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Strippers pay tribute to former peer Smith

Anna Nicole Smith was remembered by her former peers Thursday as strippers at topless clubs across the nation blew kisses and toasted her with champagne in a post-midnight salute.
/ Source: Reuters

Anna Nicole Smith was remembered by her former peers Thursday as strippers at topless clubs across the nation blew kisses and toasted her with champagne in a post-midnight salute.

At Rick’s Cabaret in Houston, where Smith danced in the early 1990s and met her elderly husband J. Howard Marshall, strippers gathered on stage to raise glasses of champagne while the disc jockey played “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”

In Club XTC in San Antonio, the dancers blew kisses while the same song played.

The tributes took place in clubs run by Rick’s Cabaret International , which began with the Rick’s in Houston and now has “gentlemen’s clubs” in seven cities.

“She helped us get our start and we helped her get her start,” said Joe Altes, manager of Club XTC, owned by Rick’s. ”That’s why we are paying tribute to her.”

Smith, 39, died Feb. 8 of a still-unknown cause in a Florida hotel room. Her death has touched off legal wrangling over her infant daughter, who several men say they fathered.

Anna Nicole Smith worked the day shift at Rick’s, where she met Marshall, a billionaire oilman, in 1992, the same year she posed nude for Playboy magazine.

They married in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89. Marshall died 14 months later.

A legal fight over his $1.6 billion fortune is unresolved. The original litigants, Smith and her husband’s son, Pierce Marshall, are both dead. The younger Marshall died last year.

But for a moment on Thursday, the controversy that swirled around Smith in life and in death was forgotten, and her career at Rick’s remembered.

“She was always a great entertainer,” Altes said. “She was always energetic and charismatic. She was a beautiful woman, and she helped us get our start.”