Monday, March 28, 2011

Mae West: Handy Sex Blues

MAE WEST adored the music of W.C. Handy, and chose to sing his blues numbers in her Broadway hit "Sex" [1926 — 1927] as well as in "Belle of the Nineties" [1934].
• • Mae West's biographer Jill Watts wrote: during the jazz era the playwright "became a familiar figure at the Gaiety Theater Building and the offices of African-American composers, including the father of the blues, W.C. Handy" — — who died in late March on March 28th.
• • Born in Alabama, William Christopher Handy [16 November 1873 — 28 March 1958] was a blues composer, musician, and music publisher. "The Memphis Blues" is a song described by its composer, W.C. Handy, as a "Southern Rag." It was self-published by Handy in September, 1912 and has been recorded by many artists over the years. He also wrote "The Saint Louis Blues" and published it in September 1914.
• • A Police Witness Testifies against Mae West • •
• • In March 1927, police witnesses were questioned at Jefferson Market Court about Mae's indecent exposure, i.e., moving her navel, for instance, while she performed "St. Louis Blues" as Margy LaMont in "Sex."
• • According to the book "Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show" written by DePaul University professor Rachel Shteir: Mae West attracted police attention that same year [1927] when her shimmy resembled a prostitute's strut a little too closely in her play "Sex," a comedy-drama about the underworld. Unlike many similar plays on Broadway that year, Sex was set in Connecticut, not the tropics. ... But of all the things West did to outrage, the most outrageous was her encore shimmy to W. C. Handy's “St. Louis Blues." The New York Daily Mirror observed that West, who herself had toured in the Mutual circuit burlesque from 1922 to 1925, "seems to enjoy undressing" [this section extracted from NY: Oxford University Press, "Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show" by Rachel Shteir, 2004].
• • This court trial is dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship and Secrets."
• • Quote, Unquote • •
• • David Bret's biography claims Elizabeth Taylor 'was the most controversial Hollywood icon since Mae West,' and contains revelations about the late actress' mother, who it is alleged had lesbian affairs and romances with directors to win her daughter parts. There are also allegations surrounding Taylor's ex-husband Richard Burton's 'bisexuality' and the millions the former actress blew on houses, diamonds and yachts. ...
• • Source: Article: "Publishers in a frenzy to release Liz Taylor memoirs" written by anonymous for; posted on 25 March 2011
• • By the Numbers • •
• • The Mae West Blog was started seven years ago in July 2004. You are reading the 1882nd blog post. Unlike many blogs, which draw upon reprinted content from a newspaper or a magazine and/ or summaries, links, or photos, the mainstay of this blog is its fresh material focused on the life and career of Mae West, herself an American original.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • as Margy LaMont in Sex, 1926 • •
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1 comment:

  1. i hear mae west sing some blues on an old movie i started too late to identify but, wow, she was more natural than any pre-worldwar II black blues or country music singers i had heard (as all seemed influenced by opera/occidental schooled-music training).Blonde or not Mae West is far more black than, say, Billy Holiday. Hear me. We need links to free samples of Mae West's blues. Let us HEAR Handy Sex Blues (I have no money to buy albums).