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Monday, May 03, 2004 - Page updated at 10:52 A.M.
Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist
"Uh-oh. Hang on a sec. Be right back."
That was the sound of Larry Star becoming a star. The call-waiting, the driver taking him to another TV interview. The fact that it was almost 2 p.m. yesterday and he hadn't eaten a thing.
"I don't mean to be not funny," Star said when I tracked him down yesterday. "But I am fricking exhausted."
KING-TV news. MSNBC. The "Today" show. All wanted to see the tattooed, biker-booted computer geek who found his ex-wife's wedding dress in a closet, posed in it and wrote a hilarious sales pitch for eBay, asking only for "enough money for maybe a couple of Mariners tickets and some beer."
Star, 42, a Brooklyn native who tests software, got that all right.
When bidding on the online auction service closed yesterday, the size 12 Victoria dress ("How do you women wear this crap?" Star asked in his pitch. "I only had to walk 3 feet and I tripped twice") had sold for $3,850. And the listing was still getting some 800 hits per second.
Five women who saw Star's ad proposed marriage. He's been hearing from people all over the world. "I'm getting e-mails from Germans saying, 'Oh, ho, ho, you crazy American.' "
But what Star also discovered is that when you put a sad-sack story together with a wedding gown, people will start pulling at every thread of your life.
Interviewers queried Star about the sister who urged him to auction off the $1,200 dress, the ex-wife who had once worn it and the children whom he thanked God they never had.
And that's where his funny story started to get a little serious.
"Let's just say we took some liberties," Star said.
OK then. No sister.
And the ex-wife?
"You're digging?" Star asked.
Yes, and it seems there's actually two. The first, Jill, married him on May 22, 1994. They separated on Oct. 12, 1996, and divorced on Jan. 13, 1998.
As for the other, the one who owned the dress, the one with the "Texas cheerleader hair" and the "drunken sot" of a father?
"No contact with the ex-wife," Star told me. "But she is in-state and I am sure I will get contacted because it is astronomical the way this thing has taken off."
For the record, her name is Janell. Star married her on March 2, 2000, in Bath, England.
Their son was born in 2000.
But on eBay?
"Thank the Lord we didn't have kids," Star wrote. "If they would have turned out like her or her family I would have slit my wrists."
Sorry, but there's more: In June of 2001, Star was charged with domestic-violence assault in the fourth degree, and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.
According to the police report, Star and his wife had an argument. He said she was "stressed out." She threw something at him. He gathered up all the phones to keep her from calling the police (hence, the interfering charge).
When he turned to leave, she threw his guitar at him, breaking it. He pushed her. She fell and scraped her face.
They drove themselves to the police station to file a report, and formally separated within weeks.
Star and his wife were divorced in Snohomish County in December.
She got the 1991 Ford Ranger and the 1993 Infiniti G20. He got the 2000 Ford Ranger and the 1981 Honda motorcycle.
She got the encyclopedias and other books. He got the personal computer and the entertainment center.
And who got the wedding dress? A winning bidder who goes by "absolutsth."
We tried to reach the former Mrs. Star, but couldn't.
"I'm not working anybody," he said. "All I want to do is make some people laugh and sell the freaking dress," he said. "I posted it last Friday and it went crazy."
Hani Durzy, spokesman for eBay, said Star wasn't the first to get swept up in the tidal wave a good eBay listing can bring. Just weeks ago, the site was barraged with traffic when it handled the auction of Bill Clinton's boyhood home.
"Larry's listing is a fascinating case study of what the Internet can bring," Durzy said. "I'm not sure that he thought it might gain this much attention.
"But people appreciate good writing and funny listings."
That's all Star really wants: to get paid to write funny things.
"I have been funny all my life," Star said, "and I have 6 zillion e-mails to confirm it."
So all this eBay exposure might do more for him than pay some bills and buy some baseball tickets and beer. It could land him a writing job.
But first, maybe one more auction.
"I found the gloves that go with the dress," he said.
And where is the famous dress for now?
"In a garbage bag. ... Oh, freak, I've got another freaking call. Hang on a sec."
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