We’re gonna wait on you.” And when I got in the back seat of the car with Danny, he was biting his fucking fingernails.
Danny: Yeah. I was nervous, cause you know, Mocha Hurricane got in the back seat and I was like, “Oh, what’s up Mocha Hurr-?” And she was so fine, you almost angry at her, cause she just so beautiful. Anyway.
Jyll: So he kinda gave me a side eye, but he stopped biting his nails. We went to Belmont Lounge. We’re drinking and — I’m sure you’ll know this story but — many, many years ago, it was a story that came out about Richard Gere putting a gerbil up his ass. Right? So Danny is telling the story about Richard Gere with the gerbil up his ass and I’m laughing and he’s laughing and everybody else is fucking laughing. And then my hand lands on his thigh. And then his hand lands on my hand. And then we were kinda like, “Game fucking on.” From there it was kind of like a whirlwind. Me and him kinda felt each other and then, you know, drink, drink, feel good, feel good. So I invited him to my apartment, which was on Avenue A between 13th and 14th.
Emma: Very close to Union Square. Convenient.
Jyll: Yep. So he came to my apartment. Didn’t get no booty — I had been celibate for about a year because I made a pact to marry the next motherfucker I laid down with. That was Tuesday night before Thanksgiving.
Danny: It wasn’t about getting booty, because I had talked to Jyll, I was like, “You coming to my house?” And she was like, “No, you coming to my house.” And I was like, “Are we fucking?” And she said, “Nope,” and I was perfectly happy with that. That was fine. So anyway.
Emma: Okay it wasn’t about the booty. Thank you, Danny.
Jyll: Okay, so anyway. We were up all night — schmoozin’ woozin’, schmoozin’, woozin’ — and the next morning I had to leave Danny to go to therapy. I told my therapist, “I met my husband.” And he was like, “No no. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Hold on,.” Like he tried to walk me off the ledge. And I was like, “No, I’m getting married. That’s what I’m telling you now.”
Danny: Right. And I had to leave her apartment cause I had to go see my family.
Jyll: Nope that’s not where we are. I got the story. Freeze Daniel. I went to therapy and then I came back home with food for you.
Danny: Oh, yes you did.
Jyll: And then the next thing you know his motherfuckin’ mother starts blowing up his phone.
Emma: Wait. This is 1996 and he has a cellphone?
Danny: Day one.
Jyll: Girl, his mother is blowing up his fucking phone — and this is when I should have known what the fuck I was getting myself into. But his family lives in Providence and he had to leave because it was almost Thanksgiving. He barely made the bus.
Danny: But I did make it. I remember talking to the cab driver; I was like, “I met somebody and I think I’m in love,” right away. It was like, immediate. So then I had Thanksgiving, but Jyll and I had made a date for Monday night. I got back to 23rd street — where my apartment was — on Sunday night. I spent one night there.
Jyll: That Sunday night when he came back.
Emma: And then you got married about a week later?
Jyll: Yep. December 11th.
Emma: Who asked who? How did you decide to get married?
Jyll: Girl, I asked him.
Danny: We were taking a shower, and from day one she had already been telling me, “We’re spending the rest of our lives together.” I was also very much in love.
Emma: Wow. So you’re in the shower, and Jyll, you’re like, “We’re gonna get married.”
Jyll: Yep. We bought our rings off of St. Marks Place. And mind you, none of our families knew.
Danny: We barely knew each other. We’d only known each other for, you know, 10, 12 days.
Emma: Were you looking to be in a relationship?
Jyll: No, I didn’t want to have a relationship. I didn’t want a commitment. But I was starting to just get tired and bored. I did some soul searching, and it wasn’t that I wanted to get married, but I wanted to have somebody for myself that was my friend.
And that was one thing with Daniel — he’s my friend. Girl, I couldn’t shake him. I mean, it was amazing. I have to say that if I die tomorrow, I know what love is because I know Danny loves me. Like, as we speak, I know what love is. And I wish everybody in this world could experience it.
Emma: I’m cheesing so hard. I’m so emotional. Okay, so Danny, what about you? Were you looking for a relationship?
