Blaze Starr

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Blaze Starr (born 1932) was an American stripper and burlesque star. Her vivacious presence and inventive use of stage props earned her the nicknames "Miss Spontaneous Combustion" and "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque". She was also notorious for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl "Huey" Long.

Early years

She was born Fannie Belle Fleming in 1932 in rural Wilsondale, West Virginia. Fleming left home and moved to Washington D.C.when she was sixteen, where Red Snyder discovered her either working in a doughnut shop (according to her autobiography) or as a hat-check girl (according to other sources).

Red Snyder became Fleming's first manager, encouraged her to start stripping, and gave her the stage name Blaze Starr. After he attempted to rape her, however, Starr left Snyder.

Starr moved to Baltimore, Maryland, eventually becoming a headliner at the Two O'Clock Club nightclub. Starr rose to national renown after she was profiled in a February 1954 Esquire Magazine article, "B-Belles of Burlesque: You Get Strip Tease With Your Beer in Baltimore." The Two O'Clock Club remained her home base, but she started to travel and perform in clubs throughout the country.


Onstage presence

Starr's striking red hair, voluptuous figure and on-stage enthusiasm were a large part of her appeal. The theatrical flourishes and unique gimmicks she used in her stage show went beyond established burlesque routines like the fan dance and balloon dance.

For example, Starr trained a panther to remove her clothes onstage. After it died unexpectedly, she decided to imitate a panther onstage instead, snarling at her audience while writhing on all fours. This performance, which she made a regular part of her act, eventually got her arrested for obscenity in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Perhaps her most famous prop was a couch that she rigged to smolder and then appear to burst into flames as she sat on it and undressed.

Relationship with Earl Long

The movie Blaze featuring Blaze Starr, played by Lolita Davidovich, and her relationship with Louisiana Governor Earl "Huey" Long, played by Paul Newman

In the late 1950s, while working in at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, Starr began a long-term affair with then-governor Earl "Huey" Long. Starr was in the process of divorcing her husband, club owner Carroll Glorioso, and Long was married to the state's first lady, known colloquially as Miz Blanche. Starr and Long's relationship, invoked as one reason for Long being involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, lasted until his death in 1960. Long left her $50,000 in his will, which she refused to accept.

The 1989 movie Blaze recounts the story of their relationship. It was directed by Ron Shelton, adapted by him from Starr's 1974 memoirs Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry. Lolita Davidovich portrays Starr in the movie, and Paul Newman plays Long. Starr herself appears in a cameo.

Starr on film

Two of Starr's performances, including the combustible sofa, are among the burlesque routines featured in the 1956 compilation film Buxom Beautease, produced and directed by Irving Klaw.

Director Doris Wishman's 1960 film Blaze Starr Goes Wild, a nudie-sexploitation film, features Starr's one lead movie role. As the title suggests, she plays herself. The film is also known as Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, Blaze Starr the Original, Busting Out and Nature Girl.

Diane Arbus photographed]] Starr in 1964. The photo "Blaze Starr at home" was included in the book and traveling exhibit Diane Arbus: Family Albums.

Hurricane Agnes

Blaze Starr's house along the Gwynn's Falls river in the Villanova, neighborhood of Baltimore County, Maryland was flooded but not destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

Retirement

Starr eventually bought the Two O'Clock Club, which she still owns and manages. Some of her costumes and other memorabilia have been displayed at the Museum of Sex in New York City and the Exotic World Burlesque Museum in Helendale, California. In the early 1980's, Blaze Starr made an appearance at the Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco. She retired from stripping in 1983, per a Los Angeles Times interview she gave when her movie autobiography came out in 1989, and became a gemologist who spent several holiday seasons selling hand-crafted jewelry at the Carrolltowne Mall in Eldersburg, Maryland near Baltimore.

Reference

  • Starr, Blaze and Perry, Huey. BLAZE STARR: My Life. New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc. 1974.

External links


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