Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mae West: A French Twist

On the Internet, searches for MAE WEST spike during her birth month. In her screenplay for "I'm No Angel," she lent lion lady Tira her own birthday.
• • • • Rajah: You were born in August.
• • • • Tira: Yeah, one of the hot months.
• • • • Rajah: It was on the 17th under the sign of Leo, the Lion.
• • • • Tira: Aw, King of the Beasts, huh.
• • So many images of the screen queen and all of them upbeat, vivacious, quick-witted, determined to triumph. In the cinematic miracle of wish fulfillment, fans put a hand in hers, knowing it will close on what they meant to find. After spending sixty-six minutes immersed in one of her motion picture classics, the world can become brighter, clear as a just washed picture window.
• • True Mae-mavens baptize themselves in this epistle of joy and laughter, reaching a lion-hearted clarity, and primed to charge anew like a rocket trailing sparks.
• • Proust said that truth is only a point of view about things. Romain, who is a new convert to the Mae West mania, shares his epiphanies with our readers.
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• • In commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of Mae's burial, French follower Romain Tutak explains the influences that spurred his new obsession with Mae West.
• • Romain writes: I was born in France in 1986, six years after Mae West had died, and I am 24 years old now. My grandparents were not even alive when "She Done Him Wrong" was first shown in movie houses. In France, her impact on the cinema was not as important as in English speaking countries. It seems to me that very few French people know who she is.
• • Miss West wasn’t supposed to cross my path. But as I matured, I became even more interested in powerful women with a strong personality. Perhaps that is the link that connected me to her.
• • In 2006, when I was 20 years old, I discovered her. At the time I was a student studying English Literature and British Civilization. I was really into pin ups and the 1950s. Vintage was √† la mode, it really was my thing such as watching old American movies with Marlene, Rita, Audrey etc. And since I was researching images of "the pin up girl" — — Bettie Page, Vargas, and Elvgren‘s drawings — — I discovered some graphics with powerful girl power message. I am part of The Spice Girls generation.
• • I hoped to learn more about these female identities in order to read their biographies. Then I found something that listed the pin-up girls by decade. Mae West was listed as one pin-up of the 1930s along with Marlene Dietrich. Her name rang a bell because I recalled her saying "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."
• • That was enough for me to start digging deeper and I chanced upon a page with many of her one-liners. It blew my mind!!!
• • • • So Who the Hell Was This Funny Lady?! • • • •
• • I had to find out. Wikipedia gave me some quick details and then I fell in love. I HAD TO know more about her!!! I then discovered the Mae West Blog, which I had mentioned on a blog I was writing back in September 2006, and also the Mae West Color Site. Here I was hooked on Mae West, 26 years after her death, 74 years after her first appearance on the big screen, 80 years after "Sex," and 113 years after her birth.
• • So began my fabulous trip around the Mae West universe. I had previously been introduced to the Roaring Twenties by reading Francis Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" for my English class in high school. This started me off adoring that 1920s and 1930s look of glamour — — the fashionable silhouettes, the cabaret music, the big names: Louise Brooks, Mistinguett, Jos√©phine Baker etc. But Miss Mae West really nudged what was just a little crush into a Big Love Story!!!
• • The Internet helped me grow my modest collection of Westiana. First I got "Night After Night," and then "I’m No Angel," and then (I think) "Sextette," and others. Additionally, I’ve bought "The Fabulous Mae West and Other Wonderful Girls," Jon Tuska’s book (which I read from cover to cover without stopping). And I was still hunting for anything about Mae West online. [to be continued]
Written by: Romain Tutak, Paris, France

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• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Movie Classic cover • •
• • Feed — —
Mae West.


  1. ROMAIN10:11 AM


  2. R. Mark Desjardins1:42 PM

    Salut Romain;
    The Mae West Blog is wonderful and is a great place to start your search for background into this truly unique individual! I always find it interesting to discover how other Mae West fans come to learn about her. Hopefully you will keep an eye out for my upcoming book on Miss West to be entitled "In Search Of Mae West."
    Cheers. R Mark Desjardins

  3. romain3:38 PM

    Yes i will... every book is good to read as there is always something new to learn (for me as i'm quite new) especially written by fans.