In her youth, MAE WEST was often taken to the theatre.
• • Clearly, the variety artists fascinated her because she enjoyed imitating them. In amateur competitions, "Baby Mae — Song and Dance" impersonated Bert Williams, Eddie Foy, Eva Tanguay, and many others. After seeing these performers again and again, Mae perfected their individual gestures and mastered their timing along with other nuances. Mae and her mother became very familiar with the trends set by Tony Pastor.
• • Born in Brooklyn, New York, Antonio Pastor [28 May 1837 — 26 August 1908] was the son of a theatre violinist. While still a youngster, Tony sang on the temperance circuit, then gave his first professional performance as a child prodigy at Barnum's Museum in 1846. Often considered the father of modern American vaudeville, he was involved in show business as an actor, impresario, and theatre owner.
• • After appearing in minstrel shows and with circuses, Pastor made his variety debut in 1861. At the time, variety still had rough edges. Most theatres had bars that actively pushed the sale of liquor and attracted low-class males. The ambitious Roman Catholic set out to elevate the tone and quickly succeeded. When he opened his first theatre in 1865, he discouraged alcohol, attempted to clean up off-color acts, and solicited family trade.
• • In 1881, Pastor leased the Germania Theatre on 14th Street in New York City that became widely known as Tony Pastor's Theater. He alternated his theater's presentations between operettas and family-oriented variety shows, creating what became known as vaudeville. His theater featured performers such as Ben Harney presenting a new style called "ragtime" as well as other up-and-coming talents such as Lillian Russell, May Irwin, and George M. Cohan.
• • A small, stocky, mustachioed man, Pastor regularly appeared on his own bills.
• • In the musical Hello, Dolly!, the song "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" includes the line, "We'll join the Astors at Tony Pastor's."
• • On Sunday 17 August 2008, during the "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side" walking tour, the group will visit a location linked to Tony Pastor and a tune associated with the father of vaudeville will be sung live by a vivacious actress, a native New Yorker who has performed in many musicals.
• • Walking Tour: "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side"
• • When: 1:00 PM on Sunday — — 17 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Village Restaurant, 62 West Ninth Street, New York, NY 10011
• • Price: $20
• • Subway: E or F [IND] train to West Fourth Street; PATH to 9th Street station
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: Seesaw864@juno.com
• • This event — — which is part of the Annual Mae West Birthday Gala — — is open to the public.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •