Heading for Billy Luck
Alison Heasley

We know how Billy Luck arrived upon the scene in April 1977,to DC’s storied Tenderloin. What we
DIDN’T KNOW (but are about to find out) are how to other major players in our story allowed Fate
to dictate their journeys here.

Skipper Marsh was not always so named. Born December 22nd, 1937 in Tallequah, Alabama,the bouncy blonde tyke was christened Baby Dearl Needham, by her loving parents Burl(a stem fitter) and Dorah (a piece work mender). From an early age she showed a proclivity for song and dance. Even in the Blessed Holiness Baptist Church of downtown Birmingham, she took easily to the stage. As Miss Memphis of 1958, Skipper, as she was now most widely known, liked to recall “I even tap-danced my way thru Handel’s Messiah!”

All this happy frou-frou soon faded with the loss of her beloved Mama and Dada at a riverside picnic,
during which the Jataloosa excursion boat overturned. Burl and Dorah were among the 13 revelers who
perished in the muddy current. Skipper Needham was forced to do what any right-thinking Southern belleof reduced circumstances might deduce for her proper survival. Why, of course– take her tulle, tutu and pointy clear heels straight on over to the “Box Top” on Beale Street, and kick high to the sky. Naturally,the money–and the men– poured over her like lavender phlox perfume at the Dillard’s Department store,where little Baby Dearl had once stuffed samples as an eighth-grader.

Now, of course, she had her pick. Instead of going with ardent suitor numero uno: Jasper Gordon, a
moustached Bible salesman, or ‘ duo,’ Buck Fields, a semi-pro wrestler, Skipper went for an unlikely
third choice. Hastings(“Hasty”) Marsh, Junior, a glib but unmistakably good-looking State legislator-
and God forbid, a Republican! Skipper liked to reassure her friends in “show business,” as the strippers liked to regard themselves, “Now see here, gals, he is kind of a ‘progressive’ on Civil Raht’s, you know…”