PLANET PHOENIX

Martha Spears has made what she says is an irrevocable decision about Governor J. Fife Symington III.

"The man's a jerk," Martha says. "Fife is a classless bum. He's a jerk. He can't hold a candle to Rose Mofford, his predecessor."
Martha's indignation toward the governor stems from her efforts to attend this past Sunday's opening of Planet Hollywood, the flashy new nightspot at 24th Street and Camelback.

Martha, who gives her age as approximately 39, is a 12-year resident of Scottsdale and a constant world traveler. She says she has carved out a life as "a personal friend to the stars."

In order for this career to flourish, Martha feels she must continually appear in places where she can meet and become acquainted with celebrities. So for Martha, the opening of Planet Hollywood, with its star-studded guest list that included Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Johnson, Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Roseanne Arnold, Tom Arnold and Jean-Claude Van Damme, was perfect.

Here is how Martha's career track and the political aspirations of Governor Symington collided. Let Martha tell the story:

"I wrote an official letter to Symington's office, directing it to Kim Phelps, his secretary, telling her I would like to act as an ambassador of good will for Arizona at the Planet Hollywood opening. I knew what a hot ticket this was going to be and how hard it would be to gain admission.

"I requested that the Governor's Office send me a certificate of congratulations to Stallone so that I could present it to him personally during the opening-night affair.

"At first, this was fine with the Governor's Office. Very quickly, I received the certificate congratulating Stallone and the owners of Planet Hollywood in the mail. It identified me as the state's representative. Symington's office even thanked me for my interest."
Martha did not see anything unusual about her arrangement as ambassador to Planet Hollywood. During Governor Mofford's tenure, Martha had delivered similar framed certificates to England's Queen Mother in London and to Julio Iglesias, the internationally famed singer, in Barcelona, Spain.

Martha continues: "I went out and got the Planet Hollywood greeting framed at considerable expense to myself."

She made not one, but two appointments with her favorite local hairdresser, Joseph, at the Scottsdale Plaza resort.

"Having my hair done motivates me," Martha says. "I always have it done on two consecutive days, just in case something goes wrong on the first try."
She even went out and bought a $750 black dress with sequins to wear for the night. "I had seen Princess Di wear one just like it," Martha says. "It was stunning."

Up until this point, Symington wasn't scheduled to attend the gala. But when word reached Symington that the Democratic candidate for governor, Paul Johnson, would be at the Planet Hollywood opening, the picture changed. Symington quickly decided he must also be on hand. The last thing the embattled governor wanted was to pick up his copy of the Monday-morning Arizona Republic and find a big, color photograph of Paul Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone embracing one another.

Martha Spears was suddenly in the way. She must be cast aside. Quickly.
The next thing that happened was that Martha heard from Carole Henderson, a personal secretary to Symington.

Martha says: "They wanted to know who I thought I was that I could represent Arizona or the Governor's Office. I told them I have every right to do it because I'm a citizen of the state.

"I was humiliated," Martha says. "I wanted to speak to the governor. They told me he had no time for someone like me." Martha is not your average celebrity-seeker. She first met Elvis Presley when she was 8 years old. She has, over the years, become friends with countless big names. Among them are Frank Sinatra, Cher, Robert Mitchum, Michael Crawford of The Phantom of the Opera, Elizabeth Taylor and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

But her favorite celebrity is Julio Iglesias, the international singing star. Martha has attended 650 of his concerts all over the world. She is preparing to be on hand when he next performs in Caesars Palace in May. "My house is filled with portraits of Julio and Elvis," she says. "Once a reporter tried to put me on the spot by asking which was my real favorite. I told them Elvis was the greatest American singer but that Julio was the best internationally. I think I dodged that nicely, don't you?"

Martha's addiction to the stars, she says, stems from the fact that she suffers from a condition known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Her constant pursuit of the famous keeps her too busy to dwell upon her own medical problems. "I particularly love musicians," Martha says, "because music gives you energy and keeps you from being depressed."

Martha warns anyone who might want to follow in her footsteps that being a friend to celebrities is not easy.

"I have earned my friendship with them," she says. "I do lots of volunteer work for them. There's much you have to do before a star will realize and remember who you are."
I asked her if she would like to become a friend of Symington's.
"Definitely not," says Martha Spears, still in a state of high dudgeon. "Fife Symington is a jerk. And if he shows up at Planet Hollywood, real people like Stallone and Schwarzenegger will see that in him right away."
If you look carefully at your Monday edition of the Republic, you will see Symington being embraced by the celebrities. Apparently, they have not yet caught on.

 
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