Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mae West: April 1927

A West Coast feature "This Week in History" — — which mentions MAE WEST — — is glued together by the Santa Barbara Independent's news staff who, obviously, is a wee bit thick. Though reporters and fact-checkers have had eighty-one years to get their facts straight about what happened in 1927, here is the Santa Barbara Independent's inaccurate backwards glance on the date 19 April 1927.
• • To wit: Actress/ playwright Mae West is sentenced to 10 days in jail for writing Sex, a Broadway show about a gigolo, deemed “scandalous” by the courts. [Source for the incorrect info: Santa Barbara Independent: 122 West Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; T. (805) 965-5205. Send corrections to this weekly here:
corrections (at) Their excuse for getting facts wrong was explained by Rachel, a staffmember, who assembles this feature and whose explanation appears below. They only do a quick cut-and-paste from The History Channel — — even if that means passing errors along. So if you want a job as a fact-checker or proofreader, reconsider which companies might value this service. At the Santa Barbara Independent, a more suitable title might be "This Week in Mystery" — — with trinkets given to the first canny readers who can spot the mistakes. This would be an inexpensive way to get the copy proofread as well, eh?]
• • Since when was Mae West's play "Sex" referred to by the inaccurate, tea-party word "scandalous"? In New York City, actresses do not get arrested, fined, and imprisoned because they are "scandalous." In Jefferson Market Court and in the courtroom transcript, this was called "an obscenity trial." The actors were fined and charged with giving an offensive and indecent performance. Mae West's manager and her producer also went to jail.
• • Since when was "Sex" about a gigolo? Wrong plot and wrong-headed altogether.
• • Why? Well, since when would Mae West choose to star in a vehicle unless the narrative centered on the leading lady's role? She wouldn't and she didn't.
• • Too bad the Santa Barbara Independent staff was not aware of the Aurora Theatre Company's critically acclaimed revival of "Sex" (starring Delia MacDougall in the role of Margy LaMont) onstage in Berkeley, California in November and December of 2007 — — a production that was widely reviewed in the West Coast media.
• • Synopsis of the 1926 play Mae West wrote in order to give herself a starring role: "Sex" is the tale of Margy LaMont, an ambitious young prostitute in Montreal, who is determined to get out of the skin trade and marry well. Margy takes the advice of a British naval officer [played in 1926 by handsome Barry O'Neill] to ''follow the fleet.'' That takes her to Trinidad, where she meets Jimmy Stanton, a naive rich boy from a blue-blooded Connecticut family. Jimmy proposes to Margy and whisks her home to his parents' well-furnished mansion.
• • Well, there's no gigolo in that synopsis! Anyway this blog posting is set forth for all news media outlets who would like to have correct information [vs passing along the errors made by The History Channel].
• • On 5 April 1927 at Jefferson Market Court [on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village], the jury returned with a guilty verdict.
As she left the courtroom, followed by reporters, photographers, and a mob of well-wishers, Mae told them, "You've got to fight in this world!" She added, "You've got to fight to get there — — and fight to stay there."
• • On 19 April 1927, actress MAE WEST was sentenced for her performance in "Sex," the Broadway play she wrote, cast, and starred in. She was given ten days in prison and the jail time seems to have done her good — — from a publicity standpoint. As she left the courtroom, followed by reporters, friends, fans, and gawkers, Mae predicted, "I expect this will be the making of me!"
• • Though Mae West was sentenced to 10 days, she actually only served 8 days. The actress received "time off for good behavior."
• • The History Channel does not know this information yet — — nor do they use fact-checkers — — but Mae-mavens and history buffs are encouraged to contact them and ask them to correct errors. [Contact The History Channel: A & E Television Networks, 235 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017-3305; T. 212-210-1400.] And thank you to all who wrote to report other errors The History Channel has made.
• • Plan ahead. Get ready to come up and see Mae onstage in New York City when the Annual Fresh Fruit Festival presents "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship and Secrets" (based on true events 1926 — 1932 when Mae West was arrested and jailed) under the direction of Louis Lopardi at the Algonquin Theatre [123 East 24th Street, NYC 10010] July 19th — 22nd, 2008.
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 7 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [123 East 24th Street
near Park Avenue South].
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • Jefferson Market Court
• • 28 March 1927 • •

Mae West.


  1. Fuzzy Lumpkins4:16 PM

    OH MY GOD. The Independent staff should be drug out into the street and beaten with shovels. Really, it's a sad state for modern journalism when these supposed "reporters" would dare to misspeak a vital plot point of this treasured classic. Kudos to you, MaeWestNYC, for doing the research that these butt pennies can't afford to do. I sincerely hope they all choke to death.

  2. Rachel Weight4:54 PM

    Hi I'm Rachel Weight, the editor that creates that page and collects those facts from the History Channel! I got my information directly from the website, and you can check those facts here:
    I hope this was helpful.