Sunday, August 30, 2009

Carol and Blaze Talk Shop

by Ambrose Blake (Tom Emch)  

Another workday.  Go to the office.  Go to the Hilton to interview Blaze Starr (38-25-37) and Carol Doda (44-24-35), both tightly sweatered and sitting in Henri's Room at the Top talking shop.  Shop, in this case, being the fine points of taking off clothes in public and some of the problems of being heavily endowed.  Or, some say, upholstered.

"You have to be careful about leaning forward," says Carol.  "One time I went bowling, threw the ball and followed it right down the alley."

Blaze, some of whose gowns are covered with mirrors and weight as much as twenty pounds, says:  "Sometimes if you tilt the wrong way, you go right over."

The meeting of the two strippers, one a municipal landmark on Baltimore's famed "Block" and the other an attraction no less spectacular than one of the Bay's bridges, could have become the Battle of the Mammaries.  But as it turned out it was just two sweet girls gabbing about show biz.

How about the measurements, Carol?

"About 42 up here," she says, "depending on the weather."

And what does the weather have to do with it?

"The silicone expands when it gets hot," she reveals, "and it shrinks when it gets cold.  If it is real cold I don't even work.  That's why I can never play Alaska."

Some years back, Carol got a little bust alteration treatment that transformed her from a perfectly normal "B" cup brassiere size to a fantastic configuration.  Silicone, known for its physiochemical inertness, is usually used in adhesives, lubricants, electrical insulation and synthetic rubber.

Blaze, on the other hand, gets by with her original equipment, which is in fine repair.

Blaze is asked how she handles drunks who want to get up on the stage and touch the merchandise.

"I say to him.  'Okay, come up here and stretch out on the couch and I'll rape you.'  That stops 'em every time."

Carol has had the same problem, but handles it differently.  She says:  "I tell him if he doesn't behave I'll hit him with one of these and knock him out."

Blaze then launched into a personal story that was harrowing to hear and gained her immediate sympathy:

"It was in Baltimore," she began.  "I was doing my act for a  private bachelor party and I have this routine where I place a rose between my bust and then point to someone in the audience and invite him to come up on stage and I ask him:

'How would you like to go flower pickin' in the hills?"

"Well," she continued, "this guy comes up and instead of getting the rose, he sunk his teeth right into my boobie and wouldn't let go.

"It hurt and I started pulling his hair and beating him on the head, but he held on, like a bulldog, until one of my assistants unlocked him and got him off."

She added that her boobie (strippers have various names for their breasts) became black and blue and swelled up and hurt like hell.  But, thank goodness, it healed up.

Carol said her worst experience was a few years ago when a San Francisco police sergeant climbed up on the stage at the Condor and insisted he was going to take her to the station as is.

"But I don't have any clothes on," Carol recalls saying,  "It's indecent."  Whereupon, she ran from the stage to her dressing room and slipped on a few things for the ride downtown.

Curiously, the two strippers have different attitudes about streaking.  After being assured there would be plenty of photographers on the scene, Carol once streaked the Marina Green in the altogether.

Blaze, however, says she was once urged to streak Pimlico Race Track on a horse, but refused.  "He was a long shot," she recalls, "and he had his blinkers off."

Both Blaze and Carol have been around the circuit for awhile.  Blaze, born in Mingo County, West Virginia during the Depression, began stripping in Washington, D.C. in 1950.

She was working a night club with a guitar act and followed on stage another guitar act, a cowboy.  One night the promoter discovered that Blaze was getting laughs each time she tried to get the guitar strap over her head and chest.

The promoter said:  "You ought to be a stripper."

That started it.  Once she learned the basic bumps and grinds, she no longer needed the guitar.  She found she loved stripping on the old burlesque circuit and developed her act into an art form that is beautiful to behold - even today.

By the late fifties she was famous on the East Coast.  In 1963, she became a fixture of Baltimore's "Block" and eventually bought the Two O'Clock Club, where she held forth for six years.

The rewards of this toil?

Today she owns two four-story buildings on East Baltimore Street, a $150,000 home with a pool in suburban Pikesville and has investments.

Her recent one-week stand at the Palace Theater on Turk Street earned her $4,000 and she says she doesn't work much anymore.  Maybe one week a month or every two months "to pick up pocket change."

How about the rise of pornography?

"About seven years ago the porno flicks won their court case and suddenly they were everywhere.  But when you've seen one of them, you've seen them all.

"Now, people are tired of them and they want to see the flesh again," says Blaze defiantly.

Carol agrees.  "That's what they come for.  It's couples and even families.  The audiences have changed since the go-go dancers of ten years ago."

Carol, a veteran of the North Beach scene and a television personality in San Jose, has plans for a "Nevada-type" show that she would like to take to Reno and Vegas.  She has in mind a full night club routine with a number of performers and top flight comedians and musicians.

"But I would always come back to work San Francisco," she says.  "I feel a responsibility toward the community.  We get tourists who come out here from the Midwest and want to see two things:  the Golden Gate Bridge and Carol Doda."

Their acts differ, but are basically comedy by highly professional performers.  Carol says, "I've had to get into production numbers.  You can't maintain audience interest unless you give them the jokes and one-liners.  After I take off my clothes I can't just stand their and say: 'Hello, there'."

Blaze concentrates more on the old fashioned strip routine.  She uses her own original music to strip by and has written two sons - Thirty-eight Double-D (her bust size) and West Virginia Sink Hole.

She remains a West Virginia country girl at heart, and people around Baltimore will tell you it's a big heart.  She's active in a number of charities and does non-profit performances when asked.  She (unreadable) and like many true stars, she's a  plain, honest person underneath a professional patina.

Her book, Blaze Star; My Life, has been sold to Hollywood and casting for the film will begin soon and though she is not really wealthy, she doesn't have to worry about money.

"Burlesque has been good to me," she says.

Carol Doda says the skin trade agrees with her, too.  Both claim that all they do when they strip "is what every other girl in the world would like to do - if they had the nerve."

San Francisco Examiner/Chronicle    August 1975