"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, October 29, 2021

Blaze O’Glory–How A New Orleans Courtesan Spiced Up The Progressive Wing Of The Democratic Party

Blaze O’Glory (birth name Ellen Ann Frampton) was born in Baton Rouge, but when she was ten the family moved to a small town on Bayou Lafourche where her father had bought and kept a shrimp boat.  Their lives were satisfactory but uneasy, dependent on the weather, the catch, and the upkeep of Damsel Eye, the 25 year old scow that her father transformed into a reasonable facsimile of a shrimper.  School was a problem.  There really was nothing suitable on the bayou, and the girl was getting restless and impatient with her life on the water. 

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It was New Orleans that had captured her attention since she was first taken to Mardi Gras.  The floats, the costumes, the nakedness, the outrageous sensuality of it all left an indelible impression on her.  From that first moment on Bourbon Street she wanted to be half naked in sparkles and glitter, with a gold tiara on her head, high heel shoes, and a grand, smiling mask.

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She was accepted to the Church of the Little Flower school for girls in New Orleans, a small, unpretentious, inexpensive but serious school run by the Carmelite nuns who took in children they thought either needed spiritual counsel and support or who were already novitiates in spirit and would go on to serve the Lord.

Sister Marie Joseph was particularly taken with Ellen Ann on her first visit, prettily dressed, demure but with a sparkle and a certain enthusiasm.  Most of the girls applying for admission to the school were rather dour and uninteresting, pious enough, but not quite fitting the profile Mother Superior had in mind for her students.  Ellen Ann on the other hand, was exactly what she was looking for.  She would lend a certain young feminine exuberance to the school which Mother Superior surprisingly never tampered with in her girls.  It was what God intended when He created them.

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Mother Superior was only concerned about Ellen Ann’s sexual precocity.  She had matured early and was at eleven beginning to look like a young woman – budding breasts, a full female figure, soft full lips, and a certain enticing walk.  Sister wondered where these very young girls acquired such an early allure.  They certainly were not taught it, at least not in the case of Ellen Ann whose mother was a simple ranch woman from East Texas, dutiful, homebound, and responsible.  There was something innate in these girls – she immediately thought of Lolita, a book discouraged by the Archbishop but never forbidden.  Ellen Ann did indeed remind one of Lo Hayes in body and spirit, something indefinable and, the good nun thought, dangerous.

Image result for images sue lyon in lolita

It wasn’t long before Ellen Ann was loitering around the Little Flower boys’ school, standing seductively by the fence at recess surrounded by older boys who pressed close to her and held her hand.  She was as drawn to them as they were to her, and Sister had to intervene carefully.  She knew from past experience that too much discipline too early especially in the area of sex and sexuality could turn these girls away from her and the church; but Ellen Ann had to be warned about the occasion of sin that Father Oudinot always spoke about from the pulpit.

Ellen Ann took the lead in all the school plays.  Just as she was sexually precocious, she was born for the stage.  She was confident, assured, and convincing.  She could become the character she was playing and the audience easily and quickly suspended their disbelief and Ellen Ann became her.

By the time she was in high school, she had little patience with school productions and tried out for parts in local community theatre.  She auditioned for roles which matched her emerging sexuality and sexual promise.  The theatre was the perfect way for her to express her sexual maturity while preserving her propriety and good behavior.

At the same time these amateur productions were far too staid and predictable for her.  She wanted to exhibit herself, not simply suggest femininity in very tepid, ordinary ways; so when she was eighteen she joined one of the more famous Mardi Gras krewes and because of her lithesome beauty and natural burlesque theatricality, she was featured.  She loved the attention, the kisses thrown from the crowd, and the advances of the male members of the krewe.  She had found herself and her career.

There was nothing in her background, lineage, or upbringing that limited her possibilities.  Bayou Lafourche and the French Quarter were far from Puritan New England or the proper Midwest; and the Broadway stage and the great actresses of the London stage were unknown or irrelevant.  She tried out for and was successful at burlesque, and joined a New Orleans-based touring company which the Church had singled out for its sexual impropriety and overtly salacious performances, but to Ellen Ann, who took the name of Blaze O’Glory, it was just right.  While some suggested that she was wasting her talent on burlesque, when with a little hard work and dedication, she could become a ‘real’ actress.

