Friday, July 31, 2009

Mae West: Sinning

It was July 1931 when MAE WEST entered into a complex discussion with the Shuberts about a stage version of The Constant Sinner, based on her bi-racial novel set in Harlem and published by Macauley in hardcover [November 1930].
• • Afraid of offending ticket buyers (especially after the Wall Street meltdown in 1929) and antagonizing the censors, the Shuberts disguised their legal tango with Mae, hiding behind the name of one of their GMs, Joseph M. Gaites. Putting a little more space between the adventurous Brooklynite and the reputable Shubert organization, Gaites cleverly created an indie production company: Constant Productions Incorporated. His back and forth correspondence with the blonde bombshell has been preserved — — along with mainstage contracts signed by Mae West the playwright (on 10 July 1931) and Mae West the Broadway star (on 20 August 1931).
• • When she brought her play "The Constant Sinner" to Atlantic City in August 1931, the crowds lined up for tickets, noted The New York Times: "With two rows of standees and chairs in the aisles for extra celebrants, last Monday night saw Mae West run through her latest daisy chain, The Constant Sinner, at the Apollo Theatre in Atlantic City. . ." [NY Times 30 August 1931].
• • In the role of Babe Gordon, Mae debuted the show on Broadway in September of that year.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mae West: Apes & Grapes

When food writers attempt to use a MAE WEST reference, they can easily grate on one's nerves.
• • Unafraid of appearing uninformed or ridiculous is Canadian consumer Rita DeMontis, who offered this ham-fisted opening for her July 30th column ["Great Grapes"] in The Sarnia Observer.
• • Rita DeMontis writes: Oh, Beulah — — peel me a grape! This was Mae West's famous other line, from her film "I'm No Angel," when the queen of double entendres managed to elevate a request for her favourite fruit into something akin to soft porn.
• • The legendary sex siren single-handedly made the grape a luscious object of desire.
• • Grapes have always held an air of mystique . . . .
• • • • Of Apes and Grapes • • • •
• • In our opinion, if you believe grapes have mystique, then you need to get out more often. And if that familiar Mae West quip seems "akin to soft porn," then one hour on the Internet must present a great deal of unspeakable peril to such a timid reader.
• • As many Mae-mavens know, the movie queen's pet monkey Boogie appeared with her in "I'm No Angel." Boogie would not eat grapes unless they were peeled. When the director asked the movie star to ad lib a line
— — to round out a shot with Tira and her maids — — his request prompted Mae West's remark, "Beulah, peel me a grape."
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Published in: The Sarnia Observer [140 S. Front St., Sarnia, Canada] — — www.theobserver.ca

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mae West: Cottonwood

Back in the Verde Valley, they fondly remember MAE WEST.
• • A Cottonwood, Arizona oldtimer told the local newspaper about the day the notorious Broadway blonde tootled into town by train. He said: "'I remember ole Mae, staying right here at the Cottonwood Hotel. I was just a youngster. It was sometime back in the twenties — — maybe 1927. She was up behind 'ur alley, between those two buildings," he emphasized by pointing in the direction of a neighborhood saloon the locals sneaked into during the Prohibition Era in North Central Arizona. "She rubbed her hands through some ole whiskey barrels behind the old Requenda bar. I think she was doin' some entertainin' there too, besides the Rialto Theater. She was with some good ole boys. They were in the back poker room of the bar for hours." Sounds like Diamond Lil, all right.
• • The native film-buffs also claim that Mae West returned to Cottonwood; the actress stopped by en route to Hollywood, they insist, traveling west after leaving New York City in June 1932.
• • The Mae West Room at the Cottonwood Hotel • •
• • The Cottonwood Hotel's Studio Suite #4 is also known as the Mae West Room. According to their publicity material, "With the original clawfoot tub, it might have once held some good ole bathtub gin! Movie posters and Mae West posters and pictures are hanging on the walls in this cute little studio suite with kitchenette. This suite also flaunts a mirror on the ceiling over the bed, with sheers draped around. Now that is a touch of classic Mae West decor!"
• • Prominently displayed in the Mae West Suite is a colorful poster from "Every Day's a Holiday" [released 18 December 1937].
• • Located not far from Sedona, the Cottonwood Hotel was built in 1922; the address is 930 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, Arizona 86326.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mae West: Gingerly

