Tribute slated for burlesque performer

SAN FRANCISCO — A tribute is planned Thursday night as part of the annual convention of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas for a celebrated performer who died Sunday in a California crash.

Sarah Klein, 36, of San Mateo was killed and her husband critically injured when a party bus ran into the couple’s car as it was stopped on a highway south of San Francisco, authorities said. Nine other people were injured.

Klein, known for her comedic, racy performances as “Sparkly Devil,” was renowned in San Francisco and beyond for her stage presence as well as her community work to commemorate performers of the 1950s and 1960s in the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum in downtown Las Vegas, said Jim Sweeney, a friend and producer of the Hubba Hubba Revue troupe she danced for.

“She began in a period of time when there were very few people performing in the modern burlesque scene,” Sweeney said. “She was a loved and respected leader of our entire community, and we feel her loss greatly.”

Sweeney said there would be a tribute Thursday night at the annual convention at The Orleans, and friends plan a larger memorial in the coming weeks.

Sparkly Devil was scheduled to perform at The Orleans Thursday night, according to an email from the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Organizers have decided to use that time to honor her and have invited her mentor and close friend, Twinkletoes McGee, to perform a tribute, the email said.

She also will be recognized during an “In memoriam” presentation at Friday night’s show to recognize people in the burlesque community who have passed away during the previous 12 months. Her friends and colleagues in the Hubba Hubba Revue plan a memorial service in San Francisco but have not set a firm date yet, the email said.

Klein’s husband, Raul Padilla, 43, was driving a sedan that slammed into a divider on U.S. Highway 101 before coming to rest facing oncoming traffic, California Highway Patrol officer Art Montiel said. The couple had consumed alcohol before the crash, but toxicology tests must be conducted to determine whether Padilla was OK to drive, he said.

Padilla was transported to Stanford Hospital. If Padilla is determined to have been under the influence, Montiel said, he could face manslaughter and felony drunken-driving charges.

The party bus carrying 18 people hit the Honda after it stopped. Two other cars were involved in the crash, but no injuries were reported in those vehicles.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal contributed to this report.

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