In Memoriam: Blaze Starr

Dear Constant Reader,

The world has lost a burlesque legend. Blaze Starr, famed for her flaming couch, black panther, affair with the governor of Louisiana, and unrepentant attitude, died last week. You can read her obituary in the New York Times, if you like.

I’m not going to recap her fascinating life story here, for that you should read Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry, which I reviewed here some years ago.

At that time The Boston Babydolls were creating Madame Burlesque: An Evening of Tributes, a show inspired by the stars of burlesque’s Golden Age. For the most part, we weren’t doing tributes as most burlesquers use the term, meaning a re-creation of a legend’s signature act, but new acts that were inspired by those legendary performers.

Betty Blaize was creating a Blaze Starr-inspired act for one of her numbers and Scratch wanted permission before bringing it to the stage. Miss Starr generously granted it, via email, requesting that the act be “in good taste”. Betty performed a slinky, sultry striptease climaxing with the famed flames.

I was told that when Blaze’s couch burst into flames, sometimes she would holler “barbecue tonight, boys!”. Every time Betty’s flames ignited, she really, really wanted to follow suit, but it would have wrecked the mood she was creating and therfore violated the good taste request.

We’re really honored that we were allowed to present a piece in Miss Starr’s name and with her blessing.

Recently Scratch acquired this fabulous piece of Blaze Starr memorabilia:

It means a lot to us because of the Boston connection. The Pilgrim Theater was in the Combat Zone, where burlesque fled after the redevelopment of Scollay Square, and was probably the last true burlesque house in Boston. A number of big names performed there in the mid 1970’s and I suspect this handbill was from 1974.

Bold, brash, larger than life, and a good businesswoman, Blaze Starr made a huge impact on the world of burlesque (and politics!). She will not be forgotten.


Published in: on 22 June 2015 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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