Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mae West: Remembrance

MAE WEST loved music but her choices had little to do with with Mozart, Grieg, Chopin, or salon society. The blues compositions that got Mae moving had more in common with the wooden tables of smoky saloons. Many music-makers have grooved to the Empress of Sex. Hollywood resident Ramfis Diaz — — a handsome 47-year-old musician possessed of charm and deftly adorned by a-Mae-zing tattoos inspired by the Brooklyn bombshell — — is in that group.
• • Having read an article about the screen queen's long-standing relationship with the professional fighter William "Gorilla" Jones, Ramfis Diaz decided to give the journalist a ring — — and here is the aftermath.
• • Mark J. Price, Beacon Journal staff writer, did a follow-up feature, titled "Gorilla Jones story a virtual knockout: Mae West fan pleased to learn about Akron boxer's role in life of actress."
• • Mark J. Price writes: Hollywood musician Ram Diaz, 47, called to say he loved our story about Akron boxer William ''Gorilla'' Jones (1906
1982), a former middleweight champion who was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this month.
• • Ramfis Diaz is a big fan of screen legend Mae West (1893
1980), who employed Jones as a bodyguard and chauffeur after he retired from the ring. Jones and West were close companions for 40 years and might have been romantically involved.
• • ''I didn't know much about Gorilla Jones because she was so secretive about her men,'' Diaz said. ''Mae West didn't kiss and tell. She might have given you a clue here and there.''
• • He believes such a clue can be found in West's 1932 movie "Night After Night," in which George Raft plays an ex-boxer. It was the same year that Jones won the middleweight title.
• • In one scene, Mae West remarks: ''Hey, Gorilla. Come here.''
• • ''She was given full right to rewrite her scenes in that movie,'' he said. ''So I know for a fact that she put that name in there.''
• • A lifelong collector of memorabilia, Diaz has been enamored with West since he saw My Little Chickadee on TV as a boy in the 1960s. He lives in a building near the late star's Ravenswood apartment complex.
• • ''I can actually see her bedroom window from my bedroom window,'' he said.
• • Since 1988 [when he was 26 years old], Ramfis Diaz has thrown a Hollywood birthday party in Mae West's honor every August 17 on the roof of Gramercy Tower in Hancock Park and in his top-floor apartment. The potluck dinner, which is open to the public, includes some of West's inner circle of friends, including Kevin Thomas, Tim Malachosky, and Chris Basinger.
• • Not all guests are acquainted with Mae West's work, though.
• • ''There's a lot of people that really don't know much about her, but they get educated when they arrive,'' Diaz said.
• • He praised the Beacon Journal article for teaching him something new.
• • ''That's the fascinating thing with Miss West,'' he said. ''There's always something new.''
• • Mark J. Price is a Beacon Journal copy editor. He can be reached at 330-996-3850 or send e-mail to mjprice@thebeaconjournal.com.
— — Source: — —
• • Column: "This Place, This Time: Going West"
• • Gorilla Jones story a virtual knockout: Mae West fan pleased to learn about Akron boxer's role in life of actress
• • Byline: Mark J. Price | Beacon Journal copy editor
• • Published in: The Akron Beacon Journal — — http://ohio.com
• • Published on: Monday, 29 June 2009
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• • In her hometown, New Yorkers also celebrate Mae West's birthday. One event open to the public is the Annual Mae West Walking Tour, which will be held on Sunday 16 August 2009. This year the walking tour begins at Shubert Alley and proceeds uptown to Mae's WESTside apartment. To get more details, read this blog and/ or post your email. [Your info will not be posted nor available so that miscreants and rascals can access it.]

• • The tour takes a path up and down blocks associated with Mae West's career. For instance, the speak run by the George Raft character in "Night After Night" [1932] was based on Club Napoleon, a speakeasy on the grand scale, once located at 33 West 56th Street on a fancy block of Beaux Arts mansions. Years before it became an illegal ginmill, 33 West 56th had been the childhood home of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1932 • •
• • Feed — — http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MaeWest
Mae West.

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