MAE WEST was inspired by "The Hairy Ape," a popular play written by Eugene O'Neill.
• • She certainly saw it once and possibly twice before it ended its Broadway run at the Plymouth Theatre [236 West 45th Street, NYC] on the 1st of July 1922.
• • July 28th 29th, 1922 • •
• • For the out-of-town try-outs of her new show "The Ginger Box Revue" in Connecticut on July 28 and July 29th, 1922, Mae West had polished her parody of O'Neill's tragic hero.
• • According to biographer Emily Wortis Leider, Mae West burlesqued the character: “Yank was the very sort of brutish caveman type Mae West favored as a foil to play against, onstage and off in O’Neill’s hands a somber and powerful archetype, and in hers a comic cartoon rendered with broad strokes.”
• • Backed by a dozen chorines (the Stoker Girls) and a black orchestra, Mae sang, “Eugene O’Neill, You’ve Put a Curse on Broadway” and bellowed “Yank-style” lines including, “She don me doit! Lemme up! I’ll show her who’s an ape.”
• • Rehearse your favorite Mae West lines right on Broadway on Sunday afternoon 16 August 2009, when a guided tour will explore Manhattan's WEST-side during the "Gaudy Girls on The Great White Way: Mae West and Texas Guinan in the Theatre District" walking tour. The annual event open to the public is timed to salute the Brooklyn bombshell on her birthdate: 17 August 1893.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Mae West: Scandalous Swiderski

Being scandalous is the theme of a jazzy musical featuring MAE WEST — — who will be portrayed by brunette newcomer Jennifer Swiderski.
• • SYNOPSIS of "Scandalous People" — — Set in a 1920s Harlem speakeasy, "Scandalous People" is a "jazzical" rife with leggy chorus girls, vaudevillian antics, backstage drama, and comedy. The story revolves around Dewey Demarkov, an African-American showman and resident impresario of the Do Drop Inn. Dewey's innovative productions garner the praise and attention of the infamous Mae West, who would like a show built around her; and the notorious gangster Dutch Schultz, who is looking for a foray into Harlem's speakeasy scene. With their money and support, Dewey's dream of mounting a groundbreaking black and white revue on racially polarized Broadway seems within reach... but at what cost?
• • During August 2009, "Scandalous People" will play five performances at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village.
• •
Since Demarkov is a Slavic name, maybe the guy is planning a do-drop-inn move on the Russian empress Catherine the Great as well.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mae West: Quality

Stars inside their Hollywood homes — — Architectural Digest just revisited the topic and featured MAE WEST at home again.
• • Ten celebrities had been photographed inside their residence. When the movie queen was spotlighted in this publication, here's the text they ran:
• • “There’s always been just one way — — what’s right for me,” said the indomitable Mae West. Like many performers, West was a mixture of show-off and recluse, a personality at once calculatingly public and insistently private. These two facets of the actress’s nature were reflected in her home and the life she led there — — not in any balanced way but, like nesting boxes, one hidden within the other. Outside was the Mae West persona, sex-obsessed, and self-loving, for which she found a domestic equivalent in the apartment she moved into in 1932, when she first arrived in Los Angeles, and where, in what may well be a record for residential longevity in Hollywood, she remained for the next 48 years.
• • Located on the sixth floor of the Ravenswood, an Art Déco building on Rossmore Avenue whose other tenants included Ava Gardner, Hedda Hopper, and Judy Garland, West’s apartment was modest in size. It had just two bedrooms, a tiny kitchen, and common rooms that were by no means grand, but the decoration aspired to grandeur, and beyond. “Quality, quality — — that’s all I heard [from my mother],” Mae West told Life Magazine in 1969. “Everything has proportion, nothing is jarring. Everything is symphony.” Fearful of the damaging effects of sunlight and fresh air on her beauty, she kept the blinds permanently drawn and the air conditioning perpetually humming. (April 1994)
— — Source: — —
• • Column: "Stars in Residence: Hollywood Homes"
• • Published in: Architectural Digest — — http://www.architecturaldigest.com
• • Published in: July 2009 [originally printed in their April 1994 issue]
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mae West: 25 July 1926

