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John Robert Starr comments on the ‘Toe Suck Fairy’

By: 29 September 2011 One Comment

Yes, it’s true — the infamous “Toe Suck Fairy” was back to his old tricks and has been caught yet again.

According to Reuters, 50-year-old Michael Robert Wyatt of Vilonia (Faulkner County) was arrested by officers from the Conway Police Department after he spent a few weeks allegedly approaching women in convenience stores and asking if he could suck their toes.

Ah, but this isn’t the first time Wyatt has been up to such shenanigans. He first acquired the nickname “Toe Suck Fairy” (a parody of the Toad Suck Ferry Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River in Faulkner County) back in 1990 when he was harassing women about wanting to suck their toes. He was arrested back then and spent some time in jail. He was arrested about a year later after pursuing his strange obsession and spent some time in the state pen.

What does John Robert Starr have to do with any of this? Back in 1990, I was in college and worked as intern reporter for the Arkansas Democrat. Starr, of course, was the managing editor and was instrumental in defeating the Arkansas Gazette in a statewide newspaper war. Walter E. Hussman Jr. — publisher of the Democrat and owner of WEHCO Media — officially brought that war to a close when he bought the Gazette in 1991 and merged it with the Democrat, thus creating the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The merged newspaper, of course, remains and is Arkansas’ only statewide paper.

At any rate, Starr had a great time terrorizing elected officials (you can thank him for popularizing the “Slick Willy” nickname for former Arkansas Governor and U.S. President Bill Clinton) and members of the Democrat‘s editorial staff. Yes, reporters had a lot of fun with the Toe Suck Fairy story in 1990 and one gleefully wrote a story about the man which appeared on the front of the “State” section one day during the summer of 1990.

The story detailed how the Toe Suck Fairy approached women and wanted to “fondle, caress and suck their toes.” Starr slapped that story on a bulletin board in the Democrat newsroom and pointed out that wasn’t the type of thing people wanted to read while eating breakfast.

If memory serves, subsequent Toe Suck Fairy stories were either toned down a bit or at least buried somewhere within the newspaper so they weren’t the first things people saw when unrolling their copies of the Democrat.

Starr was typically correcting reporters in such a gruff and direct manner. Why that particular memory of my time spent at the Democrat has remained after a couple of decades (and, indeed, 11 years after Starr’s death) is a complete mystery.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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