Danny: No. The reason that I wanted to get married was that I met Jyll. And she was so real. She could reach inside of me — like I felt okay to cry, to laugh, to just be completely naked, like just raw. I mean, she’s an incredible human being to this day; I’m fucking so happy that I met her and that we were strong enough to know that when it’s right, it’s right. It’s for real. And we’re older now, but I’ll tell you somethin: I still love her as much and the same. The same and differently.
Emma: I’m deadass crying. This is so beautiful. Okay, so y’all got married in two weeks. None of your family knew. When did you tell them?
Jyll: Oh goodness. Now, this is where the love affair stops.
Danny: Hold on, hold on. Time out. Time out, cause my head’s gonna start to hurt.
Jyll: Get some water.
Danny: We goin’ deep?
Jyll: We goin’ deep. This is it.
Emma: You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t wanna go. There’s no pressure. This is all consent-based.
Jyll: One thing I am is real. And this is real: I don’t fuck with Danny’s parents. I told my mother about… two weeks after I got married. And she was like, “I don’t believe you, send me the marriage certificate.”
Danny: I don’t wanna talk about my parents quite yet. But before I got married to Jyll, I had to talk to her dad and let him know that I loved his daughter.
Jyll: I mean, I dealt with my dad, but I didn’t really deal with him. And then I had to cut his ass off for six years. And then right when I met Danny, I reached out to him and he and Danny talked and it was just like no years had passed.
Jyll: Everything came full circle. He fell in love with Danny, Danny fell in love with him. So basically, my whole family, from cousins to aunties, to uncles, fell in love with Danny. But that’s what black people do: Love.
Emma: That is what we do.
Jyll: Now, let Danny tell you about his people.
Danny: So around Christmas I went to Providence — I remember my parents were both in bed starting to look old — and I walked into their bedroom and I said to them, “Hi, I’m married.” And Hillary looked at Steve and Steve looked at Hillary, sayin, “What the fuck?” They thought it was kinda funny. And they were kinda… horrified. Back in 1990, I had a baby. So it wasn’t, like, out of the ordinary that I got married. It was more horrified like, “This motherfucker did it again.” You know, I just liked to kinda roll with my independence a lot and my mother was really overprotective of me.
Jyll: So, when Danny told his parents that he was married, his father insisted on meeting me. We went to Orologio — the restaurant that I took Danny to the first time we went out.
Danny: I didn’t have any money.
Jyll: He didn’t, he was broke as fuck. I was taking care of Danny, and I was fine with that for a while. But anyway, we go into Orologio. I’m hella nervous. His sister and his father are sittin’ down. I extend my hand out to his father. Do you know what this motherfucker said to me?
Jyll: “When he married you, he kissed his trust fund goodbye.”
Emma: Oh my God.
Jyll: And that’s the first word that came outta his bad mouth.
Danny: Yeah, it wasn’t good.
Jyll: And can I say this? Over the years, it’s always been like that. It’s just always been like that.
Emma: Okay. Alright. We’re getting to the end but what I am curious about is when the hell Danny ever got a job?
Danny: Jyll told me if I didn’t get a job, if I didn’t come home with some money, she was going to leave me.
Jyll: Oh, I was done.
Danny: Jyll had a good job at Florent. She would come home with case, we was counting money. It was great. I needed help.
Jyll: I went to my acting teacher and he was like, “If you spending all your money on your man, you need to annul your marriage.” I remember I came home, I was like, “Motherfucker, you better come home with some motherfucking money, or I’m out.” And Danny went and brought some money home. And we just kinda kept it moving from there.
Danny: Girl, you gotta tell her about the party.
Jyll: We did have an amazing reception in Harlem on February 14th. And everybody was kinda still like, “They ain’t gonna last.” “It’s not gonna work.” “Da da da da da.” It’s funny, ‘cause like, here we are. We have three daughters — an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old. So we’re here. We’re 22 years in the game.
Emma: Wow. Great story. Last thing: Can you talk about the white halo, Jyll?
Jyll: Girl, his aura was bright as fuck. Bright as fuck. And that’s the only thing it was. His aura was bright, I mean, and when I kind of sniffed around it, he received me immediately… and we’ve just grown from there.
Photos by Angela Datre.