Monday, March 23, 2009

Mae West: Bartlett's Way

Why take the trouble to analyze a new biography when you can simply quote some of your favorite lines by MAE WEST?
• • New York Post critic Mackenzie Dawson does just that, turning in copy that sounds not unlike Bartlett's compendium of wit and wisdom.
• • Here is the unvarnished Empress of Sex entertaining a latter day visitor who confesses to cupboards bare and insufficient sparklers.
• • "Do you know my idea of a wonderful time? Sex and chop suey."
• • The best part of the new Mae West biography, "She Always Knew How" by Charlotte Chandler, isn't her well-known life story, but verbal gems like these. The voluptuous Brooklyn-born actress, who died in 1980, held court in a series of interviews with the author (a woman West pities for her lack of diamonds). Besides her best known quips "the best way to get over someone is to get under someone"; "I've climbed the ladder of success, wrong by wrong" the excellent Ms. West shares her thoughts on, well, just about everything.
• • On serving jail time for indecency: "I was told I could pay the fine and get out of going to jail, but I made up my own mind. I decided it would be more interesting to go to prison. I was always fascinated by prisons and mental institutions . . . I wasn't going to be deprived of that experience. I saw those as ten very valuable days, a kind of working vacation."
• • On sex: "Honey, sex with love is the greatest thing in life. But sex without love that's not so bad, either."
• • On independence: "I made up my mind very early that I would never love another person as much as I loved myself. Maybe that sounds selfish to you. But I saw what a mess a lot of other people could make of their lives when they're smitten . . . they find a person who they think holds the key to their happiness . . . they don't understand they're the ones who give the other person that power."
• • On the stock market: "I didn't have money in stocks because that kind of paper didn't seem real to me. I always liked investing in things I could see and touch and enjoy. The country was on the gold standard. I was on the diamond standard. If the market in diamonds fell out of bed, I could always wear them. They'd always be just as beautiful."
• • On children: "I knew I didn't want children. When I was a little girl, I wanted a doll. But I knew that a doll wasn't a baby. You can just put your dolly away when you don't feel like playing that game anymore. But I don't think I was meant to be a mother. I don't think a woman should have a baby unless she's prepared to love that baby more than she loves herself."
• • On monogamy: "I found one man who had beautiful hair, another had great muscles, and another one . . . ummm. I didn't see why I should deprive myself of anything, so a lot of men was better for me than just one man. That way I could enjoy what was great about each one, but I wasn't tied to him."
• • On alcohol: "I have a theory that people drink because they're bored, bored with themselves, even more with other people. So they drink, and after drinking, they bore everyone else."
• • On seeing spirits: "I started seeing other men, all dressed in clothes from some earlier time. They spoke in 'thees' and 'thous,' and I couldn't understand why they came to me. Some kind of mistake in traffic signals, maybe."
• • She Always Knew How
• • by Charlotte Chandler [Simon & Schuster]
— — Source: — —
• • “The Wonderful Wisdom of Mae West
• • By: Mackenzie Dawson
• • Published in: The New York Post — —
• • Published on: 22 March 2009

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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

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