Burlesque dancer Candy Barr was born Juanita Dale Slusher on July 6, 1935, in Edna, Texas.
“At age 16, though she appeared much older, she appeared in the most famous and widely circulated of the early underground pornographic movies, Smart Alec. It was the Deep Throat of its day. Film critic, Phil Hall, calls it the Citizen Kane of stag films.
For her signature striptease, she would walk on stage wearing a full Annie Oakley buckskin get-up. By the time her five-minute routine was up, she would have stripped off everything but her panties, pasties, cowboy boots, white cowboy hat and the twin holsters slung low across her hips.
Offstage, Candy enjoyed hanging out at the Carousel after hours, where owner Jack Ruby became a close friend and father figure. In 1953 she hooked up with Troy Phillips, a nightclub denizen who became her husband and manager. The marriage had fallen apart by the holiday season in 1955, but Phillips was not the sort to walk away without one last dustup.
When he showed up at her door Candy refused to answer so he kicked it in and stumbled drunkenly around her apartment. When he got 6 feet away, she leveled the rifle barrel on her husband and pulled the trigger. She hit him in the lower belly near the groin, later claiming her aim was off. The charges were dropped two weeks later, when Phillips acknowledged that he’d been very drunk and ornery.
Candy briefly became the squeeze of Mickey Cohen, the L.A. mob kingpin, whom she met while headlining on Sunset Boulevard. (He was a sucker for strippers; Tempest Storm and Beverly Hills had been in his bed too). Following their breakup she married Hollywood hairdresser Jack Sahakian, the Vidal Sassoon of his day, in Las Vegas in 1959.
In October 1957, Dallas police detectives knocked at Candy’s apartment door. They told her an informant had tipped them off that she had marijuana.
After a brief give-and-take with the cops, Candy dug down into her bosom and pulled out a pill bottle that contained less than an ounce of pot, the equivalent of the tobacco in 25 cigarettes. Her trial was a spectacle, with men elbowing their way into the courtroom to ogle the stripper and the jury sending her away for 15 years. Some time later, a Dallas police official stated that Candy had been convicted because of her occupation. He said the 11 men on the jury would have been mortified to go home to face their wives after acquitting her.
On April 2, 1963 — after three years and three months — she walked out of prison carrying a Bible and holding a $5.70 one-way bus ticket back home to Edna. As a condition of her parole, she was barred from working as an exotic dancer.
Jack Ruby, her old nightclub pal, visited Candy after her release and gave her a getting-out gift of two dachshund puppies. The dogs were about six months old when Ruby’s name popped up on every newspaper front page in America. She said she knew nothing, but to this day some view Candy as a cog in the arcane machinery of the Kennedy conspiracy.
In 1972, she published a slim volume of poetry, “A Gentle Mind…Confused,” some of which she had written in prison. She was lured out of retirement by a $5,000 payday when she posed nude for Oui magazine in 1976, at age 41.
In 1999, she was named on Playboy’s “Most Desirable” list, and she made Texas Monthly’s list of “perfect Texans.” “Of all the small-town bad girls,” the magazine said, Candy Barr “was the baddest.” Copies of her book of poetry now sell for as much as $3,000.