Blaze Starr drums up interest in her dancing.
Actress, burlesque dancer, and famed consort Blaze Starr looks like a natural with this authentic animal hide djembe, and she'd surely be the center of the best drum circle of all time, but we suspect she rarely needed props to help her draw a crowd. She was one of the top performers of her era, taking her talents from the stage to cinema with the naturist paean Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, and later becoming infamous when her affair with a prominent U.S. governor became public. We talked about that episode a little here, if you don't already know her and are interested. We tried to date this photo made by James Kriegsmann but it was tricky. Online claims are often incorrect, and we've replicated such errors a few times by trusting them, so our method these days is to be evidentiary about it and try to find the shots on or inside magazines. Most sources, including the respected Getty Images, date the photo to 1960 or 1962, but we found it inside a January 1957 issue of Modern Man. The photo could have been made earlier, even several years earlier, but we're calling it 1956 and we feel pretty confident about it.
Burlesque sensation Blaze Starr takes the obvious next step in nudity related activities.
Blaze Starr was one of the most famous burlesque dancers of the mid-century era thanks to both her on- and off-stage activities. She began headlining in clubs during the early 1950s, soon earned the sobriquet “The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque,” and later became not just famous, but infamous, due to having embarked on a tempestuous affair with Louisiana’s impulsive governor Earl Long, who she was still seeing when he died of a heart attack in 1960. Above is a promo poster for Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, which premiered today in 1962, well after Starr had become a household name.
In the film, Blaze, who plays a mainstream actress rather than a stripper, decides she needs a break from her demanding career and busy public life. She decides to spend weekends at the Sunny Palms Lodge in Homestead, Florida in order to enjoy a little nude rest and recreation under the phony name Belle Fleming. Her sinister looking agent/fiancée is apoplectic about this, but he'd be really annoyed if he knew Starr and the camp administrator were making googly eyes at each other. Aside from flirting, Starr indulges in the usual nudist colony activities—sunbathing, archery, dozing in a hammock, tiptoeing around the communal pool, taking romantic walks in the mosquito infested woods, and listening to some schlub play an accordion.
Forget anything resembling acting ability here—everyone is atrocious, and Starr is worst of all. The blame may not be entirely hers, though. The movie was obviously made fast and cheap, and it was directed by Doris Wishman, who helmed such epics as Nude on the Moon and Bad Girls Go to Hell, and is considered by some to be one of the worst practitioners of her craft ever. But we all know the movie is simply meant to be eye candy. On that score it works. Considering the unflattering range of bodies possessed by normal humans, it's clear that most of the female nudists involved in this production are models, and probably some of the males too. Starr looks pretty good herself, even with her wonky boobs and ridiculous helmet of flaming red hair.
The movie is meant not only to display Starr, but to espouse and promote the nudist lifestyle—and really, considering that there's a little plug for Sunny Palms at the outset, it could actually be considered a long form advertisement for the colony. We bet the membership—so to speak—really expanded—so to speak. We can't say Blaze Starr Goes Nudist is a good movie, but it's totally harmless and infectiously fun. There can never be too much of those things in the world. You can see more of Starr at the bottom of this post, and you can see a fascinating piece of Starr memorabilia here (sent to us by a reader way back before our Reader Pulp uploader bit the dust).
Uncensored turns its unique journalistic eye toward Anita Ekberg.
There's nothing quite like tabloid writing, a fact once again amply demonstrated by Uncensored. This issue is from June 1963, and check out this short paragraph from its feature on Anita Ekberg: “This is the Uncensored story of how Prince Philip bagged a rare and exotic Scandinavian pouter pigeon. Though its native habitat is Sweden, this double-breasted dove prefers the warmer climate of Italy. It also migrates as far from home as London and Hollywood.”
Double-breasted dove? They don't write like that anymore, and a good thing too. It's sexist, of course, but the tabs were generally belittling of both females and males—though in different ways. Women were derided for dating around, such as when Uncensored refers to Ekberg as “Sexberg,” whereas men were usually disparaged for not being manly enough. That typically involved either being rebuffed by women, not scoring with enough women, or sexually preferring men. You see this in the story on Marcello Mastroianni, who's called “lazy” for passing on Brigitte Bardot. And you see it in the story on the United Nations, which is referred to as the “U.N. pansy patch.”
From the perspective of 2017, the heteronormative insecurity is pretty obvious. Men are to be prowling wolves, and any failure to live up to the ideal prompts insults; women are to be readily available for action, but not to other men. The story on Ekberg treads the line of admiring her beauty, but being suspicious about the freeness of her affections. There's a photo of her dancing with a black G.I. in Rome, and while the caption is neutral, in the context of the story the meaning of the shot is clear: “Ekberg will even dance with a black man!”
We love the photo. Ekberg looks a bit baffled, as if the soldier is telling her, “We'd be in mortal danger for doing this in most of the United States, you know,” and Ekberg is saying, “What the hell are you talking about?” The photo also shows how tall Ekberg was, almost 5' 7”, probably 5' 10” in heels, which is towering for an actress who needed to star alongside all those mid-sized leading men. We think this is the first time this image has appeared online.
