In her “Vox Pop” column for PopMatters, Meta Wagner (who voices observations on pop culture — — particularly as it intersects with our lives) devoted her April 29th column to MAE WEST along with that nearly extinct species: "broads."
• • Interestingly, Meta Wagner shares the same initials with the Brooklyn bombshell: M.W. That's worthy of attention right there.
• • Meta Wagner asks: What ever happened to broads? You know, those larger-than-life women who swore like sailors, threw back shots of whiskey, sounded like they’d swallowed whole packs of cigarettes, and aged without apology.
• • Meta Wagner notes: Mae West was a pioneer broad back in the 1930s, tossing out double entendres in a saucy tone that left no mistake as to her meaning. Some of the most famous and infamous women over the next several decades followed her lead, surprising and delighting men and women alike with their in-your-face attitude, among them the actress Roslyn Russell (Auntie Mame), the Broadway “belter” Ethel Merman, the controversial playwright Lillian Hellman, the feminist leader Bella Abzug (the one with the ubiquitous hat), and the former governor of Texas Ann Richards, and her pal the columnist Molly Ivins. Sadly, they are no longer with us. But their legacy remains.
• • Is that a gun in your pocket . . . ?
• • Meta Wagner muses: It’s amazing to me how the quips Mae West famously uttered still serve as quotable quotes today: “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” “When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” “A man in the house is worth two in the street.” Now, that’s a broad! . . .
• • Currently back on Broadway is "South Pacific," the World War II-themed musical that immortalized a catchy number "There Is Nothing Like a Dame." Mae West was a swell dame (not to mention a triple A-all-right broad).
• • To find out Meta Wagner's definition of "broad," read her column [posted on 29 April 2008] "Vox Pop: Broads Don’t Blog, Especially in Haiku" — — http://www.popmatters.com
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • December 1932 • •