Thursday, April 17, 2003


Bring on the Easter Parade. Starlady's always ready, with 30 hats to choose from. "I love my hats," she said. "They make people smile and I like to make people smile."

In her Easter bonnet,
life is like a sonnet

Good things followed Starlady
after donning The Hat that made
her a mini-celebrity

By Nadine Kam

While dozens don their Easter bonnets Sunday morning, few know how to parade with as much panache as Starlady, who's made hat-wearing a 365-day-a-year habit.

"I love my hats," she said. "They make people smile and I like to make people smile."

Tooling around Waikiki on her dark green scooter named Gable (after Clark) and in a motorcycle helmet wrapped in tulle, she said, "I get a lot of shaka signs, horns honking, and kids run up to me wanting to take pictures with me."

Once upon a time, Starlady had a first and last name like you and me, but she picked up her moniker while hosting a radio astrology program on K108 in the 1980s, when stars -- whether jeweled or appliqued -- became a regular part of her wardrobe.

Now she says no one would know her if she introduced herself by her real name, of which she offers only the first part, Kay, which led to her being dubbed Kay West when the stars and planets led her to Key West, Fla.

There, in 1987, she started giving astrology readings under the sun on Mallory Dock where hats were a must, and voila! her new fashion statement was born.

Have hat, will travel. Starlady tools around town in her scooter named Gable and a helmet draped in tulle.

Most people would have chosen to wear a utilitarian, inconspicuous baseball cap, visor or straw hat, but not Starlady -- a diva from the getgo -- who appreciated the glamour of the picture hat. Besides, she said, having been insulted by another astrologer who deemed her out of proportion due to her "big body and small head," she decided the picture hat gave her the perfect dimensions.

Starlady, a cellist and former teacher -- her business card now reads "Psychic Astrologer/Radio Personality/ Renegade Renaissance Woman" -- was also born to sing show tunes with a wicked sense of humor given to turning them into parodies, such as changing lyrics to "West Side Story's" "I Feel Pretty" to "I Feel Wicked."

She's found that the hats worked well on stage. (These days you can catch her sitting in with pianist Don Conover between 7 and 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at The Original Chuck's Steak House on Beachwalk Avenue in Waikiki.

She learned to dress them up with tulle and glitter, and she discovered the tulle worked well in the outdoors, keeping the hat tethered to her head lest they turn into Frisbees, and draped under her chin "the better to hide my double chin," she said.

People often ask if she makes her hats, to which she generally quips, "Honey, you can't buy trash like this," but she only personalizes them. She works with a hatmaker she met in New Orleans, who has since moved to Las Vegas to create showgirl costumes.

THE HAT has proven to be Starlady's fortune. Upon moving to Miami Beach, The Hat got her interviewed by an alternative newspaper, which led to her landing a humor column, and she's currently working on a humor book offering a view of the world, Starlady style.

The Hat gets always got her an opening laugh when she was performing stand-up comedy in New Orleans; it's landed her on advertising for the New Orleans Jazz ; a commercial for Bud Light; and she even appeared in cameo in a porn video, "Debbie Does New Orleans," riding -- fully clothed, thank you very much -- her scooter down Bourbon Street.

She's constantly recognized by visitors who remember seeing her in New Orleans, Key West, Phoenix, or a half dozen other cities she's passed through in the last 20 years, and she loves the attention.

"As a woman of, shall we say -- 'certain years,' though I prefer 'well-seasoned' -- I get a lot of attention. Most overweight female senior citizens are virtually invisible. Not me!

"I'm never without a hat. Not even in the grocery store. There are not many things you can do to get yourself noticed. Even if people don't like it -- you know what they say, 'Treasure your enemies because they testify to your good taste.' Now I'm not saying I have good taste, but neither does Madonna.

"I think it's important to have a sense of humor. If I can make people laugh, they go into alpha and they're more susceptible to influence -- that's when you can slip some wisdom under the door."

As for what kind of wisdom that may be, Starlady isn't quite sure herself.

"It's whatever comes to me at a particular moment, but I just know that most people listen better with ..."

And she breaks into song "... a spoonful of sugar!"

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