Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mae West: Neir's, Far From Truth

For a few years, MAE WEST lived in Woodhaven with her parents and siblings when she had already begun to write plays with her collaborator Adeline. Despite touring in vaudeville for years and being cast in Broadway productions, the Brooklyn bombshell was finding her stage career slowing down as she approached her thirtieth birthday. Her mother advised her to put a script on paper, material tailored to her own unique talents — — instead of waiting to audition for the right production. Mae took Matilda's advice and began working on "The Ruby Ring."
• • Apparently, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Lisa L. Colangelo is too busy or disinclined to take the time to be accurate about the people she writes about. Figuring that Mae West and Martin Scorsese are two names good enough to glam up her article on a local Woodhaven watering hole, she writes: "Neir's Tavern is where patrons of the Union Course racetrack stopped by for a drink, Mae West honed her famous act, and director Martin Scorsese shot a scene for one of his most successful films."
• • What "famous act" was that, pray tell? Fact is, though one of the former owners of Neir's had hung up a Mae West poster on a door a long time, it is doubtful that Mae ever set foot in such a blue collar saloon. And was the tin-ceilinged corner bar serving alcohol at all during the 1920s, in defiance of Prohibition, when she was in the neighborhood? If beer was quietly on tap during the padlock era at the junction of 78th Street and 88th Avenue, it would perhaps have attracted scruffy male patrons such as John West, Mae's father, and his brawling gym buddies or seedy racetrack pals.
• • If you don't mind inaccuracies — — or if you are seeking beer on tap, whose mechanism runs on an old-fashioned ice-coil system — — by all means check out her piece: "Woodhaven bar Neir's Tavern gets a time-machine fix up" [The New York Daily News, Wednesday, 23 June 2010].

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