When she was 42 years old, Texas Guinan met Rudolph Valentino [6 May 1895 — 23 August 1926] at her brother's nightspot — — and invited MAE WEST.
• • It was Sunday 25 July 1926 when Texas Guinan introduced Valentino to the guests at Tommy Guinan's speakeasy. Larger than the average ginmill, The Playground was on West 52nd Street (east of Broadway). Its generous square footage made it ideal for events and James R. Quirk, editor-publisher of
Photoplay, hosted a Reception in honor of Valentino's new silent movie "Son of the Sheik" there. When Photoplay first began publication, Quirk's staff had included handsome Julian Johnson, Texas's lover.
• • Wearing their diamonds and glittering gowns, Mae West and Texas Guinan were there to greet the Apulian heartthrob. No doubt Texas fancied Jadaan, a superb Arabian stallion Valentino had ridden in this melodrama. An expert equestrienne herself, the following year Texas would ride an Arabian stallion into the Shubert Theatre at the start of "
Padlocks of 1927."
• • Maybe Mae West was charmed more by the Italian stallion himself — — and piqued by the abrupt end to his life that occurred one month later when the actor was only 31. Something about Rudy impressed Mae, encouraging her to think that he could link her to the unquiet dead up and down Times Square.
• • According to Whitney Bolton, a columnist for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, a week after the Italian-born actor Rudolph Valentino died [1895 1926], Mae West and her friend Texas Guinan arranged for a séance in a Manhattan loft. Suspicious that the 31-year-old heartthrob was secretly poisoned by a rival, Mae summoned an Italian Medium to officiate. At the table sitting opposite Mae were Texas, her brother Tommy Guinan, and the gangster Owney Madden who owned The Cotton Club, a man noted more for violence than his spiritual side.
• • And the rendezvous with Rudolph in 1926 must have been memorable because two years later Mae was still holding séances in the smoking room of the Royale Theatre to communicate again with him. Visiting New York to see “
Diamond Lil” on Broadway, the actor Jean Hersholt was invited backstage and yanked into a darkened room where a Medium was channeling Caruso and Valentino. Hersholt recalled that Rudy called upon Mae and said: “Mae, you have a lot of enemies and don’t trust any of them.”
• • During the 1920s, Texas Guinan continued to host séances in her nightspots — — especially in Club Abbey on West 54th Street. It was easy for Mae West to attend these sessions, too, since she lived right upstairs.
• • Walk in the footsteps of Mae West and Texas Guinan next month. See below.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Join us for a lively afternoon focused on Mae West & Texas Guinan!
• • On 16 August 2009, come up and enjoy an a-MAE-zing experience — — a walking tour of historical sights in the Times Square area. This year the Annual Mae West Birthday Tour also commemorates speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan, the generous friend who backed all of Mae’s Broadway shows during the 1920s.
• • During April 1929, the Feds padlocked the CIub Intime at the Hotel Harding, where Texas Guinan was the principal attraction. On August 16th, attendees will visit this speakeasy, which is doing brisk business these days.
• • Walking Tour: "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West & Texas Guinan in the Theatre District"
• • When: 4:00 PM on Sunday — — 16 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Shubert Alley, 44th Street, West of Broadway, New York, NY 10036
• • Price: $10 [this walking tour lasts about 90 minutes]
• • Subway: N or R [BMT] train to West 42nd Street; 1 [IRT] train to Times Square
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: T. 212-614-9683 — — or post your RSVP or tour question here
• • Online: MaeWest.blogspot.com — — TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
• • Who: Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo makes the tour educational and entertaining.
• • LindaAnn Loschiavo's history play "Courting Mae West" was onstage in July 2008 at the Fresh Fruit Festival. She is working on a biographical travel guide "Mae West's New York, 1899—1959" and will show some of her unusual theatre memorabilia and vintage photos during the tour and reveal secret addresses tied to Mae West that have not been disclosed before. These rare pictures show the area as it looked during the 1920s when Mae West and Texas Guinan had their name on several marquees.
• • Surprises: Prizes and other nice things are part of the fun
• • Members of the press may attend on August 16th as our guest. RSVP required.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Mae West: Victor Moore

Victor Moore was in one motion picture with MAE WEST.
• • Born in Hammonton, New Jersey, Victor Moore [24 February 1876 — 24 July 1962] was a star of stage and screen, as well as being a comedian, writer, and director. The five-foot-seven vaudevillian and his first wife Emma Littlefield [1883 — 1934] trooped together in variety for several decades. Victor Moore made his film debut in 1915. During his versatile career, Victor Moore appeared in over 50 films and 21 Broadway shows.
• • During the month of July — — on 24 July 1962 — — Victor Moore had a heart attack and died in East Islip, Long Island, New York. He was 86 years old. Victor Moore is interred in a crypt in a Cypress Hills Cemetery mausoleum in Brooklyn, New York.
• • "The Heat's On" was released on 2 December 1943.
• • The director responsible for this rum-soaked fruitcake was Gregory Ratoff.
• • The appealing costume designs for Mae West were done by Walter Plunkett.
• • The main cast was:
• • Mae West — — Fay Lawrence
• • Victor Moore — — Hubert Bainbridge
• • Lloyd Bridges — — Andy Walker
• • William Gaxton — — Tony Ferris
• • Mary Roche — — Janey Bainbridge
• • Hazel Scott — — Herself
• • Lester Allen — — Mouse Beller
• • Xavier Cugat — — Xavier Cugat

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mae West: Tim Sullivan

Since MAE WEST had her eye on Tammany Hall perhaps for the entire time she lived in New York, she could spot a fixer.
• • "Big" Tim Sullivan [23 July 1862 — 31 August 1913] was a fixer extraordinaire and a born ward-heeler. This New York politician who controlled Manhattan's Bowery and Lower East Side districts as a prominent figure within Tammany Hall was the model for Mae's character Gus Jordan in "Diamond Lil."
• • Similarly, in "She Done Him Wrong" [1933] the bejewe
led chanteuse and brash entertainer Lady Lou (Mae West) works in the 1890s Bowery saloon of her boss and benefactor Gus Jordan (Noah Beery, Sr.), who has given her many diamonds.
• • Several of the regulars who could be found bending an elbow at Gus Jordan's barroom were drawn from life. In 1928, many ticket-holders lining up in front of the Royale Theatre [located at 242 West 45th Street] probably would have recognized the name, for instance, of the legendary Bowery notable Chuck Connors, and relished seeing Chuck Connors, Jr. in the cast portraying his infamous Dad — — called "Lefty Eddie" in Mae's play.
• • "Big" Tim reworked as Gus Jordan • •
• • Unbeknownst to Lady Lou, slick and sleazy Gus Jordan trafficks in white slavery (prostitution) and runs a counterfeiting ring (to help finance Lou's expensive rock collection). He also sends young women to San Francisco to be pickpockets. Gus works with two other crooked entertainer-assistants, Russian Rita (Rafaela Ottiano) and Rita's lover, the suave Serge Stanieff (Gilbert Roland).
• • Not as handsome as Beery and certainly far heavier, "Big" Tim Sullivan was born to poor Irish parents in the notorious Five Points neighborhood. Determined to be successful,
"Big" Tim Sullivan cultivated careers in business and politics. Over the course of 25 years beginning in 1886, Sullivan assembled a political machine that ruled the districts of lower Manhattan. A legitimate entrepreneur in the world of entertainment, Sullivan forged an effective brand of urban politics by fusing the traditional tactics of the machine with his influence in commercial leisure and organized crime.
• • Staging theatrical entertainments and athletic competitions, handing out food and clothing to constituents, and offering employment and social services to ordinary citizens won him many followers, but Sullivan's protection of key figures in the vice economy of the Lower East Side made him a rather controversial figure. Despite his frequent use of physical intimidation, "Big" Tim nonetheless worked to expand the franchise and give the disadvantaged a voice in municipal politics.
• • Both Mae West's character Gus Jordan and Tim Sullivan were active in a number of illegal activities including prostitution, white slavery, gambling, and extortion.
• • On 31 August 1913, "Big" Tim's body was found on the tracks in the Eastchester area of the Bronx, New York. He was 51 years old.
• • Sullivan's wake was held at his clubhouse — — located at 203 Bowery.
• • More than 25,000 people turned out for his funeral at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, New York on Mott Street. Perhaps some "mourners" turned up solely to make sure this politico was dead.
• • Tim's clubhouse was down the block from the notorious Bowery "resort" near Houston Street, namely McGurk's Suicide Hall [295 Bowery]. The second chapter of "Diamond Lil" (a 256-page novelization of the play published by Macaulay in 1932) is Suicide Hall.
— — Source for some of this information: — —
• • Article: "Underworlds and Underdogs: Big Tim Sullivan and Metropolitan Politics in New York, 1889 — 1913"
• • Byline: Daniel Czitrom
• • Published in: The Journal of American History, vol. 78, no.2
• • Published on: September 1991
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • saloon-keeper Gus Jordan a.k.a. "Big Tim" • •
• • Artwork: Big Tim Sullivan was drawn by artist Pat Hamou
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mae West: Ziegfeld

As a child, MAE WEST heard fascinating recollections about New York City's Chinatown and the Bowery. Aware of the attractiveness of these lively locales, authors found creative ways to situate their narratives in these neighborhoods.
• • Charles H. Hoyt, for instance, wrote the immensely popular musical comedy "A Trip to Chinatown." The story focuses on a widow who connives and contrives to bring romance to several couples and herself in a big city restaurant [think of "Hello, Dolly!"].
• • Still capitalizing on the "Trip to Chinatown" craze, clever showmen reworked the play again and presented it under a new title: "A Winsome Widow."
• • Nineteen-year-old brunette Mae West was featured in the show "A Winsome Widow" as La Petite Daffy in 1912.
• • The musical was presented at the Moulin Rouge, then located at 1514-16 Broadway [West 44th Street], New York, NY. This showplace was demolished in 1935.
• • This extravaganza was produced by Flo Ziegfeld, and during its latest revision the Eastside musical was relocated to the West Coast — — to San Francisco's Chinatown.
• • As La Petite Daffy, Mae West won acclaim for her vivacity and sauciness. "Mae West assaults the welkin vigorously," applauded the New York Dramatic Mirror from their tony perch on West 42nd Street right opposite the New York Public Library.
• • Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. • •
• • Born in Chicago, Illinois, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. [1867 — 1932] was a Broadway impresario. He is best known for his series of theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies [1907 — 1931], inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris. Ziegfeld, who also built his own theatre on The Great White Way, earned a reputation as the "glorifier of the American girl."
• • At 65 years old, Flo Ziegfeld died in Hollywood, California during the month of July — — on 22 July 1932 — — from pleurisy related to a former lung infection.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mae West: Rathbone's Wrath

