Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mae West: Household Name

In 1971, when an interviewer asked MAE WEST to define camp, she responded: "Camp is the kinda comedy where they imitate me."
• • Born in Brooklyn, NY, Lawrence (Larry) Grobel spent most of his early freelance writing career on the East Coast working to get his byline into The New York Times, Newsday, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, and Penthouse. After he relocated to California, intending to devote more time to fiction, his editor at Newsday announced they wanted to do interviews with “household names” and that they’d like to start with Mae West. When Larry Grobel asked him how I’d get to her, he said, “You’re the one in Hollywood.”
• • Grobel's recollections were prompted by his own recent interview with Melissa Parker of Smashing Interviews Magazine. Let's eavesdrop on their conversation.
• • Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So Mae West was your first interview.
• • Larry Grobel: Right. I called Paramount Studios where she had worked when she was younger and they gave me her publicist’s number. Mae, in her late 70s at the time, was familiar with Newsday and agreed to see me. I remember that I stopped and bought flowers for her and wore a sports jacket (two things I’ve never done again). Mae was all dressed up (a la Dolly Parton), her hair (wig) was fixed, had high heels on, the whole nine yards.
• • Luckily, along with my tape recorder, I took my pad to her home because she stared in horror at the recorder and said, “No, I can’t use that.” I was thinking, “Oh no, my first celebrity interview and I can’t use the recorder.” Mae explained that a reporter once talked to her, recorded her voice, and then released it as a record. I offered to sign something saying I wouldn’t do that, but she wouldn’t budge. So I never got Mae West on tape, but fortunately she spoke slowly as I had to write down everything on the tablet.
• • The photographer from Newsday came and she posed in front of her piano where a small bust of her was located. My editor called, telling me that the photograph was great and that I should use that same photographer on other pieces. He was all about the photograph. I said, “Damn, what did you think about the interview?” He said, “Oh yeah, that was good, too.” ...
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Larry Grobel Interview: Famous ‘Playboy’ Interviewer on His Life with Hollywood’s Greatest Stars"
• • By: Melissa Parker
• • Published in: Smashing Interviews Magazine — —
• • Published on: 14 June 2010

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1 comment:

  1. Romain8:08 AM

    It's too bad she refused to be recorded... I'd have loved to hear her speak about her life... Like Charlotte Chandler's book definitly should have a tape version with someone making Mae's Voice! lol