Iconic Burlesque Performer Blaze Starr Has Died at 83

Illustration for article titled Iconic Burlesque Performer Blaze Starr Has Died at 83

“The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque,” Fannie Belle Fleming, d/b/a burlesque performer Blaze Starr, has passed away, reports AP Online. She was 83.


Starr was known for a few things, aside from her performances: an alleged affair with former Louisiana governor Earl K. Long; her influence on the culture of the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans; and, interestingly, her influence on filmmaker John Waters, who said he used to watch her shows as a teenager.

“She would lie on this bench and papier-mache flames would shoot up between her legs. Other boys my age were at football games and the Orioles and the Colts, but I was thinking about Blaze Starr, and not in an erotic way, either,” Waters told The Associated Press on Monday. “Just from a showbiz point of view, I respected her deeply.”

He said she was “never tawdry” and was able to build a diverse fan base.

“She had a sense of humor, and she turned what was once thought of as a negative career, being a stripper, into a class act in a weird way,” Waters said. “No one looked down on Blaze Starr.”


I uncovered vintage footage of one of Starr’s performances from the 50s—according to AP Online’s report, she was also involved in comedy later in her career—which you can watch below.

Image via Getty

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Serious question: why is burlesque not a thing anymore? I get that some big cities have small communities still, and that it was never really mainstream or anything... But it seems to have really died off.