Many publications saluted the August 17th birthday of MAE WEST.
• • Playbill, marking "this date in theatre history," has managed to get her birth year wrong and also tripped up on the stage plays in which she appeared. No, Mr. Playbill, Mae West wrote The Drag but did not star in this 1927 production since she was still appearing in her play Sex at the time.
• • Other news outlets recognized the writer and comedienne as "an actress from the 1930s," erasing her long career in vaudeville and on Broadway, which preceded her 1932 Paramount debut when Mae was an "overnight sensation" at 39 years old.
• • A more faithful close-up was offered on Sunday in the Brooklyn blonde's hometown when a group of Mae-mavens gathered along Shubert Alley to learn how she forged her dreams of deliverance in Times Square along with her diamond-draped colleague Texas Guinan.
• • Attendees posed for pictures in the same spot where the graceful, well-groomed Bucephala, Texas Guinan's horse, was mounted 82 years ago — — that magnificent creature who carried the queen of the night scene up the center aisle of the Shubert Theatre and deposited her onstage as the red velvet curtain was raised for Padlocks of 1927.
• • Ah, Longacre Square, the legitimate theatres, those expensive playhouses built to look like a palazzo, a Tuscan hillside hideaway, a marble mansion, a Venetian villa, a Georgian fantasy — — where little Mae held her mother's hand as they waited for an usher to seat them, lavishly spending each moment of a matinee, drinking in the illusion of the drama in which the mountain of self might have no top, and each encounter might be a reckoning with fleet-footed fate.
• • On Sunday August 16th, the patient assemblage viewed vintage news clippings that decorated the disappointments of another century — — front page humiliations, the raids, the padlocks, the prison sentences, and the losses of a $200,000 advance for Pleasure Man after the purity police shuttered the show on 1 October 1928. They genuflected and strolled down the aisle of St. Malachy's, the church where Texas Guinan and Mae West examined the coffin of Rudolph Valentino [6 May 1895 — 23 August 1926] in August 1926 and mutually agreed the hardy 31-year-old must have been poisoned.
• • On West 54th Street, thanks to a gracious doorman, the tour takers paused in the same vestibule where Mae West entered and exited in 1927 as she was writing Diamond Lil and getting better acquainted with Owney Madden and others who bulleted the headlines.
• • Perhaps West 54th recalls the roll calls of absent names, first kisses, the confetti victory parades in an era when Mae West's latest show was billed as "hotter than the Armistice."
• • • • Prizes • • • •
• • And the group has something else to remember as well — — a handful of raffle prizes. A number of individuals each won a colorful Mae West magnet, a few screened with film posters, stage plays, or her one-liners. Two lovely ladies — — Denise from Manhattan and Karen from Pittsburgh — — each won a "Gaudy Girls" CD, courtesy of Maggie Worsdale and Anne Marie Finnie, who perform live as Sophie Tucker and Mae West. Everyone received a "Gaudy Girls" flyer announcing their next racy performance at Monticello Raceway and Casino on 21 October 2009. And two lucky lasses won a treasured set of Texas Guinan's silent films — — fashion model Gwen Bucci from Manhattan and art curator Frédérique Joseph-Lowery from Fairlawn, New Jersey — — courtesy of an avid Texas Guinan archivist.
• • Exciting news is on the horizon. More anon.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West mavens • • 16 August 2009 walking tour • •
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