MAE WEST was arrested on 9 February 1927 along with the cast of "Sex," the cast of "The Virgin Man," and the cast of "The Captive."
• • Snooty Basil Rathbone, who died during the month of July on 21 July 1967 in New York, NY was cuffed and brought downtown to Jefferson Market Police Court along with Helen Menken and their co-stars.
• • Born in South Africa on 13 June 1892, Basil Rathbone was one year older than Mae West but in his mind, he was worlds apart even though they were both starring on Broadway in 1927.
• • During the 1920s, most of Basil Rathbone's work was in the legitimate theater. For many of his Broadway roles he portrayed a suave, sophisticated seducer of susceptible women quite a change from the legendary ascetic Baker Street detective he would play later in his career.
• • Making a sensation at the Empire Theatre was a drama that had been highly regarded in Paris: "The Captive." Basil Rathbone was cast in the role of Jacques Virieu, a young man engaged to be married, only to discover that his fiancée [played by Helen Menken] is in love with someone else a woman. Since homosexuality was such a controversial topic during the Roaring Twenties, the entire cast was charged with offending public morals, and the play was closed right after the police raid.
• • Basil Rathbone was very angry about the censorship of his work, but even more aggrieved that show people would start whispering that he was arrested and booked with Mae West.
• • For years, Basil Rathbone and his wife made their home at 135 Central Park West. Mae lived in several westside locations, occasionally not far from Rathbone. But there is no record of their taking tea together to reminisce over their arrest on indecency charges in 1927.
• • The Empire Theatre • •
• • Built in 1893, the Empire Theatre had been situated at 1430 Broadway (between West 40th and West 41st) in Manhattan. An impressive playhouse, it seated about 1100. J.B. McElfatrick was the architect. Producer Charles Frohman had it built "uptown" at the suggestion of Al Hayman "Everything theatrical is moving uptown," he advised. Al Hayman took ownership after Frohman died on the Lusitania in 1915. In 1948, the Astor estate purchased the Empire Theatre and announced, in 1953, that it would be torn down to make way for an office tower. Waves of nostalgia spread through the theatre community, and performers gathered to celebrate the venue in a restrospective farewell performance. The bulldozers arrived in 1953 and an edifice was wrecked.
• • Brush up those zippy Mae West lines right on Broadway — — Sunday afternoon August 16th — — and forge a-Mae-zing memories.
• • Walking Tour: "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West & Texas Guinan in the Theatre District"
• • When: 4:00 PM on Sunday — — 16 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Shubert Alley, 44th Street, West of Broadway, New York, NY 10036
• • Price: $10 [this walking tour lasts about 90 minutes]
• • Subway: N or R [BMT] train to West 42nd Street; 1 [IRT] train to Times Square
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: T. 212-614-9683 — — or post your RSVP or tour question here
• • Online: MaeWest.blogspot.com — — TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
• • Who: Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo makes the tour educational and entertaining.
• • LindaAnn Loschiavo's history play "Courting Mae West" was onstage in July 2008 at the Fresh Fruit Festival. She is working on a biographical travel guide "Mae West's New York, 1899—1959" and will show some of her unusual theatre memorabilia and vintage photos during the tour and reveal secret addresses tied to Mae West that have not been disclosed before. These rare pictures show the area as it looked during the 1920s when Mae West and Texas Guinan had their name on several marquees.
• • Surprises: Prizes and other nice things are part of the fun
• • Members of the press may attend on August 16th as our guest. RSVP required.
• • • • Mae West Walking Tours You Might Have Enjoyed • • • •
• • 2006 TOUR: Our regular Mae-mavens will recall seeing the historical exhibition "Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era,” which opened to the public after a Gala Roaring-20s theme Press Preview on Mae’s birthday 17 August 2006. And on Sunday afternoon 20 August 2006, more than two dozen beautiful people gathered on West Ninth Street to enjoy a special treat — — "Washington Square Women: Mae West and Texas Guinan in Greenwich Village" — — followed by a Jazz Era brunch served with champagne and the Cos-MAE-Politan cocktail, garnished with two strategically placed plump raspberries.
• • 2007 TOUR: On Friday evening 17 August 2007, a fascinating guided adventure — — "The Mae West Side Story" — — escorted numerous intrepid walk-abouts to three of Mae's former residences along with other sites linked to the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • 2008 TOUR: On Sunday afternoon 17 August 2008, the captivating Diamond Divas led a group of over two dozen Mae-mavens to several locations in Greenwich Village linked to her stage career, gay themes, courtroom woes, and the work of individuals she admired such as Lillian Russell, Tony Pastor, Texas Guinan, Eugene O'Neill, and Rae Bourbon. The 2008 walking tour — — "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side" — — celebrated the 115th birthday of the Empress of Sex with an extravagant musical program, performed live by Met Opera soprano Marlena de la Mora and Sharon Weinman, which included these numbers: "Everything's Coming up Mae West"; "Mon Coeur S' Ouvre a Ta Voix"; "The Prisoner's Song"; "Frankie and Johnny"; "Come Down Ma Evening Star"; "I Could Have Danced All Night"; "Gentleman Jimmy"; and a grand finale taken from the score of "Diamond Lil."
• • Tour photos can be seen on the Mae West Blog.
• • For more details, do read this blog and/ or post your email. [Your info will not be posted nor available so that miscreants and rascals can access it.]

