They came up to see MAE WEST — — about 100 devotees and curiosity seekers, lining up before 7:30 PM on Monday February 23rd outside of UCLA's Melnitz Hall (i.e., the James Bridges Theater, which can seat 248 adults).
• • The Mae West Blog heard from a number of West Coast eye-witnesses and attendees, all of whom are well-versed in MAE-ology. In other words, they've seen all the movies, they know the Westian one-liners by heart, they've read the books, they've collected their share of a-MAE-zing memorabilia, and they were expecting a little class from an event staged at UCLA, where Mae West accepted an award as "Woman of the Century" in 1971 when she was 78 years old.
• • Moderated by Robert Rosen, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, "the event will be filled with surprises and goodies to make it a night to remember," promised the UCLA press release. However, the evening seems to have been organized by one of the campus leaf-blowers instead.
• • An informed source describes the peculiar "welcome" token on February 23rd: "On our way in, we were all handed a low quality laser copy of Mae West's 1947 passport, which had nothing to do with anything, nor was anyone at all interested, except the die-hards (and there were none here, except me, who has a much higher quality version at home). Why this exceedingly odd item was chosen as a hand-out, no one knew. And no info of any kind was written on it."
• • Our informed source adds: "Inside we saw a gigantic screen with very common, PIXILATED images of Mae West — — every single one obtained by a quick and effortless Google image search."
• • Whose hands were clapping? Another Angeleno insider dishes: "The audience was not comprised of young college students interested in all that Mae West has done for cinema, women, or gay people. The crowd was mostly in the age range of 50 to 70 and two-thirds were male. A sprinkling of women in their 20s — 50s dotted a few rows in this amphitheatre."
• • Unfortunately, there were not too many voyagers into Mae West's storied past on February 23rd. UCLA's promotion coordinators put forth a low-energy outreach and the auditorium was barely half-full.
• • The panelists, charged with discussing their personal and intimate recollections of one of the most fascinating and versatile American icons of the 20th century, were not the most riveting raconteurs, it would appear, alas and alack. A disappointed attendee writes: "I was startled to notice that over one-third of the audience had fallen asleep. Only when Kevin Thomas or Dan Price said something amusing did the listeners seem to be revived for a bit. And even Charlotte Chandler herself appeared to be dozing off on occasion!"
• • One sharp-eyed seat-holder remarked: "At the very beginning, the host said that topics such as what Mae West did for the women's movement, gay people, and the cinema would be discussed, as well as her being a sexual icon. Turns out that no such profound subjects were ever discussed on February 23rd, even in passing."
• • The Mae West blog is grateful to these observers for their comments. More front-row details will appear tomorrow.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •