Katherine Harris’ Secret Chatterbox Past

From a profile of Katherine Harris in the Dec. 4 issue of People magazine:

In December 1992 Florida citrus heiress Katherine Harris, then 35, was looking for a change of pace. She found it when she was cast as a “guest hostess” in a Sarasota, Fla., revue called Mr. Chatterbox’sSentimental Journey. “One of the high points of the act was the Goldie Twins, German female contortionists,” recalls Robert Plunket, the show’s star. “They could smoke cigarettes held in their toes.”A lesser draw was Harris. “She would bring guests out of the audience and give them gift certificates to Wendy’s or coupons for free dry cleaning,” says Plunket, 55. “She led the audience in doing the chicken dance.” He smiles. “There was something about the way she flapped her arms.”

News of Harris’ participation in something called Mr. Chatterbox’s Sentimental Journey has naturally prompted worried inquiries to this column. The name of the revue derived from Robert Plunket’s authorship of Sarasota magazine’s “Mr. Chatterbox” column. (Click here to read the latest installment, about a trip to Prague.) Slate’s Chatterbox columnist has never been to Prague, doesn’t know any German female contortionists who can smoke cigarettes held in their toes, and has never, ever seen Florida’s secretary of state perform the chicken dance. He has, however, read Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, which features a gossip column called “Mr. Chatterbox” and which inspired Slate’s editor (and perhaps the editor of Sarasota magazine, too) to create a column called Chatterbox. While we’re at it, you may as well know that Tim Noah, the Seattle-based children’s entertainer who owns the domain name, is an entirely different person from the author of Slate’s Chatterbox column and that if you visit Tim Noah’s Merchandise Page and purchase, for instance, a “Tim Noah” baseball cap, your $12.95 will not enrich the Microsoft Corp. or any of its employees.

We now resume our regularly scheduled chatter.