MAE WEST's gay play "Pleasure Man" had a $200,000 box office advance when it premiered at the Biltmore on 1 October 1928. The police raided the show, however, and shut it down the same night. Perhaps this was an easy target — — since the theatre was on the same block as the precinct: 47th Street, west of Broadway.
• • It was eighty years ago — — on 3 October 1928 — — when Mae West appeared in Jefferson Market Court to answer charges that she had written and produced an "immoral" play. Wire services sent out her photograph, explaining that the entire cast had been arrested after one opening performance. The players were later released on bail. Mae, of course, was a familiar face at Jefferson Market Court [then located on Sixth Avenue and West Ninth Street in Greenwich Village]. This was the same judicial complex in which she had been tried for her play "Sex" — — and had been found guilty.
• • The infamous raid at the Biltmore is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West."
• • In "Courting Mae West," Texas Guinan [portrayed in July 2008 by Eileen Glenn] visits Mae West [portrayed in July 2008 by Yvonne Sayers] backstage at the Royale Theatre to warn her about the raid.
• • MAE WEST: Tex, isn't there a way to trouble-shoot this?
• • TEXAS GUINAN: Honey child, the problem with trouble-shooting is that, invariably, trouble shoots back!
• • In addition to battling a hex by legal voodoo, Mae West was in enormous physical pain during 1928.
• • The usually healthy, resilient, durable actress had begun to experience fierce abdominal agony, perhaps from stress. When the infamous raid at the Biltmore Theatre occurred, New York's bulldog of a district attorney was threatening her with another jail term.
• • Seized by the talons of legal eagles, Mae was rescued (somewhat) and got a jolt of good news from her savvy attorney Nathan Burkan. Burkan had convinced a judge to allow Mae to continue touring in "Diamond Lil."
• • Adding more relief to Mae's life was the fact that the Shuberts had just bought out Mark Linder, who had staked a claim on "Diamond Lil" because he suggested the locale.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • October 1928 • •