Friday, August 20, 2010

Mae West: 26th Annual Fete

On 17 August 2010 MAE WEST was commemorated by an exaltation of Hollywood larks — — who flew in from all directions to alight at the venerable House of Ram.
• • Ramfis "Ram" Diaz, who hosted the very first Mae West Birthday Tribute back in 1984 as a simple spaghetti supper, is a Westiana curator of a vast collection possessing surreal scope and almost Smithsonian dimensions. His latest invitation is shown here.
• • Attendee and fellow devotee R. Mark Desjardins, who journeyed to California from Canada, and who has been researching the private life of Mae West for the past ten years, has penned a first-person account of this merriment.
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• • R. Mark Desjardins writes: The Mae West soiree was billed as a hot time and it certainly lived up to expectations and more! Here is my review.
• • It was a HOT night of Hot fun for a HOT star in Los Angeles, this past August 17th. Mae West always quipped she was born "in one of the hot months" and she loved the number eight. Born in 1893, this was the 117th anniversary of her birth and Los Angeles musician, Ramfis (who prefers to be known simply as "RAM") held his 26th consecutive annual Mae West party on the penthouse floor of his apartment residence, coincidently, suite number 710! All those "eights" can make a Mae West giddy, and what fun it was!
• • The South Gramercy address, once operated as a hotel beginning in 1936 for Paramount Studio, still has an elegant Art Deco feel. Although somewhat faded in glory, it still retains much of the ambiance that must have cheered Paramount stars who lived there in the mid 1930s.
• • Over 85 participants, male and female, straight and gay, from 20-something to late-80s, African American, Latino, Caucasian, and any shade in between came together under a half moon on a gloriously warm night, the Hollywood sign visible to the north, tall palm trees swaying in the tequila colored sunset, coming together to raise a cup of cheer to the memory of Mae West.
• • Tables laden with ethnic pot luck dishes homemade by the guests included Chicken Mole, Mexican rice, Thai noodles, salsas and salads of every description and all with a "hot" factor.
• • Among the participants were Kevin Thomas, film critic for the LA Times; Bob Buchanon, a former Dean at USC who befriended Mae; Damon Devine, Mae West fan extraordinare; Chris Basinger, former Ravenswood front desk clerk and friend of Miss West. Other guests included such far flung fans as John Beuscher from the Fort Lauderdale area, by way of Mae's old neighborhood in Brooklyn, and Mark Desjardins from Vancouver Canada, who has been researching the life and times of Mae West for 19 years. Another notable guest who made a brief appearance was the New York City-based Broadway entertainer and Mae West and Sophie Tucker impersonator — — talented Sharon McNight. [See her photo on yesterday's blog post.]
• • Shown in this party portrait, left to right: Mark Desjardins, Kevin Thomas, Chris Basinger, Gary Wares, Andre Simpson, John Beuscher.

• • On August 17th, the guests were entertained by various turns at the karaoke microphone by Ram, a Cher impersonator, and a local cabaret singer named Sonji, who transfixed the audience with her version of "All of Me."
• • Ram, who held the first Mae West Birthday Tribute back in 1984, as a small scale spaghetti supper, has been experiencing health concerns lately which threatened the party this year. An incredible array of friends came to his rescue painting his front room, decorating, arranging the food and cleaning up afterward. Such stalwart pals as Chris, Robert, Tim, among many others know how important this event is and would not accept the soiree being canceled at any cost!
• • The morning after, as this writer looked at an early morning cloud formation, he could swear he saw the visage of Miss West herself winking down on him indicating she was very pleased with the whole affair!
Written by: R. Mark Desjardins of Vancouver, B.C. Canada
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• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Ramfis, his 2010 invitation & some guests • •
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Mae West.

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