How Mae West Was Won:
50 years ago, Mae West discovered muscle-men
The Mae West Revue would have turned 50 in 2004.
Masterful at innuendo and double-entendre, buxom Mae West was a phenomenally successful comedic actress in the 1930s. Her star had faded when, at age 61, she launched a ground-breaking stage show. Instead of the typical costumed showgirls, West selected a bevy of beefcakes to accompany bawdy songs such as "I Want to Do All Day What I Do All Night." George Eiferman, Irvin "Zabo" Koszewski, Dick DuBois, Dominic Juliano, Joe Gold, Armand Tanny, Gordon Mitchell, Mickey Hargitay, and Charles Krauser were among the star bodybuilders in West's chorus for all or part of the show's three-year run.
The Mae West Revue opened at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas in 1954. West vamped through skits, playing off the musclemen. The combination of her ribald humor and the sensation of flexing bodybuilders made the show a runaway smash. It toured the country's top venues, drawing celebrities, including then-Senator John F. Kennedy, and breaking attendance records at New York's legendary Latin Quarter.
The revue's demise was hastened at a press conference in 1956 when Krauser, who loved West, punched out Hargitay, whom West loved. (Krauser changed his name to Paul Novak to escape his newfound notoriety, and he was West's live-in lover for the final 24 years of her life.) The show closed at the Sahara in 1957. Half a century after its opening, the Mae West Revue is still considered a seminal showcase where popular and physical culture merged and bodybuilders posed on some of the most exalted stages for some very prestigious audiences.
- - This article was written by Greg Merritt. - -
Merritt's article was published in Flex [May 2004 issue].
(C) 2004 Weider Publications