Image result for images burlesque queens on stage

Nothing doing, said Blaze.  I am who I am; and she became one of the most famous runway stars in the nation.  She was the Sister Carrie of New Orleans and beyond – gifted, ambitious, and very determined.

Washington, DC is not known for burlesque; and although in the late 19th century it had been a popular medium just as it was in New York and Chicago, it had soon fallen out of favor. Propriety, never a long suit of politicians, became the ethos of an increasingly bureaucratic city, and burlesque disappeared.  

Congressmen, however, not drawn from the most sophisticated elites of the country, were more attracted to Blaze’s glitter, décolleté, sparkle, and leggy suggestiveness than to a Jackie Kennedy tailored modesty. They were, to put it crudely, horny men, frustrated at the enforced propriety of the censorious age, and anxious for some excitement.  One had to be careful – the Governor of New York had gotten caught with his pants down at the Mayflower with a high priced hooker – but there were ways, like laundering money, to keep adventure out of the news.

Surprisingly, the men who first and consistently bought Blaze O’Glory’s services were progressives, men who had been arm-in-arm with women at the barricades protesting male sexual hegemony, patriarchy, and abuse; who were behind every piece of legislation aimed at dismantling male privilege, and were tireless supporters of reconfiguring civil justice to serve women in their legal battles against predatory males.  These lawmakers conformed to the feminist ideal of ‘good’ men, as far as that went, and were models of good, respectful behavior.

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Of course these men who had come from the hollers, backwoods, mountain passes, prairies, and bayous of America were rubes at heart, and once they got a glimpse of the lights of the big city wanted nothing but hot pussy; so, they like all politicians were convinced they could have things their own way and would never be censured by an adoring voting public.  They were feminist by day and rutting cowboy by night.

Blaze made millions servicing these ‘two-siders’.  Her agent had been hired for his access to the powerful, for his quick legal intimidation, and for his ability to conceal traces, threads, and mites of indiscretion.  He was fabulously paid and a happy man, welcomed in Democratic circles.

Blaze would have had no success in Washington under the Trump presidency.  He was a vaudevillian, a burlesque comedian, a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and New York.  He had the likes of Blaze O’Glory as arm candy at every opening, at every soiree, at every turn.   He was a man who championed the bourgeois ethic, who no sooner wanted Robert Frost and Pablo Casals at his White House than the man in the moon.  Trump was all glitz and glamour, show, and outrageous fun.  Some went after him for his 'misogyny', but the charges never stuck, so popular was he and his sexual image.  For four delightful years the country was free from political sanctimony.

Image result for images trump with miss connecticut

The prudish, censorious, fun-dampening era of Joe Biden was another story.  Although progressive politicians claimed righteousness and solidarity with women, they secretly wondered, ‘Why can’t we have what he had?’, referring to Donald Trump and his beauty queens; and so the quite unsuspected and very felicitous arrival of Blaze O’Glory on the Washington scene was a godsend.  

If they played their cards right, these progressive politicians could have their cake and eat it too.  Blaze’s calendar was filled months ahead and her prices rose accordingly.  The politicians, wealthy men (oil, corn, soybeans, trucking, logging) before taking office were even more fabulously so after assuming power.  There was no shame in such ambition nor anything unseemly in the annals of the Capital about using power for wealth.  It was par for the course, de rigeur, and as it should be.

So these happy progressives paid and paid more, never balked at what had become Blaze’s Park Avenue ladies-of-the-night, Belle de Jour tariffs, and continued to line up for the Cajun Cat of Bayou Lafourche.

Of course these randy Congressmen eventually were caught in flagrante delicto, naked as jaybirds at the Mayflower and the Willard not with Blaze but one of her beautiful, ambitious tutees, recruited in these high-demand times, and willing to take their chances, particularly with Ames Bernstein as their agent/ lawyer.   

Blaze herself had kept above the law, meeting only the highest paying Congressmen far from K Street and out of sight of any prying media; and after the four heady years of the Biden Administration and just before Donald Trump once again took office, she retired back to Louisiana, address unknown.

Hers had been a charmed, delightful, and perfect life, one led in the limelight but out of the spotlight.  She had no qualms about her profession.  On the contrary, she was proud of her talents and her success; and not for one minute did she have shameful or regretful thoughts.

Washington and the world needs more Blaze O’Glorys; and perhaps after the stifling, sanctimonious, prudish, and frustrated Biden years more women like her will come East.  One can only hope.

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