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West's fellow offenders • • Rathbone & Menken, 1927 • •
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Mae West: Quizzed

Wordplay wizards armed with pointy pencils faced off with MAE WEST this weekend.
• • New Yorkers got clues from Jim Horne, "Wordplay" blogger for The New York Times. In last week's column, Jim Horne teased crossword-addicts with his opening paragraph: “Honorary title bestowed on Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and Mae West” has to be in serious contention for best clue of the year. Even better, the answer is outstanding too. I learn something with every crossword, and this little factoid is amazing. What do I need to do to become so honored? It’s my new personal mission. There is a lot to love in this collaboration by Doug Peterson and Barry C. Silk. ...
• • Jim Horne was referring to what is known as the Premium Crossword [or the Friday Puzzle for 17 July 2009] created by Doug Peterson and Barry C. Silk, a feature available to Times subscribers.
• • In Madison, Wisconsin, a local publication launched a quiz on July 5th, "Hidden in Plain Sight," challenging locals to I.D. local landmarks by their architectural details.
• • One photo showed a place where Mae West hung her hat once or twice in America's Dairyland. The Loraine, 131 W. Washington Avenue, completed as a $1.1 million hotel during 1924, was a chic structure converted 50 years later to a ho-hum state office building, then retro-fitted as a condo dwelling. In its heyday, The Hotel Loraine had been a hotspot whose notable guests included Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Ethel Barrymore, Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.
• • We have a quiz: list seven NYC addresses where Mae West lived. You can't? Then come up on August 16th, enjoy the Mae West walking tour, and eyeball a few of these places yourself.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mae West: Mona Rico

Several Mexican actors and actresses worked with MAE WEST.
• • In the motion picture "Goin' to Town" [1935], Mona Rico was cast in a bit part as Dolores Lopez. The comely five-foot-two brunette was born and died during the month of July.
• • Starting out in life in Mexico City as Enriqueta Valenzuela on 15 July 1907, she arrived in Hollywood during 1928 as an eager, ambitious 19-year-old and quickly secured a five-year acting contract. By the next year she was co-starring opposite the great John Barrymore in "Eternal Love" [United Artists, 1929].
• • Though she did score some big screen success, Mona Rico remained poised and preoccupied on the edge of marquee recognition like a lovely, dainty moth — — attracted to the bright lights but not securely netted by Lady Luck.
• • Mona Rico died at age 87 in Los Angeles on 15 July 1994.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mae West: Chryselephantine

The summer air was feverish with applause during July 1928 when MAE WEST was riding a big box office wave at the Royale Theatre.
• • Though this Broadway showplace [located at 242 West 45th Street] had first hung out its shingle during January 1927, and has become known for long-running musicals, a non-musical was the theatre's first bonanza: Mae West’s "Diamond Lil," which wriggled in on 9 April 1928 and maintained its sunny side up for over 170 performances.
• • Time Magazine took its temperature [issue dated Monday, 23 April 1928].
• • Time's theatre critic, sparing no flair, admitted Lil had his heart at hello: "Diamond Lil" — — Propped up under the armpits by a dress that might have been designed by the stage carpenter, Mae West played the role that she had written about a bygone queen of Manhattan's underworld. Diamond Lil was a harlot whose heart was as big and golden as the enormous swan shaped bed that stood in her elaborate cubicle above Gus Jordan's saloon and brothel. None the less, she was hardboiled; when a Salvation Army captain came to save her soul, she planned to seduce him and when a lady threatened a double cross, Diamond Lil stabbed her in the tenderloin district. Despite her efforts, Gus Jordan, the Bowery boss, is caught eventually, for white slave trafficking. The Salvation Army captain, really a member of the police force, is his captor; Diamond Lil cuddles into his arms at the end saying, "Boy, I knew you could be had.''
• • Actress West plays her heroine with an eloquent and minatory calm, which contrasts well with the chryselephantine magnificence of her appearance. There are old-time tough songs, outmoded slang words ("moll," "dick," "corset"), and singing waiters, one of whom yodels, in the musty barroom, the same song with which he recently amused Manhattan cabaret patrons. "Diamond Lil" is an entertaining melodrama, concluded Time's man on the aisle.
• • You just don't hear critics uttering "minatory" these days, do you? Minatory — — means of a menacing or threatening nature
• • And how about that $25 phrase "the chryselephantine magnificence"? Chryselephantine — — (adjective) means made of, or overlaid with, gold and ivory, as certain objects made in ancient Greece.

