Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mae West: Damon's Invitation

MAE WEST — — The Brooklyn Bombshell, The Statue of Libido, The Empress of Sex, Diamond Lil — — the iconclast of the 1920s who evolved into an icon.
• • What was the effect on her fans and her loved ones in November 1980, as motion and emotion, shadow and substance began a leave-taking? For many, the final journey leads to a place of stone, cold, and forgetfulness. But some spectacular stars are like Mae West — — sending back light from themselves more like a song than a requiem.
• • Proust said that truth is only a point of view about things. Damon, an avid collector of Westian and a resolute keeper of the flame, celebrates that love and light privately year-round. And every August, Damon helps organize a joyful public commemoration, honoring Mae West on her birthday in Los Angeles, California on a rooftop lit by the stars. Damon offers a first-hand look to our readers and extends an invitation.
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• • In commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of Mae's burial, American devotee Damon Devine writes about Mae West and the West Coast tradition he is such an integral part of.
• • • • Damon recalls: In the very early 1990s (having moved to Los Angeles), I met such wonderful people as Ramfis Diaz and Chris Basinger (the latter a good friend of Mae West’s who was also a switchboard operator at the Ravenswood).
• • • • The Annual Mae West Bash in Hollywood, California • • • •
• • • • I can’t quite remember the year of the first Mae West Birthday party we had, but I remember it was very small and very nice. Each year it grew bigger. It has always taken place at Ramfis’ Hollywood apartment. The early years were amazing, often taking place on an entire floor of the building and ending up on the roof! Beautiful guys of all ages and nationalities would attend, and if they weren’t already a Mae West fan, they were when they left! The coolest and most fun women in all of Los Angeles would find their way to the party as well. Mae West movies would play on several screens, slide projectors on any available wall would display a rare Mae West image, and Mae's music played as well. Ramfis has massive images of West (oil paintings, photos, drawings, etc) all over the place, which makes for an almost surreal Mae West experience (especially after several drinks!).
• • • • The millennium brought ups and downs for the party. Some years left much to be desired and, occasionally, guests exited a bit let-down instead of with a Mae West feeling.
• • • • Other years were fantastic and August 17th, 2009 was by far the best ever. It took place on the roof of Ramfis’ apartment building, on a gorgeous clear night. There was Chinese and Mexican food aplenty, a great crowd and early 1960s lounge music played in between Mae West songs. There were several cakes and Mae West photos ALL OVER the place, and Mae's lucky number 8 scattered about. There were pearl white and gold balloons tied to a staircase, that led from Ramfis’ apartment to the roof.
• • • • Ramfis is extremely dedicated to Mae West, and has been ever since he was a kid. His collection is as massive as mine and Chris Basinger’s (all three of us having the biggest collections in the world, next to Tim Malachosky’s). I know for a fact, she has been a savior to Ram as well. Like myself, I have seen him lean on Mae West to lift his spirits in dark times. We bonded that way. Ramfis is like a brother to me, and Basinger like a father.
• • Well, as usual, we will toast Mae West quite gloriously next month! So come celebrate with us in L.A. Or if you’re in New York, come up and see Mae on Saturday night, 14 August 2010, at Actors Temple [339 West 47th Street, NYC]. Sophie Tucker and Mae West have a great show planned and the public is invited.
Written by: Damon Devine, Hollywood, California

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• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West fan • • Damon Devine • •
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