By today, of course, the world would tilt north again.Miami would recede from the psyche as surely as the moon sucks at the tide. But even before it was over last night, before the chalk-white lights had been turned out on Pittsburgh's 35-31 victory, there was the sense of needing something else. Even for the hero's wife...
Into the lobby of the Fontainebleau she comes, JoJo Starbuck, starbound and starstruck on this Super Bowl weekend, clacking softly in her mother's white sandals (she forgot her own), wearing a floppy blue beach gown and immense dark glasses and a smile. The fingers and toes are lacquered deep red, almost maroon. There are turquoise rings on her ears. One hand has a diamond the shape of a football.
It's her real name, she says. A press agent didn't make it up. "Yes, I know, isn't it terrific? I think it's a wonderful stage name. Jesus took care of me there, too." This is said in a honey-Marilyn voice.
Outside, Miami singes the eye. The airport is like Ellis Island. The causeways are bleached with traffic. Overhead, a metallic balloon hangs dull and listless.
JoJo Starbuck is an Olympic ice-skating star, fresh from a Broadway triumph called "Ice Dancing." She is also the wife of Terry Bradshaw, who, as at least half of mankind knows, is the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and who would become hours later Pittsburgh's most valuable player last night in the Steelers' triumph over Dallas. She too, has her legions of adorers, though they don't necessarily live in Pittsburgh and bellow for violence on 100 yards of synthetic grass. Neither have they come to Miami by planeloads for America's annual circus of excess. Her fans are elsewhere. That's okay: She understands. It's only one of the ironies.
"In Pittsburgh they call me Mrs. Terry Bradshaw. In New York they know me as JoJo Starbuck. And down here, they say, 'Oh, yeah, aren't you the one who skates?'"
She wants an orange juice and goes straightaway to the circular lobby bar. A man named Jim is mixing batches of pina coladas. It is 11 o'clock in the morning. Out on the terrace, in the washed light, bodies of every description stretch to the sea.
"Isn't it hard to get yourself up for making those this early in the day?" she inquires.
"You'd be surprised," says Jim smiling vacantly. He says the bar did $900 the day before between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. "Some of them won't even go to the game."
She folds hereself into a Manila wicker chair. The toney legs just fetchingly from beneath the gown. Off come the glasses; She has wide, blue expressive eyes. She is talking with candor of the strains on her marriage -- something the press can't get enough of.
"They have to have something to write about. Terry's from a world of cowboys and country music. And I'm from this very feminine world where there was always dancing and theater and flowers. It was just me and my mom -- my dad had died years earlier. I mean, it's true what they say: Terry and I are incredibly different. He's Southern and chauvinistic. He wants me to be right by his side. He can't really understand why I would want to be in New York working in a show."
She comes close, maybe to share something. "He likes being on his 400-acre ranch in Louisiana just better than anything . He gets down there, he talks to these old local coots, he says to me, 'Honey, would you just look at them cows.'"
Her voice has suddenly taken on a comic, cracker drawl. She has cuffed the visitor on the back. JoJo is enjoying JoJo.
This is an odd-couple Love Story: DiMag meets Marilyn, with theological backspin.Also it's a soap opera: JoJo Starbuck -- a fervid, uncorny, born-again Christian -- goes out with blond behemoth. Will it play?
JoJo Starbuck had grown up as one of those youngsters destined for skating stardom -- in her own act by the age of 8, bronze-medal winner in 1972 and Ice Capades star until she married.
She didn't know football from pennypitching when she first met Bradshaw.
After her first couple of dates (a year after they met), he was leaving for a game in San Diego. She said, hey, tell me what number you wear and I'll try to watch the game on Sunday. Maybe I'll see you. He said, sure, I wear No. 12.
She still doesn't know everything about the game. But she does know about "cheap shots" and quarterbacks getting blindsided. These days she sits in the stands and can't wait for Terry to get rid of the ball. All she has eyes for is him. She misses touchdowns left and right.
You can't talk to JoJo Starbuck very long without being convinced of two things: Her belief in her marriage, no matter its strains, and her belief in God. Both beliefs converge at the center. God is the glue holding this one together. Not for nothing do they read passages from Scripture over the phone to each other every morning they're apart.
"You see," she says with a sincerity that disarms, fingers of both hands spread wide as owl wings, "Jesus just loves me to pieces. I know that. All Terry and I have to do is listen."
It is hard to listen: There is a lot of noise in Miami Beach. Like clacking typewriters. On the Media Message Board of the Americana Hotel, this year's press center, there is this:
"Howard Cosell. Call your wife. Don't forget the bread and eggs."
Also this: "Writers are invited to ask the computer in L.A. any statistical question re Cowboy-Steeler matchups. We have a dedicated phone line tied to a large Univac 90 series computer."
Downstairs, in the cushy reds of the Americana's Gaucho steakery, a scribe in a lavender coat and white shoes is saying: "If I told everything I know about the N.F.L., I'd have to leave the country. The world ?"
JoJo Starbuck, who is 27, was born on Valentine's Day. She had to be fixed up for her senior prom. A few weeks ago, she was combing her hair backstage at the Minskoff Theater when the door burst open and in flew Katharine Hepburn. "My dear," she said, "you are simply wonderful."
"I just soaked up that moment like a dry sponge. Really. You just have to eat it up because it's not going to last forever. I just happened to catch the light." A friend says she had her Polaroid with her when Hepburn came -- and was too shy to ask if she could shoot her. JoJo Starbuck is a fan.
Tom Landry, in buttoned sports coat and striped tie, is holding a press conference for the "pack." It's two days to kickoff and the boys in the box are treading old turf. "Can you out-muscle them in the pits, coach?" "If Preston Pearson can't play, what will you do on third down, coach?"