• • The Royale Theatre on West 45th will be one of the tour stops on 16 August 2009.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • Walking Tour: "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West & Texas Guinan in the Theatre District"
• • When: 4:00 PM on Sunday — — 16 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Shubert Alley, 44th Street, West of Broadway, New York, NY 10036
• • Price: $10 [this walking tour lasts about 90 minutes]
• • Subway: N or R [BMT] train to West 42nd Street; 1 [IRT] train to Times Square

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Mae West: Tour & Texas

Join us for an a-MAE-zing afternoon focused on Mae West & Texas Guinan!
• • On 16 August 2009, come up and enjoy an a-MAE-zing experience — — a walking tour of historical sights in the Times Square area. This year the Annual Mae West Birthday Tour also commemorates speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan, the generous friend who backed all of Mae’s Broadway shows during the 1920s.
• • During April 1929, the Feds padlocked the CIub Intime at the Hotel Harding, where Texas Guinan [1884
1933] was the principal attraction. On August 16th, attendees will visit this speakeasy, which is doing brisk business these days.
• • Walking Tour: "Gaudy Girls on The Gay White Way: Mae West & Texas Guinan in the Theatre District"
• • When: 4:00 PM on Sunday — — 16 August 2008 — — rain or shine
• • Meet: Shubert Alley, 44th Street, West of Broadway, New York, NY 10036
• • Price: $10 [this walking tour lasts about 90 minutes]
• • Subway: N or R [BMT] train to West 42nd Street; 1 [IRT] train to Times Square
• • Attire: why not wear a Mae West-inspired hat?
• • Info: T. 212-614-9683 — — or post your RSVP or tour question here
• • Online: MaeWest.blogspot.com — — TexasGuinan.blogspot.com
• • Who: Playwright LindaAnn Loschiavo makes the tour educational and entertaining.
• • LindaAnn Loschiavo's history play "Courting Mae West" was onstage in July 2008 at the Fresh Fruit Festival. She is working on a biographical travel guide "Mae West's New York, 1899—1959" and will show some of her unusual theatre memorabilia and vintage photos during the tour and reveal secret addresses tied to Mae West that have not been disclosed before. These rare pictures show the area as it looked during the 1920s when Mae West and Texas Guinan had their name on several marquees.
• • Surprises: Prizes and other nice things are part of the fun
• • Members of the press may attend on August 16th as our guest. RSVP required.
• • • • Mae West Walking Tours You Might Have Enjoyed • • • •
• • 2006 TOUR: Our regular Mae-mavens will recall seeing the historical exhibition "Onstage Outlaws: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era,” which opened to the public after a Gala Roaring-20s theme Press Preview on Mae’s birthday 17 August 2006. And on Sunday afternoon 20 August 2006, more than two dozen beautiful people gathered on West Ninth Street to enjoy a special treat — — "Washington Square Women: Mae West and Texas Guinan in Greenwich Village" — — followed by a Jazz Era brunch served with champagne and the Cos-MAE-Politan cocktail, garnished with two strategically placed plump raspberries.
• • 2007 TOUR: On Friday evening 17 August 2007, a fascinating guided adventure — — "The Mae West Side Story" — — escorted numerous intrepid walk-abouts to three of Mae's former residences along with other sites linked to the Brooklyn bombshell.
• • 2008 TOUR: On Sunday afternoon 17 August 2008, the captivating Diamond Divas led a group of over two dozen Mae-mavens to several locations in Greenwich Village linked to her stage career, gay themes, courtroom woes, and the work of individuals she admired such as Lillian Russell, Tony Pastor, Texas Guinan, Eugene O'Neill, and Rae Bourbon. The 2008 walking tour — — "Mae West's Walk on the Wild Side" — — celebrated the 115th birthday of the Empress of Sex with an extravagant musical program, performed live by Met Opera soprano Marlena de la Mora and Sharon Weinman, which included these numbers: "Everything's Coming up Mae West"; "Mon Coeur S' Ouvre a Ta Voix"; "The Prisoner's Song"; "Frankie and Johnny"; "Come Down Ma Evening Star"; "I Could Have Danced All Night"; "Gentleman Jimmy"; and a grand finale taken from the score of "Diamond Lil."
• • Tour photos can be seen on the Mae West Blog.
• • For more details, do read this blog and/ or post your email. [Your info will not be posted nor available so that miscreants and rascals can access it.]
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mae West: Queen of the Jaguars

