Longform

Hell's Belle

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When Walker rattles off a laundry list of the superstar encounters she lays claim to, sexual or otherwise, it sounds like something akin to a cast rundown for Match Game '73, including names like Bobby Darin, Telly Savalas, and Don Knotts.

For instance, she's got a great story about dating Janis Joplin in mid-'60s San Francisco after "The Pearl" drunkenly felt up her thigh during a Redd Foxx show at an after-hours club before they retreated to the Fairmont hotel for some adult fun.

As with any of her celebrity-laced stories, Walker's Janis experience is possibly apocryphal and certainly unverifiable, considering many of the notches in her belt are deceased. She has little proof, other than a few aging photographs, she says, because she lost most of her mementos during a cross-country move.

New Times attempted contacting the estates of each of Walker's dearly departed conquests, as only Clint Eastwood is still alive. Those who responded say her stories are nonsense. (For instance, Jimmy Scalia, the official archivist for Bobby Darin, says Walker's claims are "not true.")

It also doesn't help matters that the former peeler's memories were snarled by a horrific accident. At the age of 21, Walker was riding her vintage 1947 Indian motorcycle to Napa Valley when she collided with a Mack truck. The left side of Walker's body was crushed, and she suffered 32 broken bones, including a severely fractured skull.

After a grueling two-year rehabilitative hospital stay, Walker had trouble doing much, managing to get around with a cane. She was emaciated from the experience, but found work as a go-go dancer in San Francisco's sleazy Tenderloin district.

"I could barely walk, let alone dance, so I sorta leaned up against the wall and kinda did the go-go moves until I recovered more," she says.

Walker slowly got her groove back, landing a lucrative gig at the Condor Club in 1966 promoting the ABC television show The Green Hornet by dressing as a sexed-up version of the superhero. She says several celebs turned out for the show, including "Dirty Harry" himself, Clint Eastwood.

Walker claims to have met Eastwood at a previous Hummingbirds show around that time, and the Fistful of Dollars star remembered her. They became occasional lovers over the course of five years, she says, when he wasn't with his then-wife Maggie Johnson or off shooting spaghetti westerns for Sergio Leone. (Leonard Hirshan, Eastwood's longtime agent, declined a request by New Times to interview his client, and "sincerely doubted" Walker's claims.)



"I didn't see him as much," she says. "There were many nights where I'd be all beautiful and he'd walk right past me, go right to sleep. I got tired of it and told him, 'I gotta move on.' Of course my mother never forgave me for that."

Why didn't she just date more workaday folks with time to devote to her?

"I was drop-dead gorgeous, and I just wasn't into the guy next door because I wasn't the girl next door," Walker replies.

Since she sought out the rich and famous, it's only natural Walker headed for Las Vegas in 1968. Sin City was a perfect fit for Satan's Angel.



Leslie Fearon, a former cohort of Walker's, says Vegas was riding the wave of Rat Pack-fueled popularity, meaning big paydays for dancers. Fearon, who's also known as Suzy Creamcheese, operated a popular boutique on the strip, creating glamorous outfits and costumes for dancers such as Walker, as well as famous types, including Elvis Presley, Shirley MacLaine, and even the wives of mobsters like Joseph Bonanno.

"This was the real Las Vegas, back when the mob was there and made it a phenomenal place," says the 68-year-old Fearon, who's since relocated to Apache Junction. "Everyone was making money hand over fist, including Angel."

While Walker worked off-the-strip clubs like the Gay 90's, she aimed for the stages of bigger joints like the Aladdin or Caesar's as a dancer in the art of burlesque, which is more luxurious and performance-oriented, with lavish costumes and bigger paydays, all of which appealed to her.

"Burlesque was more about the glamour and the glitz, with lots of feathers and satin and rhinestones, and is classier than simply taking your clothes off," Walker says. "It's an almost vaudevillian art form, which is where its roots lie."

Before she arrived in Vegas, however, she saw burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr perform her infamous bathtub act at the Stardust Hotel, and figured she had to re-invent her act.

"So I basically took a little of Gypsy Rose Lee, a little Lili St. Cyr, a little Mae West, a little Ann Corio, things like that, and I just kinda threw them all into myself," Walker says.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.