Other elements worth noting in this issue include French actress and Pulp Intl. femme fatale Dominque Boschero as a mermaid, Marlene Dietrich looking dapper in a tux, Jayne Mansfield and one of her famed toy poodles, and burlesque queen Blaze Starr sudsy in a bathtub. There are plenty of other great shots too, and you can see them all below in nearly forty scans. Uncensored will return.
It's a hard job but they make it look easy.
What better way to complement the collection of paperback covers above than with photos of actual dancers doing what they do best—making their strenuous and often unglamorous work look easy and fun? We present assorted burlesque dancers, showgirls, and strippers from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both onstage and off, photographed in such hot spots as London, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, New Orleans, and of course New York City. Among the performers: La Savona, Lilly Christine, Lynne O'Neill, the gorgeous Misty Ayres, Patti Cross, Tina Marshall, Carol Doda, Nejla Ates, Barbara Köckritz (we know, we know) fully nude, Lili St. Cyr, Wildcat Frenchie, and more. If you like these, check out our previous set of dancers here.
Times may change but sex always sells.
Above is the front of a copy of Uncensored magazine that appeared today in 1965 with cover stars Jackie O., Blaze Starr, and—in a sign of changing times—the Beatles. Inside the magazine you get sin and skin in the form of East German sex camps, nudity in international cinema, exotic dancer Marlene MacLane, transgender entertainer Christine Jorgensen, and call girl Christine Keeler, who, Uncensored reminds readers yet again, had lovers with skin darker than hers. And according to journalist Bill Jeffree, so did thousands of other British women. What had the world come to? These old tabloids often contain photos that haven’t made it online yet, and from this one we’re happy to upload a cool shot of Keeler, a snap of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a toddler, and a rare vision of Elizabeth Taylor strolling a Mediterranean boardwalk in her bikini. We have about twenty scans below and more from Uncensored to come.
Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match.
I’ve had these matches for years. They come from probably 1950 and have Blaze Starr on the cover. I never actually saw her dance because I would have been -10 in 1950, but some years ago, and I can’t remember where or when, I came to own this matchbook and it got me interested in burlesque. Today I have numerous photos, programs, coasters and all sorts of memorabilia that I imagine must constitute one of the better collections around. I saw this exact matchbook go on Ebay for forty dollars a while back, so I scanned mine and was going to auction it, but then I changed my mind. After all, Blaze got me started on this hobby, so I probably shouldn’t just sell her. But I had a feeling you would like this, so these scans are yours now.
Submitted by R. O'Carroll
Thanks for sharing. This is exactly the type of item we would never be able to acquire here, and that’s one big reason we put together the reader pulp interface. Nice sub-head, by the way. Not sure we would have thought of that. So, we don’t want to create a dilemma for you, but we did a quick search and found an auction site here where your matchbook sold for $146.18. Does that change your feelings about Miss Starr at all?
Going out in a Blaze of glory.
This colorful January 1960 Hush-Hush features Gina Lollobrigida, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and others, but of special note is an exposé on burlesque queen Blaze Starr and Louisiana governor Earl Long. Sometime in the late 1950s the elderly Long got involved with the buxom young Starr, and it was a scandal for the ages. Starr had a routine in which she wriggled around on a sofa so sensually that it began smoldering (thanks to a hidden smoke machine). The routine had been a hit everywhere she worked, and by the time she appeared at New Orleans’ Sho-Bar she had it down to a science. Governor Long had wandered into the place with several friends and staffers, and when he saw the smoldering sofa routine he was smitten. He made his way backstage and asked Starr out to dinner. She responded by asking if she could trust him. His response: “Hell no.”
The two hit it off and, after a few false starts, embarked on an affair. Long was deliriously happy, but others were not, and they used the relationship as grounds to commit him to Southeast Louisiana Hospital—a mental institution. Long couldn’t get out of the bin on his own, but due to a loophole in the law retained his powers as Governor. For a time he ran Louisiana from his hospital room, and eventually devised an escape plan, which involved having the head of the state hospital system fired and replaced with someone who would pressure Long’s doctors to declare him mentally competent. Upon release, Long resumed his relationship with Starr and made plans to run for Congress in the fall. In August 1960 he won a Democratic primary, but just a month later died of a heart attack.
The relationship between Long and Starr has been much dissected since then, and some revisionists have denied that it was at all meaningful to Earl Long. Perhaps not, but it meant something to Blaze Starr. Years later she said in an interview with People magazine: “I still dream about stripping sometimes. When I do, Earl is in the audience watching me do my thing. Then I wake up and feel sad. I miss Earl and I miss being on that stage.” You can catch Blaze’s act here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
1919—United Artists Is Launched
Actors Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, along with director D.W. Griffith, launch United Artists. Each holds a twenty percent stake, with the remaining percentage held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo. The company struggles for years, with Griffith soon dropping out, but eventually more partners are brought in and UA becomes a Hollywood powerhouse.
1958—U.S. Loses H-Bomb
A 7,600 pound nuclear weapon that comes to be known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, near Tybee Island. The bomb was jettisoned to save the aircrew during a practice exercise after the B-47 bomber carrying it collided in midair with an F-86 fighter plane. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost, and remains so today.
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