An intimate showing of a MAE WEST classic is always a welcome event.
• • And this brings to mind the oddity that not much has been written about the women Mae West admired, for instance, trailblazers such as Amelia Earhart, Texas Guinan, Marie-Louise Morelli, and Mabel Stark.
• • Mabel Stark was the beautiful blonde wild animal tamer who doubled for Mae during some of the big top scenes in "I'm No Angel" [1933].
• • As a child visiting Dreamland with her Dad in 1904, Mae West was dazzled by the fearlessness of Madame Marie-Louise Morelli, who trained leopards, jaguars, and tigers. In advertisements that billed the petite Frenchwoman as "Queen of the Jaguars," the jungle prowlers were referred to as Morelli's "treacherous pets." Awed by Madame Morelli's smooth command in the cage, the curly-haired little Brooklynite (born in August under the sign of Leo) decided one day she, too, would come face to face with the King of Beasts.
• • Born in Kentucky, Mabel Stark [9 December 1889 — 20 April 1968] was America's premier tiger trainer during the 1920s.
• • During a photo shoot with Mabel Stark, Mae West was asked if she could see herself trading places with anyone and she said: "Yes, it would be this Mabel Stark, the Tiger Girl!"
• • See if your eyes are sharp enough to spot Mabel Stark next week in the vintage footage when the Canadian cinema historian Reg Hartt will be screening Mae West's circus film "I'm No Angel" (written by Mae and based on her fond memories of Bostock's lions in Coney Island). Film archivist and celluloid connoisseur Reg Hartt, who will be introducing this screen classic, had also offered Mae West's first starring film "She Done Him Wrong" (based on her stage play "Diamond Lil" with its Bowery setting) until 2 July 2009.
• • About "I'm No Angel," Reg Hartt had this to say: Mae West was a star of such enormous clout that she was able to dictate her desires. She changed forever not only the role of women in the movies but also the way women in real life saw themselves. “When I am caught between two evils,” she said, “I generally take the one I have not yet tried.” This feature film was made in 1933. It was written by her.
• • The Cineforum is the unique movie emporium that Mr. Hartt operates out of his Bathurst Street living room in Canada.
• • Though the Cineforum has existed for the past four decades, it was not until 1992 that it was moved to his parlor. British painter Peter Moore described the intimate, old-fashioned Cineforum as “the most perfect place in the world to watch a motion picture.”
• • WHERE: Cineforum — — 463 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario.
• • WHEN: 7:00 PM on 20 July 2009 [Note: Monday evening only]. Program personally introduced by Reg Hartt.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mae West: In Minneapolis

A dazzling necklace owned by MAE WEST is bewitching museum-goers who drool over cool jewels. If you're planning on visiting Minneapolis, spend a few air-conditioned hours at an eye-catching exhibition "Unspoken Messages: The Art of the Necklace" on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts [M.I.A., 2400 3rd Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55404].
• • M.I.A. plans to celebrate Mae West's personal adornment in her classic motion picture "She Done Him Wrong" [1933], which will be shown around the time of the screen queen's mid-August birthday.
• • Next month on the third Thursday, join the very nice folks at M.I.A. for an event called "Bejeweled" — — Thursday 20 August 2009 from 6:00PM — 9:00PM — — when a local jeweler will discuss her funky creations and Mae will be making a booty call deep in the heart of the Bowery, and advising a young Cary Grant that he "can be had."
• • Some adults are being invited for free. Details on all this can be had: toll free (888) MIA ARTS; in Minnesota, dial 612-870-3131.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mae West: Divorcing Mr. D

MAE WEST and the Italian accordionist Guido Deiro made beautiful music together for several years in variety. Her marriage to the Mediterranean keyboard king was one of the few secrets Mae kept from her mother Matilda.
• • Vibrant, jealous, well-built, ambitious, financially successful, talented, and sexy, Deiro even threatened to kill the next man who tried to take Mae away from him. John "Battling Jack" West, alarmed for his daughter's safety, cautioned Guido: "None of those Italian knife tricks now, please!"
• • About his brother Guido and his sultry spouse, Pietro Deiro recalled: "We played together and we both shared great successes, Guido becoming rapidly very popular
— — especially among restaurant waiters for his large and ostentatious tips. A few years later in New York, Mae West, Guido, and I went for supper to the old Gillette's restaurant. The meal finished, my brother left a two-dollar tip on the table. As he rose to leave, I picked up one of the dollars and later went fifty-fifty with Mae West. This got to be a habit with us. ... "
• • Pietro Deiro misremembered the name of the eatery, a special place Mae and Deiro returned to often when they were in New York City. It was located back then on West 49th Street. [This year's Mae West walking tour will swing by there and attendees will be shown vintage pictures of the building's exterior and the beautiful interior dining rooms where the lovebirds often enjoyed themselves.]
• • When Mae and Guido went their separate ways in vaudeville, the Brooklyn bombshell wound up on a much lower tier of bookings.
• • July 14th • •
• • On the 14th of July 1920, Mae West filed for a divorce from Guido Deiro, charging him with abandonment. Having moved back to her parents' house in Queens County, Mae filed her petition at the courthouse in Jamaica, Queens.
• • When their divorce became final in November 1920, Guido quickly wed his third wife.
• • Mae West was so daunted by this marriage (and the way Guido affected her equilibrium), that she does not even mention his name in her autobiography, coyly referring to him only as "Mr. D."
• • The 14th of July 1999 is a date Mae West [1893 1980] did not live to see. On that day, Mae's longtime lover Paul Novak passed away in California.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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