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The Hottest Blaze in Town:

The Life of Fannie Belle Fleming

The Gallery at CCBC Catonsville

April 22 - June 15, 2024

Reception: May 2, 4-8pm

Curator: Cathy Till

This exhibition delves into Blaze Starr's journey from her humble beginnings in West Virginia to her reign as the "Queen of Baltimore Burlesque."  The exhibit highlights facets of her career not often explored- as an emancipated woman, one with considerable business acumen. On display are objects from her life - from dresses and performance programs to her personally designed chaise lounge that she used in her act.

Curator Cathy Till was interviewed by Baltimore Magazine. You can read the article by clicking here

Current Gallery Hours

Monday: 11 am - 1 pm & 5pm - 8pm

Tuesday: 11 am - 3 pm

Wednesday: 10 am - 1 pm & 5pm - 8pm

Thursday: 12 pm - 5 pm

Friday: 2 pm - 5 pm

Saturday: closed

Sunday: closed

Starting May 13th

Monday- Friday: 5pm - 8 pm

Saturday - Sunday: closed

The Hottest Blaze in Town showcard image for the exhibition at The Galleries at CCBC Catonsville. Design by Emilyann Craighead, this image shows Blaze Starr sitting on the ground in a bra and panties holding onto the B in Blaze. Surrounding the frame are newsarticles on her life


If you, like me, grew up in Baltimore in the mid-twentieth century, you knew about The Block and Blaze Starr.

I remember the area in downtown Baltimore was electrifying! In its heyday, The Block was four blocks long, and the stretch of strip clubs, sex shops, and other adult entertainment venues was often described as bawdy, exotic, with a hint of danger. Blaze Starr epitomized that image. She was beautiful, sexy, and hot — and smart. She transcended connotations and societal expectations of what women who worked in venues like those on The Block were supposed to be.

I am honored and pleased to showcase the life of the legendary Blaze Starr, who grew up in West Virginia as Fannie Belle Fleming.

She achieved fame and notoriety and is considered by many as one of the top ten burlesque dancers. Despite working in an industry notoriously exploitative of women, and dominated by men, in 1968 she bought the Two O’Clock Club, where she performed. She went on to lead parades, appear in car commercials, and was a highly visible supporter of veterans and the Boy Scouts.

For this exhibit, I want visitors to see Blaze Starr as a fully dimensional human being—not just as a stripper, or her notorious public liaisons but as a business owner, artisan, comedian, author, actress, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and humanitarian. I want people to walk away from The Hottest Blaze in Town having seen, discovered, or rediscovered, something new about Baltimore, The Block, Starr, or burlesque. And to have fun!

Cathy Till, curator

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