An Interview with Pearl Starr

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Pearl Starr is best known as the daughter of the infamous wild and reckless outlaw Belle Starr. She also gained notoriety as the girlfriend of the lawless bad boy Frank James. Pearl has gone on to becoming one of the hardest working women in the town of Great Bend where she works tirelessly to make the town a generally all around happier place.

What was it like growing up with a mother like Belle? What are your some of your most fond memories of those times?

I guess it was like anyone else’s childhood: full of resentment and inadequacy. My most fond memory of her is when she’d go to sleep. Because she’d stop talking about herself. Unless she talked in her sleep, and then you were in for another 8 hours.

What did you love about her most?

Her face. Because it was different enough from mine where I could get away with saying we weren’t related if I didn’t feel like dealing with the ”Oh my god, BELLE STARR IS YOUR MOTHER?!” conversation.

What do you think is the most important thing she taught you?

“Don’t smile like that. You’ll get wrinkles.”

What was it like being the girlfriend of Frank James? Was it the lure of fame and fortune that first attracted you to him or was it his personality?

I think Frank and I were like any other couple. If you like fishing, you want to find someone else who also enjoys fishing. If you like robbing banks and the rush of dodging bullets as you gallop away with enough money to buy yourself anything you could ever dream of…you wanna find someone who enjoys that, too. And it didn’t hurt that we looked good together on a Wanted Poster. Nothing good ever lasts with outlaws…it was still fun, though.

Why do you think so many women seem to be initially attracted to men that carry those sort of bad boy traits?

I think most women like the fact that they’re with a man who isn’t by the book, who’s “dangerous”. Does things that are illegal and exciting. I think they like being close to danger without having to do it themselves…but I liked finding someone to be in the danger with. My mom always said, two people robbing a bank is better than one. Not that I’d do that anymore…that would be illegal. And bad. And wouldn’t give you the best rush you’ve ever felt in your life. And…really bad.

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What did you think when you first saw the town of Great Bend?

“This place smells like a giant turtle turd.”

Did you ever imagine you would be living there?

Not even in my worst nightmares.

How has your life changed most since you’ve settled in to the small town?

Well, I went from being a member of essentially an all-male group of hardcore criminals to living with a handful of prostitutes. With the gang, if someone did something you didn’t like, you’d shoot them. With the ladies at Honey’s, if you do something wrong…no one tells you. But tiny passive-aggressive notes start popping up everywhere. On your vanity. In the outhouse. On your face when you wake up. I miss the shooting, it was a lot less painful.

What is the most outlandish thing you have seen during your time there?

I had a customer ask me about how I was “feeling” once.

What do you love most about living in Great Bend?

I feel like love is a strong word when talking about Great Bend. I guess I like some of the people…Honey’s really great. Hoyle is…a lot. Eli has a nice face. Wanda smells like my grandma, which is oddly comforting.

What do you find most challenging about your current career?

Taking a vacation. Redheads are in high demand and supply is limited. Also, I’m double jointed. So you can imagine.

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Why do most of the women who work at Honey’s saloon seem to keep their gloves on a lot? Is that to establish some sort of protective barrier between you and your work?

It’s the same reason we don’t kiss customers on the mouth: it’s just not sanitary. Can you imagine having sex with people and actually touching them with your bare hands? That’s disgusting.

Do you think your particular line of work helps somewhat lighten the mood and improve the dispositions of the citizens of Great Bend?

I think it definitely takes people’s minds off of the fact that they live in a barren wasteland of a town and that their lives are pretty much meaningless. So, yeah.

Is there a certain freedom that comes from working at the saloon and being able to pay your own way? What advice would you offer women in regards to having your own career?

It definitely beats relying on someone else to buy you food or a hat or something. I don’t like having to ask anyone for anything. I was raised where if you wanted something, you have to steal it yourself…or, yeah, buy it, I guess. But ladies, pick something to do that you can actually make a decent living out of. Like making your own whiskey. Or bank robbing. Or prostitution. Those are careers that’ll go somewhere.

Were you surprised to learn that John Henry Hoyle was your step-father? Does it feel good to have at least some sort of family left?

I was definitely surprised that Hoyle was in any way, shape or form related to me. Definitely not my mom’s type. There was about 10 seconds of my life where I thought there was a possibility of him actually being my father. Those were the scariest 10 seconds of my life. But honestly, he is probably the best father figure I have. Mostly because he’s the only one who hasn’t tried to murder me. So that’s nice.

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Do you think people tend to underestimate you given your roots?

I think I’ve been here long enough where people forget who I was before I went straight. Sometimes it’s good to give them a little reminder…

What aspirations and dreams do you hold for your future?

I’m trying hard to do this “normal” thing. So. I guess to have normal things…like living in one place for a long time. And laughing at jokes people make even if they’re not funny. And not poisoning anyone. Yeah…I can’t wait for that.

Are the any little known things about you that our readers might be surprised to learn?

I can’t read. But I AM an excellent shot. So I feel like that evens things out.

Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

Cuddling IS extra. I’m tired of having to repeat that.

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