Blaze Starrs In Politics Stripper Goes A Long Way From White House To Governor

Posted: December 21, 1989

NEW YORK — In 1962, Blaze Starr was all set to have sex with John F. Kennedy in the White House when the Cold War intervened.

"I never got to be intimate with him in the actual White House . . . My one big chance for the Lincoln Room, and I didn't get it," sighs Starr, formerly a stripper of some note, now retired. "The Cuban Missile Crisis happened right then and there."

Dang that Khrushchev. And after Blaze went to all that trouble - taking off her makeup, putting on that plain suit, stuffing her pasties into a briefcase.

"I took everything with me, 'cause he liked his girls to look like showgirls," said Starr, who, at 57, retains the hillbilly twang of her West Virginia upbringing.

"They took me home and I never saw him again," said Starr, without a trace of regret.

That was her last encounter with JFK, she said, but not her only encounter.

Starr, at New York's U.N. Plaza Hotel recently to help publicize the movie ''Blaze," said she'd had a few go-rounds with Kennedy when he was just a lowly congressman from Massachusetts.

"I knew JFK back in '54, before he was anybody. He used to come out to the

Crossroads (a strip joint) in Maryland all the time."

As Blaze prepared to describe life at the Crossroads, she was cut off. Female journalists at the interview table seemed immodestly curious - obsessed, really - about JFK's sexual form.

The question "How was he?" is asked bluntly, urgently and repeatedly.

"Very quick," Starr said, "and very wild."

After a pause, she added that JFK was also "very good," but that clearly was not her primary recollection of the late president's sack-worthiness.

"He knew exactly what he was doin' with girls, so it didn't take him long," Starr said. "No, that bad back didn't faze him."

Not that it's anybody's business, mind you. Starr said she was prepared to let the whole thing die, but rumors of their liaisons surfaced several years ago in a Liz Smith column.

"Nobody talked about those things back then, not in public. The newsmen took care of things. They were proud to know (Kennedy) and to be in on his secrets," she said.

Times have changed, Starr said, for the worse. She believes the public life of a great man is trivialized by public discussions of his sex life. That is also one of the themes in "Blaze," the movie that details Starr's notorious affair with Louisiana governor Earl K. Long in 1959 and 1960.

The movie, in which Lolita Davidovich plays Starr, is really about Earl K. Long, played by Paul Newman, but "Blaze" seemed to the people at Touchstone Pictures to be somewhat more marketable.

"Who would go see a move called 'Earl'?" Starr asked rhetorically.

Starr's life has enough material for a dozen movies. At 14, she left her poor family in Twelve Pool Creek, W.Va., to strike out on her own. She worked the counter of doughnut shop in a nearby town, where she was spotted by show biz manager - show being the operative word.

He soon talked Starr into the business of showing. She first stripped at age 15. She was shy at first, but she couldn't help noticing how appreciative, and how generous, people were.

"Everybody applauded, and I remember thinking, 'Boy, that's something!' "

Her cut was $50 a night. That beat $30 a week at the doughnut shop.

Starr became the top attraction in her home base of Baltimore. As her fame spread, she made a few trips north to New York, and to Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, Starr remembers having a few run-ins with a swaggering cop named Frank Rizzo, then on a crusade to bust strip joints that transcended the bounds of good taste.

"I was wearing a two-piece bathing suit, but they said I was making lewd gyrations toward the audience."

So she was locked up, an experience she does not remember fondly.

"It was a long time ago, and a lot of people got hurt."

As for her relationship with Rizzo, well, Starr's not talking.

"I'm supposed to not talk about it. There's some kind of silent agreement."

If only JFK would have thought of that.

In any case, neither man meant nearly as much to her as Long, the fiery politician whom she met on a winter swing down south to New Orleans 30 years ago. At the time, she'd just broken up with her first husband.

"I was very sad, and not looking to meet anybody, when I met Earl Long. He told me the only way to get over a man is with another man. He said that he'd suffered a broken marriage, and that it's time he got on with his life. He said, 'How 'bout you?' and I said, 'Let's go for it.' "

The rest is Louisiana history. The resulting scandal helped force Long from office. He died making a subsequent run for Congress. Starr, forgoing money promised her in Long's will out of respect for his family, kept only Long's prized, stuffed bobcat.

"He always told me that if anything ever happened to him, to hang on to that bobcat."

She never knew why, exactly, until she knocked it over several years later, and it cracked open, revealing a cache of uncut emeralds and other precious stones.

"I'm been selling 'em off a little at a time, and it's kept me goin' to this day," she said.

The stones also have helped her get started on her second career - stone cutting. Starr now runs a small jewel-cutting store in Maryland. She uses the money, along with what she made stripping and selling her autobiography, to support herself and her family.

"I guess I'd like people to know that I am a person who was very lucky, and that I shared it with those I loved," said Starr, who paused to repeat that sentence in her mind, then burst out laughing. "As a matter of fact, I always did share it with those I loved."

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