|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
|Born||Fannie Belle Fleming
January 1, 1932
Along Twelvepole Creek, West Virginia
|Occupation||Stripper, American burlesque star, nude model, actress, gemologist|
|Years active||1950-1983, as stripper
1956-1989(in several mostly cameo appearances) as actress
1989-present (as gemologist)
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Weight||125 lb (57 kg)|
|Measurements||38DD-24-37 (at 57)|
Blaze Starr (born Fannie Belle Fleming, January 1, 1932) is an American former stripper and American burlesque star. Her vivacious presence and inventive use of stage props earned her the nickname "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque". She was also known for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl Long. The 1989 film Blaze was based on her memoir.
Starr was born in rural West Virginia, along Twelvepole Creek, one of 11 children to Lora Evans and Goodlow Mullins (later changed to Fleming). Raised in Newground Hollow, she left home at age 15 in 1947, or at age 14, and moved to Washington D.C. where Red Snyder discovered her working in a doughnut shop, according to her autobiography. She recalled,
I was 15 and working as a waitress at the Mayflower Donut Shop in Washington, D.C., when a man named Red Snyder told me I was pretty and ought to be in show business. I said I had been raised to believe it was sinful to dance, but I could play the guitar. "Good," he said. "I'm going to make you a star." Red said he wanted me to dress up as a cowgirl, play the guitar a little and then strip. I had never heard of striptease before. But Red sweet-talked me and said the girls who did all had to be really beautiful. When you have never even shown your belly button, the thought of stripping is scary. So when I went onstage for the first time in my red-and-white cowgirl outfit, I used my hat to cover myself. After the show I threw up. It wasn't that I thought there was anything wrong with stripping. I was just overwhelmed by the emotion of getting into show business.
Starr moved to Baltimore, Maryland where she began performing at the Two O'Clock Club nightclub in 1950, eventually becoming its headliner. 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 began to travel and perform in clubs throughout the country.
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.
Her trademark routine was "the exploding couch". As she described in 1989, "I had finally got my gimmick, a comedy thing where I'm supposed to be getting so worked up that I stretch out on the couch, and — when I push a secret button — smoke starts coming out from like between my legs. Then a fan and a floodlight come on, and you see all these red silk streamers blowing, shaped just like flames, so it looked like the couch had just burst into fire."
Relationship with Earl Long
In the late 1950s, while working at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, Starr began a long-term affair with then-governor Earl 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. In his will, Long left her $50,000, which she refused to accept.
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 1962 film Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, a nudie-sexploitation film, features Starr's one lead movie role. As the title suggests, she plays herself. The film is also known as Blaze Starr Goes Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Wild, Blaze Starr the Original, and Busting Out.
Diane Arbus photographed Starr in 1964. The photo "Blaze Starr at home" was included in the book and traveling exhibit Diane Arbus: Family Albums.
The 1989 movie Blaze recounts the story of their relationship. It was directed by Ron Shelton, adapted by him from Starr's 1974 memoir 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 role.
Starr eventually bought the Two O'Clock Club on The Block in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of her costumes and other memorabilia have been displayed at the Museum of Sex in New York City and the Burlesque Hall of Fame. In the early 1980s, Starr made an appearance at the Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, California. Semi-retired since 1975, she finally retired from stripping for good in 1983, to become a full-time gemologist. She had dabbled in that occupation part-time since 1975, and spent several holiday seasons selling hand-crafted jewelry at the Carrolltowne Mall in Eldersburg, Maryland, near Baltimore. Starr at some point conducted jewelry sales with a brother from her website. Starr is also the cousin of onetime country/western music singer Molly O'Day.[unreliable source?]
- Lovece, Frank (December 13, 1989). "Starr Power: The Life and Times of a Striptease Queen". Los Angeles Times via author's official site. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Sellinger, Margie Bonnett (December 18, 1989). "Stripper Blaze Starr Recalls Her Affair with the Governor". People 32 (25). Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Rasmussen, Frederick N. (May 15, 2010). "Blaze Starr recalls burlesque era in new film". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on June 26, 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Starr, Blaze (1974). Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry. New York: Praeger. p. page #???. ISBN 978-0-275-19920-3.
- Blaze Starr html at Sonny Watson's Streetswing website