Landry: "I think the difference between this Pittsburgh team and the one we met before in the Super Bowl is unquestionably Bradshaw.... I think that's where their confidence comes from."
They're talking now about "packaging" her and Terry. The blond, athletic, storybook couple. People in California want to make deals. Next week, after the Pro Bowl, she and Bradshaw will begin sifting offers. "A jillion people have approached us -- for commercials, guest appearances, maybe television. I'd love to do television, be in a series... um, a movie. I'd love to take direction. I'd love to work with a really brilliant director. I think I take direction very well."
She is still curled in a chair.Only she has changed position about 32 times. Now she is holding her hair above her head -- and then letting it flop. Sweet sensuality.
Actually, she says, perking up, these deals might be the answer for her marriage. She and Terry could work together, not apart. He wouldn't have to be home in Pittsburgh cradling the family dachshund when she's away.She dreams out loud: "Maybe a small piece of ice in Vegas, or in a club somewhere, I don't know. I could skate, Terry could be the male singer. It could be a real act. He could come out for 15 minutes in the middle."
The world doesn't particularly know it, but Terry Bradshaw is an aspiring country and western singer. He has one album out, on which there is a passable version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." He likes Hank Williams a lot. He would love to land another contract, his wife says. But he doesn't trust Hollywood, or, for that matter, New York.
Sometimes, she confesses, nodding her head, he drives her nuts. "He's always changing his mind. One minute he's going to quit football -- he's had it -- the next he's going to be a recording star, the next he's going to be a full-time farmer."
Pause. Flop back in her chair.
"Course, I'm a little like that, too."
Maybe what bothers JoJo Starbuck more than she'll say is the "dumb" thing. Her husband still hasn't lived it down. "Well, when he first came to Pittsburgh they saw him as southern and country and blond and Li'l Abner. Dumb just went along with it. But what gets me is the way the press will rub your nose in it. They'll say, 'Tell us about the dumb thing,' and, 'Is it true your husband's stupid?' They'll do it till you just want to vomit."
Her eye has caught something. Across the lobby is an elaborate looking piano. She jumps up. "Look, it's a Steinway. 1893. Oh, it's inlaid. If it could only talk. All the parties it's been to." She says this dreamily, rubbing slender fingers across the breast of one of the carvings. She seems far away.
In the Deauville, a man in a tux is handing out pink envelopes to new arrivals. In they saunter: bored young ladies with Rolling Stone and People stuffed in their Mark Cross leather, men with plunging necklines and Caribbean tans.
A bellman hurries through the lobby: "Call for Mr. Sebastian Latham. Call for Mr. Sebastian Latham."
Downstairs, in the coffee shop, a pinkstarched waitress sets a menu and says, "Is it cash?"
In the Cyrano Room, Frank Natale, on the piano, is singing mostly to himself.
JoJo Starbuck's best friend in the world, besides her mother, is Ken Shelley. He, too, is a skater. They have been skimming over ice together for 20 years. They grew up in the same L.A. suburb of Downey, which JoJo Starbuck says "by the freeway is halfway between Hollywood and Disneyland." She is a real California kid.
While she was putting on plays in her garage on one side of town, Shelley was doing the same on the other. They met at 7 in the local iceskating studio. (Their mothers had the same idea: natural baby sitter.) They started trying out routines, grew up to compete in two Olympics, seven national championships, five world competitions. Shelley still tours with the Ice Capades as a coach. Ask him about his old partner, now on the brink of a wider fame, and he says:
"A lot of people will come up and say, 'Oh, this girl's got to be putting me on. Nobody's this unaffected. But it's true. When you've worked with a person 20 years, you know."
Which is not to say she's even-tempered. She's strong-willed, independent. She goes after what she wants. Just like Terry. "As a skater you're brought up pampered. Everything is ready and waiting for you. She's matured a lot since she's gotten married. I think she was totally unprepared. Suddenly she didn't have me and her mother around anymore."
He hesitates. "I must say there have been a couple of late-night phone calls. I don't know what the answer will be. I know they love each other. We'll have to wait it out."
Sunday morning. The Miami Herald reports the city commission has let the bars open at 8 a.m. Don Adams, of R.J. Menu Co., says: "I've had customers offer me bribes to get them new menus ready before Super Bowl week."
On TV today the movies are "Coral Jungle" and movies starring Bogart and Bette Davis. One out of every three Americans will catch the game.
In Griffing Park, there is a country western jamboree. Damn the Super Bowl.
At the moment, it is pouring. The beach belongs to the gulls.
Halftime. Steelers leading 21-14. She sits high up in the stadium deep in Steeler territory with her mother and stepfather and some of the Bradshaw family. She has on jeans and a maroon suede jacket. She looks volatile. She is too involved, excited, to talk now. Her mother, Alice Starbuck, fills in. She is amused.
"You know back there early in the second quarter when those two Dallas guys got Terry to fumble and ran for a touchdown? Well, JoJo stood up and started screanding, 'You let my husband alone.' I couldn't have done better myself."
Reporters burn into the night. So do the parties. The main Steeler celebration is at the Omni Hotel downtown. JoJo Starbuck and her MVP husband may or may not make an appearance -- no one seems sure at the end of the game. But JoJo's mother has promised to be there in full lavender plumage. It is not hard to figure where JoJo gets her exuberance.
"Attention, media, there are now 13 pages of wrap-up quotes," announces a voice over an intercom at the Americana shortly before 11. It goes like that for hours.
By dawn, things will mostly be quiet on Miami Beach, save maybe a stray, joyous Pittsburgher or two crowing in the morn. By then, JoJo Starbuck and Terry Bradshaw will be riding other dreams, California dreams maybe.
"If you work it right," she had said two days earlier, wriggling her eyes, "you can do exactly what you want in life -- and get paid for it. Isn't that neat?"